It’s another Country Inn Day – Come on along


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

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

 Sharing doubles the joy!

So grab your hat and off we go!

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


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


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


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


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


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

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


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

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

The Gamekeeper’s patio

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

West End

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


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

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


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


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

A path along the grassy park

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


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

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

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


and the book store


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


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


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


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


There are lovely herb gardens out front

Just one view of the many herb gardens

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


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


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

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


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


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


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


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

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

And what would that be for you?

I feel like going visiting today!

“Oh how this spring of love resembleth, The uncertain glory of an April day! Which now shows all the beauty of the sun And by and bye a cloud takes all away.”
I feel like an outing on this first day of April.  How about you?  But not just any outing for me.  I think I’ll go to England or Scotland… or maybe I’ll go to both places.  After all, I have an hour or two free.

You see, I am very blessed to have a wonderful imagination.  I suspect we are all born with wonderful imaginations but some of us fail to exercise them, and as with so many things, we  “use it or lose it”.  I use my imagination regularly.  Do you?  Oh, I hope so.  Imagination is a terrible thing to waste.

So today I decided to leave Hudson for a few hours and take a little trip.  I feel like spending some time with my lovely “dead friend” and nature artist Edith Holden.  What is a “dead friend” you ask ?  A “dead friend” is a person from the past who we get to know,  admire. and enjoy.   We meet these people by reading their biographies, autobiographies, and/or by studying and becoming  familiar with their work.  I bet you have a few “dead friends” of  your own, at least I hope you do.  “Dead friends” add so very much to life,  more than a great many living, breathing people we meet.

I met Edith years ago when I discovered her beautiful book, Nature Notes of an Edwardian Lady. This book was published in 1906 by her husband Ernest.  It was published after Edith’s untimely death at age 49.   You see, Edith  drowned in the Thames while gathering buds from chestnut trees which she intended to paint.

Edith was born at Kings Norton, Worcester, in 1871 and was one of seven children of a Midlands paint manufacturer.  Her family lived in the small village of Olton Warwickshire and it was there that she wrote and illustrated her Nature Notes.

I think I’ll join Edith on one of her trips to Scotland where she studied painting for a year.  Would you care to join me?  Ok, let’s go!

Nothing like an old fashioned train ride through the English countryside toward Scotland. Our train is powered by steam and imagination.
And here we are (That was fast!) at the home of her art teacher and his family.  They invited Edith to stay with them since she was so very far from home.  Romantic and peaceful setting, isn’t it?

Edith’s home away from home one Summer
But let’s pop into the art studio and catch a glimpse of Edith working with her classmates.  I personally love how people ‘dressed up’ back in the old days.  No blue jeans and  t shirts for them.

Practice makes not perfect, but improvement
Of course one can’t get very good at drawing nature while sitting in a classroom so after a certain amount of instruction in basic  technique off to the outdoors we all go.  Put on your sweater for it’s early April and the air is chilly.

Let’s watch Edith paint a horse or two
Do you ever draw?  You should.  It’s great fun and anyone can do it.  As I said, practice makes improvement.  I love to draw flowers creating original stationery for some of the letters I write.  Maybe you’ve received one such letter.   Flowers are easy to draw.  Try drawing this one:

Come on. You can do it! I’ll take a break from writing this post and draw this pink flower myself. I’ll create a floral notecard, then use this card for the letter I’ll be writing tomorrow to a friend in the state of Washington
Ok.  Here’s what I came up with.  I wonder what drawing you came up with.

Erika, this is for you
If you have not  made your drawing yet, it’s ok.  You can finish reading my post and then get busy.  Art  play is really a lot of fun.  You’ll see.  But if you think flowers are tricky I wouldn’t suggest you try animals… not yet anyway.

Edith drew all sorts of animals and she was wonderful at the task.  She drew snakes, birds, butterflies, bees, mice, so many creatures –   even the occasional cow.

Between reading Edith’s book and viewing a wonderful four-video series I own all about her life, I can experience a faux visit to Scotland and the English countryside any time I like, getting close up looks at its flora and fauna.

I can sit beside Edith using my imagination and watch her sketch picturesque vistas.  She’s encouraged me to try my own hand at sketching.  Friends always encourage each other you know.

The making of landscapes
We then explore streams with all their exuberant life forms and I don’t even have to get wet.

An April flood carries away the frog and his brood — (just a bit of Folk-lore)
My time spent with Edith, looking at nature and looking at her drawings of nature, soothes my soul.

It may indeed be only phantasy that I essay to draw from all created things deep, heartfelt, inward joy that slowly clings
I love the season well when forest glades are teeming with bright forms
 I’ve read that spending time with things of beauty helps that beauty enter into us.  The beauty becomes us.  I can sometimes feel that happening.  Can’t you?

Our expedition in search of wild flowers takes us across hill and dale.
To be off with Edith is a wonderful escape from one’s daily routine.  And when we’re tired from all our walking we can sit quietly together,  meditate, or share our favorite lines of poetry.

Can trouble live with April days, or sadness with the Summer moons?
Yes, spending time in England and Scotland with gentle “dead friends” like Edith Holden is a wonderful experience.

My “dead friend” Edith Holden
 And  Edith’s  spirit stays with me long after these imaginary visits.  As I walk  the garden paths in my own town, in my own time,  I can still feel her calming presence dignifying my every step.

So now I’ve introduced you to Edith, but  it’s up to you to cultivate your own friendship with her.  Perhaps she’ll inspire you to create your very own nature notes or you might get yourself some watercolor pencils and take up sketching, creating art for your home or floral note cards to send to your friends.

Edith loved to write letters as I do
Why here’s an idea for you.  Take a walk outside and sit yourself down to sketch a flower, plant, or creature and then send your picture  to me with a note – or better yet, a letter.  I would love that!  Here’s my address:

204 E. Streetsboro Street

Hudson, Ohio 44236


I’ll be watching my mail box, and of course if you write to me I’ll write back to you.  So from me and Edith  too — a fond farewell.  We’ll leave you with the entry from Edith’s nature notebook dated April 1, 1906.


Happy Art Play in Nature

Note:  Pictures used for this post are attributed to Central Independent Television’s video entitled The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady starrring Pippa Guard as Edith

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.


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!


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.


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.


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.)


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.


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


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?


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!


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?


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.


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.


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.


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.


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]


But there’s one more thing I want to show you, well really three more things — two bedrooms and a bath.



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!