Country Inn “City” Days

 

New York City

What is a Country Inn Day?

A Country Inn Day is a day to escape from life’s routines and step away into a world of beauty and adventure or rest and relaxation – whatever is needed at the time.  For me, it’s a day where I imagine and then create delightful moments much like the moments I’ve enjoyed at beautiful country inns.  My 1853 home becomes my inn and on a Country Inn Day I can stay at this inn, stay close, or take off to a distant city.  Some Inn Days are full of imagination and others not so much.

It is my custom to enjoy one Country Inn Day each and every week, but now and then I make an exception to this rule and enjoy a string of Country Inn Days as was the case recently when I visited my son Patrick in New York City.

Patrick lives on the upper east side of Manhattan, very near Central Park and The Metropolitan Museum of Art so while he was busy at his job I had great fun at both of these wonderful places.

Central Park – New York City

There is nothing quite as wonderful as a stroll through a lovely park – spoken as the true Romantic that I am.  Back home I love my Country Inn Nature days and I’m sure New Yorkers love their nature days at this lovely park too.  So much beauty . . . take a peek for yourself.

 And I never tire of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Entrance Hall of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

There is so much to see at this museum, but I most love the period rooms because I absolutely love old houses.

These are just three of the many lovely rooms from great houses in Europe and America.

One can spend hours roaming the rooms of this museum and when tired and hungry you need not go very far for refreshment.  There are two very nice restaurants right in the museum.  My favorite is this one with its walls of windows looking out onto Central Park.  Art, yummy food, and nature, all together in one place.

The museum restaurant

Between Central Park and The Metropolitan Museum of Art I was kept pretty happy while my son was busy at work. But once his work day was over I could enjoy his company  as we did the town.  Patrick works on Park Avenue.  He’s a data scientist for a company called Dstillery.  Don’t ask me to explain the technical work he does but I loved visiting the company’s offices.

And the view of Park Avenue from these offices was quite impressive

Gee, if  only I studied statistics instead of music I too could have worked at a snazzy New York city company like this one.  Oh well, my Romantic spirit does love the music work I do.

Back at the inn in Hudson I usually have cocktails with a “dead friend”, –  Lord Byron or Ralph Waldo Emerson via biography, but while in New York Patrick and I visited all sorts of snazzy places.

Every place we went was buzzing with life.

I enjoyed lots of outings to places I had never been before.  Two of those places were Brooklyn and Brooklyn Heights. I was surprised that Brooklyn Heights looked a lot like the Beacon Hill area of my beloved Boston.  Old brownstones lined the streets there and most of those brownstones were gorgeous with fancy iron fences and lovely stonework.

A typical Brooklyn Heights street

Then Patrick had a surprise for me.  We walked down one of the lanes and came to a sort of park.

And what did I see?

I saw the Brooklyn bridge.

On my next visit when the weather is a little warmer we’re going to take a walk across that bridge.  That will be fun!

The view from this park was really amazing.  There was Manhattan in all its glory and off in the distance I could even see the Statue of Liberty.

 All that walking, and we did a lot of it, all fast, for no one walks slowly in New York, made me very hungry each day.  I’m a foodie anyway and so is my son so we had a lot of interesting meals.  I’m especially fond of French food so one of my favorite meals was enjoyed at Cafe D”Alsace.

I had read about this establishment in one of my New York travel books and it didn’t disappoint me.  It happened to be quite near my son’s apartment so I hope he pops into this place often.  I would.  Lovely they have outdoor seating for warm Summer days.

But another restaurant that really delighted me was very Polish.  I happen to be 100% Polish you know.  Both sets of my grandparents lived in Poland until adulthood.  Patrick loves the food of all sorts of countries.  We ate Korean, Chinese and Vietnamese food on my visit, but he thought it only right a Polish girl like me experience real Polish food in a place where other real Polish people live and speak  Polish.  This place was back in Brooklyn.

Not quite as elegant as the French place, but a really fun experience none the less.

What to order?

And for the main course

Buttered potatoes, blood sausage, kiebasi, pork, chicken, salmon and cabbage.

I hadn’t had blood sausage in years – dark, crispy and yummy.

In between eating there were more museums.

The Frick Museum

This museum was actually the home of the Frick family and I was as impressed with the building as with the extensive art collection inside.  There were no pictures allowed except in the garden room so I can’t show you the lovely windows and draperies which I found to be exquisite.  Oh, to have millions of dollars before taxes were invented.

