Tagged Finger Lakes

Touring the Wacky and Whimsical Mackenzie Childs Victorian Farmhouse

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Mackenzie Childs Farmhouse Tour

The types of artists and designers that I truly enjoy the most are the ones that create things you don’t see with your two eyes. J.K. Rowling, Lisa Frank, Alex Katz, Betsey Johnson. And Mackenzie Childs.

Mackenzie Childs Farmhouse Tour

Mackenzie Childs creates whimsical ceramics, furniture and household items. All pieces are created and painted by hand in one of several trademark patterns (the most famous being black and white checks).

The headquarters, store and inspirational-styled Victorian farmhouse are located on what used to be an old dairy farm in Aurora, NY and open to visitors. While the men in our family were headed to the PGA golf tournament, my mom and I decided to have a girls day out and visit Mackenzie Childs.

Mackenzie Childs Farmhouse Tour

There is a lovely shop full of everything you can imagine – candlesticks, to rugs, to champagne glasses, to patio furniture. The only downfall of Mackenzie Childs – it is not cheap. But still fun to poke around.

Mackenzie Childs Farmhouse Tour

In a small theater off the shop is a 20 minute video where you can learn all about the ceramic molding, firing and glazing process. There is also a massive and intricately decorated dollhouse – my eight-year-old self was in heaven.

Visitors aren’t able to tour the work area – where all the pottery is molded, fired and glazed. But, we were able to peek through a few windows at the shelves full of works in progress!

Mackenzie Childs Farmhouse Tour

There is a beautiful courtyard you can sit at and enjoy. Sadly it was a misty, rainy day, so we were unable to linger in it very much that day.

Mackenzie Childs Farmhouse Tour

The free Farmhouse tour is given hourly and is quite a treat.  Have you ever been to one of those home expo tours and go through beautifully styled homes?

Well, it was like that! Except Mackenzie-Childs-esque – which you’ll see is like nothing you’ve ever seen before.

Mackenzie Childs Farmhouse Tour

We had to wear protective booties because of the rain.

The style is not exactly how I’d decorate my own home, but I love how the brand beats to it’s own crazy colorful drum and doesn’t look back.

Mackenzie Childs Farmhouse Tour

Mackenzie Childs Farmhouse Tour

There are small details all over the house – from funky reading glasses perched on open books, to classical painting that have been “modified” with crazy black and white checked pants and flowers.

Mackenzie Childs Farmhouse Tour

How adorable is this kitchen? I love the pink knobs.

I feel like I only might bake cupcake and french toast though if this was my kitchen. It doesn’t exactly scream grilled cheese or stir-fry to me.

Mackenzie Childs Farmhouse Tour

Mackenzie Childs Farmhouse Tour

Mackenzie Childs style waffles between eccentrically funky and decidedly feminine.

Mackenzie Childs Farmhouse Tour

Mackenzie Childs Farmhouse Tour

How fun is that chair? I could actually see something like that in my house.

Mackenzie Childs Farmhouse Tour

Small details like beautiful bottles of soap, large floral print wallpapers and decorative vintage handkerchiefs filled the hallways.

But the tiles in the bathrooms were some of my very favorite features!

Mackenzie Childs Farmhouse Tour

Hunter Boots even offers a Mackenzie Childs boot!

Mackenzie Childs Hunter Boots

The premises are beautiful and on Cayuga Lake – complete with gardens, ponds, and farm animals.

Mackenzie Childs Farmhouse Tour

Mackenzie Childs Farmhouse Tour

I had to take a picture of this – even the sawhorses in one of the outbuildings are “on-brand” with the classic checks!

We were there a week after their annual sale – which is pandemonium with people traveling from all over the country. Women camp out on air mattresses and wristband access is required to get into the tent to score goods for up to 80% off! About 15,000 people come to the annual sale event – yowza. I’m not sure I am even crazy enough for that.

After our farmhouse tour, we headed into the tiny town of Aurora (population 722 people!) and stopped in a few shops and had (a delicious) lunch at the Aurora Inn – a beautiful building in the center of town.

Aurora Inn

The restaurant overlooks Lake Cayuga, and the grounds are right at water-level.

The Aurora Inn

(It would be a great place for a wedding – if anyone is looking!)

The town of Aurora and the Mackenzie Childs farmhouse are around 1-1.5 hours from Rochester and Syracuse and definitely worth a day trip! While it would have been nice to stroll the property in nicer weather, I definitely walked away inspired!

Mackenzie Childs Farmhouse Tour

While Richard and Victoria Mackenzie Childs (the artists who started the brand) no longer own the company, they also restored another old home on Cayuga Lake. You can see it on one of my favorite websites – Hooked on Houses!

Have you heard of Mackenzie Childs before? What do you think of the crazy and whimsical patterns?

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Thanks for stopping by! : ) Kat

The Finger Lakes, NY: Hiking Grimes Glen and an Airport Diner

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Upstate New York is entirely underrated. In case you were wondering.

The region is associated with the three snowiest cities in the United States (Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse, thank you very much), but very little is it associated with the summer months!

Let’s keep it that way, eh? I like driving on an empty highway.

