Skaneateles Festival- Brook Farm

brook farm

” Tonight’s performance immerses us in the world of opera, and, at Brook Farm, opera is immersed in the world of nature.” (From the evening’s program.) How fortunate we are to have world class music here in the little village of Skaneateles.  Seventy-five artist from around the country and the world will be showcasing their talents during this year’s Festival.

The evening of the performance- A Night at the Met/opera was featured. Last year Gypsy music from Eastern Europe was the highlight. Nearly every year since the kids were tiny we have brought the summer to a close on the lawn at Brook Farm. Built in 1902, the home is on the National Register of Historic Places. The Metropolitan Opera sprano, Lisette Oropesa, the MET Opera Orchestra Musicians and the evening cricket accompaniment brought a lovely surreal quality to the close of the day. A special moment in time.

evening brook farm

The festival will continue through early September. We have heard that this may be the last year that Brook Farm will be hosting Picnic Saturdays and the evening concert- so if you’ve never been and wanted to go… now is the time! You will love it. For more information go to






The Nantucket Cranberry Festival


Fabulous Find Friday… The Cranberry Festival! Do you see those tents in the foreground on the left… and the tiny little lighthouse off in the distance on the right? Nantucket Island- where Farmboy and I celebrated our 20th Anniversary this month! Twenty years!! I thought that it would feel much longer, but its only been a blink in time. How can that be? I’m pretty darn thankful.

It was our first time to visit Nantucket and what a fun and relaxing time we had. Our room at the Centerboard Inn was spectacular (more on that later). We rented bicycles and pedaled everywhere we wanted to go on the island. Our dinners never tasted so good after all of that excercise! The meals were wonderful. There is quite a selection for dining out on the island. Loved our experience and meal at Company of the Caldron!

IMGP6333Our bikes are in there somewhere! I loved my basket.

A couple friends who frequent Nantucket recommended that we attend the Cranberry Festival and I’m so glad that we did. There was something for everyone and I learned so much!

IMGP6313There was a sheep herding demo…

IMGP6314and a very enthusiastic sheepherder. : )

IMGP6320There was a machine that drove through the bog and released all of the little cranberries!

IMGP6322Do you see the beauty?

IMGP6327And can you taste the deliciousness? Try this simple recipe.

IMGP6330These guys wrangle in those cranberries for harvesting.

IMGP6329And there they go… off to the grocery stores just in time for Thanksgiving.

Ok. so I have a tiny confession. I’ve never tried that can-shaped burgundy gelatin-looking 18oz cylindrical mass at Thanksgiving. Not a chance. Turkey, cornbread dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy… and no way that I was going to plop a slice of that round goo on my plate to join the yum. I did NOT see the merit.

Oh, but the fresh cranberry. Who knew? I highly recommend those little cuties in their natural state and I also recommend the Cranberry Festival. There was food, music, horticulture, agriculture, sheep herding and sheep shearing (just wait until you see my Wordless Wednesday photo/post for that). It could require an explanation…


Olive and Gourmando

This past summer Farmboy and I had the opportunity to drive up to Montreal to meet some friends, do a little site-seeing and go to a Coldplay concert. It was my first time to Montreal and what a treat! The Old World inspired architecture was a nice change of scenery from our bucolic Upstate New York digs… not to mention learning about the history of the area.

Our “in the know’ friends recommended that we try Olive + Gourmando in the Old City of Montreal for breakfast.  After a short walk from the business district we found ourselves in breakfast heaven. So many delicious choices; french pastries, fresh breads, baked goods and their memorable savory creations.

The ambiance was as delicious as the food with intriguing lighting and smells of buttery croissants and fresh coffee wafting through the air. (Yes, I said wafting. snicker.)

Farmboy and I ordered double Americanos to start the morning off with some rich coffee goodness. I chose the “Poached Egg on your Face” sandwich- a pressed panini made with ciabatta and filled with carmelized onions, aged Comte, confit tomatoes, speck and a cooked egg salad. Yowza. What a way to start the day!! Delicious!

So, when you find yourself in Montreal put Olive + Gourmando on your to-do list for breakfast. You will be so glad that you to-did. And don’t forget to…

The Interlaken Inn- Lake Placid, New York

What a delight our stay in Lake Placid was. Having never been, I was thrilled when Farmboy revealed our anniversary trip destination! We arrived around 9pm on Friday night to a lovely, old historic Inn- steps away from both Mirror Lake and Lake Placid.

I loved the beautifully decorated grand piano in the foyer and the heavy architectural mouldings/woodwork throughout the inn.  Once we were settled in our room (I’ll come back to that) we went downstairs to the pub style bar to have a glass of wine. All of the dark stained wood paneling and the copper ceiling tiles created a wonderful ambiance in the pub. Of course, the giant moose may have had something to do with it too.

