Brewster By The Sea Inn & Spa-Cape Cod Bed and Breakfast
The Three Sister’s Lighthouses on Cape Cod 7 Jan 2015, 1:16 pm
by Donna Cain
We are always recommending to our guests that they visit the Salt Pond Visitor Center in Eastham. It is the formal entrance to the National Seashore and has a wonderful visitor center that is filled with helpful rangers to provide useful information on beaches and tides. The center also includes a wonderful bookstore, and small museum along with films about the natural history of Cape Cod. It seemed like the perfect destination for our adventures today.
There is a wonderful bike/walk path that runs around the salt pond and down to the beach. Since we all needed some exercise it seemed like a good plan to explore.
The path is paved with two ways for bikes to travel. We only encountered 2 people walking so we had the whole trail to ourselves.
Once we made it down to the water I was thrilled to learn a new piece of history about Cape Cod.
The picture shown above is the Nauset Light which is fully operational today. We could see the light beaming even in the daylight.
The beach is just across the street and since it was windy there were many waves on the beach.
Just down the road we happened to spot three small light houses. Had always heard about the 3 Sister Lighthouses but never really knew the history.
Back in the early 1800’s many Eastham residents were concerned about their seafaring loved ones. The United States Congress then granted $10,000 to contract the Nauset Light House. Three 15-foot high masonry towers were built and the lights soon gained the nickname “The Three Sisters” because from sea they looked like women in white dresses with black hats. Since the technology did not allow for a differentiation in the number of flickering lights the coast was dotted with three different area of light houses. The Chatham light had two, the three sisters had three and the Highland light further north had one. Sea Captains could easily decipher there location by the number of lights seen on the coast.
As the Cape Cod shores erode, The National Lighthouse Board
ordered three new moveable wooden towers to be built thirty feet
inland from the original masonry ones.
The new towers stood twenty-two feet tall and the lantern housing added an additional seven feet. Sadly, the old towers were allowed to fall into the Atlantic.
Advances in technology with the continuing erosion of Nauset cliffs, and the cost of maintaining three lights, prompted a major change at the Nauset Light station.In 1911, the center tower was moved away from the cliff edge and attached to the 1875 keeper’s house. The other two towers were set aside until a decision could be reached about their future. The fourth-order Fresnel lens in the remaining tower was now mounted on a ball bearing revolver, making the light flash three times every ten seconds.
The decommissioned two sisters were sold at a public auction to Helen M. Cummings for $3.50! The Cummings family first moved them to a site near the old French Cable station, before making some repairs. In 1920, the towers were moved onto Cable Road, and adjoined with a room. The “Twin Lights Cottage” was subsequently used as a summer cottage and a dance studio, until the towers were sold to the National Park Service in 1965. After many years of service, the center tower fell into disrepair. The Lighthouse Bureau decided to replace it with one of the former Chatham “twin lights” that was no longer in use. This iron and brick tower was moved, repainted and stands today as the latest in a lineage of Nauset Lights. Once decommissioned, the last of the Three Sisters towers was sold to Albert Hall, who turned it into a cottage. The National Park Service purchased the center tower in 1975 with a plan to reunite it with the other two towers. The three are placed in their original orientation on a plot of land on Cable Road. Restoration took place through the 1980s, and the site opened for its first public tour in 1989.
Today one can visit the Sisters and marvel at the remarkable journey that brought them their location on Cable Road in Eastham.
A fun little tidbit of history.
Exhaling on Cape Cod and loving every minute of our journey here.
5 days till Christmas Recipe 20 Dec 2014, 10:45 am
by Donna Cain
The countdown continues until that special day! I have been a busy bee baking and cooking for inn guests staying at Brewster by the Sea Inn and Spa and preparing for our families arrival on Monday when we have 3 big guys that are always hungry and looking for beef:) I have tons of good meals in the freezer including lasagna & pot roast which are sure to please.
One of our traditions is to always have some type of cranberry sauce with our turkey feast on Christmas day. Several years ago my mom found this recipe in a magazine and we have been making it ever since. The pears add a nice texture to the cranberries and the orange juice and zest adds a nice citrus flavor.
