Saturday, February 17, 2018

State Street's Hospitality Genes

FROM:The Source Newspaper
Jacksonville, Illinois
Written by Anna Ferraro
Photo by Darren Iozia

Many Jacksonville residents know of the charming bed and breakfast (B&B) nestled on 1109 W. State Street. What they may not know is that it stands out from other B&B’s in its warmth, charm, and hospitable depth. Part of that probably stems from the fact that this B&B is housed in one of Jacksonville’s beautiful and historic homes and has all the comforts one could desire in a B&B. But there’s more to it than that...

The hospitality at Blessings on State is a decades-old vision of innkeeper Gwenn Eyer. Eyer shares, “I grew up in a Christian home where my dad was a country preacher. There were no hotels in our little town, so any people visiting from out of town stayed with us – from all over the world. My dad’s family in particular, was very big on hospitality. …” Eyer concluded with a chuckle, “If there’s a hospitality gene, I have it.”

After a honeymoon in Canada when Eyer and her husband visited several different B&B’s, Eyer began compiling her binder of ideas for the B&B that she hoped to own someday. But within the first couple years of marriage, she and her husband adopted several children, and their own little house was bursting at the seams. Eyer put her dream on hold. However, genes are permanent little things, and Eyer’s “hospitality gene” was no exception to that.

Finally, on May 27th, 2008, the binders with Eyer’s ideas got the dust brushed off of them, and the dreams came to life with the purchase of 1109 W. State Street. It was a fantastic 50-year birthday gift for Eyer, and she rolled up her sleeves with vigor as she worked to bring her hospitality dream to life. “Blessings on State” was born – a place where guests can experience “southern hospitality with Midwest charm,” but more than that, a place where they can find blessing and encouragement from the loving family of innkeepers. Eyer shared, “Yes, our name has a religious connotation. We wanted something that would be honoring to the Lord, and deliberately chose a name that reflected that – Blessings on State.”

One of Eyer’s guiding life verses is found in Ecclesiastes 9:10, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might…” And so she does, saying, “When it comes to inn keeping, I just want to do my very best, and I want it to be better all the time. I’m always asking my guests, ‘Is there something I can do to make your visit better?’” Invariably, if there’s a request, Eyer jumps on it – like the time a guest told her that it was hard to have a relaxing read in the luxurious suites’ bathtub because of the B&B’s “no candle” policy. That very day, Eyer jumped in her car and headed out to find a light dimmer that would fit the request – providing the ambient lighting desired without creating a fire hazard.

To Eyer, it’s more than a business. She shares, “I remember a guest whose best friend had died…” and Eyer quietly was there for her, going out of her way to give extra and unpaid time to be supportive. She explained, “You just have to see what [the guests] need. We’ve had families stay with us when they’re having marital issues, and they come here to get away and try to work on it. Sometimes there’s counseling involved in a day’s work.” To date, Eyer has played board games together on the front porch with her guests, or given them tissues as they cried in her parlor. She stated, ”In my heart of hearts, I want to be a blessing to people. I want to encourage them, and engage them, not just house them.”

Looking at her day-to-day work, Eyer shared, “I’m all in – this is my heart’s desire. I planned it in massive binders, and the Lord fulfilled the dream for me and my family.” Speaking of family, Valerie, Eyer's young daughter, was named “America’s Youngest Innkeeper” by Mary White, the respected author and CEO of BnBFinder, has a place in the work as well. During a time when Eyer was walking through cancer and treatments and unable to do many of her normal tasks, Valerie helped keep the B&B open, even giving the house tours – a task she took upon herself at the age of seven. Picking up the tidbits from following her mom, she eventually owned the job. “Valerie’s got the hospitality gene, too,” said her mother.

Through the years, their guest list has only grown. Eyer shared, “I’m a big believer in community. We’ve got great community partners. There is so much here to offer from a tourism standpoint in our town for history, entertainment, and more.” For that reason, people are coming to Jacksonville, and to Blessings on State for no other reason than to see the town and enjoy the beautiful B&B. Eyer explained, “Folks come in that have no ties whatsoever to Jacksonville. Once we get them, they keep coming back.”

