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Join me in “The Hub”

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  • July 20, 2019
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Journalist Support Hub Membership

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Family Products and Services Lifestyle Product Reviews

FamClub

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  • June 26, 2019
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FamClub Premium Monthly Rewards Box

Engaging Families

Subscription Service Rewards Family

Jason Bailey recognized the need for families to grow together.

But how do you arrive at that point with all the distractions parents and children face today?

Jobs, school, travel, sports, and electronics can all take their toll on family time. That’s why Jason Bailey, a South Florida resident created FamClub, a family-oriented subscription service that will delight and motivate you to reinvent family time. Jason is a father of two and a CEO of several companies. But he also recognizes how important family time is…

I agreed to test and review this service because as a parent, I remember how much my children appreciated our family time together. We fished, planted gardens, hiked, and created art projects often. When my sons became teenagers and our lives became more hectic, we struggled to find together time and keep up with chores.

FamClub’s mission is to “harness” the technology we’ve come to blame for leading us astray from playing, working, and growing together. Jason designed a subscription-based service that encourages families to set and complete goals. Premium members receive a monthly customized box that’s packed with rewards for completing their goals. Please see the assortment of gifts I received in my March, April, and May reward boxes.

FamClub Reward Box
Subscribe to FamClub and receive a monthly reward box. FamClub offers subscription options so you can choose the one that works best for you. Shown is the “Family Time’s Blooming” March Reward Box.

The items you’ll find in the rewards boxes will put a smile on your face. The first box I received contained a water bottle, egg-shaped chalk, foam football, trimming shears, puzzle, gardening gloves, and a mini clay pot with flower seeds. They’re essential ingredients for family fun and excitement that will motivate your children to work side-by-side with you. FamClub makes it incredibly simple to integrate rewards with activities you and your children will love.

FamClub Reward Box
“Everything But The Kitchen Sink” is the April themed rewards’ box.
FamClub Reward Box
“OUT OF THIS WORLD” will launch your family into another galaxy and create the ultimate space adventure. Each child and adult member registered with the FamClub receives a gift.

FamClub offers three subscription plans: Monthly, Premium, and Basic and an app allow you to sign up and track your goals while you’re mobile. Visit the app store on your mobile device to download it.

The premium subscription gives kids of all ages a reason to reach their goals.
The items in the rewards’ box will be enjoyed by young children and yes, also the teenagers.

Visit myfamclub.com to sign up.

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Fly Fishing Stories Fly Fishing Women Fly-Fishing Friday with Joan Lifestyle

Fly-Fishing Friday

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  • June 14, 2019
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Fly Fishing Friday Joan Matsui Travel Writer

Adventures on the Water

Not every Friday am I able to end my work week midday but when time allows, I’ll break loose from my laptop around 3 p.m. to fly fish or hike.

They’re both two of my all-time favorite hobbies and if the conditions allow, give me a day without rain and I’ll head outdoors to appreciate the abundance of pristine water and bucolic trails and meadows we have in Pennsylvania.

We’ve had a wet spring with record precipitation but many of the days without rain have been sunny and beautiful with ample water in our streams. Today is one of those days when nature beckons me to spend time wading and foraging for trout.

From trout season opening day in April to fall, I find my local creek, which is stocked in early spring, an ideal close-to-home retreat. I’ve accumulated a collection of photos and fishing stories to share with you every Friday. Although I’m not a “selfie” fan, I have a hard drive full of fishing memories.

Let’s begin with last weekend when I strayed from my township to another local fishing hole that’s located at the confluence of two creeks. I caught a fish in the pool a few weeks ago but last week was a no-show. Even with a dense hatch after 7 p.m., not one fish rose to the surface. But it isn’t necessarily the catch that’s as important as the experience and the sound of water as it runs over rocks, birds flying overhead, and quiet time.

Actually, I’ve caught (and released) more trout since opening day than I expected. That’s the beauty of fly fishing. Seeing a trout rise to take a dry fly, quickly and safely removing the hook from its mouth and gently returning it to the water is what attracted me to fly fishing.

I’d welcome fly-fishing-related questions and comments here or on my social media platforms. Let me know your favorite creek, river, or lake or share your fishing tips with my readers.

Enjoy your weekend wherever you live.

