A fun Country Inn Outing Day in Peninsula

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I was having my morning coffee with “dead friend” Henry James on this Country Inn Day.  As Henry was telling me all about his travels from Paris to London and other such stories, I had an overwhelming urge to do a little traveling myself. Though I do have a trip to Paris scheduled in May, I was up for some adventure today.  Where shall I go on this Country Inn Day?  I don’t have much time for this outing, only a few hours, so my outing has to be somewhere close by.  I know!  I’ll go to Peninsula, a well-preserved 19th century town just west of Hudson.  I grabbed my coat and hat, hopped in the car, and my Country Inn Day adventure had begun.  Every adventure needn’t involve great distances,  just a spirit of fun.

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As I drove through the Cuyahoga Valley on my way to Peninsula (this area now declared a National Park) I had the distinct feeling I was back in New England.   I used to live in Boston, Massachusetts and I loved it there, but my region of Northeast Ohio, where I live now, looks very much like New England. There’s beautiful nature all around me and here in what we Ohians call the Land of The Western Reserve our old architecture is similar to the architecture of old New England.  This is because this part of Ohio was settled by Connecticut people back in the late 18th/early 19th century.

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After a short but very enjoyable ride I was entering the town.  Though I drive through Peninsula frequently on my way to other places I seldom stop and really look around.  Today, on this Country Inn Day, I did stop and smell the roses so to speak, taking notice of some of the things this town offers, and that’s what a Country Inn Day is all about.  On Country Inn Days I step out of the normal routine and operate as on holiday taking time to enjoy the sites and sounds around me and anything and everything else that is delightful in life.

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My first stop was this lovely old building.  I always admired this old Town Hall as I’d drive by it and in recent years the building was beautifully restored.  Back in 1805 Alfred Wolcott of Connecticut came here in a surveying party.  By 1811 what had been known as Range 11, Town 4 of the Connecticut Western Reserve became known as Boston Township.  Funny that I lived in Boston , Massachusetts, but now I still live very near Boston, but a different Boston (and when I did live in Boston, Massachusetts I had an apartment in Cleveland – Cleveland Circle that is, and my Hudson is a distant suburb of Cleveland, Ohio.  Rather strange how these city names follow me around – strange but neat.)  Anyway, this building is no longer a town hall, but rather serves as a museum.

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I do love history and historic buildings.  I feel visiting old towns is a little like going back into time. Country Inn Days are very educational  too for I learn a lot of things as I poke around places of interest.  Here I learned the town of Peninsula was founded in 1818 and it grew to be a prosperous place because of the Ohio and Erie Canal.  It was a bustling canal stop in the old days.  A stroll down the Main Street must’ve been fun years ago and it’s still fun today.

I enjoyed looking at every detail of each house I passed as I strolled down the street.  Here are just a few.

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Do you know this house was made from a kit?  I learned that Sears and Roebuck sold house kits way back when and these kits were very popular.  Maybe your town has some Sears and Roebuck houses too.  I know my town of Hudson has at least one, but for all I know it may have even more. This house looks like the doll house I always wanted and never had as a child.

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As I walked past this particular house with green trim and lattice work admiring it, I noticed the owner was about to pull out of his driveway so I turned around and walked up to his car.  I think it’s nice to compliment the owner of a house when we think that house is charming.  Who doesn’t like a compliment?  Well, my compliment turned into a very interesting discussion about Peninsula, houses, and art.

You see the owner of this house happened to be a retired art professor from Kent State University.  He is a painter and he taught painting there for years.  These days besides painting he also builds banjos and mandolins and he did a lot of building on and around his house too. He appreciated my interest in Peninsula and in his house and was very friendly – a typical Ohioan, so he asked me if I’d like to meet his wife and see his art studios.  Well, of course I would!  Do you see what adventures a Country Inn Day can provide?

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This man, Doug Unger, is really quite the accomplished artist.  I so enjoyed seeing both his studios – one was attached to his house and the other, A Summer studio, was a separate building out back. You can look him up on google and get his whole story.  I got a large part of his story thanks to my Country Inn Day.  What fun!

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Everywhere I looked, his studios were a feast for the eyes.  So many paintings, both oils and pastels . . . along with all the tools of an artist.  Here you see his pastels.

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Doug not only makes instruments, I believe he plays them too.

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Works of Art.

