April 24th, 2013 by Katie Pate
For us, Spring in Vermont is about rejuvenation. After a long cold winter, we like to stretch our legs and watch springtime bring life back into the plants and ecosystems of this beautiful valley. A popular activity during this season is nature and wildlife photography.
With rivers and creeks melting, buds popping out on branches and flowers pushing their way up, the opportunity capturing these transitions in photos abounds.
Look for and film birds migrating back to their summer homes during this time of year. The fields, meadows, ridge tops and hillsides of the Mad River Valley provide excellent habitat for Northern Forest bird species. Some of these include Bicknell’s Thrush, Scarlet Tanager and Black-throated Blue Warbler.
The spring migration welcomes the Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Common Yellowthroat, Indigo Bunting, and Meadowlark back to the Mad River Valley. Take a drive to Vermont’s Green Mountain Audubon Center in Huntington (about 45 minutes from the Inn) featuring 5 miles of birding trails, a butterfly garden, and a sensory trail. Vermont Institute of Natural Science (VINS) North Branch in Montpelier is celebrating 10 years with 10 free bird walks in Central Vermont this spring.
Other fun ways to spend a spring weekend at our bed and breakfast – get together with friends or family for a group project like quilting or scrapbooking. We have a beautiful boardroom table available for up to 12 people, and the bright Sun Room can seat up to 16. In the warmer months, our covered Garden Terrace is a great place for a group gathering and can seat up to 30 people. The Living Room and Library can serve as additional break-out rooms.
Lastly – take some scenic drives through the Valley. A landscape cloaked in the myriad shades of light green is the signature of springtime in Vermont. Vermont Route 100 & 100B, as well as Rt 17 to the top of the Appalachian Gap have been designated as the Mad River Scenic Byway, stretching from Middlesex to Granville. View covered bridges, a winding roadside river, waterfalls, historic architecture and working farms along the byway.
April 19th, 2013 by Peter MacLaren
Peter is from Glasgow and this recipe is from his mum. Susan evolved it into a West Hill House B&B favorite.
Serves 4-5 Oven 350°F 30 to 40 minutes
- 3 slices sandwich bread white or whole wheat, buttered
- 3 slices sandwich bread white or whole wheat cubed approx. ¾”
- 1 c. grated cheddar cheese
- ¼ c. grated cheddar cheese
- ¾ cup Major Gray chutney
- 3 eggs, beaten
- 2 c. whole or 2% milk
- 1 t. yellow mustard
- 1 ½ oz Drambuie
- 1 T. minced onion dry flakes or ½ small onion finely chopped
- ½ t. salt
- ¼ t. pepper
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9”x7” Pyrex baking pan or 4 or 5, 4” diameter ramekins.
- Fit the bread, butter side down, into the pan – it’s ok to cut pieces to fit. (If using ramekins cut bread round to fit into the bottom of the ramekin and you may need more slices of buttered bread.)
- Spread the chutney over the bread cutting any large pieces of fruit into small pieces. Sprinkle the onion over the chutney. Sprinkle the 1 cup of cheese over the chutney. Toss the cubed bread over the top so that it is evenly distributed.
- In a medium sized bowl beat the eggs then add the milk, Drambuie and mustard and mix well. Pour this mixture over the cubed bread being sure that some liquid goes on each piece of bread. Sprinkle the remaining ¼ c. cheese over the top.
At this point you may either cover the pan and refrigerate it overnight or let it sit for 20 minutes to be sure the bread has had time to soak in the milk mixture. There will still be liquid in the pan, which will turn into a nice custardy mix once cooked.
Bake at 350°F for 30 to 40 minutes or until the center is firm and the top is golden. Serve hot.
April 7th, 2013 by Katie Pate
With the ski season wrapping up, it tends to feel pretty peaceful in the Mad River Valley during April and May. We will strive to keep you informed about the fun to be had in our corner of Vermont while the snow disappears and green buds poke out over all the branches.
How about Dinner and a Movie?
Seven miles north of our Bed and Breakfast in Warren VT is popular local hangout, with an international flair: Big Picture Cafe and Theater. An eatery and theater for both film and live action, this makes a good destination for a couple taking a getaway with a low-stress itinerary.
Take a break and visit us in Warren VT this spring!
