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Madison WI Winter Festival this weekend

February 17th, 2010 by Pat Fischbeck


Madison WI will be celebrating winter at Madison Winter Fest this weekend on the capitol square in downtown Madison.  Events begin on Friday and continue through Sunday.  There are all kinds of things to get involved in as a participant or a spectator.  Watch ice carving and snow sculpting.  It is not the olympics but there will be running and racing and snowboarding and tubing and shoeing and xc skiing and just a grand winter fun time.  If you get chilled you can pop into the Wisconsin State Historical Society Museum on the Capitol Squate for a viewing of their Odd Wisconsin display.

The Speckled Hen Inn in Madison, WI lists February events in the area

February 3rd, 2010 by Pat Fischbeck

There are many events in Madison Wisconsin this February that you will just not want to miss. 

  •  This coming weekend, February 6, is the big outdoor hockey event at Camp Randall stadium on the University of Wisconsin campus.  Will it be the largest crowd ever to watch a college hockey game?  The Badger women play at 2:00PM and the Hockey Badger men play at 6:00.  You will have to go to see how they created a level ice hockey rink on a very crested football field.
  • On February 11 Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love will be speaking at the Overture Center.  Her presentation is a part of the Wisconsin Book Festival.
  • Get ready for spring at the Midwest Garden Expo at the Alliant Energy Center Exhibition Hall.  Just catching the aroma of fresh dirt when you enter the building gets me in the mood to start planning and planting.  The show is February 12-14.  A great thing to add to your Valentine’s weekend celebration.
  • On February 19-21 all of Madison will be having a grand old time at Madison Winter Festival.  Enjoy all of Madison’s favorite winter activities and see how fast cross country skiers can move.  It’s downtown on the beautiful Wisconsin Capitol Square.
  • February 27 we will offer guests at The Speckled Hen Inn an extreme contrast in recommended activities.  On Saturday afternoon head on over to Middleton to Capital Brewery for the celebration of the release of this year’s Blonde Doppelbock (that’s a beer, folks!).  You can even try to catch a smoked chub (that’s a fish, folks) tossed from the roof of the brewery.  Have a rowdy good time and then completely switch gears when nighttime comes and head for the UW Arboretum for their nightwalk.  Hear the crunch of your boots in the snow and then stand perfectly still and listen for the great horned owls or just stargaze. Ahhh.  What a day!

January in Madison — events to enjoy

January 5th, 2010 by Pat Fischbeck

Yes, it is cold and there is lots of snow piled around but there is a lot to do this month.  Here’s a quick summary of weekend events in the month of January:

January 8-10 is Madison Home Expo 2010 time.  Do you need a little inspiration for an upcoming facelift for your home?  You will find it here.

January 9 or 16  Michael Feldman is in town for his WPR radio show, Whad’Ya Know.  If you have never been part of a live audience for a radio program, you have to go.  It’s a hoot! 

January 15 and 16, 22 and 23 get out the saddle shoes and head on down to Fort Atkinson to the Fireside Dinner Theatre for Those Fabulous 50’s and 60’s .  It is just a pretty drive through the rolling countyside.  You will still be smiling and humming the tunes when you return.

January 30  WOW a busy day.  You will have to make some choices.  The Broadway tour of Rent will be onstage at the Overture CenterWollersheim Winery will be celebrating the  release of their 2008 Port with live jazz, light food, and port and wine tastings.  Check out the eagles on the Wisconsin River while you are in the area.  If Port is not your thing you might enjoy the Isthmus Beer and Cheese Feast at the Alliant Energy Center.  Taste Wisconsin’s finest and choose your favorite pairing.  Then get all dressed up and head to the heart of the city for Madison’s Frostiball.  Dance the night away in the magnificent capitol rotunda.

See, there is plenty for guests at the Speckled Hen Inn to do in January.  Or for those who don’t want to “do”, there is always watching the wild turkeys and the squirrels and birds at the feeders, trying out the snowshoes, watching the fire in the woodburner, or catching a game or a movie on the bigscreen.

WBBA Cookbook is Here

December 11th, 2009 by Pat Fischbeck

The new Wisconsin Bed and Breakfast Association cookbooks, with The Speckled Hen Inn on the front cover are here and ready to wrap up for Christmas.  We have a good supply at the Inn and will hold one for you to pick up at the Inn or we can also ship them to you.

The cookbook is more than just the recipes that have been contributed by over 150 different Wisconsin B&B’s.  It could even be used as a travel guide because there is information about each B&B that submitted a recipe and there are lots of fun facts about the food scene in Wisconsin.

The contents are not just focused on Breakfast, although there is a wonderful array of breakfast dishes.  There are appetizers, soups, luncheon and dinner entrees and marvelous deserts.


It is a fun read and a great gift for the foodies or cookbook collectors on your Christmas list.

I love my job!

July 2nd, 2009 by Pat Fischbeck

This a is little different than my usual blog posts. 

