Country Girl at Heart

I gotta tell you, I do love staying at bed and breakfast inns.

I know they’re not for everybody, but they fit me to a T. Quaint surroundings filled with antiques and lots of friendly people to talk to, hospitable innkeepers cooking my food for me, not to mention sample sizes of bath products– what’s not to love? The girls are right there with me, but Russ… not so much.

If you’re a regular reader, you’ve probably figured out by now that our Russ is an introvert trapped in an extrovert’s career. After years of practice he’s become very good at  pushing through his discomfort and making the effort to talk and connect with people he doesn’t know, but trust me, it does not come naturally to him. We are such a pair– when we leave a gathering of any kind I am all hyped up and happy from interacting with everyone, and even though Russ enjoyed himself, he’s exhausted and basically ready to fall asleep in the car! So the fact that Russ was not only willing to go to a B & B with the girls and I last week, but actually instigated the whole trip himself is kind of a miracle. (Cue angels singing.) Needless to say, the pressure was on me to come up with something that wouldn’t make him regret his momentary lack of judgement. Luckily, I have mad ninja Googling skills, so I was up for it.

Now even though I’m definitely a B & B fan, I don’t enjoy just any ol’ kind, and I can be a wee bit picky. I’m basically a pretty low-maintenance, flexible kind of traveller (hey, I spent 15 years on a bus with a band, remember?) but I figure if I’m going to be paying for the pleasure of staying at an inn, it doesn’t make sense to go somewhere that’s not at least as nice as the house I’m leaving. I usually lean towards the historical inns– you know those wonderful huge old mansions that you always drive by and wonder what they look like on the inside but unless you happen to know the owners you never get to see them? Yeah, I love those.

Here are some of the things on my checklist: I prefer that the guest rooms are well separated from the public rooms and have an element of privacy so that it doesn’t feel like I’m crammed into my Auntie’s spare bedroom with a bunch of noisy cousins next door. ‘Shared baths’ are a big ‘no thanks,’ unless I’m sharing them with family members or people that have already seen me naked. Breakfast should not be served at the butt-crack of dawn– if you have to set an alarm to get up and get ready, it starts feeling like work instead of play. Animals of any kind are always a plus, especially those you can pet. Bonus points for big ol’ porches with swings and lovely grounds for wandering around in. Having some kind of interesting, regional restaurant not too far away is pretty important, though it doesn’t have to be fancy– in fact everybody (but me) emphatically prefers that it is not AT ALL fancy! Also, driving distance has to be factored in because if you blow most of the first day getting there AND you know you face a long drive when you leave, it has a tendency to make you spend the in-between time napping instead of exploring.

Actually this is starting to make me sound kind of high-maintenance after all, isn’t it?!

I prefer the term “discriminating.”

Anyway, bearing all of those elements in mind, I hit the computer and came up with… *trumpet fanfare*  …The Country Girl at Heart Bed and Breakfast Inn! It’s in Munfordville, Kentucky, a straight shot up I-65, barely two hours away with the added bonus (to the girls and I at least) of  having all kinds of (previously visited) charming little Southern towns (like Franklin, Smith’s Grove and Glendale) right off the interstate so we could basically antique-mall our way to the inn. Their website will give you the basic info about the inn, but what it leaves out is that the owner, Darlene, is truly an amazing, fascinating force of nature-type woman– my favorite kind! She and her daughters (who happen to be INCREDIBLE singers and musicians known collectively as “Warrior Poetes”– check them out here) moved to Kentucky from Connecticut after an exhaustive, multi-state search to find the perfect property to turn into an inn. A local business magazine called ‘The Lane Report’ describes their journey this way:

“You’d have to think that a woman who kept two pygmy goats and a full chicken coop in a New England suburb might have a farm in her future. All Darlene Rose knew was that for years she knew she wasn’t where she was meant to be. Whenever she, her husband and children went on vacation, she’d look at houses and property, dreaming of running a bed and breakfast on a working farm and cooking in great big pots.

When the mother of four began searching online four years ago, nothing panned out. Then in 2007, her brother found an Amish farm for sale in Hart County.
Darlene fell in love with its house, barns, rolling pastures and woods, and purchased the lot. Upon returning to Connecticut, she announced to her family, “I’m moving to Kentucky. Anyone who wants to can come with me.”
Thus began the adventure.