Along with current films, enjoy live music and comedy. No matter the event, take your meal and your drinks inside the theater. That’s right, you can order your dinner, cocktails or beer, then bring it into the theater with you to enjoy during the movie or performance. How fun is that?! There are some tables but mostly stadium-style seating, so come early unless you are okay with eating from your lap.
Check out music and other events taking place in April at the Big Picture on their website.
Romantic Touches for a Weekend Away
Just because you’re taking a low-stress getaway, doesn’t mean there isn’t time for a few delicious details. An example: for only $45, enjoy a chilled bottle of French Champagne upon your arrival at the inn in Warren, or whenever you would like! We will also provide two Champagne flutes for you to bring home with you. See other special add-ons for your stay at the B&B.
Anytime you need, we are here to help you relax, unwind and reconnect. Let West Hill House be your home away from home, where we do the cooking, wash the dishes and make the beds!
March 18th, 2013 by Peter MacLaren
Only one special package is being offered for a wedding with just the two of you on the special date of 11/12/13, i.e. November 12, 2013. This special package has now been booked by a couple from South Carolina, so it is no longer available.
All of the following are included:
- An excellent Justice of the Peace who will officiate at your wedding ceremony and will contact you ahead of time to work with you to personalize your ceremony
- Digital photographs of your ceremony and a CD of your photos
- A wedding cake
- A bottle of Champagne or sparkling pear or apple juice
- Seasonal flowers as bouquets or boutonnieres
- Two West Hill House keepsake Champagne flutes
- Two signature West Hill House coffee mugs
- A gift basket of Vermont cheeses and crackers
- Two nights of accommodation in the Paris Suite
- Two luxurious West Hill House Doe Skin robes
- One Ted E. Bear complete with matching robe
- Couples Swedish massage
- French Country Wedding Dinner prepared especially for you at West Hill House and featuring recipes from many regions of France.
This great package is offered for $1415.16 plus 9% tax. Call us at (802) 496-7162 to book.
The Small Print: This offer is only good for a wedding to be held on November 12, 2013. No change of date will be considered. A $500 non-refundable deposit for this special wedding package is required at the time of booking. Note that the non-refundable deposit does not entitle the couple to any of the offerings should the wedding be cancelled.
March 18th, 2013 by Katie Pate
The spring equinox is only two days away. Soon, the snow will melt and spring will reveal green buds on the trees, blooming flowers and sunny days. But not yet…
Get your fix of your favorite winter sports before its too late!
You don’t have to drive anywhere to nordic ski if you are staying at West Hill House. Our Inn is located across the street from the Sugarbush golf course. If you rise early after a snowfall, you can blaze your own trail. A little later in the day you can undoubtedly follow a trail forged by someone else.
Mad River Valley Cross Country Skiing Centers
Catch a couple more weeks of X-country skiing before spring sets in.
Ole’s (2355 Airport Road – 15 minutes from the Bed and Breakfast) As of this posting, there are four inches of fresh snow, a combo of silky packed powder and loose powder, on the ground at Ole’s. It’s 17 degrees and beams of gleaming sunlight are breaking through low clouds, illuminating the fresh snow. At least 20k of trails are groomed and tracked for both for classic and skate skiing.
Blueberry Lake (424 Plunkton Rd – 10 minutes from the Bed and Breakfast) Blueberry Lake received 3 inches of fresh snow last night and the temperature is slightly warmer at 23 degrees. They have 11 trails, totaling 30 km for classic, skate skiing and snowshoeing. There are trails for both beginners and advanced skiers. Many of their trails are wooded, with the occasional overlook to wide open meadows with beautiful views.
The Catamount Trail: This is not a ski center but an unmanned ski trail that runs the length of Vermont. It is 300 miles long and has been in the making since 1984; it was fully linked together in 2008. Thousands of skiers and snowshoers take to the trail every winter season — most only spend a day on a section of the trail. However, some ambitious adventurers ski end-to-end. What you are sure to enjoy about the Catamount Trail is the pristine backcountry, farmland and village surroundings along the way. The Catamount trail passes directly behind our B&B.
March 9th, 2013 by Peter MacLaren
Last week we signed up for a year-round composting service with the Central Vermont Solid Waste Management District (CVSWMD), as part of our ongoing efforts as a Green Hotel to reduce our environmental impact.