Cranberry Pear Relish
4 cups of fresh cranberries ( about 1 pound)
2 cups sugar
1 cup fresh orange juice
1 Tablespoon orange zest
2 slightly underripe pears, cored, peeled and cut into 1/3 inch dice (we like Anjou or Bosc pears)
Combine all ingredients in a heavy saucepan and stir well. Place the pan over medium heat and boil until the berries pop open, about 10 minutes.
Skim the foam off the surface with a metal spoon and let the relish cool to room temperature. Refrigerate, covered until ready to use. (can be stored in frog for up to 2 months)
Our holiday mantle at Brewster by the Sea.
Wishing everyone a blessed, peaceful holiday spent with dear family and friends.
Fondly, Donna, Byron and Harrrison and all of the staff at Brewster by the Sea
Pumpkin Bread for the Holidays 17 Dec 2014, 4:35 pm
by Donna Cain
I am always looking for new recipes and was delighted to see this one in the Washington Post by Deb Lindsey. This recipe lends itself to a Mediterranean diet with health benefits of using olive oil instead of butter. The oil gives the bread a rich depth of flavor while allowing the warm spices to shine through. We served it with cream cheese and fresh raspberries. The recipe makes two loaves so we had enough to serve to our guests this morning and save one loaf for Christmas dinner with our family.
Olive Oil Pumpkin Bread
Makes 2 loaves
2/3 cup of olive oil plus 4 teaspoons to grease 2- 9×5 loaf
2 cups whole wheat pastry
1 cup all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups pumpkin puree
1 cup honey
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
4 large eggs
4 Tablespoons pumpkin seeds
Preheat the oven to 350. Use the 4 teaspoons of olive oil to grease the loaf pans. Whisk together the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl beat together the pumpkin, honey, sugar, 2/3 cups olive oil and the eggs in a separate bowl until well combined. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir just until evenly incorporated. Pour the batter into the pans, smoothing it into the corners until evenly distributed. Sprinkle the top with the pumpkin seeds, pressing them down lightly into the batter. Bake for 45-50 minutes until the top is browned and a wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 15 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
As I was making the batter I was tickled to see the spices were similar to our famous Brewster by the Sea Molasses Cookies- the only difference is the butter.
Wishing everyone a Happy Hanukkah and a Merry Christmas!
Fall Harvest at Brewster by the Sea 28 Oct 2014, 1:51 pm
by Donna Cain
We have been using flowers from our gardens all summer long. We have greeting flowers with truffles when guests arrive and have been amazed that we still can find beautiful fresh flowers from our gardens. This morning I decided to go out to the back gardens before breakfast to see if I could find some last blooms for the breakfast table. I was so surprised to find a huge abundance of blooming flowers in our garden which included hydrangeas, monk’s hood, zinnias and fall mums. What a fall blessing!
We have not had a fall frost on Cape Cod and so continue to use fresh mint, parsley and nasturtiums with our breakfasts.
Everyone is amazed at our hydrangeas that flank our pool. They are older plants that bloom continually all summer. Guest’s staying at Brewster by the Sea ask us what our secret is to have so many beautiful blooms…..I just smile as there is no secret. Our soil is naturally fertile with nutrients that hydrangeas need to bloom. This morning I was amazed to see many small new blooms on our plants.
The roses continue to bloom as well….
A dear guest clued me into “Cleomes”. They are an annual and must be replanted every year but they are well worth the effort as they bloom all summer long. Our cleomes are still going strong.
My mom lived with us for many years and was an avid gardener. She was instrumental in creating our beautiful gardens at Brewster by the Sea. She loved to plant Zinnias in the spring as she always said that they gave color to the perennial garden when most of the flowers had already passed. This year I just had to smile as I planted many zinnias in the spring. They have been blooming all summer long and continue to provide color in our fall gardens.
Feeling very blessed on Cape Cod and loving our fall gardens. Is winter really coming?