Here you see the Garden Room at the Frick.  Now that I’ve been to the family home I must get the biography of Mr. Frick and get to know him.  He just might become one of my “dead friends”.

Are you tired yet from all the outings?  I definitely had a lot of adventures and saw a great many new and interesting things on these Country Inn Days, so many that when I returned to Hudson I didn’t venture out for two weeks. There was a lot of walking and sometimes there were road blocks making us go out of our way to get where we were going.

Road blocks happened this day as we walked along the New York streets. We couldn’t help but notice lots and lots of policemen gathered together.  Was someone important about to exit the building they were facing? No.

They were getting instructions for the parade that was about to happen – something about a national holiday in Greece.

When streets are blocked, or any time you need to get from here to there, you can always take the subway.  We did that a lot,  and today we had a date, a date for tea.

Whenever I’m in a city I like to take tea at a fine hotel.  This Country Inn Day Patrick and I enjoyed afternoon tea at The Pierre Hotel on E 61st Street.  Our waiter was quite dashing and the food was quite dashing too, a bit fancier then the tea treats I offer when inviting guests to my inn back home.

What do you think?

Well, I know this post has gotten quite long, but that’s because my Country Inn Days were quite long, and quite full, and quite wonderful thanks to my charming son who played the part of Innkeeper as I stayed at his place for nearly a week.  Now that’s a good son for you.

Flying home was quite bittersweet because it’s always hard leaving Patrick, but I needed a rest!  And luckily I have another son by the name of Rory who I can dote on once home.

And as I write this post in my butler’s pantry I am resting and enjoying another Country Inn Day, but this one is quite different from the last one. I may not even leave my Jeremiah Brown House because balance is important and I’ve had quite enough excitement for the time being.  Rest and relaxation is the current word for this Country Inn Day.

Next up is tea in the Sun room with “dead friend” Agatha Christie.

I’ve really  enjoyed reliving my New York Country Inn Days with you because I truly believe sharing doubles the joy and we can never have too much joy in our lives.  I hope you’re making  joy happen in your life as well.  It’s up to you to do it. There are so many ways.  So till we meet again . . .

Take joy!

A fun Country Inn Outing Day in Peninsula

img_29441

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.

img_28261

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.

img_28481

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.

img_28371

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.

img_28381

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.

img_28571

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.

img_28361

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?

img_28461

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!

img_28431

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.

img_28421

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

img_28451

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.

img_28521

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.

img_28531

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

img_28311

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.

img_28291

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.

img_28511

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

Nice!

img_28501

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,

img_29431

“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.”

 

img_28551
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.

 

img_28261

 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.

It’s Holiday Time at the Jeremiah Brown House

img_20161206_1607101

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.

IMG_6368[1]

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

img_26341

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…

img_26351

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.

img_20161206_1550391

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.

img_20161206_1551061

 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.

img_20161206_1557091

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.

img_26391

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

img_20161206_1601261

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

img_26361

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

img_20161206_1541381

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

IMG_7365[1]

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 . . .

img_20161206_1556001

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. . .

IMG_0482[2]

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.

img_26411

Yes, It’s Santa.  Isn’t he cute?

img_26431

  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.

img_25801

  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!

img_20161211_164337_8451

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.

img_20161211_164422_5841

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

img_26291

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.

img_26401

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

IMG_1698[1]

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.

img_20161012_122117_0811

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!

img_20161012_121927_0251

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.

img_20161012_115300_1511

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.

img_20161012_121859_4451

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.

img_20161012_115947_1941

I stroll down shady pathways.

img_20161012_120904_6471

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).

img_20161012_121207_4721

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.

img_20161012_120657_0591

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.

img_20161012_120420_4641

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!

img_20161012_121132_4251

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.

img_20161012_120540_2461

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.

img_20161012_120603_9351

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.

img_20161012_120829_9071

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.

img_20161012_120927_0941

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.

img_20161012_120952_8731

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.

img_20161012_120107_5861

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.

img_20161012_120249_9301

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

img_20161012_120204_7451

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.

img_20161012_115721_1081

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.

img_20161012_115557_2441

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.

img_20161012_121442_5991

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

img_20161012_121532_9271

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

img_20161012_115517_3721

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.”

img_20161012_121954_0371

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!

