Brienna Lee

Brienna Lee

Saturday, 01 June 2019 20:14

cSavanna | Pick your Outdoor Adventure

It's time for an adventure...

cSavanna adventure bus

Savanna, located on the Mississippi River, has always been known as an outdoor paradise offering exploration such as hiking, biking, fishing, hunting, and boating. The town has a friendly and relaxed atmosphere with exciting opportunities for adventure vacations or quiet getaways; antique shops on Main Street, serene hikes in the close-by Mississippi Palisades State Park, water activities, welcoming bars and restaurants, and historical sites. And starting this summer, there are now watercraft rentals.

Amber the Adventure Bus has been unveiled and it's designed specifically for Savanna and its tourism. The custom art on the bus is one-of-a-kind and you can find it traveling the streets of Savanna or parked in front of the Marina on Rt. 64. 

Watercraft reservations start July 4, 2019

Offering transportation for kayak and paddle boat rental is only the start of Amber's Adventures. Northwest Illinois has so much more to offer and  cSavanna Adventures opens for watercraft reservations on July 4, 2019.

cSavanna is a business based out of Savanna and with the Mississippi River & its backwaters right out his back door, the owner saw a need for local watercraft rentals. Rather than waiting for someone else to do it he got down to business and created this unique opportunity so visitors can take the family out with a pontoon boat, seek thrills with a jet ski, find the next best spot with a fishing boat or relax while traveling down river channels with a paddle boat or kayak. In addition, they are offering bicycle rental to explore the downtown or the Great River Bike Trail which travels from Savanna to the Quad Cities and passes through refuges, parks, and river towns.

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Rental Options

Self-Powered Watercraft
Travel without a motor on the Mighty Mississippi River and seek the thrill as you travel at your own pace. Paddle boats and kayaks are available for rent by the hour or full day. Travel across the river with strong elbow grease or request a "drop-in" to the Plum River at Old Mill Park for a 3-hour small river cruise!

Fishing Boats - coming soon!
These boats are flat bottom boats and perfect for fishing in the small channels and marshy areas of the Mississippi River. Equipped with a large, recreational motor along with a standard trolling motor, these boats can get to fishing areas quickly and transition to quiet, slow movement at the fishing hole.

Pontoon Boats - coming soon!
Pontoons are a great way to gather up to 8 friends or family to explore the river, relax, and have fun. Pontoon boats may be linked together to form a large caravan of partiers or shored up on one of the many sandy islands for off-boat activities such as swimming, fishing, or sun worshipping. Pontoons are stocked with the necessary life vests and anchors and the additional rental of pull-behind tubes offers even more fun on the river.

Personal Watercraft - coming soon!
Personal watercraft--aka jet skis--are for the thrill seekers. It's for those who want to feel the throttle, control the bow, and push their limit of excitement. Jet skis can perform tricks, reach 50 mph and are the most fun when multiple friends are riding side-by-side down the river.

Reserve your rental and find pricing + packages for all rentals at https://www.csavanna.club/en/1346996/adventure-rentals.

"Play and Stay" Packages 

cSavanna owners have been coming up to Savanna’s outdoor paradise for 25 years and always knew that Savanna’s busy summer months were packed with travelers from all over the world.

Their journey started in real estate and vacation rentals. The bookings filled up fast. So fast that they quickly expanded to multiple rental properties. I had the opportunity to tour all of cSavanna’s rental units and stay at Betty’s Bell-House. This is an absolutely beautiful century-old refinished apartment in the heart of downtown. A block off of Main Street, Betty’s Bell-House offers easy exploration of Savanna’s historic downtown. It’s also dog-friendly. The unit allows for 10 guests with multiple bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, and even your own washer and dryer. Both bathrooms are large and newly remodeled with large walk-in showers. One of the bathrooms boasted an AMAZING tiled rain shower that made me immediately want to install one in my own home. It also has a firepit out back perfect for summer drinks and making smores around the fire.

Added bonus--a fenced yard for your fur babies.

