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  • Hello darkness my old friend The cold comfort of winterhellip
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I Prefer Thinking Of These Things


You know what I like to do when I feel completely crummy? When I’v been sick for 6 (!!!) days, and even a visit to the doctor (my typical measure of last resort) says there’s nothing to be done but ride out the snot-riddled nastiness? When I find myself up against a wall, or more like settling into my couch in resignation, I do two things: I look at pretty things, and I plan trips to fun places.

Because I’m a sharer, and because I’d much rather chat with you about the pretty things in my life right now than the goings-on of my sinus passages (UGH!), I want to share one the prettiest, and most personal, things I’ve come across recently. Several weeks ago, Cyn Thomas, of River Dog Prints, graciously sent me a care package. In it, along with a wonderful book for Huxley, were the canning and gift labels shown above. Just look at those honeycomb patterns! I mean, come on. How much more pretty, or perfect for my interests, could those labels be? As the holiday season approaches, if you plan to gift any home-canned goods, I suggest you stop by Cyn’s site and take a look. Loads of good choices there!

Secondly, I’ve been completely internet-intrigued by Helen, GA. In 1968, a few local businessmen decided, in an attempt to reinvigorate main street in the sleepy north-east Georgia mountain town, to renovate the whole of main street in the style of a Bavarian town. I! Know! Zoning laws were passed and now all buildings in Helen (or perhaps just in the downtown area) resemble chalets and Alpine inns and Bavarian brewhouses. Also, and this is the big clincher for me, Helen holds a Christkindlmarkt over two weekends over the holiday season. Styled after the holiday markets common all over Germany and parts of Europe, Helen’s Christkindlmarkt claims to offer “everything from unique gifts and decorations to an assortment of savory and sweet foods, drinks and candied treats” (per the chamber of commerce website). Also, there are things like freshly made stollen and Bavarian pretzels and spatzle and bratwursts there! Any of you dear small measure readers ever gone? Worth the 2+ hour drive, or all flash and no sizzle? I don’t mind if it’s touristy, I fully expect that. Is it fun, though? Does it feel authentic? And, most importantly, how are the pretzels?


24 Responses to I Prefer Thinking Of These Things

  • Eliza Twist says:

    Good luck with the cold Ashley, I just got done with mine. What a drag! You use a netti pot right? I swear by mine. I dream of Christmas markets. Some day I will go, in Europe. It’s on the bucket list. But for now, I’ll look forward from your full report here in cyberspace. Feel better soon!

  • Kelly M says:

    Sorry your still sick, what a bummer :( Hope you feel better soon and thanks for sharing those tags. They are awesome!!!
    Years ago my ex was in Germany during Thanksgiving. He went to a Christmas market and brought me back the neatest wood ornaments. I still have them just not the man LOL!
    I just picked up my bee keeping books from the library, I can’t wait until bedtime to dive into your book :)

  • Lisa says:

    Hope you are feeling better soon. Thinking about lovely things always help us feel better and give us something to look forward to. Reading, and planning my next knitting project lifts the spirit every time.
    Lots of hot tea and rest. Feel better real soon!

  • Misti says:

    Helen, GA is an Appalachian Trail town. I wish I could give you information about it, but we bypassed it on our way from GA to ME. However, from what I hear it is definitely kitschy. I think, though, as a holiday excursion it would probably be fun for a family to visit for the day.

    Hope you feel better soon.

  • KC says:

    Sorry to hear about your still being sick, but I am not sorry to find out about those tags! Awesome. :)

  • aubree says:

    My whole family lives right next door to Helen, I can totally get the scoop for you! It’s a one road in, one road out town, so it can get pretty crowded especially around the holidays, and probably more so on those special weekends you mentioned, and it *is* touristy, but fun. If you’d like, I can see if they have any food/restaurant tips for you!

    • That would be AMAZING, Aubree! Thank you so very much for offering! If you get any specific info, feel free to send it to me at: Thanks!

