Micanopy Fall Harvest Festival

 

This was my first visit to Micanopy, Florida and my first craft festival of the year. I know the word quaint is overused but that is the word I would pick to describe this little town filled with antique shops, casual dining places, bed and breakfasts and restored Victorian houses. The people were friendly and our group of 9 girlfriends just had ourselves a great girl’s day out. It was less than an hour’s drive up I 75 from Ocala, heading north – perfect for a day trip.

The main street, Cholokka Boulevard, was PACKED with over 200 artists, crafters and food vendors. It was so thick with visitors though that it was difficult to see the wares. But we had a good time people watching and soaking up the excitement. Under a big tree near town center an impromptu stage was set up where musicians, dancers, and singers performed during the day that lent an air of gaiety as we strolled along.

This year’s festival went green by asking the food vendors to choose biodegradable products – which made me a fan right away. All the proceeds from the event went to non-profit church, youth and historical organizations to help out with their operating costs.

I am looking forward to returning to Micanopy again to enjoy the town and shops.

The Frick, Pittsburgh, PA

Right in the middle of the hustling streets of Pittsburgh, hidden behind a tree lined fence is The Frick. The complex houses an art museum, a car and carriage museum, a playhouse* a greenhouse and the Clayton – the Frick family home.

To give a little background, Henry Clay Frick was a noted industrialist and art collector. While on his honeymoon with new wife Adelaide, he met Andrew Carnegie and from that meeting they formed a partnership between H. C. Frick and Company and Carnegie Steel Company – the forerunner of United States Steel.

He had a daughter, Helen Clay Frick, who left as legacy, the museum and extensive art.

The day we visited The Frick we entered the grounds though an enormous rod iron gate that was surrounded by a red brick, rose-covered wall that encased the complex. The first building was the Car and Carriage Museum which housed the horse-drawn and horseless carriages the Frick family used during the gilded age.

To the left of that was the Frick Art Museum which I am sorry to say we never got to as we took so long seeing the rest of the compound. I hear the paintings, artifacts, and sculptures range from the 12th to 18th centuries. Something to go back to see!

Mary and Alice – Ready for lunch!

We had a luncheon reservation at The Café at the Frick outside under the awning facing the gardens. It was a wonderfully refined and girlie thing to do and we had such a good time. Teas and a Sunday brunch can also be enjoyed there.

Lunch-carrot and peach soup, crab melt on brioche and lemon tart

One of the fun things we looked at was this darling playhouse*. It was really a full sized cottage that I would love to live in!! It was the playhouse for little Helen. Now it is a gift and museum shop.

Alice, Mary and Janice in front of playhouse

Adjacent to it is a working greenhouse where flowers and vegetables (served at the Café) are grown. Outside there is also a very interesting garden with some unusual plants.

Janice – are giving a tour of the greenhouse?

Lastly, is the Frick family’s late 19th century home called the Clayton where 90% of the furnishings are original. It is beyond what I would call a family home. It is a MANSION. It was closed the day we were there but they do have regular tours. We peeked through the windows and were WOWED!!

Family home

In all we spent an entire morning to early afternoon but we also had afternoon plans in a different part of town and had to leave. Could have made a day of it.

The Frick

7227 Reynolds Street

Pittsburgh, PA 15208

TheFrickPittsburgh.org

Montreal

 From Hyde Park, Vermont to the Canadian border is about 50 miles and on to Montreal it is just over 100 or a quick 2+ hour jaunt. While I was up at Thistlemoon Meadows, we took a day trip up to Montreal. What a treat that was. Who could figure that I could be in a different country in such a short time and it really felt like a different country too. What a difference from the bucolic farms of northern Vermont to the big city of Montreal.

Montreal, the second largest city in Canada next to Quebec, is almost like two cities in one. There is the modern city vibrant with commerce, technology, industry, culture, sports like ice hockey and two airports- one for passengers and one for cargo.

Then there is Old Montreal where we spent our day. Historic architecture, cathedrals like Notre-Dame de Montreal Basilica (which was closed for a wedding but imposing from the outside nonetheless), cobbled streets and a picturesque riverside known as the Old Port. One of the places that was on my must see list was the wonderful  Auberge Hotel, where Jenn and Roberto had previously spent a romantic holiday – complete with a horse drawn carriage ride. But that is another story.

Anyway, I had to take a few pictures of this spot to share with you. From the looks of it that would be an excellent place for a charming getaway.

We had the best time strolling, sightseeing, shopping and eating our way across the city. We walked and we walked and we walked just enjoying the ambiance of the streets. Good thing; we ate hearty too.

We started with lunch at Jardin Nelson with awesome crepes. It was such a sunny day that we opted for eating outdoors in a garden setting that had an enormous inverted umbrella-like canopy overhead. There was even a string trio playing music while we dined. Tres chic!! We had tasty fruit filled concoctions that just hit the spot. Light but satisfying. I think Roberto would have been happy with a big meaty burger for his man-sized appetite, but he was a good sport.

