It’s a Country Inn Hudson Day

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

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

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

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

And I’m the Maid!

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

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

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

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

IMG_1140[1]

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

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

IMG_20160316_131638_001[1]

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

IMG_20160316_131605_245[1]

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

IMG_20160316_132200_759[1]

IMG_20160316_132124_691[1]

IMG_20160316_131751_269[1]

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

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

IMG_1117[1]

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

IMG_1114[1]

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

IMG_1113[1]

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

IMG_1115[1]

I order a macchiato which is very yummy

IMG_1116[1]

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

IMG_1118[1]

The decor here is more my style . . .

IMG_1119[1]

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

IMG_1120[1]

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

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

IMG_1121[1]

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

IMG_20160316_132841_173[1]

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

IMG_20160316_095943_921[1]

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

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

IMG_20160316_173321_513[1]

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

IMG_20160316_183736_458[1]

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

IMG_1141[1]

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

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

Ah me!  the days go swiftly by . . .

Time to say farewell . . .

What will my next Country Inn Day be like?

We’ll just have to wait and see.

A Country Inn Day Fairy Tale that met with success unexpected in Common Hours

k
IMG_8452[1]

Once upon a time there was a young girl named Carol Ann who would walk home from school and pass this house. This big old white house wasn’t easy to see back then because there were many bushes that edged the property, but Carol Ann would walk by very slowly and try to catch a glimpse between the branches, seeing what she could see of this house and its extensive grounds.

Back in the day there were gardens there too and how Carol Ann wished a lady would appear in those gardens, notice her passing, and invite her in to see the flowers.  Carol Ann would imagine this lady of the garden looked and sounded like the lovely actress Deborah Kerr, that she was a proper English lady who had no daughter but longed for one and seeing Carol Ann would reach out to her in friendship.  Perhaps this lady would invite Carol Ann to share her afternoon tea or invite her into the house so the lady could play piano for her, give her some lessons and ultimately they could play duets together.  Oh, how many times Carol Ann past this house and dreamed of this lady.  Carol Ann’s Romantic personality came up with all sorts of scenarios for the two of them.

And that’s not all.  Carol Ann also dreamed what fun it would be if she could explore the extensive grounds of this property for even back then at her young age big old houses with extensive grounds enchanted her.  When other young girls were doing what most young girls do (whatever that is) Carol Ann was reading “House and Garden” magazine and books like “The Secret Garden”, materials which fed her imagination.  How she hoped one day she could live in a big old white house surrounded by nature, a place where she could work in her garden, enjoy afternoon tea and play the piano to her hearts content.

But life moved on as it tends to do and no lady ever appeared to Carol Ann.  Days passed. Months turned into years and only occasionally did Carol Ann have the opportunity to pass the old white house and remember her imaginings.  But then one day while reading a book by the American author Henry David Thoreau she came upon a passage that spoke to her.

“If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with success unexpected in common hours.”

“Aha”, she thought.  At that moment there was an awakening.   Though Carol Ann never did meet the lady of her imagination who lived in the big old white house that sat on those extensive grounds she suddenly realized she actually became that lady.  Of course she’s American, not English, but besides that one fact, her dreams came true.  Now Carol Ann lives in a big old white house of her own and it happens to sit on a generous plot of land. The grounds around Carol Ann’s house may not be as grand as that house of her dreams, but she’s working on them. Gardening is one of Carol Ann’s favorite activities.  She does however enjoy afternoon tea regularly and with guests, often children.  And that’s not all.  She also delights in playing  the piano and playing those duets she dreamed of for now she’s a piano teacher herself.

Thoreau was right.  If we advance through life in the direction of our dreams not letting them go we can meet with unexpected success.

All this is an introduction to today’s story.  You see, after years of imagining and dreaming about that old house I passed so many times as a child I finally had the chance to explore the property.

IMG_8479[1]
Carol Ann paying a nice friendly visit to Celeste.

 And this is the lady that made it happen for me.  This is Celeste, a wonderful artist and my cousin who happens to live in what was once the gate house for the house of my dreams.

IMG_8477[1]
Celeste’s charming house which I always loved

Celeste knows the present owners of my dream property and though I dropped by to visit her, in talking about my girlhood imaginings, Celeste suggested I take a walk at long last and explore the grounds I admired for so many years.  She assured me her neighbors wouldn’t notice and if they did I should just explain I was her cousin and a long time admirer of their place.

