The Mission Continues

Jul. 20th 2012

Agent Log 1.2

Hurley, Plantation Dog here.

Mom and Dad are out to dinner so I have a chance to catch up on what is going on with my mission.

The Mission is progressing. We have had lots of humans visit my post, lots of humans like my post and some even went to my family’s Indiegogo site to donate a bone or two and leave comments!

(My favorites are the ones that are done in honor of that human’s special dog or family member)

I even had one done in honor of me! Two bones up for that one!

Thank you!

But our mission isn’t complete yet! We are down to 4 days! We are just a few bones away from $1,000! But here is what I was thinking.

Recently on this Indiegogo site, another human who sells recycled toilet paper had a campaign where he was going to sit on a toilet for 50 hours to raise $50,000.00. And you know what? He did it! Now I don’t think I want to sit on a toilet for 50 hours, but if he can do that in 50 hours, we can raise allot of bones in 4 days! And it won’t be going to buy toilet paper either! It will be going to save three very old, historic buildings located on my plantation!

(it’s going to be my new hide out from my arch enemy, Mille the Cat!)

Th Cat
Arch Enemy of Hurley

So please, take a moment and go to my family’s site at

and share a few bones for me!

Do it in honor or memory of your favorite human or dog or even

… gulp

… cat.

I will make sure that it will show up on our Patron page for all to see! We can even include a picture of them!

So please don’t just read my post or just like my post…

visit my family’s site and share it with friends!

P.S. I have a video shoot tomorrow so watch for my video debut in the next day or two!

So have a heart and share a bone!

I’m beggin you!

Love and Licks

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Year of the Virginia Historic Homes | 16 Comments »

Plantation Dog on a Mission

Jul. 19th 2012

Plantation Dog

Hurley here… They don’t know that I have taken over the blog for the evening while they recover from their mini-break.

I am on a mission tonight!

My family has this campaign going on some site called Indiegogo and I overheard them say that it is down to the last 5 days! I don’t think that they are going to make their goal of $30,000, but I want to help them make it to at least $1,000.

So I am asking for your help!

We have only 5 days to come up with about $3oo to make it to $1,000. I am asking each of  you to reach into your pocket

and share just a little.

Go to the website now and just drop a few bones for the plantation.

If they make more than $1,000, I’ll be your friend for life!

It goes to help fix up those three old buildings that I want to play in.

When you do, don’t forget to claim your prize! I will even give you a smile and a kiss if you come by the plantaiton when they open it!

This means so much to my family and to me! I have to have somewhere to hide out from those bothersome birds, James and Dolley!

I’m “begging” ya!

Donate today!

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Year of the Virginia Historic Homes | 27 Comments »

See Belle Grove Video!

Jul. 11th 2012

Check out our Belle Grove Plantation Video!

See what it looks like as you drive up to the Manor today. Watch for our resident osprey to fly over the house as you approach the front door. See the grounds as they are today, before we start the landscaping. Get a close look at the Summer Kitchen, Ice House and Smokehouse.

Experience Living History that spans 221 years!

Our Indiegogo campaign is 12 days from ending. We ask that you please consider making a small contribution to help us save our three dependencies.

What can $5.oo buy you today?

Depending on where you are, maybe a gallon of gas, or an expensive cup of coffee or even a $5 foot long sub!

But what would $5 alone do for our dependencies? Alone not much, but together with many it can:

  • Remove the remodel damage that the previous owner has done to the Summer Kitchen.
  • Repair the foundations, walls and floors.
  • Replace the walls of the Smokehouse that are now exposed and are only just framing.
  • Repair the chimney and replace the mortar between the bricks that has worn away
  • Uncover the Ice Pit in the Ice House
  • Can fund Archaeological Digs around the dependencies to ensure that past artifacts can be preserved
  • Create a learning environment that will teach children and adults about the lives of our Founding Fathers as well as those families and slaves that came after.
  • Will ensure that we won’t lose these important living examples of our American history.

Won’t you please go to our Indiegogo site and give just $5.oo (or more, if you can)? A $5.00 foot long sub once eaten is gone. But a contribution to our campaign will live on for generations. Please Help Us Save our History today!

Yesterday we had some technical issues with our Indiegogo site. We were informed that we are not able to offer lottery or raffle tickets on the campaign. We have had to adjust the perks to reflect this change. However, we will honor our perks and still offer the following if you chose to make a contribution.

