A Country Inn “in” Day

On this Country Inn “in” Day or on any day I’m confined to stay in due to the corona virus, I simply remember my favorite things and then I don’t feel so bad. Actually I do more than remember them. I enjoy them. Take, for instance, the Art of Letter writing.

And I don’t just write letters, I enjoy creating the stationery too. Some stationery I try to make pretty, as in my wildflower correspondence cards, but with other stationery I just have fun.

The Art of Letter writing is great fun any time, anywhere, and a wonderful way to stay in touch with friends near and very far away without ever having to leave my inn or your very own home.

Another favorite thing I enjoy on Country Inn “in” Days is reading. I need lots of these “in” days if I’m ever going to read all the books I’ve collected. I love visiting with my “dead friends” as I read their biographies. Just this week I had visits with Aristotle, Noel Coward, Tasha Tudor, and Henry James. I learn so much from these people and am greatly inspired and entertained. What will I read today? I’ll just have to see what jumps out at me as I scan my bookshelves.

Staying “in” is a great time to watch a movie, put feet up, make a drink and do needlework. This is a picture of my late pooch, Alexander. I miss him so, but I’m making this needlepoint picture of him which I’ll frame in a beautiful manner and hang in a place of honor. Do you enjoy any form of needlework? It’s very relaxing and therapeutic. The owner of my favorite yarn shop tells me many of her customers are doctors and people with stressfull jobs. They buy yarn and knit because it takes them away from all their cares as they knit one, purl two over and over and over again. I too enjoy knitting, et toi?

A fun thing to do most any “in” day is to care for indoor plants. Do you have many? I keep my geraniums from year to year in my sunroom where the western exposure keeps them blooming all Winter. Soon many will go back outside into the flower boxes. Watering, fertilizing, caring for house plants is an enjoyable activity because caring for any living thing feels good.

Speaking of living things, maybe you are lucky enough to have pets to care for and play with on “in” days and any day. As I said before, I so miss my Alexander, but I have this stuffed version of him to enjoy. My meanie husband says, “No more dogs!” Hmph! We’ll see about that, but if you are fortunate to have a fuzzy creature you live with, give him or her a hug for me. Pets can keep us so very entertained.

Since I absolutely love music, especially classical music, and piano, an “in” day is a great day to dig out the Debussy, Chopin, and Beethoven and play away. When I’m not making music I’m listening to it. Music helps me keep calm and carry on. As I write this post to you I am listening to WQXR, the classical music radio station out of New York City. I’m hearing Edvard Grieg’s “Holberg Suite, Op,40. Nice!

I hope you have a good imagination. I sure do and that’s why I can stay home, in my 1853 Jeremiah Brown House, but imagine I’m writing you from a Country Inn. Another fun thing that requires only a little imagination is to go off to favorite places with the help of books or creative visualization. What’s creative visualization? It’s simply lying back, closing eyes, and remembering the favorite places that have brought you joy. . . going their in spirit.

For me it’s always France, especially Paris, or The Boston Public Garden. But I also like to go off to Bryant Park in New York City or imagine myself sitting on a park bench across from Lake Skaneattles in the New York Fingerlakes. I bet you have a few places you could go to right now if you closed your eyes and simply remembered being there.

At this time of year it’s great fun to stroll through the yard to see what’s popping up. My daffoldis are appearing, the forsthyia is blooming and I’m watching for the giant purple allium I planted last Autumn. I could actually do a little garden work today. I love to be outside to enjoy the scent of the boxwood and the cheery singing of the birdies. Yes, nature is there for all of us to enjoy. It’s free and it’s beautiful.

I might do a little art work on this “in” day. A while back I needed something to fill a blank wall in my sunroom. I couldn’t find anything that was the right color or size so I made these three paintings myself. They’re not great art, but they do the job, and it was fun. Besides, my “dead friend” Henry James said, “It is art that makes life, makes interest . . . and I know of no substitute whatever for the force and beauty of its process.”

