Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Polar Express Excitement in December!

Tickets are now available for this year's Polar Express event. Call for details at 1-800-258-2625.

Here is what you will have to look forward to so don't delay.

As the first families began arriving for their Polar Express experience this past December, the Buttonwood Inn was decorated throughout as Bill and I had begun decorating the week before Thanksgiving.  Our own children are married and live in New Jersey, so we do not always get to spend the holidays with them.  We are transported back to those Christmas holidays we experienced with our own children when families arrive at the Buttonwood observing their excitement and wonder as the children “discover” all the Inn has to offer.  Cupcakes and hot chocolate await them on our Dining Room table at our afternoon tea service.  On Saturday afternoon, I put out my hand-decorated sugar cookies for the children and their parents to enjoy before they leave for the Polar Express train ride.  

The Polar Express event is a re-creation of the 1985 Chris Van Allsburg book and the 2004 animated movie starring Tom Hanks.  It originated in North Conway back in the 1990’s.  On Saturday, our families arrive at the Victorian Conway Scenic Railroad station located behind the charming New England green, which faces the decorated shops and restaurants.  The slopes of the Cranmore Mountain Ski Resort, which overlook the town, are all lit up and conjure up visions of Santa Claus and his reindeer’s impending arrival.  Everyone is ushered onto the train traveling through the forest to the North Pole where the magical journey begins.   

Back here at The Buttonwood Inn, when we are all alone, we can hear the train whistle blow several times marking the beginning of the Polar Express journey to the North Pole.  That train whistle always sparks my memory of our Polar Express experience several years ago.  We were caught up in the merriment of the passengers singing carols while hot chocolate and candy was passed out by the chefs on the train.   Upon arriving at the North Pole, we all filed off the train and proceeded up the lantern-lit path while being greeted joyously by elves.  When I looked back down the hill at the Polar Express lit up inside waiting for us to return, I felt like we were seeing the same vision of it as if we were in the movie. 

The next morning at breakfast, the children happily tell us about meeting Santa Claus and show us the bells that they received from Santa. There is joy in air as the children of the different families finish breakfast and head down to the Mount Surprise Room to play games with each other.  We had two fathers take turns on Saturday and Sunday mornings leading the children in playing “Cooties.”  The young children were laughing and squealing with delight so loudly that one of the mothers and I ran down to make sure they were happy noises…of course, they were.  This kind of merriment is what we take pleasure in most when families or other guests come stay with us because they are comfortable enough in our home to share their cheerful moments with us. 

Several families have come back to The Buttonwood Inn for the Polar Express.  If you are interested in coming back or you would like to reserve with us for the first time, please call us at 1-800-258-2625 for information and pricing.

PO Box 1817  64 Mt. Surprise Rd.  North Conway, New Hampshire 03860-1817800-258-2625  603-356-2625  Fax: 603-356-3140  Send us an E-mail!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Appreciation for freshly prepared foods all begins here...

...helping Mom with the holiday baking or preparing dinner for the family.  The photo is of my daughter-in-law, Lori, at the tender young age of five helping her mother, Gloria, roll out the pie dough for Thanksgiving pies.  It's a tradition that she still follows the day before Thanksgiving in her mother's kitchen.  Lori is quite a good cook who can make an awesome meatloaf.  She also likes to bake delicious cookies, cupcakes, and pumpkin breads that she gives out as Christmas gifts to her family and friends.  I enjoy cooking with Lori because she quickly and adeptly prepares the menu items based on her cooking experience while growing up.

My daughter, Alexandra, also helped me with baking and cooking also starting at age five.  As a teenager, when Alex came home from boarding school during the Christmas holiday season break, she couldn't wait to begin decorating the gingerbread house that she requested I make for her.  She happily spent hours piping royal icing onto it creating her own design and placing the various candies onto it.  After sleeping in late the next morning, Alex would come back into the kitchen and ask what we would be making for dinner. After deciding which menu items we would be preparing, I instructed her to read through the recipe to gather the ingredients, cooking utensils, and understand the step-by-step process of preparing the menu item.  Alex often amazed me with her zealous nature of wanting to cook or bake a complex food item without any fear of it not coming out right.  She had the advantage of me being a professionally trained chef.  She learned how to make fresh pasta, pie dough, pizza dough, butter cream icing, cakes, how to cook meats and fish, etc.  Since Alex had a strong interest in cooking and baking from scratch, she will prepare any type of cuisine.

I also began baking and cooking as a young child watching both of my parents lovingly prepare the meals for our family.  My mother prepared the daily meals since she was a stay-at-home mother for awhile and my father prepared the Sunday dinner meal.  He was happiest on Sunday morning singing along with the radio while preparing his typical roasted meat, gravy, potato, and vegetable dinner which was extraordinary.  This sparked my interest in cooking and looked forward to the home economics cooking classes I attended in grammar school.  Reading the recipe, organizing the ingredients, utensils, and mixing the ingredients in a specific process appealed to me.  I liked measuring and whisking the dry ingredients, then whisking the wet ingredients separately only to combine them to form a batter that yielded delicious muffins.  I couldn't wait to bake my first batch of muffins at home for my family!  When my mother discovered my culinary capability, she quickly assigned me baking duties helping her bake the numerous, huge walnut and poppy seed rolls for Christmas and Easter.  Our neighbors and friends were often the lucky recipients of our day long labor of love.

Now some of my favorite photos on Facebook are of my brother-in-law, Fred's, two young grandsons, Tyler and Evan, decorating holiday cookies with their mother, Holly, in their kitchen. I'm certain that these boys will continue their tradition of holiday baking with their mother and further develop their culinary skills in preparing good, wholesome meals as they grow up.