“I say, old chap. you’ve been invited to join me for tea!”

IMG_9615[1]

On this Country Inn Day I, the Innkeeper, will be hosting a high tea.  As usual I invite someone old, (an old acquaintance) someone new, (a person I like but don’t know very well, (yet) and someone borrowed maybe two (one or both my guests may be asked to bring along a friend. And of course I’m now inviting you to come along and join in my fun.

IMG_9608[1]

My guests today are Andy, an old friend, Mary Fran in the flowered jacket who I met recently at a most joyful funeral and Robin who is   Mary Fran’s good friend.  A more spirit-filled threesome would be hard to find.

IMG_9601[1]

As Innkeeper I rose early and began setting the stage for tea.  After all, staging a high tea is very much like staging a theatrical production.  The setting is most important if we expect our guests to feel serene and special.  I decided this particular tea will be served in the formal dining room.  As Innkeeper I enjoy presenting tea in various locations in and around the Inn.  On a beautiful day it could be tea in the Secret Garden with the birdies singing for everyone’s enjoyment or on an  Autumn’s day I might serve tea in the Outbuilding with a fragrant wood fire blazing in its old fireplace.  Variety adds spice to life and to the Inn’s entertaining.

There’s much to do in order to be ready for my guests.  As Innkeeper I’m in charge of choosing the china, crystal, linens and menu.  I’m also in charge of the flowers.

IMG_9598[1]

Flowers are a must at tea.  Their beauty soothes the savage soul and we all have those savage moments in modern  day life. Roses are my favorite and very nice in the formal dining room.

IMG_9591[1]

I’m also in charge of polishing the silver.  Every tea need not use silver, but high tea in the Inn’s dining room requires nothing less.

Though I’ll be serving three different teas today – Darjeeling, Oolong and Apricot tea I do enjoy serving a glass of Carolans Irish Cream as a postlude treat.

IMG_9592[1]

How many Innkeepers have a luscious blend of Irish cream, honey and mellow Irish spirits named after them?  My name is CarolAnn, CarolAnn McCarthy  – very Irish (though I was born 100% Polish) so it’s rather nice to serve a beverage made in Ireland at this “CarolAnn’s Country Inn.”

IMG_9603[1]

I, the Innkeeper,  can’t do everything for this tea.  I turn the food over to the Inn cook. Of course the Inn cook also happens to be me, but whatever.  Cook planned three courses for today’s tea – first a plate containing chicken salad in puff pastry, broccoli salad and fruit.

In case you might like to whip up the chicken salad here’s the recipe.

Chicken salad

2 cups cooked chicken, cubed, 1 cup celery, finely chopped, 4 small green onions, chopped, 1 cup mayonnaise, 2 tsp. Dijon mustard, salt and pepper to taste, frozen puff pastry, thawed and baked and caramelized pecans chopped.  (To carmelize pecans simply heat 1/2 cup sugar till melted stirring constantly, then add the pecans.  Turn the pecans out onto wax paper and then chop).

The second course is Scones

IMG_9590[1]

The scones were baked and then cut into squares.  Scones are simple to make and usually loved by all.  Here’s Carol Ann’s recipe:  Mix 2 cups flour with 1 T. baking powder, 1/4 t of salt and 4 T of sugar.  Cut in 6 T of butter and then combine 2 eggs with 1/3 cup of cream and mix into the dry ingredients.  Shape into two round or square large scones, put a bit of cream on top and sugar, then bake at 400 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes.

IMG_9623[1]

Cook loves to use the French Bonne Maman’ preserves with  English Double Devon Cream atop the Irish scones making then an international hit.

IMG_9593[1]

This tea cake is the thrid course.  It is a new recipe Cook made for today’s tea. It’s nice to try out one new recipe at each tea keeping the rest of the menu tried and true.  Luckily this cake came out beautifully and was quite yummy.  You ought to try it yourself. I think you’ll like it.

IMG_9624[1]

The recipe comes from this book called “The Great Tea Rooms of America”. It’s written by Bruce Richardson.  Let me share the recipe for today’s tea cake with you.

Ahrens Tea Cake

1/2 up butter, 1 cup sugar, 2 eggs, 2 tsp. vanilla,2 cups all purpose flour,2 tsp. baking powder,1 tsp. baking soda, 1 cup sour cream.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter and sugar together and add eggs and vanilla.  Combine and mix flour, baking powder and baking soda.  Add to butter mixture.  Fold in sour cream.  Spoon half of the batter into a greased and floured bundt pan.