Joan Mead-Matsui

Fly-Fishing Friday with Joan Matsui Travel Writer

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Hawley Lodging Historic hotels Lifestyle Pennsylvania Historic Hotels Pocono Mountains Lodging Settlers Hospitality Group

LEDGES HOTEL

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  • June 5, 2019
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Ledges Hotel Lodging Dining

Historic Hotel – Modern Luxury

There are no bad views from the windows at the Ledges Hotel – whether you’re looking in or out.

Ledges Hotel Window View
The Settlers Hospitality Group offers its guests a year-round view of the waterfalls and gorge alongside Ledges hotel. All photos by Joan Mead-Matsui unless otherwise noted.

Each Settlers Hospitality Group property has its own unique story. The group’s five restored lodging options are nothing short of architectural gems redesigned with the Genzlinger family’s flair and commitment to respectful preservation.

Ledges Hotel suites offer a glance at the property before you set out to see property on foot.
The architects and designers planned the project so the grounds and interior compliment one another.

Seeing is believing.

Jeanne and Grant Genzlinger, with the help of architects, specifically, the world-renown Bohlin Cywinski Jackson team, renovated the property with a highly-focused vision that allowed them to effectively incorporate the natural landscape and the nearby community’s history, antiquity, and charm with their adaptive-reuse initiative. Custom-designed furniture is the finishing touch to the impeccably stylish decor.

Repurposing historic buildings is a mission Settlers’ co-founders, Grant and Jeanne Genzlinger set out to accomplish more than 30 years ago when they bought Settlers Inn, an art and craft-style hotel that sits along Main Street Hawley. Ledges Hotel is one of five properties owned and managed by Settlers Hospitality Group.

Whether you enter the property from Route 6 or the lower end, through a series of side streets, you’ll immediately realize why the hotel’s name, Ledges, is appropriate.

Ledges Hotel is a perfect fit for guests who come to Hawley, Pennsylvania to engage in a variety of activities you’ll only find in a historically rich town. Antique and other specialty shops, restaurants and diners, and businesses line the streets in downtown Hawley. The Genzlinger family has worked tirelessly to make your overall experience engaging, active, authentic, and educational and their efforts are far-reaching. Co-founder Grant Genzlinger works with other local business owners and organizations to broaden the array of recreational opportunities available to visitors.

Originally constructed as a home to the John S. O’Connor Glass Factory, Ledges Hotel sits adjacent to a series of waterfalls that drain into a tree-lined gorge. The property is worthy of mention in itself, set adjacent to massive rock ledges and Paupack High Falls. They’re a wonder you won’t want to miss.

Now IS the Ideal Time to Visit

If you want to experience the Wallenpaupack Creek as it gushes over the natural stone ledges into the river gorge, now is the perfect time to plan a Ledges Hotel weekend getaway. Record rainfall has allowed the waterfalls to flow non-stop with the sight and sounds of cascading water. The landscape is quite beautiful at any time of the year but the steady progression of blossoms and ever-changing scenery are all part of the overall beauty of a Northeastern Pennsylvania spring.

If you yearn for a day on the water, plan to spend a few hours in or by the scenic Lackawaxen River, a 31.3-mile-long tributary of the Delaware River.  Outdoor enthusiasts will find ample opportunities to fish or launch their canoes and kayaks. If water sports are not your first choice for entertainment, Ledges is close to hiking and cycling trails, restaurants, churches, shops, and other services guests might want.

Ledges Hotel window view
Sunlight floods the sitting area on the first floor of the two-story suites.

The view from the first and second floors of my one-bedroom two-story suite can be enjoyed while lounging on the hotel’s custom-designed furniture or soaking in the Japanese-style soaking tub.

Ledges Hotel Master Bathroom
One and two-bedroom two-story suites feature a spiral staircase that leads to a spacious master bathroom complete with a Japanese-style soaking tub and open shower stall with a rainfall showerhead.
Ledges Hotel custom-designed furniture
When bedtime arrives, the second-floor master suite is a heavenly reprieve perfect for a sound sleep.

DINE IN AT “GLASS”

“Glass” wine. bar. kitchen is Ledges Hotel’s on-site restaurant and a popular gathering space for local residents and guests who want to listen to live music while dining al fresco alongside the waterfalls and gorge. The chef created a variety of small plate dishes that are perfect for sharing and late night fare.

(I ordered the tasty Seared Ahi Tuna, Shiso sesame crusted, jicama apple slaw, and sweet onion dashi with a side of crispy Brussels Sprouts).

