Country Inn “Travel” Day

 

 

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

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

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

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The Book Loft

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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What a welcome sight for my tired feet.

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

See?

Ah nature!

In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous 

Aristotle

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

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

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

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

Sharing Doubles the Joy.

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

Country Inn “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.

Country Inn “Spa” Day

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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,

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

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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 Day – Nature Day!

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Today I escape from my daily routine.  It’s a Country Inn Day, a day of imagination and play.  I enjoy one Country Inn Day each week.  Not only is this day great fun, it is also crucial to my creative life.  Country Inn Days  take on all sorts of forms.  There’s Culture Day, Adventure Day, Spa Day, Sharing Tea Day, Nature Day, as well as six other varieties.

But whatever the Inn Day, my home base is my Inn of Imagination, my 1853 home in Hudson, Ohio, USA.   Here, in between special excursions,  I partake in many simple pleasures, the kind of pleasures I would enjoy when visiting my favorite “real” Inn, The Red Lion Inn of Stockbridge, Massacusetts.   I call these simple pleasures enjoyed on Inn Days  “Country Inn Tidbits.

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One such delightful tidbit is starting the day with coffee, something yummy to eat, and the writing of a letter.  Some say The Art of Letter Writing is dead and gone, but they’re so wrong!  I’ve been writing one letter every morning  for the past umpteen years and umpteen people have been writing back to me.  Maybe you’re even one of those people.  Well, they don’t call me “The Lady of Letters” for nothing.  so here in my library, just as in the lobby of The Red Lion Inn, I start the day in thoughtful sharing with a friend.

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And as I consult my beautiful journal today, a journal given to me by my Rhode Island pen friend, Barbara (Hi Barbara)  I am delighted to see that the featured book of the week in this journal is Henry David Thoreau’s “Walden”.  I remember hiking around Walden Pond years ago when I lived in Boston, even seeing the exact spot where Thoreau built his cabin. How appropriate  I should be reading about Thoreau on this, a Nature Day.  So with my morning letter writing completed it is now time to experience a little bit of nature for myself.

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I hop in my car and head out through the beautiful Cuyahoga Valley, home of The Cuyahoga Valley National Park, a most wonderful place to hike, picnic, fish, go horseback riding, enjoy archery, or just relax.  But this Nature Day I have another destination in mind.  I’m headed for a Visitor Center run by the Metro Park System of Cleveland/Akron.

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After a delightful ride through the country I reach my destination, park my car, and walk through the lovely grounds of the park.

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How cleverly this Nature Center, called “The Nature Realm”,  is placed in the landscape.  It barely disturbs the natural vista. There’s a large pond behind the building  and paths of lovely brick and stone work to stroll, paths  that blend beautifully with the surroundings.

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I love all the bird feeders set out so the visitor can delight in the sight of not a few, but many birds feasting.  The center provides literature too to help the novice birder identify the birds they are seeing.

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Any questions can be directed to the many naturalists on the scene. Let’s go inside the Nature Realm and I’ll show you around.

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Come this way!

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The first exhibit that greets us is this one.  Do you recognize this bird? It’s a Blue Heron.  If you read all the information posted here you’ll be a heron expert.  I learned that the Bath Road heronry in my county, Summit county of Ohio, is a popular nesting site with roughly 130 nests every year.  I must go see them, perhaps on my next Nature Day.

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There are also displays about early days in Ohio, how Ohio was a melting pot for Indian tribes, including the Delaware, Seneca and Mingo. There are Indian artifacts on display and plenty of books for sale detailing the history of these early inhabitants.

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I love all the large murals.  This one explains how later settlers who came to Ohio made their living farming and how by 1820 in order to ship grain and other products to market a canal was built.  It’s the 300 mile-long Ohio and Erie Canal.  Perhaps you heard of it.  This canal was so successful by 1840 Ohio was the 3rd most populous state in America.

But besides the natural history of this area there are all sorts of other interesting things to see.

