Countdown to Summer

This is a great list provided by the Berkshire Visitors Bureau. Twenty more reasons why the Berkshires is the place to be this summer!

Twenty Ways to Make the Most of Your Berkshires Experience.

Spring in the Berkshires

It’s spring in the Berkshires! The crocuses are up and the tulips are not far behind. We look forward to welcoming you at our luxurious Bed & Breakfast this spring and summer. Call us at 800-243-1824 to book your getaway.

Berkshire Mountain Bakery in Bon Appetit


Housed in a unique old paper mill in Housatonic,  it is a must-visit for every bread lover. Many of our guests who have discovered this treasure [open 7 days weekly], stock up as they depart the Berkshires on their way out of town!  [Two of our favorites are their artisanal potato onion and olive rosemary mini ciabatta……mmmmmm.]
What a delightful surprise to open the January issue of one of my favorite cooking magazines, BON APPETIT, to find a list of AMERICA’S BEST BREAD BAKERIES with one of the top 10 a short drive from the Federal House! The Berkshire Mountain Bakery opened in 1986 by Richard Bourdon and is renowned in the area for their legendary sourdough bread.

I Never Tire of the Rockwell Museum

I simply never tire of the Norman Rockwell Museum in nearby Stockbridge. As members, we receive free admission on any day. I visit at least monthly to savor a current exhibit or to walk the pristine grounds with their amazing views. One of their current exhibits is the work of the award winning children’s book illustrator, Jerry Pinkney. He is truly a master of the American picture book. As an educator for 35 years, I shared numerous titles [from my personal library] of his creative work, with children of all ages. THE PATCHWORK QUILT, has to be one of my favorites because of my love for textiles and the art of quilting. I only have until May 30 to view this exquisite exhibit many more times!

 

Spring Hiking in the Berkshires

Ah, spring in the Berkshires. Seems like it is arriving ever so slowly but our multi colored crocus family have perked up on the back hill and the daffodils are about six inches high so the best is yet to come! One of the best seasons to hike in this area is spring and one of our favorite walks is the Mary Flynn Trail in Stockbridge, approximately 10 minutes from the Federal House. We actually discovered it initially in spring and literally every time we strolled along the river we spotted a new wild flower in blossom [oh my, those red trillium] or noticed a different tree or bush leafing out.  It has now become almost a daily routine in our busy schedule and we are truly more content at the end of the day if we have taken time to “walk the Flynn”.

 

The Federal House blog is back!

Those of you who have enjoyed the Federal House blog may have wondered where it has been the past few months but hooray, we are back!  The revamping of our website is taking hours of time but we feel the end product will be well worth it and we hope you do as well. Thank you for your patience as we continue this process. If this is your first time visiting, we welcome you and hope you return often!

 

I have to be honest, prior to moving to the Berkshires almost a year ago, I had not heard of the incredible summer dance festival, Jacob’s Pillow, in nearby Becket. Fortunately, we were able to make the time during our busy summer to attend three performances at the Pillow and what an incredibly amazing landmark!

 Firstly, it is located deep in the woods in a perfect setting. It is an exciting place where people can learn, socialize and participate in dance. One can spend the day, enjoy free talks and performances, observe classes at The School or take a community dance class.

Their mission statement is powerful “To support dance creation, presentation, education, and preservation; and to engage and deepen public appreciation and support for dance.”  We just received their 2010 brochure with everything from ballet from the Republic of Georgia to Jazz Ballet from Canada to the Dance Theater of Harlem so it proves to be a provocative and energizing season! We will definitely be returning and certainly more than three times this season. [An added perk for being a member of the Pillow is to be able to purchase tickets as early as January 29.]

Free admission at The Clark

After living in four countries overseas, we have visited many phenomenal museums, but the Clark in Willamstown, ranks as one of the best. Opening February 14 is Giovanni Boldini in Impressionist Paris and admission is free through May!!

Upcoming Culinary Weekend

 We are VERY excited about our upcoming Culinary Weekends with Perigee Restaurant, right across the street from the Federal House. They are scheduled for Feb. 19 and 20 and also April 16 and 17. See our website for more information but it surely will be a relaxing weekend escape spent with two experts in the field of cooking, Chefs Dawn LaRochelle and Jim Lambert. You will take home three delicious recipes you can easily prepare in your own kitchen. In just the two months it has been open, Perigee has gotten rave reviews from our guests with their fish and chips “always a winner”! [Their new tapas menu, evenings from 5-6pm and 9-10pm, also receives 5 stars.]

Happy New Year!

SO happy to be back to blogging! The holidays were very eventful and truly memorable. We closed the Inn for 10 days and my family came in from all over the US. The kiddies who live in LA particularly LOVED the snow and being able to sled for the first time ever!