Of course I always enjoy a nice afternoon tea on Inn days and on every day. I freeze the extra goodies from the monthly teas I host so there’s always a little something to enjoy with tea. Ah, afternoon tea.! I love it, and so did Sir Pelham Grenville Wodehouse, the English author and one of the most widely read humorists of the 20th century. He said, “The cup of tea on arrival at a country house is a thing which . . .I particularly enjoy.” and so do I!

So as you can see, a Country Inn “in” Day or any day spent at home, or many days spent at home because of the corona virus, can be a very fine time to enjoy favorite things. There are so very many of them. I only scratched the surface. As Robert Louis Stevenson said, “The world is so full of a number of things I think we should all be as happy as kings.”

You happy? I hope so. I’m happy because I have really enjoyed writing this post to you. Writing, any kind of writing, is just another of the many wonderful, fun things there are to do in life. So take Oscar Hammerstein II’s advice and don’t just remember your favorite things. Do them! Enjoy them! And now I’m off to enjoy more of mine, starting with a little French study so . . .

Au revoir

Tea with Carol Ann

I may be 100% Polish and I may have a very Irish last name (McCarthy), and I may be one who loves everything about the French culture, but what do I love most every afternoon and what do I enjoy sharing with new and old friends every month? It’s the very English ritual of Afternoon Tea. This tea ritual is a social as well as a culinary affair, an affair I absolutely love.

I love to look through my china collection and select dishes appropriate for the room where I’m serving tea that day. Why have pretty things if we don’t use those things regularly, enjoy them regularly and share them with others?.

I was so fortunate to inherit my Mother’s English china. I always loved it, so this is the china I use most often in my formal dining room.

When shopping for a dining room rug I selected one that would compliment my Mother’s china.

There is so much art in life – putting ourselves together, putting our house together – and putting an afternoon tea together too. I find the trappings of tea irresistable. Sitting down and taking tea with all the delicious trimmings is just so civilized and refreshing.

Trappings like gorgeous fresh flowers
Trappings like romantic candlelight
Trappings like antique crystal

You really don’t need food in order to enjoy afternoon tea, but it helps. Of course you don’t have to make the food yourself. You can pick up a few tasty things at the bakery or market, but if you do like to do a little playing in the kitchen, afternoon tea is a perfect opportunity for that play.

Strawberry-Chicken Salad Tea Sandwiches are one of my favorite savory tea treats. If you’d like to try them yourself here’s the recipe.

12 slices firm white bread, 2 and a half cups chopped cooked chicken, 1 cup chopped strawberries, 1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans, 1/2 cup chopped celery, 1/4 cup chopped green onion, 1 (11-ounce) can mandarin oranges, drained and chopped, Poppy Seed Dressing, Garnish: sliced strawberries.

Cut bread into 2 and a quarter inch squares, mix ingredients together and create sandwiches. They can be made earlier in the day, covered with a damp cloth and stored in the fridge till serving time. Not much work, but oh so good.

I enjoy making many kinds of scones but for this tea it’s Cranberry scones. They’re easy to make and very yummy. Here’s the recipe should you want to make some for yourself.

2 cups all purpose flour, 1 Tsp. baking powder, 1/4 tsp, salt, 1/4 cup vegetable oil, 1 cup whipping cream, 1/2 to 3/4 cup dried cranberries.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees, In medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt,oil and whipping cream. Stir in dried cranberries. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough 1/2 inch thick. Cut into desired shape. Bake on parchment-lined baking sheet for 10 to 12 minutes. Serve with whipped or Devonshire Cream.

Light Sponge Cake

The recipe for this sponge cake comes from Chirk Castle in Wales where afternoon tea was a very elegant but small meal consisting of sandwiches the size of postage stamps. Dessert however was another matter, very generous and sweet. If you’d like to make this sponge cake yourself the recipe is below.

