It’s a Country Inn Day – Culture Day

cleveland art museum
The Cleveland Museum of Art

On this snowy Country Inn Day I decided a cultural outing was in order so I left my cozy Inn mid-morning and took a 45 minute drive north to the University Circle neighborhood on the east side of Cleveland. This neighborhood always makes me feel more intelligent just by driving through it because genius seems to be in the air here; that’s because University Circle is home to many fine institutions and brilliant minds.  There’s Case Western Reserve University, Severance Hall, home of the Cleveland Orchestra, The Cleveland Botanical Garden, The Natural History Museum, The Cleveland Institute of Music where I went to school, University hospitals, and many more outstanding establishments, but today I’m after Art!

images (3)front of museum

The Cleveland Museum of Art is a wonderful place.  It was established in 1913.  It has had a number of additions, but my favorite part of the museum is its original, very classical building. This museum is internationally renowned for its substantial holdings of Asian and Egyptian art, but it also houses a diverse permanent collection of more than 43,000 works from all around the world.  And best of all it has remained historically true to the vision of its founders, keeping general admission free to the public. This is possible because the museum has a $600 million endowment.  It is one of the wealthiest museums in the world.

images (3)lagoon

The museum has  a lovely lagoon and garden out front.  This is how it looks in Winter, but it’s really gorgeous on a Summer’s day.

images (3)springtime laggoon


images (3)atrium

But since it’s not Summer, today I appreciate the newly constructed Atrium with its glass roof which is now covered in snow.  Better the roof covered in snow than me.   The Atrium connects the new part of the museum to the old part.    It has beds of grass-like greenery at one end.


This greenery is most interesting.  It has a moss-like appearance, but I couldn’t identify exactly what the plant material was.  Also interesting is the way it grows in slanting hills and valleys.


The other end of the Atrium is a great place to sit and relax.  Here you might pause for some refreshment purchased at the cafe or read over the material you just bought at the gift shop which is a few steps away.


Ah, the gift shop!  I always enjoy browsing in this shop and today  I had some delightful conversations with museum employees. Ohioans are so friendly. Even when I go off on a Country Inn Day outing all by myself I always find nice people with whom to strike up a conversation.  When I’m here I always buy museum postcards and note cards to send my many pen friends. But the shop has so much more – books, jewelry, prints,  etcaetera etcaeterorum.

But how ’bout I show you a few things around the museum? Would you like to see the Armor Court?


Follow me through this grand room with its marble pillars.


And here we are.  I was told this armor collection, popular with the children, was put into the museum because Cleveland was a steel town way back when so armor seemed to be just the thing to get the museum off and running.


I happen to love portraiture.  Here we have the portrait of Elizabeth Beltzhoaver Mason .  It was painted by Gilbert Stuart in 1803. Stuart was an American artist who lived from 1755 to 1828.


And this is a portrait of Hugh Hope painted by the Scottish artist Henry Raeburn in 1810.  Raeburn lived from 1756 to 1823.  I love the clothing of these early times.  How ’bout I show you one more portrait though I enjoyed looking at lots and lots of them.


This painting is called “Portrait of a woman”  It is quite old.  Rembrandt van Rijn painted it in 1635 or earlier.  You may know Rembrandt was Dutch and he lived from 1606 to 1669.

I know I said just one more portrait, but I lied.  I have to show you another.  It is perhaps my favorite, or at least one of my favorites.


This is a self-portrait of a Belgiun named Joseph Paelivick.  He lived from 1781 to 1839.  He created this painting in 1812.  I love his pose. I love his clothing.  I love his expression.  I love portraiture.

But as I said earlier there is so very much to see here, 43,000 works.  Each time I visit the museum it’s all almost all new to me.  Of course I always enjoy revisiting my favorite things…


things like this great doorway from the Issac Gillet House.  It was created by the famous American artist, Jonathon Goldsmith back in 1821. Goldsmith lived from 1783 to 1847.  He and all the other artists I admire are not forgotten when I leave the museum.  I try to get to know these people by reading their biographies. Many become my “dead friends”.

Viewing exceptional art, viewing anything beautiful, becomes us.  Just walking through the elegant rooms of this museum is energizing and uplifting.  Come along.  Look at this!


And this!


And this!


a close up of a Louis XV Savonnerie carpet with royal arms made of wool and hemp somewhere around 1740.


And these Tiffany lamps dated 1898 to 1910 made by The Tiffany glass and decorating company of New York.


And when we pass a window don’t forget to look outside at the beautiful snow-covered garden below.


We pass gallery talks in progress.  This one is all about Monet and other Impressionists.  I stick around for a few minutes, but it’s time for a ‘sit down’.


I find an empty table in the Atrium, order a cappuccino and relax for a bit with a little letter writing.  I tell my friend in Rhode Island all the things I’ve been seeing.  Sharing doubles the joy you know. That’s why I enjoy sharing my Country Inn Days with you too.

I’m getting hungry. I could stay at the museum longer and have some food in the charming restaurant here.