It is beautiful – sunshine, blue skies, budding vineyards and lots of big yellow fields that reminded me of Scotland!

A month or so ago, we spent the weekend in the Finger Lakes and spent the morning in Naples, NY. It’s right next to Rome, NY and Italy, NY.

No, really.

We had breakfast at the Middlesex Airport Diner – a small building on a small meadow that small planes fly in and out of.

While our waiter informed us we were a bit late for the usual plane sightseeing (what? 11am is too late for breakfast?) we still managed to see a few of them.

After breakfast we drove to Grimes Glen.

Grimes Glen is a hiking path in a glen. No surprise there.

It has a one mile creek walk up to some beautiful waterfalls.

Go ahead and swallow that vanity. Put on a pair of ugly nature sandals and walk all the way up the creek! (Some currents are a bit strong, but most places weren’t deeper than 12 inches of water. I was carrying my SLR around my neck).

We went on a Saturday morning and there was a fair amount of hiking traffic.

via flickr debpaul2010

Next time I think I’ll leave my camera in the car and bring my swimsuit.

There were lots of kids playing in the water. We went over Memorial Day weekend, so the water was nippy, but enjoyable! We only hiked to the first waterfall, so we were only going for an hour or two.

We spent the rest of the beautiful Finger Lakes afternoon doing a little bit of fishing, dock sitting and boating.

And of course a little bit of this:

The lazy, hazy summer afternoon was made for me!

What’s your favorite lazy, summer activity?

Meet George Jetson…’s Strawberry Patch

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While I was visiting my family in the Finger Lake last week I went hydroponic strawberry picking… Hydroponiwhat?

Hydroponic. As in hydra (water) and ponein (labor).

Still not making sense? Wikipedia defines hydroponics as “a method of growing plants using mineral nutrient solutions, in water, without soil.”

Still not making sense?

THIS is their strawberry patch looks like.

No muddy sneakers. No squished strawberry stain on your bum. No bugs. No kneeling/squatting and moving over with your little red flag every 18 inches.

My hands didn’t even get dirty! They make you cut the strawberries with a pair of scissors. And you have to use anti-bacterial soap before you can go in.

You are supposed to cut as long a stem as possible, because the longer the stem is the more energy the fruit has. Thus, lasting longer.

Why hydroponic farming? Well, we spoke to the owner for a little while. Basically, the method he uses requires a LOT less water and he can better protect the fruit from diseases and pesticides.

Oddly enough, I thought we were at the tail-end of their season’s pickings. But then the owners told us they just opened last week. While most strawberry patches are in-season in June, the hydroponic farm is in season from June through Halloween!!

They are smaller than normal strawberries, but delicious! A pop of sweet, fresh flavor.

(P.S. Jellies (as in shoes, not strawberry jam) are coming back. My friend Abs saw them and got them for me. Woot! Thanks Abs!)

My official review: It was lovely. While the slaving under the sun in the dust and accidentally sitting on old strawberries is nostalgic (and still a good time), this was quick, clean and easy! If old-school berry pickin’ is the Goodwill clearance rack, hydroponic berry picking is Macy’s.

Have you heard of hydroponic farming before? Have you ever picked hydroponic strawberries?

A Taste of Summer

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I love the 4th of July.

I know it’s over and this is a little anti-climatic. But you’ll overlook that fact, won’t you?

The 4th of July is the real kick-off of summer. School and spring cleaning often drip into June. And June is already overrun with graduations and parties and bridal showers that summer celebration gets lost in the mix. But no longer.

It’s JULY friends. It is summertime.

Random note – We spent the weekend at my family lakehouse in the Finger Lakes. I must have had patriotic clothing on my mind for the holiday, because I packed red and white striped clothing for every day. Hah-hah!

These are my Mom’s blingy table decorations for the 4th. She’s got pizazz

Our  neighbors have a large farm area. They have a vineyard (Pinot Grigio to be exact, or so I learned) and also have lots of fruits and vegetables growing. We happened to be there at the peak of cherry picking season and they invited us up to pick a H-U-G-E bag of delicious cherries.

I had the best of intentions. Why, with these amazing cherries, surely I should make a cherry pie or tart or jam or something, right? But I can’t help just eating them all plain. They are so fresh and sweet they are like candy!

Random – our neighbors plant rosebushes at the end of each grapevine. Do you know why? Apparently the mildew properties are the same. So, if you see mildew on the roses you know how to take care of the vine. I wonder who figured that out and how.

“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under the trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.”

- John Lubbock

And nothing can beat a summer night. I insist on campfires and s’mores everytime we are at the lake. It’s the best way to end any day spent in the sun.

And of course we watched the fireworks.

We watched from the very spot we got married (collective “aw”), although it was more due to last minute boat engine funkiness than planning. But it was beautiful. And all the boats on the water was an unexpected beautiful sight.

I think that is why I enjoy the 4th of July so much. It’s a quintessential summer weekend of celebrating with friends and family. Eating good food, enjoying the world we live in and some old fashion fun.

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What did you do for the 4th of July? Do you like cherries as much as I do right now?