Closing the bed and breakfast after Dec. 31, 2016

Dear Laughlin House Guests,
We hope your year is coming to a happy and healthy close.
Don and I wanted to share the news that we have decided to close Laughlin House Bed and Breakfast as of Dec. 31 and will be listing the property for sale.
We have loved running the B&B,  sharing our home with so many new and interesting people, and working with the wonderful people in our extraordinary community. Each and every one of our guests has left a lasting impression on us and will hold a special place in our hearts.
While this chapter in our lives may be closing, we are excited about all of the new opportunities ahead.  And if you know of anyone who might be looking for a beautiful property in downtown Bentonville, please send them our way!
Thank you for making the last five-and-a-half years an unforgettable experience! Best wishes to you all.
Signing off,
Jenny and Don Wallace (and Twinkie)
(P.S., if you need to get in touch with us, you can email us directly at jwallaceconsulting@gmail.com).

7 reasons to visit Northwest Arkansas this fall

Crystal Bridges Pond

Fall is an especially popular time to visit Northwest Arkansas. Here are our top 7 reasons why we love this season:

#1: Two words: Razorback Football. Who needs a pro football team when you have the Razorbacks? People around here are serious about our H
ogs. On game weekends, Fayetteville and the surrounding towns transform into a sea of red … tailgaters abound, a crackle of excitement in the air, the sounds of the Hog Call on the breeze. Season starts September 3. Check out this year’s schedule.Arkansas-Razorback-Logo-2001

#2: Bikes, Blues and BBQ. September 21-24, 2016.  Motorcycles for miles — time to get revved up! The third-largest motorcycle rally in the country, BBBBQ plays host to hundreds of thousands of bike enthusiasts, free live music, bike shows, organized rides, demo rides from top motorcycle brands, and a BBQ cookoff for state championship claim.

#3: Arts and Crafts Fairs, October 13-16, 2016. The original War Eagle Craft Fair has brought artisans, craftsmen and craft enthusiasts to the area for years. Visitors can find original, handmade work such as folk art, paintings, pottery, decorative items, quilts, clothing and jewelry, antiques, and more. Now in nine different venue locations around the area, visitors can pick their favorite venue or try to work them all in!  But don’t worry, if you can’t make it during Craft Fair season, you can always purchase local art in our little gift room when you stay with us

#4: Leaf Peeping. It’s no secret that Northwest Arkansas is gorgeous during the fall. It turns into a wonderland of reds, yellows and oranges. The peak week for color seems to vary by year, but late October is generally the best time to visit the Bentonville area to see the brightest colors.  And with the 36 miles of Razorback Regional Greenway Bike Trail linking up all the major
towns in NWA, you can immerse yourself in the color like never before!

Weeks of yard work at Laughlin House

#5: International Mountain Bike Association World Summit, November 10-12, 2016 — right here in Bentonville!  Mountain bike enthusiasts from all over the world will descend on our beautiful town for the IMBA World Summit that includes keynote speakers, educational sessions, an expo, networking and opportunities to explore our world-class mountain bike trails.

#6: Fresh Fall Flavors in our Foodie Heaven: Bentonville is quickly becoming known for its “High South Cuisine”, created by our concentrated collection of talented chefs who specialize in preparing fabulous dishes with seasonal ingredients sourced from local farms. Fall dishes are sure to include creative variations on our favorite winter squashes, seeds and apple dishes. The Downtown Bentonville food scene is THE place to go beyond pumpkin spice. Cannot. Wait.

#7: Octoberfest Beer, of course. With more than a dozen craft breweries already here — and more on the way — you can bet that there will be some excellent Octoberfest brews to taste across the area. Explore the Fayetteville Ale Trail to try several of our favorites. Even more breweries and ciders are featured in the NWA Travel Guide. (Tip: Try the Core Brewery tasting room a couple of blocks from our house. Happy Hour is every Sunday-Thursday from 5-7 p.m. $2 pints, y’all! You can’t beat that!)

See you this fall!

Our favorite dog-friendly patios in Downtown Bentonville

Three seasons of the year, you’ll likely find the three of us (Don, Jenny and Twinkie) haunting one of several dog-friendly patios at one of the great restaurants or microbreweries in the downtown area. Nothing beats a laid-back afternoon, drinks and appetizers in hand, dog at our feet, surveying the swirl of activity around the Square. It’s our version of good old-fashioned Porch Sittin’.
Patios that welcome dogs are a must, of course. Also, visitors take note: If there’s a fence/rail around the restaurant’s patio, you can enjoy alcohol outside. No rail? Sorry, no alcohol.

One of Twinkie's favorite dog-friendly patios in Bentonville

Where there’s a patio, there’s a Twinkie.

