Category: This New Hampshire Life

Thankful . . .


    Me and my man on our wedding day

    …for a wonderful man who walks beside me in this world, who won’t let me take myself too seriously, who provides so I can follow my dreams, who helps me raise these two beautiful children we created together.


    My kids making silly faces.…for my children who challenge me and make want to be my best, who giggle unabashedly and love unconditionally, who make me proud to be their mother.
 

    … for friends who love me for who I am, warts and all, who help when I ask and even when I don’t (but I should), who call bullshit when necessary, and encourage me always. (NOTE: No photo because I am blessed with so many friends all of their  photos wouldn’t fit on this page).

    … for family, related by genetics or by choice, who show me from where I came and who collectively, share the experiences that make me who I am. (Again no photo because I am blessed to call many people family).

My husband, my kids, my friends and my family, those are the big ones, if I lost everything else tomorrow, so long as I had them, I would survive.

I am thankful for a host of other things that make my life more pleasant, including:


    my camera and Shutterfly to capture the memories and remind me of the experiences that I cherish

    my Kindle to enlarge the print of all the marvelous publications that fire my imagination and feed my quest for knowledge.

    my computer, my Internet connection and all that comes with it, this blog and the other I read faithfully, Facebook (even if it is a love/hate relationship), Twitter, and DamnYouAutoCorrect

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

P.S. to Dennis, even though the smell of turnips, hell even the thought of turnips makes me gag, some how it just isn’t Thanksgiving with out at least the THREAT of turnips appearing on the table. Miss you.

Touch-a-Truck

The PTA sponsored a Touch-a-Truck event as a fundraiser last weekend. We took Mim and had a blast. Trucks are COOL!

A boom Truck with an American Flag on Top, AMan helping Mim into a truck, Mim driving and Mim in front of a Giant tractor wheel.The weather was perfect allbeit a little breezy.  They had an awesome turn out and raised some money.  There is talk of making it an annual event.

 

Soon!

Snow on the ski trails at the top of the mountain.

Mother Nature is having a rough time.  Two weeks ago it was Snowtober. This week it has been sunny and sixty degrees.  Still, ski season isn’t far off.

SEE!?  There’s snow on them thar hills ;). Ok so maybe we aren’t ready to hit the slopes quite yet, but one sure sign that ski season approachith is the annual Ski Gear Sale at Gunstock.  My neighbor Becky turned me on to this little gem of an event.  Perhaps little isn’t quite the right word.  It is HUGE and there as skis of all makes and models from down hill racing to cross country.

Skis, Skis and More Skis, Welcome to Gunstock, and Boots, Boots and Boots

We didn’t make it with the kids until lunchtime and still we found bargins. I found gently used boots for each kid for $30 a piece.  Skis for my kids (1 Intermediate skier and 1 beginner) were between $75 and $90 including bindings.  Ideally we’ll get at least two years on the skis for each child. That might be optimistic for Fish, but at least I can hand her gear down to Mim.  Even if we get one year, the total cost is less than what I usually pay to rent gear for the season.  Now, the difference is that the rentals are brand new, but experts confirmed that the equipment we bought was all in great shape and could probably be resold when the kids outgrow them.

Now if mother nature could get her act together! DO NOT PANIC my snow hating friends.  I’m not asking for a blizzard (yet), just temperatures cold enough to sustain snow making.  That will tide me over for now 🙂

Special thanks to Becky! I definitely needed skis this year and we weren’t sure we were going to make it to the sale because Mim had a Karate tournament.  She agreed to be my personal shopper and snagged me a great pair with bindings for just $99! Let’s hear it for awesome neighbors!!

 

Snowtober

Yeah, so um, THIS happened.

My car buried in 21 inches of October snow

Which lead to THIS.

Front walk of a house all decorated for Halloween with a good 10 inches of snow still on the ground

In New England we joke about making costumes big enough so the kids can wear their winter coats, but never have we had to dig out the snow boots for Halloween. That is until 2011. We saw 21 inches of snow at the peak of accumulation, but we were fortunate that we never lost power. Still, this will be something my kids can brag about to their grandkids. “When we were kids, we Trick or Treated in THE SNOW!!”