While we have tried composting before, it never worked out very well. First of all it was practical only in the summer months when the ground was not frozen, and during those warm months there was often the problem of animals getting into the food scraps before they were fully composted.
The program now provided by CVSWMD for commercial operations solves these problems nicely. We collect the food scraps then store them in sealed wheel-able totes, which are emptied monthly. The truck then takes all the food waste to a central processing location where it is efficiently turned into beautiful compost and sold to farmers and gardeners.
Organic materials, such as food scraps and yard waste, comprise 20 – 40% of the waste Vermonters send to the landfill. Not only do these organic materials take up a lot of landfill space, they produce greenhouse gases as they decay. However when used to form compost, farmers and gardeners can build healthy soil for growing healthy plants. Healthy plants suffer from less pest pressure—which means less botanical and chemical fertilizers and pesticides are needed to grow the vegetables and fruits we serve and which are used in our local restaurants—and that’s good for all of us.
So while we hope you will not leave any of our wonderful breakfasts on your plate, you can rest assured that any such scraps will now be put to a good use!
February 28th, 2013 by Katie Pate
In this era self-promotion via Facebook, Twitter and other social media, it is said that an amazing experience is worth just as much as an expensive watch. People are willing to pay more for memories they can treasure (and share), rather than a physical object which might lose its luster or become unfashionable.
If this reasoning resonates with you, we have a suggestion for the experience of a lifetime: Dog sledding. Envision yourself as an Inuit native guiding the dog team to hunting grounds. Or perhaps you’d prefer a Jack London-esque setting, where you are a gold seeker in the 1800′s. Taking a trip on a dog sled can help you understand those stories and histories better.
Be the leader of the pack with a Dog sledding excursion!
October Siberians is our preferred tour provider for dog sledding. They are one of Vermont’s best kept secrets! Offering tours in the Little River State Park in Waterbury Vermont, their Huskies are friendly, energetic, hard working dogs that literally transport you to an era when human and dog depended on each other for more than companionship. Little River State Park is about 30 minutes north of our B&B in Warren Vermont.
One reason we like October Siberians is because they make sure you are part of the group, not just a tag-along. You will have a hands-on experience working with a dog team. Share in the beauty, peace and history of the Green Mountains and the sport of Mushing.
We can book the adventure for you, however, it is important to let us know ahead of time as there is limited availability and outings are weather dependent.
February 24th, 2013 by Katie Pate
Are you interested in exploring Vermont back country this winter? Why not have a true backwoods snowshoe experience with Clearwater Sports? We think this company offers superb tours through unmarked and off-trail areas. On special dates you can snowshoe through the scenic Mad River Valley forest to a secluded log cabin nestled into the woods and enjoy a warm fire, delicious hors d’oeuvres and a hearty, down-home Vermont dinner. Here is more information about the tours that Clearwater Sports offers through the Mad River Valley. Come up to Vermont and enjoy the end of the winter!
For the speed seekers: Meet the Rocketsled!
Try out the infamous Mad River Rocketsled. Conceived and built here in Warren, Vermont, this totally controllable sled allows you to carve down the mountains.
The rocketsled! Brought to your by Clearwater Sports in Warren VT
Snowshoe up the Green Mountains along the Lincoln Gap road, which is closed during the winter. This curvy, steep road becomes your rocketsled route the whole length down. You can control your speed by the way you carve your way down. This is a fun and safe adventure that will make you feel like an Olympic champion! $55 per person (including equipment rental) 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily, reservations required.
Vermont Back Country Snowshoe Tours
Clearwater Sports offers true backwoods experiences with experienced guides. The showshoe trips lasts three hours and brings you to unmarked and off-trail areas. Choose a level of difficulty from beginner or if you are able, a more strenuous level. Guides are naturalists that provide plenty fun animal tracking and naturalist skills. This is a truly wonderful Vermont winter experience!
