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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The River Rock Lounge

The River Rock Lounge

In feng shui, river rocks are a wonderful and easy way to incorporate more earth into an environment.  The grounded energy provided by these smooth stones helps to bring peace, prosperity and abundance into an area.  Their close connection to water, which is associated with wealth, can bring about many positive changes when applied correctly.   They are an ideal example of what can happen when water meets land; two elements collaborating to creating something beautiful, natural and auspicious.  There is a swanky tavern in Sherman Oaks that has prime examples of elements in harmony known as The River Rock Lounge.

Located inside the historic Sportsmen’s Lodge along Ventura Boulevard, my friend Victoria and I decided to check out their Happy Hour.  From 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm, seven days a week, they offer $5.00 food options, as well as select beverages from $6.00 – $8.00.

RR Libations

In addition to select beer and wine options, The River Rock Lounge offers two cocktails on Happy Hour:  The Casting Couch and The Talent Scout (pictured on left.)  The Talent Scout is a seductive cucumber libation with pisco, lime juice, and a hint of basil.  I had two of these.  Delicious and refreshing.  As for wine, I opted to try their Liberty School Chardonnay (pictured on right).  I’ve been a fan of Liberty School’s Cabernet for years, so it was a safe bet I’d like their chardonnay – and I did!  Citrus and green apple are the dominant tastes in this luscious white wine.   Crisp and stimulating.

RR Artichoke Dip

Artichoke Dip – A tantalizing blend of cheeses, spinach and artichoke combined, with sun-dried tomatoes reposed on top.  The Happy Hour version comes with four sliced of pita, and a small phyllo cup filled with the dip.  (I only wish the portion was larger)  Luxurious and rich.

Mini Corn Dogs

Mini Corn Dogs – Corn dogs served gourmet style, and garnished with a piquant whole-grain mustard, onions and pickled veggies.  Four come to an order, and they’re piping hot.  Absolutely excellent.

RR Hot Wings

Hot Wings – My favorite food item here, hands down.  A myriad of spices and a tangy mango BBQ sauce cover these savory morsels of chicken.  Five come to an order, and a mild bleu cheese sauce is spread below.  It was so good, we ordered two of these.  Scrumptious and sophisticated.

The environment at River Rock is reminiscent of a vintage chalet of the Rock Hudson era, but with modern flair.  Faux Deer HeadUnlike most lodges, you won’t find any dead animals on the walls here.  Instead, they’ve opted for beautiful animal sculptures.  Most of them were elk heads (pictured), but there were also some sculpted fish over the fireplace, and a large plastered bison head over the bar.  These are inherently far more auspicious to have in an environment rather than their once living counterparts; they offer that lodge feel without the taxidermy.  Animal carcasses around the room = really bad energy.

Comfy leather seating in cream hues dominate the room, along with a few cafe tables and stools.  A more formal dining area is separated by a small wall of river rocks.

Wall Trees and Antler Chandelier

Cafe tables and stools gather in one area available for dancing.  I was most intrigued with the stylish tree wallpaper, which seemed to almost mimic the faux antlers in the chandelier.  Yet again providing that chalet-lodge feel, but without the negative connotations.

River Rock Carpet

Ornate carpet in an almost Klimt version of river rocks adorns many of the interior hallways.

RR Roses   I found the grounds of the lodge to be elegant calming.  A pond is spread throughout a large portion of the property, with small creeks and fountains creating an ethereal feel to the environment.  Rose bushes line many of the manmade creeks.

I was also particularly taken with these beautiful led trees (pictured below).  During the daytime hours when turned off, they make for intriguing arboreal statues.  But at night, when aglow, they make for an enchanting light source.  Scattered throughout the grounds, these are classy light fixtures with a distinct wood element influence.

Led Tree 03

There are many ways to incorporate river rocks into an environment.  One way I suggest to clients is to place them in the bathroom.  Find a flat bowl, or a plate with some kind of protective lip, and place river rocks inside it.  Place the vessel with the rocks on the toilet.  Ideally, this should be directly on the lid of the toilet tank, or on a shelf above.  Wash the rocks once a month with water and soap.  Having more earth in a bathroom environment will aid in keeping wealth and abundance from being flushed down the toilet, “grounding” ones finances and prosperity.

Bathroom Stones

One current decorating trend (which many interior designers have embraced)  is putting stones at the bottom of the bathroom sink.  This is another highly beneficial way to add the earth element to a bathroom or restroom.  However, some people may not like the idea of having to clean these sink stones on a regular basis.  If choosing to have rocks in the sink,  I suggest choosing a few wide, flat stones.  A good example of sink stones is the communal basin outside the restrooms of Take a Bao in Studio City.

Stone Hot Pad

This is a great hot pad, made from smooth stones glued to felt.

River Rock Door Mat

Here we have a wonderful door mat made from river rocks glued to thick shelf paper.  I would probably use something a little more substantial than shelf paper for the base, however.  Maybe something plastic, or a carpet remnant.  There are many places to get river rocks, such as Dollar Tree, Michael’s, or Hobby Lobby, as well as countless online options.  Or, one could go exploring along a beach or riverbank and select your own that way.  (Mine happen to be a mixture of found and purchased stones.)

In addition to the delicious food and grounded ambiance, the service at the River Rock Lounge is excellent.  The staff are dressed in vintage, cabaret-esque attire.  Our server, Kellie, was attentive and delightful.  Her suggestions were spot-on and we wanted for nothing.  I can’t wait to come back here for their Sunday Brunch, which features $12.00 bottomless mimosas.  Or I may come back for Sunday night dinner.  In addition to live entertainment, Sunday is local’s night, and the corkage fee is waived.  Until then, I’m going to add some more river rocks to my environment.  I better get started on that door mat…

Sportsmans Lodge

River Rock Lounge, Sportsmen’s Lodge

12833 Ventura Boulevard, Sherman Oaks CA

818 432-7500

Hours:  Lunch:  Thursday – Friday 11:30 am – 3:00 pm, Brunch:  Saturday – Sunday 10:00 am – 3:00 pm, Dinner:  Monday – Thursday 5:00 pm – 10:00 pm, Friday – Saturday 5:00 pm – 11:00 pm, Sunday 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm,  Happy Hour:  Tuesday – Sunday 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm, Late Night Happy Hour:  Monday – Thursday 10:00 pm – Midnight (beverage only), Friday – Saturday 10:00 pm – Midnight (food and beverage)

http://www.riverloungela.com/home.html