November 11th, 2011 by Pat Fischbeck
Earlier this week the members of The Wisconsin Bed and Breakfast Association met at The Osthoff Resort in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin for their annual meeting and conference. The conference began with a special day of presentations for Aspiring Innkeepers. Sixteen future innkeepers learned about the profession from experts in business, financing, and insurance and received lots of advice from practicing innkeepers about marketing, policies, record keeping and websites. Tours of local B&B’s were enjoyed by many of the conference attendees. The keynote presentation was delived on Monday morning by Jay Karen of PAII. His message encouraged innkeepers to reach out to the next generation of guests by listening to their needs and desires. The rest of Monday and Tuesday were filled with interesting workshops, a trade show, and probably most importantly, time for the members of WBBA to share time with old friends and welcome some new ones into this family of innkeepers.
What does happen when innkeepers get together? Do they tell horror stories about bad guests? No, well maybe a little bit but innkeepers are really a positive group sharing the feeling that B&B guests are a very special group of people who make a conscious choice to be a guest at a B&B. So innkeepers time together is a time to share best practices, tidbits of vendor information, and recipes and breakfast menu plans. It really is a time to recharge and then go back to their B&B’s with a long, long list of ideas, projects, and concepts to explore during the slightly quieter months ahead.
So, a new year begins now before January even rolls around. There is blogging to do, facebook to do better, pictures to take (especially food pictures), rooms to refurbish or redecorate, a cookbook to create, new marketing techniques to master, and time management issues to resolve. You can share my journey on facebook, if you care to. It promises to be interesting.
February 3rd, 2011 by Pat Fischbeck
Up here in Frozen Tundra land most Packer Fans will be serving chili on Super Bowl Sunday. Do you need a special, perfect something to go with the chili? How about grilled cheddar sandwiches made with Wisconsin Beer Bread? Here’s the Bread recipe:
Wisconsin Beer Bread
3 cups of self-rising flour
3 Tablespoons of sugar
12 ounces of your favorite Wisconsin Beer (We will be using Spotted Cow from New Glarus Brewery)
3 Tablespoons of melted butter.
Mix the flour, sugar and beer. Scrape into a well greased loaf pan. Pour the melted butter over the top and bake for 60 minutes at 350 degrees.
Cool the loaf and slice into hearty slices. Make sandwiches with your favorite Wisconsin Cheddar cheese. Brush the outer sides of the sandwich with more melted butter and grill until golden brown. Cut into triangles (Think cheeseheads!) and enjoy with your chili.
The innkeepers at The Speckled Hen Inn will be serving the sandwiches with their Super Bowl Sunday Breakfast. Go Pack!
January 31st, 2011 by Pat Fischbeck
Guest at Speckled Hen Inn
Need to burn off a few calories before you settle down for the Super Bowl parties? Mother nature has supplied us with plenty of snow and the folks out at Blue Mound State Park have scheduled a candle-light ski party on Saturday night, February 5, 2011.
Blue Mound State Park, Blue Mounds, (608) 437-5711 – Candlelight Ski, Hike, and Snowshoe. Ski one and two mile lighted loops. Separate lighted trail for hikers, snowshoers, and leashed pets. Bonfire, straw bale warming shelter, free hot drinks and marshmallows for roasting. Hot food, baked goods, and commemorative shirts for sale. Sponsored by the Friends of Blue Mound State Park. 6-9 p.m.
Blue Mound State park is about 25 miles west of Madison and is on the tallest hill in Southern Wisconsin. The event is free but you will need a Wisconsin State Park admission sticker for your vehicle to get in. That costs $25 for Wisconsin residents and $35 for non residents and it will be good for all of 2011.
The park is a popular destination for those who wish to play in the snow during the daylight hours also.
After a day on the trails a nice soak in a jetted tub and a comfortable bed could be waiting for you at The Speckled Hen Inn. The following morning we will be featuring a Packer Fan breakfast to start Super Bowl Sunday off just right. Stick around for another night and watch the big game on the projection TV in the lounge. Monday will surely be a Wisconsin holiday
January 24th, 2011 by Pat Fischbeck
If you need a bit of inspiration for your Super Bowl Party, the innkeepers at the Speckled Hen Inn in Madison Wisconsin have a couple of suggestions for you. Since Packer fans have a weekend off from watching football this weekend why not head to Madison to check out the Isthmus Beer and Cheese Fest.
