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Monday, May 8, 2017

Mrs. Meyer’s Bodywash: Garden-inspired cleansers I love!

Many of you know that I am a bit of a “garden fanatic”, always looking for new herbs, flowers, and veggies to plant in our garden at the Elkhorn Inn, and thanks to being a member of Crowdtap, I recently had the opportunity to sample (and now review) a great garden-inspired product:  Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day Honeysuckle Body Wash! I have to say that I am Very glad I got to try it, because I’ve now found a new product- and a new line of products- that I really love and will be buying more of! The natural, garden-inspired fragrance of the Bodywash is really delicious- naturally sweet honeysuckle, not cloying or chemical-smelling, and I love the way it leaves my skin feeling:  smooth, silky, and really clean! I use it in the bath, as well as the shower, because while I find a shower invigorating, at night I really love to soak in a hot, fragrant tub before I go to bed to really relax myself! And I've found that Mrs. Meyer’s Honeysuckle Body Wash is a lovely way to do just that, and go to bed clean and fragrant!
Mrs Meyers Bodywash on my tub...
 Another great plus, is that Mrs. Meyer’s Bodywashes are really inexpensive- a big 16 oz. bottle is only $7.99! (They also have a really good coupon on the website right now: I do wish that a store in our area (southern West Virginia or Bluefield Virginia), such as Walmart, carried Mrs. Meyer’s products, but as they don’t, we’ll be ordering online…) The Honeysuckle Bodywash contains Aloe Vera Gel, which softens the skin, and a unique blend of essential oils, including flax-seed oil.  It makes a delicate foam that really rinses clean, and leaves my skin smooth and soft.  And it’s been terminologically-tested to be gentle on the skin, as well.

How it arrived from Crowdtap!
Mrs. Meyer’s products are made with essential oils and are truly garden-inspired, and as I am BIG into gardening and love natural scents (who wouldn’t?!), for me this is a major plus!  They have a lot of great garden-inspired cleaning products, such as household cleaners, laundry products, and air fresheners, as well as body and hand care products, and now that I have experienced the lovely scent of the Honeysuckle Body Wash I want to try them all! Check out this list of the natural scents of their cleaning products : Basil, Lavender, Lemon Verbena, Geranium, Sunflower, Rosemary, Bluebell, Radish Honeysuckle, Apple, Watermelon, Parsley, Rhubarb, Baby Blossom, Peony, and Lilac! Don’t these sound wonderful? They’re definitely not the “run of the mill” or chemicals scents you usually find in cleansers and cleaning products! Top of my list to try are Basil, Sunflower, Radish, Watermelon, and Parsley! Check out their webpage here for info on all their different scents:
Mrs Meyer’s products are made with essential oils from flowers and herbs- which I love (I even have an essential oil diffuser on my desk next to my computer!), and so they not only smell nice, they really work hard, and are great cleaners! Other very good things are that Mrs. Meyer’s products are “earth-friendly”, not tested on animals, and their products don’t have chlorine bleach, ammonia, petroleum distillates, parabens, phosphates or phthalates. Yay!
Another thing I love about Mrs. Meyer’s, is Thelma Meyer herself! She is the inspiration behind the products: a down-to earth Iowa homemaker and a real, live person! I like her philosophy of being “perfectly imperfect”-  I guess because heaven knows I’m imperfect! LOL  As she says: cleaning is something that just has to get done, so if you can make cleaning more pleasant, why wouldn't you? My sentiments, exactly!
The Mrs. Meyer’s website is really neat, too, because it doesn’t just advertise their products; they have a great “DIY” page with a lot of nifty craft ideas:
I also follow their Instagram:  and Pinterest page, as both have lots of neat ideas, too:
One of the great things Mrs. Meyer’s does is sponsor “green” projects, and this year they are sponsoring events on Plant Something Day, May 19. In Chicago, Illinois and Austin, Texas they will be planting and gardening with the American Community Gardening Association, and online they will be donating $5 for each order between May 15th  and June 5th to the ACGA, up to $10,500- AND each order will also come with a little something to help you get your own garden growing- while supplies last, so hurry up and order! How cool is that?! We will Definitely be planting something on Plant Something Day at the Elkhorn Inn- probably our Sunflower Meadow, as well as herbs and veggies! Will you be taking part, too? Did Mrs. Meyer's inspire you to do something "green"? Tell me in the comments!

