Friday, March 27

Spring Fuel & Fun 2015

After a long, cold winter for many parts of the province, the first signs of spring are a welcome sight, and one of our favourite harbingers of the awakening season is the Spring Fuel & Fun promo from Explorers' Edge!

In case you haven't heard of Fuel & Fun yet, it's the regional tourism program that gives you $100 in free gas and goodies when you book your Spring Getaway to Muskoka, Algonquin Park, Almaguin Highlands and other parts of the region.

It gets even better, because you ALSO save $20 off your two-night stay with our Fern Glen Inn Spring Discount (save $10/night off the regular rate when you stay two nights or more between April 1 and June 30). And, yes, you can combine it with your Fuel & Fun freebies!

We love Fuel & Fun because we get to give you a great gift -- who doesn't like to get free gas and spending vouchers? -- while shining a light on the understated beauty of the fresh season. Whether you're looking for a quiet retreat to recharge your batteries or a few days of hiking and exploring, we hope to see you here this spring!

Quantities are limited -- first come, first served -- so act quickly to avoid disappointment.

When do you stay?
Any two consecutive nights (or more) between April 17 and June 30

When do you book?
Make your reservation and register for your vouchers (we'll tell you how) by April 16

What do you get?
$50 gas card plus $50 in spending vouchers to use at participating shops, eateries and attractions during your stay. Of course, you also get two comfortable nights and two delicious breakfasts at Fern Glen Inn.

What's the catch?
There is none! You don't have to "buy one" to "get one" nor spend a minimum amount of money. Consider the free gas and vouchers as an invitation to come explore this beautiful region, courtesy of Explorers' Edge.

The Spring Fuel & Fun Getaway at Fern Glen Inn

Your getaway includes:

  • 2 nights accommodation for two people in one room
  • fresh and delicious breakfast each morning
  • $50 gas card
  • $50 in Experience Vouchers to use-as-cash at participating attractions, restaurants and shops during your stay
  • $10/night discount off the standard or holiday rate
Price: $220/couple

Lower rates available for solo travelers. 13% HST is extra.

Call, email or book online. Visit Fuel & Fun at Fern Glen Inn for details.
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* Quantities are limited. Only the first 500 "Qualified Bookings" within the entire Explorers' Edge region will receive the Gas Cards and Experience Vouchers. To be a "Qualified Booking", you must:
• book by April 16, 2015
• register your confirmation number directly at Explorers' Edge
• stay between April 17 and June 30, 2015
• stay for 2 consecutive nights or longer
Experience Vouchers may only be used between April 17 and June 30, 2015.

In partnership with

Friday, March 20

Saying Goodbye to Saba

Earlier this year we had to say goodbye to Saba. I shared a note with our facebook friends, and am writing about it here, because so many of our guests have enjoyed the hospitality of our four-legged innkeeper over the years.

Saba was just shy of three years old when we uprooted from Toronto to buy this B&B on 120 acres of woods and meadows 10 years ago. Saba must have thought it was the best thing to ever happen in her short life—and she was probably right! Here she got to run leash-free in fresh air, to roam the woods on daily walks full of fascinating smells, and best of all, she got to meet new people all the time, people who had surely come just to play with her!

I think she loved everyone she ever met. Saba would greet people with enthusiastic and happy barking if we let her, which is why she was NOT part of the official greeting team. But whenever guests were interested in sharing her company, she was delighted to play hostess. She would often tag along with guests out hiking or snowshoeing our trails. Some days she would be out for hours, starting first with one set of guests, then heading right back out with another set. Before we had trail maps to give out, we just told the guests "follow the dog home if you get lost".  Sure enough, Saba always led them back home.

One guest who was here with a group of eight girlfriends told us how they were all out for a walk, spread out along the trail as their paces varied, and that Saba would travel back and forth from the front of the group to the back the whole time. Our guest lagged behind at one point while maneuvering a bad leg over a fallen tree, and said that Saba sat and watched until she was over and on her way again before returning to the front of the hikers. I guess Saba's shepherding instincts extended to include her "flock" of guests.

Saba taught many a guest the fine art of throwing a stick. If she couldn't find a stick, she'd raid the wood pile for a nice hardwood log. Sitting around the bonfire on a summer or fall evening, guests might find a stick dropped by their feet and Saba staring intently, willing it to be thrown. When the stick would inevitably be chewed down to a soggy bit of wood no bigger than a match box, Saba would deposit it on a lap and still expect to be rewarded with a throw.

We miss her dearly and I'm sure our repeat guests will miss the "ohmygoodness I'm so happy to see you again I can't believe it's really you I'm going to explode with joy!!!" greeting that only a dog can give. Saba was a natural at this business and lifestyle and she loved it as much as we do. As hard as it is to say goodbye, she lived a long, healthy, happy 13 years which we were blessed to share.

You'll see Saba in tons of photos from the inn and the area if you browse this blog, our website or our facebook page, so I'm posting some photos below from Saba's days before the B&B.

We brought Saba home at 7 weeks old.

Meeting one of our friends. First taste of hospitality?

Geared up for interior camping in Algonquin Park.

Another camping trip, this time flying in to Temagami (Saba's first & only plane ride!).

Quiet time in the park.

Sunlit after a swim.

Wednesday, January 14

Sunset Snowshoeing

Snowshoe tracks winding through untouched snow.
There's nothing like snowshoeing through a quiet forest to clear the mind and shake off the weight of a busy day. It's a wonderful experience at any hour, but even more so late in the afternoon on a clear day, when the sun casts a golden light against the trees before sinking behind a rosy horizon.

