Shop Local: Em & Me Designs- Carver, MA

Now more than ever it’s important to shop local. The Covid-19 Crisis is threatening to close many local businesses for good. Our friends and family members who have worked hard to provide goods and services are struggling, so this post is in support of all the South Shore, Massachusetts local restaurants, shops, and businesses. Many of which are offering free or discounted meals to essential workers, they are making masks in their shops, crafting red hearts to hang on our doors, making craft kits for kids to keep them busy. To all of these people I say thank you. Lets support them.

I’m going to highlight one local small shop that’s important to me, and that is Em & Me Designs wood working shop run by my sister-in-law, Meg. To say she’s talented is an understatement. Her specialty is making handmade wooden signs but she can basically create anything you would want. From small custom furniture, to customized name and business signs. Really if you have an idea she has the vision to make it happen. She has created many personalized name signs that make amazing wedding, anniversary, or new baby gifts. I was the lucky recipient of one of these signs for my birthday. She has also done signs showcasing our New England sports teams that are very popular. Recently Em & Me Designs created a sleek wooden sign for a local dentist office.

Many of the pieces are created using reclaimed wood in a farmhouse style, but she has also done many with a more modern and sleek look . Meg will truly give you a one of a kind piece and will work with you to create whatever style you are looking for which is one of the benefits of working with someone local. The customer service is top notch. You are getting something unique and exclusive. When you support local businesses you are investing in your town, state, and country. Support Em & Me Designs in Carver, MA and follow her on Facebook and instagram.

https://www.facebook.com/emandmedesigns/

https://www.instagram.com/emandme.designs/?hl=en

I want to hear from you. Lets give a shout out to some awesome South Shore, MA small businesses.

Shop local. Buy local. And thanks for reading.

Heather

Camping on Cape Cod

Ok, it’s been about a year since my last post, but here we are in the midst of a pandemic and I’m finding myself with more time on my hands, so back at it. I’m really missing our family adventures and I’d like to share with you one of my favorite weekend trips from last year. I’m hoping that by the end of May or June some of the world will start to open up again. I think that traveling will look a little different for people this year, including us. Camping is definitely on my radar again for this summer. What better way to social distance than in a camper, on your own site, out in the fresh air. Bring on the warmer days.

Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial kick off to summer in New England. The weather is getting warmer, days are getting longer, and color is starting to flood in. For our family Memorial Day weekend usually means a soccer tournament down the Cape. What better way to start the summer than with a soccer tournament and camping trip on Cape Cod.

Camping at Sweetwater Forest- Brewster, MA

We have spent the last four years kicking off summer by coming to Brewster, MA and camping. I sure am going to miss it this year, but you never know. Things are changing day by day so there is always hope. We owned a pop-up trailer for about six years but sold it a few years ago because it was in need of repairs, and so this year we rented a pop-up from MDC RV Center located in West Yarmouth, MA. https://www.mcdcorp.com/ The best part about renting from this company was that for an additional fee, they brought the camper to the campground and set it up for us Friday and then when we were leaving on Monday they came and took the pop-up away. I grew up camping and absolutely love it, but the prep and packing is so much work. Being able to have the camping experience but not having to deal with the upkeep and expense camper and not having to pack it and unpack it makes it so much easier. We will definitely be doing this again.

Last year we tried a new campground. Sweetwater Forest offered nice wooded sites with fire pits and picnic tables. Many campgrounds on Cape Cod do not allow fires, and to me nothing says camping more than sitting around the fire pit at night, having a few adult beverages while the kids roast marshmallows. Sweetwater is located on Griffiths Pond and although there is no swimming, you can rent canoes and also fish from the dock an shore. There is a nice camp store and lodge with pool table, sitting area, and games. For Memorial Day weekend they had plenty of planned activities to keep the kids (and adults) entertained. If your kids are anything like mine they like to be busy. What I love most about camping is that there is tons of stuff to do for kids that doesn’t require any electronics. They played candy bingo, sang karaoke, and there was a camp party with a BBQ dinner and band. We will never forget the karaoke band the kids came up with “Bee Kites”! Jon and Sean also rented a canoe and caught a fish to enter into the fishing derby. I would highly recommend the campground. http://sweetwaterforest.com