I invited Doug to tea, but he said he seldom leaves his house.  He is quite devoted to his work, but I think he would be a charming and most interesting guest one of these days so I will keep after him, keep in touch.  It’s always wonderful to expand one’s circle of friends and it’s especially wonderful when those people are interesting and full of passion for art and the art of life.

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After visiting Doug and his world I kept strolling for a while  and I popped into a few shops like this one pictured above.  It was full of one-of-a-kind art objects made by local artists – a great place to pick up a gift for a friend or a treat for yourself.

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 I had a nice chat with the shop owner too.  There was lots of socializing on this Country Inn Day.

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Actually, Peninsula had a few nice shops and this one, The Yellow Creek Trading Company, was another fun place to looks around.  Items large and small – much temptation, but today wasn’t a Country Inn Shopping Day so I held on to my money and simply enjoyed looking at all the beautiful things.  “Window shopping” if you will.

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But after a while I was getting pretty hungry so I walked farther down the street to The Winking Lizard restaurant which is housed in another old building. I remember when this place functioned as The Peninsula Nightclub with a dance floor and a different interior dynamic, but now it’s just a good place to get a bite to eat.

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I got a table on its quiet porch so I could watch the comings and goings out its ample windows.

Nice!

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I brought Beatrix Potter along with me on this Country Inn Day outing by way of a book.  The book is called  Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life. I was alone enjoying my lunch, but I felt Beatrix was with me in spirit as I read of her horticulture adventures and enjoyed her very own words that were captured in her journal.  For example, one February day when she was looking out onto her garden she admired the snowdrops and wrote,

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“There are thousands in front of the windows and in the orchard and in the lane. That is why I have an untidy garden.  I won’t have the dear things dug up in the summer, they are so much prettier growing in natural clumps, instead of being dried off and planted singly.”

 

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The old Cuyahoga River as it runs through the center of Peninsula

Hearing many nature tales from Beatrix put me in a real Nature mood so after lunch I had to take a little walk along the Cuyahoga River before I left for home returning to my Country Inn.  Because this area is within the Cuyahoga National Park there are towpaths and a great many areas for exploration.  How lucky I am to live here. Beatrix would like it too.  After spending time with her at lunch I had the feeling she was along with me on my walk.

 

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 But all good things come to an end and so it was with my outing.  I was back on the road heading to my Hudson and my evening activities at the Inn.

It was a good Country Inn Outing Day.  I learned a little something about Peninsula, met a living artist and visited with a departed one.  I met a shop owner and  enjoyed nature, some window shopping, a walk, and good food too.  Perhaps my next Country Inn Day will be spent in a very  different way, but however I spend it I know it will be a refreshing break from routine because all Country Inn Days are just that.

I hope your days are fun and interesting.  It’s up to us to make them that way.  Like they say –

Seize the day!

I sure try and I hope you do too.

Letters warm up a snowy Winter Day

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The weather outside in my town of Hudson, Ohio is frightful.  It’s 32 degrees with snow, then sleet, but though the weather outside is frightful I’m having a delightful day with a number of my interesting pen friends who have come to call to keep me company.  There’s Randall from California, Jenna from Maryland and Margie from Nova Scotia.

Letter writers never need to feel lonely because even if it’s not a mail day, or even if no letters happen to arrive in the mail that day, a letter writer can still have the company of others as she or he enjoys writing a letter to an interesting pen friend.img_27391

And it’s not only the actual writing that’s fun when composing a letter.  There’s lots of fun to be had in creating the stationary for that letter.  I love to draw flowers on my letter paper and along the edge of the paper I tell my letter friend a little bit about that flower.  Just the other day a letter friend told me if she ever feels dreary she draws flowers.  It must be something about the beauty of the flower that gets into our spirit. Of course you could draw whatever appeals to you if flowers aren’t your thing, but I promise your drawing, whatever it is,  will amuse your correspondent.

There’s something about art play.  Lots of people are discovering coloring books for I see millions of them in bookstores these days, but who needs a coloring book?  Just draw and color your very own picture.  I know you can do it!

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Practice makes improvement

But what’s especially magical about letters is how we can share ideas with people far away, people we would probably never meet in normal everyday life if it weren’t for letters.  It’s amazing to think with letters alone you can develop a best friend without ever leaving your easy chair.  All you have to do is join a letter writing group like The Letter Exchange. Then, even if the weather is far too unpleasant for you to venture out and socialize you can socialize from that easy chair while sipping a favorite drink as you sit comfy by the fire.

