Lots to catch up on, folks. We have pumpkins, pretty flowers, a Swede, witches, gnomes, beach trees, an ocean-to-ocean cyclist, a Pittsburgh saddle stitcher that'll make you Yellowstone fans chomp at the bit. Plus there's free money for you Cyber SneDay™ slackers. Also, Nikki gets fake married.
Note: all awesome photos herein are by Orangerie Greenbrook. The rest are by me.
Let's jump in and see all the cool ish that's been going on since summer, shall we?
Landscaping and Signage Award
Ocean City Regional Chamber of Commerce awarded Scarborough Inn with their 2022 Award for Outstanding Landscaping and Signage.
I find myself an unlikely recipient of any landscaping-related recognition. Always an apartment dweller, I've never successfully managed to grow even a single basil plant. I was intimidated taking over an inn replete with hydrangeas, lilies, two very photogenic crape myrtles, and one semi-hidden fig tree.
Most of these were planted by long-time innkeepers, Gus and Carol Bruno. Since taking over, I've tried my best not to kill their hard work while adding new touches to adapt to how our guests have been using the inn.
Like most properties in the Residential Historic District, Scarborough Inn doesn't have much green space. We re-polished and repainted a long faded terrazzo shuffleboard court below our porch. We resurfaced the surrounding patio with cost-effective precast pavers. By using a random ashlar pattern and selecting pavers from four different colorways, we were able to create a warm and inviting environment.
Then we set about "softening the hardscape." As we host a variety of events, much of our "landscaping" is moveable. Monica Maxwell, our assistant innkeeper, landed on the excellent idea of repurposing old filing cabinets as rolling planter boxes. Dune grass and conifers create year-round privacy screens that can be moved as needed. We painted them hot pink to match our facade's new color scheme, itself a nod to Scarborough Inn's former pastel pink color scheme. Silkscreened with our logo, they add a splash of color and place-specific accent to any photo.
Hot pink flower boxes add accents to the façade. In summer we fill them with colorful zinnias. In autumn, they're loaded up with mums and pumpkins.
Maintained landscaping along with nostalgic music, lit candles, and cleared sidewalks serve as reminders to passersby that Scarborough Inn is attended to year-round by people that care for this place.
I still struggle growing basil though.
Halloween in OCNJ
Halloween in our coastal paradise was spooktacular, as always. OCNJ's community spirit comes alive stronger than ever this time of year. Us innkeepers and our beloved in-house guests watched the Halloween parade take over Asbury Avenue (correction: As-boo-ry Avenue). Nikki traded in the bridal gown for something witchier.
After the parade, we all headed back to Scarborough Inn's heated porch for autumnally spiced lemonade and tarot reading.
A Mother's Rest
Throughout the year, we provide weekend respites for moms of special-needs children. Many of the returning moms have become lifelong friends of ours.
We finally got some of the moms to appear on camera during last month's Winterfest here in Ocean City. I'd like to extend a very heartfelt thank you to Janet, Isabelle, and Tuli for opening up on camera to share their stories and perspective. They've made this our most special film to date.
I'd also like to thank Claudia and Scott, better known as Oct28 productions. Beyond their filming and production prowess, they have a unique talent for drawing out people's own personalities on camera.
Also featured in this film is Monica, our assistant innkeeper. She's the glue that holds these weekend respites together. She shows up way before and stays way past her normal shift to make sure the moms are taken care of.
And, of course, the lady that started this all. Andrea Faris Roberts founded A Mother's Rest. With the motto that "You can't pour from an empty cup" she knows firsthand that you can't be an effective caregiver without putting in some self-care time.
Mostly, I'd like to thank Andrea for introducing us to these special moms. Even though it's our job to take care of them for a weekend, they're always looking out for us, mentally, physically, and spiritually. I'd be lost this year without their friendship.
Enjoy the film. Have some Kleenex on hand.
Trust Us. Winter Is the Best Time to Go to the Jersey Shore.
These are The Philadelphia Inquirer's words. Not mine.
I, for one, happen to agree. Christmas trees on the beach, no lines at Manco and Manco's, City Hall looking crazy festive, free horse carriage rides, starfish Christmas gnomes, and Scarborough Inn all decked out.
The only thing that would make a winter weekend here even more Hallmark-y would be if you dumped your power-suit-wearing boyfriend for a small town flannel-clad craftsman with a cute artisanal shop on Asbury Ave. And I just walked by like 12 of them on the way to lunch today. So there's that.
Stop torturing your family with over-produced, bubble gum Christmas songs that make us all think maybe Scrooge had a point.
Out of respect for Scarborough Inn's staff, I worked tirelessly to curate over 32 hours' worth of Christmas music that won't make them go postal. Think blues, big band, and "Wall of Sound" conspiring to make a Christmas playlist that won't trigger holiday retail PTSD.
Click here to listen to and follow Scarborough Christmas on Spotify:
I got three people to like it so far. Let's see if we can get that to double digits.
The Best Bag I Have Ever Owned
This was handmade by a recent guest of the inn, Ryan Henny.
As a COVID hobby, when most of us were learning the art of bread-making, Ryan took up bag-making. In my conversations with him, I quickly learned what separates a good bag from an excellent bag: the saddle stitch.
Most sewing machines use what's called a lockstitch. The stitch is composed of two threads: one above the fabric and one below the fabric. The sewing machine then cleverly locks the two threads together.
