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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

My 2014 Sweeps & Contest Thank Yous!

As my faithful readers know, I have become a total sweeps and contest junkie- entering sweeps and contests having proved itself to be not only far more lucrative than playing Solitaire or Candy Crush in the wee hours, but interesting and fun (I have learned a great deal about marketing and new products), and as calming as good therapy- a double bonus, as there are no decent therapists out here in the boonies! LOL This year I had a some truly extraordinary wins, and I want to take this opportunity to thank the companies and people who made these lovely things happen- things we NEVER would have been able to enjoy otherwise!
Number One on the Thank You List goes to Wind & Weather, the wonderful home decor store I love! Thanks to their "Share The Love" contest, Dan and I had THE most delightful, fun, and romantic Virginia getaway this summer, complete with a magical hot air balloon ride, an all-day wine tasting, fabulous gourmet food, shopping, horseback riding, and a stay at THE most romantic Inn with the best service we've had in the USA- the Inn at Willow Grove! I did a blog post on it when we returned: so if you're thinking about a trip to Virginia Wine Country, please check it out! Thank you again Wind & Weather!!!

A HUGE thank you to, for the totally fabulous Prada Saffiano Mini Handbag, filled with an assortment of fabulous makeup! When I won this I literally started screaming!!!

I won excellent Celestron SkyMaster 15x70 Binoculars
from Oh, Ranger! (for birdwatching at the Inn!)

My beautiful Heather Moore pendant...
 One of this year's loveliest prizes was a gift certificate to Heather Moore Jewelry, and they made me the most beautiful and personal pendant, with the dates Dan and I met and married, and our names...
Me, with my beautiful Heather Moore pendant!
From I won Cat's Pride Kitty Litter and a Litter Box- and with two kitties we ALWAYS need that! :-)
From the blog I won a delicious assortment of Autumn petit fours from The Swiss Colony

And I won a YUM-O assortment of Perky Jerky!!

Sometimes it's The Year of Shoes- a few years ago I won 4 pairs of fabulous shoes- but this year was definitely The Year of Anti-Aging Skin Care! I won some really great beauty gifts, and got to try some great products!

I also won a delightful Bioelements Kerafole Mask,  a deep purging, exfoliating facial mask that reveals fresh, radiant skin.

I LOVE Ahava Dead Sea mineral skin care from Israel, and I won their excellent Extreme Radiance Lifting Mask, 
to lift and smooth skin to restore
its youthful, radiant appearance and tone!

I won a Cocoa 24K Gold Vitamin Clay Mask from
LaRocca Skincare
Makeup from! YAY!
Miami Beach sun care products from #SOBE #MiamiBeach100  on Twitter!

I got to test and review a great HSN Collection
of beauty products from
I also won the 1-4-ALL Peel from The Skin Regime

And last, but not least, I won this adorable stewardess tchochke 
from ANA Japanese Airlines...  
I was SUPPOSED to win the trip to Japan! LOL

Dan, The Kittehs,& our great, new Litter Genie!

  This year we also got to try a number of great products through #Crowdtap, including the excellent Litter Genie, Riccola cough drops,  Campbell's, Prego, V-8, and Swanson products, Zep Commercial Cleaners, and Folgers Flavors! Thank you all!

And then, 2 weeks ago I won THE most amazing prize- a trip for two back to Vietnam, from Central Coastal Vietnam Tourism! Dan and I were literally dreaming about how to somehow return to Vietnam, and joked that they only way we could do it was if I won us a trip! And I did! And hopefully we'll be going this spring!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Plexus: HELL, YEAH it works! See for yourself!

3 weeks on Plexus, and here are my results (black dress photo above) so far! I am actually beginning to see my waist again AND my cheekbones! YAY!  SO happy, because it's TOTALLY without dieting! Hubs Dan is thrilled, because he sees- and can feel!- "me" again- and he knows I've tried Everything, and how frustrating it's been! Plexus isn't some "overnight miracle"; you really do have to stick with it! But if you are serious about losing weight, give yourself a month at least to try it!  It's easy to do, I feel good, and I am DEFINITELY sticking with it! If you'd like to join me, and my friends, check out my Plexus website , and if you have any questions, email me at, or call me at 304-862-2031, and I will help you get started! I have tried EVERYTHING under the sun to lose weight, and this is actually working- and with NO DIETING!  YAY!

Elisse Jo Goldstein-Clark's photo.
Me, "before"- UGH!!!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Chef Dan becomes a Campbell's Gourmet!

Through a #Crowdtap #sponsored program, we recently got to #DiscoverCampbells and try an assortment of Campbell's new products (which include Swanson, Prego, and V-8), and we liked several of them SO much that Chef Dan has bought them again and again, and is using them in his signature recipes at the Elkhorn Inn! We had such a blast "taste-testing", that I even made a fun YouTube music video about it:
The products we got to try included Swanson Cream Starter, the Chicken Parmigiana Skillet Sauce, Prego Alfredo Sauce, V-8 Fusion, Campbell's Savory Portobello Mushroom Soup for Easy Cooking, Campbell's Creamy Poblano & Queso Soup, Campbell's Chunky Beer 'n Cheese Soup, Slow Cooked Chicken Noodle Soup, & Spaghetti Os!
Ingredients for a great dinner!
The clear winners, so far, are the Swanson Cream StarterCampbell's Chicken Parmigiana Skillet Sauce, Prego Alfredo Sauce, and V-8 Fusion!

