Sunday, November 6, 2016

A New Christmas Beginning at the Christmas House

 11 10th Street in Racine WI will once again experience the Christmas House for Cancer in a bit of a different way. We are starting an annual event here to show off the house at Christmas. When we purchased the house in 2014 people then began to ask us when we were going to have the house open for touring again. From 1985 to 1997 the house was on display annually to assist in fund raising for the cancer program in Racine. We have worked very hard to restore the home since its purchase.
Now its time for us to open it up for display.

Christmas House will have it's tour finally with the start this year. New Beginnings Art Festival. We did not want to repeat what was done in the past. How could you ? It was a great time with hundreds of committed volunteers on a mission. No, we thought we would start our own history with this event.

November 12th will be the start of the annual Christmas House Art Festival. I call it New Beginnings this year, because it is. Christmas House has had a new beginning this year with the opening of the B&B and our events. We have rejuvenated the house and it's spirit of giving and want to continue to share this wonderful 10, 000 square foot home to all it's visitors.

Please come visit us on November 12th, 2016. It is from 9am to 4pm. You can then go downtown and see the Holiday Parade. It can be a wonderful start to your holiday season.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Digging In Deep

When you purchase an old home there is always the mystery about who owned it before, what has happened there, etc. Certainly many a horror movie has been based on that "old mystery house" . Well, when we purchased the house in March 2014 we knew we were buying a historical landmark over 100 years old. 116 10th St Racine Wisconsin was a home of Emily Baker and her family. She was prominent in this community. We know A.J.Horlick of Horlick Malted Milk was also an owner of the house. The Bendstead Hall fame when the nurses is still very much in existence as a lot of her alumni are still here with us. We knew this going in.

Once we decided to be on the Tour of Historic Homes, we did not think we would be on such an adventure. Preservation Racine has been very helpful discovering so many interesting things. We have been on a great trek through the many trails of documents and are uncovering new things that are so fabulous.

Come join us on the tour! Sorry, no reveals until then!!!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

When the leaves start to turn....Labor Day feelings

It is about that sticky time in August when I get a bit of mixed feelings. It's almost the end of summer and school will be starting again soon. I love all my seasons. That's a Midwesterner for you! The changing from one to the other always has me feeling this way. Summer to Fall is one that I think I have the most hesitation with. I love summer. The freedom to stay up late, sleep in ( at least for my kids) and go to the beach and have a picnic supper is always such a joy. I don't really mind the heat. It kind of comes with the advantage of living near Lake Michigan and Racine WI having one of the best beaches around. Not to mention the county fairs that are all over the state. I like to have a little fire in our backyard and roast marshmallows with my kids and make s'mores. It's a great time for getting together with friends and family.

Then comes fall. Labor Day for me is the start. I know the calendar does not agree, but this is the way I have thought about it as long as I can remember. The start of the school year kicks it off. It usually starts just after Labor Day. When I was younger, school was another activity. Around August I would get bored and want school to come so I would have something different to do. New shoes, new clothes, school supplies, etc. These things all ushered in fall to me. It was always kind of bittersweet.

The weather starts to get cooler and it is about that time I got tired of being hot. When the leaves change colors everything is so majestic in some places it takes my breath away. I still find joy in seeing the first tree fire red or bright yellow. As a kid we always would try to get the most leaves we could together to jump in. Time after time, we would rake the pile back up so we could jump in it again. Pumpkins and squash and time to eat Chili and Beef Stew!

As I get older, this changing of seasons just keeps reinforcing to me how quick life can pass by if you are not careful. I still enjoy it, still feel a bit the same about loosing my summer. Got to go now, I am going to get in a few more times at North Beach before there is no more time left.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

A house that is calling you home

 Guests arrive all the time from all over. One of the things Pamela and I have started to notice is how often we get people coming back that have moved away. They are visiting family or friends that still live here. Or they are showing someone they are with where they were from first hand.

We love Racine Wisconsin. It has been my home for pretty much my whole life and Pamela has lived here for over 40 years herself. It warms our heart when we get guests in that come back and still find our city fabulous and some even say when they retire, they will move back.

Racine has a lot to offer visitors and families that live here. I guess you can, like anything, focus on what is right or focus on what is wrong. We like to look at all the great businesses that are in town, both large and small. We like to look at all the great things to do in the area. All the great art, culture, and community investment programs that we have and the tons and tons of volunteers that stand up every day, week to help their local church, school and the community.