That’s thanks to Eyer and her dedication to her job. Her goal is to improve the inn for each visit, saying, “I want the guests to say that the B&B is better every time they come.” This again goes back to the heart of her work – “to minister and meet the needs of others.” This isn’t just her job, but a part of who she is. She shares, “I am a people person… I think that engaging with the guests and trying to meet their needs is very key.”

Thus, the guests at Blessings on State enjoy countless luxuries, including premier all-suite property, full private baths, private sitting rooms, free high-speed secured Wi-Fi, flat-screen digital satellite TV, DVD players, all-season fireplaces, comfy feather beds layered with luxury linens, casually elegant décor, gourmet breakfasts, a 24-hour hot beverage buffet, sodas, and snacks, lap desks, a full business center, high service standards, and more.

So together with her small, but dedicated staff, Eyer continues her mission – to provide a B&B where people “arrive as guests – but depart as friends.” Her guests recognize that clearly. But they’re not just saying that at the local level. On a state and national level, Eyers’ B&B has been recognized with several awards, including TripAdvisor’s “Certificate of Excellence” (multiple times!), the BnBFinder’s “Guest Favorite Award” (2x), the BnBFinder’s “Glorious Garden Award,” and the LanierBB.com’s award for “Best Overall Amenities,” in addition to recently making it to a list online as one of the top 14 getaways in Illinois.

So, this hospitable gem in our community calls to you and says, “whether you are planning a night on the town, a romantic getaway, a business trip, or a family reunion, Blessings on State Bed & Breakfast is a premier choice. ….” To check their rates and availability, visit them at www.blessingsonstate.com or call them at (217) 245-1013. When you do go and book yourself a night, see what you think when you experience that “hospitality gene…”



Blessings on State Bed & Breakfast ~ Jacksonville, Illinois














About Blessings on State Bed & Breakfast

Experience a stay in our award-winning Bed & Breakfast located in a magnificently restored 130-year-old mansion in the heart of the historic district. Pampered luxury is our goal, to delight both business and leisure travelers. We offer two upscale guest suites, each with private sitting rooms and private baths. We provide multi-course gourmet breakfasts, 24/7 family-friendly hot and cold beverages and snacks, and cookies and milk at bedtime. Wi-Fi is available throughout our home and each suite has a digital satellite TV and all-season fireplace. We are located just steps away from Illinois College, the Governor Duncan Mansion and Illinois School for the Deaf and our neighborhood is highlighted on one of Jacksonville’s historic walking tours. Escape the standard hotel room and enjoy your own private suite in the finest Jacksonville area lodging.

Monday, February 12, 2018

The Luxury of Time


What is time? Who ever has enough of it?
Some of you are aware that I'm a survivor. I was treated for breast cancer two years ago, and now there's no evidence of disease. But... did you know that the year before the big C, I ran out of time? My time was up. One minute I was sitting in a meeting, raising my hand to address an issue, and the next minute I was gone. My heart stopped. Sudden cardiac arrest, due to a congenital heart defect. I was out of time. James 4:14b: What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Thanks to the presence of caring colleagues trained in CPR and the availability of an AED, they brought me back before the ambulance arrived. One pacemaker / defibrillator combo later and I'm back in business. So you see, the Lord determined that my time really was not up. Ecclesiastes 3:2a  refers to a time to be born and a time to die. It was not my time to die.

Lately, I've been very aware of time... or the lack of it. I've found myself mentally snowed under with my DCFS work since October. My normal division of hours between "work-work" (DCFS) and innkeeping (fun) has gone by the wayside. I normally spend a number of January hours firming up my B&B marketing plan for the year, and this year I've felt the heaviness of not accomplishing all that I desire. Add that to some chemo after effects impairing my mobility, and it's been a struggle. Due to physical limitations, I was actually wondering how I was going to be able to continue with the Bed & Breakfast.

Things have started coming together and I've been doing better managing my time. However, this past week I felt like people were stealing my time, forcing me to spend time after hours addressing issues I didn't want to have to spend my time on. I'm thankful for friends that are taking the lead so that I stay up to speed on what is happening without being buried in the depths of the drama. I'm thankful for a great pal who made a 5-hour midday getaway feel like a two-week vacation. I'm thankful for a friend to lunch with, to share our burdens. I'm thankful for my B&B assistant who can manage her work time and still have time to spend a few minutes allowing me to unwind each day as we talk through B&B operations and our daily lives.

