Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Christkindlemarkt in Bethlehem PA

Beginning with this post, I'm starting a series about Lehigh Valley, PA. This is the first installment of this series. To see others in this series (once they're published), click on the label "Lehigh Valley" below this post.

Celebrating 25 years this year, Christkindlmarkt in Bethlehem is a great way to spend a fun afternoon as you get a head-start on your holiday season shopping. And in doing so, you're carrying on a centuries' long tradition!

Christkindlemarkts are street markets associated with the celebration of Christmas during the four weeks of Advent. These markets originated in Germany, but are now being held in many other countries.

The history of Christmas markets goes back to the Late Middle Ages in the German-speaking part of Europe. In Austria, Vienna's "December market" can be considered a forerunner of Christmas markets and dates back to 1298.

You can enjoy demonstrations of glass blowing, and purchase tree ornaments there that you watched being made! There is also ice-sculpture demonstrations, as well as other demonstrations.

While you're there, head to the food tent for a bite to eat from a variety of vendors, from pizza to pretzels to chicken paprikash! While you enjoy a break, there's live music and entertainment.

Getting there: PNC Plaza at the Steelstacks at 645 E. First Street, Bethlehem, PA 18015; free parking is available.

Hours: Runs through 23 December. Thursday & Sunday 11 am – 6 pm; Friday & Saturday 11 am – 8 pm; Saturday, Dec. 23 11 am – 6 pm.

Website and coupons: http://www.christmascity.org/christkindlmarkt/

For other day trip destinations in Lehigh Valley, go to the Blog's Find a Great Place to Day Trip or click on the Lehigh Valley label below.

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Check out the blog's FB page for updates on places we've visited and blogged about:  facebook.com/midatlanticdaytrips! And follow us @midatlanticdaytrips on Instagram to find up what we're up to between blog posts!

Have you daytripped somewhere interesting? I'd love to hear what you're doing! Email [email protected] if you're interested in being a guest-blogger! 

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Fabulous Phipps Conservatory

Pittsburgh -- the butt of all the jokes we Penn Staters used to tell when I attended that university -- constantly surprises me. It's a lovely city, and possibly one of the prettiest places in Pittsburgh is Phipps Conservatory. Phipps offers a visual romp of color and surprises, between lovely blooms and foliage to the glass art of Chihuly to other artwork and creative displays of plants.

Although I visited in the summer, Phipps is a great place to bring the kids over the holidays!

Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is a public garden set in Schenley Park, not far from the campuses of Pittsburgh University and Carnegie Mellon University.

The gardens were founded in 1893 by steel and real-estate magnate Henry Phipps as a gift to the City of Pittsburgh. Its purpose is to educate and entertain the people of Pittsburgh with formal gardens (Roman, English, etc.) and various species of exotic plants (palm trees, succulents, bonsai, orchids, etc.). Currently, the facilities house elaborate gardens within the 14 room conservatory itself and on the adjoining grounds.

In addition to its primary flora exhibits, the sophisticated glass and metalwork of the Lord & Burnham conservatory offers an interesting example of Victorian greenhouse architecture.

In 2007, Phipps teamed with glass artist Dale Chihuly and his Tacoma-based team of glass blowers. They worked together to create a marriage of hand-blown glass and living plants. Following the closing of the exhibit, the conservatory retained four prominent pieces: the fabulous and amazing Welcome Center chandelier, that reminded me of Medusa...

the hanging gold star in the Desert Room, that rather obviously (but beautifully) evokes a sense of the glaring sun beating down on the dessert below...

.... the celadon and purple gilded Fiori, itself looking as if it's some exotic plant, in the Tropical Fruit and Spice Room. The room contains tropical and sub-tropical fruits, nuts, and spices such as citrus fruits, bananas, allspice, papayas, cinnamon and coffee.

In addition, there are 26 smaller pieces by Chihuly in the Conservatory's permanent collection including six multicolored Macchia (wavy, shell-like bowls) and

13 amber Cattails and 7 Paintbrushes, all of which are installed in the Palm Court. You come upon these pieces by surprise -- they're nestled in the interior garden landscape, and they take your breath away.

