Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Happy Canada Day!

On July 1st we celebrate the vast and beautiful land, the warm and diverse people, and the values and aspirations that comprise this great country that is Canada.

Canadians -- whether they were born here or adopted this country as their own -- feel proud and blessed to call it home. Visitors, we hope, feel genuinely welcomed and are enriched by their time here.

Everyone, Canadian and visitor alike, owes it to themselves to experience the full breadth and wonder of this country at some point. In the meantime, you can travel it vicariously through a classic from the National Film Board of Canada.

My recommendation for your Canada Day celebrations: include a 25 minute journey across Canada with Buster Keaton in the 1965 silent film comedic travelogue, The Railrodder. This is a favourite with my family and I hope you enjoy it also.

Happy Canada Day!

Watch The Railrodder on YouTube: The Railrodder on the NFB channel

Monday, June 30, 2014

June in Pictures

The month started off right with beautiful swimming weather. Arrowhead Park beach looks practically tropical!

Lilacs in bloom are a sure sign it's early summer. My mom's favourite flower!

Some of our so-called wild life, though that bunny looks pretty mellow to me (and Saba's pretty chill, too).

Our little fawn is growing up! Two-year old Kit came back for a visit.

Late June is a lush time. The trees form a green tunnel on the Seguin Trail.

Wildflowers add a splash of colour.
Beautiful day for a walk up to the little lake.

Summer sunshine on Fern Glen Inn

Friday, June 20, 2014

Huntsville Half - Band on the Run 2014

Happy runners showing off our hardware!

Race kits and Fuel & Fun
The 2014 Band on the Run was a great success. This was the third year of the event and it just keeps getting bigger and better.

Our guests had a fabulous time, and so did we! As innkeepers with busy weekend business, we don't usually get out to festivals ourselves, but this is one event that we make sure we can attend.

Jim runs the 10k every year (this year he got his best time for this course!) while I stick with the 5k. Our running guests opted for the 5k distance for their first year at the Huntsville Half because the course is notoriously hilly. For one of our guests, it was his very first timed race and he rocked it by placing 4th in his 50-59 age category -- and he smoked the rest of us 5k-ers in the group!

By limiting our guests to runners and their cheering squad, we were able to change up our breakfast routine on race day. Because we wanted to give the runners control of their breakfast intake (and Jim and I needed to keep clean-up simple so we could leave with our guests) we set up a self-serve buffet breakfast with bagels and toppings, fruit, yogurt, hard boiled eggs, chia puddings, cereal, granola, and peanut butter cookies, along with coffe, tea, milk and orange juice.

We opened the dining room early so everyone could be at the starting grounds by 8am to get checked in and warmed up, and to see the half-marathoners take off. We had already picked up the race kits for our guests the day before, so check-in was quick and easy.

Danny Michel
After the morning run, we came back to change and freshen up, while some of the guests enjoyed a well-earned soak in the hot tub. Back to town for the afternoon concert. Danny Michel, Whitehorse, and Matt Mayes all but on great performances. It's worth mentioning that Luke Doucet (half of the Whitehorse duo) ran the half marathon before performing. Not only that, he placed 1st in his age category and 3rd overall! Talk about a dedicated runner and a dedicated musician!


The all-ages, licensed concert in the park was a perfect way to spend the afternoon. Afterwards, we all opted to head over to the Iron Skillet in Kearney for a satisfying dinner to end the day.

Our guests are already talking about coming back for the Huntsville Half - Band on the Run next year and we will be marking it on our calendars as soon as we know the date. Follow us on facebook to keep in the loop with events around here, or visit Band on the Run and subscribe to their newsletter.

Matt Mayes
We hope to see you next year!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Walnut-Cranberry Peanut Butter Cookies

These cookies are gluten-free and dairy-free but I didn't put that in the title because you don't need to be GF or lactose intolerant to enjoy them. I often make them when we have a guest in house who can't eat wheat. Invariably, I get multiple requests for the recipe, which I email out, but I think it's about time I share it with everyone!

Walnut-Cranberry Peanut Butter Cookies 
These gluten-free, dairy-free treats are chewy, dense and addictive. The walnuts and cranberries are a good foil for the richness, but if you want to kick up the sweet factor, add or substitute chocolate chips.

  • 1/2 cup natural smooth peanut butter (any brand, as long as the only ingredient is peanuts and possibly oil)
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown or golden yellow sugar
  • 1 egg
  • pinch of salt
  • dash of cinnamon
  • splash of vanilla
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts, or to taste
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries, or to taste

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Mix vigorously everything except the walnuts and cranberries until thoroughly combined. Stir in the walnuts and cranberries. Use a 2-tablespoon measure to drop mounds on the prepared cookie sheets, leaving space around to expand. Press to flatten slightly. Bake until tops look dry and lightly toasted, about 10-14 minutes. Cool on a rack.