This restaurant has a view of nature out its windows – beauty in art, beauty in nature, and culinary beauty to boot, but no, after my cappuccino I must get back to the Inn.  Once there the magic of Country Inn Days will transform me from Inn Guest into Inn Chef and I will create a masterpiece of my own.

It’s called Dinner

Tagliatelle with Red Wine Bolognese Sauce

The recipe

Ingredients:  1 onion, 1 small carrot, 1 celery stick, 2 cloves of garlic, 3 tbsp olive oil, 14oz minced beef, 1 and 1/2 cups red wine, 1 cup tomato puree, a small handful of oregano, parsley to garnish, 1 and 1/2 cup beef stock, 1 lb tagliatelle pasta, salt and pepper


1.  Chop vegetables finely. Heat oil, add vegetables and cook over low heat 5 to 7 minutes.

2.  Add the minced beef and cook 5 minutes.  Stir in wine and mix well.

3.  Cook 2 minutes.  Add tomato puree, herbs and stock.  Salt and pepper to taste.

4.  Cover pan and cook slowly for 30 minutes.

5.  Meanwhile cook pasta.

6.  Add a salad and a glass of wine.

7. Light a candle or two and enjoy!


I am now transformed once again from Inn Chef back into Inn Guest.  Ah, the magic of Country Inn Days!

And though this particular Country Inn Day held many other delights, I will leave you here, sharing more next time.  So until we meet again, be sure to exercise your own imagination and live richly experiencing much beauty.  Remember

Leave behind ordinary.  It’s not enough!

Shall we have another outing?

Flying the friendly skies to California once again
I’m in the mood for a little culture.  How about you?  Let’s go to Pasadena, California and visit the Huntington Museum.  The Huntington Museum is a wonderful private non-profit collection-based research and educational institution founded in 1919 by Henry E. Huntington. Huntington was an exceptional businessman who built a financial empire that included railroad companies, utilities, and real estate holdings in Southern California.

Huntington_art_gallery_at_huntington_library_californiahuntington library

The Huntington complex is  huge.  It’s composed of a library containing rare books and manuscripts in the fields of British and American history and literature, but that’s not all.


It is also an art gallery composed of two separate buildings.  The Huntington Gallery, completed in 1911, originally was the Huntington’s residence.  You would love walking through its rooms of elegant furnishings.


Just look at this gorgeous dining room.  Though the Huntington family was not known to have entertained regularly, the dining room was nevertheless suitable for important functions.  One such occasion was a dinner for the crown prince and princess of Sweden, who visited the Huntington mansion in the early 1920’s.


Every room is exquisite.


I’m sure you would be most impressed with the building itself, but there’ s also the extensive art collection it contains.  When planning the residence Henry Huntington first envisioned a more modest retreat, but his uncle’s widow, Arabella Huntington, whom he would marry in 1913, was looking for a home on a grander scale.  Looking at one of the staircases in their home I think you would agree Arabella achieved her grand vision.


The floor to ceiling windows are lovely.  I had such windows in my last 1829 house.  I miss them.


The Huntington rooms are painted white and off- white with gold accents.  The look is very elegant and peaceful.  I might copy Huntington’s color palate should an addition ever materialize on my own home.


The 2,900-square-foot hall was added in 1934 for displaying the Huntington’s Grand Manner portraits.  Now called the Thornton Portrait Gallery, this addition followed a trend begun with the Wallace Collection in London and the Frick Collection in New York where grand homes were converted into museums.  (That’s my son Patrick standing in the gallery).


The loggia on the east side of the house represents a concession by the architect.  Archival documents show that Myron Hunt preferred a modest terrace on the east side; Henry Huntington envisioned a bolder, more spacious “outdoor living room.”  Huntington ultimately prevailed.


I think Huntington had the right idea, for a grand home like his truly needed a bold and spacious loggia rather than a small modest one.  Don’t you agree?

IMG_3749[1]Of course such a wonderful residence has wonderful vistas too.  It must have been fabulous to live in such a grand home, but all along Henry Huntington intended his home to function as a public gallery which is why less remarkable spaces such as bathrooms and the kitchen were not saved.  The Huntington opened to the public in 1928, a year after Henry’s death.

Sculpture of George Washington by Pierre-Jean David

The Huntington ‘s art collections occupy two separate buildings on the grounds.  A third structure, The MaryLou and George Boone Gallery hosts changing exhibitions.

If you visit the Huntington you will find the finest collections of European art in the nation and  The Virginia Steele Scott Galleries of American Art bring together American art from the colonial period through the middle of the 20th century.

Besides all this the Huntington contains  an incredible Botanical Garden.  There is too much to see at one visit.  People are truly blessed who live in or near Pasadena California for they can and should return over and over again.

I hope you have enjoyed popping over to the Huntington with me today and I hope you manage to get there one day yourself.  In the meantime look for the beauty that’s all around you.

 The beauty we focus on becomes us.