NHMilk.com Made Me a Milk Snob

cute little milkphoto © 2006 hobvias sudoneighm | more info (via: Wylio)

This is another repost from ThisNewHampshireLife.com.  I’ve been a customer for Catamount Farms for about a year now and it is as wonderful now as it was when I started. My Mother-in-law noticed the difference when she cared for our kids while we were in Bermuda.  She wants me to start getting a bottle for her too. Enjoy!

When we lived in Waltham, Mass, we had our milked delivered by Crescent Ridge Farms. When we moved here to New Hampshire, I went back to purchasing my milk at the grocery store.

I was exploring the Concord Farmer’s market last summer, when I found Catamount Farms. Oh to have milk in glass bottles, delivered to my door again. I brought home samples of the 1% and the skim. Heaven. One sip and I was hooked. I was like a junky. I had to have my fix on a weekly basis. Thankfully Catamount farms happily obliges.

Catamount farms is based out of the Chichester Country Store on Route 28 in Chichester, they deliver fresh milk from Sherman Farms Dairy in Conway, NH  along with products from Stonyfield Farms and other New Hampshire companies.

Catamount farms delivers all over central, Southern, and Eastern New Hampshire.

Visit their website to determine if they service your town. Select the products you want delivered and the appropriate interval for your family (weekly, bi-weekly, monthly). You can set up a one time delivery or a standing delivery. During the warmer months, I leave a cooler with icepacks outside. Jerry leaves me a milk crate for my empties and everything is billed to my credit card.

Typically we polish off one and a half to two gallons of milk a week. It helps, that neither my husband or my daughter is able to drink milk (I have to by Lactaid for them). This is a purchase based on value and quality, not price. As of this writing, a half gallon of milk is $3.65 plus a refundable $1.50 bottle deposit plus a $3.50 charge per delivery. That is almost double the cost per gallon of milk bought at a chain grocery store, but there is no comparing when it comes to quality. When most people think of skim milk they think of a blue tinged, watery, tasteless liquid. I even have a friend who refers to skim milk as “jelly bean juice”  Not Sherman Farms skim milk! It is more like a store bought 1%. It has a solid white color and a nice full flavor. The 1% has even more depth oh and the seasonably available egg nog is to die for!! Thick and creamy, it is a dessert unto itself. I’m planning on buying some of their chocolate milk to use as hot cocoa on Christmas morning.

For me, this is about knowing where the milk comes from and making healthy choices for my family. It is about purchasing a quality product, and supporting local businesses.

Try some, you won’t regret it!

These words are my personal opinion. I am not affiliated with Catamount Farms or Sherman Farms Dairy. I did not receive any compensation for this post. I simply want to spread the word about two great companies and a wonderful product.

Bermuda, the Details

“We need a vacation.” My husband declared last winter as we were in the midst of yet ANOTHER crazy week.

“No argument here.”

“Why don’t you see if you can plan something for our 15th anniversary, maybe a cruise or something.”

“Great idea honey.” Zoooomm! Lee is off like a shot fingers flying over the computer keys.

 

We cruised Alaska for our honeymoon and we will go back, but the timing wasn’t right this time. Besides, I want to take the kids and this trip was to be adults only. We even convinced our dear friends Joe and Charlene to go with us. I did some initial poking, but when it came time to get serious, I knew who to call.

Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines Explorer of the Seas in BermudaI met Evan Eggers owner of SureCruise.com through business connections when I was an event planner. At one time I tried to plan a conference at sea, but it never came to fruition. Still Evan and I kept in touch over the years. I emailed Evan and he connected me with Ned Skiff. I explained our requirements to Ned (dates of departure, budget, cabin choice – balcony please, and ports of interest) and let him loose. Ned quickly identified several options and with more feedback, we narrowed it to a cruise from Port Liberty in New Jersey to Bermuda. It was nice not having to do the leg work but Ned’s real strengths were his honest answers regarding the merits of the different cruise lines, destinations, pricing, packages and patience answering my endless questions as we prepared to depart. Cruising has changed for the better in the last 15 years.