As an innkeeper, spending time with others is "part of the job." It's a part I typically love, but we all know that sometimes it's hard to put things down to give of our time. So far, the Lord has given me the strength to take those opportunities as they arise, without resentment, and He's given me many special blessings along the way. We had a multi-day guest from Portage, Wisconsin who came to Jacksonville just to stay in our Bed & Breakfast. And to play daily concerts for me on our baby grand piano. Do I really believe that? Yes. I firmly believe that the Lord led her to drive five hours each way, to stay here for five nights, in part, to minister to me. Another special blessing occurred last week when a friend / professional colleague / past guest stopped in for about an hour to just visit. I knew she was coming and scheduled time. Time to spend with my friend. Time to talk... and to listen. Time to laugh... and time to cry. (Ecclesiastes 3:4)

Scripture says to Christians, Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. (Collossians 4:5) In other words, don't fritter away your time. That sounds like it would be a good goal for my life as an innkeeper. Of course, I should always be wise in the way I act toward my family and friends, too, but I pray that I'll always make the most of every opportunity I have with "outsiders."

This weekend, my time management goal has been to knock down the 835 B&B Emails I came into the weekend with. (I'll work on the 179 DCFS Emails on Monday.) How is it even possible to be that far behind? I typically catch and reply to the personal emails and delete spam, but I get around 50 B&B Emails a day. I receive newsletters from professional associations, training materials, ads for marketing opportunities, follow up on marketing I'm already doing, blog posts, recipes, and the list goes on, and I just allowed them to stack up. And up. Are they important? Many of them are very important as I work to build my business and improve it over time. However, I was so far behind, the temptation was to hit "delete" and just start all over again. Instead, I'm spending a few hours at a time, taking my time to knock them off. As I went through Emails, I discovered the entry form for an annual B&B recipe contest I wanted to enter, and also an updated cancellation policy from one of the listing services. Both needed attention right away. As for the marketing and training material, I'm saving it in an organized way to revisit... guess when? When I have more time.

For now, the weekend has just about come to a close. Just for the record, the current number is... 252. I'm making progress!

Blessings on State Bed & Breakfast ~ Jacksonville, Illinois
About Blessings on State Bed & Breakfast
Experience a stay in our award-winning Bed & Breakfast located in a magnificently restored 130-year-old mansion in the heart of the historic district. Pampered luxury is our goal, to delight both business and leisure travelers. We offer two upscale guest suites, each with private sitting rooms and private baths. We provide multi-course gourmet breakfasts, 24/7 family-friendly hot and cold beverages and snacks, and cookies and milk at bedtime. Wi-Fi is available throughout our home and each suite has a digital satellite TV and all-season fireplace. We are located just steps away from Illinois College, the Governor Duncan Mansion and Illinois School for the Deaf and our neighborhood is highlighted on one of Jacksonville’s historic walking tours. Escape the standard hotel room and enjoy your own private suite in the finest Jacksonville area lodging.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