Spa Day

Hello from another Country Inn Day.  Today is  Spa Day at the Inn and I’m happy to share highlights of this day with you.  Why?  You know.  It’s because sharing doubles the joy.

We humans are a mixture of  the physical, social, intellectual and spiritual  —and  each of these aspects of life  needs careful attention in order to function at its best making  life as rich as possible.  On Spa Days the focus is on the physical.

It’s not just about how we look,  though I’m guessing most women feel a lot better if they look in the mirror and are pleased with what they see.  But it’s also about how we feel. How we feel  is quite the physical thing.   On Spa Day I can complete a  treatment and look exactly as I looked before that treatment, but I will be feeling ever so much better.  A little pampering goes a long way, and if you believe as I do, that the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit within us, then hey, we need to keep that temple up.

Spa treatments can be enjoyed right at the Inn (my magical Inn, also called Home) or they can take me “off site”  to a variety of establishments offering additional   pleasures.  This Inn Day I begin with a trip to the Off Main Street Salon  as you can see from their sign.  They promise rejuvenation and that’s what my physical being is after today.


I approach the salon with delicious anticipation.

IMG_2364[1]And upon entering who do I see but Pat, one of the owners, who is waiting and ready to pamper me.


“Hi Pat”, I say.  “I’m ready for some physical rejuvenation.  Where shall we start?”  Pat suggests the pedicure area.  Well, ok.   And away we go!


One of Pat’s helpers steps up.  After all, Pat can’t do everything herself.


 I’m sorry, but I forgot to get this nice gal’s name, but she sure was friendly and sweet.  Working with nice people on spa days helps the social aspect of life get a boost too.


From the pedicure area I was off for a  shampoo and a few other  hair treatments.  Doesn’t it feel great to have someone else shampoo your hair now and then?  Answer:  YES!


Pat has a nice establishment, but after a few delicious hours it was time to say goodbye  till my next visit.  “Bye Pat, Keep up the good work!”  I had  a lovely morning and I did feel somewhat  rejuvenated,  but my Spa Day was not over.  No, not by a long shot.  Treatments would continue back at the Inn.


And here I am, back at my Inn  entering  the boudoir to prepare for my next luscious treat, a relaxing bubble bath.  I have a little pink rubber duckie to keep me company


Nothing like a fragrant bath.   Today the bath water  is laced with Bronnely’s Pink Bouquet,  a fragrance that I first discovered on a trip to Bermuda.  Bronnely is an English company and I love their products.


I love all sorts of pretty girlie products like these tall bottles filled with  Mediterranean bath foam infused with various scents – Geranium, Camomile, Moss, and Jasmine.  The balls of bath salts  and large  fragrant bars of moisturizing soap will be enjoyed some other Spa Day.


I could stay in my personal spa hideaway for hours, and the “do not disturb” sign on the door keeps me safe from intruders.  We don’t have to go far away to get away from it all.  If you’re like me, all you need is a little peace and quiet – some alone time,  and  an atmosphere that is peaceful and pretty.


No, this isn’t my ballerina dress.  It’s a bit small for me, but to look at lovely things like this while I soak in the tub makes me feel happy.  Just to gaze at things of beauty offers its own refreshment.


But there are all sorts of nice treatments and things that offer refreshment.  To have a book like this one, simply called spa , written by Leslie Wolski, you’ll get lots of spa ideas you can enjoy right at home. Here’s one spa  idea, and all you need to make it happen is a sink,


a little water,  warm or cold, and a small towel.  Simply place the warm or cold compress across your eyes, lie back and dream dreams while you relax.  What an inexpensive treat.  The Inn Spa offers many of such rejuvenating experiences.


Spa Days can’t promise the look of eternal youth.  Nothing really can.  Even this Fountain of Youth potion I purchased in Florida at Ponce de Leon’s actual Fountain of Youth didn’t make me look a day younger.    But it’s not just about how young we look or how good we look.  It’s also about how we feel. If we treat ourselves well, pamper ourselves,  just as we’d pamper a precious work of art (and we all are a precious work of art)  then we’ll  feel great no matter how we look.

It’s not just the physical, though the physical is important.  Our lives are a combination of physical, social, intellectual and spiritual experiences.  We must be attentive to all four aspects of ours lives maintaining each.  We are, after all,


That’s YOU and ME

This reminds me of a song that happens to be called


The song is written by Carey Landry.

My children’s choir sings this song.

Here are the lyrics:

Each and every one of us

Is a wondrous work of art

Signed by the hand of God

Some of us are masterpieces painted long ago

On some of us the paint is still wet

So many different colors, so many works of art

Yet each is the handiwork of God

Like clay in the hands of a potter

None of us is finished quite yet

Though each of us is deeply loved exactly as we are

There is always more we can become

Each of us is on a journey started long ago

A journey full of promise, a journey full of hope

We seek the way of truth and life that Jesus came to bring

Guided by the loving hand of God

Yes, Each and everyone of us

Is a wondrous work of Art

Signed by the hand of God.


So have yourself a Spa Day

You deserve it!