 

A Country Inn Day Summer Luncheon

img_20741

Any time of year is the right time to welcome guests to The 1853 Jeremiah Brown House, but when my work schedule slows down in Summer I’m even more ready to entertain.  On Country Inn Days I sometimes like to imagine I’m the  Innkeeper of my old house.  I take great pleasure in getting the place ready for guests – fluffing, polishing, preparing the menu and planning the agenda so my guests have a pleasant visit.  Yes, it’s a bit of work but very delightful work.

It’s fun looking through my cookbooks to choose the recipes I’ll be serving. It’s also fun reviewing my china and linen cupboards.  What items haven’t  been used lately?

I just love to collect pretty things, don’t you?  But what’s the point in having pretty things if we don’t put them to use.  I think we should use our pretty things every day, but sharing them doubles the joy.  Sharing is like that.

Depending on the weather or my mood I’ll entertain guests in various rooms and settings.  I also like to move guests around through the course of a visit.  Variety is the spice of life, right? So as I plan the food and the serving pieces I also plan an agenda for where we’ll do what.  A very short visit works well in one location, but if guests are to be with me for a longer period of time I think it’s fun to move them around a little.

So all this goes into the planning of any sort of event at The Jeremiah Brown House.

For today’s Summer luncheon I decided to start things off with coffee and pastries in the formal dining room.  I’ll use my antique cutwork placemats which look pretty against the dark wood of the table.

I’ll also use my Laura Ashley china.  It’s the Clifton pattern. Rather than bringing the coffee, tea and pastries to my guests I decide to set up a buffet in the Butler’s Pantry and let guests help themselves.

And here it is !

Because this food is meant to be just a little nibble before the main luncheon is served I’ve presented only two items.  They are . . .

Cinnamon Coffee Cake

and Cheese Strudel.

The cheese strudel is always a big hit at my gatherings so in case you might like the recipe here it is –  quick and easy.

Cheese Strudel

Ingredients: 2 pkgs. Pillsbury Crescent Rolls, 2 pkgs. (8 oz. each) cream cheese, 1 c. sugar, 1 egg yolk, 1 tsp. vanilla, (2 Tbsp. warm milk, 1 c. powdered sugar mixed together for the glaze).

Process: Beat cram cheese, sugar, egg yolk, and vanilla together.  Spread one tube crescent rolls in a 9 x 13 inch pan.  Pinch perforations together.  Spread cheese mixture over dough.  Unroll the second package of rolls, placing them on top of cheese mixture (you may pinch the edges together).  Bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes.  Brush on the glaze immediately after removing strudel from the oven.  Refrigerate.

The buffet is ready as is the table.  Now for the guests . . . and here they are!

Marilyn and Evelyna

Marilyn and Evelyna

and

Connie and Jackie

Connie and Jackie

See the bright, happy smiles on girls who want to have fun. These gals are a few of my wonderful friends. Girlfriends are the best!  They’re in the right place for a fun day too because as host I will do my very best to make everything as pleasant and delicious as possible for them.  After all, that’s my job as Innkeeper, isn’t it?

img_20841

The girls make their way to the Butler’s Pantry and they help themselves to the goodies I’ve prepared.  At this point I can transform myself from Innkeeper to just another Inn guest – at least for a few minutes. That’s the magic of a Country Inn Day.

img_20862

Happy guests, chatting away.  I pour myself some coffee.  Yes girls, I’m coming to join you.

But after a while I excuse myself because I have to get ready for the next stage of this visit.

img_20791
Read More »

I have a Country Inn Day Secret. . . a Secret Garden

IMG_1734[1]

As the main gardener of the 1853 Jeremiah Brown House I have my work cut out for me.  This house and property had been untouched for many years before my husband and I got hold of it.  What to do first?  Because we were living in the house, not the garden, it was the house that first got our attention, but after restoring the old house and even adding a new addition, it’s finally garden time.

Ah, a garden!

But as much as I desire lovely gardens all around the house my goal at present is simply to make the grounds appear park-like.   Very few actual gardens have been created thus far, but they are in the plans. At present only the herb garden has been designed and installed.  A few flowers have been added here and there – roses mostly, but new bushes appear weekly.

IMG_1947[1]

 In fact just today five luscious-looking giant blue hydrangeas were planted at the front of the house.

IMG_1946[1]

My assistant gardener, Doug, deserves all the credit for the planting.  He is my right hand man when it comes to digging holes and pruning.

