It’s Time To Think About The Small Things; Maple Butter and Paper Cups

November 2nd, 2012

Maple butter

Yoshio and I were wondering how we would switch gears after an insanely busy six weeks. We didn’t have to worry because nature nudged us to a solution. It’s getting chilly here in Southern Vermont. I want to spend time in the kitchen, puttering. Puttering inspires creative tweaking. Creative tweaking leads to tastier, more efficiently prepared food. For instance, making and serving maple butter with our Japanese milk bread is both yummier and more efficient than serving one bowl of cut butter and one bowl of jelly. It is also way more Vermonty. Another idea that came to fruition in the last week is healthy homemade maple sausage, half ground turkey and half ground pork. Our taste-tester guests gave both the thumbs up.

Yoshio has also spent some time being creative. How do we keep enough ceramic mugs in the dining room while encouraging guests to use the Keurig machine and the instant hot water dispenser for tea and cocoa? He (with the help of our daughter, Kelly) designed an Ormsby Hill take out cup. They are a big hit, and a stress buster for us.

Ormsby Hill take out cups

We are both looking forward to the ebbs and flows of inn keeping; finding the balance between doing and thinking.

No Damage from Sandy

October 30th, 2012

We are very fortunate to report no damage at Ormsby Hill from Sandy moving through southern Vermont.

After losing power for eight hours in a September thunderstorm, we ordered a stationary generator. It will power our well pump, hot water heaters, furnace, and lights at the inn. You can be assured a comfortable stay regardless of the weather outside. This mind-easing machine should be operational by the end of the week.

Tucked behind the shrubs…our new generator.

Surviving Foliage; Feeling Grateful

October 25th, 2012

Yoshio and I completed the first right of passage for innkeepers in Vermont – foliage season.

Leaves began changing colors in early October

We are tired, we are proud, but mostly we are grateful. Grateful to our wonderful staff for working so hard, day after day with their signature cheerfulness, professionalism, and good will. Grateful to our guests, who came for pleasure, and also gave us great pleasure and great company. Grateful for the Manchester, VT community of inns, restaurants, and shops, who offered support and advice when we needed it most. Grateful for our service providers, especially our plumber and electrician. We are also grateful for the spirit and energy of this amazing house and property, the catalyst for all these connections.

Fire sky at dawn

There is no time to rest because another season of inn keeping is beginning. Fireplaces, snow, holiday tours, winter food, and cozy, warm spaces are our challenges and our stage to work some innkeeper magic.

Enjoy Spectacular Manchester, Vermont Views and Our New Patio Furniture

August 27th, 2012

A spectacular view of the Green Mountains from our new patio tables and chairs

We finally received our new patio furniture, just in time for quintessential summer days. Guests immediately took advantage of our spectacular views from early morning breakfast, to late afternoon reading, writing, and wine sipping. Yoshio added lanterns for romantic ambient lighting; perfect for after dinner star gazing.

Ambient lighting on the patio is very romantic

Ormsby Hill guests are often amazed at the wonderful mountain views from the back of the Inn, thus our emphasis on the patio. Other places to enjoy the best of Vermont are the porch, gazebo, our Frances suite, the Tower, the deck off Ethan Allen, and of course, our Conservatory dining room.

View of mountains as rain threatens

Early Monday morning clouds

If you come visit us as the glorious days of fall unfold, and we don’t come to the front door right away, we might just be sneaking a few awesome moments on the patio.

After one month of innkeeping, we are finally moving in

August 12th, 2012

Before we could comfortably move into our owner’s quarters at the inn, we needed something to move out. It was a collection of approximately 100 year old taxidermy specimens perched on the walls and ceiling beams of our living area. According to the previous owner, they were historic to the house, and thus belonged there. I just could not warm up to sharing our space with those guys. We had yet to begin researching relocation possibilities, when Rocky appeared at our door bearing glass tops for our new dining tables. Being acquainted with the property, he knew about the creatures and asked if they were still there. Yoshio told him we were trying to find them a new home, and Rocky offered to take them. On Saturday the move was completed. Thank you Rocky and family. Your respectful removal of the elk and birds assures us they will be in good hands. That very day, with the help of our daughter Kelly, we began setting up our new home.