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In addition to Bettys Bell-House, cSavanna also offers multiple other vacation rentals. BluRiver is a spacious and refinished home located right next door to Bettys Bell-House. It can host up to 4 guests and features a patio, awning, firepit, and seating in the backyard. BluRiver Canopy is the top level of the home which hosts up to 6 guests. All units provide modern bathrooms, comfy beds, access to the backyard firepit, and safe and secure entrances with your own personal code.

Important links

You can find more information and book your stay at one of cSavanna’s properties at the following links.

CSavanna Website: https://www.csavanna.club/  |  CSavanna Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/csavannaillinois/

Watercraft Rental information: https://www.csavanna.club/en/1346996/adventure-rentals

Betty's Bell-House: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/9839498?guests=1&adults=1&sl_alternate_dates_exclusion=true&source_impression_id=p3_1559438168_gDWxjNX9aPPXu24S&s=R98hJE6h

BluRiver Nest: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/21141797?guests=1&adults=1&sl_alternate_dates_exclusion=true&source_impression_id=p3_1559438160_w94sPvoJZwRLuugE&s=R98hJE6h

BluRiver Canopyhttps://www.airbnb.com/rooms/21345998?guests=1&adults=1&sl_alternate_dates_exclusion=true&source_impression_id=p3_1559438165_cF118WnCfH8mSfxO&s=R98hJE6h

Restaurant + Bakery + Inn = Perfection

Molly’s in Mount Carroll, Illinois is known for their fresh ingredients, hand-crafted cocktails, beautiful ambiance, and top-notch customer service.

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Husband and wife team, Ben Johnson and Molly McDonough, met in college in New York and married eight years later in Los Angeles. Molly worked as a pastry chef at Mozza Osteria and Pizzeria before leaving Los Angeles and traveling to play music with Ben. They decided to spend a winter in Ben’s home town of Mount Carroll. After exploring the country, they decided to stay and open Molly’s Kitchen and Bar. Open for almost 5 years, Molly’s restaurant has evolved into a staple for so many people in the area.

Molly grew up cooking and has always loved to entertain. She is always trying to push herself to make more complex dishes and utilize ingredients in a different way to achieve the flavors and presentations that make dining at Molly’s so memorable. They focus on a small, evolving menu that allows great care to be taken with every dish.

They think out of the box

The restaurant came together one piece at a time. Ben and Molly knew they wanted to try a different seating system not normally seen in this area. They wanted their customers to have a shared experience and introduced a community aspect of bench seating that allows you to sit close and converse with tables next to you. Repurposed materials were used when designing the space. Old wooden gates are displayed near the kitchen that came from the Field Museum in Chicago. A local woodworker made all of the tables.

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Ben and Molly believe that the community is the dynamic of the restaurant. When they first opened it was very low-key and full of local foodies. Slowly it started earning a following and has since become one of Northwest Illinois' best restaurants. A large percentage drive around 45 minutes to get to Molly’s for a weekend dinner. Many die-hard customers don’t miss a weekend meal. They also have a back patio that is open seasonally. 

Molly's Kitchen & Bar is open Wednesday - Saturday 4:30pm - 9:00pm.

The Bakery

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The bakery is located just a few doors down from the restaurant. It originally started as prep-space for the restaurant, but soon turned into a popular lunch and coffee spot. A friend and previous co-worker, Elizabeth, from Los Angles, moved to Mount Carroll for over a year to help open and implement staple recipes at the Bakery. It started with bagels, muffins, and coffee and has since grown to serving lunch and a wide range of amazing baked goods. Kadina is the smiling front-face of Molly’s Bakery. She does an amazing job of ensuring that she and the staff make you feel welcome. The Bakery has its own following of loyal customers who don’t miss their daily coffees and scones.

Molly's Bakery is open Tuesday - Saturday 7:00 am - 3:00 pm

The Inn at Molly's

The Inn at Molly’s was opened two years later. The restored 1865 building features two 600 square-foot suites that combine rural charm with contemporary amenities and style. One of the sun-flooded suites overlooks Mount Carrol’s historic, brick market streets. The second suite features a private deck.

Guests will find fresh fruit, yogurt, home-made granola, coffee, and tea, as well as fruit juice in the kitchen.