Last October, Darlene and her girls opened Country Girl at Heart Farm Bed and Breakfast. On this 140-acre working sustainable farm, visitors can sip lemonade on a wraparound porch and watch Amish buggies clip-clop by, or roll up their sleeves and pitch in to help with the animals or burgeoning vegetable, perennial and herb gardens.

“So many people say they’ll come for the b’n’b, but probably won’t get involved with the farm work,” Darlene laughs. “But they all do.”

In addition to horses, goats, ducks and a grass-fed beef operation, 100 hens lay orange-yoked brown eggs the women sell in Elizabethtown and Louisville, where Avalon Restaurant now features “Country Girl at Heart Deviled Eggs.”

Remarkably, none of the women knew anything about renovation or farming at first. Though Darlene had tended an organic garden in their suburban backyard, they had never canned green beans, mowed pastureland or cared for livestock. So, upon buying the farm, they moved in across the road and spent the first six months mapping out the makeover (**featuring a 5000 sq. ft. incredibly well-thought-out addition**) Darlene’s husband Brian, who retains a business and residence in Connecticut, helped with the planning; Darlene was the designer and builder.

These days, the former Amish farmhouse now sports five additional beamed bedrooms. Each has a private bath, a king or queen bed with 100 percent organic cotton or bamboo sheets, and a unique theme – farmer, pioneer, patriot, artisan and gentry. The Pioneer Room, for example, (**where we stayed**) sports country French décor to honor a French woman instrumental in local history. All common areas in the farmhouse have wireless high-speed Internet access.” (**And yes, this was a definite selling point for the Taff family.**)

Now, my personal taste in interior design for my own home runs more towards the art deco/folk art/early bordello/eclectic/bordering-on-looking-like-circus-folk-live-here kind of look, so I don’t necessarily want to live full-time surrounded by country-themed decorations. But Darlene has the perfect touch for a country inn, and she also shares my love of vintage dishes, teapots and mixed fabrics so I fell in love with the decor on the spot. In this blog post I really wanted to show you guys some of her more creative touches, so if you’ll bear with me…. here’s a few (million) photos:

**Website pictures of our room, the Pioneer Suite– it has an adjoining room with two twin beds, perfect for the girls.

**It had a couple of great decorating ideas in it– our bedroom featured ‘aged’ pages from a book that told the true story of the French pioneer woman that the room was named after, hung as art on the wall.

**The girl’s room featured one of my favorite things in the world, vintage nightgowns, again hung as art on the wall. How great is this? I have collected these for years, never once though of displaying them this way!

**Frankly, Charlotte was much more impressed with this particular artistic expression:

**We were able to peek into an unoccupied guestroom down the hall, the colorful Artisan Room which had another great wall display idea– a clothesline strung with antique linens and lace.

**Darlene has such a flair for mixing patterns and textures. Here are some website photos of Artisan Room–

**A couple more interesting answers to the eternal “What can I do to perk up this blank wall? question– and again, this might not be your decorating style, but you gotta admire her creativity:

**Walking into the dining room for breakfast we were greeted by this lovely sight:

**Close-up view (and yes, I was lusting mightily over those Homer Laughlin berry bowls, but my mother raised me right so I didn’t even THINK of stealing them. Also, a complete set of 6 wouldn’t fit into my purse.):

**Darlene’s magical Oatmeal For People Who Don’t Like Oatmeal:

**A delectable popover/pancake fusion known as a ‘dutch baby':

**By the way, this is what I was gazing lovingly at while I was eating all of these wondrous things… See why I felt an instant bond with Darlene?

**And look what she did with these cute vintage aprons– chair skirts!

**The dining room opens into a sunny common room that has all kinds of cozy nooks factored into it so you can sit around and talk in a group, or settle into a quiet reading corner. Great use of space, and WONDERFUL choice of mixed fabric upholstery!

**That’s a puzzle table behind the sofa.

**You can get a glimpse of  the sunporch through these french doors:

**Lots of fun things are thoughtfully placed at kid-level, like this dollhouse:

**OK, if you’re still hanging with me, in the next few days I’ll do one more little post that shows some of the actual farm outdoors, and maybe a couple more Shaker Village shots– are you guys up for it?

I’ll leave you with this shot of our fabulous innkeeper, who is bright, funny, full of energy and interesting stories. She also happens to be a deeply spiritual woman, which is probably one of the reasons Mr. Not-A-Big-Fan-Of-B&Bs ironically ended up being the LAST one of us to leave the dining room after we had spent at least two hours having a unexpectedly soulful conversation with Darlene and her equally fascinating daughter Marissa!