Filling

1/2 cup sliced almonds toasted, 2 tsp. cinnamon, 1/2 cup brown sugar

Combine almonds, cinnamon, and brown sugar.  Sprinkle onto the middle of the batter.  Cover the filling with the remaining batter and bake for 35 minutes.

If you bake this tea cake you can serve it at your very own tea. You are planning to have a tea of your own soon, aren’t you?  I certainly hope so.  Tea is all about enjoyment, relaxation, and taking the time to refresh your spirit and the spirit of others.  Like letter writing it’s a beautiful and gracious art that must not be forgotten.

IMG_9597[1]

So the food is prepared and the table is set.

IMG_9594[1]

The buffet holds the tea cake and the Irish Cream.

The guests arrive and the next few hours are a wonderful time where joy is shared, old friendship is nourished and new ones are cultivated.  Work and worry are sturdy weeds you know, but joy requires cultivation. Sharing tea is one wonderful way to cultivate joy!

It’s been such fun talking, nibbling and sipping tea as I was transformed once again from Innkeeper and Cook into just another Inn Guest.  Quite magical how this happens on my Country Inn Days. But all good things must come to an end.  The guests leave reluctantly and I’m transformed one last time, now into Inn Maid.

IMG_9612[1]

The dishes need washing.

IMG_9614[1]

 The crystal too must be cleaned and made ready for the Inn’s next entertaining event.

IMG_9613[1]

And the linen used today is washed and hung to dry.

The tea party now exists only in my memory and in this blog, but I’m left with a lovely afterglow.  What a nice experience it was.  Yes, there was some work involved, but that work was actually fun and well rewarded.  Not only did I have the chance to exercise my creativity and use those things I collect and love, but I gave of myself to others and everyone knows…

When you give good things come back to you.

That’s for sure.  The glow of friendship is like nothing else and my guests at this tea were so full of spirit and love I came away feeling blessed, in fact, at one point they actually placed hands on me and prayed that my cancer treatments go well .  When was the last time your friends prayed over you?  Like I said, these were very special guests.

IMG_9619[1]

And besides the glow of friendship (as if that’s not fabulous enough) Mary Fran and Robin sent me a present, ordering it from their smart phone right at the tea table.  It was a cd, “Music from a Secret Garden.”  You see,  I mentioned my Secret Garden to them and they told me they had the perfect thing for the next tea I host there.  How sweet is that?

Very sweet indeed!

So that’s about it for yet another very blessed and wonderful Country Inn Day.  My next Inn Day may take me off to a spa or out into nature or perhaps on an adventure or two, but whatever the Inn Day I know it will be wonderful fun and I hope you come along.  So till then be sure you live abundantly.  That’s what God has in mind for all of us and it’s up to us to make that happen.

Go to it!

It’s another Country Inn “Stay at the Inn” Day

IMG_8752[1]
A view out the Inn’s window
Though the sun is shining and it’s warm today, all of 20 degrees, not the usual below zero temperatures we’ve had here lately, I will not be venturing out of the Inn yet again.  As Innkeeper I have to oversee the workmen who are finishing the floors here.

IMG_8738[1]
Equipment ready to go
The men will soon be arriving.  Their machines are already in place and these machines can be pretty noisy once turned on, but the sound is music to my ears for it means progress on the Inn’s addition.

IMG_8744[1]
A sitting room turned storage room

By my next Country Inn Day I expect the main new room of the Inn will be ready to receive furniture, the furniture which has yet to be delivered as well as the pieces which arrived earlier and have been crowding existing rooms of the Inn.  I’m so anxious to see everything in its right place as you can imagine for this project as been going on for quite some time.

Luckily some rooms here at the Inn have been undisturbed by all the construction so a Country Inn Day here can carry on very much as usual.

IMG_8692[1]
The busy kitchen

The Inn Cook has been working from early morning whipping up a nice breakfast treat, Cable Car Morning Muffins.  This recipe comes from a book called “San Francisco Entertains”.  The book was purchased on a Country Inn “Travel” Day when Cook dropped into  a William Sonoma store in San Francisco’s Union Square.

IMG_8695[1]
Cable Car Morning Muffins

These muffins give me, Inn Guest, a good healthy start to the day.  They are made of wheat flour, oats, ground flax, raisins, carrots, apples, pecans and blackberries, plus a half dozen other ingredients.

So once I have  a bit of nourishment I’m ready for a fun activity here at the Inn and my very favorite activity is letter writing.

IMG_8743[1]
The pleasure of a letter

On an ordinary day I’ll  write one letter with my first cup of coffee and another letter later in the afternoon, but on an Inn Day I can spurge. Today I write five “search letters” first thing.  As a member of The Letter Exchange (www.letter-exchange.com), a wonderful organization for letter writers, I regularly answer ads in the club’s magazine from people all around the world, people who seek correspondents and friendship.