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 It takes me months to wish all my pen friends a Happy New Year, but what a fun task.  In this world of texts and impersonal emails and Facebook messages I think it’s refreshing to sit quietly and think of one person at a time, writing to them, reflecting on and with them –  one to one.

If we make our letter pretty as well as thought-filled our penfriend will feel honored that we used our precious time to focus  on her.  Our letter becomes a friendly compliment.  Don’t you light up when you find a letter addressed just to you in your mailbox?  I sure do.

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I learn a lot from letters too.  My pen friend Margie from Nova Scotia is married to a lobster fisherman.  Because of Margie I now know a lot more about lobsters and the life of a lobster fisherman.  Margie sends pictures too.  The pictures enhance her descriptions and make her letters even more interesting and enjoyable.  It’s good to keep learning and not only about things, but also about people and how differently their lives might be from our own.  Living in Hudson, Ohio I’d never meet a lobster fisherman, but thanks to letters I now have a personal relationship with one.

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We’re all so different with so many different interests.  My pen friend Randall likes to draw as I do, and he also enjoys writing poetry.  So far he hasn’t gotten me into writing poetry, but you never know.  I might try to write a poem someday.  Randall  is educating me too, as Margie is.

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Randall introduced me to Charles Baudelaire, a French poet of the past, his role model.  Charles advocated writing short poems and walking.  He loved walking through the streets of Paris. Who wouldn’t? I may not be writing poetry in the near future, but I will be walking the streets of Paris like Charles did because I will be spending a week in Paris with my family this May and I bought a book called Walks in Hemingway’s Paris.  I’m sure Randall and all my other pen friends will be hearing about these walks that I take and they will undoubtedly also be getting pictures from these walks.  Why? You know. Sharing doubles the joy.

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Sharing is a good thing.  We humans were not created to live in isolation.  We can share with our family and local friends, but if you are a letter writer you can also share with lots and lots of other people.  Sharing will become a hobby in itself. What will you share? You’ll be sharing all sorts of things in your letters – your travels, your latest shopping adventure and that new swim suit you purchased.  You’ll share your dreams and your creative ideas.

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You can share a picture of that French potato pie you made recently along with its recipe.  You can share anything and everything in your letters.  Others will share with you too.  It’s so fun!

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My penfriend Jenna loves the writings of Jane Austen. I do too.  Do you?  She told me her love affair with Jane’s books began when she was 10 years old and her aunt gave her the book, Emma.  Do you have a favorite author or favorite book?  Most letter writers are also fond of books and books become a regular topic in letters.  Who needs a book club when your letter friends report on all their latest book adventures?  If you are a fan of Jane Austen Jenna suggests you find Jane’s History of England.  She says the book is quite “a trip”!  I’ll have to look for that book. Jenna’s got me curious.

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So I hope you are a letter writer like me, enjoying all the pleasures this lovely old art provides , but if you aren’t, there’s no time like the present to get started.  Write your old auntie.  Write your friend who moved away.  Write a letter to  anybody at all.  Sit quietly.  Doodle a little drawing on the paper,  maybe even write a short poem as Charles Baudelaire and Randall suggest.  Join The Letter Exchange and connect with people from all over the world.  You’ll be glad you did when you go to your mailbox and find lots of letters addressed just to you.  And you WILL find these letters for there’s an old saying – when you give good things come back to you. Give a letter.  Get a letter.

You’ll see.

Why host an Afternoon Tea? Why not?

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You just baked a yummy cake.  It came out great! Should you keep it all for yourself or share it with others?

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You just cleaned your house. You fluffed the pillows and polished the wood.  The tables are dust free. The place looks as neat as it’s ever going to be.  Should you sit back and take a nap in this clean, tidy place or invite someone over?

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You just bought some new clothes.  They make you feel like a million dollars.  Should you put them on,  sit alone in your clean tidy house having a piece of that yummy cake –  all by yourself – or should you invite someone over for Afternoon Tea?  The answer seems clear to me.  How ’bout to you?  Remember . . .

Sharing Doubles the Joy.

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You may drink coffee by the gallon as I do,  but at four o’clock it’s tea time at my 1853 Jeremiah Brown house.  I’m usually alone for this teatime and I usually keep it simple – no bakery or other savories.  I simply enjoy sipping some Jasmine, Apricot or Earl Grey tea from a pretty china cup. It’s a peaceful ritual that gives me pleasure.  My companions for this daily teatime are usually “dead friends” (that is,  persons of the past who share with me by way of their autobiography or personal letters.)

