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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chicken salad

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

The second course is Scones

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

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

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

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

Ahrens Tea Cake

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

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

Filling

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

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

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

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So the food is prepared and the table is set.

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The buffet holds the tea cake and the Irish Cream.

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

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

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The dishes need washing.

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

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

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

When you give good things come back to you.

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

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

Very sweet indeed!

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

Go to it!

Country Inn “Spiritual” Day

 

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Stan Hywet Hall
Whenever I’m in need of some spiritual uplift I come here, to Stan Hywet Hall in Akron Ohio.  It is a notable country estate, the former home of F.A. Seiberling, founder of Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company.  He had the house built between 1912 and 1915 and it now ranks as the 12th largest house in the United States.  Stan Hywet Hall is built in the Tudor Revival style and sits on 70 acres of property.

But though I love country houses and this is a very fine country house, I don’t come here to see the house.  I come here to spend time in its gardens.

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The entrance gates at Stan Hywet
As I enter the gates of this estate I like to imagine I’m leaving earth all together and coming home to heaven, to my heavenly father, just as a college student might leave school for a time in order to rest and revive herself  in the presence of  family. Living life on this earth is actually a lot like going to school.  Here on earth we’re constantly learning and being tested.  Hopefully we’re growing in many ways, but it’s not always easy.

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In fact, sometimes it’s very hard as it has been this month for me losing my precious doggie, Alexander.  He died in my arms on May 13th from old age and because of this great loss I really needed to come here to the garden to spend quiet time with God talking and listening.

Years ago my sister Elaine and I wrote a song.  I composed the music and Elaine composed  the lyrics.  I think of this song whenever I come here to the garden to spend time with God.  Let me share the lyrics with you.

“I speak to God, God speaks to me

In silence, soft sweet silence.

He knows I’m here, I know he’s near

In silence, soft sweet silence.

We sit and listen give and take

 sharing secrets for love’s sake.

I speak to God, God speaks to me

In silence, soft sweet silence.”

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The English garden room

I love to sit in the English garden and talk to God, pour out my heart and then listen for his response by reading from one of my spiritual books, books like “God Calling”.  This book was written by two listeners and edited by A. J. Russell.  These listeners claim that the messages they wrote had been given to them by The Living Christ Himself.  Who is to say just how this could be, but the messages are definitely a spiritual stimulus to me and to many thousands of other people as well.

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As I sit looking at the sculpture and fountain in Stan Hywet’s English Garden these words from “God Calling” come to me, “What can I say to you?  Your heart is torn. Then remember “He bindeth up the broken hearts.”  That is me with a broken heart over my doggie’s death.

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I talk to God telling him how I feel as I walk around gazing at all the lovely stonework, the flowers and the plants.  Then I sit here to read from one of my spiritual books.  I am reminded that “Sorrow may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”  I believe this.  I know God wants us to be happy and carry on courageously even after we’ve had great loss.  We must be strong and brave.  With his help I will try to be just that.

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I read that God expresses his great love for us through the beauty of nature and as I gaze upon these roses climbing their way up the trellis to the sky my heart leaps up along with them.

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I’m told In quietness and in confidence shall be my strength.  The quiet and beauty of this garden is comforting and in turning away from the world , tuning to God I feel energized.

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I stroll through the Japanese garden and here I am told all is well.  The plants are so lovely to behold and the design is so ordered.  There is a sense of peace here and that peace runs over onto me.  I’m told nature is but the expression of Eternal Thought in Time.  The eternal is what matters above all and though this fact can easily be forgotten when out in the world here in this garden it seems quite believeable.

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I walk through the Birch alley and I feel so safe as the beautiful trees seem to wrap me in their soft shimmering branches.  I would like to stay here forever, not go back to my life outside this garden with its assorted challenges.  I don’t quite feel up to them just now but I’m told “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  And you know, somehow I believe it.

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I enter the rose garden and I’m overcome with the sheer beauty all around me.  Though I arrived at these gardens with little enthusiasm for life, feeling sad and downtrodden, the beauty of nature has cheered and inspired me just as it did for the characters in that famous novel, “The Secret Garden” .  It’s hard to look at beauty and not feel uplifted just as it’s hard to put a smile on your face, even if it’s forced, and not feel at least a little bit better. I read, “Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the Glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.”

