Saturday, February 14, 2015

Happy Valentine's Day 2015

All of our guests found a little something sweet
waiting for them when they checked in.
Valentine's Day has been a big hit at the Ridge this weekend. For instance, one of our guests left us a great note:

Hi Jennifer,

Thank you for another wonderful experience at Stevenson Ridge. Please pass on my appreciation to whoever did that fantastic set up the romantic package last night. It was simply over the top and a huge hit! You and your staff have me made look like a rock star--LOL--and I truly appreciate it! Stevenson Ridge is an amazing complex and we'll be back in the summer! 

Thank you again!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Was the Groundhog Right?

photo courtesy The Washington Post
I don't know if the groundhog has had anything to do with it, but we have had pleasantly mild temperatures at the Ridge this week. On, Monday--Groundhog's Day--Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow, which means six more weeks of winter. Old Man Winter, it seems, is not ready to retire for the year--but for now we are enjoying this hint of better weather.

Groundhog's Day is actually my father-in-law's favorite holiday. I told you a little about him in a post earlier this week. Although he lives in Maine now, Bill is originally from northwest Pennsylvania and played a high school football against Punxsutawney, whose team mascot was the Chucks (short for "woodchuck," which is another name for groundhog). Punxsutawney is the home of Punxsutawney Phil, the world-renowned weather prognosticator.

"It's great fun," Bill says. "Maybe--just maybe--it's a little indication that spring is around the corner. It's a fun way to get a little glimmer of hope to get you through the last of the long winter months."

Sunday, February 1, 2015

My Father-In-Law's Snowshoes

My father-in-law, Bill, shows off a pair of snowshoes.
Congratulations to my father-in-law, Bill Mackowski. The Portland Press Herald in Portland, Maine--the state's largest newspaper--ran a wonderful article about him this weekend.

Among his many talents, Bill makes traditional Maine snowshoes and pack baskets. He's done specially commissioned work for Orvis outfitters, and he's twice been named a Master Artist by the Maine Arts Commission. He has amassed a collection of traditional Native American snowshoes from across Canada and the northern United States--work so impressive that the Smithsonian Institution has liken him to a "national hero."

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Change of Date for the Emerging Civil War Symposium

Due to some unforeseen circumstances, Emerging Civil War has had to change the date of their 2015 symposium. Please mark your calendar: The Second Annual Emerging Civil War Symposium at Stevenson Ridge will be held August 7-9, 2015. 

The keynote speaker for the symposium, announced this week, will be Dana B. Shoaf, editor-in-cheif of Civil War Times magazine. As the Symposium will focus on Civil War Legacies, Dana will present "Give Them the Cold Steel (or not): A Military and Cultural History of the Bayonet." 

One place that the bayonet was used most notoriously was at Spotsylvania’s “Bloody Angle” on May 12, 1864. Stevenson Ridge sits on part of the Spotsy battlefield. “This is sure to give the story extra poignant resonance” says Chris, our historian-in-residence.

You can find out more details about Dana's talk, and other symposium details, at Emerging Civil War.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Love is Sweet...

This is one of the sweetest favors I've seen a bride and groom give their guests: a small jar of honey!

The antique look of the tag matches the color of the honey, and the tag's inscription offers a fun little rhyme: "Love is sweet. Thank you for making our day complete."

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Make-Your-Own Bouquets

Here was a neat idea we saw recently: one of our brides invited her bridesmaids to make their own bouquets.

The florist delivered a bucket full of assorted flowers, all chosen by the bride to fit the wedding’s color scheme and style. The wedding coordinator set up the bucket in the bridal suite in the Lodge, and once the bridesmaids had all arrived, she invited them to each assemble their own bouquet.

Each bridesmaid had the opportunity to create a floral arrangement that reflected the bride’s vision while also reflecting each woman’s uniqueness.

Once the bridesmaids finished, each bouquet was placed in a mason jar full of water to keep the flowers fresh until it was time for everyone to make the walk down the aisle.

It was a wonderful way to add a splash of individuality to the festivities!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Register Now for Our 2015 Bridal Open House

Plans are already underway for our 2015 Bridal Open House. This year, we’ll celebrate Amour á Paris!

The Bridal Open House will be held on Sunday, March 8, 2015, from 12:00-4:00 p.m. We’ll showcase our venues, cottages, and preferred vendors.

