One sunny fall day in 1985 we were both at work in our corporate jobs in Canada. We didn't know it, but our lives were about to be shaken up. Leaving a client's office, Ian was involved in a serious head-on car accident. As he healed from his injuries, we both realized how close we had come to losing one another forever and that we needed to make some lifestyle changes to spend more time together. And as so often happens, it was a chance stay in a bed and breakfast that gave us the kernel of the idea that we could become innkeepers. So it was, after several years of research and hunting for just the right property that we drove up to The White Oak Inn in Ohio. There it sat, windows sparkling and white paint gleaming in the September sun. It was love at first sight.
At 12.01 a.m. on August 1, 1992, we became the second innkeepers of The White Oak Inn. The next morning found us in the kitchen in the early morning hours, starting to make our first batch of muffins, the first of thousands to come, ready to come out of the oven just as the guests sit down to breakfast.
Through the years, we've changed many things about the inn. All rooms have been upgraded and improved, including adding a two-person whirlpool tub to the ground-floor guest room. In 2002, we designed and built the two luxury log cabin cottages. A wedding gazebo was added to the garden in 2008, and the historic barn was rehabbed the same year. We have created many special programs at the Inn, including murder mysteries, the Dickens Christmas Carol event, and Oakstock - a summer celebration of food and music.
Shortly after arriving at the Inn, we were given a housewarming gift of a small black Labrador puppy. Rocky was to become the inn ambassador for 14 years and was loved by all our guests. He passed away in 2006 and is still missed. In 2002, there was another addition to the inn family when an inn employee convinced us to foster an abandoned baby lamb. When it became apparent that the temporary fostering of Buster had turned into permanent residence, we went to the farm to find a companion for him. Today that 3 ½ lb abandoned lamb weighs closer to 350 lbs, and he and Miss Butterfly McQueen hold court in the barn, hoping for visits from guests bearing treats of crackers and gummy bears.
Throughout the years, we've also been adopted by an assortment of stray cats. Rascal holds court in the inn, Bijoux is our guesthouse guard cat, and Eenie, Meenie, Miney, and Mo keep down the rodent population in the barn. You might also catch a glimpse of Duke and Josie, rescued injured barn kittens who are now living in the lap of luxury in Ian and Yvonne's private apartment. And just recently another black Lab puppy stole our hearts (and sometimes unguarded rolls of toilet paper) when Dougal came home from the local dog shelter at Christmas in 2009.
Yvonne has always loved to cook, and owning an inn has provided a wonderful outlet for her to demonstrate her talent and improve her skills. Ian had limited culinary experience at the time we bought the inn, but he has proved to be very talented and creative at baking cakes for our evening desserts.
In 2009, Yvonne joined with a group of seven close friends, innkeepers from all across the country, to form the Bed and Breakfast Foodies, AKA Eight Broads in the kitchen. Our food blog, www.bedandbreakfastfoodie.com lets us share our joy of food, cooking, and recipes with the world.
As we approach 20 years as innkeepers, we can't believe how quickly the time has passed. We've made many, many wonderful friends. We have a store of amazing memories and have had the great privilege to share in so many special moments in others' lives. The inn building itself is approaching its 100th birthday. We hope it's still welcoming guests to a peaceful and tranquil haven in the country for another century.
Staying with Yvonne and Ian is like staying with your favorite relatives, but the food is better and you have more privacy. - Susan and Steve, Chicago, IL