Scant 1 cup granulated or super fine sugar, 2 large or 3 medium eggs, 1 cup self-rising flour, sifted, a pinch of salt, 1 tsp. baking powder, 1/2 cup milk, 1/2 stick butter, 2 to 3 drops of vanilla essence.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and line an 8 inch round pan. Beat together the sugar and eggs until thick and creamy. Add the flour, salt and baking powder and mix well. Put the milk in a small pan and heat gently. Melt the butter in the milk and bring to a boil. When boiling, add to the flout mixture with the vanilla essence and beat well to give a runny consistency. Turn into the prepared pan and bang the pan sharply on the table to remove all bubbles. Bake for 20 -25 minutes until a skewer comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool in pan for 15 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Tea is one of those simple luxuries – like a good bar of chocolate or a favorite magazine. It truly enhances life with a minimum of fuss. It’s a lovely way to visit with friends in the comfort of home. With any luck your friends will reciprocate and invite you back to their house but even if they don’t you’ll have a wonderful time yourself and feel good that you did something special for others.

You don’t need to be English nobility to create and enjoy an afternoon tea fit for a queen or prince or princess or for yourself or for one of your friends. An afternoon tea is a lovely way to add a little elegance and art to life. It’s also a lovely way to show your friends you care about them enough to pamper them a little with this old world refreshment. I hope you’ll try my recipes and plan a tea party of your own. Treat yourself and your friends.

“The only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.”

Albert Schweitzer

The Art of Hand Writing

Carol Ann’s handwriting

I love to write by hand. Do you? Handwriting is personal. It’s expressive. I wrote my 244 page book, “The Art of Letter writing” by hand. You see, since I love handwritten letters I wanted my book on letterwriting to be hand written too. Publishers did not agree. They insisted it appear in type, so, I printed my book myself, my way. It was a labor of love.

Every day I enjoy handwriting at least two letters. I write to my sons, to in-person friends, and to my many pen friends who live all over the world. As a result of all this writing I receive many letters from many people. My mailbox is happy and so am I, but I’m most happy when the letters I receive are handwritten. That’s because handwriting is an art, and I love art! I also love to get to know people from all sorts of different places and I love to see the script that each of these persons has invented. Yes, invented, for though most of us may have been taught the same method of handwriting we each will put our own personality into our writing and each script will evolve differently.

The other day I was looking through a book called “Handwriting of the famous and Infamous” by Sheila Lowe and it got me thinking about the handwriting of some of my pen friends and how their handwriting resembled the writing of famous and important people. No two handwritings are ever exactly the same, but many have similar characteristics.

Take the handwriting of Princes Diana.

Princess Diana’s handwriting

Diana’s handwriting is large and rounded with an openness that suggests to graphologists she is someone who was always ready for something new and exciting. This is also true of my pen friend Bonnie and her handwriting. Bonnie lives in Lancaster, New York. Her script is large and rounded too. Look at Bonnie’s handwriting.

Handwriting experts say large and open writing suggests the writer is motivated by a need to serve those she loves. This was true of Diana and it’s true of my friend Bonnie.

Now a very different writing style is that of Hillary Clinton. Take a look.

Hillary Clinton’s handwriting

Hillary’s handwriting has an airy appearance too, which is often seen in highly progressive people, but it’s not as open. People with this airy characteristic in their handwriting are driven to make improvements in their environment and in the world. My in-person and pen friend Barb, from Hudson, Ohio, has handwriting similar to Hillary’s – at least I think so. What do you think?

Barbara’s handwriting

Edgar Allan Poe, Poet (1809-1849) was born in Boston. I love Boston. I used to live there, but that’s neither here nor there. Getting back to Poe, it’s sad that he was orphaned at the age of two. He was sent to live with the Allens, thus the Allen in his name, but these people never adopted him. One wonders what kind of relationship he had with this new family and if that relationship influenced the type of fiction writing he would pursue. Take a look at Poe’s handwriting.