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Currently my tea time companion is Agatha Christie.  I do so enjoy hearing about her life in England.  What a memory she has too.  Agatha’s been telling me details of her life as a child – how she would play with imaginary kittens and pretend that she herself was a kitten. So many famous authors were like Agatha.  They cultivated rich imaginations from their early years. Children today would do well to put away their technological toys now and then and cultivate their imaginations as well.

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Sometimes God drops in to join me and my “dead friend” for tea.  He does this as I read a few pages from Tea Time with God, a devotional published by Honor Books.  (You see I have an imagination like Agatha.)  Tea time becomes quite the “spiritual” time when spent with these types of companions.

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But once every month I love fussing to create an afternoon tea for living, breathing friends.  I enjoy going off to the local flower market to choose a pretty bouquet for my table.  I delight in selecting just the right linen and china for each gathering.  It’s artistic.  It’s creative. It’s fun! It’s a gift I give to others, but I enjoy this gift right along with my guests.

 So you see I have my daily teas which are relaxing and quite spiritual, but also tea parties which are a bit more fuss, but totally delightful in quite a different way. Variety is the spice of life.

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My guests always seem to enjoy themselves at tea.  What’s not to enjoy?  Look at those smiling, serene faces.

 Tea time takes us into a world of conversation and beautifully-prepared (whether homemade or purchased) food. The tea setting may be simple, but with beautiful flowers at the table, the twinkle of candlelight and the delicacy of  china, it’s easy to create a graciousness that is very out of the ordinary and capable of delighting everyone present. In this dramatic scene the host and guests play roles of equal importance to the  tea and food.  It’s all about sharing.

The Tea ritual helps everyone feel more civilized and in today’s crazy world we need all the help we can get with that.

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So the next time you feel like baking a little something or maybe you go off to the market and purchase some delectable goodies. . .  the next time you get the urge to clean up your house getting it looking quite ready to be photographed for House Beautiful magazine . . .  the next time you pull yourself together and feel like presenting yourself to the world . . . consider calling a friend or two for Afternoon tea.

You can fuss with finger sandwiches, scones and several pastries or keep it simple serving only cinnamon toast and/or chocolate chip cookies.  It’s not the food so much as the gracious sharing in a peaceful pretty setting.  It’s taking the time to be.  It’s taking the time to share – to share your home, to share some tea,  to share yourself.

Because

Sharing Doubles the Joy

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Afternoon tea has the power to transport us to a wonderful state of being.  We leave our work behind.  We enter a gracious state and even when tea-time is over the peaceful feelings linger allowing us to be in a more gentle place.

It’s Holiday Time at the Jeremiah Brown House

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The Jeremiah Brown House buzzes with activity all through the year because guests are constantly coming and going making the house a very happy and lively place to be.  As Innkeeper I’ve always felt this house was  created not for us alone (us being my husband and myself) but rather a house to be shared with others. Everyone knows sharing doubles the joy.

Anyone who takes care of a home realizes how much there is to do in order to make that home cozy and inviting, but in December with holidays around the corner, special touches seem to be needed in order to create a  festive atmosphere.

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Mother Nature has pitched in, doing her “Wintery” job, of dusting snow all around the grounds  creating that “White Christmas” look.

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Now it’s for me to add a few touches to the entrance and all around the house continuing that holiday/festive look. As guests come to the door…

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and as they continue into the foyer of the house.  A Christmas tree with lights and a poinsettia can do wonders to create a holiday atmosphere.  Simple, timeless decorations.

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I move through the house.  The library is small so it doesn’t need much.  A gold poinsettia in the window and as Christmas cards arrive they will be tucked into the books on the shelves.

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 Have you ever seen a gold-colored poinsettia?  This color is new to me, but it looks quite at home in my gold-colored library.

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I love Christmas cards, don’t you?  Of course I’m a letter writer so I love cards sent all through the year, not only in December, but at Christmas it seems most people indulge in snail mail as I do and I’m so very glad they do.  The cards we receive  will decorate the shelves of the Jeremiah Brown library in a most friendly way.

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Moving to the living room the banister gets a twist of evergreen roping

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so guests taking tea in this room can enjoy a little more holiday decoration.

