It’s a Country Inn Day

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Today I’m enjoying  a Country Inn Day.  Country Inn Days are a little invention I created more than twenty years ago.  I had to invent them because I absolutely love Country Inns and my very favorite Country Inn is about 600 miles away situated in the Berkshires of Massachusetts.  Though Ohio has a few here and there I needed to  come up with something that would satisfy my craving for regular  inn experiences.

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Luckily I have a wonderful imagination so this was not a difficult challenge for me.  Also, it happened to be very convenient that my husband, an avid golfer, seemed to need a handy place to play golf most every day.  He therefore joined The Lake Forest Country Club in my Hudson where he happily enjoys his golf and  I am able to enjoy the clubhouse, its gardens and amenities.

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I do love historic preservation, and lucky for me, Lake Forest is an old place and looks even older  because of its architectural style.  It’s also quite nice that it sits at the edge of a lake, Lake Forest.  There’s nothing quite as refreshing as viewing a body of water, well,  except for viewing beautiful gardens and Lake Forest is truly endowed with beautiful gardens.

 I love flowers, don’t you?  I love flowers  almost as much as I love letters so Lake Forest  is a very good place for me to spend time writing  letters.  Just look at some of the flowers I can feast my eyes on as I write.

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I keep telling my husband I need  the Lake Forest gardener to help me with the garden at our house.  He seems to really know what he’s doing.  The view from every window here is a vision of natural beauty.

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And though my Country Inn days take me on all sorts of adventures in and out of Hudson, as well as all over the world, having Lake Forest right here in my own neighborhood helps me enjoy some of those very nice inn experiences I love so much – experiences like being served food and drinks in a beautiful old world setting.

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The Jeremiah Brown House

Of course many of my inn days are had at my very own home, The Jeremiah Brown House.  This house was built in 1853 so it has what many of my favorite inns have, a historical feeling.   Here at the house I have the fun of playing the part of inn chef, inn gardener, inn maid and innkeeper – inn guest too, but it is still nice to have Lake Forest in the picture.

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I do like to remain at my home for many inn days though, because the Jeremiah Brown House is personal and very private.  Any inn guests that do appear must be invited by me.  Sometimes these guests appear for tea or intimate dinners.

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 Sometimes I plug in my imagination and the Inn hosts my “dead friends” – so many –   Chopin will be at the piano in the next room playing his waltzes (via cd),

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Agatha Christie will be telling me stories of her life on the porch over cocktails (via biographies)… so many wonderful inn experiences are powered by my imagination.  So you see, staying at The Jeremiah Brown House can be the setting for a wonderful inn day.

Still

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popping over to Lake Forest for lunch, dinner, or some letter writing adds a little spice to any Country Inn Day.

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Step inside with me.

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I’ll take you for an interior tour on some cold, rainy Autumn day. but the weather is so nice today, we’ll cut through the building and go out to the terrace.  Here in the entrance you see the staircase that goes up to the women’s locker rooms.

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And in this picture you see a bit of the living room looking into the entrance and up at the very high ceiling overhead.  It’s here at Lake Forest Country Club that I  give talks on The  Art of Letter Writing to interested groups while they enjoy lunch, dinner or tea.  If you belong to a club and have interest in such an event contact me via my website (carolannmccarthy.com)

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See out the window where we’re headed?

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Now, standing on the patio we are looking out over the pool to the lake beyond.

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And a  nice pool it is too, quite peaceful now that most kiddies have gone back to school.

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 But I prefer the lower terrace where food and drinks are also served, but where the view of the lake is so much better.

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I rather like the tables way at the end of the terrace for here I have solitude yet the society of my letter friends – and here it is I write today’s letter,

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I’m answering a letter from Candi.  She lives in Mankato, Minnesota.

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I am so behind in answering Candi’s letter, but she is a darling and I’m sure she forgives me.  I haven’t even sent her pictures of my son’s graduation from UCLA in June.   Well, better late, than never.

So I write Candi and you from my Country Inn Day.

Country Inn Days happen regularly for me –  every week.  After all, everybody needs to get away from it all now and then, don’t they?  Don’t you?  And what’s better than getting away without having to pack a suitcase,  spend a lot of money and get all tired out?  Country Inn Days grant us adventures, if that’s what we want, or rest and relaxation.  We have the power to design our Inn days  any way we like.  How would you design yours?  Plug in your imagination and  see what you come up with …create some Country Inn Days for yourself.  You’ll be glad you did.

So till we meet again I’m signing off from the Inn.

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Love, Carol Ann

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.

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I approach the salon with delicious anticipation.

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“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!

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

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 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.

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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!

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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,

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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.

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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,

GOD’s WONDERFUL WORK OF ART

That’s YOU and ME

This reminds me of a song that happens to be called

WONDROUS WORK OF ART.

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.

WE MUST TAKE CARE OF THIS WONDROUS WORK OF ART !

So have yourself a Spa Day

You deserve it!

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Not just any Country Inn Day – ADVENTURE DAY!