You can’t imagine how excited I was!

Want to come along?  Ok, let’s go.

 I stepped out the back door and headed down the long driveway.

IMG_8420[1]

IMG_8468[1]

At one point the driveway was edged with large stones.  They were there so drivers wouldn’t go astray and end up in the woods below.

IMG_8423[1]

I don’t happen to have these woods at my house unfortunately but I wish I did.  This property goes down to The Cuyahoga Valley National Park.  It’s beautiful country.

IMG_8475[1]

As I get closer to the house I begin to see a little white.  How exciting!

IMG_8469[1]

And then there’s a little more white…

IMG_8464[2]

As I get closer I notice a lattice privacy screen near the house, but I wonder why anyone needs  help with privacy when they live on extensive grounds like these.

IMG_8429[1]

I walked past the house quickly so as not to bother the owners and headed for the grounds behind it, the grounds I never could see very well from the street when I was a little girl.  How wonderful they were.

IMG_8436[1]

The large terraces carved from stone…  the workmanship!  What such a job as this would cost today!

IMG_8437[1]

So many steps down into the valley!

There was a nip in the air and I was chilled to the bone, but nevertheless I walked around with great enthusiasm taking in every sight and sound.

IMG_8433[1]

There were places carved in stone somewhat like large benches where people could sit and gaze out at the landscape.  I might’ve done that if I wasn’t so cold.  But besides being cold there was so much to see.  I had to keep moving.

IMG_8444[2]

Stone staircases were here and there.  As I discovered them hiding under the leaves I felt the same thrill I’d feel discovering ancient ruins in Rome.

IMG_8446[1]

And these forgotten, long-ignored garden elements also reminded me of the forgotten garden from the book The Secret  Garden, that book I loved as a child and still love today.

IMG_8426[1]

There were little streams with charming wooden bridges – so Romantic!

IMG_8440[1]

I could’ve stayed in this wonderland forever but I reluctantly climbed my way back up and there was the house peeking out in the distance.

IMG_8438[1]

As I got closer I discovered another area that had been abandoned.

IMG_8460[1]

It was a large square area framed by a stone wall decorated with wooden fencing.

IMG_8455[1]

The fencing had seen better days, the days of my childhood.  Oh, how I wish I could’ve seen this estate back in its glory days, but it still had a grace about itself, and in its current condition it seemed even more dear to me.

The stately pillars had such dignity standing proudly as they had done for so many years.

IMG_8457[1]

Though ivy and moss grew over them they still were very beautiful to me.

IMG_8461[1]

And in the courtyard was this circular stone item.  Was it once a well or a planter?  I wondered.

IMG_8458[1]

And then I spotted the tea house.  How lovely it would’ve been  on a Summer’s day if and when my lady invited me to share her afternoon tea.  Seeing this structure set my imagination stirring once more.

IMG_8424[1]

What a wonderful property this is.  I wasn’t disappointed at all. Once again I dashed past the house so as not to alarm or disturb the owners.  I learned they were an elderly couple. That could explain why they let their grounds go.  They probably don’t go walking about these days very much to justify the cost in maintaining such a place, but if only they did.  I hope some day a new enthusiastic owner will come along and restore everything to its former glory..

I wish that person could be me.

Perhaps one day my cousin will introduce me to the owners of this estate. The lady of the house in my imagination never became my friend but perhaps I could become friends with the present owners and they just might allow me to return over and over, appreciating  their wonderful property.

I’m only guessing, but I suspect I’ve loved their house and grounds longer then they did and perhaps more intensely then they do now.

Well, that’s my story.

IMG_3287[1]

So as I write you from my own old white house set in nature  I encourage you to keep on dreaming and imagining no matter how old or young you may be for as my good  old “dead friend” Henry David Thoreau suggested,

“If you advance confidently in the direction of your dreams, and endeavor to live the life you have imagined, you will meet with success unexpected in common hours.”

I’m a believer!

Country Inn “Spa” Day

 

IMG_7282[1]

Some Country Inn Days have me going out and about to explore and enjoy the world around me.  Other Country Inn Days have me playing the part of Innkeeper and Inn Chef preparing and hosting  dinner parties and teas, but on this particular Country Inn “Spa” Day I will kick back, hibernate, and enjoy a day of rest and relaxation.  I will not even venture out to one of the professional spas in my area, but instead I’ll partake in spa treatments right here at my own personal Inn.  The day’s itinerary is free and flexible. Today I will do only what the spirit moves me to do.  If you’re usually a busy person this sort of  free and easy Spa Day can really hit the spot now and then.