There are surprises in the gardens as well, including a display of Rube Goldberg-inspired interactive contraptions that pleased and amazed the kids I saw at the gardens, including one little toddler who simply (and eventually vocally) didn't want to move on...

Getting there: 1 Schenley Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15213

Hours: Open daily, 9:30AM–5PM

Dogs: No, sadly. But kids, yes!!

Website: www.phipps.conservatory.org

If you enjoyed this post, go to this page to keep exploring all the other interesting places the Blog has visited! And share the Blog with others!

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Tuesday, November 21, 2017

It Is an Excellent Good Pudding

If you really want to understand a time period that isn't our own, then live it, even if only for a few hours. That was the thought as my sister and I signed up for a second open hearth cooking seminar at Gunston Hall.

If ever you think preparing a full Thanksgiving meal, replete with turkey and stuffing, gravy and cranberry sauce, several different veggies, sweet potato casserole, mashed potatoes, rolls, and pies for desert a huge undertaking, try making it on the hearth! Although Thanksgiving fare wasn't on the menu, I did compare the work in preparing the colonial meal on the open hearth with a typical Thanksgiving meal preparation. We have it easy, in the 21st century!

The cooking class teaches all the intricacies regarding colonial-era open hearth cooking, from what the various pots and pans are (from spiders to pipkins -- I love pipkins, by the way) to how to interpret the original recipes to safety precautions to follow while cooking and baking over open flames and hot coals.

During the cooking class, we pretend we're in the colonial era. There is no running water in those colonial kitchens, so we carry our water in authentic, heavy wooden buckets from the pump, 20 feet away from the kitchen (we were grateful that there's a pump, and not a well, by the way). Things such as mixers and meat grinders either didn't exist at the time or wouldn't have been part of George Mason's kitchen, so we made all the food with the tools of the era (mostly recreated but authentic to the period).

The "Bill of Fare" included Roasted Beef, Yorkshire Pudding, Puff with a Forcemeat of Vegetables, Scotch Eggs, and Beans Ragoo'd with Cabbage, topped off with Waffles with Pear Marmalade.

Modern recipes provide specific measuring amounts, time items should boil or bake, but not the old time recipes, which assume both a specific amount of inherent knowledge of cooking and baking, as well as allowing for a cook's variations -- cooking is an art. We interpreted the original recipes (such as the ones below) as best as we could, occasionally laughing as the wording, such as the Yorkshire Pudding recipe's "let it bake on the fire till you think it is enough." Ummm.... okay!

Yorkshire Pudding 
Take a quart of milk, four eggs and a little salt make it up into a thick batter with flour, like pancake batter. You must have a good piece of meat at the fire; take a stew-pan and put some dripping in, set it on the fire; when it boils, pour in your pudding; let it bake on the fire till you think it is enough, then turn a plate upside down in the dripping pan, that the dripping may not be blacked; set your stew pan on it under your meat, and let the dripping drop on the pudding and the heat of the fire come to it, to make it of a fine brown. When your meat is done and sent to table, drain all the fat from your pudding and set it on the fire again to dry a little; then slide it as dry as you can into a dish; melt some butter, and pour it into a cup and set it in the middle of the pudding. It is an excellent good pudding; the gravy of the meat eats well with it.

The Scotch eggs fried in the pan, while the pears boiled down on the spider behind.

The Scotch Eggs recipe was maddening in its brevity:
Boil hard 5 pullet eggs and without removing the white cover completely with a fine relishing of forcemeat, in which let scraped pork bear due proportion. Fry of a beautiful yellow brown, and serve with a good gravy.

This was one of the hardest recipes, involving making from scratch the "fine relishing of forcemeat, in which let scraped pork bear due proportion," since that, basically, was pork sausage (for which one of my co-participants laboriously fine chopped a pork loin and an equal portion of suet for close to 2 hours). For this recipe, a meat grinder would have made short shrift of the work.

By the end of the day, we are grateful to sit down to enjoy the meal, which tastes better because of all the effort that went into it. Then we're up again on our feet to wash the dishes and clean the kitchen. It's a long, exhausting, and incredibly rewarding day!

