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Photo Courtesy Flower Blossom Farm

There are many fun events to attend here in Columbia County in New York’s upper Hudson Valley throughout the holiday season, and Hudson-Chatham Winery has a novel one. They are partnering with Flower Blossom Farm to host their first Sip-n-Snip Party, Saturday afternoon, December 16, 2017.

The winemakers offer to “get your creative juices flowing” with some of their fine wine and then the talented flower experts at the Farm will provide the materials and guide you in fashioning a beautiful holiday centerpiece made from natural materials.

Have you visited the Hudson-Chatham Winery on one of your visits to the Inn? It is my favorite Columbia County Winery, just 10 years old, and already producing award winning wines. For example, this past March, Wine Enthusiast Magazine awarded their Middlehope Casscles Vineyards Baco Noir 91 points and Editors’ Choice, and their Pinot Noir 90 points. And TimeOut New York chose them as one of the best Hudson Valley wineries in April, 2016.

And while I was not familiar with Flower Blossom Farm until I saw the news of this event, a look at their website made me put it on the list to explore next summer.

This fun event begins at 1:30 pm at Flower Blossom Farm at 967 Country Route 9, in Ghent, New York, and runs for 2 hours. The Farm is just 2 minutes from the Winery, so you might want to stop by the Winery afterwards to check out all their wines. And all this is just a scenic 20 minute drive from the Inn at Green River. So do plan to come for the weekend, and take home your own beautiful holiday centerpiece.

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The Inn at Green River has a great reputation for the delicious breakfasts we serve, and lately my favorite breakfast starter is a yogurt parfait with fresh fruit, honey, and a wonderful granola made locally.

I was never particularly a fan of granola, but apparently I just hadn’t found the right one. In a regional magazine I recently read about Michelle Miller’s new venture, Bola Granola. I have been a fan of Michelle Miller for several decades, going back to her shop in Lenox, Suchele Bakers, then her restaurant, the Boiler Room Cafe. Sadly for her customers, she closed that restaurant in 1997. I was delighted to read about her new venture, Bola Granola, located in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, 15 minutes from the inn, and the town in which I do most of my shopping.

I promptly went to the website, then called, and ordered a big bag. No need to taste…I was confident it would be delicious.

So on your next visit to the Inn at Green River, ask for the fruit and granola yogurt parfait…you will love it.

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 The highlight of the 2016 Tanglewood season for me was the July concert conducted by Gustavo Gimeno, the young Spanish music director of the Luxembourg Philharmonic.

Photo Courtesy Marco Borggreve

I was alerted to this rising star at a Tanglewood Business Partners get-together the previous winter when one of the Boston Symphony Orchestra staff told us, “don’t miss this concert!” I blogged about it last April, and attended the Sunday afternoon concert where Maestro Gimeno conducted the BSO in a program of 20th c. music by Prokovief, Ravel, Gershwin and Stravinsky, featuring the soloist Yuja Wang at the piano. It was a glorious concert! And I have been talking about it to my guests ever since.

Conductor and orchestra

Gimeno Conducting BSO July 2016 at Tanglewood

So imagine my delight when the BSO announced the 2017 Tanglewood schedule, and Gustavo Gimeno is back! He will conduct Bernstein’s Symphony No. 2, “The Age of Anxiety” featuring pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4. This concert is one of three UnderScore Friday concerts this summer, before which, an onstage BSO musician will comment on the program for the audience.

So book your room at the Inn now, and don’t miss this concert on Friday, July 21, 2017, at 8 pm. The inn is an easy 20 minute drive to Tanglewood. Do plan to check in Friday afternoon, so you can get settled, and I can show you the back way into Tanglewood, avoiding the traffic on Route 7. In fact, you can follow me over!