Chicken with Cream Sauce and Spinach Pesto!
As you can see, you can turn out some truly fine meals- really quickly!- using Campbell's products! Dan and I had a lot of foodie fun taste-testing, as you can see! There are several other prodcuts we are intrigued to try now, including the V-8 Spicy Mango (which we haven't been able to find here in southern WV/western VA),  and the Korean & Thai cooking sauces! Check 'em out next time you go shopping!

Chef Dan, sauteing the chicken...

Chef Dan with his Campbell's Creation!

Chicken Parmigiana with Fresh Parsley, over Pasta!

Chef Dan, starting the Alfredo-Dill Sauce with Prego...

Chef Dan's Herb-Poached Salmon with Alfredo-Dill Sauce, over Pasta!

V-8 Fusion, Rum, & Fresh Rosemary! YUM!


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

L’Oreal Age Perfect Cell Renewal Test: Update!

I am participating in a Vibrant Influencer Network campaign for L’Oreal Age Perfect. I am receiving a fee for posting; however, the opinions expressed in this post are my own. I am in no way affiliated with L’Oreal Age Perfect and do not earn a commission or percent of sales. #sponsored #cellrenewal

As you know from my post last month, I was delighted to be selected to try the L’Oreal Age Perfect Cell Renewal regimen, and I’ve been using all three products- the Age Perfect Cell Renewal Golden Serum, Age Perfect Cell Renewal Day Cream, and Age Perfect Cell Renewal Night Cream- Religiously, daily and nightly! I’d always wanted to try a complete anti-aging skin care regimen, where all the products were made to work together and complement each other, and I’m finally getting to do it! Hubs took some “before and after” photos of my face so we can all see if there’s any real, visible improvement after only a month, and here are the results to date: 

Before: Oct 27 - no makeup
Now:  Dec 1 - no makeup
Nov 14 - with light makeup

Dec 1 - no makeup
Dec 1 - no makeup

  I personally think I'm looking MUCH better! The best part (for me), is that my HUSBAND sees a positive improvement, and wants me to stick with the program!  Where I see the most visible improvements are in the lessening of redness and blotchy discoloration, both on my face and neck and décolletage, where the “wrinkly” area is much smoother, too! YAY! The regimen has smoothed and improved the texture of my skin, which is a real plus, as well.

I strongly suggest you take “before" photos, too- because day-to-day you may not see results, but you WILL when you look at the photos after a couple of weeks!
I have to say I am Quite impressed! I honestly wasn’t expecting anything so dramatic at all! 

As I wrote in my last post, my initial experience with the products was lovely, and it still is; I especially like the way the Serum goes on smoothly and velvety, and the pale, golden sheen it gives my skin. The Day Cream is creamy and richer, and goes on smoothly on top of the serum, as does the Night Cream, and all the products are readily absorbed into my skin, and give me a nice, “dewy” glow, but no oiliness or greasiness or breakouts. My skin continues to feel soft and velvety after applying the products, and that feeling lasts through the whole day, which is great! I don’t wear makeup most of the time, but when I do, it goes on smoothly over the products with no problems at all, and the Serum and Day Cream make my foundation look and wear better- as you can see from the photo where I have on light makeup, I have a nice "dewy glow", as opposed to the usual matte finish that full-coverage foundation gives me, which seems to accentuate every single "fine line" on my face... The Serum has no perfume to speak of, and I like the light, sweet scents of the Day and Night Creams. I have already bought more Golden Serum, and I am continuing with the regimen!
No, Age Perfect didn’t take off 40 lbs. or 15 years (yet - LOL), but I do find that in only 34 days it has made a noticeable and positive difference in the appearance and texture of my skin- and what made me happiest is that Other People (hubs) noticed it, as well. The regimen accelerates skin cell renewal by enhancing exfoliation, so surface cells are revealed faster, thus resulting in refreshed, re-plumped, and visibly renewed skin, and it also promises firmer skin after only one month- and it has noticeably improved the look and texture of my skin.
My feeling is that the regimen of all three products would be a wonderful holiday gift for a friend who you know would Love to try it, but might not buy it for herself! (Or himself! :-) )  I don’t know about you, but I have LOTS of friends (and relatives) like that! And in the new “one for you, and one for me” tradition of holiday gift-giving, here’s a great coupon to get you started:  One of the nicest things about L’Oreal products is that they are not prohibitively expensive, and are readily available across the country, so this is also an easy gift to get oneself or for a friend!  TIP: if you are getting all three products, my suggestion is to get two bottles of the Golden Serum, as there wasn’t enough product in one bottle of Serum to get me through one jar each of the Day & Night Cream. That’s really my only “pet peeve”- I wish there had been twice as much Serum in the jar, so I hadn’t had to go buy more Serum when I was only half way through the Day and Night Cream!

Stay tuned, because I'm going to post another update in about a month!
Here’s the link to the L’Oreal website, so you can check out all the products:
May you all have a happy- and beautiful- holiday season!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Plexus: Taking control of my weight- finally! BLACK FRIDAY DEAL TODAY!

A dear FEMA co-worker and friend for many years, Tom B., has had great- and fast- success with weight reduction (he's lost 15 lbs. and one belt notch in only a month!) & getting healthier using Plexus nutritional supplements (see his story below), so after careful consideration last night I decided to try them myself! I decided to do this NOW- & not wait any longer- because: 1) I am Truly sick and tired of being overweight, and having nothing work to help me permanently lose the 40lbs. I packed on, and 2) there is a "Black Friday Special" good through TONIGHT (Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014) that I wanted to take advantage of! I would LOVE to get my cheekbones back, as well as get back into my size 6s! If you are interested, click on my link below: where you can sign up, and read about and order products.
I consulted with both Tom, and his mentor, Billie, and decided to start my regimen with 4 products that work together: Plexus Slim, Pro Bio 5, Bio Cleanse, and the X Factor Vitamin. I am then going to add Block. I also got the Fast Relief Cream for Dan to try when his back pain kicks up. NOTE: There is ALSO a coupon code: THANKS2014 for an extra 10% off!   Feel free to ask me any questions you like, & if I don't know the answer I'll ask Tom & Billie and get right back to you! My email is elisse @ (remove the spaces- I'd put in a hot link, but then the spammers will get it, too!)