He’s already asking when we’re going to plan another trip.

27 Responses

  1. rachelbaker

    Wow! I want to go.

  2. LindaB

    Did you forget the picture of the innkeeper? I wanna see this gal!

    I love this place! And my sister lives in Elizabethtown, so it can’t be far from her house!!! Maybe I’ll get there some day! I enjoyed this post and pics—–keep them coming!!!

  3. Barbara M. Lloyd

    Gracious, I’ve fallen in love with yur B&B family, sight unseen….and I absolutely love all of the decor….including the food. I’m ready for the next installment.

  4. LindaB

    “…our Russ is an introvert trapped in an extrovert’s career.”

    Ba ha ha ha ha ha!!! Poor man!! But that’s why we love him!!!

  5. tori

    LindaB– I DID FORGET!!! Just added it now– isn’t she darling?
    61 years old, with the energy of a teenager!

  6. MostlySunny

    OK, I’m hooked. But, and this is a BIG BERTHA BUT…we don’t go to B&B’s because the husband (mine) doesn’t stay anywhere that doesn’t have a HUMONGOUS FLAT SCREEN TV!!! Forget the antique nightgowns and other stuff that are absolutely adorable- where’s the HUMONGOUS FLAT SCREEN TV? (That’s “him” talking).

    And…I’m telling…at home he has those “TV Ears” that you see advertised on said HUMONGOUS FLAT SCREEN TV…so I can sleep while he’s flippin’ thru all 6,000+ channels!

    And..I’m telling…he won’t let me — excuse me — his heart’s desire for me — is that I not go white water rafting down the Colorado River while he is still alive.

    So, one of these days…I’m going to take a 9-day rafting trip then hole up in one of those comfy, cozy B&B’s and pig out royally!

    Have I said too much?

  7. rockin robyn

    Wow!!! I want to go… Tori, how ’bout you plan a “Baby Bloomr” meet and greet – a first annual “get-together” and we close that place down and all stay there at that B & B… that would be awesome. I bet you could even hook up an entertainer to sing some gospel into our lil souls!!!

  8. tori

    rachel– You would LOVE it!

    Momma Lloyd– The food was right up your alley, fresh and delicious.

    MostlySunny– To tell you the truth, I don’t remember seeing a TV, flat screen or otherwise… Doesn’t mean there isn’t one, though. And there IS a HUMONGOUS 8′ x 6′ movie screen downstairs with a ton of movies to choose from. But I think your Colorado idea might be your best bet!

    rockin robyn– That is SUCH a good idea– but I think we’d need a bigger place!

  9. LindaB

    Yes, she IS darling!!!! And she has the energy of a teenager??? And she’s 61???? Ask her for me what kind of vitamins she takes?

  10. rachelbaker

    I had the same idea as Rockin Robyn but then thought 5 bedrooms might not be enough for us all :-) This could be the next test for Tori’s mad ninja Googling skills.

  11. bettyrwoodward

    It all looks fabulous. I’d love to see it. A get together would be great. At the moment we’re thinking of us all coming over again in 2013!

  12. itsvikki2u

    Oh My Goodness! I loooooove the furniture! the sofa… armchair….. love it!! any ideas where she might of found these items? Looks like she possibly might have covered them herself. I LOVE the pictures, Thanks for sharing!

  13. tori

    rachelbaker, bettywoodward– Ok, seriously, wouldn’t a ‘Bloomr get-together be fun?!

    itsvikki2u– Darlene brought the furniture (or at least the sectional) with her from Connecticut, and had it re-covered in KY. She knew exactly what she wanted in terms of mixing the patterns, and she said that it raised the eyebrows of the upholsterer, but he did it! I promise, it looks even better in person. I have a version of the mixed pattern thing going with my den furniture, but the fabric is all in the same color tones– I love the contrasting colors she chose.





