Archive for 2012 | Yearly archive page
The days are much shorter here in the winter in Maine. The mornings are dark and often very cold. I feel like Santa Clause each morning when I wake at 6:00am to set the breakfast tables, put on the coffee, start the tea water, turn up the heat, start the fireplace and have my own cup of coffee. I tip toe around the house to make sure I do not make any noise. The house is very quiet and warm. This morning. I took a picture of our Christmas tree that I have in the dining room. My daughter strung some cranberries and made moose ornaments. Our guests will slowely wake and they will be treated with a lovely breakfast. Every day should be like this! The Bed and Breakfast lifestyle is pretty amazing.
We have guests that come to Camden Maine each year for Christmas By the Sea for different reasons. I know there is a hotel in the downtown that is completely reserved by 2 grandparents to host all their children and grandchildren for a family reunion. They all enjoy the Christmas By the Sea festivities together. The timing of Christmas By the Sea is good, in that it is early in December. Windward House has a lovely couple that comes every year just for a nice getaway. The couple lives in Maine, a few towns over from Camden, and come because the town is alive in the winter. The stores are open late. The couple said they do not care too much for all the Santa sightings and caroling. For a young couple that just wants to have a fun town, lovely restaurants and the romantic winter feeling, this is a great weekend. Stay in one Windward House’s rooms with a fireplace and walk to and from dinner, a great weekend.
Some people come to see the ships that are still in the ocean all wrapped up for the winter. The Mary Day puts a Christmas Tree at the top of one of their main masts. It is a fantastic thing to see click here: http://mainewindjammerblog.com/
Some come to see Santa Clause. This Santa is the real deal! Check it out: http://www.camdenmainevacation.com/christmas-by-the-sea-camden-maine.php
Windward House also has another couple that has come every year since 2009 for one special reason, to buy the Garden Club Gingerbread houses at the Rockport Opera House. They get up early and wait in line outside the Opera House. They buy a couple of candy houses and then get back to Windward House for a delightful breakfast.
It is snowing today in Camden Maine and it completes that great holiday feeling.
Il B&B è davvero carino, l’abitazione tipica del Maine. Le camere sono spaziosissime, comode e molto pulite. I letti grandi e avvolgenti. La biancheria ricercata e morbidissima. Il bagno funzionale e pulito (la doccia, in particolare, é fantastica). La camera aveva anche un caminetto a gas d’atmosfera e, in una fredda giornata di pioggia é stato l’ideale per riscaldare un po’ l’ambiente e regalarci un po’ di relax dopo una lunga traversata in auto sotto una pioggia battente che non ci ha dato tregua un minuto. Il “Windward B&B” è stato solo una tappa del nostro lungo viaggio nel New England, ma avrebbe sicuramente meritato di più. Le colazioni di Kristi, poi sono state davvero fantastiche, naturali, ricche e anche la stanza in cui vengono servite ha l’atmosfera giusta e Kristi stessa é stata molto gentile e ci ha consigliato un percorso in auto al termine del quale si poteva godere di un panorama davvero imperdibile. Buono il rapporto qualità/prezzo, anche se devo precisare che abbiamo viaggiato in bassa stagione. Il paesino di Camden é delizioso.
Melt vegan butter in pot, stir in rice until it is all coated in oil. Add the liquids and put a lid on the pot and bring to a simmer. Simmer until all the liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Be careful not to let it stick. You may stir it if you are worried about that but remember to put the lid back on to keep the moisture in.
Portion the rice while hot, add a little warm coconut milk, cinnamon and maple syrup to taste.
For non-vegan recipe substitute organic butter salted or unsalted for the vegan buttery sticks.
