Category: Business in New Hampshire

Thank you Nancy Achilles

Stupid people tricks.  yeah, that’s me this morning.

Mailbox on Inclinephoto © 2008 J.D. Page | more info (via: Wylio)I was going to my son’s Christmas play this morning, sneaking in a quick errand then back home to my keyboard to write. Great plan, that is until my quick errand went awry.

See, I had two envelopes, one with an address and a stamp and one with To: Michele From: Lee written on the front.  It contained paperwork from the recently completed Girl Scout Fall Product Sale. Paperwork that was due today and the absence of said paperwork would make a ton of extra work for another volunteer.  Guess which one I mailed?  Yup, the Girl Scout paperwork.

First there is that stunned shock of OH NO I DIDN’T.  Then as I heard the loud steel bang of the mail box chute closing there was the panic of OH YES, I DID!!

I called Michele and she suggested calling the Post Office.  I finally reached a nice woman from the local distribution center who said the carrier that services that box hadn’t left yet.  She took my number and told me she’d call me when he picked it up.

The mailbox was 7 minutes from my house.  I wasn’t home but 10 minutes when my phone rang and the nice woman was telling me she had my wayward envelope and asked how far was I from the box.

WHEW!!!

I drove to meet her and thanked her profusely for making a special trip.  Then I asked her name and which office she worked out of (I was thinking I’d send a note to her supervisor).  Her name was Nancy oh, she IS THE POSTMASTER of CONCORD!

She wished me Happy Holidays and we went our separate ways. She didn’t have to do that.  As Postmaster, I’m sure she has a few other things to attend to, especially this time of year, but I am really grateful that she took the time to help me out.

That my friends is the spirit of the season!

White Mountain Cupcakery

A golden yellow cupcake with swirls of luscious, chocolate, buttercream frosting and dusted with color sprinkles
Image courtesy of White Mountain Cupcakery

It was the name.

White Mountain Cupcakery.

We’d had a lovely overnight at the Red Jacket Resort, and had just finished a delicious, made-to-order breakfast. It was a beautiful, crisp, fall New England day and we were in no rush to get home, so we decided to spend the day exploring North Conway. My son is obsessed with maps, so he picked up one of those promotional maps that highlights local attractions. Despite being ready to explode from breakfast, as soon as I saw the words White Mountain Cupcakery, I knew we had to stop.

The store is located at 2757 White Mountain Highway, the main drag through North Conway. The sunny yellow victorian is on your right as you head North (maybe to Storyland or Cranmore Mountain). We found a parking spot right out front and made our way in.

Kathy Iannuzzi Co-owner Kathy Iannuzzi was there with a bright smile. She welcomed us as she filled an order for the people in front of us. I asked the woman ordering if the cupcakes were good and she replied with a resounding YES!

The cupcakes looked picturesque, something out of a Martha Stewart cookbook. The cake base was sizable, and the rippled pillows of frosting nestled on top just called out to my index finger (fortunately they were behind glass).

We each selected our own cupcake and although tempted by the seasonal offerings (Apple Pie and Pumpkin), we all stayed with some version of chocolate. The kids both went with Chocolate Avalanche (chocolate cupcake, chocolate frosting and chocolate chips), my husband picked a Chocolate Sno-Ball (chocolate cupcake, with buttercream frosting), and I went with Chocolate Raspberry (chocolate cupcake filled with raspberry filling finished with chocolate frosting).

As pretty as something looks, in my mind, it is the taste that truly matters. The cake was a rich chocolate and the raspberry filling added nice moisture. The frosting was chocolaty enough, but I’m a buttercream purist. I’m not wild about buttercream frosting that incorporates shortening. However, pure buttercream frosting is VERY difficult to work with especially in any kind of decorative manner. In this case, the frosting was a good blend of buttercream taste and shortening for structure.

The cupcakes are sizable lasted through a 12 day in the truck while we explored. We had half for dessert that night and the other half held up nicely the second day. All in all, a stop well worth making.

