I've often heard children say, "There's nothing to do today". I beg to differ. I'd like to inspire you to do something. Anything. Read. Bake. Hike. Fish. Plant. Sail. Climb. Play. Reach. Move. Laugh. Dream; and take time to sit with me on The Old Granite Step.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

A short stroll around Mystic, Connecticut.

We've been lucky enough to be experiencing some warmer than normal weather this fall.  It was the perfect afternoon to spend in the seaside village of Mystic.  Blue skies, 80 degree weather and a little bit of free time was all we needed!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Today, Sept. 29th, 2015, is National Coffee Day!

I am happy to admit it.  I drink a lot of coffee.  However, I'm not a coffee snob; I'll drink any flavor (as long as it's hot) that you give me.  I love holding a hot mug of coffee although I'll happily sip out of a Styrofoam cup too!  I'll even drink instant coffee....stop wrinkling your nose.  It's better than no coffee at all!

I thought that since today, September 29, 2015 is National Coffee Day, I'd get out my coffee press.  It was a Mother's Day from my son several years ago and it makes a wonderful cup of fresh "brewed" coffee. 
 My coffee press.  Some are smaller, some are larger and some are fancier.  This one is perfect for me.
 My press makes approximately 4 cups of coffee.  Measure your grounds into the bottom of the press.
 A dash of cinnamon gives it extra flavor.
 Add boiling water....
  Let steep for a few minutes before "pressing".

In honor of National Coffee Day, several coffee chains are having specials on coffee; some even offering a free cup.  Be sure to check individual websites for rules.  State laws don't allow all locations to participate in some cases.  If your local coffee shop isn't listed here, check with them individually to see if they are celebrating National Coffee Day.

The Dunkin Donuts offer can be found here.
Krispy Kreme's offer is listed here.
Cumberland Farms can be found here.
Seattle's Best has an offer too.  Details can be found here.
Although I couldn't find a special specifically for today, Starbucks is planting a coffee bean tree if you buy a bag of coffee.  Details for Starbucks can be found here.

If you enjoy a doughnut with your coffee and you'd like to make your own, go here for a previously posted recipe!

Hooray for coffee and doughnuts!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Save this old house!

I apologize for not posting in the last several weeks.  All of my attention and energy has been focused on saving this beautiful historic property in New England.  Empty for years, the majority of the structure is solid.  It was built in 1899 as an inn that even Edith Wharton herself stayed at.  Her car broke down and there it was; a beacon on a rainy night.  This wonderful old place with fireplaces in every room deserves another chance.

I am so happy to tell you that at a recent town vote, we were able to save it from demolition!  Yes, there's a lot more work to do in order to repurpose and reuse it, but it's absolutely worth it.  If you are trying to save an historic property in your area, my advice would be, don't give up.  It will be all consuming, but the positives far outweigh the negatives.

I'd like to share a few more abandoned house photos.  We are drawn to them like a moth to the light. 
 This home is on the coast of Maine; a stone's throw from the ocean.
 Look at the molding around this window!  Beautiful craftsmanship.
Situated on a small rise, this home sits among the wildflowers.  Picture it with a couple of rockers on the porch, looking towards the water.
Overlooking a river, we can only imagine the large family that may have lived here at one time.  What a delightful field for children to play in.
We passed this abandoned home while visiting the Adirondacks.  Though it's evident that no one has occupied this home in a very long time, it seems to invite us in.  The loneliness these houses exude is heartbreaking.

How will we know it's us without our past?  
John Steinbeck

Friday, September 4, 2015

The last remaining Howard Johnson's Restaurant - Lake George, New York

I grew up next to a town that had a Howard Johnson's or Ho Jo's as we affectionately called it.  We often stopped at the Howard Johnson's Restaurant in Providence on the way home from school or the one in Mystic when visiting the seaport. Howard Johnson's was a staple in the 60's and 70's.  My college room mate worked at the Howard Johnson's Restaurant on Boylston Street in Boston.  A long counter and lights that hung from the ceiling.  That building was demolished long ago.  Now we see the end of an era....the last remaining Howard Johnson's Restaurant is in Lake George, New York.  This sign looks rather temporary in my opinion, in contrast to the big bold signs of the 60's.
I once heard that the Ho Jo's weather vane was Simple Simon.  Remember the children's lyric "Simple Simon met a pieman...."?  Regardless, this weather vane is classic!
Well it says Howard Johnson's....
It looks like Howard Johnson's.....
Sadly, it doesn't taste like Howard Johnson's.

Although the term mid century modern wasn't coined until recently, these buildings with their orange roofs and blue spires certainly fit the bill.
A large bank of windows is reminiscent of Howard Johnson's Restaurant....
....but the macaroni and cheese is not.  Different noodles, no crunch on top; not even close.  AND at over fifteen dollars on the dinner menu; not really worth it.  As a college student in the 70's, the macaroni and cheese or fried clam strips were affordable.
The burger and onion rings were just OK.
Original plates?  Perhaps.
Although we found they were selling these bowls for $40!  I wasn't sure if it was for all four or for each bowl!  What a shame.  If you're selling yourself as a Howard Johnson's Restaurant, wouldn't you use all of the retro dishes everyone is expecting?  Those are orange t-shirts to the left.  At $25 a piece; a bit pricey.  You'd at least expect the waitresses to be wearing them instead of the tank tops they were donning.
Frankly, this was the best part of the experience.  The map is quite old and has more than likely been hanging on the wall for many years.  Reminiscent of maps from our school days; long before GPS!

There's still a small counter.  Do you remember the mints you could purchase at the register? 
So if it says Howard Johnson's, does that mean it is Howard Johnson's?  I'll leave that answer up to you!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Our trip to the Adirondacks Part III - a paddle in the canoe and a short hike.

I've already shown you some of the spectacular surroundings in the Adirondacks.  Our visit wasn't complete until we paddled to a favorite hiking spot.  The sky threatened rain, but we only had a short sprinkle.  The day was wonderful; full of fresh air.
A little choppy but nothing the canoe couldn't handle.
Where the land meets the lake.

A fellow paddler; albeit a kayak.
It was a quick paddle and a docking location shared by others.

Nature's fury.
A beautiful vista.

A panoramic view of the lake.
The sun was teasing us.
Mt. Marcy in the distance.  It's the highest peak in New York.

Back at the beach.

Note how the tree had fallen over but kept reaching for the sun.
The boulder resembles a cracked egg.  Again, nature's fury.

A sign that hikers were near by.

 A teeter totter.
The contrast is amazing.
Almost back for lunch.
A great day shared by friends.