Tom B's Plexus success: "I started the Plexus Products on Oct 22nd, after much deliberation and skepticism.  I began as an "Ambassador", mainly because I wanted to get my products at a discount! After 5 days, I noticed a very positive change: I was eating much less and getting satisfied much faster- and this was a very good thing! My cravings for sweets began to lessen, too. And now, after only a little of over one month, I have lost 15 pounds and my energy level has gone up drastically! My blood sugar level is also getting back to normal; most of the time my readings are now below 100. I don't have a serious blood sugar level issue, but I am taking both Glipizide and Metformin, and I'm hoping I can get off the Rx medications. I'm pretty sure that my regular check-up in December will find my A1C levels within normal range. I credit Plexus Slim and Accelerator for all of this! This week I added Bio Cleanse and Pro Bio 5 to my regimen. My wife and daughter are now starting the program to lose weight, as well."

There is a great deal of good information on the Plexus website, including product ingredients and testimonials. Because I'm allergic now to so many medications, and I have to depend almost 100% on natural and herbal supplements to literally save my life, I was impressed by the natural ingredients in Plexus products, including Aloe Vera, Alpha Lipoic Acid, Chlorogenic Acid, pro-biotics, vitamins, and enzymes. Many of the Plexus products were specifically designed for people with diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and other serious illnesses. I am simply 40 lbs. overweight, but at 4'10" tall, being 150 lbs. makes me clinically obese, and I've been warned by doctors that if I don 't lose 40 lbs. Now I will be at a serious risk for developing diabetes. I was 110 lbs.- the right weight for my height- all my adult life- with no dieting- until I turned 48, when it seemed like my metabolism simply Stopped. I packed on 15 lbs. inside a week, grew right out of my clothes, and in the last several years my weight has ballooned up to 150 lbs. I had lots of tests done to see if there was some issue with my thyroid, adrenal system, or hormones, but everything came back "normal". Diet, exercise, supplements- nothing has worked to get the weight off and keep it off. I always wore a size 6- now I'm a size 12 with two chins and no cheekbones! And I had truly and basically given up hope... until Tom shared his recent success with me.
My intention is to do what Tom did: start my Plexus regimen as soon as it arrives, and post in about a month- hopefully reporting success! I hope you'll join me- it would be fun to share success stories and help keep each other motivated!
For more information, see my Plexus Website: and feel free to contact me for more info!

 And remember: #ShopSmall - and not just on #SmallBusinessSaturday ! 
Me, in 2008, when, at 125 lbs., I thought I was fat...

And me now, at 150 lbs... :-(

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Zep - GREAT for cleaning, disinfecting AND removing stains!

Dan used Zep Cleaner on aircraft when he was Parts Manager for Mobil Corporate Aircraft, and he loved it for cleaning everything from aircraft interiors and exteriors to offices, so we were delighted to be chosen to be part of the  Crew by #Crowdtap and get to try Zep at our home and the Elkhorn Inn- & it's excellent! If you haven't yet, you seriously should ! We got to try two products- the Quick Clean Disinfectant, and the All-Around Oxy Cleaner and Degreaser- which not only cleans, but takes out stains while you watch! Check out our "before and after" photos below or proof! Zep has been known as an excellent cleaner for commercial use for many years, and we are SO glad it's now readily available to regular consumers like us!
One of the best things about the All-Around Oxy Cleaner and Degreaser is that we can also use it to take out stains- even old stains- on tablecloths, down comforters, carpets, and other fabrics, and it works great! Yes, we love the Zep cleaners, and yes, we'll be buying more of them- and with an inn as big as ours, a Lot more!
Spraying on the Zep Quick Clean Disinfectant...

Our bright and shiny Zep Cleaned & Disinfected tub!

Me, very happy with our Zep Cleaned & Disinfected tub!

Old coffee stain on a table cloths before Zep...

After Zep: we watched the stain disappear!

Dan with our Zep Cleaned & Degreased kitchen stove!
One happy Chef!
Selfie with our Zep Cleaned
and Disinfected sink!

Me: strong as Zep! :-)

Monday, November 17, 2014

A few things I've learned as an Inn-Keeper...

I did not start out to be an Inn-Keeper; nor did Dan. I'm an illustrator and writer by profession, a former gallery owner, and soldier, who reinvented herself as a FEMA disaster response manager & marketing mavin, prior to becoming an Inn-Keeper! Dan is US Army Retired, a military/corporate aviation professional and disaster response logistics manager, who then reinvented himself as an historic building restoration pro, Inn-Keeper, and Chef! Inn-Keeping snuck up on us and whacked us over the head in 2002, when we decided to buy and save the historic building now known to the public as the Elkhorn Inn &Theatre, and to us as "Dan & Elisse's Stupidly Large House". As we stood in the room that is now our formal dining room, surrounded by 6' of mold and a water-line 4-feet high, two people who'd lived a great portion of their live in hotels (and tents and boats) looked at each other & said (as we held our hands over our mouths and noses): "Well, I guess we're in the hotel business!" In the last 12 years we've learned a few things. I will add to this as I can- feel free to add your own!