Hot pepper plants for the garden!
Our Sunflower Meadow across from the Elkhorn Inn


Friday, May 5, 2017

How to REALLY make Margarita Jello Shots for Cinco de Mayo!

Margarita Jello Shots in Limes

Chef Dan is going to make a special Mexican Dinner tonight from recipes we learned at Josefina's Cooking School in Cozumel (see my previous blog post here) for a fun Cinco de Mayo evening at the Elkhorn Inn, and so I decided I'd make Margarita Jello Shots! I looked up recipes and found one on Thrillist, that looked really cute as they're set in lime halves, but when I started to make it I realized Very quickly that there was something Very wrong... It was impossible. LOL Or rather: it was impossible for ME to do it the way the recipe instructed, without it turning into the Epic #CraftFail Pinterest Project From Hell. LOL And so, trusty iphone by my side, I decided to Reinvent The Margarita Jello Shot Wheel- and make it SO totally idiot-proof that even I could do it!
The first thing the recipe stated was that you had to cut 4 limes in half and "use a spoon to hollow out the limes". Try that and see what happens. LOL I managed to get the juice and some of the pulp out with a spoon, but limes are totally full of fiber that no spoon will remove... so I took a pair of kitchen scissors to the insides of the little fellows, and voila! 8 little lime cups in no time flat! 
The next thing the recipe said to do was to throw away the lime juice and pulp- and use 2 cups of "limeade" instead! When you have a little cup of real lime juice and pulp from the limes  you just cut and hollowed out??? I pressed the lime pulp through a little strainer, and added the juice to 2 cups of water, and then added sugar and more lime juice to taste to make a nice, tart Limeade.
This you put in a small pot, and top with 2 envelopes of gelatin. (That part of the recipe worked fine. LOL)
Gelatin and water over low heat...
You cook this over low heat while stirring, until the gelatin is dissolved- about 5 minutes. Then you take it off the stove, and, according to the recipe, stir in 3/4 cup of tequila and 1/4 cup of Cointreau. Cointreau is an orange liqueur, and as we had Blue Curacao from our recent trip to Curacao, and it is also basically an orange liqueur, and a pretty blue color to boot, I decided to use that! NOTE: Use inexpensive, clear tequila for this. IMHO there is no reason to use expensive anejo tequila for anything other than sipping neat! :-)
Lime cups and a cup of  Tequila and Blue Curacao

The recipe then says, blithely, "Pour mixture into lime rinds". They don't mention that as you do this, the little lime cups will fall over and spill your precious tequila gelatin mixture everywhere. You need to arrange your lime cups so they don't wiggle or tilt, which for me meant to hold them in place on a plate braced by a couple of porcelain ramekins- see photo. A lime cup holds only a little bit of the gelatin mixture, so what to do with the rest? Make Margarita Jello Cubes, that's what!
Margarita Jello Cubes...
This recipe (2 cups of limeade and a cup of Tequila-Curacao) made enough to fill 8 small lime halves and a tray full of cubes; if you need more, just double the recipe. Then you are to put them all in the refrigerator for "3 hours or overnight". Be Very careful transporting them to the fridge- you will probably have to refill them a bit once they are settled in the fridge... For faster fun, set them in the freezer...
The recipe says to cut the chilled lime halves in half again to make wedges, but our little limes were tiny, so I preferred to serve them as they were, after dipping the rims in Margarita Salt.
Margarita Jello Shots with a dish of dipping salt
I was extremely pleased with how they turned out- very tasty, and adorable, to boot! And using the Blue Curacao made them pretty!

The Margarita Jello Cubes came out Really pretty- like giant aquamarine gems- and they are yummy! They looked very nice in a salt-rimmed glass of clear tequila, too! :-)

What are YOU doing for Cinco de Mayo? Did you try to make these, too? What happened? Tell me in the comments!

Margarita Jello Cube in Tequila, in a salt-rimmed glass

Margarita Jello Shot Cubes!
Chef Dab's Cinco de Mayo Dinner
#Chef Dan's Cinco de Mayo Mexican Dinner (made using several recipes from our wonderful day in Cozumel, Mexico at Josefina's Cooking School in Cozumel (see my previous blog post here): A delicious Mayan dip of ground, roasted pumpkin seeds, tomatoes, cilantro, and garlic (in the Mexican mortar); chicken marinated and baked in Achiote Sauce; nopales (cactus), sauteed with chopped onions; rice cooked in chicken stock, with tomatoes, garlic, cumin and other spices; an amazing, blistering hot green sauce we brought back from Costa Maya that has no name; tortillas; and my Margarita Jello Shots!

