Thursday, January 27, 2011

A Sample of Our Email Newsletter

In case you were wondering what the email newsletter might include before you sign up, here's a sample of the January newsletter.

We're just a couple of days into the new year now and we're on our January vacation. We'll be closed for 5 weeks, doing projects, taking some vacation days and wandering around the state seeing the sights.

Before you say, 'Must be nice,' that we're taking 5 weeks off, check out our blog 'The Year in Numbers' to see how many days in a row we worked!

And while I'm thinking about the new year, we want to thank you for trusting some of your vacation to us, for giving us honest feedback (and online reviews) and for bringing a little bit of the world right to our doorstep. It's a joy to see your happy face at the door!

We're very excited to see and experience everything that will happen this year.

If you have any sights in Maine you'd like us to scope out while we're off, let us know. We're always looking for places to go and things to see. (If it involves diners, beer-drinking or chocolate, all the better!)

Birders take note- Bob Duchesne from Maine Birding Trail has provided us with a 12 page Freeport Birding Guide that takes you from here to 25 different birding spots that are an hour or closer! He lists us on his website as a 'Best Nest'. I'll be adding a link to the guide on our website so you can download it in advance. We'll have printed copies here as well. Best to let us know you would like one just to be sure.

Remember that if you come up for the National Toboganning Championships in Camden, you are able to ride the toboggan chute on Feb 11 from 10 AM to 5 PM. Check out the zany costumes and watch teams of locals try to beat the clock. Camden Snow Bowl is about 2 hours from here.

White Cedar Inn Bed and Breakfast 178 Main St Freeport, Maine 04032

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Bacon Week- February 11-17, 2011

Bacon Week for 2011 has come to a close. And what a week it was! Start planning now for the 2nd Annual Bacon Week- Feb 11-17, 2012!

Take a look at some of the dishes we served this week: (Rock ate all the Bacon-Cheddar Pretzels so I have no photos of those!)

Cheddar-Bacon Corn Muffins

French Toast & Bacon Cupcakes

Bacon, Apple & Bleu Cheese on Toasted French Bread

Getting ready for the inaugural 'Bacon Week' here at White Cedar Inn. We'll be serving bacon 7 different ways, 1 each day. Not to worry, there will be plain, old 'bacon' in there as well!

Here are some possibilities:

  1. Bacon and French Toast muffins- got this one from my grandson who made them at his cooking class.
  2. Bacon and cheddar pretzels- Food Network mag had a pretzel section this month.
  3. Bacon in puff pastry.
  4. Candied bacon.
  5. Bacon and apple on goat cheese.
  6. Bacon and egg tart.
  7. Bacon-cheddar pinwheels.
  8. Gruyere and bacon puffs. (What was I thinking?! That should read 'Bacon and Gruyere' not the other way round.)
If you have any bacon-y ideas, send them along! I'm going to have to cook up a pound of bacon this week to give some of these a test run. Last year we had bacon-wrapped bacon, but, as they say- been there done that.

White Cedar Inn Bed and Breakfast 178 Main Street Freeport, Maine 04032

Trail Mix- February Recipe of the Month

I'm on a trail mix kick. I've been buying it at CVS but my friend, Jackie (of Jacqueline's Tea Room) keeps harping on me to make my own and stop spending so much on pre-made trail mix. So, I did it. Here's my recipe, but heck, it's trail mix, throw in there what YOU like!

2 lbs of mixed nuts
2 cups raisins
2 cups M&M's
2 sealable containers (I use the plastic container the nuts come in and a separate jar with a lid.)


banana chips
dried cranberries
chocolate chips
Reeses pieces
chocolate covered blueberries

Pour half of the mixed nuts (I get the kind with almonds, cashews, peanuts, Brazil nuts, filberts, pecans & walnuts) into a sealable container. You should now have 2 containers with half the nuts in each one. Divide the raisins & M&M's into each container of nuts. Shake to mix. If the raisins are all clumped up, break them apart before putting into the mix, you want to spread the raisin-y joy around a bit.

Voila! And, if you don't want to make that much trail mix, you can cut the raisins and M&M's by half and have some mixed nuts without the raisins & candy. You can also buy only the nuts you like and mix those in whatever proportion makes you happy.

BTW, a serving size is 1/4 cup. Hmmm. THAT could be the explanation for the 'shrinking pants' phenomena.