Dining Ledges Hotel
When staying close to your room appeals to you, Ledges Hotel offers a dining option that allows you to appreciate the scenery while enjoying a chef-prepared menu that’ll impress beyond words.

The outstanding accommodations, landscaped grounds, and gracious hotel staff make this the quintessential choice for a wedding or special occasion venue. Visit https://ledgeshotel.com/hotel for more information.

Ledges Hotel, built in 1890, is a member of Historic Hotels of America since 2013.

Disclaimer

Throughout the year, I cover a variety of properties from historic hotels to fishing lodges. Rest assured, my trips were comped but my opinions are my own and based on my experiences.

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Lifestyle

The Settlers Inn

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  • May 17, 2019
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The Settlers Inn gardens bloom continuously spring summer and fall

Connecting Communities

Settlers Hospitality Group Immersed in History

(All photos by Joan Mead-Matsui unless otherwise noted).

Settlers Inn
The Settlers Inn is owned and operated by Settlers Hospitality Group. You’ll find breathtaking gardens throughout the property and individualized guest rooms with outstanding comfort.

My recent visits to two immensely popular Hawley, Pennsylvania properties opened the door to an informative and candid interview with the man behind Settlers Hospitality Group.

Grant Genzlinger, Settlers Hospitality co-founder, was a chef at Settlers Inn when he saw an extraordinary opportunity to offer travelers the best of all possible worlds. Properties with a history combined with the modern conveniences guests crave are a few of the reasons the company’s properties are celebrated.

Settlers Inn main course
Cravings…we all have them. The Settlers Inn chef adds his touch to dinner options that are as delightful to see as they to eat.

I encourage you to listen to my interview with Grant as he taps into his storyteller personality and engages in heartfelt conversation about what makes Settlers Hospitality Group properties stand out. You’ll find the link at the bottom of this post.

At first glance, you’ll understand why Grant has built his life around the hospitality industry. Welcoming guests and setting up an exemplary experience is his specialty and with his wife, Jeanne, as co-founder, the team has meticulously crafted five unforgettable properties. The Settlers Inn, Silver Birches Resort, Ledges Hotel, Hotel Anthracite, and The Sayre Mansion are perfect lodging options that are ideal for a wide variety of customers’ tastes and needs.

The Settlers Inn gardens bloom continuously spring summer and fall
The Settlers Inn gardens bloom continuously spring, summer, and fall.

The Settler’s Inn was Grant and Jeanne’s first opportunity to create their extraordinary hospitality model that laid the groundwork for continued success. Each property evolved in response to a perceived need and the couple was spot on. The Sayre Mansion, for example, got its start at the same time as their son, Justin, was a student at Lehigh University. The neglected structure, rundown and in need of tender loving care, beckoned the Genzlinger couple to give birth to the Lehigh Valley boutique hotel.

What is Grant’s favorite property? Suffice to say, the mere mention of any of the company’s trendsetting accommodations brings a smile to his face and a willingness to discuss in detail the cuisine, decor, history, and restoration. You can learn more about Grant Genzlinger in a series of interviews I had with Grant while I was a guest at the Settlers Inn.

Settlers Inn Custom-Designed Guest Rooms
The Settlers Inn guest rooms are all one-of-a-kind and surrounded by antiques and collectibles selected to blend seamlessly with the decor.

All guest rooms feature a different look and feel with a mix of hand-crafted furniture, accessories, and a carefully chosen color palette, a product of Grant and Jeanne’s vision and dedication to originality. Together, the elements are indicative of a well-developed eye for design and an ability to combine those elements without fussiness. Extreme comfort is the result.

The Settlers Inn guest rooms
Guests can expect a guest room that speaks of yesteryear with modern conveniences.

The Settlers Inn is an architectural gem that stands in the heart of downtown Hawley. Begin and end your day with a meal in the dining room served by overtly polite servers who uphold the impeccably high standards Settlers Hospitality management promise their guests. Nightly specials offered throughout the year range from fish and seafood to meat and pasta. Dinner reservations are recommended.

Settlers Inn menu
The Settlers Inn dining room is open for breakfast and dinner daily.

The Settlers Inn Photo Gallery

A Must-See Interview with Grant Genzlinger

Disclaimer:

My stay at The Settlers Inn was comped but my opinions are my own and based on my experiences.

