1349 Gunbarrel Road, Chattanooga, Tennessee 37421

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

The 2019 summer heat waves and drought stretched the traditional 40-day “Dog Days of summer” well into late October here in the Chattanooga Valley.  During the days of the Greeks, Romans and Egyptians, when people used the night sky to track the seasons, Sirius, the Dog Star, appeared at the time of the expected onset of the hottest season of the solar year.

After two previous summers with reasonable summer temperatures and rainfall, we were challenged to beat the prolonged Dog Days at St Francis Cottage.  Here’s the countdown on how we survived:


Took a stroll across the Walnut Street pedestrian bridge


Chilled with our favorite (and only) dog



Savored the sweet fragrance of ginger lilies as they bloomed in August-September



Tried coconut milk soup for the first time at our favorite Thai Restaurant – so delicious!



Discovered that the “girls” have begun laying!



Stopped to observe a butterfly on a late-blooming zinnia



Stopped to admire the Spider Lilies as they bloomed in mid-September



Ran into old and new friends at a downtown concert, rocked out at a Woodstock commemorative concert, and spent a few Saturday nights at Riverside nights

Wallace, Morris Thuku (Kenya), Nancy, & a student from 
Tennessee Institute of Information Technology(TIIT)-THUKU School (KENYA)

"The Pool" playing at Songbirds North Stage


Hosted a “Women of Hutton Legal – Tour of the World Lock-In Party” at St Francis Cottage with the best co-workers ever!

 Nancy, Caren, Brenda, Sue, Gabby, Taylor, Megan, Sydney,
 (Janette was not able to attend due to illness)


Visited with the most amazing SFC guests!!

Visiting family playing Corn Hole






Fall 2019 brought “first days” for all our family members, which we found fun and amusing!

Grandsons Jayvin and Jersey at their first day of a moms-out program:
E-man & Big Guy

Granddaughters Grace and Amelia on their first days of 5th and 3rd grade at their French Immersion School in Canada:

Grace & Amelia

Son-in-law Phil’s first day in his new office building in downtown Winnipeg:

(Not sure what the Spritz truck is all about)

Daughter Hannah eating a carrot on her way to her first day as a music teacher at the Freedom International School:


Our son, Michael, starting law school in August.


Friday, Nov. 1 – Saturday, Nov. 2
Free – Chattanooga Riverpark

Saturday, Nov. 2 – Sunday, Nov. 3
Free – Ross’s Landing Downtown Chattanooga

Saturday, Nov. 2 to Nov 30 – 11:15 am
Reflection Riding Arboretum & Nature Center
Donation recommended

Saturday, Nov 9 – 6pm-9pm
First TN Pavilion downtown Chattanooga

Saturday, Nov 23
50th Anniversary of “Abbey Road”
The Signal - 6:30 pm

Sunday, Nov 24
First TN Pavilion - Chattanooga Market


Saturday, December 7
Southside Chattanooga - Free

Monday, August 19, 2019

Summer 2019 -- Gratitude, Changes, and a Reunion!

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”  Dr. Anil Kumar Sinha

SUMMER 2019 is coming to a close, and we’re grateful for each-and-every guest who has entered the SFC doors!   It’s been a blast hosting our best-ever guests, who continue to fill our lives with their stories of adventurous travels throughout the USA and beyond.  We can’t say “thank you” enough for choosing SFC as your place to lay your heads for a night or two, three, or four while passing through or exploring Chattanooga.

BTW, we are very grateful to Chatter Magazine for publishing an article on SFC.  Click HERE to read the article.

2019 Ironman 70.3 

We were honored to host Dana and Mark from Chicago for Chattanooga’s Ironman event sponsored by McKee Bakery that was held on May 17-May 19th. Although both Dana and Mark are triathletes, only Dana participated in this year’s event with Mark serving as her "cheerleader-in-chief."  After serving breakfast to a full house, Wallace and I scrambled downtown to cheer Dana and other participants on to the finish line, and she performed extremely well, finishing 23rd in her division.

It’s a pleasure for us to accommodate all special dietary needs at SFC, including diabetes, heart-healthy, gluten and lactose-free, vegetarian, vegan, Keto, etc., and providing a to-go, carb-heavy breakfast “snack” at 4:00 am for our Ironman participants.  The Little Debbie Ironman will be held on September 29th, so make your reservations now!

