As I stay up late with my husband who is working on a kitchen cabinet, I’m finding more stuff about Shakertown that I had previously written. This is regarding a trip we took around Christmas time 2009.
Yesterday my husband and I went on a fact-finding mission to ascertain whether Shakertown would be a good location for a retreat – a silent yoga/meditation retreat with room enough to accommodate 150 people. There is no question that Shakertown or Pleasant Hill, Kentucky is one of the most spiritual, serene, and peaceful of places for such a retreat. However, the question was whether or not certain aspects of the facility would be suitable for the programs of this particular retreat.
We awoke to a thin layer of snow and twenty degree weather and got a later start than intended. That was a good thing after seeing three or four wrecks along the interstate on the way down. We ate a very light breakfast at home, thought about stopping in Lexington for lunch, but opted going straight to Shakertown to take care of business first. Lunch there was fully booked. We talked to some of the staff and walked around the premises for a couple of hours, as well as drove to some of the outer buildings.
Spiral Staircase in Trustee’s Building
Everything seemed to work in a synchronistic order. We were given a key to one of the rooms above the dining area in the Trustee’s Building. This particular room didn’t have trundle beds, which a lot of the rooms do. We were told the meeting rooms were in use. Still we ventured on foot to the main meeting room where we found people we knew, or people I knew. The meeting going on was that of Friendship Spinners. We were invited in and offered food. I talked to people I had previously done arts/crafts shows with and introduced them to Chris. This was a pleasant surprise. They urged me up to the second floor, which maybe I should have said no to. There were plenty of yarns and handmade items for sale. I bought a shawl type wrap, hand woven. The lady said something about the amount of work that went into it, to which I replied that I was a weaver. She said then you know, to which I said yes. This morning I awoke with the idea of knitting something similar or perhaps even weaving my own version.
Side View of Centre Family Dwelling
There is plenty of walking and fresh air to take in at Shakertown. We walked to Meadowview Barn, another alternative meeting area. This was an old tobacco barn renovated for this purpose. Still it is rustic to say the least. I was told over the phone that the floor was dirt. I personally kind of liked this idea; however, we found in actuality that the floor had a small gravel covering. The barn had electricity but we didn’t see lights. Also, where were restroom facilities? We walked at least a fourth of a mile from the main village of Shakertown to this barn. Not having restrooms there was a definite con.
There was still another meeting room to check out. As with the first, this was also too small and too far away from the main village. Walking to it would be out of the question for most. My guess is that it was a full mile away from the village proper.
Our last check was the summer kitchen, which was locked up. It was also too small and perhaps too dark. It would probably only seat fifty at one time.
Ducks by the Pond
There was one last stop to make – the craft shop. I had been thinking of a particular craftsman a few days before making this trip. I don’t know if it was the thought of Shakertown that brought him to mind or intuition, or both. When we entered the shop, Mr. Kramer was present giving a demonstration on making Shaker boxes. Many years ago probably the same time of year I was also there with my loom along with him and one other craftsperson doing a demonstration. Perhaps this was some memory triggered inside of me, which caused me to think of him prior to going. It also turned out that he had gone to Scotland on a group trip with someone from my hometown and wanted me to say hi. I will be sure to do that.
After two hours walking the premises we left for Lexington. By this time we were starving. The traffic and parking situation was horrific. Chris had Mexican in mind, which I actually did too, only we were thinking different restaurants. We drove up to one he was thinking about. This particular restaurant was about the only place there was parking. My intuition, which Chris always trusts, said no, so we moved on to the mall. We ate at the one I was thinking of that we had never tried before. At first it looked like vegetarian was going to be hard, but the waitress started naming off all these things. I had told Chris I wanted the very thin tortilla chips. That’s what they had. The food was excellent. I had spinach and avocado enchiladas with cheesy mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli, different for a Mexican restaurant. I could have eaten a whole plate of the broccoli for lunch. The mashed potatoes inspired me. Therefore I’m going to try them today with asparagus and roasted tofu and vegan mushroom gravy.
The next stop was the Comfort Zone. On a previous trip I had one of those twelve-minute acupressure massages, and it greatly relieved the sciatica I have. I talked Chris into going for it too. It greatly helped both of us. While waiting in line I overheard one girl say this was the best twelve dollars she had every spent. I would have to say it certainly is at the top of the list.