Our favorites:

Pressroom. — Not only do we get to dine on some of the most delicious culinary creations in town, but Twinkie gets doted on by all of the staff. We have yet to meet a server or bartender who doesn’t make a beeline to give her some love and attention. Here’s a handy tip from experience – if you bring your dog along, you might want to refrain from sitting in the lounge chairs at the north end of the patio – the low-slung table is just the right height for your pooch to mooch.

Ramo d’Olívo — The vinegar and oil shop and soon-to-open sandwich shop has a really great little wine bar that spills out onto a lovely, ever-expanding garden and patio area. The shop’s owner, Laura, has been working her master gardener magic on the outdoor space. We’re here at least twice a week. I order a glass or two of cabernet, Don orders a pint or two of his favorite local stout or IPA, we share a meat and cheese plate, and Twinkie has come to expect her two biscuits, brought to her with a flourish from James (the manager) and/or Stephanie, who lavishes her with attention. They also have patio space heaters and a basket full of blankets for chilly days. (We just took advantage of them yesterday.)

Bike Rack Brewery — small local microbrewery just a few blocks from us (in the new Arts District) with a great patio area. Dogs are always welcome. Twinkie can’t walk past Bike Rack without turning in to the gated patio – she apparently thinks it’s her home away from home. (What does that say about us, I wonder?)  One of our favorite things about it is that it’s attached to Pedaler’s Pub and it’s situated across the street from a couple of food trucks, so you can get some food in your belly to help cushion the beer. We usually sit on Bike Rack’s patio and order a pizza or salad from next door.

Pedaler’s Pub — has excellent, wood-fired, gourmet pizza, salads, sandwiches and appetizers. The pizzas are just big enough for two to split without feeling ridiculously full; and if you’re watching your carbs, the entree salads are big and filling. Their patio (in the back) is a great place for dogs to hang out while their owners eat. They have local brews on tap – but you can also order a beer from Bike Rack Brewery next door and bring it over.

Bentonville Brewing Company — (Yes, another brewery – just off the bike trail.)  Bentonville Brewing Company is dog-friendly all around. They allow dogs both inside their taproom and out on their patio. It’s a bit further from the B&B for us, a few blocks south of the Square, but the mile-or-so walk is a good way to burn off some of the beer calories and to tire Twinkie out. Erin and Dara and the rest of the crew keep dog biscuits and big vats of water on-hand for dog friends who sidle up to the bar. There’s a stage for live music, and they also have a food-delivery partnership with Blu Fish Market, which is about a block down the street from their space.

Outside of Bentonville, you can find us on the patio at Apple Blossom Brewery in north Fayetteville or the Farmer’s Table in south Fayetteville.

These are just a handful of awesome dog-friendly patios throughout Bentonville and NWA. Once we venture out to find more dog-friendly patios, we’ll add them to our list and you’ll probably find us there, too.

See you on a patio soon!

 

Looking forward to the Bentonville Farmer’s Market, opening April 23

With the recent rains, warming temperatures and the emergence of blooms on the tulip trees, I have been hit with a crippling wave of spring fever. In contrast to the stark beauty of our landscape sans foliage, springtime in Bentonville paints a fragrant wonderland of pastel flowers and vibrant greens, and it makes my heart go pitter-patter.

Spring also heralds the coming three seasons of fresh foods and veggies, sourced right from our local farmers.

Rainbow over Bentonville Farmer's Market

The Bentonville Farmer’s Market is a ray of sunshine on a rainy day.

Thats right, it’s almost time for the Bentonville Farmer’s Market to ramp back up and take over on the Square on Saturday mornings.

From April 23 through October 29, from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., the Saturday morning Bentonville Square becomes a sea of farmers, fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses, crafts, flowers, local art, candy makers, breads and pastries, handmade soaps, artists, families, dogs, joggers, cyclists, locals, visitors, outdoor yoga enthusiasts, food demos, themed events, parades, races, music, food trucks, general happiness and wellbeing.

It makes for some good eatin’ and some good people watchin’.

The Farmer’s Market is “the” place to be on Saturday mornings in Bentonville. In fact, its so great it was awarded 2nd place in the 2015 National Farmer’s Market competition!

It’s a common sight to see the local chefs perusing the food wares, chatting with the farmers and planning their menus for the week. Or doing food demos and handing our samples…

I’m always happy to visit with Marty from RiverPure Soaps — she’s the sweet soap maker who hand-makes all our soaps for the B&B. My favorite scents are the Patchouli (for myself) and the Lavender Citrus for our guest rooms.

Don’s usually on the lookout for the best deals on produce, meats and cheese for our breakfasts each day. And he likes to watch the local musicians set up on each corner and play for the market-goers.  Our personal favorite is a quirky, energetic band of four called the Farmer and the Markets.