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Lifestyle Paris Architecture Paris church Paris must see Paris sightseeing Sites to see in Paris

Saint Germain des Prés

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  • May 1, 2019
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Oldest Paris Church Restoration

Must-See Paris Architecture

An Interview with David Sheppe, American Friends for the Preservation of Saint Germain des Prés (AFPSGP) director.


“Just go. Go and visit the church and you will be able to see now what the works have accomplished and what they will provide in terms of linking us to the past and the future in ways that surpass our ability to merely explain in words here.” David Sheppe

David Sheppe leads United States fundraising efforts to restore Saint Germain des Pres, the oldest Paris church. Photo submitted.
David Sheppe is leading the current “Adopt A Saint Germain Star™ Campaign in the United States. The AFPSGP is a 501(c)(3) charity devoted to United States fundraising efforts that support the Saint Germain des Prés church restoration project that began in 2012.
Read my interview with David to learn more about the organization’s collaboration with its French counterparts, The Preservation of Saint Germain des Prés Foundation.

“The church is today in serious need of renovation and restoration owing to the ravages of time, use, and under-funding.” David Sheppe

Q & A Interview with David Sheppe
What is the history of the Saint Germain des Pres?

There has been a church or abbey on the same spot in central Paris since the founding of Saint Germain des Près by Childebert, son of Clovis, the first Frankish King, in 543 AD. The current structure is one thousand years old, which makes SGP . Today, it remains a vibrant parish and community in the heart of Paris’s most resonant neighborhood.

Two previous church structures were destroyed by Viking and other raiders in the eighth and ninth centuries. The current church, finished in 1014 AD, is unique in France as it is an amalgam of Romanesque architecture and multiple pre-Gothic and Gothic influences.

For many centuries SGP was the home to the Benedictine order of monks who were renowned for their religious and secular scholarship and who was instrumental in the founding of the Sorbonne in the 13th century. The church was the site of the publication of the first Bible in French (as opposed to Latin) and became a center of publication and research during the entirety of the High Middle Ages in France.

During the French Revolution, the church was shuttered and then transformed into a gunpowder storage building by anti-clerical revolutionaries. Anti-clericalism reached its apogee in 1792 when 102 priests were massacred in one of the church’s side chapels. Shortly thereafter, the gunpowder storage room blew up and much of the surrounding Abbey and part of the church was destroyed.

Victor Hugo was instrumental in saving the church from being razed by the city authorities in the early 19th century and was the driving force to a major renovation undertaken soon thereafter. Another renovation was undertaken in the 1830s and 1840s – the last renovation before the project now underway in our time. A key contribution to the restoration in the 1840s was the work of Hippolyte Flandrin, who painted a series of massive murals lining both sides of the nave that are now undergoing significant restoration work. 

Much of the current church is original and there are several vestigial pieces of the ancient predecessor churches dating back more than 15 centuries. There are two original stain glassed windows in the church that are 800 years old and have survived endless imprecations and assaults over time. (Two further original stained glass windows are in the United States – one at the MOMA in NY and the other in the Walters Museum of Art in Baltimore.)

In 1860, the church was granted full Monument Historique classification and is therefore provided with full landmark preservation status. The church is today in serious need of renovation and restoration owing to the ravages of time, use, and under-funding. 85% of the budget for renovations must come from public hands as, quite simply, the City of Paris (which owns the structure) does not have sufficient funds to meet restoration needs of all churches in its care.

Paris architecture, Paris church, Paris must see, Paris sightseeing
Saint Germain des Pres is undergoing a restoration project that is expected to be completed in 2021 or 2022.
Southern Sanctuary — Photo © Agence Pierre-Antoine Gatier. All rights reserved.

The current restoration project was launched in 2012 and, funding permitting should be completed in 2021 or 2022. The French fundraising committee and American Friends for the Preservation of SGP are working in extremely close cooperation.

(For a short and useful overview of the church history, see Abbey of Saint Germain des Prés on Wikipedia.)

Please describe the location, neighborhood, and visualizations of how the church blends in with its surroundings.

The church is and has always been, the central defining monument and lifeforce for an entire neighborhood which, uniquely in France, was named for the church (rather than the usual other way around). It remains by design the tallest building in the neighborhood and stands like a shepherd over the comings and goings of flocks of the faithful and many, many tourists and lovers of Paris.

