New Breakfast Dishes

Oct. 19th 2013

If you have been following us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, you have already seen these dishes.

But I wanted to share them with everyone else!

We have added two new dishes to our Breakfast Menu!

Raspberry Parfait with Greek Yogurt and Graham Cracker at Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast

Raspberry Parfait

Greek Yogurt, Graham Cracker, Raspberry Preserves and Fresh Raspberries

Belle Grove Plantation Eggs Benedict withCream Cheese Scrambled Eggs and Virignia Ham in Puff Pastry on Roasted Asparagus with Fresh Hollandaise Sauce at Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast

Belle Grove Plantation Eggs Benedict

This is an twist to the traditional Eggs Benedict. It is Cream Cheese and Scallion Scrambled Eggs and Virginia Ham in a Puff Pastry Shell seated on Roasted Asparagus and topped with Fresh Hollandaise Sauce.

To see more of the dishes we prepare, you can check out our Breakfast Menu on our website.

If you would like to see up to the minute dishes, follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Darnell History, Food and Recipes | Comments Off on New Breakfast Dishes

Look who came to visit this morning at the plantation!

Oct. 16th 2013

This morning, I was up early to prepare breakfast for our overnight guests. As I was moving around the kitchen, I looked up as I always do to look out of our large window towards the river and the horizon. To my great surprise, there stood one of two twin deer. I ran from the kitchen to grab my camera. As I made it back to the kitchen, I noticed that she had moved over to the sun room just off the kitchen. There she stood just at my back door! It was as if she was thinking about coming in. It is the closest they have ever come to the mansion. It was just amazing!




She moved to the side of the mansion and joined her twin and grazed for a few minutes. I so much wanted a good shot of them as the grazed, so I quietly opened the door and stepped out. Just as I bent down to view them under the branches of the tree, I caught sight of their white tails as they bounded into the woods beside the house.


What a great start to the day!

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Belle Grove History, Darnell History | Comments Off on Look who came to visit this morning at the plantation!

Something is Cooking up with Stratford Hall and Belle Grove Plantation!

Oct. 10th 2013


Stratford Hall, home of Robert E. Lee and the Lee Family works with Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast

Stratford Hall, home of Robert E. Lee and the Lee Family will host a luncheon and lecture with

Farizia Lanza

on Saturday, November 16, 2013

Fabrizia Lanza to have lunch and lecture at Stratford Hall with discounted tickets for overnight guests from Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast

Chef Fabrizia Lanza

Sicilian Chef and Proprietor of the Case Vecchie Cooking School

“Fabrizia Lanza was born in Palermo on 8 March 1961. Feeling asphyxiated on the island, she left Sicily at 18 years old. She wanted to make her life outside of a protected and sheltered nest. She graduated with a literature degree in Art History and worked for twenty years in the museum world. Fabrizia went on to organize exhibits and to write, directing, at the end of her career, two small town museums in Feltre, located within the province of Belluno. At 45 she ended her life as an art historian and decided to move back to Sicily. Anna needed help, and Fabrizia’s food-impassioned roots were calling! The first step was to support Anna in Travel: Fabrizia set off for Delhi, Malta, London, Paris, New York, Boston, Philadelphia. Anna introduced Fabrizia to her American audience in 2007 and before long Fabrizia found herself speaking about Sicilian ritualistic foods at a conference at Boston University. Fabrizia slowly took matters into her own hands, helping Anna at the school, with travel, with the set up of school programs, with creating new contacts. Meanwhile, she was still studying and researching — Sicily is a continent in terms of culinary traditions, and some are still amazingly intact.