Our house is also a home. I mean, the nature of a bed and breakfast is that it is also a home. That is not what I am talking about. I am talking about Christmas House's past. It was a home then too. To Emily Baker's family, the Horlick family and to tons and tons of student nurses that stayed in Benstead Hall. Now that we are a bed and breakfast, it has become a house that has called its past residents to come home. And we are happy that they are coming to our house and calling it home for their stay here.

Welcome we will make sure your homecoming is GRAND!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

A Porch to Save Sale

You may have heard that 116 10th St is having a "Save the Porch " sale. This is true. Have you seen our porch? It looks okay from far away. Up close? Not so much. You have to give it a little credit though, after all, it is over 120 years old. I am not sure the last time it was worked on, but it really needs it now. We have done all we can financially on our own and now we need help. It does not take much to do it either. If 100 people all chipped in $20.00 we would have $2000.00. Our budget for the porch keeps changing. It would be great if that meant that it was going DOWN!! That, however, is not the case.

So we started a GoFundMe for it. and we have also started planning some events to help us reach our goal of $100,000. One if the first events is our Save the porch sale we are having on August 6th and 7th, 2016 from 9am to 5pm.    

Come check it out! There will be all kinds of stuff. Though I cannot guarantee what will be in there but if you know Pamela Deskins, you will know it will be great, unique and fun. And along the way you will be helping us to fix the porch up to its grandness that it needs to be for our guests and you to enjoy.


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

A park across the street called East Park

We reside on the corner of 10th street and Main Street in Racine, WI. The Gateway College Campus is just down the street. Part of their property is across the street from us. This part of their property used to be called East Park. It is famous now for it's statue of Mary Todd Lincoln and Abraham Lincoln. But when our house was built, it was East Park. 

When I promised to bring you a bit of information from 1893, the year the house was built, I did not realize I would also find other facts and photos that would be interesting from around the same time. Time changes lots of things. Landscape, ecosystems, communities.... it is fascinating to me and to Pamela the changes and what used to be is obviously  something we like or we would not have jumped into this historical landmark. 

I think it is important to know where we are from as well as where we are heading. To look back can give you such a great sense of comfort to know we don't have the struggles the past has had and how much we have changed and advanced and in some cases, what we have lost.

When I found this photo of what the middle of that park looked like in 1895 I can only assume this is what Emily Baker and her family used to see when they sat on our grand front porch or took a stroll through the park. 


Saturday, July 16, 2016

A long time coming for Christmas House B&B

So sorry for not posting for such a long time. We have been very busy at the Christmas House Bed & Breakfast. First, we hosted a party for some great nurses who used to stay at Benstead Hall. Then we worked on getting our restaurant license. I sometimes wonder how we get things done. When one thing is accomplished there are five more that take it's place. Every time I thought if getting in to the blog and jotting some stuff down I lost track of time.

Well, I am a recovering work a holic so can you cut me a little slack? I am back on track now and will try and get the posts back up to speed. For those that enjoyed reading it, I am going to say sorry once again and try and not let it happen again.

We have worked so hard over the last few months on several things that needed doing for us to finally feel like we were in business. One of which was our sign. On Friday July 1st, 2016 we accomplished that goal. It went into the yard that day and I could not have been more excited. People thought I won the lottery with 25 million the way I was acting. But I could not help it. When you have a business and do not have a sign marking you are there, people just do not find you as much. The internet helped us some. But nothing says I am here then a big 7 foot tall sign that lights up when it is dark.

So start looking again for the blog. I am going to get back into my routine and get some stories and information out your way. This year I was going to dedicate a part of the blog to 1893, the year the house was built. I will still do that. Along with that I will work on sharing other great items with you,

Thanks for being a part of the Christmas House Bed & Breakfast. We are happy you are here.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Waldorf Astoria Hotel 1893

Millionaire William Waldorf Astor opened the 13-story Waldorf Hotel on the site of his mansion at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 33rd Street adjacent to the designed by renowned architect Henry Hardenbergh in 1893. William Waldorf Astor died on 18 October 1919 in England, where he’d relocated to in 1893.