1.  Think twice- and then a third time- before you decide you want to be on the National Register of Historic Places. Yes, you will get a nice plaque. You will also not be allowed to make any repairs without Their approval, and They will tell you what you can and can’t do, and how you are going to do it, and it WILL cost you a fortune, and it WILL jack your insurance. Your state or county or local historic register is Just Fine for promotional purposes, and if you want to put in new windows or slap on a metal roof you can just do it- and you can have a plaque made, too.
2.    Silk, Wool, & Cotton are the ONLY acceptable fabrics for carpets- and just about everything else. Man-made synthetics wear BADLY, stain like crazy, can't be properly cleaned, & are a Total waste of money. (And they're made from petrochemical products & aren't "green", either. Dan (68) and I (55) were "green" WAY before it was hip: hunters & fishermen/women are the "greenest" folks in the world- they Truly care about the environment! A corollary to this: When someone mentions "vegan leather", laugh. Unless it’s made from recycled pop-bottles or toilet paper rolls, it’s basically a PC moniker for vinyl or plastic, petrochemical products that are as un-eco & anti-"green" as it gets. Farm-raised leather and fur are the most eco, "green", & renewable resources on the planet).
3.    The drapes we had custom-made from gorgeous, Italian brocade I got heavily discounted at Harry Zarin's in NYC 12 years ago were THE best décor investment we made! The other great deal we got were 27 dining table chairs from a closing Kmart for $7 each. Dan recovered them to match our decor, & when I then looked at the cost of dining room chairs my heart skipped a beat! The other great décor investment we made was deciding (for Dan to) to lay a marble floor: almost as cheap as kitchen tile, palatial, beautiful, and incredibly practical. Laying wall-to-wall carpet in an area world-famous for fishing and ATVing would have been criminally stupid.
4.    Trust your partner. I trust Dan with Everything concerning electricity, wiring, plumbing, mechanics, WiFi, construction, appliances, etc., because my knowledge of all of the above would fit under the belly of a pregnant ant. He trusts me to be the Inn’s interior designer and decorator, writer, internet diva, shopper, and marketing pro, as well as Chef Dan’s Official Food Taster. I give my hubs a LOT of credit for suspending disbelief and trusting that my background in art & design, and my having studied and lived abroad for most of my life, gave me sufficient knowledge, talent, skill, and taste to design and decorate this humongous building- and to do “champagne decorating on a beer budget”, as it were! When I said I wanted to paint the walls of the fireplace room dark teal, he actually said okay and did it! I married good! And so did he! :-)
5.    Know that with an historic “This Old House” building, the renovation will NEVER be finished. EVER. The second one thing is finished, something else will have to be done- or redone. Or redone for the 45th time. I already know that on our tombstones it shall state: “They almost finished restoring the building…”
6.    If you can't DIY, or aren't married to someone who can, you CANNOT be an Inn-Keeper (or live, for that matter) in Extremely Rural USA. There is NO ONE to call when something breaks down, the power goes out, the fuses blow, the creek floods, the sump pump dies, a guest loses or takes the room key, there’s a short in a wall “somewhere” so the lights in 2 rooms don’t work, a ceiling fan goes bananas and starts spinning 50mph like a helo, a 1920 door handle falls off in your hand, effectively locking you out of a room- or the building, a snake traps your dogs in the basement, a fence blows down, the internet connection vanishes into ether, the phone goes dead, all 14 a/cs stop for no apparent reason, the heat pump dies, the hot water simply vanishes, the pipes freeze, the wind blows all your outdoor furniture into the middle of the highway, snaps your umbrellas in half, and transports your greenhouse to the next town, a bear eats your garbage box, another bear totals your guest's car, a family of birds that decided to nest in the chimney starts flying around the room, the computer crashes, disappearing 10 years of your business, voles eat $2500 worth of tulip bulbs, a toilet cracks in half, a sink falls off the wall, an a/c goes flying out of a 3rd story window into the garden, a 50' tree crashes across your parking lot, a guest floods a bathtub & damages the ceiling beneath it, which now has to be re-plastered, but everyone who knows how to do a crow's foot plaster ceiling died 25 years ago, a sink overflows and all the laminate flooring in the hall and two bedrooms has to be pulled up and replaced Right Now, a 400 lb. guest collapses a 1920 bed and it has to be rebuilt Immediately, another guest stops up a toilet, (& thus the entire building's plumbing), with heaven knows what, your vehicle up and dies for no damn good reason, your ATV refuses to start on a mountain top in the middle of nowhere, the sat dish stops working, turning your TV into a doorstop, a wall needs to be rebuilt "all of a sudden", 66 "historic" 1922 windows need to be rebuilt RIGHT NOW, an antique chandelier needs to be rewired Immediately, a new bug from Asia infests everything in sight, a hard frost hits in May and the fruit trees have to be wrapped in plastic in the middle of the night to save the fruit, the freezer decides to defrost itself and $2000 worth of food, you get bit by some unknown thingee with a stinger & go into shock, etc., etc., etc.! In my rental apt. in NYC I called maintenance. Here, thank G-d, I just roll over & kiss maintenance (a.k.a. Dan "McGuyver" Clark) good morning. LOL
7.    If you are going to live in Rural America, you NEED a vehicle with 4WD. Trust me on this one. You want an old, rust-bucket Jeep, or an old, rust-bucket Ford F150 pick-up, so you won’t fret about it getting nicked up hauling loads of wood, tons of topsoil, or giant armoires. You also need to be able to repair whatever might possibly go wrong with it yourself, because when it breaks down out in the boonies there’s no one to call. And there’s no cell reception anyway.