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In my youth, I wanted to be a landscape architect, so the Inn at Green River’s gardens are a source of great delight to this innkeeper. My bed and breakfast is beautifully situated on an acre of lawn and gardens, next to a 20 acre meadow that is bordered by the Green River and Cranse Creek. We are “green” here at the Inn, so no poisons or insecticides are used in the gardens. Hence we have lots of beneficial insects, including all the “good” ones, like honey bees and other native pollinators, lady bugs, beautiful moths and butterflies. The insects in turn, attract a wide variety of birds which feed on those insects, as well as the berries and flowers on the many native shrubs and plants in the gardens. And, of course, the birds in this region are naturally drawn to these native species, so our garden is a real haven for birds.

native plants in the gardens attract many bird species

In the space of 10 minutes one spring morning, I saw an indigo bunting, a bright red Cardinal, a gorgeous Blue Jay, and heard a Baltimore Oriole in the big silver maple next to the Inn.

one of many species of birds found in the Inn's gardens

Rose Breasted Grosbeak Photo Courtesy Antony Gravett

Then, as I was feeding the fish in the small pool in the back garden, a Redstart landed in the lilacs, just 4 feet from me, and flitted from branch to branch for a few minutes. At the same time a Ruby Throated Hummingbird arrived to drink the nectar from the Siberian Iris growing in the pool. It was an ahhh… moment.

native plants attract birds to the Inn's gardens

The Inn’s Fish Pool – Photo by Jumping Rocks

A visit to the Inn at Green River will delight garden lovers and bird lovers alike, particularly in the spring, when the birds are singing very loudly, both to attract a mate, and defend their territory. I just read an interesting British blog post explaining in more detail the reasons for the sudden uptick in both decibel level and numbers of bird calls in the spring.

The Inn is located in the upper Hudson River Valley, in Columbia County. This county has several bird sanctuaries and numerous parks which might interest serious birders, for example, the Rheinstrom Hill Audubon Sanctuary and Center in Craryville, the town adjacent to Hillsdale. Also the Roeliff Jansen Park right here in Hillsdale. Columbia Country Tourism has a listing of the many conservation areas, parks and sanctuaries in the area.

So do plan a visit to my Hillsdale, New York bed and breakfast soon, preferably this spring if you want to be awakened by wonderful bird songs. I look forward to seeing you.

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April always brings old friends to my Inn at Green River – bicycle aficionados who come year after year for the Copake Bicycle Auction. This is the 26th year for this well known auction, taking place Saturday, April 22, 2017.

Swap Meet at Copake Bike Auction

Swap Meet Photo Courtesy Copake Auction

The two day event starts off bright and early Friday morning at 6 am with the swap meet. Bicycle enthusiasts come from all over the world to this annual event.  Some of the people in this photo taken at last year’s swap meet, traveled from the Netherlands, Australia, Italy, Germany and England!

As any savvy auction goer knows, you must attend the previews which take place Thursday and Friday from 11 am to 5 pm. This is the chance to personally inspect all the items to be sold, and ask questions of the knowledgeable staff.

I usually get to the Friday preview, and even though I don’t attend the auction, or bid on any items over the phone, I do appreciate seeing the classic and antique bikes, like this beautiful C. 1884-85 Victor adult tricycle which sold last year for $16,380.

antique bicycle at Copake Bike Auction

C. 1884-85 Victor adult tricycle. Photo Courtesy Copake Auction

This 2017 auction promises to be a great one, with items from two museums, as well as two collectors, Robert Trimble and Jim Carpenter. Some highlights include this c. 1898 Rex Pneumatic Safety Bicycle, reportedly owned by Diamond Jim Brady, from the Jim Carpenter collection.

antique bicycle at Copake Bike Auction

Diamond Jim Brady’s Safety Bike Photo Courtesy Copake Auction

And from Robert Trimble’s collection, a c. 1868 wooden velocipede tricycle alleged to have belonged to Lizzy Borden, the famous axe murderer!

For more information on this wonderful event, go to the Copake Auction website, where you can download the entire PDF catalog to help you prepare. And don’t forget to book your room at the Inn at Green River, my 7 guest room bed and breakfast just 15 minutes up the valley from the Copake Auction House. My serious buyers come in Thursday night so they can be at the swap meet before daylight. And guys, if your spouse is coming with you, and does not want to be out the door at 5:30 am for the swap meet, don’t worry, I provide a scrumptious, full breakfast and a ride down to the auction later in the morning. But you can also arrive on Friday afternoon in time to do the preview, stay just Friday night at the Inn, and check out Saturday morning after a hearty breakfast to sustain you through the day long auction. Hope to see you!

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If you are interested in where your food comes from, and how it is raised and grown, then the annual Farm Film Fest at the Crandell Theatre in Chatham, NY, is sure to please you.

