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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Cocktails at Cliff House

Since we talked so much about the wood element in the last article, I thought I’d devote this blog to another of the elements:  Water.  In feng shui, the water element is associated mainly with the North, which is the Career area of any room  But water is also associated with wealth and prosperity for many reasons.  For example, if one’s career is thriving, then one will have more earned income, thus providing more prosperity.  Water abundance isn’t always monetary, either.  Being around water in general  (be it an ocean, lake, river or fountain)  tends to rejuvenate the human spirit, thus creating a sense of calm and comfort.  It makes people feel safe and reminds us of the womb.  This leads into another reason – waterfront property.  Nearly all major cities in the world have a large body of water directly attached somehow.  Also, most residential waterside property tends to be more affluent in nature, which raises the chi in those areas.  Unfortunately, this also raises the cost of living and mortgage rates for homes near the water.  Despite the costs, however, this is no shortage of those wishing to acquire condos by the beach.   From a biological standpoint, humans are comprised mostly of water.  It makes complete sense why we, as a race, tend to flock towards water whenever we can.  It’s not just limited to humans, either.  Those seagulls in the photo above were enjoying the ocean as well, but they paused so I could capture their image.

For my birthday this year (I’m turning thirty again – it’s a good age to be for awhile), I went to visit my best friend Wendy.  She lives in San Francisco, one of my favorite cities in the world.  After a purely luxurious day meandering through Golden Gate Park, we decided to have some cocktails at the historic Cliff House.  The original Cliff House was built-in 1863.  Over the years, the building was completely rebuilt twice – once in 1894, and again in 1909, both due to destructive fires.  The current Cliff House has undergone a variety of architectural facelifts throughout the years, before being renovated to its original glamour in 2004.   Below are two vintage postcards showing the second and third variations of Cliff House.

Two very distinct versions of Cliff House. On the left is the late Victorian model. On the right, its Edwardian counterpart, which the restaurant resembles today. Historic images provided by Penny Postcards: http://www.usgwarchives.org/special/ppcs/ppcs.html

The renovations to Cliff House also included a modern addition, the new Sutro Wing.  They cleverly managed to combine both vintage and modern styles throughout the design and decor of the structure.  Below is a photo of their lounge, facing inward, where we had drinks.  The rounded supports above tend to create a canopy-like feeling over the guests.  The railing overlooks into the lower level, which features another bar and more dining.  I really liked the dining chairs used here as well.  This is a prime example of a good feng shui dining chair.  Beautiful, comfy, and not too heavy.  It also has a mostly solid back – important for security and back support.  For more on how to select a proper dining chair, take a glance at the article here:   https://fengshuifoodie.com/2012/06/16/finding-a-place-to-sit/

And now onward to the provocative and intoxicating items that we sampled.

Old Fashioned – One of my favorite beverages.  Made with modest ingredients, and mixed extremely well.  I love the orange hue the liquid displays.  Strong, tasty, and sophisticated.

Pear Martini – One of the specialty drinks favored by Cliff House.  Using Grey Goose Le Poire, this makes for a refreshing and mildly sweet cocktail.   Pleasingly alluring.

On the left is a glass of Brassfield Estate Pinot Grigio.  A crisp and enticing white wine, perfect for drinking at the seaside.  On the right is The Bird of Paradise.  This champagne cocktail, which includes St. Germain and pineapple juice, tastes exactly like passion fruit with bubbles.  So good was it, in fact, that I had two of them.  Enchanting and tropical.

Of the savory food offerings available, we went with the Buffalo Wings and the Garlic Fries.  The wings were sauceless, with heat-inducing spices rubbed into the skin.  Served with bleu cheese dressing, these were mouth-watering.   The fries, covered liberally with crushed garlic, were the perfect accompaniment to our intoxicating beverages.  And being a native Californian, I asked for ranch dressing to accompany the fries  (Californians like their ranch).

I was entranced by the waves crashing below us outside the window.  Our table overlooked these two impressive rocks emerging from the seas.  In addition to the beautiful scenery and tantalizing items, another impressive aspect here was the service.  The hostess was welcoming, and our server, Josh, was jovial and attentive – we wanted for absolutely nothing.   He also invited us to stay and listen to the live jazz being played later – which we did.  I didn’t catch the name of the three-piece ensemble, but their melodies were as enticing as the breathtaking view.

If one doesn’t live close to a body of water,  I suggest visiting an ocean or a lake at least once a month to boost one’s sense of tranquility and well-being.  Even stopping by a fountain or koi pond for a few minutes can help to improve serenity.  Another way to add more water energy to your surroundings is art.  A beautiful painting or photo of a watery landscape can help tremendously.  Just make sure the art in question is beautiful and serene.  A painting of ships battling at war on the ocean, or of the Titanic sinking, are two examples of sha art.  Sha is the word for negative chi, and should be avoided.  It’s also important to drink lots of water, at least eight glasses a day.  Most of us don’t drink enough water, and this makes our bodies work harder to keep us healthy.  Not consuming enough water can result in various illnesses and discomforts, which is also a lack of abundance and prosperity.  I strongly suggest embracing more water energy in your life.  And, if you happen to be in San Francisco, stop by the Cliff House for some cocktails – and a glass of water – and maybe some garlic fries, or dinner…

Cliff House

1090 Point Lobos, San Francisco, CA 94121

415 386-3330

Hours:  Please refer to the hours located here:  http://www.cliffhouse.com/home/pdf/CH_Hours_Res.pdf

Note:  For Sutro’s at the Cliff House, and the  Sunday Brunch, reservations are strongly encouraged.  All other areas (including where I sat) are walk-in.

http://www.cliffhouse.com/