The White Mountain Cupcakery also prepares cakes and seasonal delicacies (Cannoli, GingerBread houses and a family recipe for Struffoli). Visit them online at wmcupcakery.com or like them on Facebook. Definitely stop by the next time you are ANYWHERE near North Conway.  You won’t be disappointed.

A menu listing all the cupcake offerings

A Staycation – The Red Jacket Inn and Kahuna Laguna

Earlier this month, we were blessed with a four day weekend. The kids had Thursday off for Veteran’s Day and Friday was a teacher’s workshop. I’m a list keeper, so there were certainly more than enough tasks to keep us close to home, but I wanted some family time and decided a quick getaway was in order.

The kids LOVE water parks. I looked at the two options in Massachusetts, but then decided to put our money were our mouths were and go local(ish). I booked a Stay and Splash package at the Red Jacket Resort in North Conway, New Hampshire. From beginning to end, I was pleased with the experience.

I looked at Trip Advisor for reviews and then went online to make our reservations. The booking system is fairly straight forward. I picked the Kahuna Laguna + Breakfast package with a garden view room with two double beds. The package included overnight accommodations for four (two adults and two children under 12), water park bracelets for four and breakfast for four.

We didn’t tell the kids where we were going or what we were doing. We just packed a few bags and launched the GPS. When we walked in, I told the woman at the front desk we’d gotten in the truck and this was where the GPS brought us and I was hoping they had a reservation for us. She played right along asking my daughter for our last name etc. The she outlined what our package included like I had no clue what was available. The look on Fish’s face when she heard “water park” was priceless. The only hitch was that I thought the our water park time was Friday morning, we found out upon arrival it was Thursday evening. At first I panicked thinking we’d short changed the kids, but it turns out that three hours is plenty of time to get your fill at Kahuna Laguna

Our room was very nice. Larger than your standard hotel room always a plus with four people. It even had a balcony! The Red Jacket is not a brand new resort, but it is very well maintained and updated. They even upgraded us to a Mountain View room. We quickly changed and headed to the water park. The snack bar wasn’t open, but we were able to order a pizza and drinks from the bar. It was $30 plus tip for a large, one topping, pizza and four non-alcoholic beverages (beer and wine were available). We were delighted that the pizza was better than average.

For those who might be used to Typhoon Lagoon at Disney or the more local Whale’s Tale or Water Country, Kahuna Laguna is small. It features two slides you ride in an inflatable tube and two body slides, a wave pool, a hot tub, basketball hoops, play space for the short and loud crowd and a sprinkler area. Kids have to be at least 42 inches to ride any of the slides. My daughter was tall enough to ride everything. My son is over 42 inches, but under 48 inches, so he was excluded from the body slides. He is not the strongest swimmer, so didn’t seem to mind at all. They provided a life jacket (free of charge) for his safety and comfort.

There are free lockers, an abundance of towels and life guards were ever present (my husband and I commented on how many miles they must walk in one shift). The water is treated, but it is not that overwhelming chlorine smell, it is a salt based system that is easier on the skin.

After three hours, it wasn’t hard to convince the kids it was time to call it a day. We all rinsed off in the showers at the park and headed back to our room. The water park is heated to 82 degrees, and the stroll through the lobby was a little brisk, but not bad at all.

The next morning, there was free coffee, tea and hot chocolate in the first floor lounge. Once we were all showered and dressed, we headed upstairs for a made to order breakfast. The kids enjoyed waffles and pancakes while my husband and I stuck with the traditional bacon and eggs. The eggs were farm fresh (I can tell the difference) and the bacon was thick. All was well with the world.

Me standing next to a PacMan Machine.  We packed up and spent some time in the game room, where I was able to scratch my itch for classic PacMan. We spent the rest of the day poking around North Conway, a blog post unto itself.

Rates at the Red Jacket vary by day of the week and time of year. A stay can get pricey, but with a little planning and flexibility, there are bargains to be had. Kahuna Laguna does offer day passes for $20 for swimmers and $10 for observers. We had a great time and would definitely stay at the Red Jacket again, but both my husband and I feel like we’ve “been there, done that” as far as Kahuna Laguna is concerned . The kids on the other hand would go back in a heartbeat. All in all a good time close to home.

