Friday, July 25, 2014

Finding Harmony

Recently we attended the wedding of Rick's niece Allison in New Harmony, Indiana. Allison wisely chose this small town near the Kentucky and Illinois borders as a site for family and friends to congregate for her special day, knowing they would find it as enchanting and romantic -- not to mention fascinating -- as she did.

This spot is exquisite and if you are traveling in this part of the U.S., a detour to New Harmony will refresh you. Don't look for the wild and crazy good times (although after the rehearsal and reception, I am told by many of the 20-40 set that a very good time was had at the Yellow Tavern!). What you will find include historic buildings, beautiful biking areas, charming homes, a small but lovely downtown with good shopping and a labyrinth and roofless church, both of which will be featured in separate posts.

It must be "wedding city" -- there were five or six weddings taking place over the weekend we were there, and the New Harmony Inn also serves as a center for conferences. It's the quietest town I've ever been in -- many of the New Harmony residents skip about in golf carts.

I enjoyed the antique stores and farmer's market, even though that was very small. A quiet early morning walk was truly a spiritual highlight and I could understand the historical elements of the town simply by walking.

The Lenz House (c. 1819-22) had a lovely kitchen garden.

We stayed in the New Harmony Inn, which was very nice. (Everything is walking distance in this hamlet). However, I would recommend one of the lovely guest houses. I'm told from those who were there that they are filled with antiques and many, like this one, had lovely patios for breakfast.

Guest House

The rest of this post includes the fascinating historical background of New Harmony, edited from a piece written by Rod Clark for the wedding couple's "goodie bag." Even if you aren't interested in the history of this intriguing 1800s experiment in communal living (different from but not unlike the Shakers) read on!

The cabin on the far right is the first Rappite log cabin and built in 1804

New Harmony was established 200 years ago by a group of German immigrants led by George Rapp. Rapp's religious sect (Deists) had undergone religious persecution in Germany and they fled to the newly founded America. They were known as The Harmonist Society and they established one of the earlier attempts at community living in the United States.

Our group checked out the brick work on the original communal living dormitory

The Harmonists were a strictly religious group and wanted to establish a Utopian community based on their understanding of "God's Kingdom." They shared properties and revenue in principles we would now equate more with socialism.

In many ways, they remind me of the Shakers, at least in terms of producing quality items. The Shakers are known for their furniture; the Harmonists for items like textiles, whiskey, beer and rope. They exported these items both to other states and Europe and were so successful that they left the town to move closer to their markets (1825).

In Scotland, progressive European manufacturer Robert Owen had learned of the Harmonists' concept of community organization and when the town was put up for sale, Owen decided to purchase the community to begin his community of a new society with shared ownership and labor.

Because he was so successful in Europe, he attracted the curiosity and scrutiny of others to see how this new system would work and initially it was met with great enthusiasm.

But unfortunately, rather than simply gathering the hard workers, Owen's plans also attempted those looking for a "free ride" and he abandoned the community two years later. His sons, however, and others in New Harmony remained and eventually the town became a known as a cultural and scientific center.

 Some buildings are preserved inside as they were in the 1800s.

The town has been exquisitely preserved thanks to the efforts of Jane Blaffer Owen, a Texaco/Exxon heiress who married one of the Owen descendents in the 1940s. She committed her wealth and her energies to preserving the town as a spiritual retreat center and a place of art, music and beauty.

If you head to New Harmony, check out the antique shops, had a terrific salad at Sara's (also a lovely wine bar with an excellent list).Sit for a few minutes in one of the parks or gardens. Just wander.

You'll be refreshed, peaceful, calm -- and pleasantly surprised!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Hanging Out at Habitation

Won't you join me today over at "All Things Girl" as I join their "Habitation" writing team!

I'm writing about my visit to Southern Exposure, where we made a wonderful living wreath. You might recall part of the visit in THIS POST -- we went in early spring.

But I was waiting to share the wreath-making part of our fun day over at Habitation! Check it out HERE!

"All Things Girl" and "Habitation" combine posts from a number of different writers and you'll find all sorts of things there, from interviews down to how-tos, decorating, recipes and more! I hope you'll stop by and sample lots of the posts!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Paris In July: My Favorite Guideposts!