National Plan for Vacation Day


The Secret to Maximizing Your Vacation Time This Year
“So much to do, so little time.” While the phrase may sound like it perfectly describes our lives, research shows there actually is time.
Americans universally say that vacation days are important to them, yet 54 percent of workers aren’t using their hard-earned vacation time. Project: Time Off research found that workers are taking nearly a full week less of vacation than we did in 2000, resulting in a stockpile of 600 million unused vacation days.
The secret to achieving your travel goals this year, while maintaining your excellent employee status, is planning. Planning is the most important step in making vacation possible and, according to Project: Time Off, a majority (52%) of workers who set aside time each year to plan for travel take all their time off, compared to just 40 percent of non-planners. Planners also tend to take longer vacations: While three-in-four (75%) planners take a week or more at a time, non-planners take significantly fewer days—zero to three—than planners at once (42% to 18%).
The benefits of planning extend beyond days spent away from the office for rest and rejuvenation. Planners report greater happiness than non-planners with their relationships, health and well-being, company, and job. Their bosses are probably happier, too, since they’re in the loop on when you’re going to be out and can prepare accordingly.
What are you waiting for? It’s time to take back your calendar and put vacation at the top of your list of priorities. Planning for vacation can be achieved in three simple steps:
  1. Determine how much time off you earn and identify the vacation policies at your workplace.
  2. Get to dreaming! How do you want to spend your time off this year?
  3. Plan out your days with Project: Time Off’s vacation planning tool and share with your manager, your colleagues, spouse—everyone!
This year, don’t let your vacation days be part of a statistic. Put the fear of missing out behind you and turn your bucket list into a to-do list by starting to plan now.
Need some ideas? Here’s are some great ideas from our Jacksonville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.
One Day? Two Days? Family Getaway? Romantic Weekend?
The Jacksonville Area can easily fill multiple days with activities and things to discover. Below is a list to help you get started!
Here for one day
  • Stop by the Eli Bridge Ferris Wheel for a picture in Community Park
  • Do the Underground Railroad self-guided driving tour and end out at Woodlawn Farm for a guided tour of the farm.
  • Lunch at Mulligan’s
  • Splash around at the Play for all Park
  • Walk our historic downtown and visit locally owned stores on the “The Arts Corner” (Just Fair Trade, Our Town Books, Eclectic Arts)
  • Cool off at the Frozen Penguin
  • Enjoy the end of your day with the Looking for Lincoln Audio Tour
  • Don’t forget dinner before you leave: Eat pizza at the locally famous Leo’s Pizza
Here for two days
  • Start your second morning off with a delicious breakfast from Norma’s North Star Cafe
  • Then head over to Governor Duncan Mansion for a tour. Take a little while to play at Duncan park
  • Visit the Jacksonville historic district and take part in our self-guided Historical Homes Walking Tour
  • Make some time for lunch at Annabel Lee’s Tea Room and finish with some antiquing in the Transfer Company Shops
  • Take a tour of our WallDog Murals downtown
  • Do some shopping downtown in the square and at the Lincoln Square Shopping Center
  • Catch a round of golf at Northridge or The Links
  • Stop by the Irish Toad for drinks
  • Finish the evening with dinner at Muggsy’s
Romantic Getaway
  • Spend the night at Blessings On State Bed & Breakfast, located in the heart of the historic district.
  • Check out the David Strawn Art Gallery
  • Catch one of the local theatre or music events
  • Have dinner at Lonzerotti’s, located in a restored train depot
Read more about the importance of planning at ProjectTimeOff.com/Plan.

About Blessings on State Bed & Breakfast
Experience a stay in our award-winning Bed & Breakfast located in a magnificently restored 130-year-old mansion in the heart of the historic district. Pampered luxury is our goal, to delight both business and leisure travelers. We offer two upscale guest suites, each with private sitting rooms and private baths. We provide multi-course gourmet breakfasts, 24/7 family-friendly hot and cold beverages and snacks, and cookies and milk at bedtime. Wi-Fi is available throughout our home and each suite has a digital satellite TV and all-season fireplace. We are located just steps away from Illinois College, the Governor Duncan Mansion and Illinois School for the Deaf and our neighborhood is highlighted on one of Jacksonville’s historic walking tours. Escape the standard hotel room and enjoy your own private suite in the finest Jacksonville area lodging.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Why Christmastime is not Always a Happy Time for our Family

Those who know me well, know that I love Christmas. I. Love. Christmas. I love beautiful nativities, stunning Christmas trees, singing Christmas carols, going on sleigh rides, and seeing all the glitter and sparkle... all things Christmas. Except... the date. Christmas day, December 25th, is close to another date, December 28th, and that day is a very sad day for our family. (Terry, don't read this. Some of the rest of you shouldn't read it, either. It's going to be hard to get through. My tears are flowing as I write.)

You see, December 28th is a day of loss and grief for our family and friends. Our family has been touched (maybe "slammed" is a better word) by child abuse. Some of you know that all of our five children are adopted. All came to be our children via the state child welfare system. All were foster children at one time, for reasons including abuse and neglect. Valerie, our youngest, lost her younger brother at the hand of their birth father when she was four years old. She entered foster care (and our home) at that time, and after four years in care, she was adopted at age eight.

This is our story. It's a hard story to tell, but tomorrow is the 10th anniversary of Maxwell's death, and I think it's time to tell it out loud from my perspective as his grandma and the adoptive mother of both his older sister and his mother.

