Good Neighbors Blog

From quirky extras that didn’t make it into the magazine to behind the scenes looks into the making of Country – we’ve curated photos and stories we think you’ll enjoy. Won’t you be our neighbor?

Oct./Nov. 2014 Country


Subscribers should have the June/July issue of Country in hand now or should be receiving it very soon! If you’re not a subscriber to Country, here’s how you can be!

As always, we’re happy to offer our online readers a few of our favorite stories from the current issue. Let us know which ones you enjoy the most!

Beautiful Barn Quilt an Outward Symbol of Family Pride

Watching Eagles in Alaska on the Chilkat River

Make Plans to Visit Finger Lakes

Best Memories are of how the Seasons Fill Her Senses

Lawn Ornament Became Town’s Beloved Pig Mascot

Grandpa’s DX: A True Old-Fashioned Gas Station

Things to do in Finger Lakes

What to do in Finger LakesStory and photos by Cindy Ruggieri

You’ve read Cindy’s beautiful write-up in the Oct./Nov. 2014 issue of Country. Now see what she says are her must-see spots in the area!

When you are done searching for waterfalls and hiking the trails in the state parks, check out the other trails in the region – the wine trails, the cheese trail, the chocolate trail, and the newest brew trail. The events held year-round as part of these trails are seemingly endless, pairing food, entertainment, arts, and regional bounty. I’ve enjoyed the u-pick at the yearly cherry festival, laughed at the grape-stomping festival, and followed the trail at the popular ‘Deck the Halls’ weekends during the holiday season.

1. KEUKA LAKE — Art lovers will enjoy the ‘Palettes of Keuka’ held each summer around Keuka Lake. Local artists paint or decorate large artist’s palettes to be displayed around the lake. It’s a treasure hunt to find them all and a great way to visit many of the great lake locations. Start in Hammondsport for the guide and map. At summer’s end the palettes are auctioned off as a fundraiser in support of the arts community. It’s one of my favorite area events!

2. HAMMONDSPORT — While in Hammondsport, you will want to visit one of the newest Finger Lakes attractions – the Finger Lakes Boating Museum – which is not only a showcase for the history of boating in the Finger Lakes but also an educational facility for teaching the craftsmanship of boat building and restoration. Then head to the town square where you can stop at the Keuka Artisan Bakery and Deli for lunch or some great baked goods. It’s always a huge decision for me to decide on my bread choice since there are so many to pick from!

3. PENN YAN — Whenever I visit Penn Yan at the north end of Keuka Lake, Seneca Farms is a definite stop for my fix of ice cream. My waistline is screaming ‘RESIST’ but my taste buds are saying ‘YES YES YES!’ The taste buds always win. I especially enjoy their rotating flavors of the week with some pretty funky names.

4. CORNING — Well worth a little jog south, The Corning Museum of Glass showcases 35 centuries of glass history in galleries and features live glass-blowing demonstrations, seasonal events, and even daily hands-on classes for all ages.

5. WATKINS GLEN — If you want to ratchet up the speed to another level, head to Watkins Glen for NASCAR racing. This is a great small town to visit whether catching a race or not. Check out the lovely marina and stunning red boathouse, the stone pier for walking and fishing, and the great little shops for strolling through town. Make sure to dine at Jerlando’s for a great Italian dinner, or if you prefer a lighter fare stop at the Wildflower Café for plenty of choices made from local producers and practicing their ‘go green’ policies.

6. CANANDAIGUA — I’m a fan of B&Bs and always look for the personal touch of the wonderful innkeepers in this region. When visiting the north region, I had a great stay at Bonnie Castle Farm Bed and Breakfast. It’s peaceful, clean, and spacious, with a great view of the water. Georgia, the owner, is a sweetheart. All I had to do was mention how much I enjoyed the lemon bars, and I left with a plateful for the road trip home. In Canandaigua we enjoyed our stay at Oliver Phelps.  The friendly innkeepers Lynne and Bill gave us some great tips, great food, and great accommodations.

7. SKANEATELES — Skaneateles is a great little town with a number of enjoyable events. The Lavender Festival is held in July, with rows of gorgeous blooms available for u-pick. I hesitated just a moment before trying the lavender ice cream, but came away a fan of this event specialty. During the holidays you can enjoy their Dickens Christmas with costumed characters, horse and wagon rides, and great food, including those chestnuts roasting! Make time for a dinner at Rosalie’s. The food is wonderful and their awesome ‘rip and dip’ bread is made fresh in their bakery. For a donation to charity you can sign their wall along with the hundreds of other names who have donated over the years.

And so the list goes on. The beautiful Finger Lakes region of New York State has so much to offer and is an all-season place to visit.  Hit the road and visit for a day, a weekend or a week. You’ll love it!

Read Cindy’s story about this lovely locale!


Sept. 17, 2014: Today’s Words to Live By

Today's Words to Live By

Monday Munchkin – Parade Ready

Monday Munchkin

“Our daughter Marisa ready to ride in the Dairy Days Parade in Fredericksburg, Iowa,” said James Bieschke. “Her precious pony’s name is ‘Roanie.’”