Fragrant spices waft from a variety of food trucks, many relocating to the Square on Saturday mornings to take advantage of the farmer’s market traffic. Kind Kitchen has some great breakfast wraps and bowls – even vegan and gluten-free options are available.

Line at Crepes Paulette during Bentonville Farmer's Market

Line queued up for Crepes Paulette during the Bentonville Farmer’s Market on Saturday morning.

(Related side note: Bentonville’s longest-standing and probably most notable food truck, Crepes Paulette, stays parked just up the block in its permanent spot on NE A Street across from the Lawrence Plaza Splash Park — where locals have no qualms about standing in line for an hour or more to enjoy one of their famous savory or sweet crepes.)

It’s also quite common to see dogs of every shape and size leading their people around by their leashes, noses exploring and tails wagging in happy greeting of all the sights and smells. You’re almost guaranteed to spot Twinkie there on a Saturday morning.

The anticipation is killing me! But it gives me something to look forward to and my guests a reason to come back. (Until then, maybe I’ll have time to pop down to the Fayetteville Farmer’s Market, which opens at the beginning of April.)

Only a few weeks more to go. I can’t wait. See you there on April 23!

Bentonville Film Festival returning May 3-8

With Bentonville’s biggest “hometown company” being none other than Walmart Stores, Inc., our town plays host to droves of business people every week selling products and services. And because Walmart is the largest seller of goods in many consumer industries – including the entertainment industry – it should come as no surprise that from time to time, some of the business people visiting are pretty famous and influential.

You never know who you’ll run into on the Square or at Crystal Bridges or at the Walmart Home Office. Celebrities like Tom Cruise and Harry Connick, Jr., dining at Tavola Trattoria (it happened, I swear!)  George W. Bush riding the mountain bike trails (I kid you not. Saw it with my own eyes.) Drew Barrymore promoting her Walmart-exclusive makeup line “Flower”.  Famous musicians, athletes, business icons, world leaders, philanthropists, politicians … the list of names and causes who’ve visited our town is endless.

In May, (May 3-8, to be exact), Bentonville will host more notable personalities than normal as they serve as judges, panelists, speakers and hosts for the Bentonville Film Festival (BFF). Geena Davis is the co-chair of the event, and she brings friends and colleagues along with her to promote the festival. Last year attendees had the opportunity to hear Geena, Rosie O’Donnell, Robert De Niro, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Soldedad O’Brien, and plenty of other famous faces in film and media speak.

WAY beyond just a place for celebrities to converge, BFF promotes a worthy cause. Its mission is to champion women and diverse voices in media. The festival is intended to bring together filmmakers and media content creators to influence media in depicting a range of gender and diversity.

In order to qualify for BFF, film submissions must meet at least two of the following criteria: the film must have a female or diverse director, producer, writer or lead character, or that at least half of the cast, crew or extras are either female or diverse (or both!).

And the other really, really awesome thing about it — the winning films are automatically guaranteed distribution, which could include a theatrical release via AMC theaters,  television release via STARZ and Lifetime, and digital and retail home entertainment distribution in partnership with Walmart.

This year all of the film screenings are rumored to be in the downtown area, which we’re really excited about. More details about the schedule and venues to come as soon as its been released!

BFF is just one of several events we can count on to be fun, entertaining and educational this year.

In fact, be on the lookout for more exciting events in the area in 2016. Coming November 10-12, the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) will be hosting its World Mountain Bike Summit in Bentonville! According to their website, the World Summit program “includes keynote speakers, educational sessions, an expo, networking and—of course—plenty of time to explore local trails.”

More to come on that, too.

Until next time …

It’s Breakfast time!

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Open-Faced Breakfast Quesadillas

Guests often ask us to name our favorite thing about running a B&B. I can name many: sharing our home with our guests … getting to know a little about them … assessing their interests and making recommendations … and watching people fall in love with Bentonville.  (A bit less exciting — yet the majority of a small-time innkeeper’s life — is housekeeping. Dishes, room cleaning, maintenance, laundry, laundry and more laundry. Did I mention laundry? I can fold fitted sheets in my sleep.)

But of all the activities I love the best, I’d have to say playing host at the breakfast table is my favorite. To us it’s more than serving a memorable meal. It’s our time to get to know our guests.  So we put a lot of time, effort, and planning into breakfast each morning.

Every day we get the pleasure of waking up the house to comforting smells of locally roasted coffee, bacon, cinnamon-y baked breads and fresh-cut fruits. Delicious scents vary by day, of course, and (hint, hint) depend on any dietary restrictions or food allergies that we’ve been made aware of the day before ;-).

When the doors open and our guests emerge, it’s show-time.

Cheerful morning greetings. Bottomless coffee. Juice and fresh-cut fruit. The homemade entree du jour — could be Don’s Savory Waffles Benedict or Jenny’s Orange Ricotta Pancakes, or perhaps it’s Open-Faced Breakfast Quesadillas or Banana-Stuffed French Toast. Whatever the dish, it was made with love and served with much anticipation.