Have you been? What was your experience? Have you been to either of the water parks in Massachusetts?

An Open Letter To Trader Joe’s

Dear  Trader Joe’s:

I can remember wandering into one of your stores in Concord, California about 8 years ago and being put off by all of the private label items. We were on vacation and I was just looking for brands I recognized. I was dumb. I didn’t get it. It has taken me WAY too long, but I have come around. I have seen the light. Good food, less processing, reasonable prices. Like most people who convert late in life, I have become rather passionate in my preaching. I ❤ TJs!

I started reading labels about 4 years ago, I was looking to exclude a preservative that triggered migraine headaches in my husband. Little did I know what I was getting myself into. Once I started reading labels and realizing that I couldn’t recognize much of what was in my food, I started looking for less processed food. I’ll never be macrobiotic, but still I believe we can cut some of the filler out of our diet. I quickly found it is hard to find foods are less processed. When I found alternatives, they were pricey. Then I found Trader Joe’s. I found the food I was looking for without the junk I wasn’t. Don’t get me wrong, Trader Joe’s is not bargain basement, but it is good food at a reasonable price. I found the food I was looking for with ingredients I could identify at a price I was willing to pay. I was happy, sort of. Once you get a taste of what is possible, you want it more frequently. Sadly, the nearest Trader Joe’s is 45 minutes away from me (without traffic).

This brings me to the point of this missive,

NEW HAMPSHIRE DESERVES A TRADER JOE’S.

Ahem. Why should Massachusetts and (soon) Maine have all the fun? New Hampshire is a great state filled with lots of wonderful people many of whom share my concern for eating well for a reasonable cost.PLEASE can we have a Trader Joe’s?

Let’s talk about locations shall we? Nashua can easily drive to Tyngsboro, MA. My ideal location would be Concord, because that is my closest shopping mecca, but if you are going sheerly by the numbers, you could look at Manchester. Oh, I know how about Hooksett as a compromise?

These days, I have my milk delivered by http://www.nhmilk.com and I purchase my meat in bulk, so I only grocery shop every 10 -14 days to feed a family of 4. But, I solemnly promise that if you bring a Trader Joe’s with in a 30 minute drive, I will make it my primary grocery store and I’ll bring all my friends too!

So what do you say? Will you at least think about it?

Thanks!

Lee

Miles Smith Farm – Locally Raised Beef

Miles Smith Farm pasture raised, hormone free, anti-biotic free, beef

How many times have you heard “live your passion”? How many times have you met people who actually ARE living their passion? You need to meet Carole Soule and Bruce Dawson of Miles Smith Farm in Loudon. Their passion is locally grown food.

The pair met when they worked at Digital Equipment Corporation (now Hewlet Packard). In 2000, they cleared some land on their farm.  Their search for a low maintenance method of keeping the land clear lead them to purchase sheep.  That venture was short lived when the coyotes took the sheep as snacks.

Carole Soule with Blue Moo a shaggy Scottish Highland cow
Carole and Blue Moo

After some research, they settled on cattle, specifically, the Scottish Highland breed. The coat on Highland cattle is long and bushy. It that resembles the shagginess of a sheep dog but is rougher and thicker. The coat keeps the animal warm during the cold winter months. For the farmer, this means the cattle don’t have it be kept in the barn all winter. For the consumer, this means a naturally leaner cut of meat because the animal doesn’t require back the fat to stay warm.

Carole and Bruce started with two pregnant cows.  They were “guaranteed” to calf easily  but, as with many aspects of life on a farm, things didn’t go exactly as planned. The first birthed easy, the second, not so much.  Farming is frequently about on the job training and Carole says if she knew then what she knows now they would not have lost that calf.

It would be a few years before they slaughteed their first cow.  The meat was good, but later cows have delivered even leaner, more flavorful meat.   Genetics plays a very important role in building a healthy happy herd of cows. They also discovered that the right butcher makes all the difference when preparing meat for human consumption.  They put their knowledge to work and started expanding their herd.