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Molly's Kitchen & Bar 
110 W Market St
Mt Carroll, IL 61053 
(815) 906-0052

Restaurant website: https://www.mollysmountcarroll.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mollysmountcarroll

Book the Inn: http://www.book-it-now.com/mollysmountcarroll

For any other inquiries, please email:
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call, 815-684-5411.

 

Tuesday, 30 April 2019 10:38

Havencrest Castle | Savanna IL

Havencrest Castle in Savanna welcomes you to their realm of romance and dreams during May. They are offering limited public castle tours on weekends only from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

A combination of fantasy and reality

The newlyweds transformed the former Greenleaf home into what is now called "Havencrest Castle." The St. Georges were a couple deeply in love with each other since their early teens. Their devotion manifested itself in a passionately creative outpouring of work and lifestyle that at times seem to blur fantasy and reality. Over their 31 years together, Alan and Adrianne St. George expanded the original 22 rooms to 63.

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Alan used to say, "When Adrianne entered a room, the lights and music went on, and when she left, the lights and music went off." 

They planned and executed every major and minor detail of the many themed rooms without the aid of an architect or designer.  Havencrest Castle is filled with original art and sculptures, created by Alan and inspired by Adrianne. As rooms were completed, they were used to hold extravagant galas, costume balls, and charity events. Adrianne Blue Wakefield St. George was the original founding director of the Carroll County Humane Society. Not only did many of the charity events benefit her organization, but the castle was also home to six of the couple's own dogs. Adrianne passed away on June 1, 2006. After a five year period of mourning and healing, Alan's creative inspiration returned. He completed the last of the 24 life-sized figures for the ballroom.

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One-of-a-kind

Each room of this 63-room mansion is opulently furnished and decorated with an artists eye. The self-guided tour of this one-of-a-kind treasure includes original art and sculptures created by the owner, including 24 life-sized figures and 21 bronze and aluminum tabletop sculptures. An optional audio program allows you to listen to the owner narrate the tour on your smartphone (iPhone and Android). 

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To guarantee a spot on the tour, get tickets

You can buy your tickets in the Visitor Center and proceed to the tour and, while it is not necessary to make a reservation, you can go to the link to buy tickets ahead of time. If you have a group of 8 or more it is recommended that you purchase your tickets ahead of time and pick them up on the day of the tour at the Visitors Center. The parking lot is at the bottom of the hill and you can walk up or catch a fun ride on the "CastleMobile."

Admission is $15 with veterans and children under 18 years-old $10. Free crowns for all children.

Please note: The castle is not handicap-accessible. Stairs are involved, but the majority of the tour will be limited to one floor-only. There is an optional upper floor tour available if desired. 

Hours

Hours are 10 AM to 5 PM and the last group has to arrive by 4:30 PM. May tour dates are 4-5; 11-12; 18-19 and 25-26.

Havencrest Castle
140 N 5th St
Savanna, Illinois
(815) 273-3900

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/havencrestcastle
Website: https://www.havencrestcastle.com

 

Monday, 01 April 2019 18:59

Sweetbean Café & Bakery

Sweetbean Café & Bakery in Byron, Illinois is one of those places that makes me appreciate getting to travel in northwestern Illinois. I get to write about places I’ve never been to and meet amazing business owners that are passionate about what they do.

Baked goods a'plenty

The Bakery itself is adorable with tons of room for gathering and an amazing bakery case FILLED with some of the best baked goods you’ve ever seen. There's even a corner full of coffee merchandise and comfy Sweetbean pullovers and t-shirts.

I was immediately greeted when I walked in the door. It was impossible to choose from the baked goods in the glass case. There were so many wonderful goodies available. A chalkboard coffee menu on the wall shows a variety of different coffee and food options and the baristas were happy to help me decide on some popular items.

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More than drinks & buns

Sweetbean Café & Bakery has been open for two years and is known for more than coffee and delicious baked goods. They serve only the freshest food, which is made right in the shop using minimally processed ingredients from the best sources available. They serve breakfast and lunch and have a variety of menu items such as breakfast bowls or wraps, tuna, and chicken salad croissants, and of course – a bakery case full of baked goods that you are never “too full” for.

