Saturday, November 24, 2012


 I titled this post " S'MORE HERSHEYS! " because I already published an article about my visit to Hershey, Pennsylvania in a previous post.  However, that article did not mention the lovely Hershey Gardens, that is also part of the philanthropic heritage, donated by Mr. and Mrs. Milton Hershey to all visitors of this Pennsylvania town. 
 I wanted to write about the gardens because I read on their website ( ) that they are having special programs there during the month of December, that will encourage family togetherness, in keeping with the spirit of Christmas.  The shiny sculptures of chocolate kisses shown in this photo are a another reminder of a Christmas tradition for many people---a Christmas stocking filled with red and green foil-wrapped Hershey's Kisses!
 Milton Hershey started what was later to become Hershey Gardens, with a simple request:  Create a nice garden of roses.  What started as a three and one-half acre rose garden....
 has blossomed into 23 acres of sculptures, arbors, trails, and numerous types of botanical beauty.
 Hershey Gardens also has fountains, ponds, and other features that make photography there a delightful experience.  Not surprisingly, the location is also popular for weddings and other special events.
 The colors you will see when you visit depend on when, on the growing calendar, that you are there.  It was October during my visit, and these rows of purple plants were very eye-catching!
 As you would expect for an October garden experience, bright and colorful mums were plentiful throughout the landscape.
 In addition to blooming plants, Hershey Gardens is famous for having a stately collection of rare, signature trees----like the evergreen shown in this photograph. 
 The gardens are situated on a hillside overlooking the town of Hershey, Pennsylvania.  The two tall pillars you can see in the center horizon of this photograph mark the location of the Hershey's Chocolate Plant, located in the valley below.
 Most of the walkways at Hershey Gardens are paved, making them wheel-chair accessible.  In addition, electric golf carts can be arranged for groups that have impaired mobility.
 Unlike some gardens that decorate extensively with holiday lights during the winter, Hershey Gardens strives for a more natural look.  Their website encourages their winter visitors to concentrate more on the beauty of the evergreen trees during their colder-day visits.  By so doing, they will be able to see more birds and squirrels going about their tasks of seed, nut, and berry "harvesting".
 This gazebo near where the Culinary Herbs are grown can also be a gathering place, for teaching future chefs the value of using fresh herbs in their food preparation techniques.
 This row of all types of coniferous trees will be "ever green", regardless of the month of your visit!
 I was fortunate to be at Hershey Gardens during a time when I could go inside their Butterfly House, and see some of the 300+ butterflies who live there.
 These butterflies clinging to tree branches are reminiscent of the Pismo Beach (California) Monarch Groves, where thousands of butterflies visit regularly during their annual migration.
 This photograph taken inside the Hershey Gardens Butterfly House, gives new meaning to the modern phrase "cocooning".  Each of the colored spots hanging on the shelves represent different types of butterfly larvae.  Visitors can see the various stages of a butterfly's life, right before their eyes!   Likewise, the school that Milton Hershey founded for underprivileged boys and girls, enables troubled youth to develop into adults who are contributors to the well-being of our nation.  The website for the school is or phone 1-800-322-3248 for more information on applying for the school .   Proceeds (after expenses) from the manufacture and sale of Hershey's products go toward the M.S. Hershey Foundation, a 501 (c) (3) not-for-profit organization.  It is this foundation that operates the gardens.  You can find out more by visiting their website at  .
 The Children's Garden will be a popular place on the weekends of December 7 - 8, and December 14 - 15.  Those are the dates for the special holiday promotion called "Santa's Secret Garden".
 Even when Santa is not making a house call at Hershey Gardens, the Children's Garden is a fun place to visit.  I can imagine this fire pit, with the log benches surrounding it, is a popular spot for making the ever-popular campfire treat called "S'Mores", with its famous signature ingredient of a Hershey's Chocolate Bar.
Marigold blossoms are often used as borders for home gardeners, with the goal of keeping away hungry rabbits, from their still-growing vegetables.  Apparently, they are also used by professional gardeners, as they were present throughout the Hershey landscape!
 The lush beauty of Hershey Gardens is a good visual image for the verse in Isaiah 58:11 that says  "The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame.  You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail."  And so it is for a stroll through Hershey Gardens---a walk that will not only strengthen your frame, but also give you miles of smiles!"  Tricia
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Friday, November 23, 2012