I was at French and Brawn this afternoon and the lovely lady that works at the counter looked at me and asked me how I was. I appreciated her concern, but she seemed over concerned. I told her I was felling ok. She said that she sees a lot of people in the store from the hospitality business and they look so bedraggled. That the working folk are tired and some seem angry. I told her that every end of August in Camden, Maine, probably in all of Mid Coast Maine, the hospitality people are tired. By this time most have worked 3 months without a day off. I told the lady at French and Brawn that the bad reviews start to come in around this time of year. Trip advisor gets a boost in the negative reviews for all local businesses. I fortunately have been drinking green smoothies all summer and feel stronger than ever. I had a few days of short patience but I snapped out of it and managed a genuine smile. I felt tested this summer with employees not showing up and guests cancelling. But, today in the mail I received a surprising letter. A fun older couple stayed with us for 5 nights. They loved blueberries and sitting out on the deck. The husband had been to the MidCoast before but the wife had not. This is a second marriage for both of them and they are sharing their fond memories of their pasts. I enjoyed having them here. They have very southern gentle accents. They were very polite and entertaining. The letter I received in the mail was from this southern couple. It reads:
Kristen and Jesse,
Enclosed please find a very modest gratuity to say Thank You for the nicest 5 – day visit to Camden that we could possibly have had. We loved Camden but we loved your charming B&B, & the two of you even more. We had a most memorable & relaxing vacation. We wanted to express our thanks!
With fond good wishes,
This letter will help me get through to the end of October with a smile on my face. I hope the rest of Camden receives a letter and understands that tourists truly do love our beautiful area, Camden Maine.
I thought it frivolous to post on Facebook last week. The destruction in NY and NJ was so disturbing that I could not get myself to post anything on the business page for Camden Windward House. Small details of things happening in our town and Inn seemed unimportant. I wanted to write that I was concerned for those in the south but I couldn’t even do that. My words on a computer screen could not make up for the fact that I was here and not there helping those affected by the storm. How could a short post from a Bed and Breakfast in Camden Maine make a difference to anyone?
I did however post on my personal facebook page. On October 31st I posted “If any of my NY or NJ family sees this – Please give us a call, we are starting to get worried! Much Love!” I did not get an immediate response from my family and was very concerned. I remember thinking, even if they do not have electricity, their gadgets must still have battery, they must be able to see this post. It was weird to see no posts on facebook from NY and NJ. About 2 hours later I started to get phone calls and returned posts on facebook. Friends and family started to connect and I felt much better.
The feelings I had last week were similar to those I had on 9/11. I wanted to account for everyone and know where everyone in my life was. During 9/11 my dad was at ground zero and running away from the disaster. My mom and I knew he was there and frantically tried to get in touch with him. Hours went by before we heard from him. When my dad finally got a phone line to us, he spoke to us and then handed his phone to people next to him so they could give us their name and family member’s phone numbers to call and tell them they were ok. I was calling strangers to tell them that their loved ones were ok. It was very difficult to call out, if you remember the phone lines were jammed, but I called and called everyone I was instructed to call. If facebook was around during 9/11, it would be amazing to look back on the posts.
I hope all past visitors to Camden Windward House are well. After much contemplation about facebook, I have resigned that it is a good thing. I am grateful to be able to stay connected to those of you that have come to Camden and became a part of our lives. I hope you will stay connected. If the Windward House posts make you laugh or smile one day, or helps you feel connected, then that is all the justification that is needed.
Winter in Maine means, cold, quiet, snow, hockey, ice skating, skiing, tubing, tobogganing – oh yah and did I say hockey!!! Yes – I am a hockey mom. The ice just went in at the MidCoast Recreational Center this past Friday. I have been watching on Facebook and am delighted that this is the earliest the rink has been completed. My kids will start playing any day now.
Here in the midcoast we love ice. The Camden Public Library will once again install the outside ice skating rink at the Camden Amphitheatre. The Camden Winterfest will delight guests with ice sculptures that form a wonderful ice garden for almost the entire month of February. You can almost guarantee that Natalie’s will have its famous Ice Bar during the Toboggan Nationals.
I love climbing the Maiden Cliff Hike Trail in the winter. The water fall on the hike is frozen over and the ice is fantastic. From the top of the trail you overlook Lake Megunticook and get a great view of winter in Maine. The lake is frozen over and is home to several ice fishing shacks, snow mobilers and cross-country skiers. To play pond hockey – you must bring a shovel and a broom to find the ice and create your rink.