Fabrizia then went on to produce two small video documentaries on food cooked for the feast of St. Joseph and that of Saint Lucia. Then, in the company of two friends and botanical anthropologists, she began to study the Aeolian processes and created the foundations for what will become an archive of videos focusing on the techniques of foods in danger of extinction. She has filmed those elderly cooks who still knot, fry and knead their dough. Fabrizia has since begun to travel independently to the United States to produce events focusing on Sicilian cuisine in the best restaurants on the East and West Coast. These have included Alice Water’s Chez Panisse and Mario Batali’s restaurant, to mention only the most famous. Nowadays, Fabrizia receives and teaches young talented chefs at the school, teaches annually at the Masters in Gastronomy at Boston University, and hosts interns who work for her at her cooking school. She has published her first book “Olive, A Global History” with Reaktion UK in 2011 and her first cookbook, “Coming Home to Sicily”. She is also following in her mother’s footsteps in curating a “vegetable garden” of citrus and antique roses.”

Chef Lanza will give a lecture at 11:00am on Saturday, November 16, 2013 in th DuPont Library at Stratford Hall. Symbolic hors d’eouvres and wine to be served. At 12:30, lunch will be served in the Dining Room and will be followed by a book signing at 2:30pm. If you wish to take a tour of the Grand House, tours will be offered after the book signing. Chef Lanza’s book will be available in the gift shop.

The Menu for this luncheon is:


Sfincione – Palerrmitan Pizza


Minestra di Cavoloe – Spinach and Potato Soup with Fresh Mint and Parsley


Spezzatino di Agnelllo alla Menta – Stewed Lamb with Fresh Mint

Pasta Con Broccoli Arriminati – Pasta with Cauliflower, Pine Nuts and Currants


Insalata Verdi con Parmigiani a Sacaglie


Cassata – Sponge Cake with Ricotta Cream, Marizipan and Candied Fruit

Exciting News!

If you stay at Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast, you will receive discounted tickets to this event!!

You can book on our website or call us to check for availability and book over the phone!

Call 540-621-7340

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Belle Grove History, Darnell History, Food and Recipes | Comments Off on Something is Cooking up with Stratford Hall and Belle Grove Plantation!

A Revolution at Belle Grove Plantation

Oct. 10th 2013

On Tuesday we were honored to host

the Daughters of the Revolution

President James Madison of Montpelier visits Belle Grove Plantation and gives a presentation to the Daughters of the Revolution.

at Belle Grove Plantation!

We were also honored to have

President Madison

Presidet James Madison visits Belle Grove Plantation and gives a presentation to the Daughters of the Revolution.

return to Belle Grove Plantation to give a presentation to the group!

Thank you to all that attended!

It was a great honor to have you here!

To see more upcoming events at Belle Grove Plantation

Please visit our Event Calendar on our website


For up to the minute information

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Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Belle Grove History, Darnell History | Comments Off on A Revolution at Belle Grove Plantation

And it just keeps coming!

Oct. 6th 2013

I am sorry, but I am a little behind in getting this out. I think I am still catching up on my sleep!

After my all night fun at the auction, I had a wonderful deliver to wake up to!


Gates Antiques arrived at 12:00pm

(I asked for a later delivery so I could sleep a bit)

with some of our last furniture.

Check out what wonderful things they brought me!


Finally our Grand Hall upstairs has somewhere for people to sit!


This settee is just like the one downstairs in the Grand Hallway.

We found them at two different times and there are just slight differences in them.


I just love this Victorian chair!

The arms of the chair just seem to wrap around you as you sit in it. All I need now is a couple of small tables, lamps and an area rug for this space! Of course a little decor would also make it just a cozy spot to curl up on a quiet afternoon at the plantation!


They also brought the two gold chairs we won at the auction on Thursday.

We weren’t sure which room we wanted to use them in; either Madison or Turner Master Suites. So it really helped seeing them in the spaces to get a good feel for which they worked best in. We tried the Madison Master Suite first, but these two chairs are just a little too dressy for the Madison Suite. I think we will need to find a more “Federal” style chair. I have been listening to “A Slave in the White House” by Elizabeth Dowling Taylor about Paul Jennings, James Madison’s Man Servant. In the book, she talks about an “English Chair” that Madison preferred in his old age. I would really like to figure out what that would look like and add it to the room. Of course we could always get a Campeche Chair like he used during his retirement. I will tell you more about this chair later. But we tried the gold chairs in the Turner Master Suite and I have to say they look wonderful there!