Valerie's brother's name is Maxwell. He was a delightful child, cute as can be - fun, engaging, loving, and loved. And he was a victim of child abuse. At the age of two, he was killed by his birth father. Although family tried to intervene, although calls were made, questions were asked, reports were made, and a DCFS case was opened, his birth father still had legal rights to visit. The man did not go out and buy a gun and shoot Max; he apparently became angry during the night and pushed a tiny little boy into a wall with enough force to give him brain damage equal to Shaken Baby Syndrome. One push that ended his life after what we perceive to be history of lesser pushes, bumps, bruises and battery.

Max was born to our then youngest daughter, a single mother involved in a relationship we didn't approve of in any way. In fact, we went to great lengths to try to end it, including having her get a legal order of protection when he put her in the hospital. It was hard to keep them apart, and it seemed that other professionals were less invested than we were in doing so. Both parents were in their 20's, adults in the eyes of the law and both had legal rights. Max's mother did many things right, but she could not pull way from the kids' birth father, even when he was fully involved in a subsequent relationship and had other children. She fit into patterns that are very consistent with a history of domestic violence.

When Max was killed, we'd already moved to Jacksonville and our hope had been that he and his family would move up here, too. Both kids were deaf, and we believed that they needed to be near Illinois School for the Deaf. We thought that if we moved up here, they'd have the support they needed to make the move. Our move, leaving our home and town of 25 years, gave me the impetus to be able to finally open my own Bed & Breakfast. We hoped it would draw them this way, too. Max, Val and their mom visited us for Christmas early in the week, then returned to their home. I can still hear, in my mind, the pain in my son's voice when he called late that week to say that Max was gone. He'd passed away during the night. The pain was great for all of us.

Often following visits, I encouraged Max's mom to take him to the doctor due to illness or unexplained injuries. In fact, I was with his mom twice when she took Max to the hospital following visits with his birth father. The kids' pediatrician, never once said, "I need to report this." or "These injuries are unusual. You need to stay away from this man." Never once did she do her job for Maxwell as a mandated reporter. We have list of doctor contact dates including one early in the week he passed away. When testifying in court, I stated that one of my greatest challenges was that we were holding a young mother accountable for Maxwell's injuries and death, but not the doctor she'd taken him to so many times.  Out of the blue one day, my son, still living in our old home area, called to say that he thought the doctor was going to be charged. I asked how he knew. He said that Max's picture was on the news again and the indication was that a doctor was being investigated. We believe now that when directly asked by DCFS, she stated that she had no concerns. As a result of Max's death, his pediatrician did lose her license to practice - for only one year. That's hard for me to wrap my mind around. We lost our grandson. As a result, she lost her livelihood for one year. My only hope is that Max's death and the subsequent loss of license had an impact on her consideration toward future mandated reporting and supporting families in crisis.

When grieving, anniversary days are often hard - death dates, birth dates, missed holidays and other significant events. This 10-year anniversary is hitting me especially hard. We're coming up on our 10th anniversary with Blessings on State Bed & Breakfast. It is my dream come true, but it had a challenging beginning. Imagine trying to get a new business off the ground when your heart is breaking and you can't control your tears. My mind was on losing Maxwell; it was not on getting set up to do business. I remember the day my buddy said, "I'm just going to move all these lamps off your dining room table. You can put them wherever you want them later, but I'm getting them out of here." Council members volunteered to do my DCFS work for me. Many donated to a fund for children at Illinois School for the Deaf on our behalf. Thankfully, I had a lot of help and support in those early days.  I just held on to the Lord and leaned on my friends and family during some very dark days.


That brings us to today. Christmas time. A time of joy and laughter. A time to celebrate Jesus' birth. And an anniversary of a small child's death. It's a big one. 10 years. Imagine visiting a snowy grave with a 14-year-old surviving sister. 14 years old. A sister who lovingly places the Christmas gift she purchased, a red "muscle" Hot Wheels car, among other cars placed in days past. Picture standing behind this sweet girl as she carefully clears away the leaves and other debris to uncover other treasures left to honor him.

Valerie's time with Max was so limited that we're never sure how much she actually remembers him. Losing someone is never easy. Losing a child or grandchild is a really significant event. Losing someone at holiday time seems especially hard, but I can't wrap my mind around how hard it must be to be a child and lose your younger sibling at such a young age.