The birds in our owner's quarters

The elk after it was removed from our living room

The eagle in need of a good cleaning

Japanese breakfast bread

August 4th, 2012

Japanese milk bread is served with savory breakfast entrees

Every other morning at the Inn at Ormsby Hill we serve a savory breakfast entree accompanied by fresh baked Japanese bread. “What is Japanese bread?” you might ask. It is a soft, milky bread that is delicious plain, toasted, with or without butter or jam. Here is the recipe:

First, you must make a Tangzhong mixture. Prepare this at least an hour before making the actual dough so it has a chance to cool down. You want it to be room temperature.

1/3 cup flour
1 cup milk

Whisk together the flour and milk in a small sauce pan over medium low heat until the mixture starts to become paste-like. Don’t let it boil or it will get too thick.

For the dough:

1 cup warm milk
4 teaspoons dry yeast
4 tablespoons sugar (extra fine if you have it)
5 1/2 cups bread flour
2 teaspoons salt
4 tablespoons dry milk powder
3 large eggs (one is for an egg wash after the dough has risen)
4 tablespoons butter at room temperature

In a small bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together the warm milk, yeast and sugar.
In a large bowl or your bread machine, combine the flour, salt and powdered milk.
Add your room temperature tangzhong to the milk and yeast, along with two eggs. Whisk to combine into until smooth.
Add to flour mixture.
If using a bread machine, this will make a 2 lb loaf. You can use just the dough setting, and later shape into mini loafs.
For any mixing technique, after the dough is combined, add the softened butter. Continue with machine, dough hook, or by hand until the dough is ball shaped, but a little sticky.
Put dough in a big bowl in a warm spot and let it rise for 45 minutes, until it has doubled in size.
After the first rise, shape the dough into two large loaves, in two greased pans, or shape into 8 mini loaves.
Let rise for another 45 minutes.
Beat the one remaining egg with a fork and brush the tops of the loaves with the egg.
Put into a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes (large loaf) or 20 minutes (mini loaves).

Much needed rain

July 29th, 2012

The gathering room is perfect for any day, any weather.

The last three days have brought much needed rain to the Manchester, Vt area. I could feel the earth gaining back its vitality, getting ready for a growth spurt. With the right balance of rain and sun, nature thrives.

Our guests at Ormsby Hill took the downpours in stride, one minute sitting outside on the patio eating cheese, fruit and cookies, the next, sipping tea in the living room. Other guests made themselves at home in the gathering room, testing out the lemon cooler cookies I’ve been trying to perfect. Even the old board games came out, and it really felt like home.

The reputation of this property speaks of its beauty and elegance. These last few rainy days have shown that it is also a comfortable, friendly, happy place, where guests can put their feet up and chill.

I’m not sure what kind of weather is coming this week, but we and guests alike can just go with the flow and not worry about it. It will all be fine.

Tomato Garden

July 25th, 2012

About two months before we purchased the Inn at Ormsby Hill, the former owners suggested I plant something in two raised beds near the meadow. This is one of many instances of the collaborative effort between Ted, Chris, and us. It was a win/win situation – they would not have unsightly, empty garden space, and we would have garden bounty for the summer. I planted five varieties of cherry tomato and two varieties of slicing tomato. Yesterday the cherries began their prolific, productive dash. These will be put to immediate use in our small side salads served with our savory breakfasts; yummy, healthy, and unexpected.

Garden bounty

Meet the new innkeepers at The Inn at Ormsby Hill

July 17th, 2012

Wednesday, July 11th was a day of firsts like no other: our first day as innkeepers at the historic Inn at Ormsby Hill; our first day living in the beautiful town of Manchester, Vermont; our first day as employers and business owners. It was, without doubt a daunting day. Imagine our surprise when, overriding our feelings of anxiety, we felt giddy with joy, awe, and gratefulness. We know are in the right place at the right time in our lives.

Our prior life as on again, off again expatriates in Tokyo Japan ended in September 2011 after 32 years, 2 kids, and 17 moves. On the surface, our past years make us questionably qualified to be innkeepers and caretakers of this beautiful bed and breakfast. Peeling back the layers of our life, we discovered that our experiences perfectly prepared us for our new roles. Here are some life lessons we think will help us make your stay at Ormsby Hill truly wonderful:

  • Do not fear change because it is the springboard to growth and satisfaction.
  • Curiosity and openness lead to learning.
  • The most valuable lessons come from unexpected sources, like children, pets, or guests.
  • Every person, plant, and animal deserves unconditional respect.

We look forward to meeting each one of you as your own journey intersects with ours at The Inn at Ormsby Hill.

Peace and Love,
Diane and Yoshio