7/19/2013 9:04am
Tracey Lambrecht
I love it, I love it , I LOVE it!!!! The book is fantastic!!!

On Jul 29, 2013, at 2:53 PM, Bill wrote
Dear Nancy and Dave too….
Thoroughly enjoyed the book…….cried and laughed throughout. So pleased Bill and I could enjoy a stay at your B&B, when Denny and Beverlee married this past May. It made actual imagery as I read and to know the REAL people behind the scenes as you unfolded the details. I can truly say what a personal account it has become when we share with others your fabulous hospitality and exceptional breakfasts and best of all your charming, warm personalities. Thank you for blessing us…like family. It was sad to come to the end of the book, but know it is not the end of the story(ies).

Wishing you well….wherever you find yourselves:-)
Jan and Bill Burlet…….Sauk Centre, MN

5 out of 5 stars
Delightful Reading! | July 24, 2013

Nancy Huisenga is an insightful storyteller who captured life in the quaint artsy town of Lanesboro, Minnesota. She shared the joys and trials of transforming a Victorian home into a top-notch B&B. A must read for anyone contemplating such an endeavor. She generously included their Habberstad House recipes. I used some and really impressed our guests.

Renee Bergstrom


5 out of 5 stars

You’ll be charmed . . . |  July 29, 2013

First up, full disclosure. Nancy Huisenga and I shared an apartment while we were in college and have been friends (long-distance friends for many years now) ever since. Having stayed at The Habberstad House a few years ago, I was very interested in the stories Nancy had to tell about her and Dave’s years of being B&B owners, and jumped at the chance to order the book. I promised her I’d write a review, and told myself that no matter what I thought of the book, I’d find something positive to write.

Well, I loved it, loved the stories, loved hearing the long and dedicated process they went through in restoring and caring for their century-old home, loved the recipes, loved the anecdotes about guests and plumbing-related disasters . . . I inhaled the book over two days and had a big smile on my face when I finished. Nancy’s writing is lovely, and I appreciated hearing her real voice come through, a voice that doesn’t sugar-coat anything, even her own self-perceived shortcomings. (I think some of those situations would test the patience of a saint!) If you’ve ever wondered what running a B&B would be like, you will certainly enjoy this book, but even if it’s never crossed your mind, you will still be delighted with this account of small-town life and the joys and miseries of being innkeepers. I recommend it to you without reservation (no pun intended :).


5 out of 5 stars
First Class | July 28, 2013

A funny, touching and revealing account of what it takes to run a first class B&B operation in the small, southern Minnesota town of Lanesboro. Superb recipes served at the Habberstad House Bed and Breakfast by Nancy and Dave Huisenga are sprinkled throughout the book and are definitely an added bonus. Who wouldn’t want to visit Lanesboro and stay at the Habberstad House after reading this book?

Mary Ferguson

5 out of 5 stars
Great stories, fun reading |  July 27, 2013

What started as a romantic anniversary get-a-way became the journey of a life time for Nancy Huisenga and husband, Dave. One can only imagine the emotional upheaval that leaving Highland Park, a multicultural neighborhood in cosmopolitan Saint Paul, MN and moving lock, stock and barrel to Lanesboro a sleepy little tourist town in SE MN population 754. On top of that, add the purchase of a historical home to live in as owner/managers of the Habberstad House Bed and Breakfast.

This is the story woven together in Behind the Door Marked “Private” by Nancy Huisenga. This delightful book is the recounting of a remarkable journey told with beautiful prose and a fair amount of whimsical humor by Nancy. Sprinkled between chapters describing the adventure from city dwellers to B&B owners are the recipes used to create breakfast for the guests. The added dollop of magic in the book are quotes from the guestbook that describe the warmest of hospitality and the rich experience of being a guest in this historic home.

This is a great story to curl up and spend the week end with. Better still, make a reservation and go experience for yourself the Habberstad House B&B in Lanesboro, MN.