Eventually the herd grew so that they had more meat then they could eat or give away. Carole approached the Concord Co-op to see if they would be interested in a source for locally raised, hormone-free, anti-biotic-free beef.  The Co-op  jumped at the chance. The response was fantastic,  So much so it was hard to keep up with the demand.

Farming is a community venture.  Farmers rely on each other for stock, knowledge and help. Carole and Bruce had developed a network of local, small family farms who shared their views on raising hormone free, anti-biotic free, cattle. With the help of that network they were able to provide the additional meat to necessary to guarantee a steady supply.

As the heard grew and the sales of their meet increased so did the workload. Bruce eventually retired from his job as a software engineer to become a full-time farmer. That doesn’t mean he left his interest in high technology behind. There are WebCams of the farm and according to Carole the  water troughs even have WiFi Internet access in case he wants to set up cameras to check on the cows.  Carole  balances farm responsibilities including public relations and marketing with her full-time job in sales compensation for HP.

Carole feels the cows are her employees and they should be afforded the same respect as human employees. Although she does find in necessary to reward the bovine employees in a different method than the 5 part time staffers who help she and Bruce run the farm and the store.

The store stocks their Scottish Highland beef as well as locally raised Angus beef, pork, lamb, chicken and goat. Winter hours are Tuesday, Thursday 4:30pm – 7:30pm Wednesday from 9am to 1pm and Saturdays from 9am to 3pm. Many local businesses and restaurants also stock their beef.

Scottish Highland Cattle with a human friendOn Sunday October 10th, from 9 AM to 4 PM the farm is hosting their 5th annual Farm Day and hoping to attract close to 2000 people throughout the day. There will be a band, hayrides and plenty of locally grown food (including the legendary Miles Smith Beef Stew). Miles and Eliza Smith founders of the farm in the 1830’s will also be there to converse farm life. There is no charge to attend, but there is a $5 charge for hayrides, children under 12 are free.  Download the November 2009 Loudon Ledger for an article about last year’s festivities.

I’ve had grass fed beef before and it reminded me of cardboard. So with a little trepidation I purchased some of Miles Smith beef at the Concord Farmer’s market this spring. I was very pleasantly surprised the meet had a rich flavor and despite being 90% lean, it was still moist and juicy.

For more information, visit the Miles Smith Farm website. There, you will find a list of restaurants that serve their beef and stores that sell it prepackaged.

The Inn-Bedded Resorter

Sorry to have been absent from here for so long.  I’ve been working on a new joint project, The New Hampshire Writers’ Network.  NHWN is a networking group for writers with ties to New Hampshire. Come the fall we will offer monthly meetings in the Concord area, but for now our focus is on our blog, Write to Live, Live to write.

I have a post up over there today about a really cool job opportunity for the right person.  Go check it out.

NH Resort The BALSAMS Inn-Bedded Resorter Search

I

I read this article today on Boston.com about the how the airports in Providence and Manchester are suffering since Southwest and other low-cost carriers have come to Boston’s Logan Airport. The article says price is the main determinant when people consider flying out Logan versus one of the regional airports. I disagree.

I Love Manchester Boston Regional Airport, a.k.a MHT and given airfares that are even close to each other, I’ll pick MHT even if it is higher.

The airport itself is right off the highway and parking is easily accessible. If I want to keep my car out of the elements, parking is $17 per day for the garage. If I’m feeling thrifty (and usually I am) the outside lots are $10 per day (compare that to Logan’s $24 per day garage or open lot). Shuttle service to the terminals is frequent and the drivers are usually friendly. Plus I typically have no trouble finding a spot close to a shuttle stop.

If I’m traveling with my kids I especially prefer flying from MHT. Manchester is significantly smaller than Logan and while I don’t want to insinuate in any way that the security is lax, it is just a difference vibe. I think because the volume of travelers is lower, the pace is just a little less frenetic allowing the staff time to smile and interact with passengers. They take the task at hand is no less seriously, but the pace even on a busy day is just a smidge more relaxed and to me that makes all the difference in the world.