IMG_7272[1]

Over the years I’ve collected all sorts of books which contain ideas for just this sort of day.  I’ll lounge in my robe and fuzzy slippers reading these books and taking notes.  If  I come upon a treatment which sounds good at the moment I will partake in it.  Other treatments and ideas will be jotted down for future days.  Sometimes we need to stop doing and focus on “being”.  My personal library of spa books will also help me design rituals for every day, not just spa days.  What fun to take a day off, to relax,  to enjoy a little pampering, but also to plan rituals which will make future days better. Incorporating healthy habits and refreshing ideas into our days doesn’t just happen.  We have to make these things happen by planning for them.

IMG_7283[1]

Of course I want to share a few of the ideas I come upon with you because you know what I’m always saying – sharing doubles the joy and divides the sorrow.  It seems Jane Austen felt the same way.

IMG_7291[1]

Country Inn Days are all about imagination and in Margo Valentine Lazzara’s book, “Blissful Bathtimes” she reminds us that we can have relaxing escapes anytime, no matter how busy our day might be, if we take a few minutes to close our eyes and imagine we’re back at some beautiful place we love.  Where would your imagination take you?

IMG_7292[1]

I would go back to The Boston Public Garden and take a ride on the swan boats there. I’d smell the flowers and trees, feel the sun on my back, listen to the ducks splashing in the water and gaze about at the nature all around me in this lovely garden.  Margo suggests  enjoying this creative visualization whenever we bathe, but actually we can enjoy it at all sorts of times and places.  I can easily justify spending money to visit beautiful sites knowing that I can return to them often “in imagination” once they are experienced and carefully registered in my mind.

IMG_7270[1] Here’s another idea.  Drink water.  I’m thinking of a  material that is lightweight, flexible, elastic, waterproof, self-mending, washable, durable and needs water to keep it in good shape.  Can you guess what material  that is?  It’s our skin.  Sources agree we need  6 to 8 glasses of water daily if we want to take care of our skin.  Having a pitcher nearby helps me remember to drink this healthful liquid.

Other skin tips:  Use moisturizer and sunscreen.  Exercise regularly. Relax away tension to help prevent expression lines in the face.  Get a lot of sleep.  Keep weight constant. Eat a well balanced diet.

IMG_7293[1]

Myra Cameron offers all sorts of ideas for skin care as well as care for hands, feet, teeth, hair and eyes in her book “Mother Nature’s Guide to Vibrant Beauty and Health”. Here’s one of her gentle recipes for a daily facial scrub – 2-3 tsp. of baking soda mixed with a little warm water.  For feet she suggests we try this Chinese massage – Rotate your ankles while massaging each toe.  Massage the soles of your feet with your fists. Rub the tops of your feet from ankles to toes in circular motions with the flat of your hand.

Now for a few tips for your teeth from Myra. – She says starches and fats can be as harmful to teeth as sweets.  This is because an enzyme in saliva transforms starch into sugar; fat makes food stick to the teeth.  Myra says raisins and peanut butter are among the worst offenders.  And did you know drinking generous amounts of tea (which contains flouride) can provide just as much protection from tooth decay as flourinated water?  Myra says it’s true.

Let’s talk about hair.  Myra says half-and-half gives hair extra body when left on for 5 minutes.  She also suggests treating your hair to a fruit salad if you’ve been out in the sun.  Here’s how – In a blender mix 1/2 banana, 1/4 of an avacado, 1/6th of a cantaloupe, and 1 tablespoon each of wheat germ oil and yogurt.  Leave on hair for 10 minutes to regenerate sun-abused hair.

And to refresh tired or irritated eyes – try saturating eye pads with warm to room temperature milk, and for dark circles or bags under eyes try creating a compress of moist camomile, pekoe, or rose hip tea (or warmed castor oil) and placing the compress on eyes for 15 minutes or longer each and every day.

Myra’s book is a treasure trove of information.  She also wrote a book called “Treasury of Home Remedies”.  Who needs to buy fancy products with her many simple suggestions?  I plan to try lots of her home remedies on future evenings when I need a little pick-me-up.