IMG_7937[1]
I keep my postman busy sending out cards and letters daily.

 I call my letters of introduction  to these people my “search letters” because like Queen Isabella sending out ships in search of treasure, my “search letters” go forth seeking  out new pen friends who I treasure.  Letters from these pen friends arrive daily.    My post man picks up my letters and  delivers more  to my door. What fun!

William James, the 19th century American philosopher once said, “As long as there are postmen life will have zest”.  He was so right!

IMG_8749[1]
Sealing wax is used on every letter stamping a “C” initial at the end.

 The Art of Letter writing is not dead and gone as so many think.  It is alive, well, and quite delightful – art that is personal, expressive, creative and lasting.  It’s become my mission to spread the word concerning the pleasures of a letter.  Too many people are oblivious to this delightful art form.  I hope you’re not one of them.

IMG_8754[1]
Country Inn Day agenda

It’s so nice to step out of my regular routine one day a week and escape to a Country Inn Day. Here I’m free to do whatever the spirit moves me to do.  I think a little work sprinkled into a week is a very good thing because it helps us fully appreciate our free time. But too much work or even too much free time can be trouble. It’s the rich mix of work and play, just the right blend, that seems to do the trick, at least for me. How ’bout for you?

If you’re designing Inn Days of your own I suggest you start by creating a list of your favorite pleasures.  Simply creating this list can be great fun even before you partake in the activities.  I created a basic list but it is so long I never expect to fit all these pleasures into one  24 hour period so I choose just a few to enjoy each Country Inn Day. I could enjoy coffee or lunch out or perhaps fuss over a lovely afternoon tea. Some days it’s nice to have cocktails with a “dead friend”.  I just pull out a biography of some interesting person from the past and as I sit comfortably with my drink reading, I feel as if that person is with me, telling me their story.  They really are too.  They’re truly with me if only “in spirit”.

IMG_8702[1]
The Red Lion Inn dining room

I would love  to slip away to the dining room of my favorite Red Lion Inn for dinner each and every Country Inn Day, but since it’s about 500 miles away that’s not usually possible.  So the next best thing is to get busy as Innkeeper/ Cook creating a pleasant meal and table setting for two, or maybe more if I feel like entertaining. The creativity involved is fun.  Why have pretty things if we don’t use and share those things regularly? Country Inn Days give me the opportunity to use my nicest china, crystal and linen and the presentation is not only for me and any guests I might have.  I”ll photograph  the setting and then create photo note cards for my correspondence. In doing so I enjoy the fruits of my efforts over and over again and sharing doubles the joy.

IMG_8585[1]
One picture on a photo note is worth a thousand words

You don’t need to explain what you’ve been doing when you send a card with a picture like this one on its cover page.  Whether we dine by ourselves or with a host of others it’s fun to fuss a little now and then. We’re worth it, aren’t we?

Other of my basic Inn activities are the letter writing  which I already mentioned, time creating rituals for daily life, lovely spa activities, and all those other favorite things I like to do.  Making a list of our favorite things is fun.  Have you done that lately?  Oscar Hammerstein II wrote, “I simply remember my favorite things and then I don’t feel so bad.”  But when I think of my favorite things, list them, and then make them happen,  I feel better then “not so bad”.  I feel GREAT!  On Country Inn Days favorite things are the main events, thinking about them, listing them, and then making them a reality.

Creating rituals is a wonderful Inn activity for as attention is paid to the details of ordinary tasks those tasks become much more enjoyable whether they’re done on Inn Days or on any ordinary day. Some of my favorite rituals relate to menu planning, reading, housework, letter writing and entertaining. Without a carefully thought-out ritual in place it’s sometimes hard for me to get started with even my most favorite activity, but once a ritual is designed that same activity becomes automatic and full of grace.

IMG_8758[1]
The boudoir

The bath is a great place to dream up rituals.  While  enjoying spa time the mind is free to be creative.  Why not use that time to think up ways to make every day more and more special?  No one is going to do the thinking for us.  It’s our job and a delightful job it can be.

Work and worry are sturdy weeds, but joy requires cultivation.

 A Country Inn Day is a day to not only stop and smell the roses. It’s also a day to cultivate joy.