When Dolley Madison (Dr. Lynn Uzzle) was visiting the last time, she had suggested we build in a small seating area in the Turner Master Suite by the riverside windows. This would allow our guests to sit and read and gaze out at the beautiful river. I think I have to agree with Mrs. Madison. It is just what this room needed. I just need to get another small rug, small table and lamp to complete this area. And being that these two chairs are in a “French” style, I think Mrs. Madison will be pleased on her return.

And for those of you who have visited the plantation already, don’t worry about our wonderful settee from Baltimore! It will have a perfect space at the end of the bed once the chairs are done and returned. We do need to get the gold chairs reupholstered. I was talking to Jay Gates, of Gates Antiques, our lead designer. We are doing the Turner Master Suite in whites, golds and pinks, but I don’t want to use these colors on the chairs. We need to bring in a different color and pattern so we can brighten the room without over doing the pink and white. The area rug we have in there now is a pink with two shades of blue. So I asked for them to look for something that would pull out the blues in the rugs. I can’t wait to see what they will find.


They also delivered some of the items we won in the auction!


The small area rug found a space in our Ladies Parlor!


And the Presidential Gold Mirror, crack and all, arrived.


It has found a space over the English slant top desk in the Madison Master Suite.


I had the option to send it back and have them replace the bottom cracked mirror, but you know, I don’t think I am going to do that. It is just perfect with the original mirror in it. The details on the painted mirror are not ones that I would want to part with.

James Madison (John Douglas Hall) will be returning on Tuesday for a meeting here at Belle Grove Plantation. I can’t wait for him to see how wonderful the room is starting to look! I even got the wood mirror with the old Colonial style eagle placed next to the bed.


All I need to do now for the Madison Master Suite is get two portraits of James Madison and one of Dolley Madison. It has been really hard finding just the right ones. I have the two portraits of Madison I want and the one of Dolley, but the trouble is finding someone that can copy them without killing me in cost. And it has to be almost perfect because I am really picky about that. I have looked into maybe doing a photo on canvas of them. This method allows you to place the photograph on the canvas and make it look like a painting. This way I could get the exact copy I want without killing our budget. If anyone knows anything on this process, please let me know. I need input.

Our next deliver will be on Friday this week. We are getting the curtains for the Conway and Hipkins-Bernard Junior Suites! The canopies won’t be ready then, but to have curtains in there will really start making these rooms looked more like a home!

I can’t wait!

Can you?

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Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Belle Grove History, Darnell History | 1 Comment »

You win some and you lose some

Oct. 5th 2013

Yesterday was a whirlwind of adventure for me! I pulled out of the plantation around 8:30am on Thursday morning and didn’t arrive back until 4am!

Yes, that right… I said 4am!


I head to Richmond first to meet up with our design team at Alexander’s Auction. They wanted to preview some of the rugs we were hoping to bid on for the mansion. We have had good luck with this before so we were hoping for a repeat performance!

You know when I go to Alexander’s; it is like being a kid in a candy store! There is just so much to look at and to dream about and to want! It becomes so overwhelming, you just want to get it all! But thankfully we narrowed it down the following:



This one we wanted for the Hipkins- Bernard Junior Suite



This one we wanted for the Parlor.



If we couldn’t get the larger one, we wanted this as a second for the parlor.



This one we wanted for the Turner Master Suite.



This one is a set of two chairs. We wanted them for either the Madison or Turner Master Suites



This I really wanted because of the eagle theme on it for the Madison Master Suite. Since this is the presidential room and we needed a mirror over the desk, I thought this one would really fit the bill perfect. The only draw back is that it is cracked in the bottom section.



There were two gentlemen up for auction and I really wanted to add them to our two ladies at the mansion.





For the Grand Hallway

After the preview, I said my good-byes and headed to Chester, just a little south of Richmond to meet up with a friend, Chett. He came to the plantation about a month ago on an off chance of seeing the mansion. Well, if anyone of you has come to the plantation, you know I don’t turn anyone away that comes to visit. We love to share the plantation! And with his visit, I found the SEO help I needed and he got to enjoy looking at our history house and outbuildings. He had shared with us that he was in the process of purchasing an old home in Chester that the owners were going to tear down. He thinks it was built around the mid-1800s, with several additions. After much wrangling, he was able to save this house! And it was my turn to view his passion. I will be writing a separate post on this later.