IMG_7278[1]

But just taking time to step off the treadmill of life in order to relax our mind, body and soul is a very helpful way to feel happy and at peace.  Work and worry are sturdy weeds, but joy requires cultivation. On Country Inn “Spa” Days I work at this cultivation.

Scheduling alone time, taking it easy for a little while,

IMG_7295[1]

getting some inspiration from a few good books like “Office Spa” by Darrin Zeer,

IMG_7298[1]

or “Relax mind, body and soul” by Barbara L. Heller, and using that inspiration to enjoy a little pampering, then designing  beautiful rituals for future days, well,  that’s a Country Inn “Spa” Day for you.

And that day is today!

It’s a Country Inn Country Club Day

IMG_6700[1]
Lake Forest Country Club

I am not a golfer, but I’m glad my husband is because his love of golf inspired our membership to Lake Forest Country Club and this membership entitles me to enjoy the lovely clubhouse anytime I like. Because I love old world ways and old world architectural design I frequently escape to Lake Forest on my Country Inn Days.

IMG_6723[1]

Some people need to pack their bags and travel far away in order to escape from life’s usual routines, but not me.  With a little imagination (and Country Inn Days are built on imagination) I can escape without even leaving home or at least not leaving Hudson. My home becomes the  “Inn” of my Country Inn Days and sometimes I hibernate there, but other times I leave the Inn and enjoy little outings  to lovely places.  Lake Forest Country Club is one of those places. At this clubhouse  I have the feeling I’m checking into a fine hotel somewhere off and away, maybe in merry old England.

IMG_6705[1]

Because the architectural details in and around the club are so fine my imagination doesn’t have to work very hard in order to take me from ordinary to a romantic state of mind.  Lake Forest may not be Downton Abbey, but it’s the next best thing in Hudson.

IMG_6703[1]

I settle into a corner of the living room and order a glass of wine. Soon my luncheon companions will arrive.  You may wonder who these people will be. Well, this is where my excellent imagination does come into play. My companions at lunch today will be William Faulkner, the Nobel Prize winner in Literature, his son Dean Swift Faulkner, and William’s niece, Dean Faulkner Wells… oh, and here they are now.

IMG_6780[1]

I won’t need to talk much, if at all, for Dean Faulkner Wells is bursting with stories of the life she lived and the family she loved. She takes me back to the 1930’s and a place called Oxford which was a sleepy little one-horse town in the hills of North Mississippi. Dean’s stories are full of intimacies and cherished connections with her family members.

IMG_6781[1]

As I sip my wine and read “Every Day by the Sun”, Dean Faulkner Well’s  book, I exit Hudson to another place and time. Books, imagination and Country Inn Days are a winning combination to create a fun and most interesting getaway day…

IMG_6716[2]

and don’t forget delicious food either.  Food is yet another pleasurable ingredient adding to the delight of Country Inn Days, especially when that food is prepared and served to me with a smile.

IMG_6717[1]

When lunch is finished and my time with the Faulkners is over I stroll into the pub.  All is quiet in preparation for the evening activities.

IMG_6718[1]

The fire in the fireplace is warm and inviting and I’m in no particular hurry to leave it because a Country Inn Day is a gift of time I give myself, a gift allowing me to do as I please.  This luxury of free, unscheduled time is very therapeutic every now and then. We are so often bound to clocks and schedules.   A  free, unplanned and spontaneous day is a real treat. When we stop and smell the roses, get off our treadmill, not only does life seem sweeter,  we seem sweeter to all we meet.

IMG_6719[1]

I strike up a very interesting conversation with Mel, a long-time server here at the club.  She’s usually too busy to engage in conversation, but now is a perfect time to get to know her a little bit better.  She’s so nice.  I wish she wasn’t always working here or at home being a busy mother of three for I’d love to invite her to the Inn for tea.  I would assume the role of Innkeeper and turn the tables on her.  She would become the guest for a change and I would become her server.

IMG_6721[1]

After my nice chat with Mel it’s time to leave Lake Forest and return to the Inn.  My husband and I will be back here later this evening for dinner.  Only on a Country Inn Country Club Day would I indulge in two meals here in the same  day.  But today?  Why not?  I poke into the formal dining room on the way out. Such a pretty room.

IMG_6722[1]

The staff is busy preparing  for what’s to come.