IMG_8760[1]
“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counsellors, and the most patient of teachers.” — Charles W. Eliot (President of Harvard, 1869-1909)
I’ll leave you now for I have a date with Sara Ban Breathnach.  She has some ideas to share with me, ideas from her book “Romancing the Ordinary”. I’m hoping she’ll inspire more Country Inn Day pleasures and if she does, you can be sure I’ll share them with you because sharing doubles the joy. Yes it does.

See you next time at the Inn and till then

Live richly.

A Winter’s Country Inn Day

IMG_8633[1]
The Jeremiah Brown House 1853
On some Country Inn Days when the weather is cold and snowy it’s nice to stay all cozy and warm at the Inn not venturing out at all.  That’s today!  Though it’s a bit gloomy outside, inside the Inn is bright and buzzing with activity for the Innkeeper, the Inn chef, the Inn maid, the Inn gardener, and the Inn guest are all keeping quite busy… and all those people are me!

As you may or may not know the magic of Country Inn Days has the power to transform me into all these characters as I use my imagination.  What fun I have!  I hope you are in the habit of using your imagination too.

IMG_8667[1]
One of the Inn’s new rooms

The Jeremiah Brown House, my 1853 Country Inn of imagination, is where I spend much of my time, and its been undergoing an addition ever since last Summer.  The Innkeeper, me, has been busy buying furniture and designing the new rooms.  Today I stroll this and other rooms imagining how it soon will look for workers are coming in a day or two to sand, stain, and finish the floors and once the floors are finished the furniture will be delivered and then it won’t be long  till guests can be entertained at the Inn once again. I’m anxious for that day to come because I can’t wait to host my sharing teas and dinner parties once more.  This place is not for me alone.  It must be shared  with friends and family.  Sharing doubles the joy.

IMG_8693[1]
A few garden books from the Inn’s library
As Innkeeper I study the new rooms, but as Inn gardener I  have other things to do. A gardener can’t work outside when the snow is a few feet deep and the temperature is only 29 degrees, but she can study the gardens found in books to give her ideas and that’s exactly what I’m doing on this cold Winter day.

IMG_8674[1]

One particular book with lots of lovely old fashioned garden ideas is “Grandmother’s Garden” by May Brawley Hill.    It features gardens popular from 1865 to 1915.  Though my Inn was built earlier, it was still around in those later years too, so this book just might have some fine ideas for me. I do love old world ways and the Jeremiah Brown House needs old world ways to keep hold of its historic character.

IMG_8675[1]

There’s never a dull moment on a Country Inn Day.  So many things to do.  As Inn maid I always seem to have  ironing waiting at the Ironrite, the ironing machine I inherited from my mother.  It makes ironing table linens a breeze.  And of course the Inn always uses fresh, crisp linens in its  dining room.

IMG_8676[1]
What’s cooking?

The linens have to be prepared but the Inn cook, me, has other work to do in the kitchen.  Busy, busy, busy!  A new kitchen is being designed here, but until the new kitchen is ready the old kitchen works just fine. It will become a butler’s pantry when the new kitchen is finished. I’ve always wanted a butler’s pantry.

Here in the old kitchen I’m preparing a menu of  chicken with wine  accompanied by a pasta containing carrots,  mushrooms, and caraway seeds.  This pasta is seasoned with salt, pepper and paprika.  There’s also  an asparagus flan in the works.

IMG_8677[1]
Asparagus Flan

This flan combines asparagus, bacon, eggs, milk, and heavy cream, with parsley, salt and pepper.  It bakes in the oven for 20 minutes at 350 degrees – very French!

I hope the Inn guest, me,  enjoys the meal.  I’m sure she will.  After all, she’s been enjoying the whole day free from  her usual music work.  All regular daily activities are aborted on Country Inn Days in favor of other playful and relaxing Inn experiences.   One of the Inn’s wonderful relaxing experiences is snuggling up with a good book.  Today that book is Jane Austen’s  “Mansfield Park”.

And another favorite activity at the Inn, or anywhere at all, is letter writing. I am an avid letter writer.   Today I’ve written two letters – one to my  pen friend Amelia in Minnesota and another letter to Susie in Virginia. As my dear “dead friend” Lord Byron always said – “Only in letter writing do we have solitude and society simultaneously.”   How true that is.  I relax all by myself at the Inn but I’m able to connect with friends through letters.

How nice it is to get away from it all without packing and traveling long distances.  Of course I would love to bop over to my favorite Red Lion Inn in the Berkshires of Massachusetts every week, but that’s not possible. Having my Country Inn Days really helps keep me amused between my visits there.  Just a little imagination makes the simple things in life great fun.

What was it Mary Poppins said? – “In every job that must be done there is an element of fun.  You find the fun and then the job’s a game”!  She was so right.  My Country Inn Days truly make ordinary life a sort of game.  And adults have to play too.