Once everyone has been served and they’ve made themselves comfortable, the real conversations start. The topics are endless.

We’ve learned a little bit about: What it was like to grow up in the Bachman-Wilson house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright … The process for shipping entire painting exhibits to other countries … All about working with Ansel Adams … What goes through one’s head when restoring a gown from Gone with the Wind … The coolest places to see on travels from Stuttgart, Germany, to Stuttgart, Arkansas … Walking the Camino de Santiago trail in Spain … Building a home in a Quonset hut … Hundreds of stories about grandchildren … Blowing glass marbles and the unbelievable collectors’ market for them …

You never know where the conversation may be headed next.

And you never know just who you may meet. We’ve had people from all walks of life chat with us over breakfast at our table. Broadway actors, philanthropists, artists, police officers, novelists, chicken farmers, textile conservators, biographers, World War II widows, librarians, bridal parties, neuroscientists, doctors, college professors, train conductors, real estate developers, Walmart suppliers, IRS collectors, doctors, newlyweds, retirees from a hundred different professions. They come from Paris, TX and Paris, France; Miami, FL and Miami, OK; Ontario, CA and Ontario, CN.

Tonight we have guests from St. Louis, Little Rock and Jackson, TN. I can’t wait to see what tomorrow’s breakfast discussions will reveal. I can smell the bread baking in the oven right now. The anticipation is sweet.

Until next time …

 

New additions to the downtown Bentonville scene

These past few months have seen a flurry of new activity around the square, adding several new great places to eat, drink and shop within an easy walking distance from the B&B.

The new Midtown Shopping Center a couple of blocks from us has opened with a bang, bringing with it the new Walmart Neighborhood Market Downtown (yay! It’s changed our lives), Onyx Coffee Lab (a hip, trendy coffee bar), the newly relocated and expanded Pressroom restaurant (beautiful setting, excellent food), Lola boutique (clothing for women), The Independent (clothing for guys), and Backwoods Bentonville (an outdoor outfitter).

Also new – across from 21C Hotel you’ll find a great little boutique called In Season, filled with high-end clothing and gifts, all made in the U.S.

A bit further south on NW A Street, across from Bike Rack Brewery and Pedaler’s Pub on the ground floor of the Thrive housing complex, the new Foxhole Public House is now serving coffee, food and cocktails. Across the way is Gearhead Outfitters, specializing in activewear apparel and gear.

The Square and surrounding areas are transforming before our eyes. With these additions to the already thriving foodie scene, fun local shops, trails and museums, Don and I pretty much have no need to drive anywhere anymore, and neither do our guests.

There’s so much more on the horizon with all of the construction and development happening around us. More places, events and unique experiences to come in the next few months. Stay tuned for updates!

 

10 reasons to visit Bentonville and Northwest Arkansas this winter

The colder the temps in Bentonville, the brighter the spirit – which is all the more reason to come visit this winter! Here are just a few of the things to look forward to in the weeks to come.

2015 Lighting of Square

  1. Winter Festivities begin.

On Saturday, Nov. 21, Downtown Bentonville will be transformed into winter wonderland, with a variety of activities around the Square throughout the day.

— Start bright and early at the Square to cheer on your favorite runner in the annual Girls On the Run NWA 5k and 10k race. Race activities begin at 7 a.m.

— Afterward, shop for handmade, local gifts at the Winter Market inside the Meteor Guitar Gallery (128 W Central Ave.), from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.

— Stick around for Ice skating. The Rink at Lawrence Plaza opens for the season starting at noon.

— Finally, the official Lighting of the Square ceremony starts at 6 p.m. on the Square. Be sure to stay for the orchestra, lighting of the tree, and ice skating show at Lawrence Plaza, starting a few minutes after the ceremony on the Square.

— (And we’d be remiss if we failed to mention Fayetteville’s Lights of the Ozarks, whose ceremony takes place the night before, Friday, Nov. 20 at 6 p.m.) Truly a mesmerizing spectacle of color and light.

  1. Call those Hogs! There are still a couple of Razorback home games left this season … why not take the opportunity to cheer them on?!
    – Saturday, Nov. 21, 6 p.m. Arkansas vs. Mississippi State.
    – Saturday, Nov. 27, 1:30 p.m., Arkansas vs. Missouri

 

  1. Picturing the Americas exhibit at Crystal Bridges, featuring more than 100 oil paintings, watercolors, prints, and photographs from artists in North and South America. Crystal Bridges is the only museum in the U.S. to host this exhibition. Open from Nov. 7 through Jan. 18.