White Cedar Inn Bed and Breakfast 178 Main Street Freeport, Maine 04032

Friday, January 21, 2011

Quilting in the snow

Looks like the last of the snow for today has blown through! The sun is coming out and I've been getting my 'quilt studio' online. Quilt studio is really pushing it, though. I've carved out a space in the attic, cleared off an old metal shelf, hung some old quilts on the (really beat up) walls and added a teeny space heater. I've got my drafter's table and an old kitchen table for work surfaces. And a desk I've set the sewing machine up on.

What's up for right now? Baby quilts. I'm two grandchildren behind and there have been rumblings that a pre-K quilt would be nice! Oh, and, there's another baby on the way- arrival in June. Grammie needs to get crackin' here!

If you've talked quilts with me you know I'm a black & white quilter. With the exception of 2 'Eye Spy' quilts, all of my quilts are black & white & red. And, each quilt I've made so far has one patch on the back that is the same for all of them. So they all share one fabric in common. A family connection.

The 2 latest are on the table right now. I'm using a Sudoku pattern that came in the mail. OK, time to fire up the rotary cutter. More pix as I progress.

White Cedar Inn Bed and Breakfast 178 Main Street Freeport, Maine 04032

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Birding in the Freeport, Maine Area

Armed with high-powered binoculars, trail mix, a life list and a penchant for expecting the unexpected, the Maine birder had a lot of ground to cover! There are shore birds, sea birds, woodlands birds, open meadow birds, transients, migratory birds and those odd birds, blown completely off course, that occasionally cause a stir in these parts. Gray Kingbird ring a bell?

Bob Duchesne from the Maine Birding Trail website and Guide Book recently sent me this personalized guide for guests at White Cedar Inn to use while birding in the greater Freeport area.

All 25 of the locations are within an hour's drive of the inn.

Bob has listed us as a 'Best Nest' so we hope you'll find us conveniently located for your birding expeditions.

White Cedar Inn Personalized Birding Guide- Bob Duchesne (.pdf, you will need Adobe to read this. BIG file.)

White Cedar Inn Bed and Breakfast 178 Main Street Freeport, Maine 04032

Saturday, January 15, 2011

5 Minutes

Amazing what we can do with time- waste it, buy it, take it, spend it, bide it, kill it, lose it, save it. And time on its own is pretty busy as well- time flies, time waits (for no man), time is a river, time passes, time stands still.

Right now I have a lot of time. I'm on vacation. I don't have to be anywhere or do anything in particular on any kind of schedule. I have a list of tasks I want to accomplish, but no real deadline to accomplish them. At least no pressing deadline.

So, I find I waste a lot of time without a fixed deadline. However, sometimes, I just don't have time to waste! Here, then, a list of 10 tasks I usually put off that really would only take me 5 minutes to accomplish. Maybe you could take 5 minutes and do some of these as well. So, kill some time, waste your time, spend some time, take some time and pass the time looking over the list:
  1. Write one thank you note.
  2. Fold one load of laundry.
  3. Water your plants.
  4. Stand up and stretch.
  5. Drink a glass of water. Skip the bottled stuff.
  6. Write a shopping list.
  7. Go through the 'medicine cabinet' and toss expired or unused prescriptions. Check here for help on how to dispose of old meds.
  8. Brush the dog or cat. (Secondary benefit- relaxation!)
  9. Take something out of the freezer for dinner.
  10. Go find your kid, spouse, SO, best friend- hug that person and say, 'I love you!'
5 minutes. That's all it takes to make a big dent in your stress level by connecting with someone you love, nourishing those you love (even the plants!) and doing someone for yourself. Not to mention ticking one more 'to do' off your list!

5 minutes. What are you waiting for? Time's passing!

(Bonus- make your bed! 80% of 'cleaning' a bedroom is making the bed!)

White Cedar Inn Bed and Breakfast 178 Main Street Freeport, Maine 04032

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Painting the window sills

damaged windowsills
They really needed attention!

Painting the windowsills does not rank up there with decoupage project but it needed to be done.

with primer
Windows taped, primer applied.

Because the sills were poly'd in a previous life, I had to sand first and then apply primer. In places where I didn't quite get the primer, I can see where it might peel up. I take a wait and see attitude on that. Really, no one is going to pick at the windowsills, right?

This really brightened up the room and my attitude. I've been wondering what to do with the windowsills since they were first damaged. I'm feeling much better about them now!

painted windowsills
Nicely painted! Although it looks white in the photo, it's a nice creamy yellow.

BTW, here's the view out this window with all the snow we got yesterday! (It's hard to photograph through a screen.)

snowy view
White Cedar Inn Bed and Breakfast 178 Main Street Freeport, Maine 04032

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Decoupage du Jour

4 decoupaged tables
Finished up my decoupage projects yesterday. Had a little test run overnight to see how the surfaces held up to wet glassware left on the nightstands. The results are in!

