It’s a Country Inn Hudson Day

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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I order a macchiato which is very yummy

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 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.

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The decor here is more my style . . .

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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.

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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 . . .

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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.

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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.

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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 . . .

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

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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.

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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.

It’s a Country Inn Day – Nature Day!

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Today I escape from my daily routine.  It’s a Country Inn Day, a day of imagination and play.  I enjoy one Country Inn Day each week.  Not only is this day great fun, it is also crucial to my creative life.  Country Inn Days  take on all sorts of forms.  There’s Culture Day, Adventure Day, Spa Day, Sharing Tea Day, Nature Day, as well as six other varieties.

But whatever the Inn Day, my home base is my Inn of Imagination, my 1853 home in Hudson, Ohio, USA.   Here, in between special excursions,  I partake in many simple pleasures, the kind of pleasures I would enjoy when visiting my favorite “real” Inn, The Red Lion Inn of Stockbridge, Massacusetts.   I call these simple pleasures enjoyed on Inn Days  “Country Inn Tidbits.

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One such delightful tidbit is starting the day with coffee, something yummy to eat, and the writing of a letter.  Some say The Art of Letter Writing is dead and gone, but they’re so wrong!  I’ve been writing one letter every morning  for the past umpteen years and umpteen people have been writing back to me.  Maybe you’re even one of those people.  Well, they don’t call me “The Lady of Letters” for nothing.  so here in my library, just as in the lobby of The Red Lion Inn, I start the day in thoughtful sharing with a friend.

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And as I consult my beautiful journal today, a journal given to me by my Rhode Island pen friend, Barbara (Hi Barbara)  I am delighted to see that the featured book of the week in this journal is Henry David Thoreau’s “Walden”.  I remember hiking around Walden Pond years ago when I lived in Boston, even seeing the exact spot where Thoreau built his cabin. How appropriate  I should be reading about Thoreau on this, a Nature Day.  So with my morning letter writing completed it is now time to experience a little bit of nature for myself.

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I hop in my car and head out through the beautiful Cuyahoga Valley, home of The Cuyahoga Valley National Park, a most wonderful place to hike, picnic, fish, go horseback riding, enjoy archery, or just relax.  But this Nature Day I have another destination in mind.  I’m headed for a Visitor Center run by the Metro Park System of Cleveland/Akron.

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After a delightful ride through the country I reach my destination, park my car, and walk through the lovely grounds of the park.

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How cleverly this Nature Center, called “The Nature Realm”,  is placed in the landscape.  It barely disturbs the natural vista. There’s a large pond behind the building  and paths of lovely brick and stone work to stroll, paths  that blend beautifully with the surroundings.

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I love all the bird feeders set out so the visitor can delight in the sight of not a few, but many birds feasting.  The center provides literature too to help the novice birder identify the birds they are seeing.

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Any questions can be directed to the many naturalists on the scene. Let’s go inside the Nature Realm and I’ll show you around.

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Come this way!

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The first exhibit that greets us is this one.  Do you recognize this bird? It’s a Blue Heron.  If you read all the information posted here you’ll be a heron expert.  I learned that the Bath Road heronry in my county, Summit county of Ohio, is a popular nesting site with roughly 130 nests every year.  I must go see them, perhaps on my next Nature Day.

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There are also displays about early days in Ohio, how Ohio was a melting pot for Indian tribes, including the Delaware, Seneca and Mingo. There are Indian artifacts on display and plenty of books for sale detailing the history of these early inhabitants.

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I love all the large murals.  This one explains how later settlers who came to Ohio made their living farming and how by 1820 in order to ship grain and other products to market a canal was built.  It’s the 300 mile-long Ohio and Erie Canal.  Perhaps you heard of it.  This canal was so successful by 1840 Ohio was the 3rd most populous state in America.

But besides the natural history of this area there are all sorts of other interesting things to see.

