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Living Spring 2020


Spring is in the air (and in lawns, too!)

Look inside for stories of how people acted on inspiration for greater fulfillment

SINCE 1848


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Living magazine


A season where inspiration grows


Spring is nothing if not inspirational. Casting off the coats and hats of winter, people bask in warmer days, appreciate the returning greenery and blooms, and start turning their dreams into reality. Inspired by sunshine and pleasant weather, why, it’s time for a walk outdoors, a picnic in the park, a trip to the car wash, even spring cleaning at home. This issue of Living magazine features stories of people who acted on inspiration. Inspiration that led several folks to carve wood into objects of beauty. Inspiration that led a mother to create soaps to treat her daughter’s eczema. Inspiration that led to an 1848 home’s transformation into a peaceful bed and breakfast. Inspiration that led a Tiskilwa woman to help African villagers live more abundant lives. Inspiration that led a community to celebrate its architectural heritage. Spring is in the air. In this time of inspiration, we hope you are inspired to get out and truly enjoy the gifts of the season. — Jim Dunn, editor and general manager, Living magazine

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Chipping and camaraderie

Princeton Woodchippers swap stories while carving their creations

Woodchippers (from left) Jacquie Woodley, Gary James, Randall Hermanson, Leon Frank and Oral Hudson gathered recently at the Princeton Public Library for a carving session. The group typically meets weekly at the First United Methodist Church in Princeton to work on their latest creations.

Story & Photo by Kim Shute PRINCETON — A small group of Princeton residents calling themselves the Princeton Woodchippers meets weekly to trade stories and tips while working on their latest creations. They’ve been meeting for the past four or five years under the informal leadership of Gary James, who began carving in his native Oklahoma on a whim about a decade ago. “My church had a program with carvers, ceramics and other hobbies, and I got talked into coming to it over the summer,” James said as he contemplated the curves of his latest creation. “After summer, we kept getting together as a group and hooked up with a larger chapter in Oklahoma City.” The small statues, called caricatures, come about in many ways. Sometimes the wood inspires a design — “found wood” often

inspires a particular creation. And sometimes the carvings, made from a single piece of wood, are preplanned. Once finished, they’re painted with acrylic or oil paints for a final touch. Randall Hermanson, one of the group, does a type of carving that dates back to ancient times, he says. “Chip carving” utilizes knives and chisels to remove small pieces, or chips, from flat discs of

wood. Once the shape is carved out, charcoal is rubbed into the grooves to make the design stand out. Asked whether he sells his pieces or makes them strictly for his own collection, James says he never really considers selling them — the pieces can take months to complete — but after a moment’s thought, he says with a laugh that if someone were to walk up and offer him $1,000, he’d probably be willing to sell.

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4— Spring 2020

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Christine Davis, owner of Rachel Rene Bath & Body, poses for a photo at the front counter inside her store on South Main Street.

Made on Main Street

Princeton’s Rachel Rene Bath & Body makes a splash, keeps thriving Story & Photos by Goldie Rapp Rachel Rene Bath & Body made a splash when it opened its doors in Princeton three years ago. People came from all over to check out the products made on Main Street. While the business was new to Princeton, it wasn’t new to owner Christine Davis, who had been making and selling her products from home since 2006. When Davis took to Main Street and the word got out, her customer base soared, and since 2017, the business has thrived and even expanded its product line. Where it got its start The handmade products offered at Rachel Rene exist today because of Davis’ daughter, Rachel Rene, who was born with severe eczema. The Davis family tried all sorts of lotions and medicines to sooth Rachel’s flare-ups, but many of them only caused more irritation and burning, which many times led to frantic trips into the bath to wash it off her skin. When Rachel was 3 years old, doctors prescribed 6 — Spring 2020

Christine brightens up her soap bars by adding a pink tone on top before it’s put aside to set.

steroids, but Davis said she wasn’t a big fan of putting steroids on her toddler. During one winter, Davis decided to give her daughter a milk bath with leftover milk powder she had on hand. She remembered when she was a kid, her parents giving her and her siblings an oatmeal bath to sooth their chicken pox. Her thought was that a milk bath might

do the same trick for her daughter’s eczema flare. As she began Googling the benefits of a milk bath, she was met with articles about how handmade soaps cured people of their eczema. Ready to try anything, she decided to give it a shot.