The tests were on the decoupaged surfaces as follows:

  1. Modge Podge only
  2. Modge Podge with a coat of paste wax (car wax)
  3. Modge Podge that had been wiped over with furniture polish
And here's what happened- white rings on #1 & #2, no marks at all when the surfaces were 'polished'.

(BTW- The best results are obtained when coasters are used. We have them on every nightstand. Hint, hint!)

test board
This is my test board. There are about 5 thin coats of Modge Podge on the sheet of scrapbooking paper that I used. I sectioned the board in thirds, with the left side having the car wax, the right side being the furniture polish and the middle being just the Modge Podge.

Yesterday, around 3 PM I dipped the bottom of each glass in the bowl of water and set them, dripping wet, on each section. I took them off this morning and found white rings, which DO disappear, on sections 1 & 2. Because I'd rather not worry about it, I'm going to 'polish' the tops of the nightstands with Pledge as there were no rings on that section.

I painted the other 2 nightstands that go in the Winthrop Fogg and I like them so much better now, that I am not going to decoupage them, just put another coat on the top and pop them back in the room, newly painted.

Next up? Painting the window sills in the Bowdoin. The sills have gotten pretty beat up over the years and I can't keep up with refinishing them whenever it rains and the windows are left open or if something wet is left there overnight. I need to sand a little and then prime. So the actual color will go on tomorrow.

More pix as I go along.

Rock is working on the 3rd bathroom!

White Cedar Inn Bed and Breakfast 178 Main Street Freeport, Maine 04032

Monday, January 10, 2011

New shower hardware

cutting the template

The first full day of projects has come to a close and 2 showers are done. The Winthrop Fogg & the Parlor both have new single handle shower knobs. Part of the excitement in putting in the one in the Parlor Room was there were no shutoff valves for the hot & cold water. (There are now!)

new shower handle

Although this is not something you would think to do on any kind of regular basis, we are finding that some of the plumbing in the walls behind the showers is a bit rickety so it's good it is being replaced before it just let go on its own.

Late last year we also installed brand new showerheads, so the showers are looking pretty spiffy right now! What we're looking for is a better showering experience for you.

new propane torch

OK, sorry about the above picture...does Rock look like Jack Nicholson in The Shining or what? Well, if Jack had a propane torch instead of that ax. Anyway, that's one of the new tools he got for this project. It's not a 'good' project if you can't buy new tools!

This is why I do my own projects at the same time, in a completely different room. Oh, the mess!

White Cedar Inn Bed & Breakfast 178 Main St Freeport, Maine 04032

Sunday, January 09, 2011

The Project List for January, 2011

Here's our January list of projects. Sometimes the projects run over into next year, so if any of this sounds familiar, now you know why!

  1. Replace the 2-knob shower fixtures with single handles.
  2. Decoupage the nightstands in the Winthrop Fogg & Bowdoin. (They're a little plain the way they are.)
  3. Paint or refinish the window sills in the Bowdoin.
  4. Revamp the Lillian to remove the twin bed and add a sitting area. (Not happening until March.)
  5. Paint our space.
  6. Remove carpets in our space.
There are a couple of other projects we're 'thinking' about. If we go with them, I'll let you know. Or, better yet, it can be a surprise next time you visit!

First project is underway:

new shower handles
Here is Rock in the first shower.
dremel toolsHe is using his brand new Dremel bit to cut out where the new handle will go. Slow and steady, this will take a little while to get all the showers done.

More photos as work progresses.

And I got started on my projects as well!

Here's the setup for the decoupaging project. The tools of the trade.

The first nightstand is waiting for the last coat of ModgePodge. After that comes a topcoat to prevent water damage. I have a test board that I'm trying different finishes on. Hopefully, I can go with something easy like Turtle Wax instead of having to poly the tops.

Tomorrow I will set up an 'assembly line' to do the other 3 that go in the Bowdoin. The 2 nightstands in the Winthrop Fogg I am going to paint before decoupaging. I've never been fond of the color so now is the time to dress them up!

White Cedar Inn Bed and Breakfast 178 Main St Freeport, Maine 04032

Monday, January 03, 2011

Chocolate Pistachio Fudge-January Recipe of the Month

chocolate pistachios fudge
When the recipe starts with chocolate and pistachios, can you really go wrong? Not here you can't! My two favorite foods are on display this month.

Since we went to New Mexico
a few years back, I have been hooked on these garlic & green chile pistachios. We bought every bag they had at a little shop on the square in Santa Fe. Once we got home I went online and I've been ordering them from Heart of the Desert ever since. This year I ordered 5 lbs just before Christmas. They're almost all gone.