The staff was very helpful and friendly encouraging us to visit various places to best take in the scenery. We asked to see the Inn’s dinner menu. Known for its world class cuisine… here are a few offerings from the menu that sounded particularly interesting:

Buck Island Crab Cakes- with orange basil beurre blanc

Bison Meatloaf- over roasted garlic Tucker Farms mash potato, with thyme scented veal jus

Shrimp and Pasta- with asparagus, plum tomato and sweet Thai basil sauce

Puff pastry wrapped creme brulee’  (Tried this Friday night… Excellent!)

 Our room- The Hibiscus Room #20, was wonderful. Quaint with many dormered walls/ceilings creating a sense of being in a cozy nook.  Keep in mind its on the third floor (no elevator so don’t accidently leave something in the car!). Luxury linens and a spacious comfortable bed created a cloud that I did not want to leave! What a relaxing way to start the day. Although there was a TV in the room we never turned it on.

 The bathroom was simple and refined with tile floors, a pedestal sink, claw-foot tub, skylight and luxury, plush robes and towels. Ahhh. Uncluttered.

The grounds around the inn were charming as well. Stone walls, a private garden, a flagstone patio, little baskets of herbs containing the beginnings of what was to come from the kitchen. Located one block off the main street there was no traffic or noise from passing cars.

Saturday morning we met Mary the proprietress as we left for our 2.7 mile walk/run around the perimeter of Mirror Lake. She was friendly and inquisitive about our plans for the day. Little did we know how she would save the day on Sunday!

I do wish that we had gotten back to the Inn in time for dinner- the menu sounded so good! Maybe next time. Sunday morning we started the day with a hearty Adirondack breakfast in the front dining room. Baked goods, clean crisp linens, polished flatware and Brazilian coffee that was so smooth I drank it black.  Farmboy and I chatted with some of the other guests and learned more about the 100 year old house’s history from the owner. Her carmelized onion and red pepper omelet was scrumptious! In the light-filled breakfast room Farmboy and I gathered our thoughts and plans to make the most of the day. After the car was indeed packed I rummaged through a bag in the trunk to find some notecards to give to Mary as a little Thank-You gift for her hospitality…

Did you hear the one about the couple celebrating their 18th anniversary? You know, a perfect weekend… only moments to go before they continue their romantic drive home through the Fall-colored mountains? That one. Where she locks the keys in the trunk by accident while in the process of getting a goodie out to give to the Inn owner. Hysterical, isn’t it? Not. Needless to say, our lovely hostess went “above and beyond” to help us be on our way and keep any disasterous anniversary memories away. She took such great care of us- making all of the calls to help us find a way to get into the car and on our way home.

Heading to Lake Placid? Stay at The Interlaken Inn. You will be so glad that you did. Tell Mary the artist who locked her keys in the trunk on her anniversary weekend sent ya. She’ll remember. For more information visit their website here.



The Gardens of Ballyduff Manor

pho_3932_pho_photoWhile staying at Ballyduff Manor in Thomastown Co. Kilkenny in Ireland last summer Farmboy and I found the most wonderful secret. A gorgeous private garden out beyond the old stable and barn.


Farmboy went out early to explore the grounds the morning that we were leaving for Dublin. After a few minutes he came in and insisted that I come… forget the lipstick. Sorry DH Holmes Jr. Board in Mississippi wherein I learned I was not completely dressed until I was wearing lipstick. Oh, if they could see me now… practically naked. Nevertheless… we went trapezing out into the dewy morning and to my delight I saw a most beautiful sight. A lovingly trimmed boxwood hedge parterre. Behind it there were sheets blowing in the morning breeze strung between the apple trees. Heavenly. Established. Quaint yet of substance. Personal and intimate. I loved it. The parterre was surrounded by a perennial bed and path on one side, an old greenhouse on another, the high wall of the barnyard on the other. The fourth side opened onto to a beautiful grassy lawn framed by corner plantings then surrounded by a fence.





During our traditional Irish breakfast in a formal coral painted dining room over looking the River Nore, we spoke with the charming owner, Brede, about the origins of the garden. It was designed by her mother-in-law who spent most of her waking hours tending it. The garden used to be 4 times the size but over time it had been downsized to aid with the upkeep.  I would have loved to have seen it in is glory! Wouldn’t you?!  A wedding was to take place the following weekend in the garden and I could just picture the giant reception tent on the grassy lawn next to the parterre and fruit trees. Lucky bride. For a lovely B & B stay in the country be sure to visit

Heart Knot


Hi, I’m Michelle. I am an artist/designer specializing in unique topiary themed art for the Home & Gardener. I live on a farm in Upstate New York with my husband, two children and a small petting zoo of other family members. #shapeyoursweetestlife



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