  • $10.00:     Preserve History Supporter – A Personalized Thank you Card and 2 raffle tickets for the Free Weekend Giveaway
  • $25.00:     Plantation Supporter – A Personalized Thank you Card and 5 raffle tickets for the Free Weekend Giveaway.
  • $50.00:     James Madison Supporter – A Personalized Thank you Card and 10 raffle tickets for the Free Weekend Giveaway.
  • $100.00:   Colonial Supporter – A Personalized Thank you Card and 20 raffle tickets for the Free Weekend Giveaway.

For each level, you will also have your name, state or county, and your blog listed on our Patron page under your level of support.

Thank you for your support in Saving our Living History!

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Year of the Virginia Historic Homes | 10 Comments »

Bumps in the Road

Jul. 10th 2012

When we started this journey, we knew that we would have good days and bad days. You have to expect it when you are running a business. We started this journey in July, 2011 and we have had a few bumps in the road and we have had a few pot holes we were not sure we would be able to get around. But through the whole time, we have tried to keep our focus on the road ahead. Our philosophy has been if you are traveling and it starts to rain, you don’t stop your trip and go home. You turn on the windshield wipers and get a better view of the road.

We are still waiting on the contract draft. We have learned “guarantee” doesn’t always mean for sure. But we are being patient. We aren’t always privy to what is going on so we just have to wait it out. Yesterday we found out that we are going to have to do a preliminary site plan for zoning to get the Special Exemption for a Bed and Breakfast. Thankfully we have a great surveyor /engineer that we have started working with. He has been more than helpful in finding out what we need. What he did find out is that the process for the Special Exemption will take us 120 days. That puts a little crimp in our plans. What is the saying, “Best-laid plans of mice and men may often go awry.”  Okay so we don’t open in September as we planned. That puts us to what… November or December? We also found out that we are going to have to consult with VDOT (Virginia Department of Transportation) because our main driveway is on a state highway. I thought that because we were on a main route it would be a good thing. We will have to see about that one. And we still haven’t gotten to the building codes and health/safety inspections to get our occupancy permit yet. Not to even mention the cost for the things we know about now.

(Okay, focus on the road. Where is that switch for the windshield wipers?)

One good thing about today I do have to mention. I got to speak to Troy, the Innkeeper at the Inn at Warner Hall. He was very nice and very open to answering questions for me. One thing I have come to understand about Bed and Breakfast Innkeepers/Owners is that they really understand and are quick to help you. It’s like you are in a new club and the other members want you to have success. What a great feeling. But one comment he told me that really gave me a good feeling before we hung up. He told me to keep my head up, not to get discouraged and when we ran into a bad challenge, to call him. He would tell me about another that was worse. It’s good to have someone to lean on.

Speaking of which, one thing that I read about before we even started considering opening a bed and breakfast. It is important of having a clear understanding with whoever you are working with about all that it might entail in getting your Bed and Breakfast open. It stated that you needed to make sure that you both (if you are working with someone) understood the stresses that came with it so you would be prepared. It didn’t seem important at the time I read it. My thought was that Brett and I had been married for twenty-five years. We can handle this.

Michelle and Brett’s wedding 1986

But now as we start to see those stresses coming, I really understand the need to know that you are both on the same page. That support between each other is so important. I think back to all that Brett and I have been through together. Both of our children were premature births. We came very close to losing our first as well as losing me. The challenge and stress of being a young mother and dad, almost single parent as Brett served three years on a submarine in the Navy. There were months apart with little to no communications. And the worst was to have him come home only to say that they were taking another boats schedule the following week and would be leaving again. That was stress. Then the fear of him being pulled to serve in the first Gulf war, which we missed by two weeks because he was transferred to submarine school. Then the next wars, which he missed by months because he retired. It was almost as if we were being prepared for this challenge. As if we were being sharpened up for it through the challenges before.

Brett and Alexa at 9 weeks and 4 pounds. She started at 1 pound 3 oz.

Tyler at 3 days and 5 pounds

Brett at his retirement from the Navy 2003

What I do know is that I don’t think I could do this without Brett. We are each other’s support. He is my best friend as well as my husband. We have come to an agreement that only one at a time can stress out and be discouraged. This allows the one to encourage and offer relief to the other. And today we have added a new rule; you can only be discouraged for three hours. After that you have to get on with it.

Brett and Michelle in New Orleans for their 25th wedding anniversary in 2011.

So while we have loved this journey with meeting so many wonderful people, to seeing some of America’s most beautiful homes and lands, and finding new places and historic locations we never knew about. One thing we want those of you who are considering opening a Bed and Breakfast to know. It is fun and full of joy and adventure, but there is stress and times that you will get discouraged. Just remember that before you begin, remember to set up your support system first. You will need it along the way.

Brett and I want to thank all our readers who have supported us with words of encouragement, prayers, thoughts and even funds. It is like fuel for our engine as we travel this journey. We really appreciate each of you.