IMG_6724[1]

Back at the Inn what’s to come is afternoon tea.  Ah, the pleasure of tea.  I enjoy this lovely ritual with Earl Grey and a home made butter cookie baked  in house by the Inn chef (me).

IMG_6730[1]

Inn guests have arrived and they’re waiting to talk to me.  They arrive in the form of personal letters – a whole stack of them. There’s Joy who comes from South Carolina, Michelle hails from Washington D.C., Amy from Pennsylvania, Candi from Minnesota and Maggie-Linn from Maine.

IMG_6729[1]

With my cup of tea,  a little imagination, and all these wonderful letter friends the party continues on this Inn Day.  Letter writers are never alone or lonely on Country Inn Days or on any other day – That’s because letter writers  just pick up a pen and write a friend making a connection any time day or night, or they go out to their mailbox and bring back plenty of letter friends for pleasant, old fashioned in depth conversations.  I hope you’re a letter writer.  If you are you know first hand the pleasure personal correspondence can add to life.

IMG_6782[1]

After I’m filled to the brim with socializing I pick up my knitting and spend a little time in solitude.  Knit one, purl one as the minutes pass slowly and peacefully. I must rest for the evening ahead. Country Inn Days are a rich mix of solitude and society.  They combine the work of Innkeeper, (me) Inn Maid, (me) and Inn chef, (also me), with imagination, relaxation, creativity and play.   We adults need play. “It is a happy talent to know how to play” so said Ralph Waldo Emerson.  We need play to keep our spirits youthful and happy.  I hope you schedule play into your life regularly.

 So till we meet again on another Country Inn Day.  Live well, prosper and play.

 

Another Country Inn Day – Hudson Day

IMG_6318[1]
The Hudson Clock tower
On some Country Inn Days I like to stay close to the Inn, only venturing out into the neighborhood if and when I need to stretch my legs.  After all, there’s a time for adventure, but there’s also a time to lay low.  A day spent at the Inn, stepping out of regular routines and enjoying quiet pleasures with just a little larking about in town is exactly what I need every now and then, like today on this Country Inn Day, this Hudson Day.

Hudson, like my beloved Boston, is a mixture of old and new.  The town was founded in 1799 so there’s a lot of historic architecture to enjoy here and this I happen to love, but Hudson’s downtown area bustles with new establishments.  These establishments offer a nice mix of shops, restaurants and culture.

hudsonLibrary
The new Hudson Library and Historical Society

The culture is found at The Hudson Library and Historical Society. It’s here I begin Hudson Days and most other Country Inn Days as well.  The library is a wonderful place to meet  my beloved “dead friends” by way of books and old letters kept in the library archives.

UGRRenactment historic people

Here at the library spirits come alive.  I bring many of them back to the Inn with me so at tea time or cocktails I can visit with them and hear the tales of  their interesting lives lived long ago or sometimes lived right in our present day.  On this Country Inn Day I connect with C.S. Lewis, Claude Monet and the Duke of Windsor.  The aisles of the library are full of wonderful biographies just hoping people will pick them up in order to discover the lives described on their pages.

IMG_6295[1]

Just imagine  each of these books to be a live person dying to tell you his or her story.  And with a little imagination that’s exactly what happens for me .  Country Inn Days are  days full of imagination you know,  the perfect time to get to know all these interesting personalities captured in books.

IMG_6299[1]

I love to stroll around The Hudson library and its  many different areas.  It’s a very big place. One could spend the whole day here enjoying different rooms.  This is the main floor open space with magazines on the right, cd’s on the left, a seating area for reading at the windows and beyond the windows there is a great outdoor patio.

IMG_6296[1]

Of course today it’s a bit too snowy and cold to sit on the patio, but come May you’ll know where I will be regularly.

IMG_6300[1]

Today it’s a lot more comfortable reading and sipping a cappuccino here in the library cafe, and if your cup is covered you can take it up to the reference library.

archiveslibrary work room

This reference room is beautiful with windows looking out over the town. How lucky we are in Hudson to have such a facility. There’s an archivist on duty most days too.  Any library is a grand place to hang out, but for a small city like Hudson this library is quite stupendous… and it’s free!  What a treasure.

IMG_6303[1]

But after a nice time at the library I decide to walk through the new Village Green and pop into a shop or too.  This Green (now quite white with snow) is lined with shops and restaurants. There’s even an ice skating rink to the front of the pergolas.