If you're interested in exploring some of these recipes on your own, check out the following books:

We were lucky enough to get a chance to visit Gunston Hall's library, where we got to see a recipe book more than two centuries old!

I emerged from this class, as I did the prior one my sister and I took a year ago, with not only a greater appreciation of the labor involved with open hearth cooking, but a willingness to try more recipes in the comfort and convenience of my 21st century kitchen.

Hours: The open hearth cooking classing are offered twice a year, in October and April (usually). Recommend getting on Gunston Hall's email list so you're among the first to learn about future offerings of the Open Hearth Cooking Class.

Getting there: Gunston Hall is located at 10709 Gunston Rd, Lorton, VA 22079

Website: http://www.gunstonhall.org/

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Have you daytripped somewhere interesting? I'd love to hear what you're doing! Email [email protected] if you're interested in being a guest-blogger! 

Sunday, November 19, 2017

In Search of Audrey Munson: America’s First Supermodel

In this guest blog, Steve Rosenbach takes us on an unusual exploration of some of New York City's secrets!

In the first decade of the twentieth century, one young, beautiful woman became America's first supermodel.

Every sculptor wanted to sculpt her. Every painter wanted to paint her. She even appeard in some of the earliest Hollywood movies... nude!

Her fame and acclaim lasted for only 15 years, and then it all suddenly collapsed. At age thirty-one, she tried to commit suicide, and at forty, she was committed to a mental institution, where she lived for the next sixty-five years.

In Manhattan, almost 100 years after her career ended, Audrey Munson is everywhere, from the southern tip of the island all the way to Columbia University near 116th Street. New Yorkers and tourists alike pass her by and even eat lunch under her gaze without knowing her amazing story.

I stumbled across this very story about two years ago, learned more, and, being a photographer who loves shooting in New York City, knew I had to photographically explore her legacy. In April, I took a day trip to Manhattan to scout out and photograph all of the outdoor sculptures attributed to Audrey as the model. The rest of this post will give you the flavor of searching for Audrey, and may entice you to try if for yourself or join me on a photo workshop.

If you’re going from south to north, our first stop is the Alexander Hamilton Custom House at Bowling Green, and the foot of lower Broadway in the Financial District. If I’m on the east side, I’ll take a No. 5 train, which stops right at Bowling Green. If I’m near Penn Station, I’ll walk to Herald Square and take an R or a W (weekends only) to Whitehall Street and walk a few short blocks north to the Custom House.

In front of the Custom House, which now houses the National Museum of the American Indian, you’ll find a set of four monumental statue groups, The Continents, by Daniel Chester French. From right to left, they represent Asia, the Americas, Europe, and Africa. The Americas group is the one that is associated with Audrey Munson, although there is some controversy over whether she actually posed for it (later in her life, she wrote that she posed for all four of the main figures in each group.)

While you’re here, you’ll want to visit the Custom House itself. Designed by Cass Gilbert and built between 1902-1907, it’s a masterpiece of the Beaux-Arts style. There is amazing decoration both inside and out, including a magnificent rotunda.

The next “Audrey” is six-tenths of a mile away at 580 feet up in the air, at the Municipal Building. If you’re in the mood for walking, the stroll up lower Broadway and over to the east side of City Hall Park is a delightful way to take in a lot of Lower Manhttan’s iconic sights, such as the “Canyon of Heroes,” Trinity Church, Wall Street, and more. Otherwise, you can hop onto the No. 5 subway at Bowling Green and take it to the Brooklyn Bridge/City Hall stop.

Arriving near the Municipal Building, you’ll see Audrey as the graceful, gilded statue, Civic Pride, at the top of the building. Bring a pair of binoculars (or a telephoto lens) to get a good look at her. She is twenty-five feet tall and made of about 500 pieces of copper over an iron skeleton. Sculpture Adolf Alexander Weinman has her holding a shield with the crest of New York City in her right hand and holding aloft a crown with five crenellations, representing the five boroughs of New York, in her left.