We left there and continued our explorations down to the waterfront where Cirque du Soleil had set up and we could hear the music from their huge tents as we passed by to watch the “guards” march by and to see the touring boats in the water. Quite a lively place.

As the afternoon progressed I finally got the food that I had been so anxious to try – Poutine. Now I had heard about it from Jenn and Roberto but I needed to see it and experience it for myself. Mine was this HUGE plate of fries, covered in sauteed mushrooms and onions and then covered with the best melted cheese. That and a cold brew was just the best ever and I was a happy camper.

By then is was time for our drive back to Vermont. Tired, but certainly filled – both tummy and sensory- we made our way back to the car. Oh right, we did pass by and have an obligatory ice cream for the trip. Maple. Such creamy goodness. From the looks of Jenn’s cone, she made short work of hers! 

I am so happy we took the time to visit Montreal.

Look What I Won!

I want to give a big thanks to Heather from Heather on Her Travels for making me a lucky winner of her LUXE  city guide giveaway.  She has had some awesome posts of her jaunts to London and had a giveaway where you had to comment on a special trip you would like to take. For fun, and because Heather is also a member of our travel blogroll, I entered.  To my delight and surprise I WON! I got to pick the LUXE city guide of my choice.  And, naturally, due to Heather’s tantalizing posts, I picked London.  So I wanted to give a special thank you to Heather and to Natacha at LUXE for such a wonderful prize.

Flag of Great Britain (1707-1800) by Vibracobra23

Photo by Vibracobra23

My cousin, Carol, and her family just came back from a three week trip to Skopelos, Greece and London and I will be sharing some of their adventures with you soon.  She fell madly in love with London too so I think I picked the right guide!!

Montpelier, Vermont

 

Montpelier- the smallest state capitol in the US. With only 8,000 residents it still packs a punch. I can’t compare it to say Burlington. While Burlington is a lively college town, Montpelier is more sedate with a flavor all of its own.

I enjoyed strolling up and down the streets looking at the shops, restaurants, hotels and conference center, cultural venues and government buildings. Very stately, clean, and with an aura of prosperity. Talking to the townies, I got the impression that this is a nice family place to live. Big city look with a small town feel. I am not a fan of big cities, and even though this is an important place, I felt totally comfortable and at ease during our daytrip there.

The folks and shopkeepers were the typically friendly Vermonters -helpful, and courteous.

While our stay there was brief, I would totally visit there again. The only negative according to Jenn and Roberto was that there was not an ice cream shop to be found. We did highlight every trip during my Vermont visit with a stop for some icy treat. So this caused a lapse in our “tradition”. ;-)

High Tea at the Governor’s House

When I was a little girl, my friends and I would often play out make believe scenarios, some of them trying out what in our minds fancy ladies did – like having tea. What we’d always heard was that these ladies would dress up and sit at little tables laden with tea pots and fancy little sandwiches. It seemed quite glamorous. And, if I am to admit it, when I get the chance even now and want to feel really pampered and special, I still enjoy going to or having a tea.

My trip to Hyde Park took an interesting turn when we found just minutes from Jenn and Roberto’s home a former Governor’s Mansion turned Bed and Breakfast where we enjoyed a full English afternoon tea. It was just perfect. The table was set in the library and we were the only guests in the mansion at the time. What a stroke of luck that was for us. We got the royal treatment, too.

The hostess, who owns and runs the whole household herself, served us her own special blend of teas in fine china cups on a white linen topped table. It was quite refined and we found ourselves acting just a little more polite, complete with Roberto’s little pinkie held out when he lifted his tiny cup to sip. It was a riot!

Along with the tea, we were given assorted fancy sandwiches, scones with cream and strawberry jam, pound cake and sweets that she baked that day special for us after we called in our reservation. There was more than we could eat. Imagine taking a doggie bag home from a tea. Okay, that part wasn’t too fancy, but we couldn’t resist and we had a great breakfast next day.

I asked for permission to look into the other downstairs rooms, and we were graciously rewarded with a tour of the entire mansion. It was such a wonderful afternoon. I would enthusiastically recommend this venue for high tea or a romantic getaway weekend in the event you find yourself in this part of Vermont.

Check the website for special events and room packages.

The Governor’s House in Hyde Park

100 Main Street

Hyde Park, Vermont

866-600-6888

Waterbury, Vermont Tours

What a fun day it was taking a day tour of Waterbury, Vermont. Hot hot hot, but we still managed to have a great time. Driving south on Rte 100 we were able to spend time at 4 local points of interest that Vermont is known for. Best of all, every one of them involved tastings. We tried to arrange them in meal order thereby rationalizing that this was just a progressive lunch of sorts.

Our first stop was at the Cabot Annex Store- famous for its cheese. Here we are grazing at the tasting table. I tried a bite of EVERY one. Yummmmy. Naturally, we needed to buy some for the road.