    BTW – so sorry to have abandoned all my super-duper friends here for a while – have been running all around FB,Twitter – till I am frankly tired of both, plus spenging lots of time w/ my 3 mo. old granddaughter! And, just bought a flash drive – my first – and if you know anything about me – IT IS THAT I AM NOT COMPUTER-FRIENDLY!!! I was high during all that burst of technology – about 15 years worth – so I am JUST NOW KNOWING THERE IS SUCH A THING AS A FLASH DRIVE!!! thus comes training from the ever-patient/diligent librarian on how to set up files/folders, cut/copy/paste, saving – so, of course – i have gone BACK thru my house taking pics of antiques, pictures of pictures, etc to save on my FD for my ddau and gr. dau, as well as insurance. I actually @ this moment have 110 pics that i downloaded from ym cell phone to my email – and now have to go to email and copy/paste to FD. still have more pics on the phone to sent to email….gotta be an easier way – but i am very new and it is the only way i am comfortable w/ right now! I LOVE YOU ALL… & AM SERIOUS ‘BOUT THAT GREET-N-MEET!!! LETS’ DO IT, GUYS!!! :) PEACE

  16. LindaB

    Delivered, I wasn’t high during the “burst of techology”, but I still don’t know what a “flash drive” is!!! You’re miles ahead of me! I’m just lucky to be able to post here!

    Tori, has any of your bloggy friends had a “reunion” of their faithful posters? How did that do? Did they pick a central location, or the home of the blogger? The idea is sure fun to contemplate!

  17. drobin99

    OMG….I am soooo there and I can’t make myself leave. I followed your journey on Twitter but the pics make it real. Do we have nightgowns on the wall, yet?

  18. LindaB

    I meant—“How did that GO?”

  19. LindaB

    Oh, and I meant—-“…the homeTOWN of the blogger?” Don’t want a return to my still vivid nightmare!

  20. jankinney

    Have you ever visited Bardstown, KY? It is a fantastic historic little town that I honestly believe you will fall in love with! It is my hometown (although, sadly, I don’t live there anymore) and I know what I am talking about! There are several bed and breakfasts, numerous historic sites, AND the Stephen Foster Story is performed at their ampitheater in the summer! You will also enjoy touring My Old Kentuckky Home. You will ALL love it!

  21. traceyhud2

    What a magnificent place Tori. I love B&B’s but my husband is like Russ..not a fan! Maybe I can convince him of this one.

    Thanks so much for sharing with us and I am looking forward to seeing the pics of the outside. I hope you have one of the front of the house too.

  22. tori

    LindaB–Seriously, I ought to ask her about vitamins! Maybe it’s all those farm fresh eggs…
    And I’m not sure about other bloggers re: ‘reunions’, but remember when Bossy came thru Nashville and stayed with me on her “No Book Tour”? That was kind of the idea, I think.

    DELIVERED– It would be so fun to all get together in the real world instead of cyberspace! Wonder if we could drag jonny the rockstar over from Finland?

    jankinney– I HAVE been to Bardstown, love it! Madi and I wandered around there when we took that mother/daughter Sweet 16 trip a couple of years ago. Ate a KY Hot Brown at the Old Talbot Tavern, shopped the main street… On that trip we stayed at the Maple Hill Manor B & B, which is another one of my very favorites.

    traceyhud2– Digging through my pictures as we speak! Yeah, Russ surprised me on this one– he really did enjoy it.

  23. okdebby

    Oh, oh, oh! I want to go there! What a wonderful way to put the exclamation point on this summer. Be sure to give Russ an extra hug and kiss for this one. I’ll have to start planting the seeds of B&B in my dear hubby’s brain and see if it germinates.

  24. Tweets that mention » Country Girl at Heart | babybloomr --

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Tori Taff, Diane Robinson. Diane Robinson said: I know jealousy is a sin but.RT @Babybloomr Eat'n breakfast w/ strangers can b fun! […]

  25. Chick Voice

    Wow………..WONDERFUL looking place. Might be a tad too frilly for my hubby. But I would love it.

    MOSTLY SUNNY I understand the Big TV thing……but I may have the place for you in Colorado………We stayed at Los Manos in Buena Vista. Very near white water on the Colorado. The bigger of the two rooms has a decent size TV. Lovely place.

    To all you ladies here, if you’re in need of a Colorado B&B recommend, I’m your girl. In just a few weeks we will be at the China Clipper in Ouray, Colorado. An incredible B&B we go to each year. My most favorite place on earth. (I’ll post pictures).

    I’ve got My Hubby well trained and now he’s the outgoing one, chatting with all the guests and hosts at breakfast!!

  26. justadad...

    Russ is a better man than I am…Just looking at the pictures gave me the heebie-jeebies.

  27. MostlySunny

    Chick Voice – I will keep that place in mind. thank you!

    justadad – You crack me up!

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