Edgar Allen Poe’s handwriting

Experts say one of the signs of a strong intellect is the sharply pointed letters in the middle zone and a well-developed upper zone. This handwriting belongs to a person who would not simply accept what he was told, but had to examine the facts for himself. This also sounds a lot like my pen friend Rebecca who lives in McKee, Kentucky. Take a look at Rebecca’s handwriting.

Rebecca’s handwriting

Now we come to one of my favorite composer/performers. It’s Paul McCartney. I love, love, love his music. Take a look at a page from his notebook showing an early draft of the lyrics to “hey Jude”.

Paul McCartney’s handwriting

In his writing McCartney strips away most nonessential loops and strokes, leaving only the basics necessary for legibility. This is a sign of a swift fluent thinker. I think my pen friend Natalie must be a swift fluent thinker too. She taught English at The Ohio State University and her handwriting makes me think of Paul’s. Below is a sample of Natalie’s script.

Natalie’s handwriting

It’s so fun to look at everyone’s very different handwriting. Don’t you think so too? Well, another very popular musician was Elvis Presley. Like Paul, Elvis had millions of fans and like Paul he changed the face of popular music in his day. Unfortunately, to me Elvis’ handwriting is not as handsome as Elvis. Here it is.

Elvis Presley’s handwriting

Presley was motivated by the need for constant action, as seen in the uncontrolled writing movement and poor rhythm, even if this action did not actually lead anywhere. He thrived on excitement and adventure. I wonder if my pen friend Markell who lives in Laurel, Maryland seeks excitement and adventure too. Her thoughts are clever but her writing has that uncontrolled look reminding me of Presley. What do you think?

Markell’s handwriting

A very different style of hand writing belongs to William Faulkner. Though he was a high school drop out he went on to become one of America’s best-known authors. Faulkner’s writing is unusually small. Minuscule writing suggests extreme need for privacy.

William Faulkner’s hand writing

Faulkner’s small, upright printing reveals someone who made decisions based more on his head than his heart. His thinking style was logical and he communicated his thoughts directly, with no frills. My pen friend Evelyna from North Olmtsed, Ohio is logical too and she communicates with authority. When I get her letters I need to find my magnifying glass for even with eyeglasses I find her tiny print difficult to read.

A close up of Evelyna’s hand writing

Now let me show you Thomas Edison’s handwriting.

Thomas Edison’s handwriting

I like Edison’s writing. It combines strength and flexibility. His neat, well-organized writing reflects an organized mind. The spaces between words, letters, and lines are clear, which is sign of an ability to see the big picture but also to keep all the constituent parts in their proper perspective. I see this neat organization in the writing of my pen friend Wendy too. Wendy lives in Battle Creek, Michigan. Observe Wendy’s handwriting,

Wendy’s handwriting

So many people. So many styles of handwriting, I could go on and on with hundreds of examples. Handwriting is truly a beautiful art form that connects us to one another. Your handwriting is an irreplaceable extension of yourself and that’s why handwriting is so important even in our modern age of technology.

So I hope you slow down, pick up a pencil or pen and write. It’s function and enjoyment rolled into one action. If you have a craving for beauty and creative expression; if you would love to be an artist but you can’t paint, sing or write music, well, have I the art for you. It’s . . .

The Art of Handwriting

Country Inn Spa Day

A Country Inn Day is a day to escape from regular routines. It’s a day to focus on favorite things, to do those pleasant activities you never have time to do. It’s a day to rest if you’re tired, a day for adventure if you’re bored. It’s a day to use all those pretty things you save for special days. Well, a Country Inn Day is always a special day and it could be a good day for some pampering.

On this Country Inn Spa Day I chose to pamper myself. I hope you pamper yourself sometimes too. A little tender care never hurts. I decided to sleep in, even if it was just an extra hour of sleep, and I decided to have breakfast in bed. Doesn’t that sound decadent? Years ago I purchased a very pretty breakfast tray but I haven’t been using it nearly enough. It never seemed to be the right time. Well, I now decided any Country Inn Day is the right time for breakfast in bed, especially a Country Inn Spa Day.

