Category Archives: Inspiration

Woodstock, Vermont Wassail Weekend

My “Christmas spirit” was severely lacking earlier this month.  Are you familiar with that old Faith Hill song “Where are you Christmas”, from How the Grinch Stole Christmas?  I felt as if I was walking around with that playing on a constant loop.

This was weird for me.

I am actually someone who typically (annoyingly) belts out that song, and any other holiday tune that comes to mind to anyone who will listen to me.  I start slowly pulling out my decorations in October; of which there are many.  I keep running lists of the gifts I want to buy for people, all year long.

But this year, meh.

I am not sure what brought this about…maybe I was too focused on a couple of the long-term projects I’ve been working on.  I tend to hone in like a laser (Eye on the prize, you know?) and am practically bursting at the seams to complete and share some things with you in 2017.  Or perhaps, I was just too far in my own head.  There is a part of me that felt very “How is it December, again“?  This year flew.

What I do know for sure is that when I get into that space, the best thing I can do is to “go”.  It can be anywhere really.  There are plenty of country roads near my home that I can ramble down, trails to hike, or sweet small towns to visit.  I’ve never shied away from booking a plane ticket either.  I like to get lost, and simply put, it’s the best way for me to get back to myself.

In this case, I found the happy medium with a road trip to Woodstock, VT for Wassail Weekend.  It was either an instance of extreme serendipity or of astute Facebook algorithms, but I was seeing mentions of this festival everywhere!  All of the photos I clicked on looked like scenes straight from a Currier & Ives print, so I figured if there were any place I could find a bit of that Christmas magic, it would be there.

I was right.


I took approximately 987,654 photos for you, but in words, these are a few of the things that I loved about this beautiful celebration (and place):

The decorations!  Not a corner of Woodstock was left untouched.  Even the cars were decorated!  Each home, shop, and restaurant in the very least had a wreath, and all were so unique and fitting to their locations.  I loved that the Vermont Flannel Company for example, had potted trees outside their storefront with flannel bows tied to them.  My favorite display, however, was the big sleigh, which was perched in front of a flower shop.  The door to the shop was covered in lit garlands and twigs and dried flowers; so gorgeous.

I realize that I had a pretty limited scope, but I felt a true sense of community in this town.  The people that I met seemed genuinely excited about the goings on, and were eager to share not only information about Woodstock, but to lend a helping hand in general.  All of the businesses were extremely crowded by the end of Saturday, visitors were lost, and it was freezing cold outside to boot – but there was nary (from what I could see) a Scrooge in sight!

This is somewhat in keeping with the above, but I went into several restaurants while I was there, and each one had a chalkboard or visible menu that listed all of the local products and ingredients that the establishment was using, all the way down to the Farmhouse Pottery I was eating out of.  We have a little bit of this in Upstate NY, but it would make my heart happy to see more of it.  Coming from a family of small business owners, I know that this is how small businesses grow; through sharing and support, starting in their own communities.  It’s such an awesome thing.




Lovebirds Cocktail – An Apple, Maple, and Cinnamon Whiskey Mashup


I am several days late and a lot of dollars short in getting this post up as I had planned on it being a Valentine to all of you lovebirds out there (hence the glasses, arrows, and cards).  The truth is though, that since arriving in Naples, it’s been difficult for me to adjust.  Not to the warmer weather, the extra time with family and friends, and the beach-town-relaxed vibes.  All of that is easy to get on board with, of course.  And I am ever-so-grateful for it.

It’s been more about finding that space to be creative, where I am in the “flow”.  There is the fluffy, hard to explain side of that, where I am inspired and my brain is exploding with colors, ideas and recipes, and the general things that make up my work.  The more practical side of it is in understanding the nuances of my temporary living space, and knowing for instance that the light hits the kitchen table a certain way at 3:00 PM – and barely hits it at all until then, while we’re on that note.

It can admittedly be tough to balance the feeling of wanting to be in vacation mode, and knowing that s*it needs to get done, too.  One can only ignore their inbox for so long.  I am not complaining about any of this, just making my way through it, and more likely explaining why some of my posts may come at wacky times in the days to follow.  I am going to try really hard to get back to a normal schedule however.

In the meantime, I give you this cocktail and a few snaps from this past weekend.  I went to the Naples Botanical Garden, which is one of my favorite places to visit when I am here (I wrote about it last year, in this post.).  It’s such a beautiful space to get lost in, and one that definitely had me feeling inspired again.  There is a LEGO exhibit going on in the garden right now, and all of the pieces reflect nature (flowers, birds, etc.).  I figured I could tie the birds in here (Yes!?!), and that it was better to post all of this late and together than never, because pictures of pretty flowers/inspirational things/messages of love/delicious drinks are always good, right?

As for the cocktail, I first had a version of it made with craft ingredients like fresh apple cider, local maple syrup, and a small-batch whisky.  I wasn’t so sure how that combination would translate without having those items down here, but I am happy to report that some things work no matter where you are.  ; )






Slow Supper with Cafe at 407


This is a post I have been meaning to share with all of you for a while now!  It’s a story that starts as many of mine do…with shopping.

This spring, I paid a quick visit to Salt Market in Syracuse (You can read more about that here.  It’s a really neat venture, and in my opinion, something we need more of in Upstate NY.).  The warehouse where the market was held was filled to the brim with artisan goods – letterpress stationery, handmade jewelry, organic body products – but in true Carlynn fashion, I made a beeline to the corner where I spotted clothes hanging, bypassing all the rest.  These were not just any clothes you see, but bohemian blouses, beaded frocks, floral prints, tailored dresses; essentially all of my favorite girly things, wrapped up in one beautiful pop-up shop called maeflowers vintage.  Unfortunately, I only had a few minutes to peruse the racks as I was en route to a meeting at the time, but I did purchase a pendant necklace, and grabbed a card from the owner, Shauna.  Later on that evening, feeling inspired, I posted a photo of the necklace on Instagram.  That post lead to a visit to the maeflowers studio, a conversation between myself, my sister and Shauna, and an eventual invite from Shauna to a Friday night Slow Supper, put on by Cafe at 407, which is run by her Aunt.