The saddle stitch, however, is made of one thread that is manually pulled through the fabric from above and below. Machines can't do it, but most of the high-end design houses use expensive machines that make their lockstitches look like saddle stitches.
A key difference is that if a stitch tears along a saddle stitch, the adjacent stitches are not affected. A lockstitch, however, loses tension for several inches on either side of a tear, often coming unraveled in the process.
The reliability of a saddle stitch goes back to saddle making, where an unraveled stitch isn't just a nuisance, it's life or death.
Another key difference: a lockstitch takes seconds to sew. A saddle stitch takes hours.
Out of curiosity, I decided to saddle stitch the Scarborough Inn logo onto our sweet headgear. It took me almost an hour to get through this six-inch stitch.
Ryan is much faster. Ever the Yinzer, he time estimates his saddle stitching in terms of Steelers games (correction: Stillers games). As far as I can tell, my sweet innkeeper attaché bag took him a good half season to hand stitch.
In our fast culture, I found Ryan's contemplative—borderline obsessive—craftsmanship refreshing. And it speaks to the slowed down, personal, and human environment I'm trying to build at the inn.
If you're in the market for an exceptional piece of hand craftsmanship, stop chasing the labels. They're all lockstitched anyway (yes, even Prada, Kate Spade, and the one with his initials tactlessly plastered all over the plasticized canvas).
If you want handmade (not just hand assembled and machine stitched) you can shell out $35,000 for a Hermes bag or you can check out Ryan's stunning and colorful Instagram gallery of custom bags. Drop him a DM at the link below.
Biking Ocean to Ocean for a Cure
Let me introduce you to Will Kleemeier.
Will was diagnosed with a rare genetic kidney disease called Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD). There is no cure. He hopes to change that in time for his children to benefit, in case they also inherited the disease.
Raising awareness and an impressive $55,000 for PKD research, Will began his epic ride this summer in Oregon touching the Pacific at the westernmost point of the Lewis and Clark Trail. He chose Ocean City as the place to mark the end of his journey.
4,000 miles, a broken elbow, a bout with Covid, and a run-in with a hurricane later Will Kleemeier and his bike touched the Atlantic Ocean this autumn.
I had the pleasure to meet Will and his support team (wife Judy and their sons) in November when he completed his cross-country journey.
Here's him touching the Atlantic Ocean with our beloved skyline behind him.
Though his cycling journey has ended, and though he raised $55K so far, this restless Bucks County cyclist still plans to raise an additional $45K to reach his initial goal of $100K. If you'd like to contribute to his cause to can donate on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/donate/202310605399456
Or you can donate on his website here: https://support.pkdcure.org/give/f3587186/#!/donation/checkout
Of all the hundreds of beach towns out there, it speaks volumes about Ocean City, its residents, and its visitors that he chose to touch the Atlantic Ocean here.
Cyber SneDay™ for Slackers
So... I hear you missed Cyber SneDay™. So you missed the 25% off all bookings? I get it. I'm sure you probably didn't see the 1,001 Facebook and Instagram posts I put up.
Well, I promised a second chance for you slackers. Here it is. From now until 11:59pm this Saturday, December 24 you can redeem yourself. You can book as many trips as you like. Two-night minimum in summer. Three-night minimum during the high holidays. Promo code: CYBERSLACKER.
Ok, start clicking.
For the past two months, we stepped up our photo game at Scarborough Inn. My secret: a ringer.
Meet Orangerie Greenbrook. She's a friend of mine who was visiting from Sweden. If you noticed excellent photos in this email, on my Facebook, and on my Instagram, those were taken by Orangerie Greenbrook. The other photos were taken by me.
These past few weeks she's been a visual poet of my inn and my hometown. Her photos and her friendship have reinvigorated my love of what I do and where I live. Her photos were beloved among my guests and the Ocean City community groups.
Safe travels home, my friend. Until next time.
Goodbye For Now
1. Sometimes the Fab Four (Monica, Nikki, Jackie, and me) go shopping in our PJs. Don't judge.
2. Sne's photo game improves when he imports Swedish photographers.
3. Get your sweet leather goods from Ryan Henny here: https://instagram.com/hennwood.leather
4. Send a little love to our favorite cyclist, Will Kleemeier here: https://www.facebook.com/donate/202310605399456
5. Cash in on my extended-grace-period Cyber SneDay™ promo here: https://hotels.cloudbeds.com/reservation/CxtomI#promo=CYBERSLACKER
Goodbye for now, gang. Have a very merry Christmas, happy Hanukkah, and happy Kwanzaa.
And let's not forget National Bartender Day, National Green Bean Casserole Day, International Cheetah Day, National Cookie Day, International Ninja Day (sorry, Samurai; the international community doesn't celebrate you yet), National Blue Jeans Day, National Gazpacho Day, National Cotton Candy Day, National Letter Writing Day, National Brownie Day, Pretend to Be a Time Traveler Day (too soon?), Dewey Decimal System Day (that's not an excuse to dress as a sexy librarian, people; let's keep it about the books), National Violin Day, National Horse Day (hey, violinists, maybe don't use horse-hair violin bows this month), Stupid Toy Day (I feel like that one is redundant with Christmas), National Sangria Day, Festivus (maybe hold off on the sangria until AFTER the airing of grievances), National Pfeffernüsse Day (I just Googled what that is, and now all I want are Pfeffernüsse), National Roots Day (I'm not sure if that's for family heritage, trees, or blondes), International Cello Day (the comment about horse-hair bows still applies), National Champagne Day, National Joy Day...
and a happy new year.