Warm sun, cool sky, fresh air.
Remnants of a strange track (I'm thinking porcupine) lead off into the trees.
The pinkening sky over the next ridge.
Happy snowshoer catches some rays.
 Photos were taken on the private snowshoe trails here at Fern Glen Inn. We provide complementary snowshoes for guests to use to explore our 10 km of trails on our 120 acre forest property.

Friday, December 19

Arrowhead Park Ice Trail

Imagine gliding through a frosted forest, under a starry sky, on a ribbon of ice lit by flames reflecting on snow. You don't have to imagine it! You can experience it yourself on the ice skating trail at Arrowhead Provincial Park, just north of Huntsville, Muskoka. Now in its fourth year, the trail has become a must-do attraction for winter getaways.

Photo courtesy of Arrowhead Provincial Park

The skating trail is a 1.3 km loop through the forest at Arrowhead Park, and it's maintained by the park's own zamboni-like grooming machine. Cross-country ski trails, snowshoe trails and fat-biking trails also traverse the park grounds. Don't have your own skates, skis, snowshoes or fat bikes? Rent them at the park for reasonable rates. The park also provides inner tubes to use for free on their tubing hill. And, wow, it's a hill!

Perhaps the coolest thing about the ice skating trail at Arrowhead Park is the weekly Fire & Ice Night. Every Saturday (weather permitting) beginning December 27 and continuing through February, the skating trail is lit by tiki torches from 5-9pm for night time skating under the stars.

Arrowhead Provincial Park is located an easy drive from the inn. Looking for a winter getaway package to include accommodations and a day in Arrowhead Park? Try our Snowshoe in the Park package. It includes: 

Snowshoe in the Park Winter Getaway Package

  • Two nights accommodations
  • Breakfast both mornings
  • Handmade biscotti and gourmet hot chocolate
  • Use of snowshoes for the day
  • One-day Ontario Parks Pass for admission into Arrowhead and/or Algonquin Park

Rate: from $279/couple + tax (higher during Christmas/NewYears holidays and Family Day long weekend)

Visit the Fern Glen Inn website for more information, or call, email or book online.

See you at the park!

Friday, November 28

Quick and Easy Cocoa Brownies

Last week our good friend, Ed, was here helping Jim with some renos and maintenance. Normally, my job during this kind of work is to make supply runs to Home Depot and feed the guys so they can keep working. This time, however, I wasn't going to be here and they'd have to fend for themselves. Still, I wanted to leave them with a little treat before I flew out the door so I whipped up these quick and easy brownies, mostly because I had the ingredients on hand and it's one of the fastest recipes I've got, but also because nothing says "thanks for installing a new sink vanity" like chocolate.

I wasn't planning to share this recipe with you since I already have one (delicious!) brownie recipe on here, plus a recipe for fudgy cocoa cookies, and not to mention this ever-popular mocha porter chocolate cake. I thought maybe enough is enough, but then I came to my senses and remembered there is no such thing as too much chocolate!

So the next time a chocolate craving hits when you're in a hurry and your pantry is down to the basics —or you want to thank somebody in a deliciously meaningful way— whip up a batch of these brownies and lose yourself to chocolate in no time flat.

Quick pan prep: just press in a sheet of parchment paper and crimp over the edges.

Quick and Easy Cocoa Brownies

These brownies are made with cocoa powder instead of chocolate, which makes for a soft, tender texture. It also means they mix up quickly by cutting out the extra step of chopping and melting chocolate. Another time-saving trick is to use a 9" pan instead of an 8" pan because the thinner layer of batter in the larger pan bakes more quickly than a thicker layer in a smaller pan. If all you have is an 8"pan, go ahead and use it but add a few minutes to the baking time.

  • 5 oz (1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 2 1/4 oz (3/4 cup) unsweetened cocoa powder*
  • 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 cup walnut pieces
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 9" square baking pan with parchment paper or spray with non-stick baking spray.

Melt the butter in a large glass mixing bowl in the microwave or in a medium size sauce pan on the stove top. Whisk in the cocoa until smooth, then the sugar, vanilla and salt. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, until fully incorporated.

Sift the flour and baking powder over top and stir with the whisk until just combined. Fold in the walnuts and chocolate chips. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake until the top is slightly puffed and dry, about 24-26 minutes. Let cool (if you can) before slicing and serving.

* I used dutch process cocoa powder in the brownies pictured here, but the recipe works just as well with regular non-alkalized cocoa powder. Use whichever you have on hand.

Friday, November 21

Winter comes early

The snow is deeper than the Coop Deck and nearly to the top of the Muskoka chairs.

 It's not unusual to have the occasion snowfall or short blast of flurries in November. In fact, most years we get a little taste of snow as a prelude of the winter to come, but it's usually an insubstantial dusting that melts within days. Not this time.

The snow started for earnest in the second week of November and it basically hasn't stopped. It is now November 21st, a month before winter officially arrives, but it looks like February out there -- a particularly snowy February at that!

I don't know if all this snow is here to stay until spring. We've got some more seasonal, above-freezing temperatures and rain in the forecast so we may see the grass again before winter arrives for good. Until then, we'll strap on our snowshoes and enjoy the fluffy stuff!

Jim had to snowshoe to the chicken coop to check on the ladies.

More snow falls.
That's the picnic table in front of the gazebo frame.
The Muskoka chairs around the fire bowl.
This way to winter!
Walking in a wonderland.
 There's plenty of winter still to come. Find out how you can enjoy the snowy season with a Winter Getaway package for snowshoeing, dog sledding, or a cozy weekend in the country.