8.    If your building has “history”- especially if it’s “naughty” history, play it for all its worth! Our building is a "Coal Heritage Trail" building built as a coal mine company’s Miner's Clubhouse in 1922, which is very cool, & we have a little museum room at the Inn devoted to the area's illustrious history of coal mining and railroading, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn't hoping there was some sort of infamous or “naughty” history, too- New Orleans B&Bs that were brothels make a fortune! Unfortunately, all the nationally-infamous brothels around here were in Cinder Bottom, Keystone (5 minutes from us), and although their hey-day ended in the early 1970s, people still talk about them with misty-eyed longing… We do sort of have a ghostie (Molly), and although she’s been rather quiet of late, we've found that guests truly love a (gently) haunted Inn!
9.    Buy eBay & "pre-loved" whenever possible. This means: furniture, cars, ATVs, hot tubs, clothing, jewelry, office supplies, appliances, decor, shoes, antiques, lighting fixtures, quilts, carpets, ad infinitum, ad nauseum. Food is basically the only thing you should be buying fresh. LOL Do your homework, and eBay will be your BEST friend- it is mine!
10.  Make friends with the good folks at Goodwill, the Sallies, Catholic Charities, St. Vinnie DePaul, & the local flea markets. They get cool stuff! Recycle! Reuse! Re-purpose! And NEVER throw anything out- you may need it and not be able to get more of it! (I used to make fun of “hoarders” and “pack-rats”- my dad was one. Now I understand it… all too well!)
11.  Know that once you fall in love with a product- such as Cucina Bay Leaf Olive Oil, or Clorox OxyMagic Spray, or frozen Spanakopita, or bone-in Prime Rib- it will disappear from the store shelves and be impossible to find. You will ask the managers of Sam's "We're (not really) in Business For Small Business" Club and Walmart (who you are on a first-name basis with) to Please order the products you want, and they will tell you they can't. You will then spend weeks or months "sourcing" them online, and if and when you Do find them, you will be So overjoyed that you will do the Snoopy Happy Dance and pay ridiculous shipping charges just to have them. 
12.  Remember the companies, such as Orvis, who stand behind their products for life, and buy from them. And look for their stuff at flea markets & thrift shops & on eBay. :-) Try to buy made-in-the-USA products when at all possible, and to support small businesses, which are the backbone of what's left of our economy, and from companies that support the projects dear to your heart.
13.  Buy locally-made products, art and crafts from local artists and artisans, and food from local farmers and farmers markets whenever possible. Actively seek out those who are making, growing, creating, and doing things, and buy from them, so they can keep making, growing, creating, and doing them. (as well as and eBay) are wonderful source for lovely things made by Real People.
14.  Thank G-d, daily, for the internet. Without on-line retailers (of everything from hot-tub supplies to appliances to gourmet spices to Hanukkah candles to giant, inflatable decorations to tulip bulbs to OxyMagic Spray (see above), eBay, our website, Facebook, & Twitter, we wouldn't have a business, much less be able to supply it or promote it.
15.  No one knows your business and your market better than you. "Brilliant", so-called professional website designers, kept telling me to remove the photo of the train from the homepage of our website- when Railfans are the backbone of our business! (And if you really HATE trains, you also need to know that the train goes right past the inn… 30 times a day and night).
16.  When life shoots you (what you think may be) lemons, make lemonade as hard & fast as you can! When the train went by our inn the night we moved into the building I thought we were goners; I literally grabbed Dan by the lapels, shook him, and sobbed, screaming at the top of my lungs: “We've lost our minds! We've got to find people who LOVE trains!” And we did! Railfans from across the USA & overseas, bless their hearts, turned out to be the backbone of our business! 
17.  With regards to media, promotion, and publicity: "Start at the top and work your way down". A quote from my father that I've successfully lived by for almost 40 years. As an illustrator in NYC, for example, he advised me to pitch the NY Times to start, and I did, and they bit. Two programs on HGTV (and a few dozen other things….) did not happen by magic.
18.  There IS such a thing as "bad publicity". CMT wanting to film "Redneck Wedding" at your inn is NOT a Good Thing. LOL Another TV program wanted to film a “ghost” program at our inn, but when they found out that Molly wasn't evil, and that we didn't have any possessed antique furniture to give them (yes, give them), they went away. LOL HGTV, on the other hand, is Wonderful- we worship the ground they walk on and the air they breathe; the programs they did on us were love-songs- not just to us, but to our county, and all the things it offers tourists.  
19.  "Everything is negotiable." Another quote from my father, a Labor Union Guy & Arbitrator. Almost always true. Ask- it can't hurt! What’s the worst thing they can say? “No”. They can hang up the phone on you, or yell curses at you. So what? As the schoolyard song goes: "Sticks and stones..." Once you're prepared for The Worst Thing They Can Possibly Say, you can cold-call ANYONE! 
20.  If your county has no recycling program (ours does not), DIY: burn the paper in the fireplace, compost the veggies, reuse the glass, give the cans to the local guy who collects them, & feed the fish and dogs everything else. LOL
21.  Be NICE to journalists. And, G-d willing, they will be nice to you! Editorial is worth its weight in gold, and FAR superior to any kind of advertising you can buy at any price.
22.  I honestly have no idea how many air conditioners, drills, drill bits, screw-guns, saw blades, shop-vacs, nuts, wrenches, pliers, or vacuum cleaners we own or have owned. We go through tools & appliances like water rolls off a duck.
23.  I'm honestly not sure of how many refrigerators & freezers we've gone thru, either. Or stoves. Or towels. Or sheets. Or robes. Or bathmats, heaters, washcloths, curtains, dusters, Swiffers, dishes, pots, cups, pillows, scented candles, mattress pads, beds, Italian tassel tie-backs, computers, down comforters, phones, cellphones, printers, lawn mowers, or weed-whackers. The movie "The Money Pit' was a joke. THIS is the money pit!!!