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It's all in a name...

When asked about the name, the owner, Mindy Hellyer, joked that she named the bakery after her husband who is super sweet and full of beans. However, the name stuck when they combined certain elements of the business. Those elements consist of high-quality coffee beans, baked goods, and the café. They even offer gluten and dairy free options and make their own salad dressings. A lot of home recipes were brought in from her childhood. Everything is made from scratch.

A passion for baking - a family affair

Baking has been a passion of Mindy's her whole life. She has always loved to entertain and bake for people. Before Sweetbean was a brick and mortar location, she was baking cakes and goodies out of her home. This became more popular than she ever expected--baking up to 6 cakes per weekend. So when the building came up for sale, she took the opportunity and turned it into a family business. Both of her daughters manage the front-end of Sweetbean and her mother helps out too.

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When I asked Mindy what her favorite part of owning Sweetbean is – she smiled and said it was the people. When she opened Sweetbean she wanted to provide a nice, warm, comfortable place for people to gather. She thinks that treating people right is one of the most important parts of owning a business. Her customers have become like family and she wants everyone to have the best experience possible.

I know that I already can't wait to go back! 

Sweetbean Bakery and Cafe
404 W Blackhawk Dr.
Byron, Illinois 61010
(815) 234-4989

FB: https://www.facebook.com/sweetbeancafe.bakery/
Website: www.sweetbeancafe.net

Friday, 08 March 2019 10:33

Hairy Cow Brewing Company | Byron, IL

Hairy Cow Brewing Company is the first brewpub in Ogle County 

Located in Byron, Illinois on the banks of the beautiful Rock River.

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I walked in and was immediately impressed by the stunning ambiance of the building--high ceilings with tons of natural light beaming inside, a beautiful view of the Rock River, and a stunning rock-faced taproom fireplace. It's topped off, of course, with photos of Scottish Highland “Hairy” cows, where the name “Hairy Cow Brewing Company” originated from. I had the opportunity to sit down with one of the owners and the brewmaster to learn about the history of this new brewery.

Some history

The idea started from a passion of breweries and brewing their own beer. They loved the culture and the community and wanted to fill a void that Ogle County was missing. The idea started in 2016. It started off with monthly beer tastings and attending several beer tastings at festivals and events in order to generate name recognition and promote the upcoming opening of the brewery. They also created a Kickstarter campaign to get the financial ball rolling. They raised 30k in 30 days! Supporters included friends, craft beer lovers, and a lot of community support. In doing so, they already had a following of craft beer lovers, resulting in being very busy since officially opening the doors in 2018.

It's a brewery -- not a bar

Hairy Cow is Veteran owned and Military and Law Enforcement friendly – even proudly displaying a blue line on one of their high-top bars. They pride themselves in being a brewery, not a bar. All beers are made in-house and feature 10 taps. Currently, Hairy Cow is doing four to five Guest Beers and five of their own. They strive to make a balanced beer with nothing too outside of the box. Some of the selection includes options such as Coconut Porter, IPAS, and a Turtle Tree Cream Ale.

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Brick-oven style pizza - 18 options!

In addition to amazing beer, Hairy Cow also features brick-oven style pizzas that are made fresh to order in less than 10 minutes and are DELICIOUS. The dough is made fresh daily, in-house, using the finest flour, yeast, water, and Hairy Cow beer. It's aged for at least 24 hours. Ingredients are always fresh, without any artificial flavors, colors, or fillers. The menu has 18 pizza options (yes you read that right, 18!)

Everything from classic cheese, Margherita, veggie, buffalo chicken, and even all-day breakfast pizza. They even offer gluten friendly dough. In addition, they have salad options, appetizers such as German-style pretzels, deep-fried mushrooms, and wings. To end your meal, Hairy Cow offers locally made cheesecake for desert. They have over twenty recipes on a rotating basis and the menu states that it might, quite possibly, be the best cheesecake you’ve ever had.