Q&A With Blogger on Life on a Small Farm and DIY

Life on a Small Farm

Life on a Small Farm

Life on a Small Farm

Life on a Small Farm

Life on a Small Farm

Life on a Small Farm

Life on a Small Farm

Life on a Small Farm

Life on a Small Farm

Life on a Small Farm

Life on a Small Farm

Life on a Small Farm

Life on a Small Farm

Life on a Small Farm

    By Mary Dolan
    Associate Digital Editor

    Kit Stansley is a farmer, DIYer, builder, power tool-wielder and blogger who paints a vivid and humorous portrait of her life in rural Michigan on her blog We were delighted to ask her a few questions about her busy life nurturing chickens and renovating barns

    Can you tell us how/why you first got into DIY?
    Well, there are pictures of me at the ripe old age of three trying to use my dad’s screwdrivers (without help because I was sure I could do it myself, thanks.) So some of the DIY philosophy is very deeply ingrained, but I really got in to home improvement and buying really big power tools when I bought my first house. I was 22 and didn’t have a lot of extra money for all of the improvements I wanted to make, and I learned quickly that it was much cheaper (and also more fun) to DIY.

    It feels like a lot of what you do is WAY beyond the realm of what most people refer to as DIY – do you think there’s a lack of real, hands-on, building-something-from-scratch DIY out there (and by “out there” we mean Pinterest, the blogosphere, etc.)?
    I’m the type of person who learns a new skill and then immediately thinks of all the different ways I can apply that to bigger and better projects. I also Hate (capital H) asking for help, so I think I naturally take on projects that other people have a lot easier time bringing in help for. Somewhere along the line I realized that it feels amazing to complete one of those big projects that you think (or people have told you) you won’t be able to do. That’s addicting, and it’s one of the reasons I continually push the boundaries of what I think I can do.

    As for the projects everyone else is doing … I think easier projects are more prevalent in social media, for sure. Those types of projects are more appealing to a wider audience, and they aren’t intimidating. But I find that a lot of those smaller projects give you the skills and confidence for the bigger ones. It doesn’t happen overnight, of course, but I remember a time when I mostly did smaller, less intimidating projects too.

    What’s your best piece of advice for someone looking to build or renovate or otherwise take on a bigger-scale DIY project?
    Do it! Okay, actually, I think having the right mindset is key. Those “renovation” shows on TV give you the impression that some of these big projects are going to be done in a weekend, no problem. The truth is that it isn’t always easy and things tend to get worse before they get better, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do it.

    Also, have the right tools. It makes all the difference in the world!

    What are your 5 must-have-on-hand-at-all-times tools?
    My drill is at the top of the list for sure, and then in no particular order: compound miter saw, cordless finish nailer, hammer, jigsaw. I could get quite a bit done with just those five.

    Who taught you what you know about DIY and construction, or did you learn on your own by trial and error?
    Lots of trial and error and Google. I didn’t have any in-person mentors in my life, although my dad did hand me down a lot of his old power tools which were still very good, and I learned quickly that good tools make all the difference. I also had some background knowledge from shop class in Junior High (boy do those skills stick with you) and I found that a class here or there, or even volunteering on a Habitat for Humanity house, can teach you a lot of skills that are transferable to other projects.


    And, onto farm life…

    Did you grow up on a farm? If not, what inspired you to begin creating your own farm life?
    I grew up in both worlds my dad lived on some property in the country (not a farm, but there weren’t any neighbors either) and my mom lived more in the “city.” I was convinced I was a city person, but the second house I built was on 3 acres, and that’s when I realized how awesome country life was. No space restrictions, you could grow your own food and have awesome animals. I still really thought of myself as a person who renovated houses first, and a “farm girl” second, but then I bought an old farm house with a few barns and really haven’t looked back. I’ve done way more renovations on my barns than I have on my actual house in the last year.

    You’re on six acres in Michigan; is that correct? How much land do you think is necessary for someone wanting to live on a farm?
    I am! Six acres is a good piece of property, but I’ve seen a lot of of awesome things done with a lot less. My last house was on a 3-acre plot, and that certainly would have been plenty for a hobby farm.

    What” fruits” of your farm do you enjoy? Fresh eggs? Veggies?
    My chickens definitely keep me in fresh eggs, and I have a pretty big vegetable garden this year. I’m planning to plant some fruit trees in fall, and next year I’m hoping to add bees (and possibly sheep.)

    It sounds like keeping farm animals is a lot of work. You’ve discussed on your blog updating a barn for the donkeys, finding surrogate hens to lay eggs, etc. Is it worth it? What’s the most rewarding part?
    It is a lot of work, but it’s all work that I enjoy. I love having a reason to design and build chicken coops and update the barn, and some days even just the hard work of mucking out a barn stall feels good. I spend a lot of time at a computer during the day, so a little hard labor with visible results is pretty awesome. Also, I get hugs from my donkeys … it’s hard to beat that!

    How do you kick back and relax? (Or maybe the question should be “DO YOU kick back and relax?” since it seems like you’re always doing something!)
    I’m not great at relaxing (more than a day sitting around on a beach is pretty much torture for me), but I definitely make an effort to take time to just enjoy and be grateful for my property. I have an old golf cart that I drive up on to a hill with a glass of wine and watch the sunset. It’s one of the best parts of my day.

    Photography by Kit Stansley