Continued on page 7 Living magazine

Continued from page 6

It took about six months to formulate the recipe that cured her daughter’s eczema, and that recipe is still used in Davis’ soap bars today. After she mastered soaps, she then got into making body mousses and lotions, and it sort of snowballed from there. Not only was this new hobby something that cured her daughter, but Davis came to realize she enjoyed making the products. So she started preparing batches to sell at local craft shows and markets. She also launched a website and an Etsy account, which attracted wholesale customers and people from all over the U.S. and the world. It became so successful, Davis backed off from selling at local markets and stuck strictly to online sales. But then space in her home became an issue. The business was taking up two rooms, the basement and had started overflowing into the living room. Davis figured at that time it was probably best to move into a storefront. During the novel transition, plans fell into place so smoothly, it put Davis at ease that she was making the right decision.

Rachel Rene Bath & Body is located at 620 S. Main St. in Princeton.

Continued on page 8



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           Spring 2020— 7

LEFT: Rachel Rene soaps offer all sorts of fun colors and scents. The boutique also offers seasonal scents and custom scents, and labels can also be requested. RIGHT: The mineral salt bar inside Rachel Rene Bath & Body.

LEFT: Rachel Rene offers all sorts of scented soaps, body scrubs, lotions, bath bombs, body mists, vegan deodorants, perfume oils, etc. Plus, pampering accessories like pajamas, slippers, robes, socks, makeup bags, soap holders and more. RIGHT: Rachel Rene is not just for the ladies. The bath and body shop also offers a men’s line, J&S, named after Christine’s two sons, Jack and Shane. Continued from page 7

She opened her first storefront business in May 2017. The boutique did so well, Davis began outgrowing the space and made a move to her current location at 620 S. Main St. this past September. Owning a business in Princeton Davis said owning a business on Main Street in Princeton is like having a home away from home. “I hate not being here. It’s exciting. I love the people, selling the products and satisfying the customers,” she said. “A lot of people use these products and come back and tell me about how it worked for them. You can’t find that anywhere else.” Davis said when she sold her products from home, 95 percent of her customer base was people from out of the area. But now, 75 percent of her customers are from Princeton or the surrounding area. “It speaks volumes. If they didn’t come back, 8 — Spring 2020

Christine Davis (right) and daughter, Rachel Rene (left), pose for a photo. Davis named her business after her daughter, because soap-making all started while Davis was looking for solutions to cure Rachel’s severe eczema when she was a baby. (Photo contributed)

we wouldn’t be here,” she said. About the products Every bath and body product sold at Rachel

Rene is made from scratch, packaged and labeled in the store. The production room looks a lot like a kitchen with bowls and mixers, ingredients lining the wall, and even a cooling rack for product to chill. On the store floor, one can browse all sorts of scented soaps, body scrubs, lotions, bath bombs, body mists, vegan deodorants, perfume oils and more. It’s not all geared toward women and kids. Rachel Rene does carry a men’s line, J&S, named after Davis’ two sons, Jack and Shane. Custom orders can be made for showers, weddings, gender reveals, birthdays, anniversaries and so forth. Aside from the body products, Davis also carries pampering accessories like pajamas, slippers, robes, socks, makeup bags, soap holders and more. The business also ships product from online sales at RachelReneBath.com. Living magazine

CLOCKWISE FROM ABOVE: • Christine measures out an ingredient as she begins her soap-making process in her production room at the shop. • Ever wonder how her soap is cut clean and even? The secret is a cutting device made from guitar strings. • The finished product. Once the soap has set for a period of time, it comes out looking like this before it’s cut, wrapped, labeled and taken out to the shop floor to be sold.