The waldorf salad was created at New York's Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in 1896 not by a chef but dining room manager Oscar Tschirky.  The original version of this salad contained only apples, celery and mayonnaise and served on a bed of lettuce.

The Waldorf Hotel, New York City.:



1 cup apples chopped, (Granny smith or a Sweet tart apple or a combination of different tart apples)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup celery, chopped
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup raisins (optional)
1/4 cup walnuts (optional)

Sprinkle apples with lemon juice after they are cut
Add all other ingredients.

Toss to coat all pieces with mayonnaise.

The first hotel was torn down in 1929 by the people who built the Empire State Building and a new one erected in where it is now on Park Ave in 1931.

Our house was built in 1893. Glad it is still here!


Tuesday, February 23, 2016

What is a B & B?

What does B & B stand for? Bread & Butter? Bats & Balls? Black & Blue? or even Beauty & the Beast. Good guess!  Unfortunately, not close to being right in this case. It stand for Bed & Breakfast. So when did the first B & B evolve in the United States? The opening of one was as early as the Colonial America. In the 18th century there were very few places for travelers to stay. Most people had to rely on the kindness of stranger to put them up for the night. After WWII middle class Americans were traveling more. Some were interested in the historic preservation sparked by the Bicentennial 1976. Many B & B's  are set up in  historic mansions. Most Innkeepers live  in the house to take care of the guests. Some states require it. No bed and breakfast is the same either. Just as the innkeepers are unique, so too is the inn. Recently, new amenities such as wireless internet access have been added in some places to  stay competitive with the rest of the lodging industry.  Still other bed and breakfast inns have expanded to offer weddings and to have business meetings.

Here at Christmas House Bed & Breakfast our slogan is Meet, Celebrate, Rejuvenate. If you have a small meeting or a luncheon come sit in Library or Dining Room.  Have a small wedding under 60 people? We are perfect for that as well. Or if you just want a nice night in a beautiful surroundings, one of our rooms will suit you just fine.

When your visiting Racine, WI please stay at the Christmas House. We would love to meet you!







Friday, February 19, 2016

Fun Facts of 1893

1893 Henry D. Perky and William H. Ford were issued U.S. patent No. 502378 for a machine to produce cereals (shredded wheat).

1893 The World's Columbian Exposition (Chicago World's Fair) opened in Chicago, Illinois on May 1.  It was held to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Columbus' arrival in the New World in 1492 (the Fair was dedicated on October 21, 1892 but did not open to the public until May 1, 1893).

1893 Coca-Cola trademark recorded.

1893 John Tyndall died Dec 4 (born Aug 2, 1820). British physicist. He is popularly remembered as the first to explain why the sky is blue (atmospheric molecules preferentially scatter the sun's blue rays).

1893 Emmett J. Culligan was born. He was the founder of the water treatment company that carries his name. (Hey, Culligan Man!)

1893 The original Waldorf Hotel opened. It had 450 rooms and almost 1,000 employees.

1893 One of the oldest golf courses in the U.S. is set up at the Town and Country Club in St. Paul, Minnesota. The course originally consisted of tomato cans sunk in a pasture.

1893 The Anti-Saloon League was founded by Howard H. Russell at Oberlin, Ohio.

1893 Good & Plenty candy was introduced by the Quaker City Confectionery Company of Philadelphia.

1893 African American inventor T.W. Stewart received a patent for a mop.

1893 R.W. Rueckheim invents Cracker Jack, a popcorn, peanut and molasses confection. It was introduced at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago.  R.W.'s brother Louis perfected the secret formula in 1896, which prevents the molasses coated popcorn from sticking together. The prize in each box was introduced in 1912.

1893 The first Ferris Wheel opened at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Illinois. Invented by George Washington Ferris, it had 36 cars and carried 60 passengers 264 feet high.

1893 'Happy Birthday to You' was first published.

1893 Cream of Wheat was developed by wheat millers in Grand Forks, North Dakota.

1893 Raymond Loewy was born. An American design engineer, he designed the Coca Cola bottle, the 1934 Sears Coldspot refrigerator, toothbrushes, etc.

1893 Juicy fruit chewing gum introduced.

1893 At the 1893 Chicago Fair, Pabst beer won a blue ribbon, and was called 'Pabst Blue Ribbon" beer from then on.

1893 The last day of the World's Columbian Exposition (Chicago World's Fair) in Chicago, Illinois. It celebrated the 400th anniversary of Columbus' arrival in the New World in 1492.