A telemarketer phoned while I was cleaning up after breakfast today.  I’m sure that he had, what he thought, was an original line.  It went something like this, ” If I could give you information that would allow you earn enough money to stop doing what you are doing now, would you take a minute to write down a web address?”  My immediate response, without even thinking about it was, “NO”.  He wished me “good luck” and hung up. 

I was thinking about his pitch while I was drying the crystal and reflecting on the life of an innkeeper.  This really is a great job.  We meet the nicest people as our guests, from near and far, far away.  We get to do the things we like to do such as cooking and gardening and decorating.  We get to show off this great city that we live in.  We are constantly learning new things whether it is how to install tile or write a blog.  When we need a break we can take one.  Guests sometimes ask if we are uncomfortable with having “strangers” in our home.  The answer is a very resounding NO.  Our guests validate what we do.  If we had done all this work and put so much effort into creating The Speckled Hen Inn and did not share it with our guests, we surely wouldn’t enjoy it as much.

So, I wasn’t just  giving the brush to the telemarketer this morning.  I wouldn’t want to stop doing what I am doing right now.  We hope that our passion shows.  I’m sure that it does.

Another Concert on the Square season begins next week

June 17th, 2009 by Pat Fischbeck

It is that wonderful time of year in Madison.  Summer!  Time to celebrate with family and friends in ways that become a tradition.  A very special summertime tradition in Madison is the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra’s Concert on the Square series.  For 5 Wednesday evenings, starting June 24, the orchestra performs on the steps of the Wisconsin State Capitol building in front of a huge crowd of fun and music loving fans.  Concert goers arrive early, around 5:00PM or a bit later to spread their colorful blankets on the green capitol lawn. 

Reserve your space on the Capitol lawn.

Reserve your space on the Capitol lawn.

 The concert won’t begin until 7:00 so there is time to do a little shopping or just walking around the downtown area.  Some bring games or a good book to pass the time until the crowd has gathered, dined on the available box suppers or well packed picnic baskets, chatted with friends they haven’t seen for ages, and just basically soaked up the sights and sounds of a summer evening.  Then the concert begins.  The music tends toward the light classical.  You can hear it even if your blanket space is not right in front of the orchestra.  Little boys pretend to be the conductor.  Little girls twirl with bubble wands in their tiny hands.  Lovers hold hands.  Grandmas cuddle their grandbabies.  Stressed out workers kick off their high heels and loosen their ties. Those who know the music close their eyes and sway slightly with the melody.  Wine glasses are lifted and all is well in Madison.

Happy folks at the Concert on the Square

Happy folks at the Concert on the Square


Start Your Saturday in Madison Right

June 10th, 2009 by Pat Fischbeck

When my guests at The Speckled Hen Inn ask me what there is to do on Saturday morning in Madison, my automatic response is, “Go to the Farmers Market!”  The Dane County Farmers’ Market is the largest producer-only farmers’ market in the country.  All the items are produced locally by the vendor behind the table.  The market is back on the Capitol Square for the summer months and thousands of locals as well as and tourists and market lovers from far and near flock to the brightly colored vendor stands to fill their shopping baskets with the freshest fruits and veggies imaginable.  You will also find meats, baked goods, specialty food items like honey and pesto, and, of course, lots of Wisconsin cheese.

Honey and Plants at the Dane County Farmers' Market

Honey and Plants at the Dane County Farmers

If you have ever considered eating seasonally or locally, the farmers market is a great resource.  Vendors will often let you sample their products and are eager to share preparation instructions and sometimes even recipes with their customers.

One of the favorite breakfasts served at The Speckled Hen Inn is the Farmer’s Market Strata.  It contains sourdough bread, cream and mozarella cheeses, fresh eggs, basil pesto, tomatoes, and smoked ham or turkey.  All of the ingredients can be found at the farmer’s market.  Please help yourself to the recipe and share the bounty of Wisconsin with friends at breakfast or brunch some beautiful summer morning.

Farmers' Market Strata served at The Speckled Hen Inn


Madison Wisconsin Bed and Breakfast Welcomes Spring

May 6th, 2009 by Pat Fischbeck


The Speckled Hen Inn B&B was featured as one of Madison’s “Best Kept Secrets” by WISC-TV Channel 3, Madison, WI.  We invite you to view the video for a tour of the Inn and grounds.

The Japanese Garden in Early Spring

The Japanese Garden in Early Spring



Located in Madison, Wisconsin, the Speckled Hen is just 7.5 miles from the Capitol Square and the campus of the University of Wisconsin. The B&B is the perfect place for a romantic retreat, reunions, celebrations, business travelers, or family visiting students at the university.     

The Inn has four spacious guest rooms, each with a private bath. Guests also enjoy the large gathering room with piano and wood-burning stove, a home theater, library and candle-lit dining room.

Llamas, Green Pastures, and Flowering Crabs

Llamas, Green Pastures, and Flowering Crabs

The 50–acre property features pastures with sheep and llamas, wetland and grassland areas, streams, pine and spruce plantations, orchards, walking trails and gardens. Breakfast includes local ingredients, many from the Inn’s property.





