Sunday, November 29, 2009

Historic Homes in Connecticut Ready for the Holidays

Yikes! The Thanksgiving Holiday has passed and that can only mean one thing: Christmas is less than 4 weeks away. Along with the holiday shopping, there will be parties, plays, concerts and other events are all vying for our attention. Even historic homes are dressed up for the holidays. A visit to any one of the following will put you in the holiday spirit with renewed enthusiasm and energy.

GILLETTE CASTLE in East Haddam will be "adorned in its holiday finery" for special tours complete with live musical performances. Evening tours are scheduled for the first three Friday evenings in December from 4-8 pm. Daytime tours are scheduled for the first three Saturdays and Sundays as well as December 28-30 from 10-4. A free day of children's programs takes place on December 28 from 10-4. (Click Cal. of Events.)

FLORENCE GRISWOLD HOUSE & MUSEUM in Old Lyme showcases four elaborate "Fantasy Trees plus a 12 foot "Artists Tree" decorated with 100 artists' painted palettes. See how families celebrated Xmas in 1910. Also, check out the family programs on Sundays through January 10, and Christmastime Teas in December. Museum and Home tours are Tue-Sat 10-5, Sun 1-5, closed Xmas and New Year's Day.

Note the new fun graphic on this website, which is a copy of the well-known painting by Henry R. Moore. "The Fox Chase" depicting artists in unique and amusing poses hangs over the fireplace in the Griswold home. As you "Race into the Past" you can click on 25 different icons to learn about these Lyme Art Colony artists.

ROSELAND COTTAGE in Woodstock presents an annual Christmas program highlighting decorations based on the Bowens 1887 celebration in New York. First floor tours of the house are offered along with holiday music and readings from A Christmas Carol. Date: Sunday, December 6 from 12-4, admission free.

THE MARK TWAIN HOUSE & MUSEUM in Hartford offers the Connecticut Yankee Holiday Dinner Tour on Saturdays in December in conjunction with The Kitchen at Billings Forge. Also, the 29th Annual Holiday House Tour takes place this year on December 6 and HartBeat Ensemble's "Ebeneeze: A Hartford Holiday Carol" will be performed in the auditorium three times in December with free admission. For information on all events:

NOTE: The above 4 destinations, along with 38 others, are described in detail in Cruising Connecticut with a Picnic Basket. Along with "Historic Homes & Gardens" there are 10 other categories of exciting activities suitable for all ages and interests. In addition, each venue has picnicking facilities and recipes. Special holiday price.

Friday, November 13, 2009

My Life on a Bookshelf

Someone asked me if I read any good books on my recent x-country trip and I chuckled and answered truthfully that I hardly had time to read my maps, that if I hadn't received a gift of a GPS, I would have spent a lot of time being lost. Later, I wondered what kind of book I would have taken with me if I'd actually had an opportunity to read.

My primary reading choice for over 20 years has been non-fiction, on a wide variety of subjects related to what my interest was at the time, such as books on investing when I joined a stock club, books on business and public speaking when a job opportunity came my way, how-to books on decorating and other artistic endeavors, and the like. And, in between, inspirational books of all kinds. For the last few years, the concentration has been on my book, Cruising Connecticut with a Picnic Basket, so I read books on travel and day tripping, then writing, publishing, marketing and promotion, in that order. A friend once commented, "I can tell a lot about a person by what I see on their bookshelves." The image of the closed books lined up on my own shelves immediately verified her claim. My life, in fact, was an open one.

Vacations were a different story. Part of the excitement of getting away was what I considered the luxury of packing non-fiction in my suitcase. I looked forward to escaping to unknown worlds with plots set in exotic locations and characters who demanded emotional involvement. Like the vacation itself, fiction was an indulgence, a rare treat like a chocolate truffle to satisfy my sweet tooth.

But, now I've abruptly changed my reading routine to focus on good literature, enjoying every moment of this "indulgence" while soaking in the incredible energy, style and tone of the writers. Secretly, I am hoping that a smidgen of their brilliance will somehow reverberate to my keyboard when I'm staring at that menacing blank page of my new book, Cruising X-Country....

Just as I have not yet decided on the final title, I am still thinking about the focus. I am hoping that a couple of author friends are right when they say, "Just start writing and once you get going you may not have a choice, the book will write itself." Now, that's an exciting image!

By the way, as usual, Cruising Connecticut will be at a couple of Holiday Fairs which are right around the corner. Check out the calendar page on my website, I'd love to meet you, and an autographed book, either alone or tucked into a basket with a bottle of Connecticut wine is a nice gift for any occasion. If you can't get to an event you can still get an autographed book with my online order form. Also, click "What's In Our Picnic Basket" for the latest posted recipe from Cruising Connecticut, a nice addition to your holiday hors d'oeuvre platter.