Admission is free, but so that we can make sure Chef Brad prepares enough tasty appetizers for everyone, we’re asking people to register at

Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Blue Jay Gang

We have had a raucous gang of blue jays running wild across the Ridge this winter. They’ve been here all fall—some ten or twelve of them—zipping around from tree to tree like a bunch of rowdy adolescents. Their antics have been a lot of fun to watch.

Blue jays are year-round residents in most of the eastern U.S. Even when it snows, they just hunker down and fluff up a little for insulation. Their blue feathers make a gorgeous contrast against the snow.

Of course, we’ve not had snow in these parts so far this winter (knock on wood). But even against the bare branches of the leafless trees, the jays appeared like little blue splashes.

Jays are usually loud and boisterous, but so far, this gang has pretty much kept quiet, at least while I’ve been out and about. I haven’t seen them mob any other birds at Debbie’s birdfeeders, either. For being a rowdy bunch, they’re behaving with pretty good manners.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

My Brother is Rockin' It with RockIT Repair

I am so proud of my brother, John Hawkins. His business, RockIT Repair, was featured in the business section of the Free Lance-Star on Saturday. If you missed the article, you can see it online here.

John and his business partner, Jim Einhorn, started RockIT Repair two years ago. They started off by repairing cracked screens on cellphones, tablets, Kindles, and laptops, but they've been growing ever since, doing more and more types of repairs. "We repair electronic devices from any manufacturer," they say. Business has been booming.

Last week, John and Jim completed work on renovations to their storefront, located at 1319 Lafayette Blvd. in Fredericksburg. On January 22 at 4:00 p.m., they'll have an official ribbon cutting to celebrate.

Congratulations to John and everyone else at RockIt Repair!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Busy, Busy, Busy with Many Brides-to-Be

The holidays are always one of the most popular times of year to get engaged—and that means the first week of January is always busy at Stevenson Ridge. Elizabeth, our head wedding coordinator, has been fielding calls from new brides-to-be who are now on the hunt for the perfect wedding venue.

As I’d mentioned a few days ago, 2014 was our best year yet for weddings, with nearly sixty couples coming to Stevenson Ridge for their big day. And looking ahead to 2015, we already have nearly forty weddings on the books. We even have a few scheduled for 2016!

Traditionally, the most popular months for weddings are May and June in the spring and September and October in the fall. However, last year, April and August also proved to be popular. And of course, there are always a few December weddings that incorporate a beautiful holiday theme.

Aside from Christmas/New Year's, the other big time of year for engagements is, of course, Valentine’s Day. That’s what makes January and February “wedding season.” There are bridal shows and open houses aplenty. Be sure to come find us at the D.C. Wedding Experience on January 19 at the Patriot Center. We’ll also be at “The Big Day” Bridal Show on February 22 at the Fredericksburg Expo Center. Plus, we have our own Bridal Open House coming up on Sunday, March 8. (Details on that are coming soon....)

In the meantime, I’m encouraging Elizabeth to eat well and get plenty of rest between all those phone calls—it’s going to be a busy year!

Friday, January 2, 2015

New Year's Resolutions

The new year offers the opportunity for fresh starts and new beginnings, and like so many folks, those of us at Stevenson Ridge have made a few resolutions for the year ahead.

Debbie (Co-Owner): My resolution is to de-clutter—and I’m starting today, cleaning cupboards!

Elizabeth (Head Wedding Coordinator): I plan to focus on enjoying the little moments. Last year, I focused on fitness, and the year before that, I focused on managing my stress. I’ve been able to stay dedicated to those things, too.

Brad (Executive Chef): I plan to expand our menu offerings. I’ll be spending time in January and February cooking up some new entrées and appetizers, especially.

Casey (Sous Chef): I want to focus more on my kids and be a better dad. I try to do that already, but it’s something I always want to be better at.

Gail (Office Assistant): My resolution is to set aside more time to spend with family and friends, doing some relaxing things like having tea or coffee and catching up with people I haven’t seen in a while.

Chris (Historian-in-Residence): I’m getting back into a daily exercise routine. That sounds so cliché, I know! I miss it when I don’t work out, though, so I’m really looking forward to getting back into a regular routine.

As for me? I’m hoping to manage my time more effectively. This is always a huge challenge for me because there’s always so much going on at the Ridge, and particularly with the inn, the schedule frequently changes at the last minute. It’s also challenging because I love my job so much, so it never really feels like work—which makes it easy to get lost in what I’m doing.