When I commented on Facebook about buying pistachios as Christmas gifts this year, 'Peppy Pistachio' challenged me to come up with a recipe using the pistachios. So, here goes:

The basic fudge recipe is from Carnation. It's the recipe I use to make fudge because it's on the back of the can of evaporated milk so I never lose it. I would suggest getting pistachio meat if you're in a hurry. Shelling pistachios and ending up with enough to make anything is tricky. I eat most of them!

1 1/2 cups white sugar
2/3 cup evaporated milk
2 tbsps butter
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups mini marshmallows
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 c chopped pistachios (I'm using the garlic & green chile for the 'oomph'- these puppies will clear your sinuses right out!)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Assemble all of your ingredients first, poured out in the proper amounts, because this goes fast and you want to be ready.

Line an 8" square baking pan with foil (really, save yourself the grief of cleaning hardened fudge!)

In a heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, evap milk, butter & salt and bring to a rolling boil. Boil for 4-5 minutes over medium heat. Stir constantly. You don't want it to burn and stick to the pan.

Remove pan from heat and immediately stir in choco chips, marshmallows, nuts & vanilla. Stir until marshmallows are completely melted, about 1 minute. (Good upper body workout, but won't do a thing for the calories in the fudge.)

Pour into lined pan, spread out to corners, place in fridge for about 2 hours to set. Lifting foil, remove fudge from pan and turn out onto cutting board. Makes about 36-48 pieces, cut small.

How to shell pistachios for use in recipes:

Using half a shell, insert it into the opening of a whole shell and twist. If you want all of the pistachios for yourself, pry them open with your teeth. No one will want to share. ;-)

A little reminisce- I first encountered pistachios (the red ones) in the Bronx 50 some odd years ago. (Eek, maybe I should erase that number!) They were imported from Turkey by a company called Zenobia. I used to sit on the edge of the curb and flick the shells into the street. It was a dead giveaway that I'd had them- 10 red fingers, red lips, big smile! I always thought it was such an exotic food. That and pomegranates, which we called Chinese apples. (Who knows why!)

White Cedar Inn Bed and Breakfast 178 Main St Freeport, Maine 04032

Saturday, January 01, 2011

The Year in Numbers- 2010

It's that time of year, when I sit down and come up with the oddly amusing 'tale of the tape'. The numbers game. How much of this and that.

Here's a link to last year's numbers (for those keeping track!). Some of the categories changed this year. I like to think up new things to count!

So, in no particular order...the year in numbers:

  • Longest stay- 7 nights (a tie)
  • Pounds of bacon cooked- 40 (BTW, this year -2011- we are going to have a 'Bacon Week' where we serve bacon in a variety of different ways for 7 days. Feb 11-17.)
  • Pounds of coffee brewed- 50
  • Oldest guest and youngest guest- 89 (again, she told us, we didn't ask!) and 3 months.
  • Guests from farthest away- Australia
  • Number of miles I walk to serve breakfast (full house)- 2.1 miles
  • Number of new breakfast recipes- 3 (Tuscan scrambled eggs, Apple pie & eggnog french toast and blueberry & lemon french toast.
  • Number of guests- 2295 (you were counted more than once if you stayed more than one night)
  • Where in the world did you all come from?
  1. US- 82%
  2. Canada- 10%
  3. Italy- 2%
  4. Australia- 1%
  5. Germany- 1%
  6. UK- 1%
  • Where in the US did you all come from?
  1. MA- 17%
  2. NY- 11%
  3. CT- 8%
  4. ME- 7% (highest ever)
  5. PA- 7%
  6. NH- 5%
  7. IL- 4%
  8. CA- 3%
  9. NJ- 3%
  10. VA- 3%
  11. FL- 3%
  12. GA- 3%
(Let me throw out a challenge here to those states we didn't even hear from at all last year- what are you waiting for ID, ND, SD, DE, MS, NE, OR, HI, MT, NV, WI & WY. This is your year!)
  • Number of days in a row with guests in the house- 132. (Took me seriously last year, didn't you? Last year it was 79 and I challenged you to beat that.)
  • Fewest guests in the house on any given day? 1. And this year as last, it is the SAME person! (He also has the distinction of being the last person we see before we close up for January and the first person we see when we open up again in February!)
Thanks everyone for continuing to come back every year so we HAVE numbers to play with! Looking forward to seeing you this year. This year's new breakfast experiment will be crepes. I even bought Rock a crepe pan.

White Cedar Inn Bed and Breakfast 178 Main St Freeport, Maine 04032