Springtime is an especially great time to visit the Inn.  The woods are filled with wildflowers.  The gardens are coming to life.  Veggie and flower plants are being moved from the window sills to their summer garden homes.  These photos capture but a bit of the spring spirit.
Spring Chicks find a Home at The Speckled Hen Inn

Spring Chicks find a Home at The Speckled Hen Inn






The Speckled Hen Inn is a proud member of the Travel Green Wisconsin Certification program and is committed to sustaining not only the ecosystem of which it is a part, but also the economy, the culture, and the sense of place that guests enjoy in south-central Wisconsin.


Wisconsin Winery…Botham Open House This Weekend

May 1st, 2009 by Pat Fischbeck

Botham Winery in Barneveld is celebrating Spring with an open house this weekend that will feature their wines, Wisconsin cheese, and chocolates.  It is going to be a beautiful weekend to get out and explore Wisconsin.   The Winery is only about an hour’s drive from the Speckled Hen Inn and while you are out that way you might want to spend a little time exploring Mount Horeb.

Botham Winery Open House
Botham Winery Open House

Annual Spring Open House — May 2-3, 2009; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. • Artisan Wisconsin cheeses and fine chocolates from around the world compliments of Sjolind’s Chocolate House, Mount Horeb will be paired with our internationally acclaimed wines at the annual spring open house, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. May 2 and 3. Other highlights include the release of the 2008 vintage and free tours that include a bottling demonstration at 11:30 a.m. and 1:30- and 3:30 p.m. each day. Weather permitting, the terrace will be open for picnicking, gathering, relaxing and enjoying the lush colors and spectacular views that only spring in southwest Wisconsin can provide.

Life and Lodging in Sustainable Style…what it means to us

April 29th, 2009 by Pat Fischbeck

That’s a slogan that we use at The Speckled Hen Inn and it means more to us with each passing day.  It seems that the more we learn about green living, eco-travel, sustainability, etc., the more we discover that there is to learn.  Every purchasing, planting, and menu decision is affected by out commitment to approach these decisions in a way that will minimize any negative impact and maximize the positive.


Each year in April we renew our certification in the Travel Green Wisconsin program.  It is the perfect opportunity to take stock of what we have accomplished and look forward to what will come in the year ahead.  Going “green” is a journey.  Let’s take a look at what we have done, are doing, and hope to do soon.

The easiest and obvious things came first.  Compact fluorescent bulbs replace incandescent light bulbs as they burn out.  Motion sensors that turn lights on for a short period of time are used in many areas both inside the Inn and along the outdoor walkways.  As appliances wear out they are replaced with EnergyStar rated appliances.  Refrigerators, freezers, washers and clothes dryers have been some recent examples.  Each guest room has an additional waste can just for items to be recycled.  Information about what can be recycled by our refuse pick-up company is posted for guests to read.  We also recycle batteries, print cartridges, and many other items.  Nothing just automatically goes in the trash bin.  A linen re-use program is in effect and bath liquids are offered in dispensers rather than little plastic bottles.

Water conservation is a major concern at our Inn.  We do have our own well that provides us with beautiful clear, clean water.  We eliminated bottled water from our “amenities offered” list more than a year ago and guests seem to enjoy our natural water supply.  It does, however take electricity to pump that water out of the ground so we are constantly looking for ways to reduce our water usage.  We have installed low-flow shower heads and water conserving toilets. Our laundry is equipped with high efficiency washers and we sweep rather than hosing off the decks, porches and walkways.  New garden beds have drip irrigation systems and are mulched to retain moisture.  Rain barrels to use for watering the decorative landscape planters are in the plans for this season.

Crab apple trees along the pasture fence

Crab apple trees along the pasture fence


The Inn’s 50-acre property is home to may species of birds, deer, wild turkey, and other woodland and wetland creatures.  The spring-fed creeks on the property supply them with an open source of water year-round.  We hope that our guests will enjoy and respect the natural habitat while they are here.  Many guests express their joy at having a place to reconnect with the land.

It has long been an ideal, goal, dream, whatever you want to call it, of ours to live off our land.  Our favorite bookshelf has always contained books outlining the various ways that one might accomplish that.  While being completely self-sufficient is still a distant dream, we have made some major efforts toward that goal.  Our vegetable garden and orchards continue to expand.  It is a joy to prepare and offer our guests breakfast items that feature the bounty of our land.  We have also developed great relationships with other local growers and suppliers whose goods also grace our table and additionally give our guests a destination for their exploration of the area.

I want to close this post by saying a few words about the final word in our slogan – Style.  We strongly feel that embracing sustainability and being environmentally conscious is not tied to “doing without” but rather to finding better, more earth friendly, ways of doing the things that you want to do.  It is about embracing what you can create with whatever is available and sharing it with those you care about.  Our decorating “Style” reflects the roads we have traveled and what we find that offers us comfort.  Our food “Style” reflects our passion for fresh, local, and lovely.  And our hospitality “Style” reflects our willingness to share what we have created with our guests.  We hope that they enjoy as much as we do.