We have strong faith that we will see Max again in Heaven. I can't imagine where we would be without that blessed hope. I believe that the Lord took Max Home now to keep him from what may have been a longer life of abuse. I have to redirect my thoughts to the joy of eternity with the Lord rather than the loss and grief I feel because Max is no longer with us. How do you explain it to his four-year-old sister? We spoke to her of Heaven and directed her attention toward the clouds. That actually backfired on me when we had taken off on a flight to Texas. Because she was five years old, I thought she was just excited about flying. However, as we got up into the clouds she looked me straight in the eyes and with child-like faith asked, "When do we get to see Maxwell?" We were flying into the clouds and she was going to see him. There were tears shed in that moment, too. I shared this story and other things Val said in a book we wrote called, "Why Did We Have to Say Goodbye? Valerie's Story." We have copies for sale, both hard cover and paperback. It may be of benefit if you know a family at risk or one that has experienced child abuse.

Though I'm far from being a fan of contemporary Christian music, I'll never forget the lyrics to a song that was sung in Max's funeral. I'd probably never heard of Casting Crowns before that day, but the Lord used those lyrics to speak to me then, repeated it when the assistant pastor sang it as a special at Westfair a few weeks later, and it continues to speak to me to this day. Tears dripped off my chin as they sang that song. It still brings back the intense grief that had a hold on me and serves as a reminder that I can't praise the Lord only when things are going my way. I have to praise him when I'm in the midst of the storm, too.


Maxwell Owen Eyer, age two, died at 12:50 a.m., on Friday, December 28, 2007. That's our Max. This is an anniversary year. Even through my tears I want to celebrate Max's life. He brought love and joy into many lives and I know that we can look forward to seeing him again one day. Valerie and I have been invited to share our story at Prevent Child Abuse events. We do that to honor Maxwell's memory and to do our part to prevent the abuse and neglect of other children.

I live in a town that takes animal abuse seriously. Let's do the same for child abuse. Why do we see more tear-jerking appeals on TV to protect animals than we do to protect our children and youth? Is there someone you can't seem to get through to? Do you need to make a call? If you believe a child is in imminent danger, please call 911. If you believe you need to report child abuse or neglect, the number to call is 1-800-4-A-Child, 1-800-422-4453. You may save the life of a child. Do it for that child. 
Do it to honor our Max.

About Blessings on State Bed & Breakfast
Experience a stay in our award-winning Bed & Breakfast located in a magnificently restored 130-year-old mansion in the heart of the historic district. Pampered luxury is our goal, to delight both business and leisure travelers. We offer two upscale guest suites, each with private sitting rooms and private baths. We provide multi-course gourmet breakfasts, 24/7 family-friendly hot and cold beverages and snacks, and cookies and milk at bedtime. Wi-Fi is available throughout our home and each suite has a digital satellite TV and all-season fireplace. We are located just steps away from Illinois College, the Governor Duncan Mansion and Illinois School for the Deaf and our neighborhood is highlighted on one of Jacksonville’s historic walking tours. Escape the standard hotel room and enjoy your own private suite in the finest Jacksonville area lodging.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Designing Tablescapes using Chargers

Bed & Breakfast, Blessings on State Bed & Breakfast, crystal, fine china, formal table setting, table setting

Well-designed tablescapes offer a terrific way to change the look of our breakfast presentations at Blessings on State Bed & Breakfast. One of the easiest, and often least expensive, ways to change the appearance of a tablescape is to change out the charger, or service, plate. We have several options here, and they vary greatly in both the appearance of the charger and the impact on the place setting. They also can vary greatly in price, with some starting at around $3 per plate.

This video shows our assistant Kelly demonstrating our basic table setting. Our next blog post video will demonstrate how changing just one item - the charger plate - can change the look of your table. Please follow along as we share our work here at Blessings on State. We hope that you will be inn-spired to use some of these ideas in your own home!



About Blessings on State Bed & Breakfast
Experience a stay in our award-winning Bed & Breakfast located in a magnificently restored 130-year-old mansion in the heart of the historic district. Pampered luxury is our goal, to delight both business and leisure travelers. We offer two upscale guest suites, each with private sitting rooms and private baths. We provide multi-course gourmet breakfasts, 24/7 family-friendly hot and cold beverages and snacks, and cookies and milk at bedtime. Wi-Fi is available throughout our home and each suite has a digital satellite TV and all-season fireplace. We are located just steps away from Illinois College, the Governor Duncan Mansion and Illinois School for the Deaf and our neighborhood is highlighted on one of Jacksonville’s historic walking tours. Escape the standard hotel room and enjoy your own private suite in the finest Jacksonville area lodging.