 

  1. Frank Lloyd Wright’s Bachman-Wilson house is now open for tours on the Crystal Bridges grounds! Open for tours daily except Tuesdays. No cost, but advance tickets are required.

 

  1. Crystal Bridges recently extended its hours on Thursdays! You can now stay until 9 p.m. on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays – which also means that their restaurant, Eleven, is open for dinner an extra day, too. Fantastic!

 

  1. Speaking of Eleven, if you haven’t experienced a Wednesday Over Water (WOW), you must go! A monthly event in the Crystal Bridges award-winning restaurant (for ages 21 and up) that mixes art with food and drink, it’s an experience that engages all the senses. The next one, themed “High South’s Greatest Hits” is on December 16 at 6 p.m. Make your reservations – these events tend to sell out fast.

 

Christmas Parade 2013 from roof of Walmart Museum

Christmas Parade 2013 from roof of Walmart Museum

  1. Annual Christmas Parade – one of the largest daytime parades in the state, according to the Visit Bentonville website. Thousands of participants will march or float down Main Street on Saturday, December 12, from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
  1. Warm up with a round of beers at one of the many new microbreweries, cideries or wineries in the area. Explore the Fayetteville Ale Trail on your own (be sure to have a designated driver), or book a tour with one of the new tour companies, like Hogshead Tours.Breweries by city include:

Bentonville: Bike Rack Brewery, Bentonville Brewing Company (you can walk to these from our B&B!)

Rogers: Ozark Beer Company, Core Tasting Room, Foster’s Pint and Plate

Springdale: Core Beer Company, Black Apple Crossing Cidery, Saddlebock Brewery

Fayetteville: Apple Blossom Brewery, Columbus House Brewery, Fossil Cove Brewery, West Mountain Brewing Company

 

  1. Go for a bike ride on sections (or all!) of the Razorback Regional Greenway to take in the beauty of NWA this winter. The main artery of a more elaborate trail system built in NWA over the last few years, the Greenway is officially open all the way from south Fayetteville all the way to Bella Vista. It’s a beautiful ride no matter what time of year. According to findings from a study published by the Walton Family Foundation, Northwest Arkansas has almost as many cyclists daily per capita as San Francisco.
  2. Or go for a walk! According to that same study, NWA has as many pedestrians per capita as San Diego (and more than Portland, OR!) There are plenty of brand new destinations to walk to from the B&B, including the recently opened downtown Walmart Neighborhood Market, Onyx Coffee Lab, Backwoods Bentonville, (soon to relocate) Pressroom and more!

No matter what your reason for visiting, we’ll be glad you came. Cheers!

 


 

We’re back – just in time for fall in Northwest Arkansas

Come and eat a cookie!

Twinkie - excited to meet you!

Twinkie is excited to meet you!

Well it’s official, we’re back up and running, and it looks like we’ll be nice and busy throughout the next couple of months.  We’ve enjoyed our break over the past year, but we’re more than ready to get back into the innkeeping game.

Our guests have been asking us why we took the break — and we’ve assured them that nothing sinister was afoot. I had begun looking for a part-time job during a particularly slow winter season, and I was offered a fantastic full-time job, instead, and I just couldn’t pass the opportunity up — simple as that! Don and I seized the opportunity to take a bit of a break, travel on the weekends, explore all the new microbreweries in town, dote on Twinkie, and just live normal lives for a bit.

The house didn’t get too much of a break, though. It served as the headquarters for the organizers of the Bentonville Film Festival for about eight months – how cool is that?!

But the B&B and downtown Bentonville beckoned to me.  Much as I enjoyed my time as a normal 30-something, I missed the bed and breakfast. So we decided to reopen — just in time for the busy fall season. Between Bikes, Blues and BBQ, the War Eagle Craft Fair, Slaughter Pen Jam, Razorback football games and other University of Arkansas activities, fall foliage, Octoberfest beer at the microbreweries, and the grand opening of the  Bachman-Wilson House at Crystal Bridges, we couldn’t have picked a better time to get back into the business.

The house has a fresh coat of paint, we’ve taken inventory, made a few tweaks here and there, and are exploring opportunities for how to make Laughlin House even better than ever.

We look forward to hosting our guests and sharing all that Bentonville and Northwest Arkansas has to offer.

See you soon!

Jenny


 

Northwest Arkansas: A Cycling Paradise

Within the next couple of years, cyclists will be able to bike from Fayetteville all the way north to Bella Vista. The trail system, known as the Razorback Greenway, is more than 36 miles of paved bike trail  aimed at providing alternative transportation and recreation for the region. Not only does it run north and south, but it will eventually connect (and in many areas already connects) with other spur trails weaving in and of Fayetteville, Johnson, Springdale, Rogers, Bentonville and Bella Vista to create more than 80 miles of bike- and pedestrian-friendly routes.