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Integral Part of the Community

Hairy Cow strives to be an integral part of the community. It’s a gathering place where folks can meet with friends, family, and business associates to enjoy craft beer and pizza from the patio overlooking the riverfront or while seated around the taproom fireplace. This is a place where you can dock your boat and enjoy time around the outdoor firepit while taking in the Rock River view.

Hairy Cow has plans for this Spring and Summer

Hairy Cow has some big plans. A beer garden and public boat docks are planned for this Spring and Summer. Stay tuned for upcoming music and seasonal events and festivals.

Make the trip to Byron, Illinois and visit Hairy Cow Brewing Company.

Hairy Cow Brewing Company 
450 E. Blackhawk Dr 
Byron, Illinois 61010
(815) 406-8198

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/Hairycowbrewing/
INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/hairycowbrewing/
TWITTER: https://twitter.com/hairycowbrewing

Jessi Marshall is all about creating experiences.

Jessi Marshall, born and raised in Dixon, Illinois, has traveled domestically and internationally for her career in the hair world. Her family once owned their own business in Dixon for 82 years and she knew that she would follow in those entrepreneurial footsteps. Jessi wanted to return home and fill the void of health-conscious food options in Dixon. That business, Curate Kitchen Dixon, supports and enhances the community. 

An old laundromat situated on a corner lot on Dixon's downtown riverfront came up for sale and she had the perfect vision. What started out as an idea for a 20-person café turned into a 99-person restaurant with a drive-thru, full menu, event space, and riverfront patio.  

When I asked Jessi where the name “curate” originated from, she explained that it was about “bringing unique and different things together to create a holistic collection.” The table and chairs don’t match – but everything seems to fit together. 

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A taste for travel with locally sourced bakery items

Jessi brought a taste of her own travels to the menu with options such as prosciutto and brie sandwiches, sweet potato and chickpea salad, breakfast quiches, a full coffee bar, and bakery items that are sourced locally from “The Village Bakery” in Oregon, IL. All of the coffee grounds are from Intelligence Coffee - a family owned business based out of Illinois who use a reverse roasting process to make the coffee smooth and not bitter.

Curate is all about mindful eating with menu options that are not only good to eat but also good for you. In fact, 70% of the menu is gluten-free and vegan with a small item change. All foods are prepared with as many fresh, non-processed ingredients as possible.

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More changes coming

They plan on adding online ordering this Spring as well as opening up their patio for dinner appetizers. Currently, they are open as a breakfast and lunch establishment. They will also start renting out a separate room of the building for events, meetings, etc. The drive-thru offers a full coffee bar as well as quick to-go options such as turkey rollups, veggie wraps, and their popular broccoli apple salad.

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Hours:

Monday – Friday: 6:00am – 3:00pm
Saturday & Sunday: 7:00am – 2:00pm

Curate Kitchen
120 W River Street
Dixon, IL 61021
815.677.7032

https://www.curatedixon.com

https://www.facebook.com/curatedixon/

Let's get lost in the woods

It’s no surprise that when Illinoisans or Iowans want to escape the city or just get lost in the woods, they head to Mississippi Palisades State Park. Just shy of thirty minutes from Galena and three hours west of Chicago, you’ll find a breathtaking state park that has some of the most gorgeous rock formations in the Midwest. This treasure of northwestern Illinois is located three miles north of the vibrant little river town, Savanna. Palisades State Park is old as the hills but as serene as it gets. Gorgeous winding and steep drives take you to incredible overlooking views of the Mississippi River and Iowa. The 2,500-acre State Park is rich in American Indian history and is the perfect place for a day-trip or weekend getaway. 

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Park Highlights: Mississippi Palisades State Park is located on the Great River Road National Scenic Byway which follows the course of the Mississippi River for 3,000 miles--from northern Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico. The scenic route passes through 10 states and hundreds of river towns and is arguably the longest and most important scenic byway in America.

Rich in history

Before we dive into all of the must-dos in the park, here’s a little history. The word “Palisades” is used to describe a line of high, steep cliffs commonly seen along a river. The Native American pathfinders did as present-day hikers do – in coursing the bluffs, they took the paths of least resistance. You can literally trace the footsteps of all those who came before you, some of whom came this way nearly a thousand years ago.