Gifts to SFC

Wallace's brother, Bruce, and his wife, Barbara stopped by the Cottage on their way to Texas in May to visit one of their sons in Austin.  As usual we had a great time catching up on family news, seeing pictures of new nieces and nephews, and generally enjoying a great visit.  While here, Barbara shared pictures and real examples of her latest crochet work and blessed us with a new Afghan for the library couch (her third such gift to the B&B). THANK YOU, dear sister-in-law!!

Dale, longtime friend from our Habitat for Humanity years at the headquarters in Americus Georgia, visited us on his way home to Michigan from Florida this summer and presented us with a set of uniquely-crafted wooden dice.  (Dale’s wife Beth remained in Michigan with her demanding career in management with Fifth Third Bank.) Retired from his longtime pastorate with the United Methodist Church and as a Director with Habitat for Humanity, Dale has become an accomplished woodworker now that he has more time to devote to his artistic passions.  We now proudly display our dice set on the foyer podium for all to see.  Thank you, Dale!

Return guests Gina and Lloyd from Brownsboro, Texas presented us with a custom set of corn hole boards with regulation, professional bags in June, which left us utterly speechless as we stared at these perfectly-detailed works of art.  Lloyd is a principal in the Texas public school system who is gifted with diverse artistic talents, including art, woodworking, music, cooking, etc.  Wallace and Lloyd enjoyed an evening of corn hole "competition" in the backyard (Wallace won maybe 3 throws out of over 100) while Gina and Nancy chatted over a glass of wine and cheered on the hubbies.  After Wallace installed a set of sturdy hooks, our SFC corn hole boards are now a stunning art feature on the exterior back wall (when they are not in use).  We cannot thank Lloyd, Gina, and their son, Hudson, enough for such an incredible, one-of-a-kind gift! 

Musicians, Pam Gadd and Paige O'Neill visited the Cottage for a short "writers" getaway recently and left us with this musical gift that they agreed to let us share with all of you.  This short Jam session, was the first time they had played this song together that was written by Paige.  It was a lot of fun getting to witness this creativity.  We are looking at having some music based weekends at SFC in the not too distant future.  Thank you, Ladies!

SFC Detention Pond

An Innkeeper’s life involves wearing many hats, and since the Hamilton County Storm Water Pollution Control Program regulations require grass around the retention pond, Wallace promptly researched the options and we were on a roll, grass sod rolls, that is.  Super Sod, a wonderfully helpful grass sod company based in Cartersville, Georgia, delivered 1,000 square feet of sod in 2 ft x 5 ft rolls along with an enormous “bag” of organic humus compost, and Wallace and I along with an amazing friend, Alex, from Wisconsin, hopped to it.  On the first day, Wallace maneuvered in the pond as he and Alex installed the first two rows while I shoveled and spread the compost.  Alex was an enormous help carrying those 60-70 lb. rolls, and he saved us days of extra work!  Since Alex had to leave the next morning, Wallace and I finished up, laying the third row and beginning the watering process.  We now are in compliance with the grass growing nicely around the pond.  Thank you, Alex!

Recent Upgrades

We continue to explore ways to make SFC a better place to stay.  Wallace installed Google Home Minis in each guest room, which include the full Google Play music library for our guest's listening pleasure.  The Minis also quickly find and announce information regarding local restaurants and tourist sites, weather, directions and can respond to a myriad of random queries.

We both worked on a “bench-lift” project, sanding it down, priming, and adding three coats of bright red paint Wallace found at Habitat ReStore. To compliment the backyard fountain Wallace constructed last year, he added a patio area with Adirondack chairs in front of it.

Guests recommended a microwave in the common area to heat up leftovers or delivered meals, which is now available near the kitchen.

We are currently researching hot tubs/spas, and since the 220 line is already installed, Wallace will construct the base, overlying roof and surrounding platform directly off the back deck for our guest’s convenience.  Hopefully, we will offer that amenity by year’s end or shortly thereafter as we await Black Friday sales.

It’s a gift beyond measure to have a brilliant, technical, creative and artistic “handyman husband” who actually enjoys the multi-faceted challenges of solving daily problems at the B&B, and Wallace has already saved us many thousands of dollars in repair, construction and installation costs over the past 2+ years.  "He who works with his hands is a labourer. He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman. He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist." ~St. Francis of Assisi   Thank you hubby of 40 years!