We can’t make a trip to Lexington without going to Whole Foods. After that it was a stop at Starbucks and onwards towards home. At Starbucks they had an espresso machine greatly reduced. This is something Chris has wanted for at least a year. I brought his attention to it. The lady working there said at a nearby Starbucks there was a much better one also on sale. While the manager was telling Chris about it I was telepathically thinking throw in a free bag of coffee. Chris ended up buying it and the guy said I’ll give you a free bag of coffee. As we drove away, Chris said he was also thinking the same thing while he was talking.
It ended up a nice venture out, a little expensive, but then we don’t exchange gifts at Christmas. So, this with my hand woven item, Chris’s espresso machine, and our trip to Whole Foods we had our gifts.
Last night we found ourselves on Harrodsburg Road going to Asian Wind, one of our favorite restaurants in Lexington. As we were driving I said that we might as well go on to Shakertown. We haven’t been in a couple of years. We didn’t, but perhaps this summer we can make time. It would be a good hiking place.
Shakertown, also known as Pleasant Hill, KY, is located near Harrodsburg, KY. This is one of the original Shaker villages, which still stands. Although, there are no longer any Shakers the life style is preserved through interpreters in costume in the original buildings, 28 of which still stand, on the original site.
It was founded in 1806 and closed in 1910.
The village offers lodging in these same buildings and meals consisting of the fare that was once served in their dining halls. I have to comment that this is some of the best food that I have ever eaten. The tour of the village is self-guided. You will see craftsmen and craftswomen performing the same tasks that the Shakers once performed there. Some of these include broom making, weaving, spinning, sheep herding, oval box making, and hearth baking to name a few.
There are special events throughout the year as well as paddleboat excursions down the Kentucky River.
The United Society of Believers in the First and Second Appearance of Christ, or the Shakers, the name given to them by the outside world because of the dancing they did during their meetings, were a celibate religious sect, who followed the teachings of Mother Ann. Mother Ann, after having been in prison for disrupting a Sabbath, left England, bringing with her eight followers to the United States. She believed that carnal relations were the cause of most of the world’s troubles. Although she couldn’t even read or write, she started one of the largest and best know communal societies in this country. There were nineteen communities from Maine to Kentucky.
Shakertown has always been one of my favorite places to visit.
The Trustees’ Office, built from 1839-1841, was where business with the world was conducted. The deacons and trustees of the village welcomed travelers and visiting Shakers here. The building is now used for dining and overnight lodging.
One of the twin spiral staircases in the Trustees’ Office. This along with their building construction attests to superb Shaker craftsmanship.
The forty-room Center Family Dwelling, the largest of all the structures, stands in the center of Shaker Village. Families in the religious community were divided into groups. The center family was the main family. The building now serves as a museum housing original Shaker furniture and implements they used in their daily lives.
The West Family Dwelling housed what was considered to be the west family. You will note two doors. There was a division between the males and females; and, they always entered the dwelling places separately. There were also separate stairways within. There were other communities, such as East and North, within the larger community as well. The children were kept in another dwelling where school was conducted. Workshops stood behind each family dwelling.
Pictured below are some of the gentle rolling hills and horses pull carts during the village hours showing visitors the grounds.
Excavation still continues to unearth where structures once were.
Saturday was clean up day for our county. So, we took advantage by doing some clean up around here. A friend brought over a trailer, and my husband and he worked together on both our place and his. There were people at the unloading spot to take advantage of other people’s discarded stuff. I’m not sure ours would be of use to anyone, but hopefully so.
I fixed a pretty healthy late lunch for us, a salad and lentil soup. I throw everything into soups and salads. They are vegan and mostly organic, so overall healthy. Since lunch was late we weren’t so hungry for another meal but wanted something else. Did you ever notice how husbands and wives after being together for a while have the same thoughts? Sadly, we were both thinking MacDonald’s fries. It’s been years since we’ve eaten anything at MacDonald’s. My husband had his Ipad handy, so I said look up the ingredients for their fries. The list cried out total GMO to us.* We came back to our senses. I thought I have potatoes, organic ones. So, I got off my lazy butt and went into the kitchen. The fries I made turned out great. I sprinkled olive oil, sea salt, freshly ground mixed peppercorns, chili powder, and nutritional yeast on them and baked.