      • aubree says:

        ok, so I heard back from my cousin, and she said the town is fun, but touristy. The parade and shops would be fun for kiddos, and they have horse and buggy rides if you are into that. Her favorite place to eat is the Troll Tavern: (and it’s even under the bridge, ha!) but it looks like there are a bunch of options depending on what you’re up for. If it were me, I think we would have fun there for a day, plus the area has a bunch of cute towns and hiking, so I don’t think you could go wrong. :-) Have fun!

    • Joyce says:

      Sorry to hear your ill. I agree that half the battle of these long colds is changing your mind, thinking positively. Looking at pretty things helps!

      Oh Aubree can you email me the details also. Thank you! I went to a Christmas Market in Germany, Dueseldorf to be exact. It was amazing!

  • Loulou says:

    Oh your cold sounds miserable. Hope you’re feeling better soon. The tags are gorgeous … I especially love the heart shaped ones. And I would love to go to Helen. It sounds charming indeed.

    Off to check out Cyn’s site now!

  • jen says:

    Does it normally snow in Helen or did they make it for those pictures, I wonder? That sounds exactly like something I would try and force Jon to do during the holidays. Maybe I can convince him this year…or better yet, I’ll let you check it out first and tell me if it’s worth the drive. :)

  • sarahkeith says:

    Hope you are feeling better!

    We drive through Helen every year on our way to our NC Cabin from our home in FL. When I was a kid I LOVED going there, but as an adult it’s kind of “meh.” I’ve eaten at that bakery and it’s nothing special. The whole place feels like disney world. I wouldn’t go out of my way to visit, but if you’re in the area it’s worth stopping. Huxley will love it!

  • I am the same way when I’m down. Planning excursions to far off (or not so far off) places. This little town is so cute! Thanks for being a sharer! ; )

  • Amanda says:

    Having spent most of my twenties in Atlanta, we spent a lot of time in Helen, Ga. Mostly for Oktoberfest(!) celebrations. It’s definitely touristy (think funnel cakes and kitschy shops like Gatlinburg), but the beer was great. I’d imagine their Christmas market would be lots of fun.

    Honestly, I loved the areas around Helen. There’s a Grist Mill down the road and across the street from there is a little winery and antique shop. Hiking is also great in the area.

    If it were me, I’d totally go, have fun, and then plan some other fun activities a little outside the town while you’re there.

  • Mandi says:

    I haven’t been to Helen since I was a kid, but we used to stop by every year on our trip from NC to GA. I loved it then. It is super cute! I can’t say if I would enjoy it as an adult. Maybe go when you know Huxley is old enough to remember visiting :)

  • Erin Barr says:

    I have to say, going to Helen was one of my best childhood Christmas’s ever! It was very magical and it snowed and we stayed in a little cabin in the woods. I remember this awesome candle shop that multilayers colors within the wax and then cuts them (reminded me of someone throwing a pot or blowing glass) in particular forms so that the falling wax creates curlicues against the side in neat patterns. They are just beautiful! I mean, its been probably 20 years but if it was cool then, its sure to be even cooler now right?

  • Being half German and having lived in Hamburg, I have wanted to go visit Helen, GA too. A German lady that works at Yarn Paradise said it is very touristy and not super authentic, but still fun to visit anyways. I love Bavarian style buildings, so I hope that I can find the time to drive down there one day. I heard it is closer to three hours away. If you do go, let me know how you enjoyed it and if it is truly worth the drive.

  • Cyn says:

    I’m glad my care package made your lengthy cold a little less dreary. A belated thank you for your post! Kind and thoughtful, as always. I hope you kicked that cold to the curb.

  • oukay says:

    Helen is fun, if somewhat touristy. As my mother says, “Suspend your disbelief!”. My husband loves Oktoberfest there. We visited there from FL one spring break, came back the next, then bought a fixer upper cabin on our third spring break visit! We are in the Sautee area outside Helen and it is wonderful. Wineries, Nora Mill, potteries, waterfalls, beautiful country roads – similar to what you have in NC. Huxley would probably love it. We try to take in a waterfall hike every time we are up in NE GA.