There were lots of other Vermont specialty foods on hand and Roberto was able to pick up his new supply of fancy Maple Syrup. (I am going to have to make it back some March to see a tree tapping.) One day we determined that we will travel to Cabot, Vermont to see the place where the cheese is made and take the tour.

Next on our tour was Chocolate. This was a Willy Wonka of a place!! If you didn’t find your favorite chocolates, fudges, fruity bits, sauces, and assorted candy confections here, you won’t find them anywhere. So, we sampled a dark chocolate-caramel bite and then walked it off (I wish) at the attached Danbury Pewter shop. Some really gorgeous stuff here from Christmas tree ornaments to dinnerware.

We hoped back in their air-conditioned truck and headed for Ben and Jerry’s. This place was crazy busy. It was full or whimsy and oh so commercial. But we got to eat ice cream which helped to cool us a bit. We looked around the extensive grounds and stood in line to get our ice cream while we waited for the tour. It consisted of a 7 minute movie, a tour of the facility and ended with – what else – a free sample in the tasting room.

While I enjoyed the experience and can now say I have been there, I am not sure that I would need to do it again. Alas!! Poor Jenn and Roberto!! I am sure this is on the to do list for all their many visitors. Ha ha.

Our final Waterbury stop was at the Apple Cider Mill to get some cold cider. It was like a little general store with all manner of country trinkets for sale along with many edibles like pies, cookies and jars of all things apple. Jenn found a neat little cookbook and some kitchen things to add to her ever growing kitchen tool supply. And they also found some great sauces that were too good to pass on.

Finally, we enjoyed a short scenic ride as we headed back home for the day.

The days are flying by and I am building a lot of wonderful memories with Jenn and Roberto.

Stowe, Vermont – Part 2

 

Even though my trip to Vermont was not long, one trip to Stowe just wasn’t enough. Much as I enjoyed rambling through the downtown, Stowe is renown for its skiing and resorts. On the return visit to Stowe we took a wonderful drive UP and UP to see some of the resorts and the scenes of the mountainous terrain. One word for both- WOW. I was actually a little scared winding our way up to Smugglers Notch – and there wasn’t even snow! But Jenn and Roberto forged ahead in their 4-wheel drive truck with nary a care. It was awesome. Steep, raw, windy, amazing, beautiful. And as hot as it was in Vermont during my stay, it was COOL up there too. Ahhhhh.

We even saw a brave couple climbing straight up the side of the mountain. I don’t know how they could not fall off. There were too far up to actually photograph, but trust me, they were doing it.

Here is one of the many ski lift places.

The resorts were one better than the next.

Ever see The Sound of Music? This is the Trapp Family resort in the background.

Here we see condos, privately owned. They have their own lift that crosses the road and up to the slopes. That is how the other half lives…………..

After all that “mountain climbing” that we did, albeit in a truck, we worked up an appetite and needed a good cold one to go with it. We ate at Mr. Pickwick’s down the hill.

It was a wonderful English Pub with tons of atmosphere and good food. I wish I could say I was more adventurous, but for some reason, you say “pub” and I say “fish and chips”. Yum – my!! Light, crisp batter and tender flaky fish. I only had one pint, but Jenn and Roberto said I was fair to singing. But that is just between us, okay?

I think I could visit Stowe again and again. Lively, pretty, and fun.

Stowe, Vermont part 1

Fourth of July this year was celebrated in Stowe, Vermont. We had a fun day tramping up and down the streets of shops while slurping up what seems to be our ever ready ice cream cones. The little village was colorfully decorated with flags and buntings announcing this special day of independence.

Later we headed up to the event field for the evening festivities. Lots of vendors were there to sell there wares and we enjoyed a picnic of ice cold lemonade with pulled pork and coleslaw sandwiches. Our day ended with us snuggled on our blanket watching the fireworks.

Hope you had a Happy 4th of July!!

A Creamie in Morristown, Vermont

 What’s a CREAMIE?? One of our first outings was to visit the local garden shop in Morristown to pick up some supplies for the new chicks and assorted soils for the garden.

Morristown was a quick 8 minute ride from Hyde Park. It’s one of those cute little, tiny towns that dot the landscape in this northern area of Vermont. Very cute and quaint with little shops like the Bees Knees Restaurant and the Bijou movie theater.

Here is a little history of the town. On November 6, 1770, the General Assembly of the Independent Republic of Vermont granted a petition to establish a land grant that would become Morristown in 1781 and by 1791 they had a population of 10 that moved from New York, Massachusetts, and 2 Native Americans. By 1795,  there were enough settlers to open a tavern that housed the first school and a brick church.  The town has grown some since then and at the 2000 census boasted a population of over 5,ooo.

We enjoyed a sweet treat as a reward for our “hard work” at the local ice cream shop where we had one of their famous concoctions called a creamie. For those uninitiated like myself, it is a hand mixed CREAMY soft confection in a cone. I had maple – what else in Vermont. Jenn enjoyed her espresso and Roberto his favorite – coconut. I like the way they do errands around here!

 
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