If you grew up in a city and only know winter as an inconvenient time of the year, you really should come to the mid coast of Maine. Winter is more than dirty snow and slippery back roads. I grew up in Staten Island NY, and I never really appreciated winter until I moved here.
Winter is my favorite time of the year. I am hoping for lots of snow, cold temperatures and plenty of ice. I could write more about winter but realized I already have a whole web page dedicated to winter in the midcoast
Dont forget to check out winter package: http://www.windwardhouse.com/12426/maine-travel-packages/stay-and-ski-package-2/
We are getting ready for the fall season. Putting up places to leaf peep, and things to do in Autumn when Labor Day and Windjammer Dayshaven’t come yet makes you feel time passing. You can feel it beginning to cool off, soon the tomatoes will be ripe, the corn will be ready, (if some creature doesn’t eat it first) and Hope’s majestic giant pumpkin patch will probably inundate the entire back lot soon, before they turn orange for her big Fall season finally, and we start to think about the summer. It seems like just yesterday she bought giant pumpkin seeds
from the hardware store and planted them in peat pots in the boy’s bedroom. It’s amazing how they have taken off after a little tlc from her grandfather. Summer’s in Maine frequently bring to mind the old saw about how as soon as you realize what it is, how beautiful and special it is, it’s already begun to end. The day after the solstice after all is when the days begin to shorten again. And here in the Midcoast the days begin to shorten precipitously after September. We get a little introspective with all the work and ask ourselves was it worth it? We’ve been rather busy the last couple of months, and it gets very hectic. With help unreliable, and the work unceasing sometimes you wonder if it’s worth it. Just as I wondered that after a long breakfast,
a delightful young couple checked out, and said some really nice things to Jesse, but I wasn’t there to say goodbye. They stayed one night in the Brass Room. Breakfast was a bit crazy that morning, with a full house.
When I went into the room, a lovely handwritten note scrawled across a Smiling Cow shopping bag made us smile.
Here’s what it said, in case you can’t read it from the picture:
Kristen and Jesse-
Thank you for your wonderful hospitality! This was our 1st B&B experience, and we loved it! Your home and your sweet little town are great! ….
Well I guess our job was done- we converted another one to the B&B experience! The note reminded me of all the great sentiments, well wishes and blessings our guests have showered upon us this summer. We’ve gotten a lot of really nice notes from the guests this season, online on TripAdvisor, the lady’s of the Victory Chimes, who along with the note gave us a gourmet selection from the Stonewall Kitchen, nice things written in our guestbooks in the room, as well as this one, on the Smiling Cow bag. Thank you for all your good wishes, for admiring the tree house, for telling us you think we made the right choice by moving here, and raising our kids in this “sweet little town”, for expressing the thought that Jesse is a great cook, for being gracious, interesting, charming and lovely guests! Thanks! And here’s to a great Fall Season!
We are delighted to welcome back so many return guests to Camden Windward House. This summer has been unique in that the weddings we hosted were in the early June and July. Prime summer time (August) has been open to all our guests. Last year we had several weddings in August, making it difficult for return guests to get a reservation. This year those previous guests called early and have returned to Windward. I have to admit, I was a little afraid when I turned these guests away last year, they would not return, but they did!
I remember when we first bought the Inn and Del (previous owner) was helping us learn the business. Del was cooking breakfast for the guests and teaching us some great Innkeeper tips. One morning a guest was checking out and said to me, “I will be back”. Del asked me how the guest liked their stay and I said, they said – they will be back. I thought they were being polite, but Del – whom is a veteran Innkeeper, said if a guest says they will be back – they are sincere and you can bet they will be back. Del was right; we have seen many guests return. I know so many faces and names, favorite breakfast specials and can tell you what room they prefer.
I make blueberry coffee and have sugar–free syrup for Jim and Eggs Benedict for Bill. Bruce stays every year for a couple of days. He has a boat north of here but like to visit Camden on his way north. Dorothy and friends are salty dogs, coming each year to go out on Timberwind. Kathy and Ron love reading in the garden, they can read for hours and hours. I did a report on our reservation software and we have over 600 return guests.