Farm Film Fest logo

Artwork Courtesy ChathamKeepFarming.org

This is the 9th annual, free afternoon of documentaries about farming, put on by three local Columbia County organizations – the Chatham Film Club, the Columbia Land Conservancy and the Chatham Agricultural Partnership. The Film Fest takes place Sunday, March 19, from 1-4 pm and includes the screening of 8 films, followed by a discussion featuring a panel of local farmers, moderated by Peter Paden, the Executive Director of the Columbia Land Conservancy.

I have attended several of these festivals, and they are always fascinating. Several films being shown this year piqued my interest. One is “Grazin’s Grassfed Burgers:A Small Diner Aims to Make the Cleanest Burger You’ll Ever Eat”, by filmmaker Liza de Guia. This diner is owned by the Gibson family. Dan Gibson left the corporate hotel world (Starwood’s W hotels) to raise grass fed Black Angus cattle on a farm in Columbia County in the early 2000s. I toured that farm, Grazin Angus Acres, and marveled at the return to the way things used to be done, cattle and chickens raised out in open pasture, leading happy and surprisingly symbiotic, lives. In 2009, the Gibson’s daughter Christine, and her husband Andrew Chiappinelli, also moved upstate, and started an AWA restaurant, Grazin’, in a vintage diner in Hudson, NY. What is AWA? Animal Welfare Approved. The Village Voice wrote an interesting article about the family, the farm, and the diner (there is now one in TriBeCa as well) in 2015. You can read it here.

Another short film I look forward to seeing is “How Does It Grow? Hydroponic Spinach” by filmmakers Nicole Coltroneo Jolly and Mark Jolly. And the list goes on, “Milking Robots and “The Beekeeper”.

So come learn a bit more about where your food comes from. Just bring a non-perishable food item to be donated to Chatham’s Silent Food Pantry which is the only cost to attend. A reminder, the Inn at Green River is just 15 minutes from the charming town of Chatham. Hope to see you there.

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Inn at Green River guests love my spicy ginger molasses cookies, and frequently ask for the recipe, so here is my holiday gift to you! Now you can enjoy these great cookies even when you are not at the Inn.

Deborah's famous Ginger Molasses Cookies

I have been making these delicious cookies for years, and never look at the recipe any longer. When I went searching through my old recipe file today in preparation for writing out the recipe for you, I found this old card which my mother wrote out decades ago! She called them Gingersnaps, I call them Ginger Molasses Cookies, but they are great, whatever you call them. Also very retro; notice they call for shortening, not butter. I have tried making them with butter, but the cookies tend to spread, rather than holding their shape and texture as shown in the photo above.

family recipe card

I have also upped the spices and the molasses, and lowered the amount of baking soda and shortening. And I make a smaller cookie so I get about 24-30 cookies per batch. My mother’s recipe card calls for dark molasses. I use “Grandma’s Molasses” which is unsulfured and made from cane sugar. And I add the spices directly to the wet batter, before mixing in the flour.

So here is my Ginger Molasses Cookie recipe:

Cream together 1 C. white sugar and 3/4 C. shortening (Crisco). Beat in 1 large egg, and add 1/3 – 1/2 C. dark molasses. Stir well. Add 1 tsp. baking soda; 1/8 tsp. salt; 2 tsp. ground cinnamon; 1 & 1/2 tsp. ginger; 1/2 tsp. ground cloves; 1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg. Mix the spices in well, then stir in 2 C. white flour.

Form the mixture into one inch balls, and roll them in sugar and place at least 1″ apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. The batter will be rather wet, but rolling it in the sugar makes the cookie balls easy to handle and keeps them from sticking to the cookie sheet. Bake 12 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Cool the cookies for a minute on the tray, then carefully remove with a spatula to a rack to finish cooling. Do not leave them too long on the cookie tray or you will have great difficulty getting them off.

Store in a cookie tin. No need to refrigerate, they won’t last long anyway! And need I remind you that the Inn at Green River is known for the delicious breakfasts we serve. Check out our breakfast page on our website, and then go to the “book now” button in the upper right hand corner! I look forward to seeing you soon and serving you some tea and home made cookies!