The SGP neighborhood is ancient and remains today at the intellectual heart of the city, surrounded as it is by great numbers of art galleries, publishing houses, museums (including the Academy Française and the École des Beaux Arts), world class restaurants and cozy cafes, bookstores, movie houses, and venues for music both classical and modern. 

Why was the church slated for restoration? What are the restoration team’s goals?

The church is not in danger of falling down. Notwithstanding that, there has been in the 170 years since the last restoration an incredible degradation of artistic and architectural elements at SGP – mostly, but not exclusively, on the inside of the church. The works are proceeding by tranches and are about 60 percent complete, but funding for the remaining 40 percent is not in hand. We need to raise further dollars to ensure timely and integral completion of the project.

Who are the architect-of-record, project manager, primary and secondary funding sources for the project, construction manager, interior designers (if applicable), and anyone else who has had a significant role in the restoration?

The renovation project is being conducted by and on behalf of the City of Paris, the owner of the church. More specifically, the project falls under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture, Department of Historic Monuments. The master Preservation Architect in Chief is Pierre Antoine-Gatier of Historic Monuments department. 

Please explain how this restoration differs from a renovation.

The dividing line can be subtle, an exercise in shades of gray. Notre Dame was, and now is owing to the fire, in full restoration mode because its outside physical envelope is in need of serious repair and replacement to preserve the integrity of the structure.

At SGP, the outside structure – though not in flawless form and thus in need of attention – is in reasonably good shape. (Exceptions abound however and will be the object of attentive work in the years ahead). Most of the current SGP project is devoted to (a) restoring architectural elements which have been damaged or depredated to the point of existential threat and (b) renovating artworks (of all kinds: in stone, in woodworks, in painted and sculptural works) to bring them back to their original form and sheen. So, the SGP project is a painstaking marriage of both renovation and restoration.

Why is the art in this church worth the time, effort, and cost to restore?

The SGP church is a unique and iconic example of Romanesque architecture. It houses world-class art and stained glass and sculptural works. It is the site of ancient and ongoing scholarship and research. It is the oldest church in Paris. It is universally recognized and universally loved. Proof of this is that so many people from all over the world have contributed and will continue to contribute to the restoration and renovation of this irreplaceable element of world patrimony. It has a secular and religious history which thrills and inspires. It is ethereally beautiful. It is a living church today, with many outreach programs in Paris, in France and around the world. Its music program is incomparable. Its thousand-year-old bells sound the hours today as they have for over 10 centuries.

What was your first impression of the church?

My own first impression was that this place, this church, speaks to fundamental questions of the relationship of man to his beginnings and to his future. It is an intimate church, not overpowering. It whispers where others shout. After 15 centuries of history, we have received this church in trust and we are determined to pass it on and into the next 15 centuries of living history and inspiration.

How is the project funded?

As mentioned, the City of Paris owns the church and has provided 15 percent of the overall funding for the project. The remaining 85 percent of the cost will be borne by private hands – individuals in the main, many donors of small amounts in the main – from all over the world. The entire project has been priced out at approximately $7 million. Of the 60 percent of monies raised to date, some 40 percent has been raised in the United States. Currently, we are running low on funds and much more needs to be done.

What are a few of the setbacks, if any, the team has encountered and is the project moving along according to schedule?

It is particularly satisfying to note that the project is currently on time and on budget – a remarkable achievement for this kind of project. Again, our financial resources are today at a low ebb, so we need to redouble our efforts to reach friends of the church, of Paris and her history, and of the project to respectfully ask for additional support. Every dollar donated is a precious gift, hugely needed and immensely appreciated.

When you think of the finished restoration, what do you visualize?

The child is a father to the man. The works completed to date are breathtaking, extraordinarily beautiful and inspirational. And they suggest just how amazing the church will be when finally finished in 2021 or 2022. So, the best answer to this question is: just go. Go and visit the church and you will be able to see now what the works have accomplished and what they will provide in terms of linking us to the past and the future in ways that surpass our ability to merely explain in words here.

Is the church open now or closed to the public during restoration?

The church is now open and will remain so during all renovation works. There is no admission charge (except for during regular organ and classical music concerts, very well attended by locals and tourists alike). Some of the current works are cordoned off by scaffolding, ropes, plastic tarps, and the like, but these are extremely localized. The completed works and the areas to undergo future works are all fully available to all who come – so do go.1

How does the church plan to celebrate the grand opening or the completion of the project?