The historic Twin Sisters, a pair of humanoid figures on the bluff tops, offer spectacular views of the Mississippi River. If you don’t feel like hiking to earn your view, there are plenty of overlooks with nearby parking so you can take the drive and easily picnic or take in the views without the work. Some of the overlooks are also handicapped accessible.

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The state park is a great place to go hiking for the day or to camp out and spend an entire weekend. The park offers 13 miles of hiking trails that range from moderate to rugged and is one of the only places in northwestern Illinois that allows rock climbing. The limestone bluffs rise roughly 180 feet above the river level in some places though none of the climbs are that high. 

Bring the dog

Mississippi Palisades is a popular place for campers and motorhomes and is also dog-friendly. Along with offering an impressive 241 campsites with Class A and B suites in both shaded and open areas, electrical hookups are available and showers and toilets are available from May – October. Travelers and locals flock to the state park each season to experience nature at it's best. Brilliant hues splash the cliffs with color each fall and each spring and summer the valleys and slopes are in full bloom. In addition, the park is full of wildlife and offers prime bird watching. Many species of birds, wild turkeys, woodpeckers, and eagles make their home in the park. 

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Enjoy hiking more than 15 miles of trails and five breathtaking scenic overlooks at Mississippi Palisades State Park. So whether you are just taking a drive to take in the views or seeking adventure and want to climb the historic limestone bluffs, be sure to add Mississippi Palisades State Park to your itinerary.

Start planning your trip

16327A IL Rte. 84
Savanna IL 61074
815-273-2731

https://www.dnr.illinois.gov/Parks/Pages/MississippiPalisades.aspx

Monday, 17 December 2018 11:20

More than a room | Lincoln Way Inn B&B

Speechless.

It would be impossible to exaggerate when I say the Lincoln Way Inn Bed & Breakfast is absolutely STUNNING. This historic property has been completely restored and brought back to life with upscale, luxury accommodations that include organic bedding and linens, locally sourced all-natural farm to table home-cooked breakfasts, cedar sauna, hand-tiled marble bathrooms, indoor and outdoor fireplaces, and much more. The owners remain steadfast in their efforts to be good stewards of history, guest comfort and the treasured flora and fauna of the region.

What's old is new again

The Lincoln Way Inn is one of those properties you can’t drive past without slowing down to admire. The restoration of this 1912 home is stunning inside and out. The Inn found new life when Lisa and John Ayres of Chicago bought the property with plans to turn the 104-year-old property into a luxury bed and breakfast. The renovation of the three-story, 7,200-square-foot house took about a year and a half to complete. All contractors on the project were local. The paint came from the Sherwin Williams store in Dixon. Happily, the Inn ended up being featured as the cover story on the national Sherwin Williams industry magazine, Professional Painting Contractor. 

The Lincoln Way Inn has also been designated as one of the properties on the "Select Registry" which is a diverse group of independent properties that deliver a high level of personalized hospitality--unheard of at large chains--and offer a quality experience that only a select few can attain.

Lisa and her husband bought a 110-acre property that didn’t have an address and came out every weekend for four years. Lisa, who has a background in non-profit work and is passionate about preservation, had driven past the home hundreds of times and it had been for sale the entire time. One day while driving past the property she had an epiphany and knew what she was meant to do. She called the realtor, walked through the house and could see a future for this property – serving farm to table breakfasts, hosting weddings, yoga retreats, and helping people unplug from a busy life. 

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Five-Star Treatment

I stayed in the beautiful Sandburg Suite, which is named for Carl Sandburg, an Illinois author and winner of three Pulitzer Prizes in writing and poetry about Abraham Lincoln. The suite features its own fireplace and spa bathroom with a claw-foot tub and rain shower. Upon arrival, I was greeted with fresh flowers, organic robes, slippers and linens, and all natural “BeeKind” products that are homemade by Lisa using their farm's honey.