IMG_8686[1]

The dinner bell has rung.  I must leave you now. Linens, candlelight and a yummy meal just for me, well, for my hubby too.  He always joins me on my Inn getaways. Others check into the Inn too, but I’ll tell you about them another time.  So I have to run.

After dinner perhaps a bubble bath and then hopping into a warm and cozy bed with sweet dreams ahead.

There’s nothing like a Country Inn Day, a day to  hibernate at the Inn and escape from the world if that’s what I need or it could be a day out in the world  exploring favorite places and looking for adventure.

I’m happy you joined me today because  sharing doubles my joy.  It really does.  Maybe now you’ll go off on your own Country Inn Day adventure.  If you do, let me know.  I’d love to hear all about it.

Till next time.

Bye

Country Inn “Travel” Day

 

 

IMG_7611[1]
German Village, Columbus Ohio
Even though I can have wonderful Country Inn Day experiences staying in or close to my Inn of imagination,  my 1853 home, it is sometimes great fun to go beyond my little town of Hudson, Ohio and do a little (or a lot) of exploration.  And so I took a trip to German Village which is two hours south of Hudson.

German Village is a historic neighborhood (and I love historic neighborhoods) just south of downtown Columbus, Ohio’s state capital.  It was settled in the early – to – mid 19th century by a large number of German immigrants who at one time comprised as much as one third of the city’s entire population.

German Village is listed on The National Register of Historic Places and was made a “Preserve America Community” by the White House.  It is one of the premier historic restorations in the world.

images (3)book loft
The Book Loft

My travel day in German Village began at a wonderful book shop called The Book Loft. This shop boasts of having 32 rooms of books for sale and each room has a different style of music playing to entertain shoppers as well as to tempt them to buy the musical cds. It would be easy for a book lover like me to spend the entire day in such a place

 

IMG_7492[1]

but after a considerable amount of time browsing I tore myself away, strolling out along the shops beautifully flower-filled alley way, but not empty handed.

IMG_7647[1]

I came away with two books, this one by Martha Stewart because living a good  and long life is important to me as it is to Martha.  Her book has a little bit of everything in it – healthy eating, healthy fitness, healthy brain, healthy home… you get the idea.  I was tempted by books in all these categories, but Martha had a little of everything rolled up into one.

IMG_7650[1]

My other purchase was this lovely and artful book entitled “Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life”.  It contains information about the plants and places that inspired Beatrix to write her wonderful storybooks.  Beatrix is one of my “dead friends” so I’m always looking for books like this one.   Beatrix can’t share her life with me in person these days since she moved far off to heaven, but the right books allow her to share with me in a different, but still very delightful way.

IMG_7497[1]

But time flew in the book shop and I was getting hungry so my next stop was a wonderful restaurant called Lindy’s.

IMG_7499[1]

Lindy’s is a convivial American bistro featuring a copper-topped bar and a surf ‘n’ turf menu.

IMG_7496[1]

 I love the elegance of white tablecloths so Lindy’s dining room was the place for me.  I was seated at this table near a window.  Yes!

IMG_7503[1]

Here with Beatrix at my side (via her book) I ordered a delicious lunch, glass of wine and then relaxed with coffee from this nifty french press stainless steel pot.

IMG_7500[1]

Looking out the window at the gas lamps and the historic buildings as I enjoyed my lunch made it easy to imagine I was back in time with Beatrix.  I was very happy with this restaurant but I had no idea what lay just outside. something that could’ve made my lunch experience even better on this glorious weather day.  Can you guess what it is?

IMG_7513[1]

Lindy’s has an outdoor patio nestled in trees and decorated with lots and lots of beautiful flowers.  Who knew?

IMG_7511[1]

Well, now I know and so do you so next time either of us venture to Lindy’s on a beautiful day we’ll know to take a table out of doors amidst  the fresh air and flowers where the birdies can serenade us.

IMG_7514[1]

But it was now time to hit the brick-lined streets and sidewalks, time to take a stroll around the village.  There were houses and their gardens to investigate.  Let me share a little of what I saw along the way.

So many charming houses with postage stamp size gardens that were small but absolutely lovely.  There were  patios and porches, all  carefully designed and well appointed.  It was delightful and inspiring to stroll along and view such beauty, but after a while it was also time to sit down and rest.  Luckily there was a park just ahead.

IMG_7605[1]

What a welcome sight for my tired feet.

IMG_7604[1]

I found a park bench, invited Beatrix to join me once again by pulling out my new book,  and there in solitude, but with society all around me, I enjoyed the beauty of nature on this Country Inn “Travel” Day.