It was just another Country Inn Day —  a day where I give myself permission to escape from normal routines and exercise my imagination, exercise it even more than usual.  Have you used your imagination lately?  I hope so.   Imagination is a terrible thing to waste.  Imagination exists for good reason you know,  and that reason is to offer us delight.

Well, this particular Country Inn Day was certainly full of delight for me.  I enjoy all sorts of  Inn Days, each offering its own unique pleasures, but  this particular Country Inn Day was slated for adventure, you know, trying something new, going somewhere  you’ve never gone before,  reaching into the unknown.  A  little adventure now and then adds spice to life.

You’ll be happy to know a satisfying  Adventure Day does not require long distance travel, taking great risks, or spending  lots of money, but it is necessary to step out of  familiar surroundings and do a little exploring.   We all do this sort of thing when we’re out of town on vacation, but we can have great adventures close to home too.  It’s easy and it’s fun!

So I bet you’re wondering  just what kind of adventure  I came up with this time.  Well, I decided to revisit a wonderful old house where I enjoyed tea a few years ago.  I had been there with the Hudson Garden Club.  Though I didn’t have the exact address I knew what street the house  was on  and felt sure  I could find it so… Here I am driving down West Exchange Street in Akron, Ohio on a damp Winter’s morning looking for adventure.

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Now I know what you’re thinking.  You’re thinking this outing couldn’t be much of an adventure if I’ve been to this great house before, oh, but you’re wrong.

This time I had no reservation.  I just planned to ring the door bell  hoping to be invited inside, where I would introduce myself, explain how I had visited once before, loved the  house,  and hoped to interest the owner in friendship.  I was anxious to get to know  this owner,  a retired English teacher.  Why her, you ask?  It’s  because I knew she must have an adventurous spirit herself  for why else would she buy  a great old  1920’s house, saving it  from demolition  and  turning it into a bed and breakfast among other things – like a beautiful location for  tea parties and wedding receptions.

So where exactly was this house?  Aha!  I think I found it.  I remember those pillars!  So I pulled in and parked by the door.IMG_2261[1]

Here I was.  Oh boy!  This is exciting.  Now to walk up to the entrance and ring the bell .  What an adventure!

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I never really expected anyone would answer  the door not yet invite me inside. I figured I’d just ring the bell, then write a note and leave it in the door, but SOMEONE DID COME TO THE DOOR … and what’s more, THEY INVITED ME INSIDE!

This was going very well indeed.  The nice lady of the house, Gail Johnson,  was very friendly, amazingly friendly, and  quite trusting, for no sooner I was inside she excused herself to take a phone call and disappeared for 10 long minutes!  Only her sleepy black dog kept me company.

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I mustn’t have looked very dangerous, but still,  I was surprised she left me alone for so long.  I could’ve  been a crook, or started exploring the house on my own, for  believe me, I wanted to do just that.

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Here I stood admiring the furniture and peering just beyond into the  living room,  dying to freely wander around this great place.  I love old houses as you know, especially big ones and this is a big one! (Those of you who know me and know my blog know that my Dad always used to say “That’s a big one”, so I felt Dad was along on this adventure.)

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Anyway,  eventually Gail returned and we had a very nice long chat after which she asked if I’d like a tour of the house.  Would I?  YES INDEEDY! …so off we went, and now I’d like to share a little of that tour with you.  Why?  You know.  Sharing doubles the joy.  Besides, you might like to come here yourself some day, book a room at this bed and breakfast and enjoy a Country Inn Day of your own… So let’s start by entering the dining room.  It’s not large, but very cozy and I loved the crystal chandelier.

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The dining room windows look out to a very pretty patio, and don’t you love the window seat?

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The patio was furnished  with  a neat canopy frame that sat ready for warm weather.  The canopy  is even equipped with  a chandelier which hangs from its center, but now in Winter it rests on the outdoor table.  Can you imagine this setting for tea or cocktails on a Summers day?

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Crossing back through the foyer I headed to another window in order  to get a good view of another garden area,  and here it is.  WOW!

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Isn’t this marvelous?  Can you imagine it with all the trees and flowers in bloom?  I was told there are roses and honeysuckle among all the other plants.  My favorites.  Just beautiful!  I could stay here forever.  But let’s move along.

How about a look at the kitchen?  Good windows, a wood floor, great big restaurant stove and oven (sorry I didn’t get a better picture of the oven, but I was amazed I got as many pictures as I did.  So much to see.)   The island is a gem, an old chest Gail found  in a nearby antique shop.  Isn’t it marvelous?

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Gail told me  the  entire kitchen ceiling fell down one day with no warning, (that’s an old house for you), but she took the opportunity to add recessed  lights in the new ceiling.  She’s the kind of girl who makes lemonade out of lemons.

There was a butler’s pantry too.  I love a butler’s pantry, don’t you?  This one was so small, but so cute and efficient.  I couldn’t really get a good picture, but believe me, it was nifty.  Here’s one small corner of it.

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Let’s move on to the library.  Ah, a library!  …every house should have one.  A library is the perfect place to write a letter, cuddle up with a good book,  or create a post for your blog.

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Are you enjoying the tour?  I sure was, and I’m so happy to have these pictures so I can revisit this great house  with you.   But now let’s go upstairs.