I never thought when I moved from NY I would meet so many interesting people from all over the world. I actually miss one of our annual guests from Australia. He did not come this year, but I bet he will be here next year.
This morning I leaped out of bed because I promised a woman staying with us that I would make her coffee at 6:00am. I awoke at 6:05am and had coffee on literally by 6:08am. The woman was nowhere to be found, and I thought I had missed her by the 8 minutes that I was late. She like many people who visit Camden, like to get up early and walk to the harbor to see the boats and stare out into the horizon with a warm cup of coffee. Morning people who head to the harbor, if you ask them, call themselves “harbor rats”, I personally do not like the term rats and am trying to think of a new cute term for this behavior. It turns out that I did not miss the woman, as I sat at my computer she came in around 6:30am to get her coffee and go to the sea. She said that the cool temperature and the comfortable bed kept her asleep. The temperature as I write this is 51 degrees, which is warm in the winter but is a bit chilly in the summer. It is however, always beautiful. 51 degrees in the summer is nice because you can wear that warm sweater with your shorts, knowing that later it will come off and you will be warmed by the sun. Camden is experiencing a delightful summer. We get many guests from all over the country that are escaping the heat and enjoying sleeping with the windows open. The air is a natural air conditioner. This reminds me of one of my first posts on this blog about the air quality in Camden Maine. http://www.windwardhouse.com/8908/uncategorized/maine-the-lung-of-the-usa
I hope you will consider coming to Camden this summer! Cool off and enjoy the great outdoors.
I usually start each season with a post. Last year I was concerned about Trip Advisor, this year I’m not. This year I am concerned that I will not be able to go out on my kayak enough. I met a friend here and she recently reminded me that I came to Camden Maine, bought this Bed and Breakfast to live a certain lifestyle. She reminded me that Camden is absolutely beautiful in summer and I better start enjoying it. I still am concerned about the service at Windward House, but this year am more confident about it. I am almost able to predict what “terrible” things will happen and, in my head, created a game plan on how to solve those issues. Camden Maine truly is a beautiful place to stay for a couple of days. Jesse and I have made a commitment to organic and local foods, so don’t even think about what you eat in our Inn, it is good and good for you (well, maybe not the French Toast with Orange Rum bananas, but they certainly are good!!!).
Lots of new things here in Camden for me to enjoy this year. There is a new scooter rental place, a bamboo bike shop, lots of walking tours, some new stores and restuarants in the downtown. We have a great Boat to Table Package. The captain of the lobster boat has promised to take me out on a special tour of the harbor! Tomorrow I am going with the kids to an organic farm to pick strawberries. So far summer 2012 is great!
We are extremely happy to announce that we will begin our 26th season with Surprise tomorrow morning, May 26 . Our schedule will feature departures at 10:30, 1:30 and 4:30 until July 1 when our summer schedule begins. The Surprise which is in her 94th year looks quite amazing and has responded well to our efforts with paint and varnish as well as the skilled crew at Rockport Marine who do the heavy lifting literally. As always, we look forward to greeting your guests and providing them with a sailing experience that will ensure that they return to us every year. We continue to be amazed and encouraged by the enthusiastic response of an overwhelming number of repeat passengers we welcome on our deck. We appreciate your support and we will continue to ensure that your guests will bring home fond memories of their experience onboard Surprise.
We wish you “fair winds” in your business and we would love to see you onboard as our guests anytime you take the opportunity. Now it is time to get the weatherman to provide a nice summer pattern.
– Captain Jack and Barbara
When you serve a hot breakfast everyday for 7 years, you start to notice trends in food. First it was a concern for diabetes, then it was gluten free, then vegetarian, then vegan – now raw. Jesse is an amazing cook – I often kid with the guests that I think Jesse’s 20 years as a lawyer prepared him to be a short order cook. He researches everything he does. When he sets his mind to a task, he goes at it head on and tries his best. Jes has truly created an awesome morning menu. This Maine B&B that has a complimentary breakfast menu that is made to order. We hope people order as much or as little as they like, we don’t want anyone walking away hungry. But more importantly, we like making items that are unique to our guests diets. Jesse is great at learning about different diets and he does a great job with gluten free, vegetarian and vegan options. Jes does not have any dietary restrictions, other than being a locavore, so he makes traditional american meals just as good. He loves his bacon and sausage (local of course). To further widen our breakfast options, and our own eating routines, I recently bought Jes a Vitamix for his birthday. We will now be able to offer our guests a raw green shake in the morning. Green shakes consist of vegetables and fruits. Lesson learned with the green smoothie in the picture – Kale, Beet, Flax seed, Blueberries – once you put beets in anything, it will be beet colored. This tasted great and the guest loved it.