See?

Ah nature!

In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous 

Aristotle

I enjoyed everything about this Country Inn Day, but as usual it went by far too quickly. The bookstore, the charming restaurant, strolling past pretty gardens, houses and then this peaceful  park.  What a pleasant day!

My Country Inn Days are always wonderful escapes.  Be they days where I play the part of Innkeeper and Inn Chef hosting afternoon teas and dinner parties or days where I delight as Inn Guest jaunting around in search of culture, adventurous expeditions or spiritual retreats… whatever the itinerary I know a Country Inn Day will be a break from routine and the break will do me a world of good.  Some Country Inn Days are spent entirely at the Inn with no unusual activities at all, just lots and lots of simple pleasures –  leisurely walks , bubble baths, letter writing, piano playing, reading, art play and always time spent in imagination.

After all, we must be the artists of our lives creating days which make our hearts sing. Lord Chesterfield (another of my “dead friends”) an 18th century British statesman and man of letters once said, “Know the true value of time; snatch, seize, and enjoy every moment of it.”  Sometimes that’s hard to do on a daily basis, but it’s easy to do on a Country Inn Day so I’m sure to schedule one each and every week.  Country Inn Days step in and I step out of all regular routines.

I’m so happy you could join me for at least a little of my Country Inn “Travel” Day  Why?  You know.

Sharing Doubles the Joy.

Hope to see you next time wherever Country Inn Days will take us.

Country Inn “Dinner Party” Day

IMG_7410[1]

“Some people like to paint pictures, or do gardening, or build a boat in the basement.  Other people get a tremendous pleasure out of the kitchen, because cooking is just as creative and imaginative an activity as drawing, or wood carving, or music.”   Julia Child

Some people like to go it alone, be by themselves.  They feel most safe and happy when they are thinking their own thoughts and keeping those thoughts to themselves but other people get a tremendous pleasure out of friendship.

I happen to be one those people who enjoys cooking.  I am also one of those people who values friendship so it’s only natural I would enjoy hosting dinner parties

IMG_7411[1]

So naturally when I received a letter from one of my oldest friends who now lives very far away announcing that she was coming to town and wanting to get together, well,  having a dinner party for her and her husband seemed like the right thing to do. There was talk of meeting at a restaurant, but we decided restaurants could be noisy, not the perfect place for a long, relaxing rare and special visit and you know what they say – there’s no place like home, or in this case,  there’s no place like my personal  Country Inn where I enjoy playing the  quadruple role of Innkeeper, Inn Chef, Inn Maid And Inn Guest.

So here’s what transpired.

IMG_7415[1]

As Inn Chef the menu needed to be planned so I looked through my notebook of tested recipes and selected a few, but the menu needed to be approved by my guest because she was on a special gluten free diet.  I didn’t want to make her sick after all.  It was decided that baked chicken with rosemary, green beans, roasted new potatoes, salad, and fresh fruit for dessert would be just fine.

IMG_7353[1]

Inn Chef (me) went off to the market and returned to the Inn with a variety of  fruit and a bag full of other  ingredients needed for the dinner.

IMG_7416[1]

But before cooking could begin all the copper pots needed a once over with copper cleaner so they would sparkle.

IMG_7358[1]

Meanwhile the Innkeeper (me) had much to do in order to create a lovely table. There was silver to polish,

IMG_7352[1]

flowers to arrange,

IMG_7351[1]

linen to select

IMG_7350[1]

plus china and crystal to make ready.

All this was a labor of love and hosting a dinner party is even more than that.  Hosting a dinner party is an ART!

IMG_7354[1]

Inn Chef got busy creating the marinade for the chicken.  It consisted of the juice of one lemon mixed with 4 tablespoons of olive oil.  Four garlic cloves were chopped and added along with fresh rosemary sprigs.

IMG_7355[1]

This marinade was poured over the chicken, salt and pepper were added and in the oven it went for about 45 minutes at 350 degrees.  To be sure the chicken was cooked properly an instant -read food thermometer would test the chicken to be at an internal temperature of 165 degrees before serving.

IMG_7372[1]

Chef prepared the vegetables for the salad so at the last minute salad plates could be composed

IMG_7371[1]

and the green beans were set into the copper pot ready for cooking.

IMG_7365[1]

The table was ready for our guests and it was time to transform myself into one of those Inn Guests for the dinner party was about to begin.

IMG_7373[1]

Nancy and Ken arrived bearing gifts.

IMG_7402[1]

Nancy made a hand-quilted trivet for me.  I think she knew I liked to cook and entertain.  The trivet was lovely.