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I’m told to look for the beauty in the world and not just look at it, but absorb it and then pass it on to others through a smile or a kind word.  I’m told that nature is the embodied Spirit of God’s thoughts of beauty for the world and we can truly live a life not of the earth, but a heavenly life here and now IF we connect ourselves more closely to God.  I believe this.  I feel this connection here in nature.

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It’s easy to feel connected to God here in this garden.  It will be harder when I’m back out in the world beyond, but I’m told to keep close to God by reading his words because the “Words that I speak unto you, they are Spirit and they are Life.”  Do you read scripture?  I will be reading scripture when I return to my earthly home for I love this feeling that I have here in the garden, this very heavenly feeling,  and I want it to continue.  I’m told to trust in God and the consciousness of Him will maintain this feeling of joy I’m now experiencing.

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I leave the rose garden and enter the grape arbor and God says, “Walk with me. I will teach you.”  He tells me life is a school and there are many teachers.  He tells me we must say thank you on our greyest days.  We must be glad all the time.  We must rest in Him.  We must never be afraid.  We must pray more.  We must trust Him.

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I’m told to ponder the truths I’ve been given and to search and I will find more.  The secrets of the Kingdom of heaven are there for us to discover, the hidden pearls of great price.  We might live in the world, but we’re really not of the world.  We’re meant for heaven.  I believe it.  Don’t you?

I came to this garden in a dreary frame of mind.  I came for help, to reconnect with spirit, and that I did.  I still grieve for my precious little doggie, Alexander, but if God created animals for our pleasure and joy I can’t believe he wouldn’t  let us reunite with them when we leave this world and move on to heaven for all eternity.  I’m hoping I see Alexander again but in the meantime I will not only try to live with joy, I will share that joy with others for I believe that’s what God wants us to do.

My Country Inn “Spiritual” Day was most refreshing.  I am inspired to keep the faith and work at enriching it through study, prayer and good works.

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But before I leave this heavenly garden I sit here amidst the hemlocks and say this  prayer.

Our Lord, with a heart full of new life and enthusiasm

I thank Thee for the beauty found in nature

and all Thy marvelous teachings

which you showered on me

today.

Peace and Joy to you too.

Another Country Inn Day – Hudson Day

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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There were quiet streets lined with old, charming houses.

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Big houses

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Smaller ones

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and all sorts in between

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Beige ones

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And white ones

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And brick ones too,

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

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Churches

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Buildings on the Western Reserve Academy Campus like the Chapel

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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

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

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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!

Whatever is Good …

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I hope you’re having a nice day.  So far I’m having a wonderful day – that’s because I’m writing to you and focusing on the good around me.

I love writing letters.  I’m sitting here on my porch writing and watching an array of birds fluttering around a bird feeder. What beauty is nature!

I’m listening to some  favorite music, Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos No. 1-4.  What glory is music!

I’m sipping some delicious dark espresso roast coffee.  What a treat is the ability to taste!

The grass is being mowed as I write and the scent is fresh and green.  What delight is fragrance!

My feet are up and my sofa is comfy.  A gentle breeze wafts past me.  What a pleasure is the sense of touch!

I ponder which of my favorite things should be the topic of this letter.  What joy it is to not only have favorite things, but also to reflect on them and share those things with others.

I hope you’re aware of, and focus on,  the simple pleasures in life. So often we’re all guilty of taking some, or all, of these things for granted.

All this brings a certain Bible verse to mind.   It’s from a letter (yes a LETTER) to the Philippians 4:8.  The letter reads:

Brothers and Sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about these things.

and I add –   WRITE ABOUT THESE THINGS IN YOUR LETTERS.

We should all focus on what’s good, not what’s bad.  The news and television seem to have things backwards.  If we’re not depressed before we tune in to most  tv and news programs we’ll soon become depressed.  Shows today do not inspire good.  They focus on bad behavior.

I say FOCUS ON GOOD THINGS and then SHARE that good.