Some quick notes!

We have set up a new Patrons page. Please take a moment to view it under our “About Us” page.

We are working on a special Cookie Contest! Be on the watch for the announcement soon!

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Year of the Virginia Historic Homes | 27 Comments »

New Video of Belle Grove Plantation

Jun. 26th 2012

We have just added a new video of Belle Grove Plantation on our Indiegogo site!

See what it is like driving up to this beautiful 221 year old Virginia Plantation!

Watch for “Dolley” our resident osprey to fly over the main house! 

If you can, please consider contributing to our campaign to save these priceless treasures of American history!

Check back for Tomorrows post ~ Family Feud!

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Year of the Virginia Historic Homes | 15 Comments »

Win a Weekend Getaway at Belle Grove Plantation

Jun. 25th 2012

Just imagine pulling up to our two hundred and twenty-one year old plantation home to spend two beautiful nights in one of our Master Suites overlooking the plantation and the river. Each of the Master Suites will be filled with period style furnishing matching the period that the family for whom the room is named lived at Belle Grove Plantation.  After you arrive, join us at 5pm sharp for a Wine and Cheese reception with local Virginia wines and hors d’oeuvres.

Sample a traditional Mint Julep while taking in the view of the Rappahannock River from the riverfront portico.  Afterwards, take a stroll around the property with Brett and Michelle and learn about the history of Belle Grove Plantation from its beginnings in 1670 to the birth of James Madison to the Civil War and John Wilkes Booth. Afterward return to your room with a turndown service and a night cap of Port Wine and a special Belle Grove snack.

Blueberry Oatmeal Streusel French Toast with Warm Maple Rum

You and your companion will wake to a gourmet three-course breakfast served in the formal dining room or you can choose to have a private breakfast on the balcony overlooking the river. You can spend your day relaxing and reading in our library, or go exploring the local history of George Washington, Robert E. Lee or the Civil War Battlefields of Fredericksburg. You may also chose to enjoy tasting the delights of Ingleside Winery or a quiet gourmet dinner at River Haven Restaurant overlooking the Rappahannock River.

Return for the Wine and Cheese Reception and then a quiet evening watching the sunset over the river from the Riverfront balcony.

What could be better than this? How about all of this for free?

Here is your chance!

Today we will be launching a fund-raising campaign in an effort to save the three outbuildings you may have read about in the previous post. We truly believe these buildings are worth the time and effort to save because they hold the past of this plantation. Built around the late 1700s, they could reveal life for the plantation families and slaves that lived here from 1791 to the present. With their restoration and preservation, we will be able to preserve and present that history to future generations to come.

Here’s what you need to do to enter:

Please visit our campaign site at

and read over our information for the campaign. Once you have made your donation, claim one of the “perks” we have set up. You can only claim one. Once we receive your information, we will register you for the drawing. We will send you via email the ticket numbers for your records. Please make sure you include your email address and phone number so we can call you if you win! We do not share any information and do not add you to any email list.

The drawing will take place on August 25, 2012. We are hoping to be able to open Belle Grove Plantation Bed & Breakfast in September, 2012.

Our goal is to raise $30,000 with this campaign with an ultimate goal of raising a total of $200,000 with future fund raising campaigns. This will help us restore and preserve these valuable pieces of history. We will also be using the funds to make some improvements to the grounds.

How you can help us?

You can help us by sharing the word to others. Please consider sharing this post with your readers on your blog and on Facebook.

We have to have at less two contribution within the first two days of the campaign in order to be added to Indiegogo’s browser.

Another way to help us is to visit the campaign site as many times as you can and by commenting on the campaign. By doing so, we will accumulate “points” with Indiegogo. If we receive enough “points” they will feature us on their home page. As all of you are aware, by being featured on the home page, we will get much needed exposure for our campaign. This will help us greatly!

We really appreciate your donations!

Remember all donations great and small will make a difference! We will record the names, city, state (and country) of those who donate to our campaign. The name of each contributor will go on a list that will become part of the New History of Belle Grove Plantation. Once we have finished the restoration, three copies of this part of the new history will be made. One copy will be retained at Belle Grove, the second will go to the King George County Historic Society and the third copy will go to the Virginia Historic Society to be archived as part of the permanent history of Belle Grove Plantation for future generations.

James Madison

Become part of the history of Belle Grove Plantation that includes the birthplace of James Madison and the trail that John Wilkes Booth and his Union pursuers traveled!

Thank you for your support and generosity.

(NOTE! We will be adding a video of Belle Grove Plantation soon to the Indiegogo site)

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Year of the Virginia Historic Homes | 36 Comments »