April is a little early for the Maine tourist season to start, but over the weekend we were fortunate enough to host a whole Inn full of guests. Jesse and I are a little out of practice serving 18 breakfasts, but I think we did well. We got up very early and prepped everything (secret to success is preparation!). Everyone left the breakfast room happy and Jes and I were pleased. Monday morning came and everyone left the Bed and Breakfast. The house was quiet once again. I realized that I had better start taking advantage of the time and good weather that we have been given. 9:00am Monday, I packed my camera, some bottles of water and headed out with the family. First stop Willow Bake Shop for some homemade donuts.
My favorite: Butter Crunch
Next stop – The Breakwater Lighthouse. The Breakwater is one of my favorite spots on the MidCoast. At low tide there is a little beach there that many scour for sea glass. I like it because the waters there are real working waters. In the summer you can see lobster boats rushing from buoy to buoy for their lobsters. The Breakwater is a nice granite walk out into the ocean and at the end is a lighthouse. Unfortunately, the lighthouse is never open when I get there, but that’s ok, the rocks in front are a great place to sit and relax.
I made the kids walk all the way before they could have their donuts. Walk is a 7/8ths of a mile (each way). They did a great job and really enjoyed their donuts.
Since I felt an urgency to continue enjoying the beautiful day, next stop with the family, Birch Point Beach.
Birch Point is definitely a hidden gem and I feel a little unsure if I should share it with the world. I first discovered this wonderful beach with the my son’s first grade class. The beach at low tide has a lot of tidal pools that small and big children can explore. This beach area in Owls Head has a sand beach, wonderful picnic tables, bathrooms and great views.
A great way to end our little staycation – near Birch Point Beach, Owls Head General Store for hamburgers, not just any hamburger, the best burger in Maine – per Food Network.
We sat outside on some picnic benches and enjoyed our food.
After a long day, we returned to Camden Maine and relaxed at our quiet, wonderful downtown property! I encourage you to come now to the Mid Coast of Maine. Some things are not open yet, but the things that are, WOW are they wonderful. I had a great day!
Hope to see you soon.
Camden Maine is a New England Epicenter for Culinary tourism. Culinary tourism is defined as experiential travel, including local, domestic, and international tours, whereby one learns about and/or consumes food and drink reflecting a region’s cuisine and/or culture. The food and drink of the coast of Maine are superb and should be experienced by all. I have children and recently we went to NY for the traditional Italian family Christmas Eve fish dinner. My 10 year old son commented that the lobster in NY was not as good as the lobster in Maine. Most people at the party agreed. It was then that I realized the asset I have in my Maine neighborhood. The wonderful bounty of the sea: Frutta di Mar. The flavors of the coast are like no other. Potatoes, vodka, fiddleheads,blueberries, lobster, fish are all worth trying when in Camden Maine.
I hestitate to share this wonderful website I recently came upon (don’t want everyone to know my great find). For those that want truely Maine Made products, should check out http://www.transfigurationhermitage.org/. These nuns can make some awesome cookies and jams. They also make a great lasagna, but you can’t buy that online.
Camden Maine is truly a unique place on the East Coast. It is amazing how the town keeps its secret. There are amazing hiking trails, several warm lake swimming spots, lake islands you can row out to, an ocean island that is not further than a mile away – if you are strong – you can actually swim to it, and great skiing trails. All of these places are special because anyone can enjoy them. The gradient skill level for these activities start at novice and reaches expert. I like to call Camden the “Soft Adventure” capital of the world. Where else can you check into someones’ house (B&B) drop your stuff, head out the back door and run up a mountain, come back down freshen up, walk 1 block and board a kayak, row out to an island that has 1 resident (the lighthouse keeper)? Rockland is a good place to head when it rains (the Farnsworth Museum), but Camden is the place to be when it is sunny.