 The Berkshires is truly quite beautiful this time of year and there is still so much going on. This past weekend, we checked out the new cross country trails at Hilltop Farm and Orchards in Richmond…..a gorgeous setting. They also have snowshoe rental and free wine tasting on the weekends. On Sunday, we attended the Winter Classic Sleigh Rally at Orleton Farms sponsored by the Colonial Carriage and Driving Society in Stockbridge. We watched dozens of single and paired horse-drawn sleighs compete in a variety of classes such as negotiating an obstacle course. I have never seen such gorgeous horses. 

New Neighborhood Restaurant!

For months we have waited in anticipation for Perigee to open right across the street from our Inn and two weeks ago Dawn de Laroche, a local successful caterer, proudly opened her tasteful establishment. It has received only positive reviews from all of our guests who dined there this past weekend…….”comfortable ambience, very attentive service, loved the lighting, perfect choice of music and most importantly “ great food!”. We too snuck over twice and personally speaking the potato leek soup was creamy and very tasty, the calamari light and crispy, the balsamic glaze on the rib eye steak unique, and the beer battered haddock in the fish and chips the best I have had in quite some time. We are very anxious to return and since it is literally a two minute walk it will surely be often!

Cozy fireplaces everywhere!

We created a lengthy “to do” list when we purchased the inn 6 months ago. At the top of the list was to make sure all 9 of our guest rooms had either a gas or electric fireplace installed by the time the leaves fell in autumn. We are happy to report we have ticked it off our list! ALL of our rooms now are toasty warm and cozy with a fireplace that is clean, efficient and perfect for guests with allergies. With the flick of a switch, the fireplace turns on instantly. We have received only positive comments from our guests who are content and cozy in their rooms where they can happily control their own heat and enjoy the ambiance at the same time.

Swiss connection

The world continues to be so so small at times. We have had numerous guests from 12 different countries since we bought the inn 5 months ago, but we are always very excited when we have guests from any of the four countries [Peru, Venezuela, the Netherlands and Switzerland] in which we have lived and worked. In the past month to our delight, we have had different sets of Swiss visitors. Just this weekend, we had a lovely young couple, Stephan and Martina, who actually work in Basel, our home for three years. What fun it was to chat with them about our “Swiss life”. Then a few weeks ago, Enrique and Mara, from the Ticino area of the country, stayed with us and after chatting realized we have a mutual Swiss friend in Lugano! The crossed paths of those in our lives certainly is magical.

The greenhouse has arrived!

After a few frustrating moments with confusing directions [!], Brian and our son Justin finally were able to set up my new greenhouse. I laugh that I did not have a playhouse as a child so now I finally do! Currently, I have cool weather crops-arugula, radishes, Swiss chard and leaf lettuces all coming up nicely. Many of my herbs have been transplanted to their “new home” so I hope to continue using fresh chives, parsley and rosemary in breakfast recipes. Also, some of my tender annuals continue to blossom in this cozy warm spot.

My numerous visits to the Berkshire Botanical Gardens this summer helped to educate me on what it takes to be a “four season gardener”!! One of the many helpful employees at the garden recommend I read Eliot Coleman’s FOUR SEASON HARVEST, which has taught me how we can successfully use the sun to raise a wide variety of traditional winter veggies without supplementary heat [in plastic covered greenhouses]………..now we are hoping for that winter sun!!

Beautiful autumn colors

Ahhhh, fall is upon us and the colors across the street from the Federal House on Beartown Mountain are spectacular! So much to do in the area this weekend…….Berkshire Botanical Gardens Harvest Festival, the “County Fair” at Hancock Shaker Village and of course apple picking! We spent a wonderful afternoon last weekend at Windy Hills Farm picking a variety that ended up in a delicious apple cobbler for breakfast the next morning! We so enjoy being able to use local in season produce in our meals….today it was roasted plums with honey, yogurt and chopped pecans which received rave reviews from our house full of guests!

The Prisoner of Second Avenue-BTF

Check out the Wednesday August 5 edition of the NYC Times [page C1] for a glowing review of THE PRISONER OF SECOND AVENUE playing until August 9 at the Berkshire Theater Festival just 5 minutes from our Inn. Brian and I were able to get over to see the show this past Monday and it was truly a delight. Stephen De Rosa, who happened to stop here the other night hoping to book a room for his mum who was coming in from the city to view the show, was outstanding “with his tortured eyes and Groucho-worthy comic inflections”. Veanne Cox, whom I recognized [as soon as she entered the stage] from her Seinfeld appearances, with her brittle comic style was a perfect match for Stephen’s character. The BTF has added another performance on Sunday August 9………not to be missed!