Sample some of Wisconsin’s finest craft beers and specialty cheeses and decide which ones you will want to serve at your Packer’s party on Super Bowl Sunday. There are even a couple of special sessions at the event that you won’t want to miss but need to sign up for early. At 1:30 the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board will pair wonderful Wisconsin cheeses with the brews from Potosi Brewery. That’s the great western Winconsin brewery that is also home to the Beer Museum. At 3:00 there is a session on pairing beer with chocolate. It even gets better. The pairing is between Gail Ambrosius Chocolates (our local favorite) and the crazy craft brews from Furthermore Brewery. (I’ve done this before and you have to try it to even imagine how good it is!)
If your entertainment plan is a bit more upscale head out to Wollersheim Winery in Prairie Du Sac for the party to celebrate the release of their 2009 vintage ports. This year they will be adding a 2009 vintage White Port to their offerings and you can sample and celebrate any time between 10 and 4 on Saturday. Enjoy a bit of live jazz and pair your port sample with a Combinacas Plate featuring Wisconsin-made Asiago cheese, a chocolate truffle, fresh bread, and dried apricots and almonds. You will want to take home a bottle of Wisconsin Port or wine to toast the success of the Packers anyway. Sampling is one sure way to find the wine that pleases you.
We still have rooms available on Friday night so that you can have a romantic getaway at The Speckled Hen Inn. Enjoy our great breakfast and then head out to sample some of Wisconsin’s finest.
November 15th, 2010 by Pat Fischbeck
Crab Trees at The Speckled Hen Inn
The Speckled Hen Inn is delighted and proud to be named one of Wisconsin’s Top Ten Eco-Elegant Inns by the Wisconsin Department of Tourism. We take our participation in Wisconsin’s Travel Green certification program very seriously and want travelers to know that “traveling green” doesn’t mean having to forgo some of the very nice things in life. It often means making the best choice available and that choice is often delicious, delightful, and downright fun.
Here is what they had to say about us:
Speckled Hen Inn, Madison, www.speckledheninn.com
Their Green Story: Here’s a B&B that pampers guests with easy-going elegance while supporting principles of sustainable living. This 50-acre property of Patricia and Robert Fischbeck features pastures with sheep and llamas, orchards, gardens and walking trails. According to Pat Fischbeck, “We’re committed to green but also sustaining the culture and sense of place travelers enjoy in Wisconsin.”
Of Special Note: Pat was the grand prize winner of the 2008 Wisconsin B&B Association recipe cook-off for her recipe for Wisconsin Breakfast Panini featuring cranberries and lots of other Wisconsin goodies.
Innkeepers’ Recommendations for Other Green Businesses Around Town: Guests come to the inn specifically to visit the Farmer’s Market on the Capitol square, the largest true farmers’ market in the nation. As an aside, Pat used to have a booth there selling homegrown herbs. For a taste of Wisconsin art, the Absolutely Art gallery features all Madison artists and the Bindley Collection gallery features all Wisconsin artists. Harvest restaurant is a top choice, thanks to their all local, in-season menu.
June 23rd, 2010 by Pat Fischbeck
We proudly announce the opening of the newest room at The Speckled Hen Inn Bed and Breakfast. The “Madison Lakes Room” is complete and ready to accept guests. Bookings are being accepted as of June 26, 2010.
This room will allow The Speckled Hen Inn to now accept children under the age of 12 and the room is also pet-friendly. The Madison Lakes Room is on the lower level of the Inn and has its own private entrance.
This has been a fun project to design and construct. We did the majority of the work ourselves over the winter.