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FilmColumbia is a great little film festival presented each year in Chatham, New York. 2016 marks the 17th year for this “small town, big movies” festival which runs for seven days, October 22 – 30, 2016. And it really isn’t so little anymore. Presented by the Chatham Film Club, the festival presents “top-notch independent and foreign films, often well before they are released” says Peter Biskind, Executive Director and Co-Artistic Director of the festival. Past Oscar winning movies which were screened at the festival’s home base, the Crandell Theater in Chatham, before their national releases, include Birdman, The Girl Who Played with Fire, Beasts of the Southern Wild, The King’s Speech, Spotlight, and one of my favorites, the documentary Particle Fever.

FilmColumbia Film Festival

The festival kicks off Saturday, October 22nd, with a screening  of a restored print of the 1992 Merchant and Ivory film, “Howard’s End”, followed by a cocktail party and silent auction, and the chance to hob nob with the likes of Julianna Margulies, Parker Posey, Richard Dreyfuss, Ruth Reichl, Peter Riegert, Karen Allen, and others. Director James Ivory will introduce the film.

Starting Monday, October 24th at noon, the film screenings begin at several venues in Chatham, NY and one in Hudson, NY. The highlight is the “sneak preview” film shown on Saturday night, which often turns out to be a major, Oscar nominated film. And many of the films shown have already won awards at larger and more famous film festivals such as Cannes, Venice, Telluride, etc.  You will be impressed by the offerings.

The Inn at Green River is an easy 15 minute drive from the Chatham, NY festival. As always, the Inn offers discounted rates for the mid week nights, so plan an extended stay, and immerse yourself in film and small town, country life.

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Innkeepers can’t usually get out of the kitchen early in the morning in the busy Berkshire summer season, but I managed it this week and made it to the BSO morning rehearsal at Tanglewood. It was a rare treat.

Tanglewood lawn in the morning

 

When I walked onto this gorgeous lawn just before 10 am, there was literally one man sitting in a lawn chair reading the paper. I had never had the opportunity to gaze across the lovely great lawn with almost no one on it. It is a most beautiful serene spot. Although I didn’t realize that one can’t sit inside the shed during these working rehearsals, there are several staffers patrolling the shed who will lend you one of the folding chairs that the ushers use during concerts. Or bring your own.

I plunked myself down, right in the center, just at the edge of the shed, with perfect sight and sound lines, and for the next hour and a half, I listened to Sir Andrew Davis rehearsing the world class Boston Symphony Orchestra, preparing for the Friday night concert. It was a serious working rehearsal, with a number of stops and starts, lots of laughter, and discussion (or should I say direction from the conductor!) about how certain passages should be played . While I was there, they were working on Sibelius’ Symphony #5 which I love. With no audience sitting in the shed, I felt like the orchestra was playing just for me, and the sound coming across the empty shed just washed over me! It was thrilling.

Other folks did start to straggle in, and by 11:30 when the orchestra took a break, and I left, probably 40 or 50 people were there, enjoying the music and the perfect, cool, breezy, summer day.

You can drop in for these morning working rehearsals on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays at no charge. On Saturday mornings at 10:30 there is always the rehearsal of the Sunday afternoon concert, and tickets are required to sit in the shed or on the lawn. But I heartily recommend the mid week rehearsals.

So come spend a mid week night or two or three at the Inn at Green River, enjoy a free morning rehearsal, and don’t forget, if you stay three days, I will provide 2 lawn tickets to one of that weekend’s concerts. Hope to see you soon.

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Hidden Gardens Poster

Spencertown Academy, “just up the road and across a bit” from the Inn, is hosting their annual “Hidden Gardens” which includes five country garden-themed events this weekend, June 17-18, 2016, kicking off with a twilight party on Friday and then a breakfast lecture, tours of local gardens, and the final weekend of a gallery exhibition of still lifes by eight regional artists.

Also, from 9 ’til 3 on Saturday, the Arts Center will be hosting a Garden Market on the green in the hamlet of Spencertown, with twenty vendors selling a fine array of unusual plants, garden furniture and other garden-themed items. Garden demonstrations will also be offered on the green in the afternoon.

Admission to the gallery exhibition and the garden market is free, while the other events have individual admission fees, so you can pick and choose the ones you’re interested in.

There’s more detail about the Hidden Garden 2016 events on the Academy’s website, and you can save money by buying tickets for the tour, lecture and workshop in advance.

All in all, it’s a great way to celebrate nature in the area’s most beautiful gardens, and you’ll be supporting the Spencertown Academy Art Center, to boot.