IMG_1933[1]

But today I want to focus on The Secret Garden at the Jeremiah Brown House and tell you all about it thus far.  At a quick glance you’d never think a Secret Garden is in the works at this property for like any good secret it’s hidden from plain view. A visitor on the grounds will notice the circular herb garden and the wall of very old and tall Spruce trees behind it, but who would guess there was the beginning of a Secret Garden  behind those trees?

IMG_1907[1]

Around the corner one would notice the Day lilies blooming in front of very old honeysuckle bushes,  but would one guess there was something more hiding behind all this?

IMG_1945[1]

Then there’s the  row of some fifteen forsythia edging and hiding yet another side of the Secret Garden.  These forsythia will grow taller and taller and hide my little secret even more in days to come.

IMG_1739[1]

But if you walk through the small opening here between the old trees. . .

IMG_1727[1]

You come upon a clearing.

This clearing is not an easy place to plant foliage because the roots of the Spruce trees are everywhere!  This place will never be a proper Secret Garden with all sorts of beautiful flowers, but still the area does have potential. It’s such an interesting spot, a space left open inside a ring of giant Spruce trees.  The trees create a canopy of shade.  I resigned myself to forget the sun-loving flowers, and even shade-loving flowers, but still this place hidden from the rest of the grounds has potential.  As long as something, anything can grow here I will call this place my Secret Garden.

The first step was setting down the stone flooring.  Deer enjoyed spending their nights here before the stone was added. This space was their private bedroom, but now they found a softer, greener place elsewhere.  I added some pachysandra around the edges of the stone flooring and little by little it’s getting established.

IMG_1731[1]

I tried adding impatience but the soil is simply too compact and root-filled to allow the impatience to stretch out and get comfortable here.  Too bad.  Color would be nice in this secret garden. I suppose I could add pots of impatience here and there. . . maybe one day, but for now I’ve decided to let the garden operate on automatic pilot. It’s not doing a bad job of it either.

IMG_1735[1]

I’ve put Mother Nature in charge of this Secret Garden for the time being and one plant she really seems to love is Wild Ginger.  At least I think this plant is known by that name.  I too like Wild Ginger with its glossy rounded leaves. This plant serves as a very pretty ground cover and to my delight rabbits do not  eat it.  This is important because the grounds of the Jeremiah Brown House are home to many rabbits.

IMG_1736[1]

I marvel the way Mother Nature will successfully cultivate the plants she wants to grow where as  I try and try to cultivate certain other plants with no luck at all.   Look at the way she’s going to town with tiny baby plants.  They’re everywhere!    In time I may drop the name “Secret Garden” and call this place “The Wild Ginger Garden”.

IMG_1911[1]

Of course it’s not only Wild Ginger that Mother Nature is providing for my Secret Garden, look at these mysterious  plants which magically appeared while I was away for the weekend.  Nothing. . . then suddenly all this green . . . I must dig out my wildflower guide book and try to identify this plant.  Whatever it is, I like it!  Why should I bother toiling away buying and planting expensive specimens when Mother Nature will not only supply the plants for free but also install them?

IMG_1908[1]

Of course in the past I have bothered to purchase and plant a few items, two of them are Lamium Maculatum (Red Nancy) as well as the tiny yellow-green ground cover you see here. (I’ve forgotten its name.  Do you recognize it?) These two plants seem to be happy in this place. They’re taking off, getting along well with the pachysandra and the other wild plants. I’ll do no more of my own planting, at least not for a while.  I’m leaving the planting to Mother Nature.  She has been known to create beautiful work as you well know so maybe she’ll do the same here for me.

I have had  fun adding bird houses to some of the trees in The Secret Garden. This is something Mother Nature can’t do.  I think the birdies like these houses as I do.  The houses stay up year round, for after all, birds need a home in the Winter too.

IMG_1913[1]

And sculpture adds a nice touch to all the greenery.  A little cherub here . . .

IMG_1940[1] 

My wonderful “dead friend”, Saint Francis, there . . . 

Other bits of statuary are waiting to be moved into The Secret Garden too as soon as Doug or some other muscle-bound fellow happens by.

IMG_1936[1]

Rocks are welcome here, nice big ones. These rocks you see are just a few that came from an old abandoned well on the property.  They spent more than a hundred years under ground, but now they can enjoy the next hundred years  above ground in this place.