 There is a big "battle"  scheduled for the first weekend in December, that represents one of the major events, for the Arkansas Civil War Sesquicentennial.  This photograph shows the location of the battle, which is on the grounds of the Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park, in Prairie Grove, Arkansas.  Prairie Grove is located in the northwest corner of Arkansas, and can be the beginning of a Civil War Heritage Tour that could include other near-by sites, such as the Headquarters House Museum-Fayetteville, the Fayetteville Confederate Cemetery, Fayetteville National Cemetery, Cane Hill Cemetery,  Cane Hill Battlefield, and Pea Ridge Battlefield.
 Many students in Arkansas are learning about the Civil War, that ravaged our country between the years of 1861 - 1865.  Besides classroom activities, students can visit the actual battlefield locations in Arkansas, as outlined in the  "Passport" (shown in photo) provided by the Arkansas Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission  ( )
 At each location listed in the Passport, one can use the rubber stamp available  there, to get their Passport "stamped" as proof of their visit.  Those who are able to get all the locations stamped during the four year time period between 2011 - 2015, and mail it in to the commission, will be awarded a special prize for their efforts.
 At the December 1-2 re-enactment scheduled in Prairie Grove, the re-enactors will have on either blue uniforms (representing the Union army) or gray uniforms (representing the Confederate army).  My grandkids are shown here with a handsome young man, who is a re-enactor for the Union Army.
The place to start your visit to the Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park is in the Hindman Hall Museum and Visitor's Center.  (Confederate General Thomas Hindman's army  fought Union columns under James G. Blunt and Francis Herron.) This photo of my grandkids was taken on our last visit to this northwest Arkansas location, where you can see Civil War canons, and enjoy the interactive exhibits in the museum.  There is also a small gift shop in the complex, which is where my grandson purchased his souvenir, gray Confederate hat, that he is wearing.
 Tours are also available of the historic Borden House, shown in this photo.  On the weekend of December 1-2, there will be living history demonstrations, including battle demonstrations at 1 PM each day.  Volunteers will set up Union, Confederate, and civilian camps, as well as military drills, cooking demonstrations, spinning, and lace-making demonstrations.
 In addition to a one-mile walking trail around the park, there is a six-mile driving route the visitor can take.  The December 1-2, 2012, events will have as many as 1,000 re-enactors.  In the actual battle that occurred on December 7, 1862, there were 22,000 soldiers, and 2,700 casualties.  Even though the Civil War was a very sad time in our nation's history, we are obligated to know our history, so that we will not repeat the same mistakes.  Hopefully, by studying our heritage, and seeing where mistakes were made, we will be better able to do as we are admonished in 1 Peter 3:8 to do: "Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble."  If you would like to learn more about the Prairie Grove Battle Re-enactment, just log on to and plan a trip that will give you a greater appreciation for the fact that our country has survived as THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, in the 150 years since the Civil War.  That is enough to give you miles of smiles!  Tricia
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Monday, November 19, 2012


 Since the Friday after Thanksgiving ( aka "Black Friday") is often the biggest shopping day of the year for many retail stores, you can assume that the most famous shopping area in Chicago, The Magnificent Mile, will be booming on that day!
 You probably won't need a banner on a street light telling you that you have reached The Magnificent Mile, but it is reassuring for first-time visitors to learn that they have reached the appropriate section of the glass, steel, and concrete canyon, that carries that name.
 It seems that a business located on The Magnificent Mile carries extra clout, and you can earn an "honorary" Magnificent Mile address similar to the way a famous person earns an "honorary" degree from a university!
 The AAA guidebook says that even if you hate shopping, and only set foot in a store when absolutely necessary, you owe it to yourself to stroll along the famous section of Michigan Avenue.  There are numerous blue-shirted city information specialists who like nothing better than to answer your questions about downtown Chicago.
 The Old Chicago Water Tower and Pumping Station are best known for being among the lucky few structures to survive the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.  The castle-like structure, with its 154 foot tower, is a great symbol of Chicago.  There is a small park next to the old tower where you can take a break, people watch, and catch a carriage ride around the downtown area. 
 The stunning architecture of famous buildings like the Wrigley Building and Tribune Tower, both located on Michigan Avenue at the bridge over the Chicago River, can be the landmark you use for the start of your "urban hike".
 You will come across the classy store of Tiffany and Company (bring your own breakfast, however, as biscuits and gravy are not a part of their merchandise!)
 Opened in 1983, Neiman-Marcus is described as one of the "jewels" of The Magnificent Mile.
 There are various museums in the area, and I have found that the gift shops of museums often have beautiful, hand-crafted items not found in the large department stores.
 Since I am a popcorn lover, I was probably more excited about finding the store location of Chicago's famous "Garrett" Popcorn Store, than I was a Saks Fifth Avenue!
 Crate and Barret has their flagship store along the Magnificent Mile, and it is a multilevel shopping complex with everything one needs for furnishing the places where you live and work.  Also, since they specialize in all things related to cooking, there are frequent culinary demonstrations going on in their store.
 A store that fascinated me was the All Saints Spitafield's Department Store.  Since I have my grandmother's old treadle sewing machine in my living room at home, I was blown away by their display of hundreds of antique sewing machines lining their entry wall!  I found out that the company was only started in the 1990's, and is a British fashion retailer that also has stores in certain large U.S. cities, such as Chicago.
 I have had the opportunity to tour the Hershey's complex in Hershey, Pennsylvania, so I was eager to see what their Chicago store would be like.
 Just like the factory tour that kids can take in Hershey, Pennsylvania, kids can also "manufacture" a bucket of chocolates in the Chicago store.
 One way the Bloomingdale's Home Store gets you to visit their store, even though it is a few blocks off of the Magnificent Mile, is to see the way that the historic building that used to be a Shriner's Temple, has been converted into retail space.
 It also helps that you will pass two Chicago landmark restaurants, Pizzeria Uno, as well as Pizzeria Due.
 I like visiting grocery stores in big cities, so I was glad to see there was a Trader Joe's near the Bloomingdale's Home Store.  One of the culinary demonstrations I attended in Chicago had used an ingredient I was unfamiliar with---creme fraiche---so I wanted to see what it looked like on the grocery shelf.
 The malls in downtown Chicago go vertical instead of horizontal, and I was intrigued by the artsy way the decorators have filled these spaces with unusual art pieces, such as this one at The Shops at Northbridge.
 There is a candy store in the North Bridge complex that has made decorating with candy into a true art form!
 Seeing these candy-coated shoes, brought to my mind the Romans 10:15 verse that says "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news."  If your feet are eager to stroll the streets of Chicago during this holiday season, just log on to to start planning your expedition.  Whether you are buying, or just "window-shopping", this area will give you MILES OF MAGNIFICENT SMILES!  Tricia
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