The Times West Virginian

West Virginia

May 10, 2009

Shinnston’s Gillum House offers guests simple service

(Continued)

SHINNSTON —

“Some innkeepers don’t even allow guests in their kitchen, but I think if you’re comfortable enough to come into my kitchen, you’re really comfortable, and that’s what I want,” Kathleen whispered.

I placed three different juices on the elegantly made table Kathleen and I set the night before. Juice glasses, knife rests and a bread plate were a little tricky for me. It had been years since I set such a full table.

Kathleen said most meals are the cook’s choice, after determining dietary restrictions and dislikes. Her refrigerator and freezer looked ordinary to me — free of stockpiles of endless varieties.

She said she simply buys in bulk when things are on sale and tries to avoid extra trips to the store. If a potential guest calls in the morning, she’s ready that afternoon. I was amazed to not see any lists anywhere in Kathleen’s house, but she assured me she’s learned her routines by trial and error.

We finished breakfast by making individual loaves of English muffin bread. Kathleen said the bread prompts nearly every guest to ask for a baggie to take his leftovers home. She happily obliges.

I filled five glass dishes with butter for each guest’s place and noticed how there was enough Fostoria glass mixed with antique dishes on the table to look impressive but still feel comfortable.

Cleaning Up

After our guests ate breakfast, we went upstairs to clean my room. Kathleen said she tells her guests their rooms are their homes for the duration, so unless they ask her to go in and replace the towels or linens, she gives them privacy.

Luckily, I didn’t have to scrub my shower, but I learned a few tricks to change bed sheets a little faster.

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