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Are you looking for a unique and quiet place to stay? Built in 1848, The Tiskilwa Inn is the second oldest structure in town. The home was built by John Stevens for his daughter, Louisa, and her husband, Edward Sawyer, as a wedding gift. Today, the Italianate-style home is a popular destination for those wanting to escape the city life for a quaint and quiet lifestyle. (Photo contributed)

A hidden gem within the valley

The Tiskilwa Inn offers a quiet escape from busy 21st-century life Story by Goldie Rapp Photos by Scott Anderson

TISKILWA — Nestled in the Gem of the Valley sits The Tiskilwa Inn. This cozy, historic bed and breakfast is a destination for folks searching for a quiet escape from the city. The Italianate-style manor was built in 1848 as a wedding gift from John Stevens to his daughter, Louisa, and her new husband, Edward Sawyer. Every brick used in the construction of the home was made locally in Mr. Stevens’ brickyard. Today, the home is one of the oldest still standing in Tiskilwa, population 778. It is one of seven homes in the vicinity recognized in the 1975 Illinois Historic Structures Survey as places of “special interest because of their aesthetic, architectural and technological significance.” Continued on page 11 10 — Spring 2020

Jeremy Gassen, co-owner of The Tiskilwa Inn in Tiskilwa, browses through books in the library at the inn. Ric and Jeremy Gassen opened the 1848 Italianate-style manor house in 2018. Living magazine

Continued from page 10

Innkeepers Jeremy and Ric Gassen strive to provide an experience tailored to the needs of their guests. After spending years in the corporate hotel industry, the Gassens realized they wanted to provide a more personalized experience for guests, so they dove into the bed and breakfast industry. They spent six years in Virginia running their first property before meeting Tiskilwa native Bob Sash, who was looking for innkeepers to run his newly restored inn. Being from the Midwest, the Gassens jumped at the opportunity to be closer to family. Before it was a bed and breakfast, the inn was a local antique store for 40 years. Each of the five bedrooms in the home has its own unique theme. The Wappe Room gives a nod to the Potawatomi Tribe, the original settlers of the area. The Zen Room is decorated in an Asian motif. The Garden Room is always in bloom with floral decor. The Farmhouse Room offers a rural, rustic feel. The Alpaca Room is a whimsical tribute to the nearby alpaca farm. The front library, which welcomes guests through the grand entrance, has a coastal theme, which is tied to the Gassens’ Virginia roots. Continued on page 13

The formal dining room has photos from the past families who lived there and antiques. The home was an antique shop for nearly 40 years before it was an inn.

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Pictured from left: Dr. Lori Schultz, Dr. Dennis Farrell, Dr. Jarred Farrell

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Here, the Farmhouse Room, has a spacious jacuzzi spa-style bath for guests to enjoy. The room is the only ground floor guest room. The house has five unique guest bedrooms with its own private spa-quality bath.

The Jacuzzi tub inside the Zen Room is the perfect place for relaxation.

The Wappe Room features a single queen bed and is decorated in a Native American motif, a nod to the original settlers to Tiskilwa. “Wappe” was the name of the Potawatomi village that was originally settled in the mid-1700s. Before the home was built, the Potawatomi village occupied the land where The Tiskilwa Inn is today. 12 — Spring 2020

Book a stay The Tiskilwa Inn, 155 High St. Tiskilwa, IL 61368 Phone: 815-646-1300 Email: info@thetiskilwainn.com | Online: www.thetiskilwainn.com Living magazine

Continued from page 11

Of course, being a former antique shop, there are plenty of pieces that complement the period of the home. Decor aside, the beauty of the home’s architecture speaks for itself. The ceilings in the downstairs reach 12 feet high and 10 feet high in the upstairs. There is plenty of original charm, like the pocket doors that separate the library and dining room, and the grand, winding staircase leading to the second floor. Peak season at The Tiskilwa Inn runs from April to October. The inn can also be booked for special occasions and holiday dinners. Jeremy said the inn attracts many guests from cities such as Chicago, Quad Cities and Peoria. “It’s people who literally just want to spend the day in quiet. They want to come out, rock on the porch and listen to the birds,” he said. Guests can choose a unique farm/stay option with the inn’s sister property, Tiskilwa Farms Alpacas. The option includes breakfast at the inn and a day on the alpaca farm up the road. A hot tub room is available to guests year-round. Kayak and bike rentals are available for those who wish to kayak the creek or bike the countryside roads. “We offer a lot of things,” Jeremy said. “If our guests are looking for a certain experience, we will do whatever it takes to give them that experience.”