After my tour of the house, Chett offered to take me to lunch in Petersburg. I love Petersburg! The homes there are just like walking back into the Civil War days. Big ones with so much detail and small ones that just seem that they have never changed. It is mind blowing to drive block by block seeing these houses. It’s like a surprise around every corner!


We ended up at “Wabi Sabi” in the downtown area. I haven’t been here before so it was a great joy to see that they served sushi! I love sushi, but don’t get much of it at the plantation. I just haven’t found the one place I like to get it. Back in Chesapeake, my daughter and I had a favorite haunt that we dined at I would have to say at least three times a week. My favorite was a house special called a “Green Spiral Roll”. So I am always looking for someone to copy it so I can have it. In fact I keep a photo on my cell phone so I can show the wait staff to see if they can copy it. At “Wabi Sabi” I was in luck! They decided to give it a shot!


And I was so glad they did! It was almost just like the one we eat back in Chesapeake! It was heaven!


And just when I didn’t think it could get any better. . . I found that they served Shrimp and Grits!

After eating myself into a near nirvana state, we headed out to another restaurant. This one wasn’t open for lunch, but Chett wanted me to meet the Chef. The place is called “Brickhouse Run”. It is a British Pub style restaurant that has on its specials board things like “Bangers and Mash” and “Shepherd’s Pie”. After our tour of the dining area, I knew this would be one that I would need to return to soon!

We headed out from there to do some quick shopping. One location I needed to stop at was a new Antique Store opened by another good friend, Robert. When we walked into the door, I was so glad to see him! He has been such a huge help in getting our tea sets together over the last year. He has even had us over to his home, which is one of the beautiful Victorians that Petersburg is known for. We sat for almost a half hour as Chett browsed and I caught up on the goings on in Petersburg. His shop called “AH” is doing quite well. He is also the one that told me about Alexander’s.

After my visit, I said “good-bye” to Robert and Chett and headed back to Richmond! It was almost time for the fun to begin!

After I arrived, I settled into my reserved seat and waited and watched as item after item came up for bidding. Most of the items were furniture, which we really don’t need much of. I had two lists of items. One list was my own of items I wanted to add to the mansion if it was a good price. The other was a list of items that our design team was bidding on. They were doing their bids by phone. So I waited and watched.

Most of theirs came up pretty early. First was the large rug we wanted for the Hipkins-Bernard Junior Suite. But the bidding got going pretty fast and before I knew it, it was over. Did we get it? I didn’t know. There had been two phone bidders (one was our design team) and I didn’t know if they were the ones who won. So I sent a text message and hoped we did.


Next came the Victorian desk. Again two phone bidders and the bids were flying. Argh! It was so frustrating not knowing. So off went another text. Did we win again??


Next came the large rug for the Parlor. I really wanted this one. It was just the right look and just big enough to cover most of the main area. But won’t you know it, two phone bidders again! And not only that, but two bidders in the room! I guess I have good taste because everyone wanted it. The price shot up fast. Before you knew it, it was over. A phone bidder won. Yes… I think! Still no word. . . so off with another text message.


(Hey did we win again? . . . Are you there?)

Next up was our “Gentlemen”. The first was the one that was in a really nice frame. I knew this would go high because dealers like to get the frames to make mirrors out of. So I sat and waited to bid.


The auctioneer started . . .$1000 . . . $500 . . . $100 . . . and then it happened. Someone jumped in and the price went crazy! I didn’t even get to bid. The ending price was $350, well over my budget. (sigh)


Then the next gentleman came up. His frame wasn’t nice, but he had a kind face and would make a wonderful addition to our “ladies”.