The terminals at Manchester are also newer. They are airier and easily incorporate plants and skylights and they were designed with security in mind. Most of Logan’s terminals were built when everyone could just walk down the concourse and wait at the gate boarding pass or not. Thus, they’ve had to retro fit to squeeze a lot of checkpoints into a minimal amount of space. The compression of many bodies in a small space contributes to the tension in the air at Logan.

As with any regional airport, the downside is the lack of direct flights. If you are flying out of Manchester, chances are very good, you are going to have to change planes before you arrive at your final destination. And, I don’t know about you, but it drives me NUTS to fly West to Detroit to get from Manchester to Charlotte, NC but, that is the trade of you make.

The Boston.com touts lower fares as the main reason most people choose to fly out of Logan. To my way of thinking there has to be a SIGNIFICANT fare difference for me to trek to Logan. In my experience, flights to many locations have been between $15 and $100 more expensive out of Manchester. When you factor in the additional expense of parking at Logan or the cost of a round trip bus ticket, from Concord to Logan, I have found the cost difference drops to closer to $10-$20 per ticket. Factor in the additional hassle of getting to and negotiating Logan, and thanks, I’ll fly out of Manchester.

I’m not saying I NEVER fly out of Logan. For example, last June, I flew solo with both kids out of Logan to Charlotte. It was close half the price per ticket to fly direct from Boston to Charlotte, but, that is definitely the exception, not the rule.

Some quick stats about Manchester Boston Regional Airport (via http://www.flymanchester.com/)

  • MHT employs 1,900 people on the airport property with an annual payroll of $75.8 million and 1,920 employees of property (businesses related to airport activity) with a payroll of $77.1 million.
  • MHT is served by 6 airlines including, Air Canada, Continental, Delta, Southwest, US Airways and United, and has launched a grass roots campaign to bring Jet Blue Airways to Manchester. http://www.flymanchester.com/about/news.php (third release down on the list).
  • 19 cities are served by direct flights, with endless possibilities after that. Direct flight cities go as far west as Las Vegas as far South as Fort Lauderdale and as far North as Toronto Canada.
  • The airport’s best travel year ever was 2005 when more than 4 million travels were served. 2008 (the last year for which statistics are available), was the lowest travel year in 5 years with just over 3,700,000 travelers.
  • Sometime in 2006, MHT launched a pilot program to offer shuttle service between the airport, Northern Massachusetts and Boston. By 2008, the program was servicing between 500 and 900 passengers a week and the service was taken over by Flightline, Inc. http://www.flightlineinc.com/
  • You can follow Manchester Boston Regional Airport on Twitter

I wanted to snap some pictures on a recent trip, but I thought I’d most likely give some TSA person fits, so go visit their web site www.flymanchester.com for great views.

Doot Doot Doot Walkin’ Out My Back Door

Snow shoes, me on snow shoes

At the risk of repeating myself.  I LOVE winter.  Generally I love the snow (although there are times when it is frustrating).  I love the cool air, warm sweaters, steaming mugs of tea or hot cocoa, soups, roasts, and I could go on and on.