Friday, March 31, 2017

A Great #Foodie Day in Cozumel #Mexico at Josefina's Cooking Class!

When Chef Dan and I travel we try to do as many "foodie" things as possible (he's a chef, duh!), because that's basically the only chance he gets all year to eat fine and inventive food, shmooze with chefs, and learn new techniques and recipes for the Elkhorn Inn. On our recent cruise, Chef Dan and I spent our one day in Cozumel, Mexico taking an excellent cooking class at Josefina's Cooking School, and it was WELL worth it! (See below for info on the cookbook- trust me: you will want this!!) On a previous cruise we took a 'cooking class' at a "tourist" resort in Cozumel and it was rather a disappointment- more about drinking and being silly than real Mexican cuisine- so this time I searched the internet, including TripAdvisor, for a REAL Mexican cooking class, and from everything I found online, Josefina's seemed like the "real deal"- and it was! Located in a nice residential area just a few short blocks from the tourist area on the water, the intimate class is held in the kitchen of a lovely private home with a delightful garden in the back; the market we went to is just a few, short blocks away. Luis and Tania were Excellent instructors, and we started our class with Luis taking us on a shopping trip to the nearby market to get the ingredients for the many dishes we were to prepare; after the class Dan and I went back to the market to buy a fabulous, huge (and heavy!) mortar and pestle like the one we used in the class! In addition to getting spices, fruits, veggies, and fresh fish for our dishes, one of the places we stopped at was a small tortilla shop, where we got to sample hot-off-the-press tortillas- thin and warm, and oh-so-good!
Luis & The Spices!

Veggies and fruits!

Luis and Dan: Fresh fish!

FRESH fish!

Spices and ground pumpkin seeds- staple of the Maya!

Luis & our hot, fresh tortillas!

Tortillas- hot and fresh!!

Then we went back to the kitchen and began making our lunch! We made a truly unique (to me!) pumpkin seed pate (Xilkil-Pak), using the ground pumpkin seeds we'd bought at the market; I had no idea that pumpkin seeds were a staple of the Mayan diet- I've never seen this dish- or anything like it- on a Mexican restaurant menu in the USA- and it's SO good!!
We started our class (and lunch) with Hibiscus Flower Water, and then made the Xilkil-Pak Mayan Pumpkin Seed Pate, Tikin'xic (Red Snapper in Achiote Sauce), tried different Mexican cheeses with great salsas that we made, created a delish guacamole with lots of texture and taste, made tortillas from scratch, and a dish of fried Nopales (Cactus)... and at the end we were treated to flan for desert, and a REAL Margarita! What a great lunch- and what a great day in Cozumel!
If  you enjoy Mexican food, you REALLY need to get Josefina's cookbook! You will discover SO many authentic Mexican dishes that you NEVER see on menus at Mexican restaurants in the USA, and that you can make with ingredients you can get here so easily! Order the downloadable cookbook for $10 from Christina Cannon at - and please tell her Elisse sent you! :-)

We went back to the market to get a mortar and pestle like this!

Tania, making the Achiote Marinade for the fish...

Tania, marinating the fish in Achiote Sauce...

Learning to cut up cactus (Nopales)

Chef Dan, cutting up Nopales!

First lunch- and then, last but not least- Luis making us a REAL Margarita!

Red Snapper in Achiote Sauce

Chef Dan, learning to make a tortilla!
Our tortillas!
Dan's perfect tortilla!

Luis making us the Mayan Pumpkin Seed Pate

Chef Dan crushin' & cookin'!
As you can see we had a lot of fun, learned a lot, and ate like kings! If you are having a holiday in Cozumel, or just have one day in Cozumel on a cruise, and are into food and learning about the place you're visiting, trust me: THIS is how you want to spend a morning!
To contact Josefina's Cooking Class (Cozumel Chef) and book a class,  go to:\
To order their great Mexican Cookbook, email Christina Cannon at - and please tell her Elisse sent you! :-)


Friday, March 24, 2017

We won! The Elkhorn Inn is a SCORE #BizChampion for West Virginia!