Yummy French Toast

I like all things French so naturally this Breakfast in bed needed French toast. I dusted off my Laura Ashley English china (I like a lot of English things too) and got all comfy with coffee, magazines, and my breakfast. I had heard the American author Edith Wharton spent every morning in bed till noon. She’d handwrite pages of her books, drop the pages on the floor for her servants to collect and type, but I wonder if she had a nice breakfast tray and french toast to enjoy while she was writing. I hope so.

After a leisurely breakfast I decided a nice fragrant bath with Chanel No. 5 bath bubbles would be just the thing. Of course I enjoy baths all the time, they’re not an unusual treat, but they’re a Country Inn Day treat just the same, and perfect for a Spa day.

CarolAnn’s bathroom

I feel very fortunate to live in a historic house, my Jeremiah Brown house built in 1853. I’m sure Jeremiah didn’t have a bathroom quite like mine, but with a lot of effort I created a bathroom fit for any Country Inn. I put Laura Ashley wallpaper on the wall, (I told you I like English things as well as French things), found an antique chandelier, bought a snazzy big tub and now any bathtime is a special time, but on a Country Inn Day when there’s no rush, only favorite things to look forward to, well, bathtime is even better.

the bath is filling up

I begin to fill the tub with Chanel No. 5 bath potion and the scent comes forth. I wish you could get a whiff. Hmmmmmmm. Some people like to have a yellow rubber duckie. Not me. I need a pink one.

Some people need therapists to cope with life. Not me. I just usually need a nice bubble bath.

It’s not just the bubbles though. I think I was born too late because I just love antiques all around me. I love crystal chandeliers and antique linen on the windows.

And I do like whimsy too. Only a three year old could fit into this ballet dress, but it sure looks cute in my bathroom. It puts a smile on my face.

It was such fun creating this bathroom. We used my mother-in-laws chest of drawers to create a sink cabinet. We found a little shell sink. I bought lots of laura Ashley china to hold soap, powder and jewelry and the pictures on the wall had hung in my parents bedroom for years. These old things make me happy. Even the little plaster house was made by one of my little boys in art class.

To take time for yourself, to sit at a dressing table and reflect as you put yourself together. This is a girlie thing. It needn’t take much time, but it’s a time to enjoy being a girl.

And I truly enjoy being a girl.

Years go by and our youth fades. Just as antique furniture needs a little extra loving care so too do human beings. My Country Inn Spa Days give me extra time to rejuvenate. Lots more is involved in a Spa Day. There is exercise, manicures, facials, special treaments and then lots of other favorite things. Doing things you love are one of the best rejuvenators. There’s no Fountain of Youth despite what Ponce de Leon was saying way back when, though I did buy a bottle of potion when I was in Florida some years back. But we do need to take care of ourselves and that sometimes means a little pampering.

Why do I tell you all this?

It’s because…

Tea and Hospitality

Tea – a hot drink that is made by steeping the dried leaves of tea plants in boiling water.

Hospitality – the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests.

Put these two together and what do you get?

The Afternoon Tea Party

Even though I love coffee and drink coffee all through the day when the afternoon rolls around it’s time for tea. There’s something about the tea ceremony that is just too civilized and gracious not to be enjoyed daily, but to host an afternoon tea is especially wonderful because it’s a way to visit with old friends, encourage friendship with the new people you meet while also enjoying your own afternoon tea.

To host an afternoon tea all you really need is the tea and a friend, but of course you can add as much to the occasion as you like. Because I enjoy working with food I usually serve three things at my teas – a sandwich of some kind, scones, and a dessert,

The sandwiches at my last tea were cucumber

Cucumber, butter, salt and pepper on white bread

The scones served were one of my favorites – Cream scones with orange butter.