The room has a more contemporary feel than the other four guest rooms in the Inn. Upon walking in through double French doors off the lower deck, the bedroom is sunken 12” below the tiled entry foyer/breakfast area. The King-sized bed is recessed slightly into one wall. There is a separate seating area with two swivel chairs. The room also has a gas fireplace with a 37” HDTV/DirecTV above the mantle, viewable from the bed and the seating area. The fireplace is nestled between a built-in bookcase and seating/luggage bench. The room is decorated with textured fabrics in shades of chocolate brown, bronze and pear green with a few sunset colors as accents.
There is also a wet bar and freezer/refrigerator in the room. For business travelers, there is a desk area built into the wall next to the fireplace. Free wireless internet access is provided. Breakfast will be served in the dining room of the Inn, or if you prefer, in the room at your private dining table.
The room also features an attached private spa-like bathroom. The Spa Room is elevated 6” above the main room. The shower is 4×6 feet in size with an all glass front. There is a two person bench built into the shower where you can enjoy a normal wall shower, an overhead rain shower and last but not least, a steam shower! The room also features a 2-person champagne-bubble air-jet tub. The Spa Room is fully tiled giving it a warm, luxurious feeling. There is an all glass vessel sink next to the tub bench, matching the glass tile insert in the wall tile pattern. There is a separate enclosed toilet room.
The art work in the room depicts scenes of Madison from the Lakes, and hence, the “Madison Lakes” room-name.
Soon there will be a small outdoor courtyard for guests of the Madison Lakes Room to enjoy and we hope to have pictures available very soon.
April 22nd, 2010 by Pat Fischbeck
Celebrate Earth Day this year by planning to add some green to your own little patch of Earth. The Madison area greenhouses are filled with wonderful plant material just waiting to turn your home into your own private oasis this summer.
At the Speckled Hen Inn, we prefer to buy our plants from local greenhouses rather than the big box discounters because we are assured that the plants are suitable for our growing conditions and the knowledge that the folks working in the greenhouses are willing to share, makes sure that we have selected to right plant for our needs.
Here is a link to a map with some of our favorite local garden centers and plant nurseries on it.
View Madison Area Garden Centers and Nurseries in a larger map.
April 21st, 2010 by Pat Fischbeck
Downtown Madison is one of the prettiest, most romantic, places a person will ever see. The lighted capitol dome pictured here ,is like the centerpiece of a bountiful banquet table.
April 1st, 2010 by Pat Fischbeck
Unusually warm spring weather here in south-central Wisconsin has allowed bicycling enthusiasts to hit the trails early. Our guests this week at the Speckled Hen Inn Bed and Breakfast rented bicycles from Machinery Row Bikes in Madison and had a great time exploring the city by bike. They were fitted with Trek 7200 hybrid bikes. Bike rental is only $20/ day or $60/ week and that includes bike lock and helmet too. Madison has miles of great bike paths and also is close to a couple of the state bike trails. So, bring your own bike or rent one here. Have fun exploring and then return to the Inn to soak those muscles in one of jetted tubs.
Guests on bikes at the Speckled Hen Inn
February 25th, 2010 by Pat Fischbeck
You can if you have attended Capital Brewery’s Bockfest. Guests at our Madison WI Bed and Breakfast will be chatting Sunday morning about the wonderful time they had at this annual event.
First let me explain about the ‘Blonde” and the ‘Chub’. Bockfest celebrates the release of Capital Brewery’s Blonde Dopplebock beer. The ‘chub’ part comes into play mid-afternoon when Kirby gets up on the roof of the brewery and flings smoked chubs into the crowd. Smoked chubs are delicious smoked 6″ or so fish that are dearly loved by all those who have been fortunate enought to taste one. Why does Kirby throw fish from the roof? You will have to go to a Bockfest and ask. I think that he does it because it is just plain outrageous fun and that is what Bockfest is all about.
Other events during the day include the 1K Running of the Blondes, live music, a costume contest, and of course, brewery tours and much drinking of the Dopplebock.
The 13th Annual Bockfest is this Saturday, February 27th from 11AM until 5PM at Capital Brewery in Middleton, Wisconsin. Bockfest is always held the last Saturday in February so if you have to miss it this time, you can mark your calendar for next year.