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Here we learn about Tom Baldwin and how he turned woodworking into a rewarding profession.  We see the detail of his carved birds and the tools he uses to create them.  Very interesting. Mr.Baldwin teaches wildlife painting too.  In fact, the park is offering a class in which Mr. Baldwin promises to teach participants how to create a one-of-a-kind masterpiece, a painting of the prized charadrius vociferus.  In case you don’t know just what a charadrius vociferus is I will tell you. It’s a bird, a killdeer which is a medium-sized plover.  What’s a plover?  A plover is a wading bird of which there are 66 species.  I just might sign up for this class.  It could be perfect for another  Country Inn Nature Day.  after all, I always wanted to create a masterpiece!  You see how one Country Inn Day  leads to another?

There is so much to see at the Nature Realm.  Let me show you just one more thing, well, a few more things, a few of the animals on display here. Unfortunately, these animals aren’t alive anymore, not so good for them, but good for us because this way we can get a close up look at them.  Some I know, but some I have never seen before today.  How about you?

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Red Fox
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Red-necked pheasant
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Bob White Quail
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Red-breasted Merganser
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Common Loon
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Grey Fox
I hate to think of animals being stuffed.   Jeepers!  However do they do that? But this process does give us the opportunity to get a good look at them. I would’ve thought the Loon was just another duck, but thanks to my Nature Day now I know better.

This visit to The Nature Realm, seeing things in nature  that I don’t usually see, hit the spot for me on this Nature Day. But now it’s time to move along for Country Inn Days contain many more pleasures.

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One such pleasure is a visit to my local coffee shop where I enjoy a favorite drink.  Country Inn Days are filled with these simple but delightful pleasures.

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You’ve heard the song that proclaims “I simply remember my favorite things and then I don’t feel so bad”.  Yes?  Well, more then remembering, it’s good to actually partake in our favorite things -and on a regular basis. Then we not only don’t feel so bad, we actually  feel terrific!  Country Inn Days give me a regular opportunity to enjoy my favorite things.  And there are so many favorite things to enjoy.

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How ’bout a walk around the block with your dog or your husband or just by yourself?  This is another of my simple Country Inn Day pleasures.  A walk is not only good for our health, it is also  good for clearing  our mind of clutter and focusing on the nature all around us. I may miss my daily walk some times, but not on Country Inn Days.

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Another Country Inn Day pleasure is a special dinner.  The magic of Inn Days transforms me from Inn Chef to Innkeeper to Inn Guest and later to Inn maid as I clean up.  As Inn chef I create a special meal.  As Innkeeper I prepare the table.  Only my prettiest things are used, things I may not bother with on ordinary days. Candlelight, linen, flowers, music… we have these things so we should use them.  Country Inn Days are the perfect time.

Oh, there’s so much more, but I’ll share other Country Inn Day pleasures with you on my next Country Inn Day.  What will it be? An Adventure Day, a Spa Day, a Culture Day?  You’ll just have to wait and see.  But till we meet again, remember to live richly, use your imagination and share, for though you can have a lot of fun on your own…

Sharing Doubles the Joy

It’s a Country Inn Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Jeremiah Brown House

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

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

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

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

Still

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

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Step inside with me.

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

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

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See out the window where we’re headed?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Love, Carol Ann

Nature, Travel, Tea and Letters

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It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood, a perfect day for letter writing, but then every day is a perfect day for letter writing.  The sun is shining.  The birds are chirping.  There’s no humidity.  It’s a lovely temperature, about 75 degrees, and all is calm and right in my world.  I hope that’s the case for you too. Today I decided to write my morning letter to Janet.  Janet is a real nature lover as I am, maybe as you are too.  I wanted to tell her all about the alpaca farm I discovered when meeting the owners at Hudson’s farm market last week.  I also wanted to send her this bookmark picturing one of the very cute alpacas. I knew she would be interested because Janet loves animals.  Are you an animal lover too?

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 I’ve mentioned Janet to you before.  She lives in a  beautiful country setting in the state of Virginia.  Her house is right next door to her sister and brother-in-law’s farm.  Janet is always taking me on excursions through that farm via her letters.  It’s so fun! Thanks to Janet I can share in her early morning walks without even leaving my comfy sofa.  Ah, the magic of letter writing!  Are you in the mood for a little creative visualization?  Well, I’ll share a bit of one of Janet’s letters with you.  I’m sure she wouldn’t mind because Janet is wonderful about sharing her joy.

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She writes,

“Just returned from my early morning walk to the fish pond, strolling by the sheep and lambs in the pasture…

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the donkeys keep watch…

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a few birds too”.