Letters are a great vehicle for sharing good.  You’ve heard of Paul, Peter, James and John?  They were avid letter writers as I am.  They wrote an awful lot of letters to all sorts of people – many were strangers to them – the Corinthians, the Romans, the Colossians,  just to name a few.  And look how long their letters have lasted.  The letters you write will last too IF they’re good letters – that is,  letters that are admirable and praiseworthy.

People are always asking  me why I write so very many people, why I belong to The Letter Exchange, the organization of and for letter writers.  They ask me why I’m constantly reaching out to people I don’t yet know hoping they become pen friends.  I’m asked  why I write to old friends, why I write to family.    I bet Peter, Paul, James and John were asked some of these question too.  And what’s the answer?  The answer is:

WRITING LETTERS IS A VERY GOOD WAY TO SHARE JOY.

Of course,  you can’t share joy if you don’t have joy,  So Cultivate Joy!  Focus on  Beauty!  Reflect on the Goodness all around you –  then write about it to everyone you know, to everyone you meet.

If you’re looking for a purpose in life, spreading good and spreading joy is a very good one.  It will  make you happier and it will make lots of other people happier as well.

Don’t take my word for it. Write some letters and see for yourself.

A letter of Joy

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One of Joy’s letters

I’m a lucky girl.  I have some wonderful pen friends, and wonderful pen friends are essential  to the full enjoyment of  the Art of Letter Writing.  This could be part of the reason why some people never fall in love with letters.   They lack quality correspondents, quality correspondents like my friend Joy.  Joy is a treasure.  She shares my love and appreciation for beauty so each of her letters is a feast for the eyes and a feast for the spirit.   Even before I read what Joy has to say I’m delighted by the sheer look of her letters.

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Joy’s letters always contain some visual surprises.  Take the envelope above.  When was the last time you received a letter addressed  to you with the individual letters of your name cut out from a magazine? Now there’s a fun idea I may have to copy in one of my next letters.  Creative pen friends give each other all sorts of fun, artistic ideas.

 I’m always saying “sharing doubles the joy’, but as you can see, sharing also doubles,  or at least stimulates, our creativity.

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Joy had been living in Switzerland until recently so she  subscribes to a Swiss magazine and she shares it with me in bits and pieces.  The above picture posted at the start of her letter, with the inviting table setting, ( which inspired me to create my own pretty table) bears the inscription – Life is beautiful,  See what I mean?  Joy is always sharing beauty in her letters – literally!

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Joy and I both enjoy cooking and baking so we’ll often exchange recipes in our letters, recipes we’ve tried and liked.  The salad above was one of Joy’s favorites.  Don’t you love cookbooks with pictures?  I sure do, so I appreciated the picture of this salad  every bit as much as its recipe –  and now I share both with you.  Why?  You know.  Sharing doubles the joy!

GRILLED VEGGIES WITH  MOZZARELLA

You’ll need: 3 red onions, 4 small tomatoes, 1 yellow bell pepper, 1-2 zucchini, olive oil, 2 mozzarella balls, lemon juice (fresh), freshly ground pepper, salt, fresh basil

To Prepare: Peel onion.  Wash veggies.  Wash basil and dry.  Slice tomatoes and onion into halves.  Slice the peppers into quarters.  Slice the zucchini.  Brush the veggies with olive oil and grill.  Leave the tomatoes off for last.  Cut up the mozzarella into small chucks.  Mix veggies, cheese and basil together on a plate.  Sprinkle olive oil and lemon juice over top and salt and pepper to your liking.  ENJOY!

Naturally a great pen friend like Joy deserves good letters in return, so I try my best to reciprocate with pizzazz.  I’ll sometimes look through my collection of art books to inspire my stationery designs for Joy’s letters.  Children’s books are especially delightful sources for inspiration.  Take this one:

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“The Little Hands Art Book” by  Judy Press.  This book may have been designed for 2 to 6 year olds, but it has lots of wonderful art ideas for those of us who happen to be a wee bit older.  Consider paper dolls.  Have you ever made paper dolls?  I hadn’t.  Somehow this skill escaped me till I recently came upon this great little book.

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Once you learn the technique of making paper dolls you can make paper anything to decorate your personal stationery – paper snowflakes, paper music notes, paper houses, or how about my paper flowers?