The hot tub room off the east deck is available to guests year-round. (Photo contributed)

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Joy Kauffman, founder and president of FARM STEW, poses for a photo with children in Uganda.

FARM STEW: It’s the recipe for abundant lives in Africa Training program brings hope, practical solutions to African villagers Story by Goldie Rapp Photos contributed A locally-based organization is providing abundant life in impoverished countries and is expanding in 2020. FARM STEW, which was started by Tiskilwa resident Joy Kauffman in 2015, expanded into South Sudan, one of the most war-torn and impoverished countries in the world, and will enter Rwanda this month. FARM STEW trains local Christian leaders in holistic community development with eight “ingredients” in a “recipe” for a healthy lifestyle. It’s an acronym standing for organic, sustainable Farming, positive Attitude, Rest, whole-foods plant-based Meals, Sanitation & hygiene, Temperance, small business Enterprise and clean Water. 

Continued on page 15

14 — Spring 2020

Joy Kauffman (front row, second from right), founder and president of FARM STEW, is pictured with trainers in South Sudan. Living magazine

Continued from page 14

This Bureau County-based not-for-profit engages 28 full-time African trainers, who are trained in the FARM STEW curriculum and then go out and teach it to villagers. The “ingredients” help prevent hunger, disease and poverty. Trainers conduct hands-on classes, freely sharing practical skills so that, without creating dependency, people can help themselves. More than 80,000 participants in Uganda, South Sudan and Zimbabwe have benefited in the past four years. “There’s a lot of doors opening. It’s been very, very exciting. I’m as amazed as anybody at having the opportunity to expand to other countries,” Kauffman said. Kauffman and her team trained 62 leaders in South Sudan to improve areas such as farming, malnutrition and sanitation. Kauffman said one in three children in the country is severely malnourished, and there is not a health care system to treat chronic disease. Now she receives pictures and stories of the people’s lives who’ve been transformed, like baby Ketty, who was revived from near death. Her story and many others can be found on the FARM STEW website. Six thousand girls have been provided with washable cloth pads and panties for menstruation, which Kauffman said has completely transformed their lives by helping girls stay in school and giving them more dignity. FARM STEW hopes to reach 5,000 girls

A man from South Sudan grinds soybeans to make soymilk. Kauffman said in South Sudan, it’s unheard of that men do the cooking in their culture, so there were lots of laughs and fun during this training session.

in Africa this year for $15 per girl. A big focus this year for FARM STEW is improving water quality by fixing broken wells in impoverished communities. The organization has contracted with a local drilling company and hopes to install 50 pumps this year. Kauffman said 30 percent or more of the wells in Africa are just sitting broken and idle because the community doesn’t know how to fix them. The well drilling company FARM STEW partnered with is local and can install wells at an average cost of $4,600, when normally it would cost $10,000. Prior to getting the wells repaired, FARM STEW trainers work with villages to establish savings groups that can cover the cost of pump maintenance and well repairs in the future, therefore preventing them from sitting broken again. Trainers working with FARM STEW continue to teach plantbased nutrition, which is another way the organization is transforming lives. Kauffman said many villagers can’t afford milk or animal-sourced protein. One of the

most appreciated lessons FARM STEW has brought to villages is the knowledge to make soy milk at a reduced cost. “Kids get healthy, and parents feel like they are accomplishing something. It’s uniting families,” she said. “It’s so easy for people to feel hopeless about the world and focus on all the negative things happening in the world. We’re creating the possibility of people living an abundant life and it’s working. “We praise God for the opportu-

