Friday, April 29, 2011

America, Come Home to St. Maries, Idaho

The way America was-northern Idaho-the true "gem of the mountains".  Add quality to your life by selecting northern Idaho as your next vacation destination.

Four seasons, fresh air, clean water, un-crowded-this is the magnet that draws people to our area.  St. Maries is amidst this paradise-cradled within the arms of majestic mountains, surrounded by lakes and rivers and towering forests, and bordered by the fertile Palouse farming area.  Winter snow and the smell of wood smoke, summer days and the sound of gentle breezes through the pines-every where you turn satisfies a hidden yearning. Add to that the best outdoor recreation opportunities in America, and you'll begin to realize why we cherish this little slice of heaven called home amidst the pines, firs and pungent cedars.

Our recreational offerings run the entire gamut-from leisurely walks along the tranquil waters of the St. Joe River, to the nature walks at nearby Heyburn Park, or the more challenging Marble Creek walking trail system.  Family bicycles rides along the Hiawatha Rail Trail.  Cruise boat rides from Heyburn Park or inner-tube floats down the Shadowy St. Joe or St. Maries River.  Any age, any interest-Enjoy!  There's summer fishing and fall hunting-one of America's largest elk herd resides nearby.  Duck, turkey, pheasant, grouse and geese abound for the bird hunter.  Add to this the hundreds of miles of accessble groomed snow mobile trails-and yu have a full year. Join the many bird watchers from throughout the northwest who find our area  a source of satisfaction for their hobby.

White swan, blue heron, osprey and eagle-The nations largest concentration of nesting birds is located seven miles away.  Or you can just sit on the patio and watch the hummingbirds feed.  the metropolitan area of Spokane-Coeur d'Alene is less than an hour drive away from St. Maries. 

Find out more about our beautiful area on the St. Maries Chamber of Commerce website, who by the way wrote alot of this article.  Thank you.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Walk Through My Thoughts

For the better part of a year I have realized that we have been "missing the boat" when it comes to seizing the whole "social media marketing" craze.  Only as recently as November of this past year did I really realize how the market was passing us by and we were in no way, shape, or form ready to grab ahold without getting drug through some mud while we were trying to catch up.  For those of you who have been business owners for the past 30 to 35 years and think you can do things just like back in the good old days, I have news for you.  It ain't going to happen.

I have been using the excuse that I am an artist and my artist brain just does not think that way.  Well, I realized my artist brain just needs a huge portion of "technical bootcamp" if we hope to let people know just what a beautiful part of the country we live in and what an amazing home we are willing to share with the people who pass through our doors. 

North Idaho has got to be one of the places that you can truly say is a little piece of heaven.  Yes, we have had our share of rain these past few months but how do you think the magnificent shades of green are captured on our hillsides?  Just taking the time to appreciate the river as it flows swiftly downstream headed for the Coeur d'Alene Lake is enough to say "Thank you God for allowing me to live here".  The snow pack always allows a grand show this time of year as it melts away and the level of the river rises higher and higher. 

See what I meant by "a walk through my thoughts" as my thoughts can start wandering here and there.  Back to my social media predicament...I met a wonderful gal who has been walking me through this jungle of social media.  Everything from facebook to blogs, from Aweber to Dropbox, new websites needing to be built, SEO and Google Analytics.  For those of you who learned to play on a computer at age 3, this most likely sounds silly but for those of us who just want a phone that rings so you can say "hello" or a TV that just has 4 channels so you don't have to ask your 5 year old grandson how to change the channel, this has been QUITE a challenge.

I would like to highly recommend the person who has taken on the job of being my bootcamp commanding officer, Christy Ruffner.  She has helped pull me through the mud when I have fallen down and keeps on encouraging me--even after the 5th time that she needs to explain something -yet once again.  I know this whole endeavor will be well worth the final outcome but like anything else, when you are right in the midst of the storm you cannot see the safety of the shore.  Her patience and professional manner are appreciated and if you are a small business who needs help with Web Design or Internet Marketing Support just contact her at
P.S.  She taught me how to add this link and I am VERY proud of myself!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Hidden Treasures in North Idaho

There are so many beautiful places in North Idaho that I think as a native from this area we tend to forget just how much natural beauty we are surrounded by.  I find it very interesting that as a travel agent I have spent 35 years sending people AWAY from our area so that they can catch a glimpse of other parts of the world that show up in travel brochures as something real spectacular. 