Many thanks to Steve at Steve Weber Films for his collaboration on our video projects.

Gwenn and the Art of Table Setting

Here at Blessings on State, a lot of our attention is directed toward breakfast service. After all, Breakfast is part of our name! We focus on providing fresh locally sourced food, prepared thoughtfully and served beautifully.

Well-designed tablescapes offer a fun way to change the look of our breakfast presentations. Some place settings are seasonal and others are used based on color, shape and size. Although I have full sets of china, I've also purchased place settings for two and additional pieces that I mix and match in order to create even more tablescape options. We also have several crystal options that are used to vary the overall appearance.

We use a more formal design for our breakfast tablescapes. This video shows our assistant Kelly demonstrating our basic table setting. Our next blog post video will demonstrate how changing just one item - the charger plate - can change the look of your table. Please follow along as we share our work here at Blessings on State. We hope that you will be inn-spired to use some of these ideas in your own home!



About Blessings on State Bed & Breakfast
Experience a stay in our award-winning Bed & Breakfast located in a magnificently restored 130-year-old mansion in the heart of the historic district. Pampered luxury is our goal, to delight both business and leisure travelers. We offer two upscale guest suites, each with private sitting rooms and private baths. We provide multi-course gourmet breakfasts, 24/7 family-friendly hot and cold beverages and snacks, and cookies and milk at bedtime. Wi-Fi is available throughout our home and each suite has a digital satellite TV and all-season fireplace. We are located just steps away from Illinois College, the Governor Duncan Mansion and Illinois School for the Deaf and our neighborhood is highlighted on one of Jacksonville’s historic walking tours. Escape the standard hotel room and enjoy your own private suite in the finest Jacksonville area lodging.

Many thanks to Steve at Steve Weber Films for his collaboration on our video projects.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Christmas Home Tour at Blessings on State Bed & Breakfast

The Christmas season is a wonderful time to experience Blessings on State Bed & Breakfast. We have a team of friends who come in for Elves Weekend to kick off the holiday season. This year our elves decorated five Christmas trees! There’s another great video that documents progress this year, from our Illinois College football players setting up the trees, to shots of all the work that goes in to making the magic happen when the lights come on. Since elves weekend, Christmas stockings have gone up, along with garlands, Snow Villages and other Christmas décor. With a name like Blessings, it’s probably no surprise that we have number of nativity scenes throughout our home. We love the holiday season and the sparkle and glow that comes from beautifully decorated Christmas trees, but our first goal is to recognize and honor our Savior’s birth.We officially turn on the Christmas lights after the Thanksgiving dinner dishes are done and I’m still decorating today. It’s fun to imagine new vignettes and tweak our displays as I pass by!

Last year we were on the Pilot Club Holiday Home Tour and next year we hope to host a Candlelight Christmas Tour, so this year we decided to offer a video home tour of Blessings on State! Come join us as we celebrate the Christmas season at Blessings on State Bed & Breakfast!



We change it up from year to year, but we always have several Christmas trees and five fireplace mantels and other areas to entice us as we deck the halls. My hand-stitched needlepoint stockings for our grandchildren are always displayed on the stairway. I love that our guests have their own Christmas trees to enjoy in their suites. We also display many nativity scenes throughout our home, because the birth of Christ is such an important part of our story here at Blessings on State. 

Many thanks to Steve at Steve WebPhoto for his collaboration on this project.

About Blessings on State Bed & Breakfast
Experience a stay in our award-winning Bed & Breakfast located in a magnificently restored 130-year-old mansion in the heart of the historic district. Pampered luxury is our goal, to delight both business and leisure travelers. We offer two upscale guest suites, each with private sitting rooms and private baths. We provide multi-course gourmet breakfasts, 24/7 family-friendly hot and cold beverages and snacks, and cookies and milk at bedtime. Wi-Fi is available throughout our home and each suite has a digital satellite TV and all-season fireplace. We are located just steps away from Illinois College, the Governor Duncan Mansion and Illinois School for the Deaf and our neighborhood is highlighted on one of Jacksonville’s historic walking tours. Escape the standard hotel room and enjoy your own private suite in the finest Jacksonville area lodging.