There is no definitive plan as to how the finalized project will be celebrated in two or three years. That said, last year, at the end of the third tranche (of seven), the City of Paris held a gala evening of thanksgiving and celebration under the direction of the Mayor of Paris who was there that evening. It was a night for the ages, grandiose and filled with meaning and vibrancy. Something similar will occur when all is done. It just remains to be seen what will be planned.

For a full view of the works completed to date and the works slated for completion in the years ahead, you can review the renovation catalog on our website.

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fly fishing Fly Fishing 101 Learn to Fly Fish Lifestyle Where to learn to fly fish

Orvis Fly-Fishing 101

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  • April 17, 2019
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Orvis Free Fly Fishing 101 classes

FREE Classes Await You.

Orvis Free Fly Fishing 101 classes
Register for a free Orvis Fly Fishing 101 class. Learn to fly fish from one of Orvis’ certified instructors.

CAUTION: FLY FISHING IS ADDICTIVE.

Spring is the perfect time to recharge your love for nature.

Have you dreamed of discovering a new hobby that will allow you to spend more of your free time outdoors? If you feel antsy from the long-term effects of being cooped up all winter a trip to your nearest Orvis store can help.

Believe me — learning fly-fishing fundamentals and buying fly-fishing gear is as much fun as shopping for designer shoes. You could literally spend hours in pursuit of the perfect waders, wading boots, a vest, fly rod and reel combo, and a selection of flies. The free Fly Fishing 101 course focuses on teaching you fly-fishing basics but you’ll also receive “retail” guidance so when you’re ready to venture to the water’s edge, you’ll have everything you need to wade with confidence and possibly catch a fish on your first day out. I’ve already put to work the skills I learned at a free Fly Fishing 101 class at the Orvis Manchester, VT flagship store.

Use this link to shop for fly fishing gear.

Orvis

Orvis Fly Fishing 101 classes have attracted more than 15,000 participants each year since the first class was held more than 10 years ago. Men, women, and families flock to the spring classes offered at many Orvis retail outlets throughout the world. Certified instructors who are also experienced anglers, will guide you through fly-fishing fundamentals from knot tying to casting and reeling in your catch. One of the benefits of taking the Saturday morning class is you’ll leave the store with the skills you need and equipment that’s right for you.

The Family That Fishes Together…Orvis instructors can help prepare you and your whole family for a day of fly-fishing fun.

All ages are welcome to take the free Fly Fishing 101 class but children
under 16-years-old must be accompanied by an adult, so why not share your interests and bring your whole family. Teaching your children to respect and preserve our natural resources is more impactful when you show them why our waterways and fish are so important to the environment. A river or stream is an ideal mobile classroom for you to demonstrate stewardship.

Orvis offered its first Fly Fishing 101 class 10 years ago and to celebrate the milestone, Orvis will donate $1 to Casting for Recovery® for every student who attends a 101 class this year.

Upon completion of the class, participants will receive special in-store offers that can be used towards the purchase of Orvis equipment and a Free Trout Unlimited membership. ($35 value).

Take a moment to watch an Orvis Fly Fishing 101 instructor teach our group to tie one of the most commonly used knots.

Learn fly-fishing basics at your local Orvis store. Classes are held on Saturday during the spring.

Reservations are required. Visit https://www.orvis.com/flyfishing101 to find a class near you.

Disclaimer:

My trip was comped but my opinions are my own and based on my own experience.

DISCLOSURE:

Some of the links on this page are affiliate links. I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase but at no additional cost to you. I have experience with all of these companies and by linking to their product or a party that sells their products, I recommend the product based on their helpful and useful nature, and definitely not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something.

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Fifty Places to Fly Fish Before You Die fisheries restoration fly fishing Fly Fishing 101 Fly Fishing Books Lifestyle

BOLETE

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  • April 17, 2019
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Bolete Dinner

Indulge In Unhurried Dining

Bolete James Beard Foundation Semifinalist Nominee for "Outstanding Restaurant."
It’s no secret Bolete is a popular dining spot in Bethlehem. It’s time for you to carve out time from your hurried life to experience this James Beard Foundation semifinalist nominee for “Outstanding Restaurant.”

In the kitchen of a former stagecoach inn, Chef Lee Chizmar gets down to business preparing stocks, pasta, and sauces and planning his daily menu. The chef and his team prepare everything on-site and that personal touch is reflected in every morsel that appears on your plate.

View the menu here.