The Cream Scone recipe – 2 c, flour, 1/3c. sugar, 1 Tbsp. baking powder, 1 tsp. salt, 1/2c. currants, 1 c. heavy cream. Process: Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Stir together the first 5 ingredients. Gradually stir in the cream. Gather the dough together and knead lightly on floured board. Pat to 1/2 inch thick. Cut with 2 inch cutter dipped in flour. Arrange on ungreased baking sheet. Bake 10 to 12 minutes. You can glaze the scones with a creamy mixture of 1/2 c. powdered sugar, 1 tsp. orange zest and about 1 Tpsp. of frsh o.j.

Orange butter is easy to make. Beat together 1 stick of unsalted butter (softened), 2 Tbsp. frozen o.j. concentrate, with the zest of 1/2 orange, 1/4 plus 1 Tbsp. powdered sugar. Smooth into ramekin and smooth top.

Yum

For dessert at this tea I whipped up a plate of creme puffs. I like to fill them with coconut creme pudding mixed with whipped cream.

Of course you could invite friends over and simply serve a cup of tea with a smile and friendly conversation. Sometimes I do just that. Food is not always necessary. It’s opening your home to friendship that’s most important and it’s good to know that serving tea is healthful as well as good-tasting. It’s a gormet bargain. Most teas cost only four or five cents a cup, and even the very rarest varieties are only about fifty cents – so go ahead and buy the best.

You can serve your tea at the sofa, on a little tray between two easy chairs, or at a table – anything goes. Whatever works in your home is the perfect thing for you. I like to serve in different rooms each month, use different china, different linen, different everything for each of my teas. I try to fully utilize my spaces and enjoy using all the things I’ve collected over time.

My Autumn tea was larger than usual. I invited five guests, all neighbors. I usually keep my tea parties small – one, two or three guests, but occasionally I’ll host up to five guests and I’m the sixth. Larger teas need larger tables.

A centerpiece is often flowers or something from nature. For this tea I chose Autumn leaves.

I used a favorite set of china from France. How I love French things. The napkins were old and delicate to co-ordinate with the cutwork placemats. It’s all art, putting a table together.

Each place setting welcomes my guests.

My guests arrived one by one and until they all were here we sat in the library and chatted.

Once the last guest arrived the tea party began. We went to the table and the rest was history. Afternoon tea is a pleasantly nostalgic and remarkably enduring custom. An hour whiled away with tea treats, music, conversation, and late afternoon light is a wonderful way to slow the pace of our busy world and recapture the sense of well-being that we need to carry on with the rest of our days.

Afternoon tea is also a great way to enrich our old friendships and cultivate new ones.

Take a break each day for your own afternoon tea and partake in the age old Art of Hospitality inviting others into your home now and then too.

It’s wonderful fun. Take it from me . . .

Letter writing in Coffee Shops

I love coffee and I love writing letters so it seems natural to me that the two should go together. Lord Byron once said, “Only in letter writing do we have solitude and society simultaneously” but Byron was wrong. I can enjoy solitude and society while writing letters in a coffee shop.

There I am sitting at my very own table. Even if there are empty chairs at my table no one ever intrudes. I am alone. That’s solitude. No bodies are sitting with me or talking to me, but I’m not completely alone. I have my letter friend and their letter which I am answering. That’s society. I also can enjoy people watching. It’s fun for me to see what people are wearing and who they’re talking to and what they’re doing at their own tables.

I write letters every day at home, but it’s nice to get out every now and then. I may not want to go to lunch or shopping or visiting friends, but I just might like to get out of the house, changing the scenery. For the price of a cup of coffee I can have a grand old time writing letters at a coffee shop.

Luckily there are quite a few coffee shops in my very own town of Hudson. I realize not everyone is so lucky. I have a Starbucks and a Panera and an independently run shop on Hudson’s Village Green. There’s also a Restore. But when I was out enjoying a Country Inn Day in the town of Burton, Ohio I stumbled upon a coffee shop that had a number of rooms within it and they were amazing. You’d think you were in someone’s home. Look and see what I mean.