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I was so impressed with all the wood paneling on both sides of the stairs… you just don’t see this sort of thing very often in modern houses.

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The views  from the upstairs balcony and the leaded front windows were terrific.  Looking down into the foyer or out into the front yard… well, I was impressed.IMG_2247[1]

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But there’s one more thing I want to show you, well really three more things — two bedrooms and a bath.
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The bedrooms and baths were comfy, but unpretentious.  Gail wanted them to look their age and they do.

Sorry I didn’t take pictures of the nanny’s room, the maid’s quarters, or the room where the chauffeur stayed in days gone by.  The chauffeur had a small door in his room that led to a private staircase taking him directly to the garage.  How neat is that?  He also had an old fashioned water closet.  (That’s a tiny closet with just enough room for a toilet).  So many nooks and crannies in this house.  So many back stairways and halls.  Everything was wonderful!

Well, there you have it.  The O’Neil House.  You probably didn’t expect to tour a great  historic house today, but then,  neither did I when I set out on my last Country Inn Day Adventure.  I simply reached out in friendship but I got a whole lot  more in the bargain.  I’ll be writing Gail soon and you can write her too.  (Gail Johnson, The O’Neil House, 1290 West Exchange Street, Akron, Ohio,44313)  You might also want to schedule a tea at her place or book a room.  If you do any of those things be sure to  tell Gail that  CarolAnn sent you, and give her a big  hello from me.  She really made my day with her friendly hospitality and the generous sharing of her beautiful home.  Gail obviously subscribes to my theory – sharing doubles the joy!

I hope you enjoyed coming along with me on my adventure.   I can’t wait for the next one, but I do like to mix things up.  My next Country Inn Day may be more quiet — maybe a spa day.  We’ll just have to wait and see.  But maybe it’s time for you to have a little adventure of your own.   You really should.

Adventure Days are Great!

Country Inn Days

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The Red Lion Inn

Those of you who know me well know all about my Country Inn Days, days in which I give myself permission to step outside of  regular routines  escaping  into  a world of imagination and delight.  My Country Inn Days were inspired by a very real country inn, an inn I first discovered  more than 27 years ago.  This charming old establishment, The Red Lion Inn, touched my heart the first time I saw it and it continues to stir up romantic feelings in me whenever I so much as think of it.

I still can clearly remember the circumstances of my first visit to The Red Lion Inn.  I was driving my little Fiat to Boston.  I took back roads all the way across Ohio, into Pennsylvania, through New York state and finally into Massachusetts, and there in the Berkshires I stumbled upon the  inn quite by accident—just in time for lunch.  It was a Sunday, and I was all dressed up in a beige linen pants suit wearing a white blouse with an embroidered butterfly on its collar.  Funny I remember that because I can’t even remember what I was wearing yesterday.  It’s just that I felt great that day!  The weather was  beautiful, I was young and free,  exploring on my own, when this gracious, old, wonderful inn pops up out of the blue almost like magic.

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The wicker-filled porch

I parked the car, walked up the steps to its charming large front  porch filled with white antique wicker furniture covered with pastel floral fabric.   So pretty!  It was like stepping back into time.  Flower boxes bursting with red and pink impatience added a beautiful touch as only flowers can do, and I knew this was just the place for me.

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The dining room
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My table

Stepping inside I was delighted to see and hear a grand piano. A lady was  playing light classics, just the perfect music to accompany a delicious lunch in the inn’s formal dining room.  Ah!  This was shaping up to be my kind of day. (which reminds me of a song my sister and I wrote called “My Kind of Day”.  I’ll share the lyrics with you another time).

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Writing room window to the world

The windows of the dining room were covered with old fashioned curtains that had giant ball fringe attached.  I bought a  few pairs of those curtains and I’m happy to say they are now hanging in my writing room.

That first visit to the Red Lion Inn made a mark on my heart.  I loved everything about the place and I was determined to return again and again and that is exactly what I have done over the years, but not often enough for me.  How I wish I lived closer to Stockbridge so I could pop over once a week, but this could never be, for the inn was, is, and always will be too far from Ohio for frequent visits. So what to do?  I need my inn days!

Necessity is the mother of invention.

THE SOLUTION:  With clear memories of all the charming things I loved about my days at the old Red Lion Inn, (plus a few hundred other musings), I created Country Inn Days, days to enjoy a country inn experience right at home whenever I need a  romantic escape from reality.  Living in a 160 year old house, set in a historic town  founded back in 1799 does make it easier to pull off a Country Inn Day experience, but you could probably manage Country Inn Days no matter where you live IF you have enough playfulness, imagination and romantic spirit.

One of these days I’ll write up my notes to help you create your own Inn days.  They will take the form of my third book, (a book on the art of letter writing is my first book and it’s completed, a book on sharing tea  is my second, and I’m working on it,  but then I’ll write The Country Inn Day book),  and  till that book is out  I’ll post a few Country Inn Day tidbits now and then… stay tuned.

But now I must leave you.  I have an appointment at The Inn Spa.  A fragrant bubble bath scented with Bronnley’s ‘Pink Bouquet’ is calling me.