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A Christmas tree has also been added here for extra holiday spirit.

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And the dining room of The Jeremiah Brown House which will be busy with guests this month has a twinkling tree too.

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It will add a touch of Christmas to all the dining room events this month.

There’s so much more to show and tell you about as Innkeeper . . .

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And there’s plenty to tell you about as Inn Maid too, for example, all the table linen that needs to be ironed in order to be ready for holiday entertaining, but. . .

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let me switch gears, put on my chef hat, and as Inn Cook tell you about a few of the things that I made in the kitchen lately. You might like to make some of these recipes yourself.  This month a certain someone’s been keeping me company in the kitchen, a someone you may know.

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Yes, It’s Santa.  Isn’t he cute?

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  He’s not actually much help except to inspire me as I try new recipes for  Inn guests and I have three of these recipes to share with you.

This first recipe is a French Potato Pie with Comte Cheese.

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  It’s a beauty, isn’t it?

Here’s the recipe!

Cook a few strips of bacon till crisp.  Remove the bacon and in the drippings cook  3 sliced cloves of garlic and 2 thinly sliced onions for about 2 minutes.  Mix these things together.  Create a batch of your favorite double pie crust dough.  Line a pan with the bottom crust and then add a layer of thinly sliced potatoes, season with salt and pepper, followed with layers of the bacon/onion mixture and then cheese.  You’ll be using about 2 pounds of russet potatoes and 2 cups of diced Comte cheese.   Layer these ingredients and sprinkle with 1/2 tsp. of nutmeg and 1/2 tsp. of thyme. Dot all of this with 2 tablespoons of butter.  Place the top crust on all this pie and brush with an egg wash (1 large egg mixed with 1 tablespoon of heavy cream.)  Bake the pie in a 400 degree oven for about 45 minutes.  Cover with parchment or foil if the pie browns too much.

It’s delicious!

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Cabbage Charlotte

Charlotte de Chou et de Pommes de Terre

Here at the Inn we like French food and both potato dishes are as pretty to look at as to eat.  To make this Charlotte you need a Charlotte pan that is deep and round.  The only ingredients you’ll need are a Savoy cabbage, a medium onion, 1 and 1/2 pounds of potatoes, an egg, plus salt and pepper.

To make the Charlotte soften about 5 cabbage leaves in boiling water for a few minutes.  Line the buttered pan with these leaves saving one for the top.  Meanwhile boil the potatoes and when they are soft mash them with the egg, a bit of milk aplus salt and pepper.  Chop the remaining cabbage and fold it into the mashed potatoes.  Place this potato mixture into the Charlotte pan and cover the mixture with the remaining cabbage leaf.  Wrap all this tightly in foil and place the pan in another deeper pan so boiling water can be placed half way up the Charlotte pan.  Bake this at 375 degree for about 45 minutes.  Unmold and you have  a Cabbage Charlotte to dazzle your friends.

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I served this Charlotte recently to Inn guests along with breaded pork chops, buttered corn, homemade apple sauce and  yeast rolls.

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Oh yes, and for dessert –  Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Squares

Should you want to make these yummy squares you’ll need the following:

2 sticks of unsalted butter, 1/3 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1 large egg, 1 tsp. vanilla, 1 and 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, 2 and 1/4 cups quick-cooking oatmeal, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips and 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans.

The process:  Cream butter and sugars, add egg and vanilla, then add 3/4 of the flour, with oatmeal and salt.  Press this into a prepared 9 inch square baking pan.  Scatter the chocolate chips over this dough.  Combine the nuts with the remaining flour and crumble this over the chocolate chips.  Bake for 30 to 35 minutes.  A toothpick inserted in the middle should come out clean when done.  Cool and cut into squares.

Yummy.  These squares melt in your mouth.

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So though there’s lots more to tell you about  that’s happening at The Jeremiah Brown House I think it’s time for me to take a break with afternoon tea.  The weather outside is frightful, but the porch (which as a gas heater) is delightful, so I’ll take my leave from Inn duties for a little while, bring out a tea tray and wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.  Maybe I’ll be seeing you here at the Inn, but if not have a wonderful holiday wherever you are making lots of inviting settings, yummy treats and romantic moments in your very own home.

Until next time . . . be happy!