Many times we don't appreciate what we have in our very own backyard.  It has become very evident to me just how gorgeous North Idaho is due to the amount of people who actually arrange a vacation to visit our part of the country.  I absolutely love their pictures that they so graciously share with us upon returning to the B&B after another day of exploring.

I must ask myself, when was the last time I put my camera in my car as I take a leisurely drive around the Coeur d'Alene Lake or head up the St. Joe.  If all these pictures that our clients click were put into a glossy 6- color brochure I think they would go out of our travel agency lickity split. But one of the nice things about our area is that most people don't even realize just what is in store for them when they visit Northern Idaho.

I hope to share some of these beauties with you so that not only you can appreciate them but that I can start appreciating what I have within a 60 minute drive.  And at the price of gas now days, that will be a real treat!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

13 Cooks in Our Kitchen

Last Thursday evening our kitchen at the bed and breakfast was filled with lots of laughter, fellowship and fun as the first night for our new small groups Bible study gathered.  There were 13 gals who signed up for the Women to Women Mentoring/Cooking class.  We are doing a 7-week nurturing program based on the book Apples of Gold by Betty Huezenga. 

I was so pleased at how many older women are taking their Titus 2 verse to heart and are willing to be mentors to the younger women.  The younger women are eager to learn not only lessons regarding kindness, loving your husband and children, hospitality and more but they were very excited about the cooking part of the evening.

I had decided to have the first class be on "comfort food" and thought of fried chicken and mashed potatoes.  My husband loves to cook and added his own thoughts as to what he thought I should teach.  By the time we had the menu done, I was taking the fried chicken to the next level by offering Norwegian Chicken, then decided to show not just one way to prepare potatoes but three, and I even threw in homemade Thousand Island Dressing and Ranch. 

We started the evening out fixing bruchetta that had olive oil slathered on both sides, baked for 20 minutes and the fresh garlic rubbed over the tops.  Then we put carmelized onions and mushrooms over the bruchetta.  Yum, it was a great appetizer and had to tide everyone over until their study was done.

The gals not only learned how to make garlic mashed potatoes but homemade french fries and stuffed potatoe skins.  Now one of the secrets  to good mashed potatoes is that you put in about 6 cloves of garlic while cooking them and then after you drain  the water off you put back on the heat to pull out any excess water.  DO NOT mash with an electric mixer....not good.  Just use  the old fashion masher.

The homemade fries also have a few secrets to be great.  After cutting the fries into the correct size, rinse repeatedly to get all of the starch out.  Then drain and let totally dry on paper towels.  Coat potatoes with about 2 teaspoons of olive oil, sprinkle with some Sea Salt and bake on aluminum foil in a 350 oven for 30-35 minutes. 

The potatoe skins were microwaved for about 6 minutes then cut in two.  Scoop out the potatoe, mix with sour cream, butter, Johnnies Seasoning salt, and minced green onions.  Refill the potatoe skins and place those in oven for about 25-30 minutes.

Meanwhile we had the chicken frying, added a can of cream of mushroom and a can of cream of chicken soup, about 1/2 container of sour cream, salt and pepper and covered the chicken to slowly simmer for about 1 hour.  You can also put this in a crock pot in the morning and be greeted by the wonderful smells when arriving home after a long day. 

Green salad with red and yellow bell peppers and the homemade dressings were put on the tables to complete this meal.  As all these dear women sat together to enjoy the feast it was evident that this was a comfort food meal being shared by new friends. I am excited for our next class which will be "Italian Night".  Stay tuned for the recipes for homemade lazagna, marinated greens, homemade bread and other goodies.