The Ducks at the Old Mill

Mill Bridge 01

In feng shui folklore, one of the most beautiful icons of romance is the Mandarin Duck.  Known as the “Love Birds” in China and Japan, a pair of these feathered creatures together is a historic symbol of love and devotion  because they mate for life.  In certain schools of feng shui, these are commonly used to attract a desirable mate and promote marriage.   I think ducks are cute.  Unless a client has a general fondness of ducks or birds, it wouldn’t be my first suggestion to use Mandarin Ducks in an environment as decor.  However, do I want some for my home?  Yes!!  I’ve been keeping on eye on this beautiful fabric on Etsy.com with Mandarin ducks on a red background.

Mandarin Duck Fabric

Provided by the Etsy store Simply Fabric Oakland, this colorful print would be ideal for a set of throw pillows.   More information can be found by contacting the seller here:   https://www.etsy.com/listing/112921502/97-width-chinese-double-happiness?ref=shop_home_active_1

Mill Ducks 02

In August, I was in Boston for the wedding of my friends Diane and Josh.  Thanks to my friend Amy, a bridesmaid, I was able to attend the rehearsal dinner as her date.  Due to their romantic symbolism,  I found it brilliantly coincidental that the happy couple would pick a location highly influenced by ducks – and I don’t mean on the menu.  The Old Mill, located in Westminster, Massachusetts, is housed inside a historic mill with water all around.

Mill Duck Solo

The ducks here are very happy creatures.  The restaurant provides bread that guests may feed to them.  (The duck pictured above practically ate out of my hand.)  Now, while these aren’t specifically Mandarin ducks, the romantic symbolism can still be applied.

Mill Modern Section

Originally a sawmill in the late eighteenth century, the mill was a thriving part of the community for five generations, before falling into neglect about a hundred years later.   In 1921, it was revived into a summer tea house, operating until 1942 when war rationing of staples forced it to shut down.  In 1946, the Foster family took it over, making it a year-round restaurant and bakery.  They have continued to run it ever since.

One of things I love about the architecture of the site is the blending of old and new.  Throughout the environment, homage is paid to the historical aspects of the structure, yet making it very livable and modern.  In the photo to the left, one can see the new addition to the wing, and how it melds into the vintage timber of the building.

Mill Waterfall and Pond

Flowing water, thriving trees, sunshine, smooth rocks, all of these are prime examples of how the elements can come together in completely harmony.

Mill Pond 02

Another scenic view of the pond from the restaurant’s terrace.

Mill Seating

The inside environment was nostalgic and quaint.  Tables seating four to six were neatly arranged in the dining areas.   Earth was the main element present in each room; brown being the dominant color and altered wood the primary material.  Because the wood used here is dead (no longer a living plant), it’s now an earth element.

Please Watch Your Hat

This amusing sign made me laugh because I was wearing a hat at the time.  All sorts of vintage memorabilia adorn the walls, conjuring feelings of warmth and comfort.

Mill Buffet

Due to the special nature of the event, our dinner was served buffet style.  Some of my favorite items were:

  • Corn Fritters with a Maple Syrup Glaze – Scrumptious.  I think I had seven…
  • Baked Haddock Casserole with Seafood Stuffing –  Rich and filling.  A seafood lovers dream.
  • Roast Prime Rib – Tender pieces of beef.  Tantalizing and tasty.
  • Caesar Salad – A classic done right.  It accompanied the prime rib perfectly.

Mill Chocolate Martini

Our Server, whose name I sadly cannot recall, was incredible.   In addition to making sure everyone’s needs were met, she was also our bartender.  She made me, without a doubt in my mind, the best chocolate martini I’ve ever had.  Just the right amount of sweetness, and the glass lined with chocolate syrup.  Flawless and sublime.  I was a happy man.

Mill Strawberry Shortcake

Each guest was given their own strawberry shortcake parfait, completely with whip cream on top.  Refreshing and ideal for the summer weather.

Mill Fireplace

A majestic brick fireplace demanded attention in the center of the room.  The candles atop were arranged by the groom’s mother and grandmother.  The candles add beneficial fire energy to the celebration.

Mill Ducks 01

After the rich and decadent meal, many of the guests made their way outside to feed the ducks.

Mill Bridge 02

In addition to the main restaurant, The Old Mill also offers The Cracker Barrel Lounge, complete with a full bar and its own menu (although the restaurant menu can be ordered here as well).  The beneficial energy of the Old Mill, due to the very happy ducks, the natural surroundings, and the historical beauty of the structure, provide an auspicious area for dining, be it for the whole family or a romantic occasion.  I will definitely be returning here on my next visit to Massachusetts, for the food, the drinks, and to feed the adorable ducks.