Explorer of the SeasWe sailed on Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines’ Explorer of the Seas and it was beautiful. The ship was big without feeling overwhelming. The food was excellent, the service was great. There was a lot to do on the ship, including, ice skating, inline skating and shows. When I first read the descriptions of all the things to do on board, they sounded like fun but when actually faced with the choice of participating in activities versus watching the clouds go by, with a drink and my Kindle. The choice was easy. So, when we were at sea, we spent our time, eating, hanging in the piano bar or sitting by a rail watching the clouds go by. A-Man paid a visit or two to the casino and I found the pool a few times, but slow was our M. O. . We could have gotten cell service and Internet access, but we made a conscious decision not to. Our kids were in good hands with my in-laws, it was time to unplug and recharge our batteries.

Bermuda was beautiful. On day one, we took a tour where we road bikes on the rail trail and visited the Somerset Draw Bridge, the world’s smallest drawbridge. Our tour guide Stefan was a hoot. That evening, we enjoyed The Barracuda Grill.

On day two, we rejoined Stefan and his co-horts to kayak the ocean blue. Our guide lead us as we hugged the coastline and explored the beautiful waters. I am at my calmest when I am on the water. I sucked up every second of the peace. Filing away the tranquility for one of those days gone awry in the future.

Bermuda is a beautiful country and the people are friendly. I would love to go back and enjoy it again. We will definitely cruise again. Hopefully sooner rather than later!

A Sunset, The Somerset Draw Bridge, The Clock Tower at the Dockyard, Sunrise, Sea Kayaking,

Have you cruised? What was your favorite port? Which cruise lines did you like best? I have to start planning our next get-away 🙂

I received no compensation from SureCruise.com or Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, for this post.  I’m simply sharing my thoughts as a satisfied customer.

Me Gusta Zumba!

In my quest to lose weight, I’ve dropped about 14 pounds and so far managed to keep it off more or less. This is remarkable since I fell of the wagon when it came to regular exercise over the summer. Now that the kids are back in school and we are back from our cruise, I’m trying to get back on track with exercise and stepped up my efforts to eat healthier.

Zumba Instructor Tammy GrayOur town recreation committee sent out a flyer for a Zumba class. After several Facebook friends said they were signing up I gave it serious consideration. The timing was good, the price was reasonable and there is something to be said for exercising with friends. I figured I had nothing to lose but the weight.

According to the website Zumba.com Zumba Fitness® is an “. . . effective, easy-to-follow, Latin-inspired, calorie-burning dance fitness-party™.” Zumba was created by mistake by aerobics instructor Alberto “Beto” Perez in his native Columbia. The story goes that Perez forgot his traditional music one day and improvised his aerobics class using dance moves inspired by latin music from his personal cassette collection.

The emphasis in Zumba is on letting the music move you, there are no verbal commands or counting of reps. This is a challenge for a former band geek who had it drummed into her (almost literally) to hold her upper body rigid. My instructor Tammy Gray says “People learn faster when they are just copying.” I have to agree with her. I’ve tried aerobic classes and even videos, but I get lost. Still, there is a bit of a learning curve, so she teaches the same routine for an entire eight week session, but don’t for a minute think it gets boring. The music is lively without being obnoxious and while it is a challenge is to keep up with the choreography it isn’t overwhelming. It’s fun even for someone like me who is notoriously uncoordinated (I wore sneakers under my wedding dress).

Zumba Instructor Tammy GrayAfter a while the moves start to come naturally. “The first few weeks people are focused on getting the movements down.” Tammy says as participants get the hang of it, the intensity of the workout picks up and the health benefits increase. Why yes, yes it does. “I want people to feel like they accomplished something at the end.” Oh I do! It is an active workout, but I don’t ever feel over taxed. I sweat A LOT, but the time zips by and when I’m done I feel great.

 

Our rec committee class has been such a success that they’ve committed to offering it through 2012 and are trying to add a second class each week. This will be a great way to burn calories as the temperature plummets.

 

To find a class near you visit http://www.zumba.com/

Chai Apple Cider

This post originally appeared at This New Hampshire Life.  I’ve decided to focus my efforts on this blog and incorporate a taste of New Hampshire here.  I’ll be reposting a few of my favorite posts from TNHL here enjoy. 

 

I love fall. I love the crisp air and the changing of the leaves. It feels like a time to draw in and take stock.