IMG_6352[1]

I first come upon a Talbots and it’s quite nice  that the store happens to be having a big sale just in time for my Country Inn Day visit.

IMG_6307[1]

I take a few garments into this very lovely dressing room and end up with a new cashmere sweater, co-ordinating sweater jacket, plus a very nice blouse.  Every now and then a girl likes something new to wear.  Don’t you agree?  And who doesn’t like a sale?

IMG_6310[1]

From Talbots  I stroll down the lane and pop into another nice shop.  This one is called Heather’s Heat and Flavor.  At this shop I find a most interesting cookbook.  It’s called “The French Slow Cooker” by Michele Scicolone.

IMG_6400[1]

Did you think it was possible to make Creme Anglaise or Creme Brulee or an Orange Souffle in a slow cooker?  I certainly didn’t, but this book promises that even a novice can turn out dishes that taste as though they came straight out of the kitchen of a French grandmere.  I love French food so I had to buy this book.  I’ll let you know if my results are as magnifique as the book promises.

Well, with those purchases I decided I spent enough money for one Country Inn Day so I moved along deciding to take a little walk around the neighborhood before returning to the Inn.  Let me share with you some of the sights along my way.

IMG_6319[1]

There were quiet streets lined with old, charming houses.

IMG_6331[1]

Big houses

IMG_6336[1]

Smaller ones

IMG_6333[1]

and all sorts in between

IMG_6367[1]

Beige ones

IMG_6334[1]

And white ones

IMG_6324[1]

And brick ones too,

IMG_6317[1]

but the quiet streets also have  lots of public buildings which are fun to view  while strolling along.

IMG_6316[1]

Churches

IMG_6322[1]

Buildings on the Western Reserve Academy Campus like the Chapel

IMG_6366[1]

and historic Main Street with the older shop buildings that have been around for more than a hundred years.

Hudson is a great town for walkers and that’s me, so a Country Inn Hudson Day is great fun any time of year. But it is getting late. These Country Inn Days just fly by.  It’s time to get back to the Inn.

IMG_6368[1]And here I am

IMG_6370[1]

 stepping through the garden  all covered with snow and entering the Inn itself.

IMG_6373[1]

After all that walking in the cold it’s nice to be all cozy and warm inside sitting at the piano where I decide to play for a while as cocktails are being prepared.  Playing the piano is one of my favorite things and Country Inn Days are devoted to the enjoyment of favorite things. You know what that famous song from “The Sound of Music”  says  – “I simply remember my favorite things and then I don’t feel so bad”.  But it’s not just when we’re feeling bad that we should enjoy our favorite things. We should take time for them regularly in order to prevent feeling bad.

IMG_6384[1]

So as I play the piano a fire is lit and my husband acts as Innkeeper setting out crackers, cheese and drinks.  Here, just as in the lounge of my favorite Red Lion Inn, we relax, chat, and make dinner plans. We decide to dine out of the Inn this evening, going to a fairly new Hudson establishment called The Three Palms.  It’s a gourmet pizza place.

IMG_6302[1]

This is  the exterior of The Three Palms restaurant by day.

IMG_6385[1]

And this is the interior of the restaurant by night. My husband and I sit at the bar so we can look right across the way to the kitchen where the staff is working busily.  Sometimes on Inn Days I am the one-woman kitchen staff, the Inn chef, but on other Inn Days like today I am pure Inn guest.  It is nice to be served now and then.

IMG_6390[1]

It’s fun watching this fellow prepare the pizza dough,  throwing it into the air.  He’s good, never dropped it even once.  A little entertainment while we sip our wine.

IMG_6386[1]

I enjoy the food here and I enjoy the setting too.  The lighting is very pleasant creating  an  ambiance just right for a romantic Country Inn Day.

So all in all I’d say this Country Inn Day was quite the success. Though it was too short, as all days seem to be, it did provide  rest, relaxation, imagination  and sights and experiences outside of my regular routines. That’s all I can ask for on any Country Inn Day so I’m quite content.

I hope you’re happy too, having your own Days of Imagination and Fun,   your own version of my Country Inn Days.  You are the artist of your life.  Only you can create the sort of days which will make your life glisten and glow… so seize the day  and remember…

If you can imagine a perfect day you can make it so.

Enjoy!