My Secret Garden is in the early stages of development.  You are witness to its beginning.  I wish I could fast forward to show both of us a more mature version of it.  Patience is a virtue needed in gardening and that’s something money can’t always buy.  The garden teaches us patience.  But there is delight, at least for me, in the anticipation of what’s to come. There’s pleasure even in the beginning stages of a garden project.  I come to this garden daily, carefully checking for any change I might see.  This is something I remember my father doing in his garden.   I  simply enjoy the moment – what is –  and I appreciate the potential of what this garden can become.

IMG_1967[1]

 Whether I sit here alone to read  . . . meditate to music of the birdies . . . whether I invite friends over to share a cup of tea in this my Secret Place . . . whatever I’m doing here I’m happy. That’s nature for you.

Be it ever so humble there’s no place quite like my Secret Garden.

It’s a Country Inn Hudson Day

IMG_6318[1]
A view of The Hudson Clock Tower on the Village Green
Some Country Inn Days take me out of town, even out of the Country, but other Country Inn Days are spent at my Inn or close to it.  That’s today.  It’s nice to live in a town you love because even simple things done there offers much pleasure.  I always wanted to live in a place where I could walk, where there were sidewalks along charming streets lined with trees and  interesting homes.  I’ve always liked towns that have a Village Green with shops, restaurants and coffee houses in their center, places where one can run into neighbors for a little chat. Hudson is such a town.  Hudson is also fortunate to have a park with a lake and a world-class library, so on this Country Inn Day I plan to stick around the Inn and my neighborhood enjoying simple pleasures in both places.

IMG_20160316_081656_050[1]
Enjoying morning coffee in the newly completed kitchen
My day begins with a bagel, my favorite espresso roast coffee, and some inspiration from author Christie Matheson.  Unless the Innkeeper in me is hosting a tea or a dinner party on an Inn Day I rely for company on books, wonderful books.  It’s very easy for me to imagine the authors of these books are here with me, if not in person, then in spirit.

“The Art of the Compliment” is a wonderful book that encourages us to say all those nice things we’re thinking “about and to” the people in our lives.  I was given a real pep talk as I nibbled and sipped, and nothing like a pep talk to start one’s day.

My bedroom here at the Inn is in need of the maid’s attention

And I’m the Maid!

You see, on a Country Inn Day I flip back and forth from being Inn Guest to worker bee.  Some people may find work an unpleasant activity on a day off, but I remember and take to heart the words of Mary Poppins.  Mary said, “In every task that must be done there is an element of fun. You find the fun and then the job’s a game.”  Imagining I’m a maid or a cook or a gardener is like play acting to me, and “play” is the magic word on a Country Inn Day.

If you were a Downton Abbey fan like me you may have imagined being Lady Mary one day and her lady’s maid the next. Well, on a Country Inn Day I take on both roles in the same day.  After all, don’t most of us play both roles throughout our lives in some manner?  There are days we dress up, go to the theater or to fine restaurants and live like a lady of leisure, but on other days we work, work, work.  Well, on a Country Inn day roles simply flip flop back and forth a little faster.

IMG_1143[2]
Closets in my dressing room at the Jeremiah Brown Inn

 Once the Inn Maid (me) tidies up the bedroom, I proceed to the dressing room in order to get ready (as Inn Guest) for an outing in town.  One thing I hate about taking a trip to a far away place is packing, but on my Country Inn Days I need not pack a thing because everything is here at my fingertips.

IMG_1140[1]

The Inn decorator (me) is thinking about adding some color to the walls and floor of this new dressing room, but even now it’s a pleasure to slip away to this quiet, private place where I get ready for the day.  The dressing room is also a good place to read if I wake up in the middle of the night.  I can retreat here, turn on some bright lights without bothering my husband.

 But now I’m ready for my walk in town.  Come along with me.

IMG_20160316_131638_001[1]

There’s nothing like a walk in town, up and down the old streets in the village we go.  I love to focus on the details of each house.  So many different styles…

IMG_20160316_131605_245[1]

Hudson does have many new neighborhoods too with all sorts of handsome new houses, but it’s the old world that warms my heart.  Hudson was founded in 1799 so many of the houses in the village were built in the early 1800’s.  Walking around town makes me  feel I’m back in Boston where I used to live.

IMG_20160316_132200_759[1]

IMG_20160316_132124_691[1]

IMG_20160316_131751_269[1]

There’s nothing like taking a walk any time of year.  It’s good to walk in a park, but equally fun to walk in a neighborhood if you like the neighborhood.  To breathe in fresh air,  get a little exercise and give your mind a chance to wander freely…  lots of good ideas can come to us while walking.  And all this is free of charge.  How good is that?