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nity to share his love in this way.” When Kauffman isn’t in Africa working on initiatives for FARM STEW, she’s back home managing the organization via the internet and speaking to local and national organizations interested in learning more about FARM STEW. “I get so excited about it. I want to convey some of the joy back to the people who are giving to make it possible. There are local people and churches like Hampshire Colony, ECC, Fairview UMC, and the Lutheran Church who are giving and spreading the word by letting us speak about the FARM STEW. I am so grateful for the local support,” she said. Kauffman is always willing to speak to groups interested in learning more about the mission, and she’s often in need of volunteers to help with local efforts. To learn more about FARM STEW, call Joy or Cherri Olin at 815-200-4925 or visit farmstew.org. Donations can be sent to P.O. Box 291, Princeton, IL 61356 or made online.

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LEFT: The Greenwood Cottage, Taylor Home catches the eye with its lavender shade. It was built by Joseph Inskeep Taylor, who used the American style guide of Andrew Jackson Downing for this Gothic Revival home. Downing believed a home should be designed in harmony with nature. RIGHT: A Swiss architect created the Cooper Home. The prominent oriel window (bay window on second floor) was designed for the owner’s invalid child in order to have a good view of the neighborhood.

Prince-ton charming

From Greek to Gothic, Colonial to Queen Anne, there’s a lot of architectural history to see in county seat Story & Photos by Andrea Mills

Stately homes and unique architectural features can be found throughout Princeton. Through the work of the Bureau County Architectural Preservation Society, a brochure listing 33 buildings of historical significance provides visitors with a roadmap to the stars of Princeton’s architectural landscape, taking visitors on a tour through the city’s neighborhoods. While the more ambitious among us could take the tour on foot and study the features of the buildings better, I chose to treat this as a driving tour, due to the distance involved. During the tour, we looked at the architecture of the homes and buildings. For the most part, these are private homes. The brochure has a sketch of each structure, the address and a brief description. Building names come from their original owners. We began at the Amtrak station, built in 1911, at 107 Bicentennial Drive. It’s open to 16 — Spring 2020

The Priestley Home in Princeton was built about 1892 and is one of 33 sites listed in Princeton’s self-guided Architectural Heritage tour.

the public and customers; lobby hours are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. Call 815-872-4310 for more information. The station is Prairie style, one of my favorites. From there, we went past the former North End Library, built in 1910; it’s Prairie style as well. Be sure to note the figureheads under the gable eaves.

Next, we venture down Elm Place. If you go, be prepared to be awed by some of these homes. • Priestley Home, 313 Elm Place, circa 1892 — Dutch Colonial with gambrel roof. • Brown Home, 323 Elm Place, circa 1890 — Queen Anne style. Continued on page 17 Living magazine

Continued from page 16

• Virden Home, 425 Elm Place, 1876 — This is an Italianate home, but builders snuck in a porch in the Colonial Revival style later on. Two destinations are on Euclid Avenue: The house at 209 N. Euclid Ave., whose original owner remains unknown, was built about 1880. It’s a worker’s cottage with a big porch and gingerbread siding decorating it. The next one, Princeton High School at 103 S. Euclid Ave., was built in 1925 and is Tudor Revival with a Tudor arch at the main door. No. 8 on the list is the Johnson Home at 405 E. Peru St. Built in 1904, the home features a variety of styles, a Queen Anne turret, Prairie Square shape and Colonial Revival in the trim on the turret and porch. This home starts us off on East Peru Street, where we’ll also find the following: • Greenwood Cottage, Taylor Home, 543 E. Peru St., 1852 — Gothic Revival. • Evergreen Lodge, Ballou Home, 609 E. Peru St., 1861 — The house is in the Upright and Wing architectural style and features Italianate brackets under the eaves and Gothic Revival porch trim. • Owen Lovejoy Homestead, 903 E. Peru St., 1838 — This was once an Underground

Living magazine

Built in 1919, the A.H. Peterson Home is in the Bungalow style, a style that became one of the most common among American homes and originated in Britishcontrolled India.