Capitol Steps

It has been a busy week at the Inn with Tony Bennett in town……rave reviews from our guests who saw him at Tanglewood Tuesday night. Tony is truly a legend and one truly cannot see him too many times in concert.

The Capitol Steps are always a delight. We were able to get away to Cranwell Thursday night and once again enjoy the political satire and their odd way of looking at the news. As they declare “When they hear of a scandal, they don’t think about whether it is good or bad for the country. Their two questions are -is it funny and what rhymes with it?”

Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet at the Pillow

Last weekend, we had numerous guests attend the World Premier of Orbo Novo performed by the Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet at Jacob’s Pillow. Their excitement upon their return to the inn was contagious. After listening to their rave reviews, I was able to nab a ticket for the Sunday afternoon [and final] performance [thank you Brian for "holding down the fort" :)] and was so thrilled I could attend. In my fourth row seat, I was spellbound. Choreographed by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, the dance incorporates the words of Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor from her original work MY STROKE OF INSIGHT, where she expresses her experience of having a stroke. The live music composed by Szymon Brzoska, played by the Mosiac String Quartet who are based in NYC and perform extensively for dance, only added to this unusual and powerful piece. It is a “must see”!

I might add we were thrilled to have Margaret Selby, CAMI Spectrum LLC, who did all the booking for the performace, as our guest at the Inn!

Federal House Inn
Route 102, P.O. Box 248, South Lee, Massachusetts 01260
(800) 243-1824
Brian & Kolleen Weinrich – Innkeepers

So much to do in the Berkshires and not enough time!

How wonderful the past two weekends to have a full house and it has been exciting to hear our guests’ reviews of Prarie Home Companion at Tanglewood [Thank you Arlo for your guest appearance!] and Diane Krall’s exceptional 4th of July “dry” concert! After all the rain, everyone was worried of a very wet evening but Mother Nature cooperated.

Our guests continue to be such a delight and a joy to meet. We have had folks from Germany and the UK in the past week as well as numerous towns in New England and San Francisco.

One of our guests’ favorite pastimes is just tooling around the Tanglewood grounds during the afternoon listening to the BSO practice and taking in the gorgeous surroundings…..all free of charge!

Guests this week who have attended the EINSTEIN PROJECT have given it raves reviews [playing at the Berkshire Theater Festival until July 18 which is ideally located 3 minutes from the Inn].

The Georgia O’Keefe exhibit at The Clark in Williamston also has been popular and we hope to view it ourselves before its closing in September.

The Berkshire Bontanical Gardens continues to thrill all who visit. “Great Gardens of the Berkshires” tours are sure to delight. In July one can visit “Under the Hemlocks” on July 10
and “Good Dogs FArm” on July 24.

The sun, the sun where is the sun?! Since we have only lived in the Berkshires for 3 months, we are beginning to wonder but the locals assure us this is VERY unusual and we of course do believe them…….we think! Our garden continues to thrive with the wet weather but many of the annuals are just not willing to produce new blossoms without some warmth. We so enjoy using the 12 different herbs we grow in our morning breakfasts. Basil is the only one which is crying for some sun. We now have had 2 straight day of lovely sunshine………..hooray!

Our new chapter

Brian and I have owned the Inn now for 11 weeks and each Wednesday we “celebrate” another “birthday”. My sister, Aimee, shared a perfect analogy for being a new innkeeper….. it is like giving birth to a first child…..interrupted days, not having time to get a haircut, being on a steep learning curve, waking up in the middle of the night worried we will run out of baked French toast at breakfast, etc. and most importantly, just like the love for a new child, we have fallen in LOVE with innkeeping!
The best part is truly the guests. In our short time we have owned the Federal House Inn, we have had such wonderful people walk thru our door. Amazingly, we have had guests from eight countries in just the two months we have owned the Inn…..China, Germany, Rwanda, France, England, India, Nigeria and Brazil. We so enjoy meeting new people from all walks of life. That is the reason we enjoyed working in international schools overseas for 10 years………..the people, the people, the people. Our inn truly feels like “home” to us.

Welcome to the Federal House Inn’s new BLOG.

We’re located in the heart of the Brekshires and just a stone’s throw away from Stockbridge, Norman Rockwell’s home town, and Lee in Mass!

The Federal House Inn is a wonderful place to relax while enjoying the sophistication of the historical atmosphere. It was built in 1824 by Thomas O. Hurlbut who built this gracious brick beauty with gorgeous wood floors and large windows that invite you to admire the scenery of the surrounding lawns.

Our rooms are well appointed and so charming and the candle light breakfasts are to ‘live’ for.
So, next time you’re visiting the Berkshires, stop by the Ferderal House and say hello, you’ll be glad you did!!!

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