My Country Inn Day in the Country

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As you may already know my Country Inn Days are days of escape from life’s usual routines. They are days I imagine my 1853 house to be an Inn for I just love Country Inns.  On my Inn Days I am Innkeeper, Inn Cook, Inn Maid, but most importantly Inn Guest.  I enjoy all sorts of lovely activities at my Inn just as I would if I were a guest at some other Inn.  Sometimes I entertain on Inn Days opening my Inn up to others.  I might host a tea or dinner,  but most Inn Days will involve some sort of outing.  It might be a short and simple outing –  a lunch out, a stroll through nature or through town, a visit to a book shop or a few local gift shops.  It might be an outing out of town to another city or country, but one of the reasons Inn Days are so satisfying is that I always operate exactly as I would if on a real vacation.

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Some Country Inn Day outings take me into the city.  I may visit hotels, museums, elegant shops, beautiful restaurants, tea houses. . . but other Inn Day outings take me into the country… and rightly so, for a Country Inn Day  should include time in the country some of the time.  If you are as fortunate as I am to live in a charming historic town between city and country you too could enjoy this variety in your outings.  I hope this is possible for you because variety is truly the spice of life. Our world offers so much to us.  It is for us to take advantage of these offerings.

So today I partake in a “Country” Country Inn Day. I’m not just going off to enjoy nature. I’m going back in time to enjoy a country setting of long ago.  I’m going to the Historic Hale Farm and Village.

Country Inn Days capitalize on imagination and visiting a historic farm and village gives me a chance to not only enjoy nature, but also to imagine I’m going back in time.  We live in modern times but it’s rather refreshing to slip back a hundred years or so every now and then.  If you agree you might like to join me on my outing today.

And we’re off!

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Hale farm and Village depicts rural life in Ohio’s Western Reserve from the time of Jonathan Hale’s arrival to the area in 1810.

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Here one can tour the very house Jonathan Hale built for his family.  I love old houses.  As Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote in his poem Haunted Houses – “All houses wherin men have lived and died are haunted houses… Through the open doors the harmless phantoms on their errands glide, with feet that make no sound upon the floor.”  I walk through the house and yes, I can easily imagine people of long ago going about their daily tasks right here in the very rooms where I too am standing.

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I love walking out from the house and down the road.  There are no modern sites to be seen, only beautiful nature and country settings.  I wish you could get a whiff of the air.  It’s full of sweet scents of clover and grasses.

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I stroll down shady pathways.

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I enjoy babbling brooks.

The beauty of nature offers the same thrill to us today that it offered people long ago.  Maybe we can receive even more of a thrill from nature today because we do not necessarily indulge in  its beauty as often as we could (and should).

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I keep walking and come to the village.  This is a tract of land where historic buildings have been relocated so visitors can come and enjoy a variety of historic structures without needing to drive all over creation. This Greek Revival meetinghouse dates from 1852.  It was originally  occupied by Baptists, but later by Methodists.  Typically, meetinghouses were centrally located on a village green so this building looks right at home here in this little village.

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Liking old houses as I do, I particularly enjoy touring  the historic houses of this village.  There are many other structures here – a corn crib, sugar house, a land office,  law office, pottery barn and many other things, but it’s the houses I’m most interested in.  This is the Jagger House.  It was built in 1845 and I have particular interest in its interior because one of my old Hudson neighbors, Phil Keegan, a master stencil artist,  stenciled its interior walls reproducing its original design.

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This house, the Herrick House, built in 1845, is an outstanding example of a Greek Revival stone structure.  I learned of the 7,500 Western Reserve houses listed on the Ohio Historic Inventory, less than one half percent are square-cut stone structures like this one.  The stone is just beautiful!

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There are a number of other houses here, but my favorite house in the village is the Jonathan Goldsmith House. It is another Greek Revival house dating from 1830-1832.  I’m partial to this house because I once owned an 1829 house myself and this house reminds me of my old house. In fact, the flat stones making up the front porch of my old house are the same stones used in the basement of the Goldsmith house.  You see, my old house acquired these stones because we knew the right person.  It was the architect who worked for Hale Farm and Village.  We happened to be restoring our old house when the Goldsmith House was being moved to and set in its new location here in the village.

This house is named for its builder and architect, Jonathan Goldsmith.  Goldsmith is recognized as one of the finest architects in the Reserve. His structures include elaborate carvings and high quality construction.  This house is an excellent example of his work.  The Cleveland Museum of Art has one of Goldsmith’s beautiful entry doors. I admire it every time I visit the museum.