Lake Erie Family Reunion

Thanks to the immense generosity of Joe and Jenny Clemens, Nancy’s brother and sister-in-law from Chicago, 27 family members enjoyed a spectacular week of fun and relaxation at the 13-bedroom Rock of Ages home on Marblehead Peninsula, just miles away from Port Clinton, Ohio, the area where Nancy’s family settled in the 1800’s.  Since our son Michael was in the middle of his California law school move, he was unable to attend, but daughter Hannah and family arrived in force from Winnipeg, MB along with other relatives from Chicago, Richmond, VA, Noblesville and Fort Wayne, IN, and Austin, TX.

Each family provided delish, abundant meals every evening, saving everyone from the expense and inconvenience of dining out (and accommodating ten children’s’ preferences and schedules).

From daring the rides at Cedar Point amusement park to touring the old Clemens home and enjoying local parks and sites, to just sitting around and enjoying the grands and relatives, it was a perfectly memorable week.

Thank you, Joe and Jenny!

Until next time . . .

Sunday, May 12, 2019


Spring rains brought this welcome sign of promise over our entrance driveway.
Spring rains brought this welcome sign of promise over our entrance driveway.

Spring 2019 descended upon us screaming, CELEBRATE!  We’ve had fun times witnessing our guests’ various celebrations, for which we are honored and grateful.  During one recent weekend, we had guests celebrating a 30th birthday, the upcoming arrival of a first baby, a wedding night, a fifth wedding anniversary, a Berry College graduation, and two students receiving their master’s degrees, so we popped some champagne and served mimosas with breakfast.  All of these wonderful happenings deserved a toast!

Andy and Linda from Northern Ireland celebrate her birthday at St Francis Cottage.
When you’re almost 4,000 miles from home and celebrating a birthday, it’s fun to pull out some cake and sing “Happy Birthday” with our lovely guests, Andy and Linda, from Anahilt, Northern Ireland.  Laughter is indeed the best medicine, and we greatly enjoy and appreciate when people choose St Francis Cottage as a celebration point for their special life events.  

Friday, February 22, 2019

Christmas in Florida

Very happy to be warm on Rosemary Beach in early January, 2019.  Front Row: Amelia, Grace, Hannah  Back row: Philip, E-man, Nancy, Wallace, & Big Guy! (for those who don't know E-man and Big Guy are foster children and can't have their recognizable likenesses displayed on social media)  We love our fam! (Michael is taking the picture, see below.)
WE ENJOYED a five-day getaway in early January at Rosemary Beach, Florida, with our son Michael (Palo Alto, CA) and daughter Hannah, son-in-law Phil, and our four grands (Winnipeg, MB).  What a treat!  Although the weather was cloudy with rain, the temperatures were unseasonably warm.  

 Granddaughter, Amelia; son, Michael; and Granddaughter Grace
 Amelia, Son-in-law, Philip and Big Guy brave the chilly salt water lap pool.

The Canadians ventured into the pools and Gulf with no reservations whatsoever, as anything above freezing is just fine for them!  We celebrated Christmas, took lots of walks and hikes around town, at local parks and on the beach, and had lively conversations over dinner about current events and global, socio-economic and political situations, which is standard fare for our family gatherings.  

 Brauds on the beach (Hannah is now a Cavey, too)
Beeps as Santa with Granddaughers!  MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

Hannah and little E-man were able to come to Chattanooga for a few days after the Florida getaway.  Phil bravely drove the 30+ hours back to Winnipeg with the three other children.  We hear it was quite the adventure.  THANK YOU, PHIL!

Michael came up for one day before returning to the west coast and spent part of the time helping Ma'am in the garden.  THANK YOU, MICHAEL. 

We can’t wait to see all of them again at the Clemens Family Reunion this summer on Lake Erie. 

More SFC Tweaks

Hummingbird room with new bench.
We have taken the opportunity during our slower season to implement some incremental changes to the Cottage.  

New Sunflower rug for Sunflower room.

While out-and-about, we stumbled upon a fun sunflower rug that fit perfectly in our Sunflower guest room, so into the truck cab it went!  Of course, with the new rug came a new color-complementary comforter. 