Not only was there a lot to do in the campground, but this area of the cape is full of things to do for a family. The campground is located directly across the street from the Cape Cod Rail Trail Bike Path. We took a 4 mile ride to Cobies https://cobies.com/ and got ice cream and then turned around and stopped for a quick break at Rail Trail Bike and Kayak Shop where they had a band playing called the Placeholders. We couldn’t have asked for a better day.

https://www.capecodbikeguide.com/railtrail.asp

On Monday we checked out of the campground and took a our annual ride to the Brewster Store. It’s a blast from the past. The kids love filling a bag with penny candy.

It’s not like me to have a little trip or adventure planned for our family, but until the dust settles and we know when it it safe to plan our next trip it’s nice to look back and reminisce about past trips. If you have a family that loves outdoor adventures then camping down in Brewster checks all the boxes. I would highly recommend it.

I’m currently looking into planning a summer adventure. Whatcha’ got for me?

Thank you for reading and stay safe.

Heather

Tiny habits

New Years Resolutions, most people make them, myself included. Drink more water, go to the gym, get off social media, be more present, get more sleep, save money etc. . . I was thinking about how I make those resolutions and by mid year I don’t even remember what they were. Why was that I wondered? I came up with the conclusion that I don’t stick to my resolutions because they are not specific enough. This year I’ve trimmed down the list to things I think I can actually manage and I’ve added- When? Where? and How? Basically I realized that in order to stick to those resolutions I must create a habit of it.

One habit that I’m working on creating is stretching. I’ve been a runner all of my life and I’ve never made stretching a priority. Even after numerous injuries I still go to bed thinking, “Crap, I forgot to stretch again, I’ll do it tomorrow.” Why is something so simple, so hard? Habit! I need to make a habit of it. I wrote down Stretching  When : 6:50-7:00am (in between my oldest getting on the bus and my youngest waking up) Where: in the living room   What:  I wrote down 10 different stretches. Bam!! I think I really can do this. I’m encouraging anyone reading this to pick a resolution, just one, and get specific. Maybe by writing this post I’ll feel more accountable too.

What are your resolutions and how are you all planning on keeping them? I’ve added a lit of Tiny Habits that can make a big difference. Try picking one and get specific about how you’ll accomplish it. Lets check in on March 1st and see how we’re all doing!

www.thewaystowealth.com

Developing habits are a process not an event!

Thanks for reading.

Heather

January: Mt Washington Valley Trip

January is short days and cold temps. A time of resolutions and reflections. In January I break out the new calendar and start filling it up. I don’t know why I love this so much, but I do. I love filling in the birthdays, the annual events, the work schedule, the games, and the new things we will do and learn. They all go on the calendar so I can eagerly await their arrival. I function better when my days are planned, even if its a planned day to do absolutely nothing. One of the first events I fill in is our annual family ski trip over Martin Luther King Weekend. For me it’s important to have something to look forward to in January, to break up the month, and that is this trip.

This year we chose a house in Intervale, NH. The quaint town is part of the Mount Washington Valley, a resort area of the White Mountains. Renting a house vs. separate accommodations is much more economical for us since we stay with two other families. Usually my sister takes on the job scouring Airbnb until she finds the perfect house. http://www.airbnb.com/rooms/3191866

If you are planning on visiting this area on a holiday weekend you need to get your travel timing right or you will be sitting in traffic hell (trust me I know this from experience.) On Friday we left our house on the South Shore around 08:30am to avoid the morning and afternoon rush and thankfully we timed it perfectly. Getting home Monday was another story. We were seated at the Flatbread Company in North Conway by 11:30. If you haven’t been you must! Not only is the atmosphere fun and kid friendly, you can watch your pizzas bake in their wood fired ovens. I highly recommend the Jay’s Heart Pizza, the Mopsy Kalua Chicken Pie, and the Flatbread Salad. Delicious!! https://www.flatbreadcompany.com