If you live in the Lehigh Valley region, you’re close enough to Bethlehem to plan an impromptu dinner date at Bolete [bo-leet], 1740 Seidersville Road but don’t let an hour or two drive stop you from experiencing one of the best meals you’ll have. When your travels lead you to Allentown, Bethlehem, or Easton, add Bolete to your itinerary. My meal was superb.

Bolete Dinner Chef Lee Chizmar
You won’t be rushed through your meal so be sure to take time to appreciate the artful presentation before you pick up your fork. Photo courtesy of Bolete Restaurant

My evening with the staff at Bolete evolved while I was a guest at The Sayre Mansion. I arrived in Bethlehem in the early afternoon and immediately, my thoughts turned to planning my coverage of this magnificent inn. But food also crossed my mind. It always does when I arrive in a city or town for a travel assignment. You might have experienced the confusion that comes with narrowing your dining options in a city with so many options. I’ve literally spent hours sifting through online menus. Who wants to do that, particularly when your day is jam-packed with sightseeing or business meetings?

Fortunately, the management at The Sayer Mansion recommends Bolete and I made my reservation for 7 p.m. so the remainder of my day I could set up my tripod and camera gear, interview staff, or walk around town.

Bolete Restaurant
Many thanks to my server for taking my photo as I savored every bite of my meal.

Prepare to be dazzled

If you haven’t dined at Bolete, allow me to paint a picture of what you can expect to find. Imagine a cozy family-owned restaurant housed in a former stagecoach inn on the outskirts of town, owned and managed by an accomplished chef and his wife, who has spent her life dreaming of opening a restaurant. A solid plan and diligence have helped the couple build a business that caught the attention of the culinary world and landed them a spot in the running for one of the top awards. Chef Lee Chizmar and his wife, Erin Chizmar, were selected as semifinalists in the James Beard Foundation, “Outstanding Restaurant” category.

Chef Lee commented,

“It was remarkable for our whole team to hear of the nomination. They each work tirelessly to make each guest’s experience great. And it was such an honor to be considered among those other industry titans.”

Paying HOMAGE to the Mushroom

Bolete Bethlehem James Beard Award Nominee
Do you love the flavor mushrooms impart? Chef Lee Chizmar incorporates mushrooms into many of his menu items. Photo provided courtesy of Bolete.

Bolete, or mushrooms, are one of the key ingredients Chef Lee adds to many of dishes. If you’re not a fungi fan, you can always request your meal without them.

Why mushrooms? Aside from the fact that Pennsylvania is the “Mushroom Capital of the World,” and an abundance of varieties make them a convenient choice, Chef Lee and mushrooms have had a long and interesting career.

“Mushrooms have been an integral part of each restaurant I’ve worked at in my career, so when we moved to PA (Pennsylvania) to open Bolete, it was a natural fit,” Chef Lee said.

If you’re on the edge of your seat wondering what I ordered, I began my dining with a first course: The menu description reads, “Liberty Gardens Mixed Greens (Salad) WITH 12 pickled local mushrooms, parmesan, sunflower seeds, cipollini, garlic sourdough crouton, mushroom “Caesar” vinaigrette” but I asked my server to hold the croutons because I limit my gluten intake. I didn’t leave so much as a sunflower seed on my plate and the subtle mushroom taste, combined the shaved parmesan is the perfect prelude to all of the second-course options. I decided on the Cast Iron Seared Day Boat Sea Scallops 36 hand-rolled gnocchi, local mushrooms, bacon, swiss chard, Burgundian snails, parsley, and porcini puree.

The Decor: A Meeting of Rustic and Romantic

The former Stagecoach Inn sits at the crossroads of a busy intersection so, after sunset, passers-by can catch a glimpse of the soft glow of romantic lighting coming from the windows. My first reaction, as I found my parking spot in the on-site lot, was “Oh, this is perfect.”

You, on the other hand, might wonder why you’ve never dined at Bolete. Once you’re inside, the history and the unpretentious antiquity speak to you. Anyone with an affinity for history will appreciate Chef Lee and Erin’s choice of casual seating in the bar area or the dining room and their collection of carved wooden mushrooms in each of the windowsills. Softly candle-lit dining areas and a memorable meal awaits you at Bolete.

Bolete Restaurant Celebrates Mushrooms
The woodsy flavor of mushrooms are an integral part of Chef Lee’s menu.

Make your reservation online.