Bentonville has been growing and nurturing a very active biking community over the past couple of years, led by the efforts of local bike shops including Phat Tire (located just off the Square (and 2 blocks from Laughlin House!) and Mojo Cycling.  In partnership with cycling organizations FAST Friends at Slaughter Pen Trail and Bike Bentonville, among other groups, these organizations rally behind cycling and fitness activities to help make Bentonville a more active, bike-friendly community. (I’d be remiss if I didn’t also mention the growing running community and advocates here, spearheaded by Rush Running.) Together they organize events, group rides, races and educational activities centered around cycling.  It is a very common site to see cyclists in full riding gear gathering at the Square before heading a block north to the Crystal Bridges Bike Trail (which is also only a block from Laughlin House!) on their way to Slaughter Pen Hollow, a world-class, 30-mile system of off-road mountain biking trails located in north Bentonville. (To see riders in action, click through the dozens of videos on YouTube of Slaughter Pen rides; here’s one example I found.)

Want to check out a trail and don’t want to lug your bikes with you?  Rent one from Phat Tire or  from the Downtown Activity Center.  And download trail maps from Phat Tire’s website.

Slaughter Pen Jam Festival

Speaking of bike-centered events, this weekend is the much-anticipated Slaughter Pen Jam, a 3-day weekend of bike racing action, live music and great food in Bentonville.  The Bentonville First Friday festival touts the World Trials Champion Bicycle Stunt Exhibition from 5 to 8 p.m. on the Square — one of our favorites of the year. It’s like watching bicycle ballet. Read a little more about the events of the September First Friday and come check it out this weekend.

Upcoming Bike-Themed Art Events

And of course we have to mention what’s going on in the local art scene this month. The Norberta Philbrook Art Gallery (located on Central across from Phat Tire Bike Shop) is hosting The Art of Cycling throughout the month of September, both at their gallery and across the street at The Pressroom. This event is being described as a “month-long collaborative exhibition that celebrates cycling and cyclists, opening as an accompaniment to the Slaughter Pen Jam & Music Festival,” featuring several local artists who will provide bike-themed artwork and experiences. The Norberta Philbrook Gallery and The Pressroom will also host a public reception for the artists on Tuesday September 17th from 6-8pm.

See you on the trails!


 

The Twinkie Transformation

Those mournful brown eyes captured my heart,  the ones gazing tentatively up at me from the concrete floor of her shelter cell. They were set in perfect symmetry on an adorable red-and-white beagle face attached to a red basset hound’s body with white pointy bandana markings around the neck. All this cuteness poised on top of short little turkey drumstick legs capped with oversized white socks.  She was calm, still, quiet amidst the crazed chorus of barking, jumping, pacing. The tag on the gate read, “Twinkie”.

“She’s the one,” I squealed.  Don nodded his agreement, clearly hypnotized by those sad hound-dog eyes. Twinkie’s velvety ears perked up. Her white-tipped whip of a tail gave a quivering, hopeful thump.

Fast forward.

The eyes get me every time.

The eyes get me every time.

Twinkie was clearly thankful to be in her new adopted home with air conditioning, a soft bed and consistent mealtimes with tasty Pacific Salmon-flavored grain-free food. And for the first couple of days, we kept her in our little apartment while she got accustomed to her new surroundings and her new people. She got a clean bill of health from the vet. Once she warmed up to us, her cute, bouncy, perky personality was absolutely hilarious. She was a powerhouse — a knee-licking, head-ramming, 45-pound wiggling belly flopping bundle of muscle and sheer stubborn basset-hound determination.

All was right with the world on our honeymoon with this new dog. Until, that is, she was finally allowed to go into the B&B and make herself comfortable.

And then the doorbell rang. And a canine alarm sounded in response. Loudly. With zeal.

Outside in the yard … the same.  She was a fence-dwelling, people-chasing yard guardian — trumpeting dire warnings to anyone within 100 feet of the fence.  Nobody came anywhere near her yard without a good old-fashioned talkin’ to.

Absolutely perfect for a bed and breakfast, right?

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Twinkie chillin’ in her “Twinkie Pose”

She also proved to be a “leash lurcher”, which was unfortunate because she lives to go on walks. Wrapping the leash around our hands multiple times to keep her under control, our hands morphed into swollen purple sausages. It was relentless, her lunging —  toward smells, toward sounds, after squirrels. Oh, and the cats.  She was obsessed with cats.  She poured every fiber of her 45-pound being into lurching, determined to get to whatever irresistible attraction was just out of reach. She was a strong little thing. And when she finally took a break from straining against the leash, ready to move on, she strutted and bounced, smiling, happy as a clam. Our little junkyard dog owned that sidewalk.

Cute as the “junkyard” side of her personality was, if we were going to keep her at the B&B, we had to teach her some manners.