The auctioneer started . . .$1000 . . . $500 . . . $100 . . . and then it happened again! Someone jumped in and the price went crazy again! I didn’t even get to open my mouth or hold up my hand! The ending price was $250, which is still over my budget. (sigh . . . again)


Next up was the smaller rug we had selected for the parlor if we didn’t get the larger one. This one would just cover the space between the two settees and would make a wonderful look between them. But again two phone bidders. And again I didn’t know who won. Again I sent a text message hoping for some success because I wasn’t finding any on my side.

One item after another came up, each time with two phone bidders. Each time, I wouldn’t know if we won.

Then just as I was about to give up hope, a text message arrived.

Did we win? . . . What did we get?

The news wasn’t as good as I had hoped. Below are the results:



We didn’t win this one.



We didn’t win this one.



We won this one.



We didn’t win this one.



We won these!



We won this!



We didn’t win.

While we didn’t score on items I really wanted, we did get some that we really could use.

And the night was still young. Anything could happen.

And it did.

Around 1am – 2am, the crowd thinned out and the prices dropped. And I got to hold my hand up a lot more! Here is what I scored!



For the Turner Master Suite





For the Madison Master Bath – between the two sinks



For the Conway Junior Suite



To make into a flower arrangement bowl



For the Madison Master Suite



For one of the half baths

So while we didn’t get those items I really wanted, I have come to understand that it always works out to our advantage. I know that something better is coming our way that will work better and could in fact cost us less.

So I loaded up and headed by to the plantation around 3:00am. I can’t say I was all that tired going home. I enjoyed driving with no traffic through Richmond. And watched like a hawk as I made my way back down Route 301 so I didn’t hit a deer. And there were tons of them. But I arrived safely back at the mansion, pulled up and pretty much walked in and crashed. It was a good day and my desire for adventure was fed.

And you can’t get any better than that.

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Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Darnell History | 2 Comments »

Inspirations from other great minds

Sep. 29th 2013

This morning, I prepared a dish that I found while reading some of the blogs I follow.

(yes… I finally have a moment to read…)

This dish came from urbancamillia and her blog post

I started with a Maple Baked Apple and then presented my take on her dish,

Bacon and Cheese Crepe on Asparagus, topped with a Poached Egg and Hollandaise Sauce


It was really good!

I am sorry but I didn’t get a shot of the Maple Baked Apple.

It went to the table before I could get a shot. Next time!

Thank you Urbancamillia for inspiring me today!

To see more of the menus we are making at Belle Grove Plantation

Please visit our Website at

Home Page

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Darnell History, Food and Recipes | 4 Comments »

Anyone Hungry?

Sep. 28th 2013

For tonight’s appetizer we are serving

Mediterranean Bruschetta

Mediterranean Bruschetta 9-28-13

Anyone hungry yet?

To see more foods we serve at Belle Grove Plantation

Please visit our Website at

Home Page

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Darnell History, Food and Recipes | 9 Comments »

Seeing Red… and Purple

Sep. 26th 2013

Belle Grove Plantation would like to thank 

The Red Hat Ladies

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For coming to see us at the plantation!

It was just wonderful to meet each of you and we look forward to having you back soon!

To see more of what is going on at Belle Grove Plantation

Please visit our Official Website at

Home Page

Please share us with your family and friends!

Thank you!

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Darnell History | 7 Comments »

The Madison Suite Gets Its Crowning Glory

Sep. 24th 2013

Today our seamstresses arrived with the Madison Master Suite’s Canopy for the Full Tester Bed!

Wow what a difference it makes for the bed!

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It really makes the bed look taller than before and really dresses the suite up!

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All we have left to do is add some portraits, pictures and small decor and we will have a finished room!

Thank you to Gates Antiques, most especially Mrs. Jo Gates for putting so much time into getting the details right for this suite! It looks beyond beautiful! Any President would be over joyed in staying here!

Gates Antiques

12700 Old Buckingham Rd  Midlothian, VA 23113

Now I wonder who will be the first to sleep under this canopy!

At this moment, the suite is available for this coming weekend!!

To see more pictures of our Suites or to Book a Suite with us

Please visit our Official Website at

Home Page

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Belle Grove History, Darnell History | 14 Comments »