Metal Poppies adding some color and dimension to stairwell.
We also decided upon a temporary metal art piece for the stairwell until Wallace has enough time to construct and install a wooden art structure with a design that’s currently stored only in his brain.  

Adding safety and contrasting colors to entrance stairs.
We added some safety stair treads for all the outside staircases and, finally, put the handles and hardware on the Library/Media Room doors. 

New iron handles and decorative elements for library barn doors.
In addition, we decided to rearrange a few of the larger art pieces/photos in the dining area and upstairs hall. 

The next big project is a wooden wall treatment in Monarch Room under Wallace’s design, and he has produced three renderings with the boards running vertically, horizontally and diagonally.  When we asked for opinions from Michael, Hannah and Phil, of course they each chose one of the three.  We can't decide . . . so, we’re throwing the designs out there for your comments Please leave us a comment on the blog or drop us a note via email.  (see below). 
Proposed Horizontal design: Reclaimed Oak & Smooth Cedar with Metal Ceiling Tile Accents
Proposed Vertical design: Reclaimed Oak & Smooth Cedar with Metal Ceiling Tile Accents
Proposed Diagonal design: Reclaimed Oak & Smooth Cedar with Metal Ceiling Tile Accents
Saint Valentine’s Day 2019

We had fun decorating SFC for St. Valentine’s Day and hosting our guests for their celebrations.  Chattanooga has experienced an intense rainy season this winter, so we were grateful for indoor activities to suggest for their V-day week of getaways, including Ruby Falls, the Aquarium and Songbirds.  

And I (Nancy) received the best gift ever from Wallace:  a bright red wheelbarrow!  I have already put it to use mulching the blueberry bushes, and my new friend and I will spend many, many hours together as spring and summer approach. 

Chattanooga Events – March and April

There are several exciting upcoming events over the next two months, and we would love for you to stay at SFC during your trip to Chattanooga.  Specially featured are the Coker Tire’s Spring Cruise-In and the 4Bridges Arts Festival.  Click on the links in each listing for more information.

Saturday, March 2, 2019 – Paint & Sip Party – Georgia Winery – 5pm-8pm - $40
Sunday, March 3, 2019 – Chattanooga Marathon 2019 – 7:30 am – 1:00 pm - $105 to register; FREE to the public

Saturday, March 9, 2019 – One Delicious Bite: Mindful Ways with Food – Crabtree Farms - $50
Saturday, March 9, 2019 - Outdoor Rock Climbing 2.0 – 11am-4pm - $89
Saturday, March 9 to Sunday, March 17, 2019 – Shamrock City at Rock City Gardens - $26.95

Saturday, March 16St. Chatty’s Day Parade – 11am

Saturday, March 166th Annual St Paddy’s Party on the Parkway – 2pm - $15.00 - $45
Saturday, March 16 - Wildlife Photography Workshop – Reflection Riding Arboretum and Nature Center - $55   (Wallace received the gift of this course two years ago and some of the results are hanging in the Library at the Cottage)
Saturday, March 23, 2019 – Sip TN Chattanooga Wine Festival – First Tennessee Pavilion - 12pm – 6pm -  $45

Saturday, March 23 and Sunday, March 24Wilderness Survival: 3-Season Skills – REI School – 11am-3pm - $79

Saturday, March 30Coker Tire’s 2019 Chattanooga Spring Cruise-In – 8am – 4pm - Camp Jordan Arena – FREE!

Friday, April 5, 2019 to Sunday, April 7Vintage Market Days – 10am – 4pm, Chattanooga Pavilion - $5 - $10

Friday, April 12 through Sunday, April 14, 2019 – 19th Annual 4 Bridges Arts Festival – First Tennessee Pavilion
Saturday, April 13, 2019 – Hike, Bike & Brew: Lula Lake Beer Festival – Lula Lake Land Trust - $25-$75
Saturday, April 27, 2019 – Sculpture Fields Spring into Sculpture and Sculpture Burn – 12pm – 10pm - Sculpture Fields at Montague Park – FREE!

Saturday, April 27 to Sunday, April 28thOpening Weekend of the Chattanooga Market – First Tennessee Pavilion – 10am – 5pm (Saturday); 11am-4pm (Sunday) – FREE!