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Here we learn about Tom Baldwin and how he turned woodworking into a rewarding profession.  We see the detail of his carved birds and the tools he uses to create them.  Very interesting. Mr.Baldwin teaches wildlife painting too.  In fact, the park is offering a class in which Mr. Baldwin promises to teach participants how to create a one-of-a-kind masterpiece, a painting of the prized charadrius vociferus.  In case you don’t know just what a charadrius vociferus is I will tell you. It’s a bird, a killdeer which is a medium-sized plover.  What’s a plover?  A plover is a wading bird of which there are 66 species.  I just might sign up for this class.  It could be perfect for another  Country Inn Nature Day.  after all, I always wanted to create a masterpiece!  You see how one Country Inn Day  leads to another?

There is so much to see at the Nature Realm.  Let me show you just one more thing, well, a few more things, a few of the animals on display here. Unfortunately, these animals aren’t alive anymore, not so good for them, but good for us because this way we can get a close up look at them.  Some I know, but some I have never seen before today.  How about you?

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Red Fox
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Red-necked pheasant
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Bob White Quail
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Red-breasted Merganser
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Common Loon
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Grey Fox
I hate to think of animals being stuffed.   Jeepers!  However do they do that? But this process does give us the opportunity to get a good look at them. I would’ve thought the Loon was just another duck, but thanks to my Nature Day now I know better.

This visit to The Nature Realm, seeing things in nature  that I don’t usually see, hit the spot for me on this Nature Day. But now it’s time to move along for Country Inn Days contain many more pleasures.

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One such pleasure is a visit to my local coffee shop where I enjoy a favorite drink.  Country Inn Days are filled with these simple but delightful pleasures.

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You’ve heard the song that proclaims “I simply remember my favorite things and then I don’t feel so bad”.  Yes?  Well, more then remembering, it’s good to actually partake in our favorite things -and on a regular basis. Then we not only don’t feel so bad, we actually  feel terrific!  Country Inn Days give me a regular opportunity to enjoy my favorite things.  And there are so many favorite things to enjoy.

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How ’bout a walk around the block with your dog or your husband or just by yourself?  This is another of my simple Country Inn Day pleasures.  A walk is not only good for our health, it is also  good for clearing  our mind of clutter and focusing on the nature all around us. I may miss my daily walk some times, but not on Country Inn Days.

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Another Country Inn Day pleasure is a special dinner.  The magic of Inn Days transforms me from Inn Chef to Innkeeper to Inn Guest and later to Inn maid as I clean up.  As Inn chef I create a special meal.  As Innkeeper I prepare the table.  Only my prettiest things are used, things I may not bother with on ordinary days. Candlelight, linen, flowers, music… we have these things so we should use them.  Country Inn Days are the perfect time.

Oh, there’s so much more, but I’ll share other Country Inn Day pleasures with you on my next Country Inn Day.  What will it be? An Adventure Day, a Spa Day, a Culture Day?  You’ll just have to wait and see.  But till we meet again, remember to live richly, use your imagination and share, for though you can have a lot of fun on your own…

Sharing Doubles the Joy

It’s another Country Inn Day – Come on along

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Today and every Wednesday my 1853 home is magically transformed into a country inn where I step out of my regular routines and enjoy a little (or a lot) of imagination.  I flip from being innkeeper( hosting afternoon teas)  to inn chef (creating mouth-watering  romantic dinners) to  inn  gardener (planting and weeding) to inn maid (tidying and polishing), to inn guest.

Each of these inn characters could tell you lots of stories, and I’m sure one day you’ll hear from all of them, but today Carol Ann , as inn guest,  would like to share with you a delightful outing she enjoyed as part of her inn day.  That outing took her (me)  to a charming town called Chagrin Falls.  Why share?  You know.

 Sharing doubles the joy!

So grab your hat and off we go!

We head north east from my town of Hudson, Ohio and in about 20 minutes we find ourselves in a neighborhood that could easily be mistaken for the town of Edgartown on the island of Martha”s Vineyard, but it’s not Edgarton, it’s Chagrin Falls.

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Most of the charming old houses in Chagrin’s historic district  have a uniform look of white clapboard with black or dark green shutters creating a very crisp and clean look.

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We see architectural  details  on many of the houses and charming plantings that add a finishing touch to the landscape.    Dogwoods, azaleas and so many old majestic trees that only old neighborhoods will have.