1893 Edward Adelbert Doisy was born (died Oct 23, 1986).  American biochemist who shared (with Henrik Dam) the 1943 Nobel Prize for Medicine for the isolation and synthesis of vitamin K.

1893 Hawaii's monarchy was overthrown when businessmen and sugar planters forced Queen Liliuokalani to abdicate.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Love is patient...

Love is such a wonderful thing. Whether its your first love or your soul mate. Nothing is like having those butterflies in your stomach and sweaty hands. Being nervous when your alone but so excited at the same time. When I was a little girl I remember wanting to get married. My dream was to feel like and look like a princess. Well my dream came true 27 years ago when I married my husband. Planning for a wedding can be so much fun and at the same time so stressful. Picking a venue whether its a church, outside ceremony, at a special place that means something to you both. The ideas are endless for where and how you would like your special day to be. The themes of weddings nowadays are country, shabby chic, formal, rustic, baseball, super hero or simply traditional. Whatever you chose you might want to use the Christmas House in   You can get married, have your reception and use the house for guests to stay at. You can have a intimate celebration or grand celebration. We would love to be a part of your celebration.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Childhood games

When I was a child we didn't have video games, cell phones, cable TV. I know I must be a 100 years old, right. Well I'm almost half of that in fact. I was born in 1966 and we loved going outside to play. It didn't matter what the weather was doing outside. If we didn't go outside we knew we would be doing and extra chore. But we loved jumping rope, playing hopscotch, riding our bikes. Making snow forts, skateboarding, roller skating, kickball. Or who remembers playing red rover, or kick the can, or my all time favorite was captain may I.  Back in the day I would go over to my best friends house and yell "Call for Karen" at the top of my lungs. Then her Mom would peek her head out the front door. She would then let me know if Karen could come out and play. The rule was never to go too far that Mom's voice couldn't be heard. If it was night time then we knew when the street light came on it was time to go inside.I have such great memories of the "old days". as I seem to phrase it. If we knew how fast our childhood was going to fly by. Would we do anything different? I don't think so....


Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Famous People born in 1893

James Frances Durante (Jimmy Durante)
Born February 10,1893

Mary Jane West (Mae West)
August 17,1893

Lillian Diana Gish (Lillian Gish)
October 14, 1893

Emmanuel Goldenberg (Howard G. Robinson)
December 12, 1893

Most young people do not even know who these people are or rather were.




Heads or Tails?

The Panic of 1893 provided a financial crisis that contributed to the economic recession. Money is the root of all evil its been said. Or we have all heard the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. We have no happy medium not in 1893 or now in 2016. The value of a dollar bill is not what is used to be. Why is it that money has little value but the product or service we buy costs more that the actual money we use to pay for it?

It is interesting to me that as our cost of living goes up, we raise wages only to have the cost of living go up again. Value , has that changed?

What do you think?

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Blog not me?

So I've been asked to blog for the Christmas House. I never blogged before now. When I was assigned this as one of my new job responsibilities, I was not so sure Anne had the right person. Intimidated? Yes, for sure. She assured me that the computer skills would come along better the more I did it. She also told me I had a lot of heart and that is what makes a good blogger. When it comes from within, is truthful and entertaining people will read it. So with her guidance I will try to entertain you with all the neat things I think you will love. Be vocal! Let me know what you want to know about or are interested in. After all, it is not just me in this blog, it is also you. Would you like to know more about the history of the Christmas house or current events? Speaking of current events we are sponsoring on Saturday February 13, 2016 a Big Sisters of Greater Racine a valentine celebration. We are decorating valentine cookies and then decorating the bags to put them in. I hope I've caught your attention and you continue to follow my blog.



Friday, February 12, 2016

He loves me...he loves me not...

Roses are red and violets are blue...

Flowers we all love the smell and beauty of them. Flowers are given for many occasions some happy and some sad. But on Valentines Day the average person spends $142.31 on gifts.   Almost 200 million flowers are sold and delivered, 115 million of which are red roses. What is the meaning of a red rose? A deep red rose can be used to convey heartfelt regret and sorrow. The number of red roses has special romantic meanings associated with them. 12 red roses is the most popular of all which conveys "Be mine" and "I love you" White Roses: White is the color of purity, chastity and innocence. Which color rose do you like? Did you know that all roses have a meaning based on the color of them.