IMG_20160316_132554_215[1]
Part of Hudson’s Downtown area with shops, restaurants and the public library
My walk eventually takes me into the downtown area and just about the time I’m ready for some coffee.  I love coffee and coffee shops.  Hudson has six coffee shops to choose from so I am one lucky girl.  I enjoy writing one, two, or three letters each day in one of Hudson’s  coffee shops. There I find solitude and society simultaneously.

IMG_1117[1]

Today I explore a new shop here in Hudson.  Restore specializes in organic, superfood smoothies and things like organic avocado toast, and meals made with things like chia seeds, grass fed whey, spirulina  and pepitas (whatever those things are).

IMG_1114[1]

It’s decorated in a very minimal style, not my very favorite look, (Notice the tree stump-items serving as seats) but I try to patronize all the local businesses.  I notice when customers do arrive they are usually young adults, often with little babies or young children.  This place must be a new age thing.

IMG_1113[1]

I obviously chose a quiet time to come for I nearly have the entire place to myself and that can be nice when I’m writing letters.

IMG_1115[1]

I order a macchiato which is very yummy

IMG_1116[1]

 and it keeps me company as I write a letter or two.  But now it’s time for lunch and though I could stay here and have an organic dragonfruit bowl made up of dragonfruit blended with strawberry, pineapple, ginger, coconut milk and topped off with camu camu, goji berries and grass fed whey, I decide to take my leave and go off  to Lake Forest Country Club.

IMG_1118[1]

The decor here is more my style . . .

IMG_1119[1]

I choose a quiet corner with a table for two because I will be having lunch with a “dead friend”. What is a “dead friend”?  A “dead friend” is a person of the past who shares their stories with me by way of a book, or sometimes a film, or a collection of letters. “Dead friends” are wonderful company on Country Inn Days. They’re great luncheon companions and back at the Inn I never know how many “dead friends” will pop up for a visit at tea or cocktails or anytime.

IMG_1120[1]

And here she is, my luncheon companion – Sophia Amelia Peabody Hawthorne

The book that’s bringing Sophia to me is called “The Peabody Sisters of Salem”  by Louise Hall Tharp.  Yes, Sophia was born in Salem, Massachusetts and that’s where she met Nathaniel Hawthorne, one of my favorite authors. Perhaps you’re familiar with his work.  Well, Sophia and Nathaniel married and they lived in a house in Concord, The Old Manse, a house I visited many times.    It’s very special to have been in the house of a “dead friend”.  To walk through the rooms where they walked . . .

IMG_1121[1]

As I munch my sandwich and french fries (not very organic, but mighty tasty) Sophia tells me stories and I’m transported back to Massachusetts, to her old stomping grounds and mine.  Of course she’s talking about the 1800’s, but that makes her stories even more interesting to me for a  little time travel on a Country Inn Day is a nice touch.  I hope you have and enjoy “dead friends”, time travel, and imagination too. All three do wonders to jazz up an ordinary day.

IMG_20160316_132841_173[1]

But time flies as it always does and I leave the club, stopping off to buy some flowers for the Inn.  That’s the job of the Innkeeper (me).  I choose white tulips.

IMG_20160316_095943_921[1]

Back at the Inn I morph into the Inn Maid.  There’s laundry to fold, but after my outing in town it’s a nice change of pace, and variety is the spice of life.  Is it not?

A few housekeeping matters are attended to, a little this and a little that . . .

IMG_20160316_173321_513[1]

The tulips are arranged at the table by the Innkeeper (me) . . .

IMG_20160316_183736_458[1]

The Inn Cook (me) whips up a little dinner for my husband who happens to be a regular guest at the Inn . . .  My son Rory will be joining us tonight too.  It seems like food is a big part of a Country Inn Day, doesn’t it?  Well, it is.

IMG_1141[1]

And once dinner is over and a little time is spent unwinding and visiting with my boys it’s back where I started this morning. . . back to the dressing room.

There were a few dozen other things that went into this Country Inn Day, but I’ll share those things at another time. Sharing surely doubles the joy.  I hope you’re sharing your joy too

Ah me!  the days go swiftly by . . .

Time to say farewell . . .

What will my next Country Inn Day be like?

We’ll just have to wait and see.