The Municipal Building is a forty-story edifice, designed by architect William Kendall of the famed firm of McKim, Meade, and White, and completed in 1914. It is the tallest Beaux-Art building in the world. Worth seeing are the south arcade, lined with Guastavino ceiling tiles and the central arch on Centre Street, loosely inspired by the Arch of Constantine in Rome.

While you’re there to see Audrey, there is plenty more in the neighborhood (referred to as Civic Center,) including Surrogate’s Court, City Hall, and City Hall Park, all right across the street. A block to the north is Foley Square, which is fronted on the east by the imposing Thurgood Marshall Federal Court Building and New York County Courthouse (for my fellow Law & Order fans!)

Our next stop will be to see Audrey sculpted into one side of the monumental arch of the Manhattan approach to the Manhattan Bridge. Walk up through Chinatown and go to the corner of Canal Street and Chrystie Street, where you can cross over to a walkway that hugs the colonnade. At the end of the colonnade, you’ll see Audrey as the central figure of Carl Augustus Heber’s 1914 work, Sprit of Commerce.

Across the busy bridge approaches, the sculpture on the south side of the arch is Spirit of Industry, also by Heber.

If you’re getting hungry at this point, it would be a good idea to walk back westward on Canal Street and stop for lunch at Big Wong Restaurant at 67 Mott Street. The food is tasty, the menu is ginormous, and the service is fast.

There are another seven outdoor locations to the north with sculptures of Audrey, some having more than one figure that she modeled for, but for now, I’ll just mention one more of them at the southeast corner of Central Park.

Pomona is the centerpiece of the Pultzer Fountain, just opposite the Plaza Hotel. It’s one of my favorite Audreys. When I lived in Manhattan many years ago, like many New Yorkers and visitors, I often passed by admired it without having any idea of the story behind it. In fact, a few weeks before I scouted all of the Manhattan Audreys, I accidentally stumbled upon a photo I took of Pomona about 1978. It was actually a test print, and on the back, I wrote “15 sec f/8,” which was the exposure I gave it in my kitchenette-darkroom all those years ago. The photo was not an especially good one, and I don’t remember making any further enlargements, but for some reason I kept the test print.

Pomona is a work by Karl Bitter, and represents the Roman goddess Pomona, the diety of abundance. Bitter tragically died in an auto accident (this is 1915!) before completing the sculpture. It was finished by his close friend and fellow Austrian immigrant Isidore Konti, who also had a long association with Audrey.

The Pulitzer Fountain is a nice place to sit and relax and watch the city go by. From there, you can go right into Central Park in the area of the Park that includes The Pond, Gapstow Bridge, Wollman Rink, and The Zoo. Or, you can walk west along Central Park South and head over to Columbus Circle.

From my research and scouting of Audrey, I created a photo workshop that visits all ten outdoor locations in Manhattan that feature her. The workshop debuted in August 2017 and got a very positive reaction.

Thanks to Jody for inviting me to be a guest blogger on her great blog!

If you're interested in the Audrey Munson Photographic Workshop, contact Steve Rosenbach at [email protected] 

Steve also has a blog: Cityscape Photo blog at http://cityscape-photo.com

Website: http://cityscape-photo.com/workshops

For other day trip destinations, go to the Blog's Find a Great Place to Day Trip!

Check out the blog's FB page for updates on places we've visited and blogged about:  facebook.com/midatlanticdaytrips! And follow us @midatlanticdaytrips on Instagram to find up what we're up to between blog posts!

Have you daytripped somewhere interesting? I'd love to hear what you're doing! Email [email protected] if you're interested in being a guest-blogger! 

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Three Quaint Towns and Two Fun Fall Festivals

Beginning in mid-October, I started a series of posts about things to do and see in Butler County, PA. This is the third installment of this series. To see others in this series, click on the label "Butler County" below this post.

One of several log cabin homes in Harmony.

What could a PA town possibly have to do with the Brooklyn Bridge? You'd have to go to Saxonburg, in Butler County -- about an hour north of Pittsburgh -- to find out. And while you're there, you should also take some time to explore the nearby village, Harmony, and it's larger neighbor, Zelienople.