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I enjoy strolling in and out of the houses, but I also delight in the gardens.  I love an herb garden and I take time noticing just what’s growing in the herb gardens here.  I get ideas for my own herb garden back home.

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Now maybe you wouldn’t enjoy seeing the outhouse, but I sure do.  This one was built in 1850. An outhouse is sometimes known as the “necessary” or “privy”.  I’ve had my own experiences with an outhouse as a young girl.  My Dad was raised on a farm in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. As a little girl I would visit my Grandmother on that farm and back in those days there was no indoor bathroom.  I have distinct memories of visiting the outhouse there. You don’t forget a thing like that – especially its smell.

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My Dad had a very different childhood back in the day.  Besides having an outhouse he also went to school in a one room school house, so when I see this schoolhouse in the woods my imagination not only goes back to 1816, but also to my father’s boyhood days.

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I really feel like I’m going back into time. Talk about a Country Inn Day being a day of imagination!  My imagination, along with this outing, is taking me far away and to times long ago.

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I doubt my father’s teacher dressed like the lady I see, but the children back in the 1800’s must’ve enjoyed this scene every day.  This particular schoolhouse dates back to 1816.  I learned that log structures such as this were usually the first structures on the frontier and they were abandoned when their owners could afford to replace them with more modern frame buildings so they often became schoolhouses.  Did you know that?  I didn’t.

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As I continue to stroll the grounds of this historic village I run into many other people dressed in clothing of the early 1800’s.  I enjoy chatting with many of them – like the ladies  who are seated here. They are peeling apples in order to make apple butter.  The wood fire beneath their kettle adds a nice cozy scent to the air.

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 We speak about knitting and other feminine subjects just as ladies of the 1800’s might have done on a nice Autumn afternoon.

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It’s fun to see the colorful hens walking about.  When was the last time you saw a hen?  Actually, my Hudson neighbor has hens to provide her with fresh eggs and she’s given some of these eggs to me.  Gee, I’d love to have my own hens. I remember seeing such hens like these back on my grandmother’s farm all those years ago.  Once again sights here of the 1800’s are mixed with my own memories and  I’m filled with all sorts of feelings and emotions.  This Country Inn Day is really taking me away.

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To think I’m only a few miles from my town of Hudson, but looking around, I feel I’m deep in the country. The Hale Barn constructed in 1854 was built shortly before Jonathan Hale’s death. This Farm Barn is the focal point of the farmyard here.  I happen to have a barn at my 1853 Jonathan Brown House, but it’s nothing like this barn which is filled with early farm equipment and livestock.  My barn is filled with cars and garden supplies.

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I see sheep grazing in a field. If you need to calm down I suggest taking a walk where you can gaze upon bucolic scenes like this.

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And there’s nothing like watching a bunch of 200 pound pigs carrying on in their pig pen.

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I look at this fellow and a line of poetry comes to mind

Men (or pigs) look through the same bars

Some see mud and some see stars

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I can’t help getting poetic.  Nature does that to me.  It’s just so beautiful here.  They say for years, guests were drawn to the peace and isolation of the Hale Farm.  The grounds of Hale were breathtaking, with gardens, hedgerows, pastureland, farm animals, flowers, beehives and an abundance of fruit trees, mostly apples.

When Western Reserve Historical Society opened Hale Farm to the public in 1958, the Akron Beacon Journal invited readers to “leave the happy confusion and noise of Akron” for the peace, quiet and beauty of the Jonathan Hale Homestead Museum in what was known then as “Ira Valley.”

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Well, that was very good advice because time in the country at a historic farm and village is a terrific getaway for a Country Inn Day or any day you might be seeking a delightful change of pace and a great big dose of natural beauty.

My next Country Inn Day just might take me to New York City, to the center of Manhattan, or to a lovely Spa, or maybe to a real Country Inn.  It’s fun to mix things up.  But today’s Country Inn Day in the country at a historic farm and village was just what I needed.  I believe God wants us to live abundantly.  He gives us so much to appreciate and enjoy.  It’s for us to take advantage of all these blessings and today’s Country Inn Day was certainly a blessing to me. I hope you treat yourself to Country Inn Days, or whatever you call the days in which you step out of life’s usual routines and into days of exploration and adventure.

Till next we meet

Live richly!