Autumn Cape Cod at Brewster by the Sea 11 Sep 2014, 2:01 pm
by Donna Cain
Our Halloween witch has arrived at Brewster by the Sea
I love to decorate the inn by season and usually put out our Halloween pumpkins the first part of October. This year I saw these crazy witches legs in one of my favorite catalogs and just had to order two sets for each of our inns, Brewster by the Sea and the Captain Freeman Inn. Halloween is such a magical holiday and this decoration captures the feeling that we should always remember the importance of seeing life through the eyes of a child. My husband Byron had fun when they arrived, and we decided to put them out early:)
and he found the perfect home for them for all of our guests to see in front of the Orchard House, and I can enjoy them every day looking out our kitchen window.
The air is starting to cool and the days still perfect for swimming and beach walking as the waters in the pool and ocean are still summer warm.
I really think that coming to Cape Cod this time of the year is the best kept secret. The restaurants are not as crowded and the flowers still beautiful…
This has been such an increadable growing season this year. We
had a great harvest of tomatoes that our guests have been enjoying
– some days we serve them fresh with a little olive oil, salt and
and other days we make a delicious tomato tart.
Our parsley has also been thriving in our gardens, and I am forever hooked on using fresh parsley when cooking as opposed to dried.
It’s also fun to see the fall perennials come into full color as can be seen in our beautiful Seedum plants-
All of our guests comment about our hydrangeas that flank our beautiful pool. This year we are having a second blooming period and it has been such a treat to use the young buds in our guest vases in the rooms.
One of Harrison’s favorite places to go is Upper Mill Pond. The Punkhorns flank the pond, and it is a beautiful area to walk in the woods and later to swim in the pond. This morning Byron was able to capture this shot of a sailboat.
The Conservation society just purchased additional land directly across from the inn which proves wonderful walk paths for our guests to enjoy. The wind Mill is a perfect back drop for our guests to enjoy in all seasons. Byron just captures this shot this morning with the beautiful yellow flowers.
And last but not least is a beautiful picture that Byron took this morning in the field directly across from the inns. His talents never cease to amaze me….
Here is to exhaling on Cape Cod and feeling very blessed!
Day Trip #3- Nantucket 26 Aug 2014, 6:16 pm
by Donna Cain
Guests frequently ask us which is the best island to see during their stay- Martha’s Vineyard or Nantucket? While we love both islands we usually recommend Nantucket for guests that are staying 3-4 days on Cape Cod. The island is smaller, a little less commercial and you don’t have to plan your transportation when you reach Nantucket as the ferry drops you off right near the cobblestone village. You can rent a bike or moped and easily traverse the whole island or you may just decide to stay in the village and shop and dine in the many wonderful eateries and stores.
During the summer months there is a smaller ferry close by to the inn, The Freedom Cruise Line which is only a 15 minute drive, has free parking and about an hour ride over the Nantucket (30 miles out to sea).
We love to bring our own bikes, wear our suits under our clothes and pack a picnic lunch. The bike path on the island goes by several beautiful beaches. After a nice ride we go back into town have a nice dinner and hop on the ferry home.
In 1966 Nantucket was declared a national historic landmark as it has more than 800 building constructed before 1850.
Since it was center to a very successful whaling industry in the mid 1800’s the island has a wonderful whaling museum. It’s a must see during your trip to the island. The building was originally a candle factory and appropriately tells the story of candle making and whaling history. The whale skelton shown below can be see in the Gosnell Hall which also has a fully rigged whaling boat to help you envision what it was like in the 1800’s.
Photo by Krystyna-Hannum
Some of our favorite must sees are included below:
photo by James-Nohrnberg
1. First Congregational Church- The church is open for tours May-October. This church is known for it’s 120 foot steeple from which there are 350 degree panoramic views of the island and ocean. The climb to the top is 94 steps and on a clear day worth every step. The church was built with whaling money in 1834.
photo by Aimee-Jones
2. Brant Point Light House- This light house was built in 1746 and is the first one used on the island to guard the northern entrance. Originally is was very primitive using lanterns hung on ropes between two poles. The lighthouse is small in size but large in symbolism as local folklore says that if you throw two pennies overboard as you pass near the lighthouse ensures that you will have a safe return.
3. Fire Hose Cart House- This small 1886 neighborhood fire station is the only one of it’s kind remaining on the island. Many of it’s kind were built after the destructive Great Fire of 1846 which began in a hat factory and destroyed 1/3 of the town.
photo by Cyndi-Ganley
4. Old Mill- This windmill was thought to be made of salvage wood was built in 1746. The Dutch style windmill has canvas sails and a granite stone that still grinds corn in the summer. A reminder of when the island’s principal activity was farming.