Makes about 14 cookies. The recipe is easily doubled or even tripled. The reason I make a small batch at a time is because these are SO addictive that I just can't have extras around!


Friday, May 30, 2014

Curious Hummingbird

Sometimes -- rare times -- I happen to be in the right place at the right time with a camera in my hand. Earlier this week was one of those times. I was out on the porch taking pictures of Jim on the roof when a hummingbird decided to check out the bright red lantern hanging just a few feet from my head.

Hummingbirds are said to be attracted to the colour red as they seek nectar from bright flowers. I don't know if this hummingbird thought our lantern was some new-fangled flower but it was determined to find out. It circled around the lantern, stopping to take a good look from different angles, before flying back to the feeder.

These little birds are incredibly fast and not easy to photograph even when I set out to shoot them, so the photos I snapped on the fly (so to speak) aren't particularly clear and sharp, but not bad for serendipity and an iPad camera.

This is a great time of year to photograph hummingbirds. They're active and hungry, spending a lot of time at the feeder while waiting for the summer flowers to bloom. So on your next visit to Fern Glen Inn, bring your camera, a tripod, and some patience!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

New Hot Tub

 Whether you're escaping the city for a relaxing getaway or some active adventure, your getaway to Fern Glen Inn just got better... Introducing out new hot tub!

There has always been a hot tub here, but the old one was starting to show its age so we decided it was time for a new one. Instead of getting the same vinyl-covered foam model as before, we did some research and opted for a rigid, roto-moulded style. The hot tub is round and seats six people, like our old tub, but this one is a bit deeper, with more jets, and it's much quieter in idle mode. I also love the fact that not only is it made in Canada, it's made right here in Ontario, just a few hours away! The manufacturer is RotoSpa if you want to check them out for yourself.

Jim gave it a test run as soon as it was up to temperature -- somebody has to do quality control! -- and guests have been enjoying it all weekend.

It's a great place to relax on a quiet getaway or to soak your muscles after a day on the trails. In the morning or afternoon, the hot tub provides a front row seat to watch the hummingbird action at the feeder. After the sun sets, it's the perfect venue for stargazing.

The hot tub is for all guests to use (adults only, no children) and there are some limitations on time-of-day and length of use. Other than that, we hope you enjoy some extra relaxation and rejuvenation on your next getaway to Fern Glen Inn!

P.S. Did I mention it comes with cup holders? That's a locally-made Muskoka Cream Ale in Jim's hand!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Huntsville Half - Band on the Run

Q: What do you get when you blend a great multi-distance running race with a live concert featuring a lineup of Juno award-winning musicians?

A: The Huntsville Half - Band on the Run! It's the third year for this great event and it just gets bigger and better. 

Jim starting off on the 10k run in 2012

The day starts with the running portion, offering a choice of distances: half-marathon, 10k, 5k, relay and kids run. The run is chip-timed and fully-supported, with water stations along the way to keep you hydrated and music stations to keep you moving and motivated!

The Sheepdogs rockin' the stage in 2013

In the afternoon, River Mill Park in downtown Huntsville is where the action is. The musical line up this year is impressive! Headlining the show is Matt Mays, whose album, Coyote, just won the Juno for Rock Album of the Year. Special guests are Juno-winning folk/rock band Whitehorse (one of my faves), and yet another Juno-winner and musical dynamo, Danny Michel (from my hometown!). The bandshell by the river is at the heart of the music festival. Bring a blanket or beach mat for seating (no lawn chairs) and don't forget a sunhat, sunscreen and rain jacket depending on the weather. The event is all-ages and there's a beer tent and food vendors. 

Admission to the music festival is free with your race registration, but don't worry, you don't have to run to get in. Tickets are available at the gate or save some money and buy in advance.

Jim and I are both signed up for the race again this year -- Jim for the 10k and me for the 5k. We also have guests signed up to run as well. We'll offer a "racer's breakfast" early on the morning of the event so everyone can get fueled up for the run. We're picking up our guests' race kits in advance so they'll be here for them at check in. And -- thanks to the generous organizers of the Huntsville Half -- our guests get a free upgrade to VIP status!

If you want to have a great run in Muskoka followed by some of the best and brightest talent in the Canadian music scene, then come on out for the Huntsville Half - Band on the Run. 

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