24.  Anyone who says they have a vegetable garden to save money is LYING. The garden is a bigger money pit than the Inn! I swear we keep Burpee, Park Seed, Breck's Bulbs, & several dozen other seed and plant companies in business, and grow THE most expensive tomatoes & corn in the known universe! I don't even want to Think about what our basil pesto costs to make! Frankly, we should probably simply stop gardening altogether and just plant $100 bills. 
24a. Enjoy your money pit veggie garden, and the wild foods in your area. "Foodie" is hot, and food-related photos are THE biggest on-line draw! As we have learned, LOTS of people literally DREAM about picking wild blackberries and making cordial and jam, or of picking wild ramps in the mountains and making pickles. They dream about being able to make hot sauce from their own peppers, wine from their grapes, or pesto and tomato sauce from their garden's basil and tomatoes. Our "foodie" photos of Chef Dan's dinners at the inn get more "likes" and responses than almost anything else! You may not realize it- we didn't at first- but if you have a veggie garden or wild foods in your area, you are living the dream of many, many people! So do it- garden and enjoy your harvests, go pick berries or mushrooms- and take lots of photos, and share them online!  And have fun doing the things that the tourists come to you to do- in our case it's ATVing, fly-fishing, and railfanning- and take photos while you're doing it all and share them! 
25.  NEVER, EVER say “it’s only a 15 minute job”. This is the curse, the jinx, the quote from hell. The minute you say “it’s only a 15 minute job” out loud, know that whatever it is, it will take 2 weeks. “It’s only a one hour job” means it will take 6 weeks. “It should take about a week to finish” means you will be working on it all winter long on a ladder.
26.  After you have spent several thousand dollars over 10 years planting tulip bulbs to create a spring lawn so beautiful that cars stop, the voles will come along and eat every single damn tulip bulb, as well as your roses, crocuses, and irises. You will weep and tear your hair out, and then you will go buy more bulbs- and hardware cloth (chicken wire) to wrap them in.
27.  Enter sweepstakes and contests. While some folks relax late into the night playing solitaire or Candy Crush, I have found entering sweepstakes to be just as relaxing & FAR more rewarding. Typing my name & address ad infinitum ad nauseum has become a kind of therapy for me- a double bonus, as there are no decent therapists anywhere around here. LOL Most of our holidays (to Israel, Chile, San Diego, Virginia, the Golden Door Spa in AZ...) have been courtesy the sweeps or contests we've won, and thanks to on-line sweeps & contests we have won some fairly amazing things, too, including several pairs of $500 shoes, and Chef Dan's $350 LeCreuset casserole, juicer and sorbet maker; things we would NEVER otherwise own.
28.  Only enter sweeps for stuff you Really want to win. Dan still kids me about the case of condoms I won from Trojan. (I'd entered to win a $10K trip to Vegas, but won the runner-up prize instead...) 
29.  Learn to write. Well. Being able to write your own copy, articles, internet text, speeches, etc. is worth its weight in gold. Learn new computer programs, too. If you can do it yourself, as opposed to out-sourcing it, you will save a LOT of money AND have complete control over how your business is marketed, promoted, and represented. And try not to put anything in writing that you wouldn't want to see on the front page of the NY Times- there is a Very good chance it will wind up on the internet... "Google" yourself and your business periodically. Every time I do I find new things- last week I found 21 of my USCG illustrations from the 1990s on a military website!
30.  Figure out what your skill-sets are and use them. Then figure out what your weaknesses are, and marry someone who has those skill-sets. LOL
31.  Don't get mad, get even. ;-) If people attempt to rip you off, sue them in your local small claims court & make it stick.
32.  Document EVERYTHING. Save EVERY receipt & document. Forever. Ignore this advice at your peril.
33.  Don't poop where you eat. No matter where you are FROM, where you're living NOW is Home. Praise it to the skies publicly and to the media. (After all, you Are trying to encourage tourism...) Do this even if sometimes you gnash your teeth into smithereens at night in your sleep, & spend your days slamming your fist through walls in anger & frustration. ;-) This, however, does NOT mean that you have to eat crap. You do not EVER have to eat crap. From Anyone. And if you Do eat crap, you're a shmoe.
34.  Become proficient in the legal use of firearms. Even if you never have to use that knowledge or equipment, you need to be empowered by knowing that you can, if need be, defend yourself, your loved ones, and your property. And those around you need to know you are so empowered. And your guests will sleep sounder, as will their cars & ATVs. This is especially important in rural and other areas where calling 911 may result in someone turning up 2 weeks later- if at all.
35.  Be pet-friendly. Rescue "thrown away" dogs & cats. Especially kissy, licky, loving pit bulls, who are THE best pets ever! REAL men rescue kitties- "Army Dan" is proof of that!
36.  Be child-friendly, too. And family-friendly. And ATV & Biker & Fisherman-friendly. And GLBT-friendly. Hell, just be friendly! Have an ashtray outside for your smokers, a corkscrew for your wine lovers, a highchair for their kiddo, and a treat for their doggie. You are in the Hospitality business, not the Judging business- leave the judging to the judges. You are not out “fix” people- they are not broken- or to change people’s lives; you are out to give them a holiday, and make them truly welcome so they can relax and enjoy it.
36a. Answer the door with a Great Big Smile! This is an old Psych 101 trick- and it works! People instinctively imitate what they see- if you are greeted with a smile, you will usually respond with a smile! Immediately offer them a glass of wine, too. If you're in Rural USA, anyone who's spent the last hour driving on rural (winding, mountain) roads in the dark will need one. Badly. LOL 