 

The “Spirit” of Hospitality

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It’s October and Autumn is in the air.  Spirits are in the air too.  There’s one particular little spirit that flutters back and forth past the porch of my 1853 Jeremiah Brown House. It’s a little white ghost. Whenever I see this ghost my thoughts wander off to a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.  The poem is called Haunted Houses.

“All houses wherein men have lived and died are haunted houses…there are more guests at table than the host invited…my friend at fireside cannot see the things I see nor hear the sounds I hear.  He but sees what is, whereas unto me all that has been is visible and clear.”

Another type of spirit that is visible and clear to me is the Spirit of Hospitality.  Hospitality.   I think it’s  a wonderful thing, defined as the act or practice of receiving and entertaining strangers or guests in a friendly or generous way.

Strangers or guests

Do you entertain guests and even strangers too?  I do.  At many of my afternoon teas I ask guests to bring a friend. In this way I have the fun of meeting new people, and this makes me think of those words from the bible talking about the possibility of strangers being angels in disguise.

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We’re always told to love our neighbor, but one can’t love a person they don’t know, and in order to really get to know someone it’s necessary to spend time together… time spent chatting and sharing.  We can do this chatting and sharing in all sorts of ways and in all sorts of places.  I get to know many people from all around the world through the art of letter writing,  but I also enjoy getting to know people through in person visits and my favorite place for these visits is in my very own home.  That’s because . . .

 

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Home is where the heart is

Many of us work hard to make our house a home.  We fill our house with things we love.  We clean and polish, decorate according to our own unique taste, and in this way we express ourselves.  Our home captures our spirit.  Even if we’re not present a visitor can walk into our house and get a real sense of who we are.

So

if we’re trying to get to know people better and we want them to get to know us,  I think inviting them into our home is the best way and place in which to cultivate and grow friendship.  I’m surprised so few people share my thinking.  Don’t you enjoy being invited to someone’s home – for dinner, tea, cocktails or anything?   I sure do, and I equally enjoy doing the inviting.

I love to host intimate events where good conversation abounds.  Cooking and baking are two of my favorite things so it’s great fun for me to plan a dinner, luncheon or tea,  but even if cooking and baking are not your favorite things it’s still easy to entertain.   So why don’t more people share my thinking?  I wish I knew.  It’s not so much about food as it is about the sharing of spirit.

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Joy and Carol Ann

Recently I had a delightful day of sharing with one of my pen friends.  Meet Joy.

I first met Joy through The Letter Exchange, an organization for letter writers.  She was living in Switzerland at the time, but later she moved to South Carolina.  Through letters we’ve been sharing for years and getting to know each other very well.  We’ve become kindred spirits entirely through our letters.  But what a thrill when Joy told me she’d be passing through my town and wanted to stop by for an in person visit. How delightful!

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The day of Joy’s visit arrived.  I made  a batch of my cream scones with raspberries and whipped cream, pulled out my Laura Ashley Tea for Two china and strolled around my house and garden deciding where we should settle in to do our sharing.

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The weather has been beautiful this Autumn so I decided we should have our tea and conversation outdoors on the porch and since it would just be the two of us why not choose the small, open porch with a view of nature.

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I set a small cloth on the table and proceeded to arrange the china, going out to the garden to snip a rose and some mint and lavender. Nothing like flowers and herbs.  I wanted everything to be pretty for my friend.

Here, in this peaceful setting, we could talk and listen to each other, deepening our friendship.

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It’s not necessary to fuss with settings – food, china, flowers,  but I think these things are a very nice touch.  They can help in creating a very pleasant situation for a friend’s visit and can only help to make that friend feel special and highly valued.

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I’m a Romantic and beauty in any of its forms delights me.  Though I try to create beauty for my guests I must say I get a lot of joy and satisfaction from this beauty too.  Beauty seems to become us.

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Joy seemed to enjoy the scones – just that simple little food treat, but the real treat (at least for me) was the sharing of our spirits.  Friendship is a wonderful thing.  I don’t believe we’re meant to live solitary lives.  Friendship doubles the joy in life just as sharing doubles the joy.

We can share in a variety of ways.  I love the old fashioned ways – the art of letter writing and the art of hospitality. I encourage you to practice both arts.  They may be forgotten, but both arts are as delightful today as they ever were.

When you give good things come back to you.

Letters, Invitations to tea, friendship,  and more . . .

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I wish for you the wonderful kind of friendship Joy and I share.

Truly.

Carol Ann