5. Great Light House- This lighthouse is a 70-foot stone
structure which guarded the northeast tip of Nantucket for 166
years, until a ferocious storm destroyed the structure in 1984.
This new one was built to withstand 20 foot waves and 240 mile
6. Nantucket Shipwreck & Lifesaving Museum- This building replicates the original 1874 Surfside Lifesaving Service station that survives today as the Nantucket Hostel. Instead of being at the water’s edge, it’s now perfectly situated on the side of a marsh. The museum is dedicated to humanity efforts against the treacherous seas which lead to over 700 shipwrecks surrounding the island .
7. Surfside Bike Path- This is a flat 2.5 bike path to the beach.
8. Polpis Road Path- This is a 16.5 mile ride and is especially beautiful in the spring when the daffodils are in bloom.
9. Sconset- This is a charming village on the eastern shore of Nantucket. The village is renowned for it’s rose covered houses, all close together.
10. Lightship Basket Mueseum-
These lovely baskets were created on ships when crew members had extra time while on long sea voyages. They were made to withstand the test of time. This little museum has recreated a workshop with simple tools that help guests see how these baskets were originally made.
photo by Leslie-Busino
11. Nantucket Noel- This old fashion festival begins the day after Thanksgiving with a tree lighting ceremony. After the lighting enjoy special concerts and holiday cheer.
12. Christmas Stroll- This tradition began in 1973 and taking place on the first Saturday of December. The stroll includes vintage costume carolers, and a festive decorated downtown.
Nantucket use to be called “that far away island” by native Indians. Nowadays we like to think of Nantucket as a close by neighbor that is a wonderful day trip for our guests staying at Brewster by the Sea on Cape Cod.
Pecan Tassies at Brewster by the Sea 23 Aug 2014, 2:05 pm
by Donna Cain
Pecan Tassies served for tea at our beautiful bed and breakfast, Brewster by the Sea!
We have many family recipes, and I always love telling the story where they originated from. These Tassies are extra special and my mom (AKA Nanna) always use to make them for the holidays. It was a special treat and my father would always say that they reminded him of a perfect one bite pecan pie. When we purchased Brewster by the Sea 12 years ago my mom moved in with us and started making our afternoon teas. I was tickled when she started making these Tassies regularly as I always thought they were special. I remembered watching her make them and thinking- boy they are really hard to make…..I could never make them as perfect as she.
Well sadly my mom is no longer with us, and I have taken over the responsibility of cookie making. I must say that my little pecan tassies come out well every time and I love watching guest’s expression when they enjoy them with their afternoon tea.
I thought it appropriate to share this recipe with our readers in honor of my dear mom, Nanna!
6 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups flour, all purpose
Mix together the cream cheese, butter and flour. Mix well and chill in the frig for several hours.
2 large eggs, beaten
2 cups brown sugar
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups pecans, chopped
Mix together everything but the pecans. Mix well and add the chopped pecans.
Preheat the oven to 350
Roll the chilled dough into small balls and press into tea cake tins with the top of the pastry coming just over the tins edge. Fill the tastes 1/2 full with the filling. Bake for 30 minutes.
Recipe makes about 16 tastes. We usually double the recipe and freeze half.
Exhaling on Cape Cod and feeling blessed to live in such a beautiful area.
8 things to do in Brewster, Cape Cod 5 Aug 2014, 4:58 pm
by Donna Cain, Innkeeper and owner
One of the things I love about being an innkeeper is sharing with guests our favorite spots on Cape Cod. This is such a magical area, and we have been living here for over 11 years now and continue to find many new treasured spots. Listed below are some of our favorites close by to Brewster by the Sea Inn and Spa in our lovely little village of Brewster.
#1-Nickerson State Park- We love to take long walks in the park which also includes a paved bike path. There are several kettle ponds inside the park that are stocked with trout and make for a perfect afternoon swim. Our dog Harrison loves to go to this park and we always finish our walk with a stick throwing game in the lake.