I’m a also an apple fan and my lust is sated come late September. I love fresh cold apple cider and usually buy a gallon as soon as our local apple farm stocks a fresh batch. Non of this pasteurized $#@! for me, I live on the wild side. A few glasses in, I remember that cider is REALLY sweet. It seems a sin to water it down, but I can’t drink it straight for more than a glass or two.

During a snack break the other day, I was looking for something warm, but not too sweet. I spied the chai tea bags and set about brewing a cuppa. When I went to the fridge for milk, I spied the apple cider. I love me some good mulled cider, but it takes a while to get a full flavor. Hmmm I thought, what happens if I put the cider in the chai and mix it all up? It’s apples and spices and chai, OH MY! The chai adds a nice spice to the cider, while the cider adds some sweetness to the chai.

Try it yourself

  • Heat water to boiling and pour over a chai tea bag (I use Celestial Seasonings or Good Earth Decaf Chai).
  • Make sure you leave room (I fill my mug a little over 3/4 of the way full).
  • Add the cider like you would milk. Stir, and enjoy!

This is Halloween to Me

I married into a family who elevates Halloween to the level of Thanksgiving or Christmas. Come October 1, my sister-in-law (a.k.a Auntie) gets her witch on and the planning commences for this year’s decorations. Auntie loves her a good scare.  Not a cheap, throw blood everywhere scare. Nope she goes for the spook factor and then when you least expect it she throws in a fright. Her house is the highlight of the block.

Columbus Day weekend brings the annual Halloween celebration at the lake and it is an event not to be missed. My Mother-in-law invites family and friends to the lake for an afternoon of pumpkin carving, fall foods and trick-or-treating. This means that the kids costumes have to be ready early.  On one hand this is good as we have the pick of the crop when it comes to supplies.  On the other, wait, costumes ready EARLY????

Fortunately for me, Auntie and Grammy have the costume thing under control.   Last year, Mim wanted to be Lightening McQueen, Auntie made it happen. Look at this, will you?

Auntie cut a cardboard box and painted it to look just like Lightening McQueen. Mim models the creation

This year, Mim wanted to be Finn McMissle from Cars2 and Auntie being Auntie couldn’t say no.

Auntie made Finn McMissle out of cardboard and paint.

Grammy took care of Fish.  Together they created Micky Mouse.

Fish putting on make-up to look like Mickey Mouse and Fish in full costume

As should be evidenced by now.  I am a total slacker when it comes to Halloween.  I am truly grateful that my kids have Auntie and Grammy to indulge them.

 

 

 

Harvest

Grammy & Fish showing of their dirt covered handsGrammy is an amazing gardener. Her green thumb is legendary. About as legendary as my black thumb. At the nursery, plants look at me and die on the spot. Packets of seeds jump out of my hands, eager to avoid the death sentence.

So, when Fish expressed interest in gardening, I sent her next door to the woman who can actually grow things. Grammy set up her with The Grow Box system. Together they planted tomatoes, green beans and watermelons.

The Grow Box gardening system ariel viewMy problem with gardening is that while I love fresh food, I can’t handle one more living thing being dependent on me for its survival. I manage to remember to feed the kids every day, mostly because they squawk if I don’t. Plants? Plants don’t speak up, they just wilt if you forget to water them. Then when I do water them, I never know how much is enough and frequently I drown them. Oops!

Fish adding water to the bottom of the grow boxes.The Grow Box system seems to have eliminated those problems. The dirt bed is situated right above a tank of water. Keep the tank full and the plants will take what they need. Fish did a pretty decent job of remembering to fill the tank everyday and while she was at Girl Scout Camp between my husband and I we kept things wet. (Hat tip to my neighbor Cammy who kept us afloat while we were away for a week in mid-August). Fish was tickled when her labors bore fruit. I was too, because I LOVE fresh tomatoes.

Fish smiling with a small watermelon, green beans, and tomatoes in various stages of ripenessWe’re almost at the end of our harvest and all in all, I’d rule this experiment a success. We learned a few things such as beans and watermelons don’t share space very well and green beans taste best when they are picked when they about as long as an 11 year old’s hand. Any bigger and they are chewy. I’m thinking we’ll try again next year maybe even add a few boxes to the collection.

In the mean time please excuse me while I go finish the tomatoes.