37.  Remember, with regards to Social Media, that you are only as good as your last Tweet or Facebook post. Ignore that Facebook page for a week and everyone will assume you are closed and out of business. Yes, effectively utilizing Social Media is Stupidly time consuming (and if you want to know what I'm doing at 3 a.m., you now have the answer), but it's “FREE”. And, if you use it well, it Really works; the vast majority of our business comes to us via the internet, and Facebook and Twitter have become indispensable. Yes, we have guests who find us through the few specialized magazines we still advertise in, but we had to cut Way back on our print advertising as the economy imploded, and increasingly rely upon "free" Social Media. Twitter has been wonderful for connecting us with media folks, and has resulted in articles on us too numerous to count. Try to think "outside the box" to effectively utilize all the "free" methods of promoting your business online. Example: market research and PR firms, blogs, and panels that offer you a chance to try new products in exchange for reviewing them, may also give you opportunities to (gently, subtly) promote your business. Participating in events such as "Small Business Saturday" via American Express (you do not have to take their card to participate) can be of value for national exposure IF you beat it to death on Social Media. A contest we ran on Facebook a few years ago resulted in wonderful publicity, and the photographer blogger who knocked himself out to win became a repeat guest as well as a good friend. A Groupon deal we offered a few years ago opened us up to a younger demographic. We actively promote the many photographers and authors who have stayed at the inn, sharing their books, blogs, and new work on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. (And yes, we "tag" the Inn in all our posts). I am still trying to figure out more ways to use Pinterest and Instagram... and how to add another 10 hours to the day so I can do it all...  
38.  Speak your mind when necessary. Strive to be diplomatic, yes, but when the pedal hits the metal, you have to sleep with yourself at night. Don't sweat the small stuff, but when it comes to the Big Stuff- the stuff that's Truly important to you- eat no s*it from anyone and take no prisoners. You CANNOT please everyone, and trying to do so will not only give you ulcers, it will result in failure. As I have learned, people respect you when you stick to your guns. Waffle once in a desperate attempt to be PC & not offend anyone and everyone, & all and sundry will know immediately that you're a pathetic loser.
39.  Elisse's Zen: Strive to think like a dog: if you can't eat it or play with it, pee on it and walk away. ;-)
40.  Do not accept cash. Credit card only (with an authorization), or a check (if you know them) with a credit card back-up. And make sure EVERYONE knows it. The only places we know that have been robbed are those that accept cash. And if a guest destroys or steals something, you have their credit card.
41.  People steal stupid stuff: $7 BigLots clock radios & $3 Wal-Mart flashlights. (They know you have their credit card, so they don't steal Serious Stuff).
42.  Your guests will leave you hearing aid batteries. They will also leave you bongs, thongs, bifocals, sex toys, teeth, toiletries, religious books (often secretly stashed in drawers for your next guests to find), & dirty laundry. They will Never accidentally leave you diamond studs. LOL
43.  The same people who "hate" smokers LOVE the sexy, olde-timey, home-y smell of a smoking, wood-burning fireplace. LOL
44.  Your guest's personal lifestyles are their own business! You are in the hospitality business, NOT the preaching business! If you want to preach, open a house of worship. When we learned a local B&B asked a 60+ year old couple if they were married(!), we almost had a conniption fit. (They're out of business, by the way). If they make their personal business Your business, however, that's another story...
45.  Get an answering machine, and put a professional-sounding recording on it. Don't laugh- you wouldn't Believe the number of businesses that don't have either.
46.  Get MAGIC JACK. It really works (it's voice-over-data, which means it has to be connected to an on-line computer, and will only work when the computer is on), & for $20/year your guests can have free long distance calling, which, if their cell phones don't work (a Rural America Issue), is Very important. For an extra $10 or so you can even add international calling, which will save you a small fortune if you call overseas a lot.
47.  Get DSL & WiFi. A dial-up connection is a ticket to the psych ward. I built our website on a dial-up, so I know from whence I speak. WiFi will get you business clients; dial-up will get you an Rx for anti-depressants. WiFi makes it possible for our guests to take "foodie" photos of their dinners and upload them immediately to Facebook, Foursquare, Instagram, or Twitter, & email them to friends and family- and we LOVE that!
48.  Get Caller ID. Only realized how great it is after we got it. It's not fool-proof, but it's great, none the less. You can screen out the sales calls and recorded garbage, and when someone tries to extort money out of you (as happened to us), you will know who and where they are- and so will the cops. :-)
49.  Return phone messages & answer emails as promptly as possible. Talk to the people who call, and take the time to research & answer their questions. Don't laugh- you wouldn't Believe the number of businesses that don't do either. I often pull up while I'm on the phone to give potential guests drive-times and directions, and when fisher-people call to book, we often run outside to check if the creek is high & how the fish are running! 
50.  If you build it they WILL come! Research & craft a good business plan, and then believe in your dreams & go for them with Everything you've got! Even when everyone around you says you're nuts, & the gov't folks who supposedly want to "hep" you, confidently assure you that you will fail and go bankrupt in 6 months. (It also helps if your back is against the wall. If you really have no "plan B", you will really Have to stick to it and make it work...)
50a. Be open-minded and change your business as you need to. When we first opened, we Never imagined Dan would become a serious Chef, and we'd wind up as an inn famed for it's fine dining! We also added a Gift Shop/Gallery and our Museum Room, so we could offer other things that didn't exist in this area. And we're still dreaming of the many other things we'd like to do once we win Lotto... 