2. Cape Rep Theatre- This country theatre is on the grounds of the former Camp Monomoy in Nickerson State Park. This talented company presents performances in a 200 seat open air theatre and a 129 seat indoor theatre.
3. Brewster Tidal Flats- Brewster is know for our tidal flats where you can walk 2 miles out onto the bay. Travel writer Kim Grant added a nice tidbit of history about the flats- ” During Prohibition, townspeople walking on the flats would often stumble onto cases of liquor thrown overboard by rumrunners.” We love to walk the flats to see all the sand patterns, oyster farms and sea life.
4. Stony Brook Grist Mill and Museum and Herring Run-
Sally Gunning wrote a wonderful historical novel called Widow’s War and it was fascinating to read about the Grist Mill and how it served as the center of commerce in Brewster in the early 1800’s. Today the lovely mill has been restored and is open to the public in July & August. It’s also a special summer treat to purchase some of the fresh ground corm meal at the mill. We love the use the fresh corn meal in our corn muffins that we serve with local honey.
The mill side pond is one of the most picturesque and peaceful settings in town and during the spring everyone comes to see the migration of the herring from the bay to the Upper Mill Pond.
5. The Brewster General Store-
No trip to Cape Cod is complete without a visit to our local old fashion General Store. The Brewster General Store has been a purveyor of groceries and general merchandise since 1866! Quite a record. The store is filled with wonderful gift items, toys, candy, great coffee and a wide selection of newspapers. We are also tickled to see the local that gather each morning to chat over coffee on the front porch.
6. The Cape Cod Museum of Natural History Founded by naturalist John Hay in 1954, this museum is a wonderful resource for both the young and old. We love to walk the Wing nature trail down to the beach. I have walked that trail hundreds of times and still get goose bumps when we leave the wooded area on the island and see the beautiful views of Cape Cod bay.
It’s a joy to watch the Osprey who nest in the marsh visible from the boardwalk that takes you over to Wing Island.
7. Crosby Mansion This lovely building was once the home to Albert and Matilda Crosby. The land sits very close to Crosby Beach which has a wonderful public beach for all to enjoy. We have had several weddings at this beach as it has a wonderful vista of the bay.
Massachusetts acquired the land and mansion in 1985. Since the property was in disrepair a wonderful group of local citizens formed the “Friends of Crosby Mansion. They have done many repairs and renovations and now open the mansion several weekends for the public to see all that they have done along with seeing this unique property.
8. Punkhorn Parklands- We frequently take Harrison for walks in this beautiful wooded area that includes trails and lakes. The park includes 880 acres which overlooks beautiful kettle ponds. There is a town landing where we love to take our kayaks.
We just love our little town of Brewster and feel like this is our little tiny slice of Heaven.
Day Trip #2- Martha’s Vineyard 12 Jul 2014, 2:49 pm
by Donna Cain, Innkeeper and owner
Martha’s Vineyard makes for a great day trip from our inn, Brewster by the Sea Inn and Spa. We like to recommend that you have an early breakfast at the inn and catch an early ferry out of Woods Hole. You can take your car on the ferry but most of our guests either ride the public transportation, take their bikes or rent mopeds to traverse the island.
Since I am such a history buff I have to include some of the island’s interesting history.
Bartholomew Gosnold was the first European known to have visited Martha’s Vineyard in 1602. Gosnold named the island after the bountiful grapes he found on the island and possibly Martha was his daughter. The island was formally colonized in 1640, when English settlers bound for Virginia ran short of supplies. They docked in Edgartown and found the resident Wampanoag friendly and decided to stay.
In the early 1800’s the whaling industry took off. The Vineyard enjoyed a whaling heyday from the 1820’s to the Civil War, with hundreds of sailing vessels sailing in and out of Edgartown. Whaling captains took their enormous profits from whale oil and built large Federal and Greek Revival homes all over the island.
After the Civil war, with whaling industry in decline, tourism became the Vineyard’s principal source of income. My 1878 the Methodist Campground of Oak Bluffs had become a popular summer resort, with 12,000 people attending annual meetings.
At the center of the campground is the Tabernacle, which is still used today for concerts of local artists such as Livingston Taylor.