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An all green palette is very restful to the eye and maybe that’s why this neighborhood has such a comforting effect on me.

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And the fences… so many picket fences –  a very New England thing, and having lived many happy years in Boston I suppose that’s also part of why I feel so comfortable and at home here.

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But though I could spend  my whole outing walking around this neighborhood and taking pictures of pretty houses and gardens  we need to move on and go into town where the action is.

IMG_3286[1]And here we  are …looking at the gazebo on the triangle.  It’s a Chagrin Falls trademark right in the center of things.

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As we stroll around town on this beautiful day we run into some very friendly ladies  of the Dogwood Valley Garden club who are planting  flowers in town.  They tell me about “Blossom Time”.  This is a festival celebrated on Memorial Day weekend.  There’s a carnival and a parade and if you live anywhere near Chagrin Falls, Ohio you should google it and stop by.  If everyone is as friendly as these nice ladies I’m sure you’d  have lots of fun at these festivities.  I’m having a lot of fun on this very ordinary day.  I hope you’re enjoying yourself too.

There are all sorts of nice places to eat here Al fresco style.  You could go to the Gamekeeper’s Tavern (my favorite)

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The Gamekeeper’s patio

or you could choose the restaurant next door called West End.

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West End

West End has out door seating in its small front yard and also seating in its backyard.

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And there are many other restaurants too.  You’ll not starve if you come here.  And if you’re from out of town fear not.  There’s the Inn of Chagrin Falls that would be happy to have you stay with them.  Yes, a real Country Inn!  If I didn’t already have my inn of imagination so close by you could be sure I would check in myself.  It’s lovely.

IMG_3282[1]and it has its very own patio beyond the gate.

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Chagrin Falls … ah!  Isn’t it a cute place?  And there truly are falls here —  waterfalls …  there are two, and let’s take a look at them.  You get a different view from each side of the street.

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On this side of the street you see the falls and  there is a park with lots of green grass and even a playground set back for the younger set.

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A path along the grassy park

On the other side of the street you walk down flights of wooden steps to see an even larger water fall.

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You might wonder how this river and this town got its name.  Well, in the book “Early History and Early Memories” written by Clarence A. Vincent he writes:  The little neighborhood of my childhood and the village were 16 miles from the city of Cleveland.  The name of the village originated in a peculiar way.  The discoverers of the river, now called the Cuyahoga, at the mouth of which Cleveland is built, returned to the east for supplies.  On their return to the wilderness they came to a river’s mouth which they supposed was the river of the other trip; but when they tried to ascend the stream, they soon found it too small and not suitable for navigation.  In their disappointment they called it the Chagrin River.  Later when the village was settled and named, it was called, on account of the falls at this place in the river, Chagrin Falls.”

Though it’s just beautiful out here with a gentle breeze blowing and the smell of fragrant spirea in the air let’s walk around to the red building you saw across the river.  It’s a Starbuck’s coffee shop and I’m in the mood for some good coffee.  How about you?

IMG_3251[1]We walk down the street past the popcorn shop

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and the book store

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and we settle in at Starbuck’s where I write a letter and we both  rest our feet for a little while.

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We got a good table by the window so we not only can look forward to see the whole shop

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but we can also look out the window at our side to see the street and the falls below.

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As you may know from my previous posts I love coffee shops and I could stay here for hours, but I did want to do a little shopping so off we go to The Herb Shop.

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There are lovely herb gardens out front

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Just one view of the many herb gardens

and many different  herbs in pots of assorted sizes are for sale.

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I feel like a kid in a candy store, but I restrain myself and purchase only 5 pots of sweet woodruf.

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Some day the inn gardener will have to show you where the sweet woodruf gets planted.  But that’s for another day.

I had a lot of fun on my outing seeing many people and  lots of things and I’m very proud of myself for spending only a little money.  I resisted the cute pedestal server I saw inside the Herb Shop.

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 Oh yes, that shop sells all sorts of goodies inside its doors.  Lots of things the innkeeper (me)   could use for her teas.

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And did I tell you part of the shop is rented to a lady who sells beautiful yarns?  I was so tempted to buy the materials needed to make  this eyelet knit scarf.