I  was eagerly welcomed by Jodi, one of the Innkeepers. She showed me the grounds and told me the history of Lincoln Way Inn. Jodi checked me in and, to my surprise, told me a garage space comes with each room. After handing me a garage door opener I was given a full tour of the three-story house. It was an unusually quiet night. Since I was the first guest to arrive, she let me see each of the five rooms. Each is locally themed and has its own unique design and décor--all hand selected by Lisa. If Lisa ever gives up being an Innkeeper, she could easily go into interior decorating. Her hand-selected items from the bedframes and rugs to the most amazing pillows you will EVER lay your head on, are incredible. Entering each room was like entering a high-end interior design showroom or a Pinterest board come to life.

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Disconnect from the day-to-day

When you’re not decompressing in the cedar sauna, taking a hot bath in a claw-foot tub, or ending your evening around the outdoor fireplace, there’s plenty to do and see around the Inn. You can choose to completely relax and be pampered with massages and facials but if you are an adventurer and outdoor enthusiast there are limitless options in the Franklin Grove area year round such as renting a bike, hiking, canoeing, bird watching, snowmobiling, antiquing, dining, wineries, horse-drawn carriage rides, history, live music, native bison, and even bee-keeping! Fitting them all in is the hardest part. From June – September guests can sign up to help harvest, extract and bottle honey at the Ayres property located just 3 miles away and they supply the bee suits and gloves!

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Farm to table breakfasts

Guests are treated to a home-cooked breakfast made from locally grown and produced products. You can choose where you would like to dine – outside on the garden patio with a morning fire, in the dining room, on the front porch or they will even serve breakfast in bed. Lisa invited me to join her in the kitchen and talked about where some of the products came from and how important it was to support local farmers. Everything is local from their breads, meats, and garlic, to their own homemade honey. Needless to say, the breakfast was outstanding! Lisa set up a full breakfast of homemade scones with berry jam, yogurt with fresh berries and homemade granola, bacon, sausage, eggs with homemade seasoning, biscuits and gravy, and a selection of five different juices. In addition, she grinds coffee beans and steeps the most amazing coffee I've ever had.

Lisa’s husband has re-coined the term “it takes a village” to “it takes a Grove.” The entire staff loves what they do and go out of their way to offer an unforgettable experience. They want their guests to take away a memory they can go to when they return to their busy lives -  that moment of pure zen and relaxation - with hopes they will visit again.

Visit

LINCOLN WAY INN BED & BREAKFAST
409 N. State Street
Franklin Grove, IL 61031
815.456.7700 / This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Friday, 23 November 2018 13:38

Adventure you say? Alpaca my bags.

If you know me, you know I love alpacas. When I found out that there was an Alpaca Ranch in Prophetstown, I knew I had to visit.

The Deitrick's Alpaca Ranch is a 50-acre farm surrounded by corn, hay, and bean country down the backroads from Prophetstown. It felt like pulling into the family farm when I arrived. As I pulled in, Tracy, the ranch's head helper, came out eager to greet me for my personal tour. Tracy already knew of my alpaca obsession with the giant smile on my face the moment I set my eyes on one of their beautiful animals.

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Dietrick's has been in the industry for twelve years. What started as a hobby with a herd of 7 Huacaya alpacas, has turned into 70 alpacas and growing. Tracy took me into the barn to show me their beautiful herd of show-quality alpacas. I think they were as excited to see me as I was to see them. The alpacas were separated mostly by gender and age. They came right up to the gate just like your dog would when you enter the door.

A very Social Breed

Alpacas are very social creatures. They are gentle and curious and with training can actually make great pets. Each has its own personality and they were excited to get our attention. I pointed out that I didn’t realize how varied alpaca coloring can be. Tracy explained that alpacas have up to 22 different color patterns.

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An Alpaca produces enough fleece each year to provide plenty of sweaters, blankets, gloves and more. The Dietricks take pride in having alpacas that provide excellent fiber and color diversity. Alpacas are highly prized for their luxurious coats and are raised for their beautiful fleece. They produce one of the finest fibers in the world; as soft as cashmere but with a warmer, lighter, weight than wool.  Tracy allowed me to go into the alpaca pens to feed them. They all surrounded me eager to eat out of my hands. The Huacaya breed of alpacas has a fluffy, teddy-bear-like appearance with curious personalities and expressions. We walked the grounds to see where they keep the teenage and senior alpacas.