Railroad stop. The home is open to the public from May through September; call 815-8799151 for hours. On we go to Park Avenue. On this tour, don’t worry if you go past a house. I did several turns to go back and get a second look, as I wanted to see them all. Fortunately, no one was outside watching me go around and around. • Elliott Home, 441 Park Ave. East, circa 1920— Prairie style. • G.M. Peterson Home, 421 Park Ave. East,

circa 1900 — Colonial Revival. • Trimble Home, 121 Park Ave. East, 1903 — Georgian Revival. • Carse Home, 302 Park Ave. East, 1847 — Greek Revival. • Cooper Home, 203 Park Ave. East, 1900 — This Swiss chalet style home was designed by a Swiss architect. I particularly liked this one. It’s also the halfway mark on the tour, more or less. Continued on page 18

Spring 2020— 17

LEFT: This house at 209 N. Euclid Ave. is done in the Worker’s Cottage style, which got its name due to its popularity among the working class. RIGHT: Made of brick, the Virden Home used to be a farmhouse. It shows off its Italianate style elegantly, with a touch of Colonial Revival in the porch. Continued from page 17

• Stevens Home, 125 Park Ave. East, 1849 — Italianate. The house is named for Justus Stevens, the city’s first mayor. • McConihe Home, 101 Park Ave. East, 1844 — Greek Revival and Gothic Revival. • Matson Public Library building, 15 Park Ave. West, 1913 — Prairie style (the current library is at 698 E. Peru St.). • Bureau County Historical Society Museum, 109 Park Ave. West, 1900 — Formerly the Clark-Norris Home, this Prairie Square style house is open to the public. Go to bureaucountyhistoricalsociety.com or call 815-875-2184 for more information. • Sutton Home, 215 Park Ave. West, 1909 — Prairie Square or Four-Square. • Delano Home, 303 Park Ave. West, built in 1877, updated in 1906 — Italianate style first, with a modernized west wing added later. • Shepard Home, 323 Park Ave. West, 1862 — Upright and Wing with French windows; note the Gothic Revival trim and Italianate brackets under the eaves. • Kendall Home, 414 Park Ave. West, main house built in 1863 — Italianate style. • A.H. Peterson Home, 316 Park Ave. West, 1919 — Bungalow style. • Windsor Home, 128 Park Ave. West, 1908 — Prairie style. That’s quite a list. Moving on, we head to South Main Street to view the following: • Bureau County Courthouse, 700 S. Main St., 1937 — Done in the Art Deco style, the courthouse is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. • Bryant Home, 1518 S. Main St., 1839 — 18 — Spring 2020

The houses in Princeton are like an architectural melting pot. The Johnson Home, built in 1904, has Queen Anne, Prairie Square and Colonial Revival styles.

Gothic Revival, Underground Railroad stop. • Clark Home, 1930 S. Main St., 1837 — Greek Revival. And we finish up with the Horton Home, an Italianate-style home built in 1871 at 1209 S. Main St. This tour can be done all at once or broken up into whatever sections you’d like. I enjoyed finding the buildings and looking at their different styles. My only difficulty was, as the driver, having a chance to actually look at them. The course I followed had me almost always on streets that had “no parking” on my

side of the road. My viewing depended upon having an empty street behind me. So to get a good look, if necessary, I suggest parking the car on a side street and walking past the houses to take your time and not be a traffic hazard. But other than the parking issue, touring Princeton in this way was delightful. It was interesting to wander around the city streets. An amazing number of interesting houses exist there. You won’t be disappointed – and don’t forget to stop for lunch at a local restaurant or visit the local shops. Living magazine

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NOW O ome PEN in Pr


CUSTOMIZE YOUR HOME! Single Family Homes FOR SALE in an age restricted community.

The unique features of The Villas include: • Membership to AJ’s Fitness Center, located on site • Spacious 2-3 bedroom floor plans • Attached garage • Full size kitchens • Design for accessibility and safety 140 N. 5th St., Princeton • Active community for those 55 or better 815.875.6600 2322 N. Eastwood Dr., Streator

815.672.1900 3230 Becker Dr., Peru Call for more information on The Villas and to schedule your tour. 20 — Spring 2020

815.224.2200 www.simplythefinest.net Living magazine

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