Within the Mt. Washington Valley there are many options when it comes to skiing. Cranmore, Bretton Woods, Attitash, Wildcat, and one of our favorites Black Mountain. Like I’ve said before, skiing during holiday periods can get pricey, so we love that Black Mountain is still affordable. On Friday afternoon we purchased a Saturday ticket for Black Mountain and when you purchase a next day ticket they allow you to ski from 2pm-4pm the day of the purchase which is an added bonus. The only downside was that only one lift was open Friday so we couldn’t ski from the summit but that left some new trails to be skied on Saturday. We basically had the whole mountain to ourselves on Friday afternoon. On Saturday the small lodge at Black was packed, but we never waited in line for more than a minute or two while we were skiing. In previous years we had skied at Bretton Woods and it was so crowded that I don’t think we would ever ski there on a Saturday or Sunday during a holiday weekend ever again. It’s personal preference, but our family would rather avoid the crowds. www.blackmt.com

Black Mountain Summit- View of Mt. Washington

Sunday we headed over to Wildcat which is a much larger mountain having over 2100 vertical feet to ski down as apposed to Black’s 1100. Wildcat is notorious for being windy and cold but we were ready. With over a foot of fresh powder and more to come we weren’t really sure what to expect. The kids were excited and ready for the challenge and we geared up with some extra layers and extra hand/body warmers. What a workout. I had never skied in such deep snow and my legs were burning after the first run, but the intensity kept us very warm. We had a great but exhausting day. There definitely weren’t a lot of beginner skiers on the mountain, and I really would recommend Wildcat for the more advanced skier. Lucky for us the Patriots are always in the playoffs during MLK weekend, so we headed home to watch that Epic game before collapsing from pure exhaustion. www.skiwildcat.com

Last year was a rough year for me and I’m really looking forward to 2019. January has started out great and I’m looking to getting some things penciled in to February. What’s filling your calendar this winter? Trips, adventures, learning something new? Please share with me I’m always looking for new ideas.

Thank for reading.

Heather

 

 

Pat’s Peak & Mt. Monadnock- quick winter getaway

Over Christmas break we always look for a quick winter getaway.  We look for something that’s within driving distance.  After the craziness of Christmas we are in need of a change of scenery, some outside time, and most importantly, time to unplug.  We don’t like to book anything too much in advance because the weather is so unpredictable.  Ski lift tickets seem to be getting more and more expensive and who wants to spend that kind of money, especially after the expense of the holidays, if there is no snow, if it is raining, or worse yet someone isn’t feeling well.  This year we chose Pat’s Peak and although we hadn’t planned on it, the weather ending up being perfect for a winter hike up Mt. Monadnock.  Here’s what I thought about both.

PatsPeakTrailMap1415

I am constantly searching the internet, reading blogs, reviewing comments on tripadvisor.com,  and talking to friends and family to get ideas for new places to visit.  My sister had recommended a great deal on a ski & stay at the Hampton Inn/Bow, NH.  https://hamptoninn3.hilton.com/en/hotels/new-hampshire/hampton-inn-concord-bow-CCDNHHX/index.html  For a little under $400 we booked a two night stay, Friday-Sunday, which included four anytime ski tickets to Pats Peak and a buffet breakfast for the four of us each morning .  Although we usually prefer to stay somewhere with a kitchen and separate sleeping areas, during Christmas week this type of lodging tends to be way overpriced.  So we made do with the hotel room.  My only negative comment would be that the room was a little warm, but I tend to like sleeping in arctic temperatures.  I would say the beds were very comfortable though. We checked in on Friday afternoon and took the kids to the indoor pool, which was clean but very small.  There were many options for dinner in downtown Concord, NH, about 10 minutes away, and we chose Margaritas.  I wasn’t the best Mexican we’ve had but there was no wait for a table and it was inexpensive.  Actually, the hotel front desk gave us a list of area restaurants and a 10% off voucher which was a nice bonus. After a good nights sleep we headed to breakfast buffet  which was great,  there was plenty of options and we left for skiing full and ready for the day.https://www.patspeak.com