Since I do try to spread the word about the pleasure of letter writing I’m happy to say that occasionally a person will come up to me and ask what I’m doing. This is the perfect opportunity for me to explain how I write letters every day, belong to a national letter writing organization, and make wonderful letter friends all over the world.

I am a writer, a letter writer, but a writer just the same. I remember the first time I realized I was a real writer. I was in a coffee shop in the town of Shaker Heights, Ohio. I was writing letters as usual when a very distinguished man walked in with his briefcase. He found a seat across the room from me. He got busy writing and I continued to write my letters, but at a certain point he got up to get more coffee. He came by my table , looked down at all my papers and he asked me if I was a writer too. I thought for a second and I said proudly, “Why yes, I am.” You don’t have to be publised to be a writer. You just have to write and that I do, every day. Maybe you’re a writer too or a wanna be writer. So write!

The Starbucks in my town of Hudson

So, if you like to write, write! Write letters! Sharing doubles the joy. You don’t have to write a book for hundreds of people to read. Of course you can write a book, but as Mother Theresa always used to say, “It’s the one to one that matters.” You can do a lot of good sharing joy and communing with your fellow man by taking up pen and paper and writing to people you know one at a time. You can join The Letter Exchange and write to people you don’t know… at first. Someone once said, “Why do you write to pen pals, people you don’t know?” The answer was, “In writing those people I get to know them and turn them into great friends.

So write letters. Write letters in your Christmas cards. Write letters at home – at the kitchen table, at a desk in your study, in bed, write anywhere, but if you need to change the scenery a little, get out of the house, try writing letters in a coffee shop. You may run into some people you know and that could be fun, but just writing a letter to a friend is also fun and they’ll be so happy to hear from you.

Look into your heart and write… you’ll make your friend happy and then they’ll write back making you happy too.

Go ahead. Spread joy. Our world could use it!

A Country Inn Day in Medina

The Gazebo in Medina’s Square

As you may know each and every week I enjoy one Country Inn Day, a day I escape from regular routines. Country Inn Days are play days. They are days to enjoy my favorite activities, focus on favorite things and spend time in places I love. The idea behind my Country Inn Days is to stop and smell the roses in life. We must give ourselves permission to do this regularly. Work and worry are sturdy weeds, but joy requires cultivation.

There is a lot of play involved in a Country Inn Day. It’s not only children that need to play. Play is very good for all of us no matter how old we might be. For me play is tied closely to imagination. Because I love old country inns it’s not a coincidence I live in a historic house. My house, the Jeremiah Brown House, was built in 1853 by the half brother of John Brown, the famous abolitionist.

The 1853 Jeremiah Brown House

Living in such an old house makes it easy for me to play, imagining the house is an old Inn. I can “play” the part of innkeeper every time I welcome guests to dinner parties and afternoon teas or as I work to spruce up the place.. I can “play” the part of inn cook every time I work in the kitchen creating culinary masterpieces on Inn Days. I can even enjoy “playing” the part of inn maid as I clean and polish this old house. But of course every Inn Day sees me “playing” the part of Inn guest too as I enjoy simple pleasures and not so simple pleasures like breakfast in bed or champagne before dinner served in my best crystal glasses.

I go off to real Country Inns every chance I get, but in between these junkets The Jeremiah Brown House is my Inn of choice, a grand place for having great fun and refreshment.

Of course I’m not forced to hybernate at the Inn for all of every Country Inn Day. There are Culture Days that take me out to museums. There are Adventure Days where I go off exploring new places. There are Nature Days that take me to gardens and parks. There are Spa Days at the Inn or away, and there are Favorite Town Days where I spend time in these favorite places taking advantage of what these towns have to offer. There are many kinds of Country Inn Days and I’m dreaming up more all the time.