51.  If & when you find a house-sitter or employees whom you can trust, treasure them. They are literally worth their weight in gold and scarcer than hen's teeth. If you have the "can-do" work ethic you probably have in order to have started an inn in the first place, you will probably be sorely disappointed in the vast majority of the personnel you hire; sadly, the "can-do" work ethic is now very rare, indeed. And if your B&B is in a rural area you may be dismayed to learn that most "professional" house/pet or inn-sitters want to get paid $100+/night to stay in a cute town full of gingerbread Victorians, coffee shops, book stores, and antique shops. Happily, we finally found, via, people who actually LIKE and WANT to be in Extremely Rural USA! Woot!  
52.  Do NOT hire family. (Not our family, anyway. LOL)       Remember that friends are G-d’s thank-you-present to make up for the family He sticks you with. ;-) 
52a. The happy by-product of being an Inn-Keeper is that many of your guests will actually become your friends- Real friends. You will even find people who like your politics enough to want to be your personal friend on Facebook. LOL
53.  If you are self-employed in ANY profession, hire an accountant to do & file your taxes. DO NOT DO YOUR OWN TAXES. I learned this from the Graphic Artists Guild in NYC as an illustrator, and it is serious and important advice which you ignore at your peril. An accountant/ tax preparer MUST take legal responsibility if they screw up or you get audited. You do NOT want to be alone if that happens.
54.  Ah, coal dust... the "Martha Stewart Appalachian Paint Finish". It settles into paint before its dry, permanently stains tablecloths, gets into the pores of your skin while you garden, & permeates EVERYTHING, inside & out, 24/7. Do not ask me about "dusting" unless you want to see me tear my hair out by the roots, & run, screaming, through the bldg. LOL
55.  You will get phone calls asking you to do a wedding reception dinner for $7.50 a person... and others asking to rent (or if they can "just have") a room for a party to which they will bring their own food. You will have people ask why they can't bring their own food to your restaurant (because it's against the law, dear...), and insist that “finger food” Has to be cheaper than "hors d’oeuvres" (what my Okie uncle always liked to amusingly refer to as “horse's douvers”). Or why they can't put 6 people in a room with a double bed and "let the kids sleep on the floor". Or put 8 ATVing guys in that same room, because they like to "live rough". You will have people bang on your door at 3 a.m. because their husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend/parents threw them out of a car in front of your inn, or they ran out of gas conveniently in your parking lot, or a bear strolled out of the creek and rammed the front of their SUV... You will get calls from people wanting to stay for free because "the previous owner let me", and others will ask if they can stay for a month for $150, as "that's what my boss told me it would cost". Others will decide to "spread out" and use two unoccupied guest rooms "because no one else was using them" and not want to pay for them. (Try that at the Hilton and see where it lands you...) You will hear an incredulous "You're more expensive than the Holiday Inn!", and at least one person will ask you to "take a 10% cut for Jesus". But my all-time fave is the call I got asking "Do you rent rooms? Yes? Does it cost anything?" And you will be Nice to all of them... Because you are in the $%#@!! Hospitality Business. LOL
56.  If you live in a rural area, bugs & other critters will be your nemesis, & come close to driving you right 'round the twist. Moths that will eat your carpets & sweaters & die in your lamps; "ladybug" beetles that will drop off the ceilings in the spring by the hundreds (& then turn into moths); stinkbugs that retreat into your home in the winter and die by the thousands, mostly while hiding behind the drapes; spiders that daily spin webs in your windows & take up residence in your bathrooms; Japanese beetles that will destroy your veggie garden & roses, bears who will eat your garbage can lids, snakes who'll scare the living poopies out of you, because you thought they were garden hoses... And every year something NEW will arise: for us, 2012 will always be The Year of The Voles From Hell- the ones who ate $2500 worth of tulip bulbs and rose bushes. And much as you will hate to do so, eventually you probably Will break down & poison the beejeezus out of them... (We didn't, by the way, poison the voles, as we have pets and want to be able to plant veggies and herbs in our garden; we just used hardware cloth when we planted all the new bulbs in the Money Pit).
57.  There is NOTHING- and I do mean NOTHING- that gets my dander up like having someone knock on the door and ask me "is this Billie Cherry's place?" Billie Cherry- the convicted felon who owned our building for a brief period in the ‘90s- is dead. She died in the Federal Penitentiary several years ago, having been convicted and sentenced to 16 years for committing, together with her girlfriend, Terry Church, the 10th largest bank collapse fraud in US history and bilking several hundred million dollars from retired miners. (“But she sure was a nice old lady”, as one gentleman who’d lost $70K in the scandal told us).The Elkhorn Inn has been the Elkhorn Inn for 12+ years now, and that’s not only known nation-wide, it's on the Great, Big Sign in our parking lot, too, so acting like you don't know that is insulting to both of us. When we bought this building from the court (and no one bid against us), it had been flooded twice, ransacked, and abandoned for over 2 years, had an internal water line 4' high and 6' of mold, a leaking roof, 5' of mud in the basement, busted pipes, no doors, and was slated for demolition. After we bought it and began to restore it, Cherry's employee, "Creepy", broke our door in and stole the last 17 pieces of old furniture in the building. Our blood, sweat, tears, love, and sweat equity are Literally in the walls and floors of this building. So do NOT expect me to throw my arms around you in joy when you walk through the Inn admiring our antiques and art, and ask me, over and over again: "Is this Billie Cherry's?"
58.  Do not tolerate proselytizers; think of them as two-legged Japanese Beetles.