Pat’s peak was an easy 16 mile drive from the hotel.  We were a little nervous on the ride over as it had rained the day before and there wasn’t any natural snow on the ground.  We had read on their website that “Pat’s Peak has one the the largest snowmaking systems per acre in the state of NH” and we were pleasantly surprised by how much snow was on the mountain.  We were on the slopes by 9:30, and we did not wait in any lines all day which was awesome considering it was a Saturday of a school vacation week.  Every trail, except the glades area, of the mountain was open.  The mountain has 11 lifts which were all up and running, but we ended up using the same four lifts that took us to the top of the mountain.  As a family I feel that we are intermediate to advanced skiers.  We really enjoyed the black diamond trail Cyclone and double black Tornado, and although they were marked black diamond, I would compare them to a blue trail of larger mountain.  We were able to ski all of the trails with no difficulty, and made a full day of it skiing from 9:30-4:00 with two short breaks.

We enjoyed the day very much but I feel that in one day at Pat’s Peak we covered every trail that we wanted multiple times and feel like our family would have been board if we spent multiple days there.  Overall I would recommend Pat’s Peak for a day of skiing.  There is great snow making and groomed trails.  I wasn’t crowded and there was no wait time for lifts.  The lodges were clean and it’s one of the closest mountains to us that live south of Boston.

Originally when we headed up for the weekend our plan was to  go night ski on Sunday at nearby Crotched Mt., but unfortunately they are not open for night skiing on Sunday nights so we went to plan B.  It was a beautiful sunny day in the 30’s and I went online to look for a close area to go for a hike.  Although it wasn’t exactly on our route home we chose Mt. Monadnock and I’m so glad we did.  We were greeted at the gate by a friendly park employee who assisted us by giving us a map and recommending a trail to climb.  We paid the $14 fee for entrance, parked, and headed up the white dot trail which was easy to find and is the most direct route to the summit.  The park ranger said we should allow 2 hours  for the 2 mile hike to the summit.  We decided that our legs were pretty tired from skiing the day before and the ranger told us there would be a clearing a little before half way up, which was above the tree line and had a good view, so we thought that would be a good end point.  The hike stared at a steady incline that became steeper and more rocky the higher up we climbed.  We had dressed in multiple layers and were all sweating when we reach the tree line even though it was only about 35 degrees.  There were a few scattered people along the way up but we were mostly by ourselves and it was peaceful and beautiful.  Fortunately it was a clear day and view from the clearing at the tree line was amazing.  The climb down went smooth even though our legs were jello after skiing and the climb up.  We can’t wait to go back and make it to the summit!

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Mt. Monadnock – December 30, 2018 – White Dot Trail

Winter is long and just because it’s cold doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy being outside.  I don’t think our family would make it if we were cooped up all winter, so we go out as often as we can.  Winter can be beautiful and fun. Just bundle up and get out there.  What are your plans for outdoor fun this winter?

Heather

Minimalism

Lately I’ve been more and more interested in learning more about minimalism. I want to clear clutter from my house and my life in general.  I’m so sick of moving stuff around in our house from one room to the next, sick of reorganizing closets and drawers full of stuff I use once a year.  I have six glass vases that i just arranged in one closet, yet i never buy cut flowers.  Why do I need six glass vases???

What really got me thinking about this whole buy-less-thing was that I just bought tickets to a Kentucky Derby Party that will be on May 5th. (Here is the link if you want to attend this years party at East Bay Grill https://www.kingstonfoundationforeducation.org ) I thought to myself, two years ago I went to the same party and I loved the outfit that I wore.  It was comfortable, colorful and perfect for the party.  The thing is though, I have yet to wear that outfit, that I loved, again, because God forbid you wear the same dress twice.  I spent an hour looking at dresses online the other day before I decided, screw it, I’m going to wear the same exact outfit, to the same exact party, and you know what, I felt this lightness come over me after I made that decision.  I don’t need to spend extra money on a whole new outfit.  I don’t need to waste my time shopping for hours and finding the perfect shoes and hat and accessories when I have it already. I feel free.