It’s a Country Inn Day – Culture Day

cleveland art museum
The Cleveland Museum of Art

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

images (3)front of museum

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

images (3)lagoon

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

images (3)springtime laggoon

See?

images (3)atrium

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

IMG_6207[1]

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

IMG_6204[1]

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

IMG_6240[1]

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

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

IMG_6216[1]

Follow me through this grand room with its marble pillars.

IMG_6225[1]

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

IMG_6212[1]

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

IMG_6213[1]

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

IMG_6223[1]

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

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

IMG_6214[1]

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

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

IMG_6211[2]

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

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

IMG_6226[1]

And this!

IMG_6218[1]

And this!

IMG_6219[1]

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

IMG_6224[1]

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


IMG_6209[1]

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

IMG_6236[1]

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

IMG_6228[1]

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

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

IMG_6202[1]

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

It’s called Dinner

IMG_6246[1]
Tagliatelle with Red Wine Bolognese Sauce

The recipe

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

Process:

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

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

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

4.  Cover pan and cook slowly for 30 minutes.

5.  Meanwhile cook pasta.

6.  Add a salad and a glass of wine.

7. Light a candle or two and enjoy!

IMG_6250[1]

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

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

Leave behind ordinary.  It’s not enough!

Talk about Art Play

IMG_4888[1]
An Art Show in Hudson

This weekend Hudson was the scene of an art show at the edge of town.  At least a hundred tents were set up and all sorts of artists were displaying their work.  It’s always nice to see what people can come up with and they certainly come up with a lot.

IMG_4885[1]

Many people were displaying pictures and paintings, serious and silly ones, using all sorts of methods – water color, pen and ink, oil, photography, computer generated designs…  Some work was framed and some work was not.  There were cards galore for those of us who write letters.

IMG_4892[1]

I love to watch each artist talking to perspective customers.  This is just as interesting to me as checking out the art they’ve created.  I like to imagine them at work in their studio, lost in their craft.  What fun they must have and what satisfaction if their work is not only appreciated by the public, but also purchased.

IMG_4879[1]

And it’s not only paintings I saw at the art show in Hudson.  There was plenty of  jewelry, ceramics, dried flower designs, lamps made out of bottles, sweaters made out of alpaca yarn.  People don’t just sit around.  They get busy exercising their creativity.  Do you?  But so much to pack and set up for display at shows like the one I attended today and some of the art is  very fragile, like these glass ornaments.  You know it’s a labor of love making these things, but an even greater labor of love  getting them to market.

IMG_4886[1]

I’m always most enchanted with the unusual items I see, like this wall hanging above.  Talk about using creativity to make something fun and new out of old rejected material.

IMG_4887[1]

Would you have thought to collect outdated license plates in order to cut them apart, reassemble them, and turn them into fun and artful hangings?  This artist was using his imagination all right, and he was exercising his creativity.  His work seemed to be a big hit with many shoppers too. I know I liked it a lot!  Seeing art like this makes me wonder what treasures I’m throwing away, treasures that could be recycled and turned into art.

IMG_4883[1]

Art shows are not about buying things we need.  They’re about buying things that strike our fancy.  How about a snazzy hat?  In a perfect world we should all have a budget set up to provide us with plenty of spending money for spontaneous purchases.  I’m sure all the vendors at today’s art show would agree with me.  If this were the case, whenever we’d spot an item that we appreciated we could buy it and make ourselves happy and make the artist responsible pretty happy too.

IMG_4882[1]

If I had  a ‘fru fru’ budget set up I would’ve purchased these two copper frogs to be of service around  my garden. If you look closely you can see one is holding a tray for drinks and the other is holding an ice bucket. How much would you pay for these little fellas?  You know they must have been a lot of work to make, and talk about the skill involved.  Well the two little frogs (really not so little) were selling for $1000 – that’s for the pair of them, and you’d have to buy both.  How could you split them up? They’re a team.

I give all the artists I saw today a lot of credit and that goes for all artists everywhere.  It’s wonderful to have “your thing”, something you love to do, and will do, even if there’s little money in it.  Do you have such a thing?  Letter writers like me enjoy creative work with paper.  This may be small scale art compared to copper frogs serving cocktails, but whatever our creative work – it’s all good!

So hurrah for art play and for artists everywhere.   No matter what form that art play takes, large or small, complicated or simple, practical or playful, lucrative or not, art play is an activity of joy, and art shows are a place where that joy is shared, and you know what I always say about sharing…

Sharing doubles the joy