One of my favorite activities is to explore little towns scattered along our highways and byways. Often these towns offer up surprises, such as really cool boutiques, fun fall festivals, and historic homes and buildings. In fact, Butler County has more than its fair share of quaint towns, just brimming over with boutiques and antiques and great places to eat!

So what is Saxonburg's mysterious connection with the Brooklyn Bridge? Saxonburg is one of Butler County's small quaint towns, founded in 1832 by brothers F. Carl and John Roebling as a German farming colony. The two men, along with a handful of a larger group who accompanied them on journey from Germany, bought 1,582 acres of land on October 1831 from Sarah Collins.

Batch is a bakery and sandwich shop in Saxonburg.

After John A. Roebling returned to his engineering career, he became known for his innovation of wire rope, and eventually for his design of suspension bridges, including the most famous one, the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City. A local park offers a small-scale replica memorializing the town's founder's genius and engineering skill.

Addison's Attic is a quaint boutique, whose owners make many (most?) of the items in the shop themselves.
The village offers a quiet afternoon of browsing its several boutiques along Main Street, which is lined with several idyllic stores and antique shops, including Addison's Attic, a shop that takes throw-away items -- an old bike, a broken down piece of furniture -- and restores them to a new purpose. An old chest of drawers is now a coffee bar; an old bike is now a table. 

A drum circle on the lawn of Harmony Inn.

After exploring the antiques shop, go for a cup of coffee, a few doors down, at Saxonburg Coffee Co., before heading over for a bit to eat at Batch, a bakery and sandwich shop across the street. After exploring Saxonburg, we headed over to Harmony and Zelienople, to check out the Zelienople-Harmony Fall Festival.

Although both Harmony and Zelienople have annual fall festivals, Harmony's is smaller and more intimate, with drum circles, dachshund races, a flea market, and living history displays. There are a couple of interesting boutiques. The attraction to Harmony is strong. It seems like a really nice place to live -- and the people there were easy to chat with. Briefly I considered moving there. (I still might!)

The Harmonist-Ziegler Barn in Harmony.

Harmony was founded by the pietist Johann Georg Rapp and his Harmony Society in 1804. Rapp came to America from W├╝rttemberg, Germany, a year earlier in search of land for his followers that was free from the religious persecution they faced in Germany.  

In 1804, two groups of Harmonites purchased a tract of land in Butler County, formally establishing the Harmony Society in 1805. The Harmonists lived there about 10 years before selling the land and its barns to Abraham Ziegler, a Mennonite. The name of the community stuck, even though the Harmonists had all moved to Indiana Territory.

Just a few miles away, Zelienople's portion of Fall Festival included a slightly livelier variety of crafts booths, food trucks, 5k runs, carriage rides, live music, and living history displays, making it the larger of the two festivals. 

Zelienople was named for the eldest daughter of German aristocrat Dettmar Basse, Zelie. Basse arrived in 1802 from Frankfurt am Main, Germany, and purchased a tract of 10,000 acres in Butler and Beaver counties. He proceeded to lay out a village and build his own private residence, a three-story castle, complete with towers, turrets and battlements, which was destroyed by fire in 1842. 

In modern times, Zelienople has been compared favorably with the fictional town of Mayberry because of its small-town charm. Zelienople has a bustling business district of restaurants, coffee shops, and retailers offering toys, hardware, jewelry, gifts, flowers, baked goods and much more, so even if there isn't a fall festival going on, Zelienople offers the suburban city-weary tourist a pleasant place to hang out and explore the slower, more relaxed charm of a quaint, country town.

For other day trip destinations in and around Butler County PA, go to the Blog's Find a Great Place to Day Trip or click on the Butler County label below.

If you enjoy this blog, please tell your friends about it!

Check out the blog's FB page for updates on places we've visited and blogged about:  facebook.com/midatlanticdaytrips! And follow us @midatlanticdaytrips on Instagram to find up what we're up to between blog posts!

Have you daytripped somewhere interesting? I'd love to hear what you're doing! Email [email protected] if you're interested in being a guest-blogger! 