So we decided to enroll her in a basic training course at one of the local pet supply stores, where she did okay for the first couple of lessons, even acting like a model pupil, the teacher praising her and setting her examples by her.  That was, as soon as one of the Rottweilers in the class picked a scuffle with her and, without warning, nipped at her nose. The run-in shut her down. She started misbehaving for the trainer. She refused to obey a single, solitary command. Each time we returned for a lesson, within 10 feet of the pet store Twinkie became visibly stressed, drooling, panting, pacing.  We pulled her out of the program the week before graduation. She was our primary school dropout.

Twinkie craving attention.

Twinkie’s “going for a walk?!?” face.

Enter Nick Rangel with American K-9 Academy.

Desperate for a permanent fix for Twinkie’s less-than-welcoming behavior, I found Nick on the internet.  And after a lengthy phone conversation about expectations and costs (she was, after all, 5 years old — an advanced age for training), we set up an appointment to take Twinkie out for an evaluation.

As we drove up to the training facility, on several acres of open land in nearby Gravette, we were somewhat alarmed to see several large dogs in the fenced-in dog yard. Because after Twinkie’s run-in with the Rotweiller, we and Twinkie saw all big dogs as a potential threat.  The German Shepherds, Labs and other dogs curiously watched as we unloaded Twinkie from the car. Not one of them barked. And when Nick gave a command, they all snapped to attention and did what he said.

We were amazed at his command of the dogs, and after her initial evaluation, we were quick to enroll her in a 4-week K-9 basic-training bootcamp.

Nick delivered. He put Twinkie and her class of canine companions through the ropes that month. To help desensitize the dogs to people and kids, he loads the dogs up and takes them to local parks and trails and ballgames to train them around people. They roam his grounds and go on hikes and get one-on-one personal attention every single day. He corrects them firmly when they do not obey.

Two weeks into the training, we were allowed a visit.  Already Twinkie was a different dog.  She listened to us. She obeyed our commands. She walked on the leash without lurching. She waited for permission before going through a doorway.

Two weeks after that, Nick brought a newly transformed Twinkie to our house. He worked with us for a couple of hours, a train-the-trainer session. He gave us a printed manual to study, outlining training plans for the coming next weeks and months. He visited a couple more times to check in.

Smiling after her nightly walk.

Smiling after her nightly walk.

And it worked.  Ask any guest. Twinkie is a better version of herself. Around guests she’s a mellow, laid-back dog.  She’s still a perky little spitfire around her mama and daddy when we’re alone. She is a little shy around some guests, but she lets them enter her home without fanfare. She does greet people at the door (so be prepared to get thoroughly sniffed on your way in.) She picks her favorites and, at times, even positions herself outside her Chosen Ones’ doors so they’ll know she wants her ears scratched. But don’t worry, she waits for permission to go into rooms (and she’s not allowed at the breakfast table).  We get daily compliments on her good behavior, and she gets daily kisses and pats from the guests.

And did I mention that we can walk her off-leash now?  It’s amazing!  She stays right with us, always keeping us in the corner of her eye, pausing when we pause, turning when we turn. We do still have to leash her at events and in crowds, though. Too much distraction.

Thanks to Nick at American K-9 Academy,  our relationship with Twinkie has a much easier, more relaxed dynamic. We know what to expect of one another and we have a nice little routine that works for all of us. She’s now the perfect B&B mascot rather than the apartment-dwelling junkyard dog. And our guests get the ideal Hostess Twinkie treatment.  Cheers to doggie bootcamp!

 

Take note, belly is being offered here.


 

Crystal Bridges celebrates 1 million visitors!

It hasn’t been quite two years yet since Crystal Bridges made its grand entrance into Northwest Arkansas and forever changed the landscape of Bentonville.  Since the museum opened, we’ve seen our neighbors, our town and our region appear in countless local and national news articles, magazine feature stories and TV shows. Bentonville has been named on the “in” list for several different prominent travel publications. We’ve watched our city streets get spruced up and witnessed well-planned community and real estate development begin to take our neighborhoods to new heights. And at the B&B we’ve been thrilled to serve as Bentonville ambassadors and play host to thousands of these visitors who have streamed into the area since the museum opened. I can tell you, our guests have left enchanted with our town and all it has to offer.

This week, the museum anticipates its one-millionth visitor to walk through the door since November 11, 2011.  In celebration, they’ve launched a “1 in a million” campaign.

I just ran down to the Convention and Visitor’s bureau to pick up our yard signs. (Please don’t be too taken aback if our yard grows over the sign overnight — we’ve had an onslaught of rain, which we needed — but it’s making the yard grow out of control!)

photo copy 2

Visitors can expect the beautifully-tended yards around town to sport these words of welcome as they head toward the downtown area. In addition to the yard signs, the museum itself will be offering some extra perks — as well as a story booth (kind of like NPR’s StoryCorp), where visitors can record their stories on video for use in future marketing and social media materials.