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These flowers were so fun and easy to make – I drew them, cut them out, painted them and then affixed them to my paper using a glue stick, allowing their petals to flutter freely in the breeze.  A little  grass drawn beneath the flowers and voilá!

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 one- of -a- kind art work for my special penfriend’s letter

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And before I seal the envelope on the letter I’m sending off to Joy I just may tuck in one of my new tested recipes.  After all, one good recipe shared deserves another, and I discovered  a great recipe for baked yeast doughnuts recently.  Here you see the donuts raising on parchment paper.  Maybe you’d like the recipe too. I’ll add it to this post.  It comes from  a wonderful blog called Maggiesonebuttkitchen or was it Poppy’s Patisserie?  Both blogs have great recipes.  If you visit either one tell them Carol Ann says hello.

IMG_4645[1]No Fry Doughnuts

Ingredients:  2 pkg. active yeast, 1/4 cup warm water, 1 and a half cups whole milk, 2 eggs at room temperature, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. nutmeg, 1/4 tsp. cinnamon, 1/3 cup shortening, 4 1/2 cups flour, 1/4 cup melted butter

process:  Dissolve yeast in warm water and mix, add milk, sugar, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, eggs, shortening and 2 cups of flour.  Mix at low speed i minute scraping bowl.  Beat 2 minutes at medium speed scraping bowl.  Stir in remaining flour and mix till smooth.  Cover.  Let rise till double.

Turn dough onto floured board.  Roll dough around to coat with flour.  The dough is soft.  Roll to 1/2 inch thickness.  Cut with floured doughnut cutter. (2 1/2 inch with 1/2 inch hole in center.)

Place two inches apart on parchment paper, cover and double in size.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Bake 8 to 10 minutes till golden.  Brush with butter and then glaze as you wish.

Glazes

Cinnamon sugar:  1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon (toss in bag)

Chocolate glaze:  4 oz. semisweet chocolate chips, 1/3 cup butter, 2 cups powdered sugar, 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla, hot water (Melt butter and chocolate, add sugar and vanilla and stir.  Add enough hot water to make glaze.

Vanilla Glaze:  1/3 cup butter, 2 cups powdered sugar, 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla, hot water

Note:  The chocolate glaze is nice with sprinkles and the vanilla glaze is nice with coconut

Happy Baking!

And so I come to the end of another visit with you.  It’s been a pleasure sharing my joy – my friend Joy, the joy I receive from her letters, and the joy I find every day in The beautiful Art of Letter Writing.

Till we meet again

TAKE JOY!

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.

IMG_2364[1]And upon entering who do I see but Pat, one of the owners, who is waiting and ready to pamper me.

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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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Take Joy

This is the day which the Lord hath made

we will rejoice and be glad in it

With these words the psalmist greeted the dawning of a day in the spirit of new adventure.  I direct a children’s church choir and here they are.

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 The kids and I sing these words frequently as we lead our congregation in song, but I wonder how many people really give much thought to what we’re all singing.  How many reflect on what the words mean?

To reflect:  to think deeply, to consider.   My “dead friend” Lord Byron said  “A  life without reflection is a sad affair”.   I so agree.  That’s probably why I love letter writing and blogging so much.  Writing about ideas helps me focus on them and focusing on wise and positive ideas helps me feel somewhat wise and  definitely more positive.

So what’s that psalmist trying to tell us?  I think he’s saying  we should be mindful that life is amazing,  a precious gift not to be taken for granted.   We shouldn’t waste the day on silly things, and the  modern world is full of silly things.  Instead we should be developing  our talents and appreciations, turning them into healthy passions and  then sharing ourselves  with others any way we can.  It’s only then that I think we can  feel fully alive.

Work and worry are sturdy weeds, but joy requires cultivation.  This day and every day we should rejoice in the gift of life and take full advantage of it.  Use the day to cultivate our joy and then share the joy we cultivate.  When we give good things come back to us.

What’s your purpose for living?  Mine is threefold:  to try to know God, to be of service to others and to do my work with joy.  As I work at these things on this day the Lord has made I will rejoice and be glad in it.

A powerful difference in living results when we approach our days, our tasks, our loved ones and acquaintances rejoicing in them, and expecting the best of them.

Take Joy