We are proud and honored to announce that the Elkhorn Inn & Theatre has been chosen as an American Small Business Champion by SCORE and Sam’s Club! Thank you to everyone who voted for us! 
Photo (c) John Sagert
The American Small Business Championship ( awarded this title to 102 small businesses, two in every state and the District of Columbia, for their dedication to the success of their businesses. Each state winner (including us!) will be awarded a $1,000 Sam’s Club gift card, an all-expense-paid trip to a training and networking event in Dallas, TX, and SCORE mentoring and publicity throughout the year. Each Champion is also eligible for one of three $25,000 grand prizes!
We are truly honored to have been chosen for this award! When we opened the Elkhorn Inn in 2003, after saving and restoring the last historic building in Landgraff, West Virginia, our dream and goal was to help kick-start the post-flood tourism industry in McDowell County, serving the community by providing needed tourism services as an historic inn, and promoting the many wonderful and fun things there are to do in McDowell County, West Virginia! For the last 14 years, the Elkhorn Inn has provided bed-and-breakfast accommodation and fine dining, and we have welcomed thousands of guests from across the USA and overseas, and we look forward to continuing to do so! Please check out our Facebook page: for lots of photos and info on the Inn, as well as the fun things you can do in McDowell County, including great railfanning, trout fishing, and ATVing!
The prizes, training, publicity, and SCORE mentoring we have been awarded will help us take our business to the next level, and better serve you, our customers. We look forward to attending the training event, and will be sure to check back in and let you know how it goes! For more information on our win, check out: 

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Vote for us to win the SCORE #Business Award!

We have entered the Elkhorn Inn & Theatre to win the #SCORE $25,000 Unique Business Award- PLEASE VOTE FOR US- and please share it, too! (Apparently you can vote repeatedly- so PLEASE do, as we have to catch up with the folks who have 5000 votes!)

The Elkhorn Inn is the ONLY entry from McDowell County #WestVirginia- and the ONLY "Coal Heritage Trail" historic building in the state providing lodging and fine dining! AND we are the ONLY restaurant in our area on the Bon Appetit Appalachia "foodie" map! So we really ARE unique! We truly hope to be their next  #BizChampion!  THANK YOU!

The Elkhorn Inn is an historic "Coal Heritage Trail" inn providing bed-and-breakfast accommodations in 14 guest rooms, and fine dining by reservation.  Thanks to Chef Dan's dinners, we are on the 6-state Bon Appetit Appalachia "foodie" map:

Our area offers the best railfanning (train photography ops), and wild stream trout fishing in the USA, and the best ATV and UTV trails in the eastern USA! We have gorgeous leaf-peeping here in the mountains in the fall, tons of historic sites to visit for those interested in West Virginia, railroading, and industrial and coal mining history, and lots of other fun in the mountains!
Please share the #ValentinesDay #love!

Great ATVing!
Great winding roads for bikers!
Great trout fishing on Elkhorn Creek!
 When we saved and restored the last, surviving historic “Coal Heritage Trail” building in Landgraff, WV in 2002, and opened our home as the Elkhorn Inn in 2003, our aim was to help kick-start the post-flood tourism economy of McDowell Co., by providing needed lodging & tourism services, as McDowell Co. offers excellent railfanning, ATVing, wild trout fishing, and other fun! We believed that we could not only save this historic building, but truly make it “live” again, welcoming guests from around the USA and overseas- and we did! We also have a “museum room” at the Inn documenting local history, a gift shop featuring local products, & we offer fine dining at the Inn by reservation, literally  putting McDowell Co. on the Bon Appetit Appalachia 6-state “foodie” map!

Chef Dan dinner: Caribbean Rum-Marinated Steak, with housemade Onion Jam

Chef Dan dinners: Chicken Piccata, served over Pasta

Dinner Party at the Elkhorn Inn!

Chef Dan Dinner: Shrimp Scampi

Golf AND ATVing!

Railfanning: the NS "Pocahontas" railroad across from the Elkhorn Inn (c) Sean Hoyden

Leaf-Peeping via ATV!

Chef Dan dinner: Herb-Rubbed Smoked Ribs!

The Elkhorn Inn & the NS "Pocahontas" railroad (C) John Sagert

Chef Dan Dinner: Herb-Poached Salmon with Alfredo-Dill Sauce!

Apples Guest Room

Blue Private Bath Guest Room

Dinner at the Elkhorn Inn...

Greenbrier Guest Room

Yellow Flowers Private Bath Guest Room

#bonappalachia #trainsarecool #Appalachia #Appalachian #smallbusiness #smallbiz #travel #TravelTuesday #CHT #coalheritagetrail #TTOT #bedandbreakfast #finedining
#railfan #trains #trainarecool