I also enjoy a host of outdoor activities. I’m a solid intermediate down hill skier and have been on cross country skis once or twice.  This year, Santa brought me snowshoes, so I can add that activity to my repertoire.
We are fortunate that there is undeveloped land with quasi-cleared trails just outside our back door, so I got to try them out last week.  It was a bright sunny winter day and the morning temperatures were making their climb from the high teens to the projected high just above freezing. The air was crisp and clear. In short, a great day to be outside.
I’ve heard it said that snowshoeing is great exercise and I’d have to agree.  I was only out half an hour and definitely broke a sweat yet at the same time, it wasn’t strenuous, in the way that say running or riding a stationary bike would be, It was more like being on an active walk.  It was really fun being able to trek through the snow with relative ease.
Frequently, when walking, I have my iPod for company, this day was no different, but a few minutes in, I was moved to pause the music and just listen.  To those who say the country is quiet, I say BAH!  Aside from the crunch, crunch, crunch, below my feet, there were birds chirping, and the occasional skittering of critters I didn’t stop to identify.  There was a slight breeze, that rustled ever so slightly through the evergreens. It was perhaps the quintessential definition of bucolic.
If you like to move, but don’t seek the thrill of speed, snowshoeing could definitely be for you. Compared to some winter activities like skiing or snowmobiling, the cost of entry for snowshoeing is relatively low.   Some ski resorts and inns offer snow shoe rentals as do some sporting equipment stores including Eastern Mountain Sports (http://www.ems.com). At the store  on Fort Eddy road in Concord, you can rent snow shoes  for $15 per day, $30 for 3 days or $35 for a week. They even have a few small sizes for elementary aged kids.  If you are in the market to buy, it is possible to spend an iceberg of money, but on the other hand, Sam’s Club had decent pairs for $60-$90.
You can snow shoe at many state parks, ski resorts or even golf courses (make sure you ask permission before trespassing on private property). Trails.com lists their best snowshoeing trails. http://www.trails.com/toptrails.aspx?area=13704
Here’s a list from New Hampshire.com of snowshoeing venues. http://www.newhampshire.com/winter/nh-snowshoeing.aspx
If you are looking for a get away that includes snow shoeing, Visit New Hampshire (http://www.visitnh.gov) was kind enough to provide this list too (thanks Tai):
VisitNH New Hampshire has numerous places to stay and enjoy a variety of winter sports – from skiing and snowboarding, to snowshoeing, snowtubing, ice skating and more. Here are some ideas:
So, grab your gloves, pull on a fleece and let’s get moving!
Disclosure, I have no ties to any of the organizations listed in this entry.  Marketing information about vacation packages provided by Visit New Hampshire.  Follow them on Facebook or visit the web site at http://www.visitnh.gov

Oh Christmas Tree

I don’t think there is a much more quintessential Christmas-in-New-England activity than tagging and cutting down your own Christmas Tree.
Growing up in the suburbs of Philadelphia, the quest for the “perfect” tree meant visiting the Boy Scouts, a local church or the camper of questionable origin inhabiting the abandoned gas station on the corner.  Sometimes, it meant visiting all three (or more) but that is a story for another time.
The first Christmas I spent in New Hampshire my future husband and mother-in-law took me to a local tree farm to cut down the tree.  I was amazed that such places really existed (city kid, remember??).
Now that we have our own family, one of our traditions is to tag a tree around Thanksgiving and return to cut it down a few weeks before Christmas. It eases us into the Christmas season.
There is a sign advertising trees on a road we travel virtually every day.  From the road, you don’t expect much, but once you pull in to the driveway, there are trees almost as far as the eye can see. I love it because clearly this is a side business for the homeowner, but one that he enjoys.  We’ve never even met the man.  Trees are tagged and purchased on the honor system (another reason I like supporting this business).
The day we went to tag our tree, we’d been geocaching (link), so I had the GPS with me.  For giggles, I set a way point (a fixed location that you can navigate back to) in the GPS, so we could easily find our tree.  This would have been much more helpful IF, I had actually remembered to bring the GPS with us when we went to cut down the tree this past Saturday.
Snow had fallen since our initial visit and our collective memory was a little foggy.  Eventually Daddy circled in on it and much to everyone’s relief, our carefully selected tree was located.
I held.
Daddy sawed.
Then we all paraded back to the truck with our treasure.  It rested in the basement overnight to shed its snow and on Sunday decoration commenced.
From a purist perspective, this is far from the perfect tree.  It would never have passed my mother’s scrutiny.  The trunk isn’t really straight, it has some bare spots and a bulge of growth on one side. The kids love it and, I think it is the perfect tree (even if it does require string to insure it stands upright).
As we were battling to keep the tree upright (see string above), my husband muttered something about an artificial tree next year.  I have just four words.
Over  my  dead  body.

Trees and Sign CollageI don’t think there is a much more quintessential Christmas-in-New-England activity than tagging and cutting down your own Christmas Tree.

Growing up in the suburbs of Philadelphia, the quest for the “perfect” tree meant visiting the Boy Scouts, a local church or the camper of questionable origin inhabiting the abandoned gas station on the corner.  Sometimes, it meant visiting all three (or more) but that is a story for another time.