Next week an olympian snow boarder (Scott Westcott) will be visiting Camden Maine. I remember seeing an interview with him. He commented that if you can ski in Maine – you can ski anywhere. I totally agree with him. I went skiing in Camden Maine yesterday and the conditions: 40 degrees, windy and ICE. I loved it. You must remember, just go over the ice straight, do not try to turn or swerve and you are fine. I always comment to guests that the Camden Snow Bowl is “family friendly” hoping to get my point across that it is an easy and fun workout. I love these hill for new skiers, particularly my kids. They are learning to ski with confidence and feel comfortable trying new things like jumps and “dinosaur backs”. But, if you compare the hills of the Camden Snow Bowl with trails of Colorado, the extremes are similar. The glade trails of Camden Maine are shorter, but just as difficult and dangerous as Colorado. The trails of Camden Maine are cut narrower then the trails of Colorado, forcing you to swerve from other skiers, stay on course and maneuver your skis to fit narrow places. Our Soft Adventure capital has all extreme skiing factors!
I walked into a friend’s store the other day and everything was different. She had changed the aisles and got rid of a lot of products. I asked if she was going out of business, she said she was getting rid of the things that did not sell and “re-imagining” the store. She definitely was not going out of business but re-inventing her business. This was very refreshing. Ever since that experience with my friend, I have been looking at my own “store”, my website and my bed and breakfast. Our website was re-designed this winter. I contacted a web designer last fall and was quoted twenty thousand dollars for a redesign. Needless to say, we decided to do it ourselves. I am pleased with the way it came out. Jesse and I are constantly learning new things. 10 years ago I never would have guessed Jesse and I could write computer code. It is amazing what you learn when you are a small business owner.
Another re-invention, our menu…
Our guests are always a source of inspiration to us. More and more we are hosting vegans for breakfast. Each year we see changes in dietary habits and we have always been able to accommodate our guests. First it was diabetics, then gluten-free, peanut-free, then vegetarians, now vegans. I am waiting for someone to say they are on the raw diet. Recently a guest wrote on their reservation that both he and his wife were vegans and hoped that we could accommodate them. The first morning of their stay I handed them a menu and said, I understand you have restrictions, but we can accommodate you with these options. As I was saying it I realized that it was not the guest that was restricted, it was my menu that was restricted. From that moment on I have seen food in a new way. It is very easy to convert most breakfast items into a vegan, and also a gluten-free option. I investigated new ingredients and we still have almost the same menu but there is a little (V) next to the items that we can make Vegan.
I am so proud of myself for looking at things a little different this year at the Bed and Breakfast. I am 38, been doing this for 7 years now and still willing to re-imagine this business each year. I hope you will like the new things happening at Windward House.
Skating Enthusiasts! (by Camden Local Anita Brosius – Scott)
Just thought I’d let you know that we were out skating on Hosmer Pond yesterday (Tuesday afternoon Jan. 3) and this morning (Wednesday Jan. 4) and the conditions there are TERRIFIC – 4-5” of ice, wonderful smooth skating. There is open water at the outlet of the creeks (ie the creek that runs along the side of the drive up to the pond edge (ie, don’t skate towards the toboggan chute from the put-in), and the one over by Molyneaux Road and also along the edge in a few places, but the whole pond otherwise is great. Catch the breeze right and you can cruise the length of the pond from the put-in just by standing still! But dress warmly for the skate back upwind! A bald eagle has been hanging out, flying over or standing on the ice pecking at goodies or hoping for cast-off bait from the ice fishermen.
Of course, always wear self-rescue devices when skating on ponds; be conscious of ice fishermen’s holes, too. Better safe than sorry! http://www.nordicskater.com/safety/index.html
Ice claws with attached whistle are available at Maine Sport. De rigeur neck fashion for pond skaters!