A Big Breakfast and a Beautiful Bed
Complete your winter trip to Vermont by staying at our B&B. Whether you plan to hit the slopes or snowshoe, we know a hot and filling breakfast is the right way to start your day. Every morning, we serve a three course breakfast. Menu items in the past included: Sweet Pepper Scrambled Eggs, Breakfast Casserole, Ginger Pancakes with Lemon Sauce, Pain Perdu (French Toast) with local Mad River Valley Maple Syrup, Asparagus filled Crêpes, or Granny’s Cheesy Soufflé. Along with amazing breakfasts, we have nine private, unique and comfortable guest rooms. We look forward to seeing you this winter!
February 18th, 2013 by Katie Pate
One of the aspects of Mad River Glen that makes it so unique: the ski resort is a co-op. Those that love this place are committed to seeing it remain in pristine condition. Plus, everyone skiing is happy to be there – they love Mad River! So even on busy weekends, the crowds are personable, not snarly or competitive.
But please note: there is no snowboarding at Mad River Glen.
About Skiing at Mad River Glen
Mad River Glen is famous for its beautiful and varied trails, with routes for both beginners, intermediates and experts. It is also home to the nation’s last surviving single chairlift – which was completely rebuilt a few years ago.
The extensive trail system follows the contours of General Stark mountain to a single base area, making it easy for families and friends to ski together. Located in the “snow corner” of New England, Mad River’s 250 inches of annual snowfall combined with a pristine mountain environment to create a wonderful skiing experience!
West Hill House Bed and Breakfast Ski & Stay Package
For the rest of the 2013 ski season, West Hill House bed and breakfast has a great deal for any skier. Until March 31st (with some blackout periods) we have three and four day ski packages that include lodging and breakfast at West Hill House, along with “passports” for skiing at Mad River Glen, Sugarbush and Ole’s cross-country skiing.
The Innkeepers at Mad River Glen
These Ski Passports also include coupons for discounts or freebies at local stores and restaurants.
Come during the week and stay for four days. Come during a weekend and stay for three days. The price for both packages is the same. So, if you can afford to get away during the week, you get rewarded with a better deal and less crowded skiing conditions!
Transport to the Ski Resorts
The Lincoln Peak base at Sugarbush is only two minutes away and there is a free shuttle bus from our front door. You can come back anytime during the day. Mad River Glen is about a 15 minute drive, and Olé’s is about a 10 minute drive.
February 12th, 2013 by Susan
Stirring it up: Pancakes…just the name conjures up the sights and smells of a marvelous breakfast. These Ricotta Pancakes are easy to make and will provide you with great taste, fluffy pancakes and enough energy to tackle a day on the slopes.
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 t. baking powder
1/4 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
1 1/2 T. sugar
1-2 t. finely grated orange zest
4 T. melted butter
1/2 c. ricotta cheese
1 lg egg
1/2 c. orange juice
1/3 c. milk (or almond milk or silk)
1/2 t. vanilla extract
In a large bowl, combine the flour with the baking powder, soda, salt, orange zest, and sugar. In another bowl, whisk together the butter, ricotta cheese, egg, orange juice, milk, and vanilla. Combine the wet into dry ingredients until just blended, the batter will be thick and you may add a bit more milk if you wish but you still want it to be fairly thick. Onto a lightly greased, medium-hot skillet pour about 1/4 c. of batter for each pancake. Flip when bubbles appear on the top of the pancake. Serve with all the fixings and don’t forget the maple syrup.
Dishing it out: In our house they were flapjacks. My dad was a great flapjack maker and we loved the mornings when we would smell them cooking. Dad would tell the story of Paul Bunyon and flapjacks: Paul Bunyon was a giant of a lumberjack. Paul’s lunber jack friends (who were also very large) loved flapjacks too so Ole the Blacksmith, made a griddle so large you couldn’t see across it when the smoke was thick. Sourdough Sam had fifty men with pork rinds tied to their feet skating around the griddle to grease it. The batter was mixed in large barrels and it took a strong cook just to turn the flapjacks, let alone get them to the table. Check here for more Paul Bunyon stories. We would always ask Dad if he would make Paul Bunyon sized flapjacks for us. He never made them quite that large but they were delicious and we gobbled them up just the same. I think Paul Bunyon would have liked Dad’s flapjacks!
Whether you call them pancakes, hotcakes, flannel cakes, drop scones (Scottish), oatcakes (English), griddle cakes, or flapjacks this is one breakfast that will surely hit the spot.