Janet continues, “When I reached the pond a dozen geese were on the water honking.  I like to watch them as they glide along and every now and then they’ll flap their wings, take off, fly to the shore or another spot on the pond, splashing when they land, and then glide along once more.”

Can’t you just picture those geese as Janet describes them?  I sure can, and I have to smile with delight as I share their joy.

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 Janet is always sending me pictures in her letters.  I love them.  Like I always say – one picture is worth a thousand words.  Janet makes post cards too like this one of Mr. Rooster.  She cleverly snapped his picture and added what she knew he was thinking.  If you hang around animals enough you do get to know what they’re thinking.  On the back of the postcard Janet wrote,

“Every morning roosters crow somewhere in our community.  My sister now has three roosters and this is one of the newest.  He’s very strong and feisty, but a smaller one we call ‘Roger’ has been there the longest and none of the new roosters mess with him.  He’ll squawk and chase the other two.  Roger let’s the others know he’s the King rooster…”

Don’t you know people like Roger?  I sure do.

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I enjoy travel, but I also enjoy my creative visualization with the help of letter friends.  Having pen friends from all over the world gives us an “up close and personal” look at places and things near and far.  As you can see from the postmark above I have a pen friend in The Netherlands.  She’s a veterinarian.  I bet she would love Janet’s letters about nature and animals as I do.

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Vronica takes me along to places she visits like Stadtkyll and she adds her  personal commentary. Because I have wonderful  pen friends like Vronica and Janet I see more of this beautiful world than I would see otherwise.  And I care about, and become interested in, places I would never even know existed if not for letters.  After all, you can’t love what you don’t know.  Do you see how letters can expand our world?  If a person can’t get out and about for any reason, but even if they can,  they really ought to take up letter writing.

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How ’bout a little sightseeing in England?  No problem, just find yourself an English correspondent like my pen friend Tracy.  Tracy lives in Jacob’s Well, Guildford Surrey.

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I’m getting to know Guildford pretty well because  of all the literature Tracy sends me on the place.  I love it!

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We tour neighborhood houses together via her local newspaper

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and we also visit historic properties in and around Guildford like this museum, The City Museum.  Its galleries tell the story of the city from its origin as a prehistoric trading center and Roman regional capital, through to modern times with reconstructed 19th and 20th century shops.

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But Tracy also sends me gifts, large and small.  She is a very giving  and  generous person who loves to share.  My kind of girl.  Tracy knows how sharing doubles the joy.  She sent me these neat London coasters

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and this pretty tablecloth for my tea parties.  Tracy, being English, thoroughly approves of all my tea parties.

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She also sends me recipes for tea bakery.  Of course she included a conversion table so I could understand the recipe measurements.

What can I say?  We have our private world, our world of family and local friends, our loved ones who move far away, but then there’s this entirely different world, our world of

Letter Friends

Can you see how they expand one’s life experience?

I sure hope you have a few dozen of your own letter friends, but until you get them, I’ll be happy to continue sharing mine with you.  Why?  You know.

Sharing Doubles the Joy!

So Glad You Could Join Me For Tea and a Chat

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Sugar, Mint or lemon?

Did you notice I’m wearing the apron my former English teacher gave me at one of my last afternoon teas?  Thanks Miss Kaftan.

Now do come in,  sit down on the sofa out here on the porch

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or maybe you’d prefer to sit in a rocker.

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Just make yourself comfortable.

Modern life can keep us so on the go and it’s good to be on the go, it really is,  but not every minute!  We  are so wise to recognize our need for regular pauses in our day.  Some people never take time for themselves, poor things.  We’re enriched when we pause to take time for intellectual reflection.  Our days feel  brighter when we include others – sharing, exercising courtesy and cultivating friendships.  We grow in  peace and hope when we take time to reflect on our spiritual roots, and we’re  refreshed  when we pause from our busy work  to do a little daydreaming or to focus on the beauty that’s all around us.

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Beauty like a  birdie at the window feeder…

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Beauty like a lovely flower…

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Beauty like the nature outside our window.

It’s so nice you could join me today.  We’re both taking a break from the hustle and bustle of life.  What have you been doing today?  Maybe you’ll leave a comment at the end of this post and tell me about your day.  I’d like that.  Can I offer you a chicken croissant?