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But I resisted temptation.  I resisted Herb Shop temptation and Antique shop temptation too.   I gave you the highlights of my outing, but I left out a few things –  like the fun antique/gift shop where I saw  these sconces which would look mighty pretty in the bedroom of my inn of imagination.

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It is possible to have a fun outing without spending a lot of money, but I  may have to go back to  Chagrin Falls and pick up  those sconces for the more I think about them the more I like them.

So that was my little outing on this Country Inn Day.  I’m glad you came along.  After a day out and about I always return to my inn of imagination with renewed contentment.  I hope you enjoyed seeing a bit of Chagrin Falls, Ohio. too and I hope you take time off  from your routines regularly in order to  enjoy lots of outings in your own neck of the woods.  We don’t have to check into  real inns or hotels,  nor do we have to go far away in order to have  fun.   We just need to use our imagination and give ourselves permission to take time off now and then and do whatever makes us happy

And what would that be for you?

Coffee Shops are for me

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The other day I was introduced to yet another French coffee shop in my area and I must say the warm blueberry-filled crepes dusted with powder sugar were absolutely delicious, but my waiter did not look anything like the fellow pictured above and the coffee shop did not look like anything pictured below.

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No, I guess one must go off to Europe, take a trip back in time…

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or find a book like this one, “The French Cafe” by Marie-France Boyer, in order to enjoy such romantic places.

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Starbucks in Brentwood, California
Here in the States there are coffee houses to be had, but they look more like this one.

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Another view…

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And here’s my favorite view because it contains a picture of my son Patrick working on his statistics.  But nice as this coffee house was, and I came here a number of times myself, there were no waiters in black tie nor were there any white tablecloths to be seen.  Sigh!

I was impressed because this Starbucks had live orchids on some tables.  Do you see one in the background?

Starbucks does have a good dark espresso roast so I’m always happy in one, and do you know –  if you buy their coffee in the market, you can bring your empty bag  back to the Starbucks, turn it in, and get a free cup of coffee? Yes, it’s true.

But I enjoy all sorts of coffee houses and when I’m back in Hudson my favorite is a Pete’s.

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Caribou Coffee

Until recently the Hudson Pete’s was  a Caribou Coffee and it looked like this.  There was a fireplace and a wall of windows.  The windows are still there but the fireplace is sadly gone now, and there have been other design changes in the room too, but many of the workers are the same people and the coffee is just as good.

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The nice fellow who works the counter

Do you enjoy spending time in coffee houses as I do?  A coffee house is a great place to read a book, write a letter, meet a friend,  plug your laptop in and create posts for your blog  or reach out to the whole world via internet or while writing letters while sipping a cappuccino.

My “dead friend” Lord Byron said, “Only in letter writing do we have solitude and society simultaneously”, but though he has a point there, coffee houses also grant  a certain amount of solitude while enjoying  society.

You can even make new friends while enjoying a coffee house.  I met a lovely man recently by the name of  David.  He is old enough to be my father, so don’t worry.  There’s no hanky-panky going on, just friendly conversation.  It’s always so nice to meet interesting new people, don’t you agree?  David worked in theatre and public relations, but  he also created and still creates  beautiful leather goods.  Every time David and I see each other at the coffee house I learn more and more about this interesting man, and isn’t that how friendship grows?

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This luxurious “naked” finish leather is drum-dyed, not spray painted and is without the fillers, pigments and plastic coatings found on commercial-trade leathers. The result is a warm natural look and buttery-soft suppleness found only in superb “naked” leather

Was I surprised when he gave me this lovely pencil case which he made with his own two hands.  I would’ve never met David nor enjoyed owning such a great pencil case if it weren’t for my love of coffee houses.  And look how much I’ve learned about leather. Now you’re learning about “naked” finish leather too and all because I frequent coffee houses.

So

Unless you’re reading this in France you may not be able to find coffee shops where waiters are wearing black tie and carrying  white towels, and you may not find coffee shops with white tablecloths, but nevertheless,  GO!…

Go to a coffee shop.

Read there!

Write there!

Meet People!

Coffee shops are great!

They’re for me and maybe they’re for you too.

Let me know what you think.