We went out to the porch for some drinks and nibbles and then it was time for the main event – dinner.

IMG_7386[1]

My husband was ready for food and good conversation with my old friend and her husband, but they were brand new friends to him.

IMG_7378[1]

Dinner was served.

IMG_7384[1]

 Nancy and Ken seemed quite pleased with the presentation.  I was pleased that they seemed pleased.

Hours past as we talked and laughed and devoured our dinners.  It was so grand to be with my old friend once again and in the comfort of the Jeremiah Brown House, my personal Country Inn, not an impersonal restaurant.

IMG_7369[1]

Dessert was served – raspberries, blackberries, strawberries with mint from the Inn’s herb garden.  Coffee and tea followed .  Time flew by. Before we knew it the time had come for good byes, but not before a few pictures were taken to record our happy event.

IMG_7395[1]

Nancy and Carol Ann, friends for the last fifty years.  Wow!  Where did the time go?

IMG_7382[1]

We captured our handsome husbands on film, men who have taken such good care of us over the years.

IMG_7398[1]

And then one last picture of Nancy and Ken before they headed way back to the state of Washington.  I was so glad to see them and be able to offer them hospitality.

IMG_7400[1]

The Inn Maid (me) had her work to do after the dinner party was over, but she was happy to do her part.  Cleaning up from such a fun evening is a small price to pay for so much delight.

So if you like to cook and if you enjoy friendship I hope you also enjoy entertaining.  Invite your friends over for a dinner party.  It’s a wonderful way to share the joy!

IMG_7375[1]

“The pleasure in giving a dinner is mostly the pleasure of giving yourself.  The effort you take is your way of showing your company that you care about them enough to give them a good time.”    Marguerite Kelly and Elia Parsons

Country Inn “Service” Day

IMG_7239[1]

This Country Inn “Service” Day takes me to Hower House, a Victorian Mansion built in 1871 in the Second Empire Italianate style.  Hower House is a  twenty-eight room Mansion owned by Akron University and open to the public. Touring this historic house with its lavish furnishings from around the world is one way people of today can experience a bit of yesterday.

Because I am fond of old houses and Historic preservation I have recently become a Victorian, that is to say, a person who supports Hower House and its many programs. As a Victorian I volunteer my service to this house in various ways – helping out in the gift shop, serving at teas, or assisting  at special events.

IMG_7249[1]

You see, years ago when I was searching for my purpose in life I stumbled upon a spiritual book entitled “A Daily Guide to Spiritual Living” by Jim Rosemergy and through this book I came to realize service should be a part of all our lives.  After patiently reading the book’s 365 daily messages and journaling on each  of those messages my purpose (and possibly yours too) was revealed.  I was told the purpose of life is to try to know God, to do all our work with joy (whatever that work is), and to be of service to others.

So, besides doing for others on a daily basis in whatever way I can now and then I like to devote an entire Country Inn Day to service and on this particular Country Inn Day my service is devoted to Hower House.

 

IMG_7216[1]

Hower House is hosting its Artisan Fair and many vendors are filling each room of the mansion with their wares.  Our hostess is ready and waiting for visitors to arrive and I will be posted at various locations  through the day in order to be of service to vendors and shoppers alike.

IMG_7207[1]

What fun for our visitors to enjoy this beautiful house while at the same time admiring the creative efforts of various talented artisans.  There’s the lady who works with chocolate

IMG_7209[1]

 and my friend, Evelyna, who creates the most beautiful and delicious cookies and cakes.

IMG_7213[1]

There are artists who make the loveliest  jewelry

IMG_7225[1]

and another who presses botanicals in all sorts of ways, preserving them forever.  This particular artist  frames flowers and plants, encasing them in trays and boxes, designing note cards … and her choice of color and design is lovely to behold.

IMG_7262[1]

When I wasn’t on duty I did a little shopping myself and these two pictures tied together featuring pressed culinary herbs were one of my purchases.  I think they’re very nice hanging in a kitchen where these herbs are used on a daily basis.

IMG_7263[1]

I also couldn’t resist buying this exquisite cut work bed sheet from one of the antique dealers. They don’t make bed sheets like this anymore,  but I think it will also serve nicely as a cloth on the dining room table of my 1853 historic house at tea time.  Don’t you agree?

IMG_7206[1]

There were all sorts of artisans at this Fair, but I was particularly happy to see the aprons that were created by the Future Story Shop.  This shop creates new aprons patterned after aprons from our grandmother’s closet.  The aprons are made by the women who live at a place called Haven of Rest.  Haven of Rest is a women’s homeless shelter and the apron project is part of ‘Lydia’s Purse International’, a project which teaches these homeless women to sew.