My last Inn Day was a Favorite Town Day and on such days as this I bop around a town visiting coffee shops, restaurants, gift shops, strolling around, you know, just enjoying the surroundings, taking in the different sites and sounds. I might even meet new people and make new friends. I don’t always have to travel hundreds of miles to escape my regular setting. Sometimes going off fifty, thirty or even just twenty miles east, west or south ( not north because that’s Lake Erie) is all I need to do. Any town different from my own Hudson will offer new sites, perspectives and fun.

So off I went on my last Country Inn Day to the town of Medina. Medina is a few towns southwest of my Hudson. It’s an old town approximately 23 miles south of Cleveland and 23 miles west of Akron, Ohio. Its population was noted as 26,678 at the last census in 2010. It was founded in 1818 making it about 200 years old. Because I love history, old Country Inns, and all sorts of old things I especially love to visit the old towns in my area.

Coffee Shop on the edge of the Green

On this outing to Medina I first enjoyed finding a new coffee shop and I liked it very much. I got a table by the window and started my day with coffee and the writing of two letters to favorite pen friends. A day does not go by for me without a little (or a lot) of letter writing.

After coffee I strolled around the lovely Village Green. Every town should have a Village Green with park benches and a gazebo or some other charming fixture. I loved the old buildings around the square.

I spotted a Polish pottery shop and being 100% Polish I had to stop in.

The Polish Pottery Shop of Medina

It was a most colorful and charming place. I felt like I was in an art museum seeing so many handpainted items. Being a cook, and one who enjoys entertaining, I felt like a kid in a candy store seeing so many beautiful dishes. I wanted to take everything home with me …

but I settled for two small items -a little birdie that will serve as a vent for my next apple pie and a sweet little dish to hold my next tea bag.

My new Polish goodies

From the Polish pottery shop I headed off to Roots Candle Company. Medina is the home of its 20,000 square foot Flagship store. It feels like a stylish boutique brimming with unique and designer-inspired home decor. The Innkeeper in me loved this place and boy were there a lot of candles to see.

Meet Amos, the founder of Roots

The Root family, over 5 generations and 140 years have worked to perfect the candle and of course I had to buy some candles and a pretty wintery globe to grace a coffee table back at my Inn, the Jeremiah Brown House.

My Wintery pinecone globe with scented pine candle within

Time was flying as I strolled around looking at all sorts of goodies. I had meant to stop for tea, but the tea house, Miss Molly’s, had closed at 3:00. Phooie!

Miss Molly’s Tea House

But the antique shop next to Roots was open so I went in, looked around …

Antique shops are always fun, and there I found 5 sweet crystal tea light containers for my dining table…

and this large embossed globe with candle. What fun to buy a few treasures to use on Inn Days and on ordinary days too. Every time I use these things I’ll be reminded of my fun Medina Country Inn Day.

It was getting late and of course there were things to enjoy back at the Inn. I had to get back to Hudson soon, but before I left Medina I had to peek in at a certain Victorian House. A friend had told me about this old place.

I heard this old house was turned into a restaurant. Dinner was waiting for me at my Inn so I just took a quick look around noting the information for some future Country Inn Day.

One of the dining rooms
and another dining room

It’s always fun to discover another old place in my area. I wish many more historic buildings had been preserved.

So, that’s about it for my Country Inn Medina Day. I could tell you all about the other fun things I did back at the Inn, but I’ll save those stories for another Country Inn Day blog post.

A cute Medina shop window

I hope you have your own Country Inn Days each and every week. Your play days may have a different name then mine and they may contain different activities, but what’s important is that you take time out to dream, play, and focus on your own favorite things. My spiritual directives tell me to live abundantly. Work is important, using our gifts, but creative fun is important too. Country Inn Days help me live abundantly.

I wish abundant days for you as well. Sharing with you has doubled my joy and I hope the sharing inspired a little extra joy in your day too.

So until we meet again Medina, and to you my friend- Take joy!