Thursday, February 11, 2016

What does Milton S.Hershey and Willy Wonka have in common?

Candy of course....They had a great desire to create and make candy.  So we all have a favorite candy right?...gummy bears, licorice, chocolate, taffy and so much more. But, why is it that on  Valentine's Day we associate giving a box of candy to our sweethearts? Is it to go with the tradition of the holiday ? Or so we don't look like we don't love our special someone? For whatever the reason is, we can say that we all love the taste of candy and chocolate. Whether you like dark, milk or white its all delicious. The process to make chocolate is quite a lengthy one. Its starts will picking the pods and taking out the seeds. Watch the video on the steps involved in making chocolate. Then when your done with the video. Why don't you make my favorite dessert? I love this easy to make dessert, chocolate covered strawberries.

christmas house how to make chocolate

chocolate candy: Diamond engagement inside of a heart shaped box of chocolate truffles with red roses. Selective focus on diamond ring with soft blurred background.chocolate candy: Chocolate dipped strawberries at dessert bar.

Chocolate Covered Strawberries


  • 16 ounces milk chocolate chips

  • 2 tablespoons shortening

  • 1 pound fresh strawberries with leaves


  1. In a double boiler, melt the chocolate and shortening, stirring occasionally until smooth. Holding them by the toothpicks, dip the strawberries into the chocolate mixture.

  2. Insert toothpicks into the tops of the strawberries.

  3. Turn the strawberries upside down and insert the toothpick into styrofoam for the chocolate to cool.

Warm and toasty

When the weather is 12 degrees here in Racine, WI what do I like to do? Make soup and stew and curl up with a blanket and watch movies. So I'm giving my recommendation on recipes I have tried and liked.  Whats better than our two favorites here in WI. WI Beer & Cheddar Chowder.  it. This soup is nice since you make it in a crock pot. Its also a  cheesy soup. Its Paula Deans Hash brown Soup So now that I got your attention and your tummy grumbling. Here are my favorite movies...The Notebook, Grease, Pretty Woman. Sorry guys...I love my sappy love stories and I could name a lot more . So grab yourself a bowl of warm soup and cuddle up with a blanket. Its the only way to keep you warm in the winte.r



Sandy toes and sunburn nose

When you come to Racine, WI to stay at the one of favorite things to do is visit the North Beach. It's a great place to swim, water ski, fishing and spending time out on a boat. Lake Michigan is the third largest Great Lake by surface area and the sixth largest freshwater lake in the world. So pack your swimsuit and sunscreen.



Monday, February 8, 2016

The Red Heart History

So Sunday is Valentine's Day. This got me to wondering where all this came from. It is such a big deal to some, and to others it is just another day. For new people dating, this could mean the start of the end if you forget to do something on this day for your "new love". I did some research and found a few interesting facts about this day of love.

Did you know?

This is the second biggest greeting card day of the year! Number one being Christmas. Over 150 million cards are purchased every year. I don't think they counted those kid Valentines the grade school kids would bring every year or that number would be through the roof, don't you think?

History of Valentine's Day


More facts and fun stuff to come this week. What do you do for this special day? At the Christmas House we will be offering a special pricing all month long for anyone making a room reservation. Not just for the week of Valentine's day. We want to make sure you come and have your special day with someone when you can. Reach out to us to find out more.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

in the year 1893

As promised, I will be writing some of my blog this year dedicated to the year 1893. This is the year the house was built. I find myself wondering what was going in the city of Racine, in the State of Wisconsin, in the world at that time. Was it such a great feat to do so then? Was Racine wealthy?

History in that way is very interesting to me. I can't remember dates of important events to save my life. But showing me what they wore, how they got from here to there and what music was like back then, now those are things I can really get into.

Take for instance, this dress I have here for you to look at. This is dress of 1893

fashion. Details were important back then. Not like today! Slap a t shirt on and some jeans and you are good to go. And you look like a million other people on the street. No, this look was a bit more detailed. In my opinion, a bit more distinguished as well. I guess there were attitudes that went along with this type of clothing as well. I suspect maybe we will find that out as we go along this year.

Do you find this facinating? If not, do not worry! This will not be all we will be about this year.