After speaking to the volunteer from Haven of Rest I think I have my next Country Inn “Service” Day in mind – a good thing indeed.

IMG_7228[1]

We don’t generally have the fun of shopping for our bath products in an antique bathroom

IMG_7231[1]

or have the pleasure of  taking in the beauty of  handcrafted art while at the same time viewing the historic art of period rooms, but this can be done at Hower House’s Artisian Fair each Spring.

I was able to enjoy service and shopping simultaneously on this Country Inn “Service” Day making it very easy for me to be of service with a smile and to do do this work with joy as directed by my spiritual book.

It truly is a good feeling to do for others helping out in any way we can.  I might play the piano in a nursing home or pay a visit to shut ins on some other Country Inn “Service” Day or I could work in a food bank, volunteer in a hospital or help out in a school.  I learned a long time ago when we give good things come back to us so giving of ourselves in any way at all is a very good thing to do. I’m sure you’ve experienced how much better you feel about yourself when you’re not only thinking about yourself all the time.

How are you being of service to others these days?  I’d love to know.  Maybe you’ll give me a good idea for one of my next Country Inn “Service” Days.

Sharing Doubles the Joy

and sharing ourselves as we serve others quadruples the joy.

But remember, only Service with a Smile counts!

Country Inn “In” Day

IMG_7202[1]

Robert Louis Stevenson said, “The world is so full of a number of things I think we should all be as happy as kings”.  I tend to agree with Robert, don’t you?  But there is so much to do, so many places to go, so many friends to see, sometimes I need to take a little break from all those wonderful things and just lay low, stay in, and enjoy some peace and quiet.  It’s for this reason I’ve created my Country Inn “In” Days.

On these days everything stops.  Well, almost everything.  I do cater to simple pleasures and lots of dreaming.  You know what Oscar Hammerstein II said about dreaming, don’t you?  He said,”You’ve got to have a dream.  If you don’t have a dream how you gonna have a dream come true?”  I’m not just talking about big important dreams, though of course we need those too, but I’m talking about all the little dreams we might have, little ideas that we notice in films, in novels, in the lives of people we know, little ideas we’d like to incorporate into our own lives, but somehow we never get around to doing it.

We see something and we say, “Oh, that’s so nice.  One of these days I’m going to have to do that.”  But we get busy with our lives and we never give those nice ideas any more thought, so the ideas (let’s call them dreams) never materialize for us.

IMG_7198[1]

Dream development.  This is what I do on my Country Inn “In” Days.  It’s such a simple thing – to turn little dreams into our reality, but we need to find the time to develop these dreams and make them our own. We’re all so busy.  We’re doing important things.  We’re doing fun things.  Some of the time we’re doing nothing at all and that’s ok, but when is our dream development time?  Mine occurs on Country Inn “In” Days.

I like to jot down any delightful idea I run across, recording it in a special little notebook I keep near me at all times. Then on Inn “In” Days I sit myself down with a nice drink and design rituals to help make those ideas, those dreams come true.

IMG_6034[1]

What are some of your dreams?  Would you like to create a lovely tea time ritual for yourself where you partake in some thoughtful activity each afternoon while savoring a cup of tea using all your prettiest china?  Ah, so civilized!

IMG_3001[1]

Perhaps you heard a friend discuss his walking ritual and you thought it might be a good idea to develop some sort of exercise routine for yourself, getting out into nature more often, but you just never get around to it.

Life requires planning.  To have regular times set aside where we identify the things we love  – material things, spiritual things, intellectual things – reflect on them, and then design plans to make those things, those dreams, a reality in our lives.  This is what my Country Inn “In” Days are all about.

IMG_7186[1]

Between partaking in the simple pleasures I would enjoy when on holiday at a relaxing Country Inn, – enjoying things like breakfast in bed, a fragrant bubble bath, a stroll through town stopping at a book store and then a coffee shop, or lounging on the porch – between these simple delights, my Country Inn “In” Day grants me time for dream development.

After all, we must be the artists and architects of our days. Good things don’t usually just happen to us without our own investment of time and effort.  When do you put in this time and effort toward making the little dreams of your life a reality?

I think everyone would be a lot happier if they had their own Country Inn “In” Days where they stepped out of routine life regularly and took time to relax, dream, and work at making their dreams come true.  What do you think? Perhaps you’ll leave a comment and tell me.  But now back to my chaise on this “In” Day for more serious dreaming.

IMG_7201[1]

Take Time to Dream