Fun fact - alpacas can live up to 20 years!

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Gift Shop!

The gift shop is stocked full of products such as gloves, hats, scarves, and sweaters made from the alpaca's fiber. Each tag is personalized and it will tell you which alpaca it came from. Deitrick's offer personal tours, are a popular spot for school trips, and hold open house events throughout the year. In the summertime, they have a summer camp where almost 600 kids visit the ranch and learn about these curious creatures.

Interested in visiting Deitrick's?  Contact them during their summer season and you, too, can mingle with the herd of 70 alpacas, feed them, tour the ranch, learn about their lifestyle, and make new alpaca friends! 

Come for a Visit

Deitrick's Alpaca Ranch
11200 Lomax Rd
Prophetstown, Illinois

309-373-5281
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This small business bursts with so much love and care, that you can feel it as soon as you are greeted at the door. Steam Anchor Coffee Company in Fulton, Illinois makes people feel like family.

It was the perfect rainy fall day when I visited. While I love fall, if we’re talking about coffee, I’m one of those women who wants to skip Pumpkin Spice Season and head straight into Peppermint Mocha Season. I ordered a Frost Mocha and sat in a quiet corner while the lunch rush died down and people enjoyed each others company.

Authentic

Steam Anchor feels like home. They’re authentic, they’re original, and they care. When you walk in you are immediately greeted. Three large TV screens on the wall make ordering simple. It's not just the amazing coffee. They have salads, sandwiches, and ice cream. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served six days a week. And even better? They have a drive-thru!

By supporting small businesses, patrons help support a dream, a family, and so much more. When buying from a small business, an actual person does a little happy dance. Do you know who that person is? The owners and dreamers behind Steam Anchor, Benjamin and Paige Wilbur.

When I sat down to talk to Ben about the story behind his business, he immediately lit up and said, “We love people so stinking much. We have this Disney mentality and we want people to feel welcome just by entering our doors.”

And they do just that.

steamanchor people 

A little background

There wasn't much in the strip mall before Steam Anchor took up residence. When Ben and Paige did a business plan, the bank looked at them and said, “You do know that 9 out of 10 coffee houses close, right? What makes you so special?” Ben said that despite all of the research on demographics, target market, and marketing – none of it mattered. They were moving forward with their dream because they were called to do it. They have a heart for people and a vision that they knew couldn’t fail.

The Wilburs take great pride in serving the community and creating high-quality food and drinks. If you’re someone like me, you almost always ask questions about what specialty coffee drink is most popular, or what sandwich do people rave about most. The staff is knowledgeable on the menu and is happy to patiently answer any questions -- despite me always being indecisive between multiple things on the menu! The food is absolutely unparalleled. Everything is fresh and has great flavor. They prep and serve all food and drinks with care.

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The "Shockwave"

Besides coffee, Steam Anchor created a drink that seems to be very popular, the “Shockwave.” This colorful, energy-packed drink is an alternative to other energy drinks. Steam Anchor developed their own flavor profiles. They made them bright and colorful to appeal to the younger crowd who may not like coffee. When I asked Ben what the recipe was, he smiled at me and said, “It's a secret, so you will have to just order one and guess for yourself." They also have smoothies (Wild Berry Wonder is my personal favorite) and protein shakes on the menu. 

Secret's out.  An expansion is coming.

Ben let me in on a little secret… they are getting ready to expand! Steam Anchor is going from 1400 sq. ft to 2000. This is to add additional seating, offices, a conference room, and are you ready for it…. A ROASTERY

Location and Hours

So If you’re searching for a place more connected to the daily hum around you, make Steam Anchor your new favorite stop. Open Monday – Friday 7:00 – 7:00 Saturday 7:00 – 3:00. Closed on Sundays.

Steam Anchor Coffee & Cafe
1310 17th Street,  Fulton, IL, 61252, (815) 208-7074 
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