Disclaimer:

My meal was comped but my opinions are my own and based on my experience.

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affiliates buy sunglasses online eye protection Lifestyle sunglasswarehouse travel gear you can't live without

Update Your Look

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  • March 23, 2019
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Sunglass Warehouse Spring Collection

Cut the Glare — Protect Your Eyes

6 Reasons You Should Wear Sunglasses

Sunglasses do so much more than frame your face. Think of them as a “sunscreen” for your eyes.

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The glare from the sun is more than a nuisance. Long-term UV (ultra-violet) from exposure to the sun without eye protection is equally as hazardous to your eyes as basking in the sun without sunscreen is to your skin. An annual eye exam is one way to assess and preserve your vision but between visits to your optometrist or ophthalmologist, be sure to grab your sunglasses before you leave your house.

According to the experts at sunglasswarehouse.com, protective eye wear:

  • Blocks out sunlight
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  • Prevents your eyes from suffering long-term damage.

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Lifestyle

Wildwood Park

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  • March 22, 2019
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Joan Mead-Matsui Wildwood Park Nature Preserve

Where City Life Stops and Conservation Begins

Dauphin County Park Host To Year-Round Learning

Chris Rebert Wildwood Park Manager
Chris Rebert, Wildwood Park manager, celebrates the natural beauty of the park he manages on the outskirts of Harrisburg, PA. Photos by Joan Mead-Matsui, Travel Writer, Photographer, and Award-Winning Freelance Journalist.

On a chilly autumn day, Chris Rebert, Wildwood Park manager, was eager to introduce me to the array of wildlife that inhabits the park. As we walked along the path surrounding the Benjamin Olewine III Nature Center, Chris pointed to the waterfowl and other wildlife that find the park a safe haven.

Wildwood Park Harrisburg Pennsylvania
The marsh adjacent to Wildwood Lake is home to waterfowl, amphibians, reptiles, and migratory birds. Depending on the time of day you visit, you might find the sun peeking through the tree-lined path.

Wildwood Park has a rather unique location along the rolling hills of Central Pennsylvania where suburbia and urban sprawl meet. Yet, the tract of land that was set aside as a preserve on the outskirts of Harrisburg, PA, at 100 Wildwood Way, speaks of peace, solitude, conservation, and protection. While Chris shared the park’s history, the songbirds communicated as other fauna dashed across the path in search of food.

Wildwood Lake Surrounding Marsh area
As far as the eye can see, nature abounds at Wildwood Park. Take a stroll along the trails and see how many waterfowl you can spot in and around the Wildwood Lake marshes.

Wildwood Park is a natural setting you won’t soon forget. Leave your worries behind and focus on nature’s healing power as you stroll under the canopy of mature trees. Visitors will find ample quality time to reap the rewards of taking time away from work, school, and electronics. Wildlife can be seen from all angles along the winding trails that run adjacent to the road around Wildwood Lake. The boardwalks that link trails add a contemporary touch to the surroundings.

Wildwood Park Nature Preserve Harrisburg PA
Visitors explore Wildwood Park, a four-season haven for waterfowl and other wildlife. Maps are available to help you navigate through the trails.

Don’t forget to bring your camera when you visit the park. Known as a bird watcher’s haven, seven well-maintained trails, ranging from one to 2.1 miles, are the perfect setting for photo opportunities. Be sure to include the lake in at least one of your photos. If you have more energy to spare, extend your hike and increase your chances to see more of the natural habitat by combining the trails.

Joan Mead-Matsui Wildwood Park Nature Preserve
Nature provides endless opportunities for travel writers who specialize in outdoor recreation. Read other stories by Joan Mead-Matsui, Award-Winning Freelance Journalist to learn more about her favorite hikes and trails. Photo by Chris Rebert

Numerous displays and learning stations inside the Olewine Nature Center reinforce and enhance the lessons children have already learned while on the trails and in school. Take advantage of the numerous displays, learning stations, programs, and special events held at the Nature Center.

Park Hours of Operation

Plan your visit and return throughout the year if you’re able, to see an everchanging landscape. Wildwood Park is a year-round resource for learning and exercise.

The park is open daily from dawn until dusk. Nature Center Hours are Tuesday to Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Chris Rebert talked to me about the challenges associated with land management and the evolution of Wildwood Lake. He’s shown along one of seven nature trails available to Dauphin County residents and visitors.
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