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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Holidays 2008!













The holidays at the Elkhorn Inn in Landgraff, WV: Picking up, wrapping, & shipping West Virginia Coal Tchachkas all over the country! Happily, we filled a lot of orders this year, & thanx to UPS, managed to get all the Christmas orders delivered by Christmas Eve! We sent coal statuettes & ornaments, coal candy, & Geneva's Gems Jams & Jellies all over the place from the Elkhorn Inn Gift Shop, which has truly turned out to be "the little engine that could". 6 years ago when we opened the Inn, if Anyone had suggested to us that we'd be filling 100s of wholesale & retail orders for hand-made WV coal statuettes every year, we would have said they were Mad!
While Dan was hunting w/his buddies in VA in November it snowed twice, & so was truly beautiful for about 20 minutes, but then it started raining, & it's kept that up pretty much ever since, so it's back to being brownish-grey, wet, & soggy :-( After one brief, -6-degree night, it's been 40-50 ever since... meaning it may not feel like the "holidays", but we have water again... The water pressure trickled to nothing on two occasions, (thank you, again, McDowell County PSD...), & so even though we had it running all night as usual, it froze, & left us basically waterless over 2 weekends. Yes, we have 9 toilets, & yes we always have cases & cases of bottled water, but bathing with Wet Wipes is No Fun At All! We were lucky not to have guests at the Inn those days... But now we've got our water back, & I'm down to wearing only 2 layers of clothes(!) We've had a Roaring Fire going most nights, & I even talked Dan into sitting in the Hot Tub with me in the cold of night, like I used to do in Germany...
If anyone wonders how we console ourselves through 6 months of icy cold, wet winter here in the mountains: we Eat- & we do some SERIOUS Food @the Elkhorn Inn!
Dan brought home sashimi tuna & scallops one night, oysters another, & then 2 glorious trays of sushi from Kimono in Princeton AND a bottle of saki! (Yes, Virginia, you can get real Japanese saki in West Virginia!) I got him an assortment of artisan cheddar cheeses from igourmet, & made him a Gourmet Mac 'N Cheese, & he smoked an herb-rubbed duck & made his amazing gumbo... and then he made his fabulous grated potato-sweet-potato latkes on Hanukkah- so all is right with My world! As a response to this unabashed gluttony, I bought myself a Slendertone Belt & gel pads- the eBay version of the Ionithermie treatment I had @the Bella Nova Day Spa in Texas- & I've been using it like a good little soldier every day (along with my magic Scandinavian Cellulite Gel), to try to pull in those abs & tone that tum- 'cause dieting in Chef Dan's Gourmet Abode just ain't happenin'!
Dan worked solidly for weeks on the outside decorations & lights (EVERYTHING is a Project! AAAAUGH!), with the result that the Inn grounds are now Thoroughly decorated! We've got a row of lit-up candy canes bordering the parking lot, our 6' inflatable Hanukkah Menorah, the 11' Snowman, NASCAR Santa & his Elves, & airblown Santa Getting a Ticket From A Cop, a rather unique item we set up in our parking lot- right where the State Troopers keep pulling over speeding cars... Pilot Santa in his airplane is perched up on the edge of the balcony, & Helicopter Santa has landed on the front porch... In my lust for ever more giant, inflatable decor, I went a little goofy on eBay & got Helo Santa (in lieu of getting Dan the Real chopper of his dreams), along with the 8' long inflatable Santa Train, & a giant inflatable New Year's Baby... & as an early 50th birthday present to myself I also bought a 7' airblown birthday cake, complete with 3 giant candles, something I've actually wanted for several years; I will now have it outside the Inn for my Big 5-0... If only we could find ATV Santa! I Badly want Motorcycle Santa, Golf Cart Santa, & Tractor Santa, all of which I've found on eBay, but they will have to wait, as I'm afraid Dan will have a Cow if I spend any more $$ on this sort of stuff! But we're now firmly in the Season of The Brown, Dead Lawn & Crappy Looking Garden, & it really does feel SO much more festive with giant, lit-up inflatables out there!
What we couldn't find- & didn't order early enough- was Hanukkah candles, and Dan went on a not-so-merry chase thru southern WV on the Big Hanukkah Candle Hunt, returning with but one box of made-in-China Hanukkah candles! He wound up spending $50 on an assortment of other candles which I carved to fit our 4 menorahs while Dan made latkes! My next major purchase will be a full case of real, made-in-Israel Hanukkah candles- we are Not going thru this again next year! We've been lighting the Hanukkah candles each night in 4 of our windows, & it is a cheering sight to see them as you drive up to the Inn...
As for presents, we did Hanukkah & Christmas, and Dan overdid it (as usual), & got me a Garmin GPS for when I go out a-FEMAing, perfume, Bath & Body Shop sugar scrub, Bushmill's Irish whisky, colored cigarettes, & one really useful "defensive" present that I can actually pop tin cans with (!); I got him a totally gorgeous Missoni sweater I'd hunted for all year, the Bass boat shoes, he likes, & Chef's Whites... & a few more things that haven't yet arrived... Since we're pretty much joined at the hip, the only way I can ever surprise him is to order something, & so shopping eBay (thru MyPoints) has become my "designer bargain shopping mecca"... & of course I find the odd thing for me, too! This year I found myself a fairly fabulous coral silk dress I'm hoping to wear on New Year's Eve. Friends & family are coming for New Years (YAY!)- the first time we'll really a real NYE party at the Inn! We're all going to Gary Bowling's House of Art in Bluefield for their New Year's Eve Dinner-Dance, and I'm actually very excited about this, as this is the first time in 6 years there's been a place we wanted to get dressed up & go out to on New Year's Eve! To celebrate this momentous occasion(!), I not only found myself the gorgeous eBay dress, but I went hog-wild @Wally World & got eyeliner, mascara, AND eye shadow! (!) I haven't made up my eyes Properly for several years, & I'm hoping I haven't forgotten how to do the "Smokey Eye" the way they did it to me @Georgette Klinger...
The day after Christmas, having succumbed to the media hype about the "New Black Friday", we got up @5am & drove to Bluefield in the dark to "hit the sales"- & were Sorely disappointed. We went to Sam's Club, Wal Mart, & the Mercer Mall stores, inc. JCPenney & Sears, & I gotta tell you: there wasn't ONE thing that either one of us wanted to buy- & NO bargains. (Unless you were looking for boxes of tree decorations (Sam's), or some Really ugly clothes (Sears)...) Perhaps we weren't there early enough (we got to Sam's at 7a.m. & were regaled with Horror Stories of people snatching gifts out of each others hands, apparently @5:30a.m...), but by the time we arrived there were no crowds, no Great Stuff, and No Deals anywhere. If this, second Black Friday was to save retail, retail is dead... This was the first time in my life I'd gotten up in the wee hours to go to a sale, & it will definitely be the last! I think the Mercer Mall was the saddest of the lot: KB Toys was selling the last of their remaining stock, & the shelves were a jumble of sad-looking, picked-over toys, a lot of the other shops were gone, & the tinsel was tarnished on the empty & forlorn Santa's Grotto... The only action was @Chick Fila, where I tried to order chicken strips & was told I could Only have breakfast but that they were out of eggs! Thoroughly Depressed @not finding Anything worth buying (or eating), & sorely needing a shot of Retail Therapy, we stopped @BigLots, where we did find (as usual) a few kewl marked-down things, had a bite at Dick's Swiss Burger, picked up our eBay arrivals, holiday cards, & the 2009 Burpee & Park Seed Catalogs (the winter "dream books") @the Post Office, & drove home in the pouring rain...

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