On Sunday we went beyond the natural wonders in our own back woods and explored The Arboretum in Lexington, Kentucky. http://www.ca.uky.edu/arboretum/index.php We have done two weekend Lexington trips in a row now. I think we’ve pretty much used up our tax return on Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. On both trips I’m happy to say we took the opportunity to explore walking paths in Lexington. On the first trip we took the 2.5 mile hike at Shillito Park. It was a nice walking trail, but I much preferred the beauty of the arboretum trail. The Arboretum trail with it’s sights along the way made the walk seem like it went by so fast.
Visiting other trails are often an inspiration for us for ways we can improve our own trail and property. We have piles of saved up old lumber, barn wood, etc, that hopefully we will have a use for.
*McDonalds FRIES are cooked in genetically engineered oil. Prepared in vegetable oil (Canola oil (85% gmo), corn oil (85% gmo), soybean oil (90% gmo), hydrogenated soybean oil. From: Millions Against Monsanto by OrganicConsumers.org
Over the weekend we decided to bite the bullet and get some Christmas shopping done. We wanted to support artists and shop as local as possible. We ventured to Berea, KY, not really planned. We sat in a coffee shop, Third Street Stuff, in Lexington, KY and decided on a whim to drive 30 more minutes and go to Berea. We found an ornament for our grandson at Third Street Stuff.
First stop was the Kentucky Artisan Center. I used to do shows with so many of these people. We were so thrilled to run into Joe Offerman, who was demonstrating wood carving. Also, we saw that my weaving was on display. A friend who works at the center suggested we take a picture. She is a potter and she remembered that our booths were next to each other at my first Kentucky Guild Show. That would have been in 1990, twenty-two years ago. Wow! Time flies. Joe also brought up the show where we first met.
And, of course, of all things, there was a fiber exhibition at the Artisan Center. It was a day of synchronicity.
We easily found Christmas presents for our family. We almost came home but decided to head into the town of Berea. I’m glad we did. I used to spend so much time there. We visited a few of the shops, talking to some people we knew and meeting a few new people.
It was a good day out. That sounds so Wallace and Gromit. Now, today, we have to get those packages mailed.
Below is one of Joe Offerman’s hand-carved Santa’s that we have as our own. This weekend we hope to do our little bit of decorating.
Before going vegetarian, hot brown, made famous in Kentucky, by the The Brown Hotel in Louisville, was always an okay dish with me, but not to be listed among my favorites. I had never thought that hot brown could possibly be vegetarian considering its main ingredients were ham, turkey, and bacon, but the vegetarian version is definitely one of my favorites.
A friend told me about a restaurant in Lexington, Kentucky, called Stella’s, and how the vegetarian hot brown was her favorite dish there. So, I tried it. It was great. Therefore, as I usually do, I did my best to come up with my own version at home, down to making my own sprouts. The hot brown pictured above is my own version. It is always a little different depending on the veggies on hand. The tomatoes in the picture came out of our garden.
Various vegetables, chopped finely – Some good ones are squash, zucchini, broccoli, onions (the tops of green ones look pretty), red bell peppers, tomatoes. I will stop here as these are my favorites, but use what you like.
Sprouts – optional, but they do had a health aspect to the dish, and personally I love sprouts on a variety of things.
Bread Slices – a good bread makes the difference
Mornay Sauce (recipe below)
You will find it on this site: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/emeril-live/mornay-sauce-recipe/index.html
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 2 cups milk
- Freshly ground white pepper
- Pinch of nutmeg
- 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, melt the butter. Stir in the flour and cook for 2 minutes. Whisk in the milk, 1/2 cup at a time. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Cook, stirring constantly for 4 to 6 minutes. Remove from the and whisk in the cheese. Serve hot
Note: For my mornay sauce I use gruyere cheese, and I sometimes add more than called for. My husband loves cheese. Also, I grind mixed peppercorns, as I’ve never purchased just white.
Saute chopped up veggies, except tomato, in high heat oil until tender. I use safflower. Use just enough oil to get the job done. You could use a little water if you are trying to avoid oils.
While veggies are sauteing, make mornay sauce. It doesn’t take long. Next step, toast bread slices. You could use either one or two per person.
Place toast on plates. Spread veggies over toast. Pour mornay sauce on top of that. Top with chopped tomatoes and sprouts. Salt to taste (sea salt).
This is the dish from Stella’s that inspired it.