The first Christmas I spent in New Hampshire my future husband and mother-in-law took me to a local tree farm to cut down the tree.  I was amazed that such places really existed (city kid, remember??).

Now that we have our own family, one of our traditions is to tag a tree around Thanksgiving and return to cut it down a few weeks before Christmas. It eases us into the Christmas season.

There is a sign advertising trees on a road we travel virtually every day.  From the road, you don’t expect much, but once you pull in to the driveway, there are trees almost as far as the eye can see. I love it because clearly this is a side business for the homeowner, but one that he enjoys.  We’ve never even met the man.  Trees are tagged and purchased on the honor system (another reason I like supporting this business).

The day we went to tag our tree, we’d been geocaching, so I had the GPS with me.  For giggles, I set a way point (a fixed location that you can navigate back to) in the GPS, so we could easily find our tree.  This would have been much more helpful IF, I had actually remembered to bring the GPS with us when we went to cut down the tree this past Saturday.

Snow had fallen since our initial visit and our collective memory was a little foggy.  Eventually Daddy circled in on it and much to everyone’s relief, our carefully selected tree was located.

Hold Cut and dragI held.

Daddy sawed.

Then we all paraded back to the truck with our treasure.  It rested in the basement overnight to shed its snow and on Sunday decoration commenced.

From a purist perspective, this is far from the perfect tree.  It would never have passed my mother’s scrutiny.  The trunk isn’t really straight, it has some bare spots and a bulge of growth on one side. The kids love it and, I think it is the perfect tree (even if it does require string to insure it stands upright).

As we were battling to keep the tree upright (see string above), my husband muttered something about an artificial tree next year.  I have just four words.

Over  my  dead  body.

Our Christmas tree in all its splendor
Our Christmas tree in all its splendor

Powerless No More

Saturday was a blustery November day and according to news sources, at one time more than 50,000 homes in New Hampshire were without power.  We joined those ranks just as I was washing the conditioner out of my hair.  The lights fluttered and faltered and eventually the whole house went dark. It was bound to happen, live in these parts for any period of time and you WILL loose power while you are in the shower.

Losing power used to freak me out.  Although my husband and his family could take it in stride, a mild sense of panic would descend on me and I’d run around looking for candles, matches and flashlights.  After close to 7 years, I can honestly say I’m almost getting used to it.  I think some of the comfort comes from knowing what to expect and understanding what is needed to keep day-to-day life going without “the juice”.

Our Generator in all its glory
Our Generator in all its glory
I really cut my teeth during the floods of 2007. We were without power, phone and Internet for almost 4 days and the timing could not have been worse as I was staring down major work deadlines. We were fortunate to borrow a generator 1 day in, but it only powered the bare essentials, heat, water, the refrigerator and one light over the kitchen sink. Immediately after the storm, we started researching generators with the intent of purchasing our own.   Once you return to normal life, and the chaos fades, it is easy to put a major purchase like that on the back burner.  I forgot all about it until one fall day when my son came screeching into the house.  “Mommy, Daddy bought you a present!”  I made my way outside to the truck to find our very own generator.  My glee at the purchase surprised me.

We’ve used it several times most notably during the ice storms of ‘08 and once we got our power back, it made the rounds to friends and family until their lights came on. The catch has been that every time we wanted to use it, there needed to be some serious rewiring done before we fired it up.  Just last week, we made arrangements with Nathan Poland from Univolt, LLC, to come today and install the necessary plugs and wiring to make the transition smoother. Yeah, the irony wasn’t lost on us either as the wind howled.

As I type this, Nathan is in the basement toiling away. When all is said and done, I will supposedly be able to fire up this sucker all by myself. I think I can feel my city-kid roots withering away just a little bit.

What is your best/worst power outage story?

Nathan Poland is a Certified Master Electrician and the owner of Univolt, LLC, a an authorized dealer of Generac whole house automatic and portable generators (ours is not a Generac).  If you are interested in learning more about emergency power sources, please contact him at 603-254-4023 or univoltllc (at) gmail (dot) com and tell him you read it here! This information is posted purely as a courtesy to my readers, I received no compensation for mentioning Univolt, LLC.