I plan to run down and talk about how much Crystal Bridges has meant to Laughlin House and to Bentonville in general.  Since it opened, we have watched this little town transform into a growing hot spot for food and the arts – and it has become a model town for community involvement and “can-do” American spirit.  Crystal Bridges has truly put Bentonville on the map as a destination city for travelers, and we are eternally grateful for the wonderful people it has brought to the area and to the B&B.  Bentonville is booming. Our lives have been forever enriched by this jewel. I mean, it’s brought a million people to our area in less than two years’ time!

Thank you, Ms. Walton, for this wonderful gift — we can’t wait to see what the next two years of Crystal Bridges magic brings!

In love with local art

If you’ve ever visited our B&B, you know that we are big fans of our local artists. In fact, we’ve tried to share as much of them with our guests as we can without cluttering up the inn. In addition to the paintings, lithographs and prints on our walls, our dishes were made by local potters, we provide handmade local soaps in our rooms, and we point our guests toward the fabulous creations of our local chefs and culinary artists. (The amazing culinary scene in Bentonville is another post altogether!)

Original painting

“Walking in the Natural State” by Steve Horan

Transom windows by Heirloom Stained Glass

Transom windows by Heirloom Stained Glass

Soap dishes by local potter; handmade soaps by RiverPure

Soap dishes by local potter; handmade soaps by RiverPure

Waterfalls by Melissa Garrison

Waterfalls by Melissa Garrison

Face mugs and soap dish in The Laught

Face mugs and soap dish in The Laught

PigPot

PigPot

Roarks Bluff by Carol Dickie

Roarks Bluff by Carol Dickie

The beauty of Northwest Arkansas has beckoned to artists for years, and many have called our area home and found daily inspiration in our unique surroundings. And with the world-class Crystal Bridges Museum now nestled into the Bentonville landscape, the local art scene is blossoming.  Around the area you’ll find galleries, art shops and co-ops –along with a variety of arts and crafts fairs in certain seasons –showcasing the work of our talented artists.

Some of our favorite places to buy local art:

Poor Richards Art, 101 W. Walnut Street in downtown Rogers (our neighboring town). This is an art co-op that specializes in fine arts and crafts.  Pottery, jewelry, paintings and prints, fabric arts and more.

Norberta Philbrook Art Gallery, 114 W. Central Ave., Bentonville. Find paintings, pottery and more from NWA artists. This gallery also has partnered with Practical Magic Art Supply

Wishing Springs Art Gallery, 8862 W. McNelly Rd., Bella Vista (our neighboring town to the north).  Art co-op highlighting the work of Bella Vista artists and crafters.

Crystal Bridges Museum Gift Store, 600 Museum Way, Bentonville. The museum store has a wide selection of gifts and fine art, including original pieces from select local artists. We’re excited that one of the artists we feature on our dining room walls, Carol Dickie, also has pieces in the museum store.

Bentonville Farmer’s Market, on the square starting April 28.  In addition to excellent quality fresh produce, meats and fresh-baked goods, the Bentonville Farmer’s market also features art, crafts and furniture.  In fact, this is where we found our local soap vendor, RiverPure. (We provide the Lavender-Citrus and the Lemongrass scented soaps as part of our guests’ in-room amenities).

Thursday Bentonville Art Market, will take place in and around the Square every third Thursday starting June 20. And don’t miss the Bentonville ArtsFest Art Walk  on the Square June 7. This takes place during a monthlong Celebration of the Arts in downtown Bentonville.

Eureka Springs (a 45-minute drive away) is jam-packed with local art galleries, and many of the artists who show there also have expanded into our section of NWA.

There are many more galleries and art shops in and around NWA, many of excellent quality. The ones we listed above are just the places we frequent most often and where we find a good majority of the pieces we have in the B&B.

If you’re looking to just enjoy art and are not particularly in the market to buy (although I’m sure you’ll find pieces for sale, too), there’s more to see in and around the downtown Bentonville area. In addition to the masterpieces on display inside and on the grounds of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art,  there is a really cool, unique art experience in the ground floor of the new 21c Museum hotel just a block away. There’s also the Majesty Republic art gallery on the Square. The Pressroom coffee shop, the Bentonville Convention and Visitors Bureau  and Tusk and Trotter American Brasserie also feature local art on their walls. There are periodic art shows at Art Seen 107 (107 SE 3rd St, Bentonville) and at Studio 124 by Thomas Merritt (new location for his studio TBD, but keep your eyes peeled!).

More is on the way. We will do our best to keep the Bentonville Arts Scene alive and thriving!

 

 

In the News

Check out some of the press clippings where Laughlin House has been mentioned lately!


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