Monday, August 10, 2015

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 Journey to the North Pole - 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!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

March Maple Madness!!! Maple Meatballs Recipe

Today, March 21, 2015, from 10 am to 5 pm, we received many visitors to The Buttonwood Inn for the annual March Maple Madness inn-to-inn tour.  In order to win the grand prize, we provided them with answers to questions and a piece to solve the puzzle.  The participants also sampled maple inspired treats, either sweet or savory, at each stop.  Check out our package and book on-line or call us at 1-800-258-2625 for next March 2016! 

I created a low fat recipe of Maple Meatballs that are my riff on Swedish Meatballs made with ground turkey.  I've been obsessed lately with incorporating toasted and mashed juniper berries in sauces for various meats and fish.  When toasted and mashed, juniper berries are complex and smell like the forest with honey, pine, berry, and bitter at the end.  I added them to the sauce, while adding garam masala to the meatballs.  Here's the recipe which is great as an appetizer or entree served with creamy polenta, rice, or pasta.

MAPLE MEATBALLS                                           Yield:  About 50 1-inch size

2 pounds ground turkey
½ cup plain bread crumbs
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup onion, minced
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
1 large clove fresh garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Garam masala
1/2 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper

1-1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
¼ cup pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon juniper berries, toasted and mashed
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon corn starch
3 tablespoons water
salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.  Form into 1-inch meatballs and drop with a 1” cookies scoop into a hot saucepan in 2 tablespoons of canola oil until browned on both sides.  Fry in several batches (may need to add more oil to the pan) and place on a sheet pan until all are done.

In the empty sauce pan, add chicken broth, maple syrup, juniper berries, bay leaf and bring to a simmer.  Meanwhile mix the corn starch and water until dissolved and add to the pan to thicken the sauce.  Salt and pepper the sauce to your taste.  Then add meatballs and bring to a simmer for 10 minutes until completely cooked.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Snow Shoeing and Trail Mapping

All of us who live on Mount Surprise and Abbot Brook Roads that border Bartlett Mountain have been reveling in the fact that we can strap on the snow shoes and hit the trails.  The soft snow this winter has also been perfect for downhill and cross-country skiing. 

This afternoon, Bill and I strapped on our snow shoes and “bootied up” the dog to map out the Buttonwood Inn and Mt. Surprise Loop Trail beginning in our back yard. This is the first of many more trail maps on Bartlett Mountain we will create for guests to download on their Smart phones and follow without getting lost. 

It was a balmy 39 degrees Fahrenheit with a crystal clear blue sky with not a cloud in it.  The sunlight revealed the glittery snow in the field and the shaded path reflected blue on it.  Britt’s (the dog) coat exposed its pinkish red hues that complemented his red booties, so I nicknamed him “Ginger.”  We were taking in the view of the Moat Mountains at our favorite spot on the Buttonwood Inn trail.

Along this loop trail, we observed a lot more deer track paths intersecting the snow shoe trail this year.  We also noticed the hollowed out snow where they slept.  It’s a good sign that the coyotes have gone deeper into the Whites for the winter allowing the deer population to flourish.

All along the trail, we periodically stopped listening to the quietude of our enchanted forest.  Once along it, we heard a bird chirping in the distance, otherwise nothing but peace.  This is the attraction not only for us to enjoy the serenity, but for our Buttonwood Inn guests and neighbors too.

If you want to explore these beautiful, peaceful trails behind the Buttonwood Inn, you can reserve online or call us at 1-800-258-2625.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Valentine’s Day – a celebration of love…

And romance in the U.S. and many other parts of the world.  It is believed that Valentine’s Day may have originated in the 5th Century in Rome, while there are other versions on how it may have begun at

The first time I became intrigued with this holiday, I was in grammar school in the 1960’s and our teacher encouraged us to handout simple Valentine’s cards to each member of the class.  When I went to middle school, this tradition ended.  In high school, I met my real Valentine in my late teens and we’ve been exchanging cards and chocolates since then.  We like to keep it simple because we both feel it’s more important to show our love and appreciation for each other every day with modest gestures.

Valentine’s Day weekend is also fun for us as innkeepers because we are fully booked at The Buttonwood Inn and have a lot company.  During this cold winter weekend, Bill has both fireplaces roaring in the Living Room and Mount Surprise Room making it cozy for everyone.  It gives me the chance to bake chocolate confections for afternoon tea service and make more creative gourmet breakfasts.  Since I’ve been making breads lately, I plan to make a new sweet breakfast of Cinnamon Swirl French Toast stuffed with Hazelnut Chocolate, Slivered Almonds, and Bananas.

If you would like to join us next year, check out our Valentine Weekend Lovers Package and reserve online or call us at 1-800-258-2625/

For family, friends, and guests we will not see on Valentine’s weekend, we wish you a lovely and romantic one with your sweetheart.