The 1761 Old Mill

69 State Road East, Westminster, MA 04173

978-874-0914

Hours:  Tuesday– Thursday 11:30 am – 9:15 pm,  Friday – Saturday 11:30 am – 9:45 pm,  Sunday 10:00 am – 8:00 pm,  Lounge Hours:  Tuesday – Thursday 4:00 pm – 9:00 pm, Friday 4:00 pm – 10:00 pm, Saturday 12:00 pm – 10:00 pm, Sunday 12:00 pm – 8:00 pm

Note:  Closed Mondays

http://www.1761oldmill.com/index.html

Mill Pond 01

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Take a Bao

According to some, the term Dim Sum in Cantonese means Pointing to your Heart’s Desire.  To the more general populace, it is the name given to Chinese appetizers, snacks and some breakfast cuisine.  I found my heart’s desire in a quaint little bistro in Studio City called Take a Bao.  Located right on Ventura Boulevard, this restaurant offers a great Happy Hour that I was dying to check out.  I was also curious to see what feng shui elements are at play here, based solely on the use of rectangles.  Rectangles in feng shui are symbolic of the wood element.  The wood element is beneficial in a variety of ways, including new life, business growth, and stability in a nurturing environment.  It is also considered the ideal shape for a residential dwelling.  Wooden rectangles painted an earthy gray are the predominate decoration outside the bar.  And inside, the rectangle shape can be seen throughout.  Take a look at the the interior below.

Rectangles are everywhere to be seen, from the tabletops, to the shape of the windows and doors,to the chair backs, and even on the table caddies.  Now while the restaurant is predominantly modern in its design, I really liked some of the vintage touches added to the environment – such as the elegant blue and white urn pictured here, and the carved side cabinets (painted black to match, of course.)  It’s a classy mixture of old and new items.

And now on to the food!  The Happy Hour at Take a Bao is quite good, with bao and small plates ranging in the $2.00 – $4.00 category, and alcoholic beverages from $4.00 – $7.00.  And their regular menu prices aren’t bad, either.  It is more of a casual style restaurant, where one orders from the register, and the items are brought to you.  We decided to sit at the bar. And here’s what we had:

Banh Mi Bao – Grilled pork, chiles, carrots, cilantro, bean sprouts and a spicy garlic aioli are the dominate headliners in this masterpiece.  Unlike other varieties, the bao here at Take is more like a mushu or a taco, with one’s choice of a white or wheat bun, stuffed with the desired filling, and presented on a wooden board.  Lettuce is also available if one doesn’t want the carb of the bun.  I opted for the wheat option, pictured above.   Savory and mouthwatering, I could have consumed these all night…but I only had the one.  Notice the green rectangle underneath the bao.  The wood element makes yet another appearance with the material of the cutting board, the rectangular shape of the little mat, and the green color of the little mat…intriguing.  The wood element also signifies freshness as well.

Old Fashioned – One of my favorite cocktails, this classic beverage is made with Maker’s Mark bourbon.  Notice the large, solitary ice cube in the glass.  With only one ice cube, the drink doesn’t get watered down as much as with multiple pieces of ice. Very stylish, this drink is strong and bold – definitely not for the faint of heart.

Tofu Popcorn – Bite-sized tofu cleverly deep fried into the most stunning snack.  Garnished with scallions, and served with a delectable cilantro-cashew sauce, these quickly disappeared into the cavernous realms of my stomach.  I would venture to say that even those who do not care for tofu would like this dish.  I highly recommend it.

Sumac Steak Fries – A timeless bar food classic!  These thick cut wands of potato goodness are seasoned to perfection, served with ketchup on the side.  Simply great.

The other drinks I had here were:

  • Raymond “R” Collection Field Blend – A rich and romantic red wine blend.  One can taste the cherry influence amidst the deep tannins
  • Gizz Fizz- Vanilla based beverage with Seagram’s Gin.  Sweet and refreshing.
  • Creamsicle – A dream come true!  An amazing mixture of fresh orange juice, vanilla, and vanilla vodka.  Not overly sweet, but just right.  A perfect dessert cocktail.

The bathrooms here are also a little more social than most.  The sink for both restrooms is a long, stainless steel tub located in the hallway with a large mirror above.  One aspect I really like here is the use of stones at the bottom of the sink.  Stones are an earth element, and when used correctly, can help ground the room from precious chi (energy) draining away down the drain.  This is also especially important in keeping abundance and wealth within an environment.  For most of my clients, I usually do not recommend stones for the bottom of a sink because they can be difficult to clean.  However, I love how it looks, and do this in my own home.  If one wants to use these to help keep abundant energy within a residence, I suggest getting smaller stones or river rocks and placing them in a wide bowl or container.  Place said container on top of the tank of the toilet, or on a shelf directly above the tank.  Rinse these stones out about once a month.  If you really like the idea of stones in the sink, I suggest getting perhaps four or five large, flat stones and placing them over the drain.  The flatness of the rocks will make them easier to clean, rather than lots of small stones or pebbles.  Also, notice the shape of the sink – it’s another rectangle.

Another thing I like about Take a Bao is the convenient parking.  In a city where everyone drives, finding parking is important.  A generous lot is provided for patrons – this becomes valet in the evening, but during Happy Hour it shouldn’t be an issue.  I found parking around the corner near Carpenter Elementary on a residential street.  This bar is definitely one of my new favorite spots.  Take a Bao deserves a standing ovation.

Take a Bao

11838 Ventura Blvd, Studio City, CA 91604

818 691-7223

Hours:   Happy Hour:  Monday – Friday 4:00 – 6:00,  Bar:  Monday – Saturday 11:30 – 11:00,  Sunday 11:30 – 10:00

Note:  Kitchen usually stops serving an hour before closing, except for their special late night menu on Friday and Saturday.

http://www.takeabao.com/