Monday, November 5, 2018


Studio, Retail Shop and Offices
Mackenzie-Childs - Aurora, NY

Mackenzie-Childs Farmhouse Tour begins in
The Retail Store - 7 BR, 4 1/2 B Farmhouse

We planned a day trip to drive down the scenic Cayuga Lake Wine Trail to the 43 acre Mackenzie-Childs estate in Aurora, New York.  Let me say there was quite a bit of historical information we did not know until after we toured the estate.  The estate and spectacular farmhouse consists of 7 bedrooms, 4 1/2 baths, which also included a studio, carriage house and a retail shop.... just as we imagined it would be - whimsical and magical.  The tour was amazing and we were allowed to go all throughout the farmhouse to see the beautiful home decor.

Retail Shop Courtyard
Mackenzie Childs - Aurora, NY

Lake around Studio, Retail Shops and Offices
Mackenzie Childs Farm - Aurora, NY

Walking Trails around back of Farmhouse
Mackenzie Childs Farmhouse - Aurora, NY 
Walking Trails and Flower Gardens
Mackenzie Childs Farmhouse - Aurora, NY

I had heard an interesting story of the couple who came to New York from England with their 9 year old daughter in 1980.  Richard and Victoria Mackenzie Childs purchased an old boarded up farmhouse for $20,000.  Over the years, they invested over $1.6 million on renovations and additions. Unfortunately, in 2001 Mackenzie Childs went through bankruptcy, and was sold to Pleasant Rowland (the founder of American Girl) and their dream was lost, along with their brand name, Mackenzie Childs, which was sadly packaged with all the other professional copyright and trademarks, and then in 2008 was sold to a private equity fund, Twin Lakes Capital, owned by Lee Feldman and Howard Cohen.  So, in essence, the founders of Mackenzie Childs have not been involved in the company since 2002.

I was naive to think these bigger than life personalities and their 300 employee creative staff were still walking around the beautiful estate doing their creative things.  I later learned that they had moved on since the bankruptcy settlement in 2002.  As they say, "from rags to riches".   I remember reading magazine articles in the 1980's and seeing Mackenzie Childs beautiful hand painted decorative creations.  There were so many new ideas and through many years I remembered seeing and recognizing some of their designs and unmistakable product branding.

This original piece has been in several magazines.
The first time I saw it was in the 1980's

Hand painted panel door

The murals actually portray local landscapes.

Besides private shops all around the country,
Mackenzie Childs pottery and hand painted furniture
is in demand and featured in Nordstroms
and many higher end department stores.

My understanding is there is a new Victoria and Richard company, also known as VandR Emprise.  It will be interesting to see another designer branding and creative entity as they emerge after having learned many costly life lessons.  In closing, Aurora,  New York,  and Lake Cayuga impart tons of interesting early American history,  and we also enjoyed our visit to Aurora's beautiful Wells College and The Aurora Inn.

Sunday, October 21, 2018


Over the last 11 years we've been full-time RVer's, an important consideration of RV travel revolves around food....always!
Gianelli Sausage (since 1946) - A MUST at the New York State Fair in Syracuse, NY

The Westside Market
Cleveland, OHIO
Oldest market - home to over 100 vendors

The Westside Market
Cleveland, OHIO
Oldest market - home to over 100 vendors

The Westside Market
Cleveland, OHIO
Oldest market - home to over 100 vendors

We also enjoy local-owned restaurants ... like those with lots of vehicles outside all the time.  We regularly visit Trip Advisor about local restaurants because those recommendations are made by people ... like you or me.

Anchor Bar - Buffalo NY
Home of the Original Buffalo Chicken Wings (1935)

Honey Hut Ice Cream Shoppe
Cleveland, OHIO - Since 1974

When we go grocery shopping it is to buy food we love to eat and prepare for our table and we always expect it to be fresh, delicious, and most likely locally produced.  Local farmers' markets and local butcher shops are a plus wherever we travel.  We became satisfied customers of grocery stores like Wegman's, Shaw's, Martin's, Piggly Wiggly, Trader Joe's, Fresh Market, Healthy Market and many other independent stores on a regular basis.

Not only is this an awesome farm - I met some of my relatives in
Ithaca, NY

FOR REAL - Relatives you meet in central NY

Ithaca Farmers' Market - Gorgeous!!
Ithaca, NY

Honey Farmer - Ithaca, NY

To participate in the weekly Ithaca, NY Farmers' Market
you must live within 30 miles of the Market - since 1973

WESTSIDE MARKET - Cleveland, Ohio
Beautiful and over 100 vendors
Finger Lakes Popcorn from Guess Where!?
Popcorn grown in Lansing, NY

 Our Spring/Summer/Fall travels began in April, 2018, and around the beginning of June, in Shipshewana, IN, we began a 4 month journey of great RV travel with our friends, Clay and Frances Croom, Lynette Croom (Clay's 86 year young and  beautiful mother and new RV full-timer), and their Puggle dog, Sadie, accompanied by delicious and exciting regular home cooked meals with our "dueling" Instant Pots, griddles and grills.
RV with Clay, Frances, Lynette Croom
at Country Hills Campground
Marathon, NY

Our meals usually were always with careful planning and completed with minimal effort, which made the end of every day a great time to sit outside, talk about what we had done that day,  and make plans for the next exciting day.

Chef Clay and Chef RV
Preparation of Buffalo Chicken Wings

Chef Clay, Chef RV Preparing Dinner on Griddle
(Sadie is photo-bombing the picture)

The "saute" part of our Instant Pot Dinner

We celebrated birthdays, visited with friends, and always expressed our thanks to God that He had safely delivered us to another destination and blessed us beyond measure.

Celebrating the visit of our friends
Jane and Jean Unger at Essenhaus, Middlebury, Indiana
near Shipshewana, Indiana

Friends getting together in Goshen, INDIANA
Tiffin Allegro Rally 2018

I'm Singing Happy Birthday to Frances....
Too bad you can't hear my singing on this video!
Cleveland, OHIO

At the end of 4 months of travel with the Croom's we sadly departed to travel separate directions, but we will definitely plan to do this again.

Breakfast - Sausage, Pancakes and Vermont Maple Syrup!

Cajun Barbeque Shrimp
Laissez Le Bon Ton Roulet!

Anchor Bar Chicken Wings
Buffalo, NY

Gumbo with Shrimp, Chicken, and dainty Blue Crab Claws
Now you're talking!
Cleveland, OHIO

Country Fried Steak - To be finished with gravy in the Instant Pot
Junius Ponds, NY

Pork Tenderlions - Saute and finished in the Instant Pot
Junius Ponds, NY

Italian Sausage with peppers and onions
  Delicious cooked on Griddle!
Junius Ponds, NY

Skirt Steak with Homemade Griddle Potatoes

Instant Pot Pork Steaks, Broccoli Salad and Fresh Ohio Green Beans
For the most part our cookware consisted of 2 Instant Pots, 1 electric Calphalon table top griddle, and the Croom's discovered the perfect small gas griddle/grill that was perfect for RV travel - and it came with a stand.  Just like you would do with your grill, the seasoning of the cooktop assured the food never stuck to the grill top.

Clay Croom's Gas Griddle on the portable stand

Hamburger Night on the Griddle

Fried Shrimp Appetizer

Instant Pot Pork Steaks ready to be finished
on the griddle with barbeque sauce

We enjoyed many breakfasts, lunches, appetizers and dinners of unbelievable culinary delights.  And always, without fail, this is what we had at the end of every delicious meal:

No leftovers ever!