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Potomac River Paddling Adventure in Dyke Marsh

Dyke Marsh Preserve, one of the few remaining freshwater tidal wetlands on the Potomac is best explored by kayak or canoe. Located on the west bank of the Potomac River south of Alexandria, Virginia between Old Town Alexandria and Mount Vernon.

Dyke Marsh consists of about 380 acres of tidal marsh, floodplain, and swamp forest. Formed 5,000 to 7,000 years ago, Dyke Marsh is one of the largest remaining pieces of freshwater tidal wetlands left in the Baltimore-Washington Metropolitan Area. Managed by the National Park Service, Dyke Marsh contains a wide array of plant and animal life.

The best/easiest place to launch your kayak to explore Dyke Marsh Preserve is at Belle Haven Marina. There are two boat launches at the marina -- one for motorized boats and such, and the other is next to the kayak rental shack, and that's the easiest on your kayak to launch. From the kayak launch, we turned left and once through all the moored boats, hugged the shore, keeping it on our right as we paddled along.

I kind of felt as if it was some sort of miracle that this marsh still exists. At one point, the marsh was surrounded by a dike (hence its name). Earthen walls were meant to create farmable land where locals could raise crops and graze livestock. At some point, the walls were breached, and the marsh reclaimed itself. And although water grasses thrived in the waters, in areas where the grasses formed floating islands, plastic bottles and other debris (we saw a basket ball and a tennis ball) got caught. From a distance, at one point, we thought the debris were flowers and thought, "how pretty," paddling over only to discover the pollution. I think this is why I'm permanently giving up drinking out of plastic bottles -- water, diet coke, etc.

We followed the shore until it curved around, revealing an inlet, which we followed into the marsh. This brought us closer to some birds we'd noticed as we were paddling toward the marsh. 

And although you hear the bird calls and the wind rustling through the marsh grasses, you can also often hear the noise of nearby George Washington Parkway. But don't focus on that! Focus on the bird calls -- we saw several osprey, herons and egrets galore, a handful of cormorants, probably a hawk, red-wing blackbirds, several unidentifiable smaller brown or mottled birds, Canada geese, mallard ducks, a short white egret-looking bird. Sadly, we didn't see any eagles.

Altogether, the beauty and interest of this paddle was unexpected and delightful. We enjoyed seeing the sailboats and other boats in the main part of the river channel, as well as the sweeping view of National Harbor on the opposite shore, plus Woodrow Wilson bridge.

We noticed what looked like ruins of a wooden ship -- or former wharf? There seemed to be square-hewn beams just below the surface of the water, with metal bolts or poles sticking up. It reminded us of our paddle adventure in Mallows Bay, so we wondered whether it was the remains of an old wooden ship. It was curious. There is no information about what this could be, so it remains a mystery.

Our paddle adventure took us just over 3 hours, to paddle the 3-odd miles, allowing for many stops to contemplate the scenery and take photos.

Know before you go: If you launch from Belle Haven Marina, there is a $5 launch fee. If you don't own a kayak, you can rent one at the marina through November.

Getting there: Take the Belle Haven exit off of the George Washington Parkway.

Hours: Belle Haven Marina is open weekdays, 9 a.m. - 8 p.m.; weekends 9 a.m. - 6 p.m.

Websites: Friends of Dyke Marsh https://fodm.org/; Belle Haven Marina www.saildc.com; National Park Service Dyke Marsh https://www.nps.gov/gwmp/index.htm

Do you love to day trip? Share this blog with your family and friends on FB -- here's the link: www.MidAtlanticDayTripsBlog.com

For other day trip kayaking adventures, go to the Blog's Find a Great Place to Day Trip or click on the "kayaking" label below.

Check out the blog's FB page for updates on places we've visited and blogged about:  facebook.com/midatlanticdaytrips! And follow us @midatlanticdaytrips on Instagram to find up what we're up to between blog posts!

Have you daytripped somewhere interesting? I'd love to hear what you're doing! Email [email protected] if you're interested in being a guest-blogger!