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Don’t worry about the calories.  You have to eat, don’t you?

I was in the mood to do a little baking today.  I’m  always searching for good scone recipes and today I found two.  Both recipes came from a book by Tricia Foley called Having Tea  and here it is.

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I made Buttermilk scones and Cream scones. Both turned out quite nicely.  I cut back on the salt a bit, but other than that Tricia’s recipes were the best I’ve found so far.  Here are the ingredients for both recipes:

Buttermilk Scones

1 and 3/4 cups of all purpose flour, 1 tsp. sugar, 3/4 tsp. salt, 2 tsp. baking powder, 1/2 tsp. baking soda, 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, approximately 3/4 cup buttermilk

Cream Scones

2 cups all purpose flour, 2 tsp. sugar, 3/4 tsp. salt, 1 tablespoon baking powder, 1 cup heavy cream

The buttermilk scones bake at 450 degrees F for 8 to 10 minutes

The cream scones bake at 425 degrees F for 8 to 10 minutes

For both recipes you mix the dry ingredients, cut in the butter or liquid till a soft dough forms, then roll out on a floured board to the thickness of 3/4 to 1 inch.  Cut dough with a sharp 2 inch round cookie cutter,  bake.

AND YOU HAVE SCONES!

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Please, have one.  Have two!  I made plenty.  Add a little Raspberry jam

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and Devon cream.

When you serve scones at tea, adding  jam and Devon cream or whipping cream, it’s rightly called a CREAM TEA.  If you bake a batch of scones, leftovers can be frozen, and at a moment’s notice you can enjoy a cream tea yourself or delight any friend who pops in unexpectedly.    Of course, when was the last time you experienced drop-in company?  Sadly, the days of visiting seem to be a thing of the past. People today are too busy for such civilized pleasures.  Not me!  I am the champion of old world pleasures lost to modern times – Hosting afternoon teas, Creating handwritten letters, Calling ahead to pay a visit to a friend or relative.  Such things as these add a gracious element to life, an element that  doesn’t cost much money (if any at all), but rewards us with  a certain joy which no amount of money can buy.

Think how you would delight a friend if you popped over to their home bearing a pot of flowers or a basket of strawberries.  That’s exactly what my friend Joni brought me on her last visit.

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 This is Joni.  She is one of my intelligent friends who not only takes time for herself,  focusing on her many blessings, but she also makes time for others, doing nice things for them.  That’s a winning combination. I’m so lucky to have Joni as a friend.  I hope you have friends like Joni too,  and  I hope you are a good friend to others, making time for them.

Maybe tomorrow you’ll mix up a few pitchers of ice tea,

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call a friend or two, and invite them over

or

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buy a pot of flowers

or

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a cake

and go visiting.  Call ahead and visit a friend or relative showering them with your time and appreciation.  Sharing doubles the joy, and taking this time out in your day is well worth the effort.  But in between visits with others remember to take time for yourself – time to dream, time to putter, time to exercise your creativity, time to relax.  It’s so good for your health and it’s so good for your spirit.

And speaking of spirit, you can always enjoy tea time with God.  There’s even a book to help you with that. and here it is.

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This book is a Quiet Moments with God  devotional, published by Honor books.  If you need a little company and no one is available why not share your teatime break  with God.  This book will help.

I remember seeing an old film called The Ghost and Mrs. Muir way back when.  I loved this film and wished  I too had a friendly ghost who shared my old 1853 house, a ghost I could talk to and gain inspiration from  –  and then it hit me!  I do have my very own friendly ghost and so do you.  It’s a ghost , who though invisible, is with us all the time.  It is a very special ghost too.  It is the HOLY GHOST!

Yes, I’m a spiritual person, aren’t you?   So why shouldn’t we  invite the Holy Ghost to tea now and then just as we would invite other friends?  There’s an idea!  (BIG SMILE)  And these great ideas  do not come to us unless we  take time from our busy routines to pause and relax and ponder.

So, I’m very glad you stopped by for tea and this chat.  I was having fun with my birdies and  baking , but sharing with you made my fun even better because… you know…

Sharing doubles the joy!

So drop by again, and until then, be sure to take time out of your days to dream, to share, and to BE!

Like my Boston University tee shirt  says

B U

(That’s short for Be You!)