A great look at small town life, August 30, 2013

This book is a remarkably frank, well-written examination of life as a bed and breakfast owner in a small town. Filled with humor, heart-tugging stories, delicious recipes, and excerpts from actual guests’ notes about their stay, it at once is a how-to manual, a reminiscence, a chronicle of small town life, and a brutally honest confessional. Not to be missed!


Hal Cropp


An absolute MUST READ for B & B lovers and anyone who owns a small town business!,

August 28, 2013

This book is an absolute delight! As a small business owner myself it was wonderful to read about the formative history of the Habberstad B & B in addition to the very frank (and usually hilarious!) narrative on owning a business with your mate! If you are a person or business that deals with the public everyday, pour a glass of wine and settle in for a wonderful read that will have you nodding in agreement and laughing out loud!




     At the beginning of Nancy Huisenga’s book, Behind the Door Marked “Private”: Confessions of a Small Town Bed and Breakfast Owner (2013, Books By Nancy H), the author promises there is “something for everyone in this book.”  It is true.

Huisenga describes herself as a “tell it like it is” type of person, and early on in this narrative she sets out to prove it. She takes her readers behind the scenes—and surface—of the small town of Lanesboro where she and spouse Dave moved to run a bed-and-breakfast. Tapping into the wealth of local color and the small town’s culture, she describes the backdrop against which the Huisenga’s  jumped right into this major life change. Neither of them had lived in a small town before, and they were in for many interesting experiences, both as newcomers to town and to the inn-keeping profession.

The Huisenga’s, over the years they have now been in business, have dealt with a myriad of challenges, and she devotes an entire chapter just to critters, including the bat that got into the house; yes, guests were in residence at the time. Many of the problems are just those that go with owning a very old house, such as water leaks and more water leaks. But those issues are compounded when the house is full of paying guests, and she relates those frustrating times with humor.

The humans are of course both the biggest challenge and the most rewarding aspect.  She’s encountered the entire gamut of how guests have reacted to the resident ghost. Huisenga is very open about her own struggles to remain patient with troublesome—and snoopy—guests who ignore that all-important “Private” sign on the door. She describes the terror when spouse Dave had a heart scare, and how they handled her being on the sick list for two different major surgeries.

The “proof of the pudding,” so to speak, could be summed up by a comment from guests, who now stay at the B&B at least twice  year. The writer asked why anyone would need to have a cabin up north: “The Haberstad House is our Minnesota Vacation Home.”

Nancy Huisenga provides a lot of good pointers for other B&B wannabees, but, as promised at the book’s beginning, there is “something for everyone.” One of the best pointers is not limited to potential B&B owners. In the self-reflection at the end, she says to “always have an exit strategy.” That’s good advice for everyone, and just one of the many things readers can take away from this book.

Dr. Jan Meyer



Nancy Huisenga is an amazing storyteller. As I made the journey through her latest book, Behind the Door Marked “Private”, I was quickly drawn into Nancy’s conversational and humor-laced style. Nancy tells about leaving Highland Park in Saint Paul, MN and falling in love with the town of Lanesboro, MN (population 754), deciding to stay and call it home. You will laugh, tear up, and marvel at the story Nancy weaves about the life she and husband, Dave, share as owners of the Habberstad House Bed & Breakfast.

The book is propelled by the experience of owning a B&B and the questions guests have asked over the years, about living in a historic home and in the town of Lanesboro. Additional charm is added with the inclusion of recipes from breakfast served from the Habberstad House kitchen. Nancy and Dave share the kitchen duties (a very funny chapter) preparing the breakfast.

As a final loving touch, Nancy shares the words left behind by her guests. These comments are filled with appreciation and delight in the old fashioned hospitality and the beautiful surroundings the guests have experienced. Reading Behind the Door Marked “Private” is a delicious treat which leaves me wanting to call and reserve a room at the Habberstad House B&B!

Dee Seaquist, Preston, MN


I am reading the BEST book, “Behind the door marked private” by Nancy Huisenga (confessions of a small town B & B owner). This is the B & B across the street from me in Lanesboro, MN. I highly recommend it!!