This may be the last of my Paris In July posts -- but I encourage you to visit Tamara and the other bloggers participating for a look at books, photos, movies and more -- all related to the City of Light. You can find lots of links RIGHT HERE!


With the internet so readily available, it's easy enough to gather all the information you might need about your trip to Paris and beyond without ever touching a piece of paper. It's all very useful and I certainly take advantage of it. But I wanted to share some of my favorite "Travel to Paris Resources" with you.
Guide Books

I'm very fond of the DK Eyewitness Travel guide book series.

 The Paris book breaks down the city by areas, as most books do. Included are maps for key sites, highlights of key attractions in each region (all with beautiful color photos), full city maps and lots of general travel information.

The downside to this series is that it is HEAVY! There is a cost to the traveler in carrying a beautiful book with lovely photos printed on great paper! If you can (I couldn't), rip out the pages of the spots you most want to see!

"Markets of Paris" is a small book and great fun.

 Each page highlights a different market -- and by that, I don't mean just antiques, but you'll also find fabrics, ribbon, books and, of course, food.

It's small enough to fit in your purse or in your suitcase without weighing you down too much.

"In Love In France" isn't really a guide book you'd want to take with you -- it's too big.

 But if you're headed to the City of Light with your great love, you'll find some wonderfully romantic spots listed and some delightful ideas on how to enjoy them (if you can't figure that out yourself!).

 There are plenty of little tidbits in this book I didn't know, and it also covers side trips out of Paris as well.

Rick Steves Pocket Paris -- Rick Steves is one of my favorite TV and print tour guides (his website is very good too, and friends who have taken his European tours speak very highly of his organization).

 The size is perfect and included are lots of excellent tips for traveling in France, along with the usual sights and recommendations.

 Rick also includes a fold-out map, which is quite extensive.

 Again, "Pocket Paris" lives up to its name. Easy to manage!

For a thoroughly delightful and very small book (that has great shopping suggestions and addresses) take along Jill Butler's "Wandering Paris."

  The illustrations are enough to capture your fancy. The helpful lists with addresses seals the deal.


I have two favorite maps that I recommend about all others. Both are very portable and when I was in Paris, both were with me at all times.

 The first is the Knopf map guide to Paris.

 This booklet breaks the city down into areas. The size is about 5x7 inches square and the maps fold out so they are easy to follow but not huge!

 They also include info on sights and restaurants in the designated areas.

 The Streetwise series is also excellent.

 These maps break down by categories. I liked the Paris Museums map.

 The are laminated and fold up into a vertical brochure size. Boy, these things hold up! Mine has been on two trips, in bags, purses, pockets, and spilled upon! It still looks great!

 Of course, so many of you have already discovered Paris and your favorite guideposts. (Many of mine include blogs and the list I keep of "must visit next time" spots.) Please share yours! And Bon Voyage!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Postcards from the Lake -- Something Sweet!

The weather during this first couple of weeks in July has been unseasonably cold at the lake. I've plowed through four books and yes, some art too (although somewhat hampered because I neglected to bring some critical supplies!).

 We've enjoyed some cozy fires, good food and some brisk walks!

You know it's cool when I'm wearing socks with my sandals, which the kids would tell me is a cardinal fashion faux pas!

To get a break in the action, we took a road trip to Grayling, about 20 miles away, where we enjoyed some outrageously expensive but delicious ice cream.

 The diner was charming, filled with Coca-Cola memorabilia and on a gloomy day, it was particularly appealing.

I had the soda, but Rick chose the chocolate shake.

And in both cases, they were delicious!

 Of course, my boy wanted to get back on the bike!

 So he packed up his tent and sleeping bag and took a bike hike!

 Off he went for an overnight about 100 miles away. It's good training for his Canadian ride -- and it gave me a little "Jeanie time."

This, of course, included a visit to the farm market. The cherries are beginning to come in and some strawberries remain. They always have a musician playing -- these two weren't bad (but we've heard some that belonged in bad karaoke bars!).

 My first extended time at the lake is rapidly coming to an end...

 But I'll be back!

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