The area started out in 1835 with a group of Methodists who camped in tents for a retreat. Eventually the gingerbread cottages replaced the tents.
Over the next 30 years, other travelers discovered the island and returned summer after summer to enjoy fishing, warm waters, boating and a genteel lifestyle. Each of the different towns has an ambiance all of it’s own.
Upscale Edgartown is full of grand white Greek Revival ship captain’s homes, with fanlights and widow walks. The quaint town is filled with unique shops, galleries and restaurants.
Vineyard Haven has year round residents and is the commercial center of the island. The harbor is home to many wooden boats and has it’s own boatbuilder that still rebuilds wooden boats, Gannon and Benjamin Boatbuilders.
Oaks Bluff is both charming and honkey-tonk, in the words of travel writer Kim Grant. In 1835, Wesleyan Grove was the site of the Methodist congregation’s annual summer-camp meetings. The camper’s small tents became family tents, then primitive, wooden tent like cottages, and finally brightly painted cottages ornamented with fancy trim. The whimsical, precious, and offbeat cottages have become a must see during your trip to Martha’s Vineyard.
West Tisbury is often called the Athens of the Vineyard because of it’s fine New England Congregation Church, Town Hall and Grange Hall.
Music Street, where descendants of the 19th century ship captains still live in large houses, was so named because many families used whaling profits to purchase pianos.
This is just a little summary of what to see and do on your trip to Martha’s VineYard. The island has beautiful beaches-
serene country sides-
World class fishing-
and last but not least one should always have ice-cream when on vacation, Mad Martha’s has wonderful homemade ice-cream.
Information in this post from Kim Grant’s Explorer’s Guide and pictures from capecodphotoalbum.com.
5 Favorite Ice Cream Parlors 3 Jul 2014, 3:27 pm
by Donna Cain, Innkeeper and owner
I have always loved IceCream. I have distant memories of my side job in college working at an old fashion Ice Cream parlor in Newton. I think it was called Brighams Ice Cream and they made all sorts of fun sundaes and floats. I became an ice cream expert! (I just did a google search and was sad to learn that that last Brighams Ice Cream closed last year after being in business for 99 years.)
As I get older I just can’t eat as much ice cream as I’d like but hey….life is too short to totally deprive oneself from simple life pleasures of eating an old fashion ice cream cone or sundae. So this post is dedicated to all of our favorite spots on Cape Cod.
1. Smugglers in Dennis is within walking distance of the Cape Museum of Art and Cape Cod Theater and makes for a wonderful nighttime snack after enjoying a play or movie. They have wonderful frozen yogurt and ice-cream with flavors such as Chocolate Almond and Coffee Oreo, Apple Pie and French Raspberry Truffle. I like their old fashion coffee which is so rich and flavorful.
2. Cape Cod Creamery in South Yarmouth has the most creamy and flavorful ice-cream with creative flavors such as Barnstable Banana Foster, Nauset Peach and Chappaquiddick Chocolate Chip is delectably filled with chunky chocolate chips. Just the way we like it. And if you can’t decide on a flavor, why not try a sampler of six flavors? If you’d like to make a meal out of ice cream, this is the place to do it.
3. Chocolate Sparrow in Orleans. The Sparrow has wonderful coffee, sandwiches and ice-cream. I love their chocolate sundaes or their special chocolate lattes
4. JT’s in Brewster- when you are in the mood for a perfect plate of fried clams finished off with a perfect ice cream cone this is the perfect place for you. Well run with true Clam Shack staples.
5. Sundae School Ice Cream in
Dennis Port is a Cape Cod landmark. I remember talking to a guest
that purchased a home just because the Sundae School was just down
the street…..now that’s a true ice-cream lover. A Cape Cod landmark
to many followers, with 30 flavors to choose from including
the classic Oreo Crunch, Black Raspberry, or the perfect “breakfast” ice cream—Grapenut (vanilla ice cream with Grapenut cereal). They also have great frappes, floats, and your choice of mini or giant banana split.
Hard to choose a favorite as each is unique and wonderful in their own ways. We love hearing stories from our guests staying at Brewster by the Sea of their ice cream experiences. Exhaling on Cape Cod at our Cape Cod Bed and Breakfast.