Tracey Lambrecht


5.0 out of 5 stars Required Reading for an Aspiring Innkeeper, September 6, 2013
This review is from: Behind the Door Marked Private: Confessions of a Small Town Bed & Breakfast Owner (Perfect Paperback)

The story this book tells is one that is very familiar to seasoned bed and breakfast innkeepers — a romantic get-a-way triggers a desire in a couple to leave their current life behind and turn a fantasy-life style into reality.

Like many before them, Nancy and Dave Huisenga, threw caution to the wind and left Highland Park, a multicultural neighborhood in cosmopolitan Saint Paul, Minnesota, and moved to the sleepy little tourist mecca of Lanesboro to become the innkeepers at the Habberstad House Bed and Breakfast.

“Behind the Door Marked Private” by Nancy Huisenga drew me into the story quickly as I’ve worked with hundreds of couples over the years that were motivated to become innkeepers in very much the same way. A couple experiences a deeply inspiring few days in a romantic setting and suddenly decide to make a much needed change in their career path and either buy an established B&B or turn a property they already own into a B&B with little to no thought about what it takes to run a bed and breakfast. They are so focused on the romantic feelings and dream-like desires, they ignore the fact that first and foremost a B&B is a business that takes knowledge, effort, discipline, money, a well constructed plan and management skills.

In the case of the Huisengas, they are fortunate that the husband possessed the personality, skills, and savvy needed to keep the boat afloat as his partner struggled to make the transition from city dweller to small town innkeeper able to offer a sincere and welcoming hospitality to guests of their historic home.

Huisenga’s book should almost be required reading for anyone struck by the romantic desire to own a little piece of heaven by way of a bed and breakfast. The unfolding of the couple’s remarkable journey is told with honest prose and a fair amount of whimsical humor by the author.

Aspiring innkeepers reading the story can find practical, straight forward information that anyone considering becoming a bed and breakfast innkeeper really needs to know. All readers are treated to outstanding breakfast recipes that were previously reserved for guests. The Sour Cream Meringue Rhubarb Pie on page 38 is to die for! Were I still operating my bed and breakfast, this recipe would be prepared and served to guests on a regular basis just so I could sneak-in an extra pie for my husband and myself. (Our B&B featured a veggie garden that included rhubarb plants. We always had the dining table and refrigerator filled with fresh veggies and sweet deserts for our guests to munch on. This pie would have been a big hit with our guests.)

At my company,, I receive numerous calls from prospective innkeepers who have been cutting out recipes for years, who are great cooks and whose friends tell them they would be great innkeepers. This is a skill that is certainly necessary to operate a successful B&B, especially when you have a guest with special dietetic needs, but today’s aspiring needs many more skills to become a financially successful innkeeper with an exit plan in place from day one. In the workshops I have taught at bed and breakfast conferences across the mid-west over the years, this lack of planning by aspiring innkeepers has brought many couples clamoring for assistance.

If read from a practical standpoint, Nancy Huisenga’s book offers an in-depth look at the stumbling blocks innkeepers face on a daily basis. It also addresses the physical and mental toll the innkeeping life style can place on a couple. For the inquiring mind, her book also answers questions and offers practical solutions, with real-life examples, to the aspiring innkeeper that most likely underestimates the amount of work that is involved in running a B&B.

I highly recommend this book to anyone that has ever dreamed of owning a bed and breakfast establishment as well as to anyone who loves to contemplate the lifestyle. It is a delightful, yet educational, read with some wonderful breakfast recipes included.

Amelia Painter
Author of “Owning and Operating a Bed & Breakfast in the 21st Century”


I laughed, I cried and I related to this charming tell-all book, September 9, 2013

What an amazing read….the stories in Behind the Door Marked Private were honest and touching. As a B&B owner myself in a small town, I found myself more often then not nodding my head and totally relating to these stories. Several of the recipes included I will experiment with and use for our guests as well. Some great points were made for those “aspiring” to be Inn keepers that I myself would share.

By Bungelowjame (Bellaire, MI)