I read a quote today that hit the nail on the head.

 

The thing that is important is going to Derby Party fundraiser, to raise money for a great cause, and to have a fun time with friends while I’m at it.  What is NOT important is stressing about what to wear.  So my goal is to take away the stressors and enjoy the event, to remember what is important.

I’m going to challenge myself this year. I’m not going to the extreme. I’m not going to stop shopping altogether, but I’m going to be more purposeful. I am a browser by nature.  I love to shop around and look for the best deal on things, but more and more I find that I hate this about myself.  It’s such a waste of time.  I can spend two hours browsing though a store and walk out with nothing.  What a time suck.  Wouldn’t it be better to go for a walk or meet a friend for lunch? To play a game with with the kids or read a book.  Or maybe even pick up a few hours a work.  Well, maybe not that! I will not go to Target for one thing and come out with a cartful (this is going to take a lot of effort)!  I’m going to buy gifts differently too. I want to teach my kids that stuff doesn’t make you happy but rather experiences and relationships are so much more important. I spend so much time searching for the perfect gifts for people and this year I’m not going to do this.  I’m going to give gift cards for experiences.  Less stuff and more experience gifts.

So I’m looking for advice.  What do you do to simplify your life?  To live more meaningful lives, to have less physical and mental  clutter.

Thank you for reading

Heather

 

 

Female

I urge you to listen to this song and not feel it run through your veins.  I don’t care if you are female or male, I don’t care if you think women are overreacting.  (We are not!) What I care about is that we need to acknowledge what is going on.  We need to acknowledge the strength that these women have that are coming forward.  We all have a mother, we have sisters, daughters, friends, and I for one want them to all know that I would stand with them if they were threatened in any way.

Being a female is not only part of me it surrounds me.  My patients are all females, I watch women give birth everyday that I go to work.  Ninety percent of my co-workers are female.   I am surrounded by strong, smart women everyday of my life.  I’m hopeful that if we stand up and support each other, that my daughter’s generation will only be stronger.

I want you to know I stand with you all.  I am female.

Heather 

 

 

Hiking Blue Hills. . .

was the perfect way to spend the morning with my kids.  Today they had a day off from school because it was an inservice day for teachers.  I love when the school tacks on an extra day to a long weekend, especially when it’s a Tuesday, because we get to do something and avoid the crowds of the weekend.  We were so lucky today because not only did they have a day off, but it was sunny and 80 degrees!!

If you haven’t noticed already I really enjoy being outside and being able to disconnect for a while and Blue Hills Reservation is the perfect place to do that.  When I first took the kids a few years ago I have to say I was a bit overwhelmed.  The place is enormous!  I covers 6,000 acres spanning the towns of Quincy, Milton, Braintree, Canton, Randolph, and Dedham. So the first thing I did was print out a map. You can click on the link below for that.

I also look to tripadvisor  for a lot of tips and reviews of trails.  So far, our favorite trails have been Skyline, and Coon Hollow Path.  Depending on where we want to start, that determines what hikes we will do.   Coon Hollow Path starts at the Trailside museum and is a great hike I’ll tell you about another day.  Today we parked at Houghton’s Pond and  started up Breezy Hill and hit Skyline and headed over Tucker Hill to Tucker Hill Path and back down Breezy Hill.  The hike took about an hour with my kids who are 11 and 9 and my two nieces ages 7 and 5.  I would say it’s one of the more challenging trails and the kids loved climbing up rocks to reach the top of Skyline where we stopped for a snack and water break. The trails are well marked and you can follow along on your map.  There is a beautiful view of the Blue Hills Observatory Science Center from one point on the trail.
When we got to the bottom we hit Jenna’s Place and got some slushies to cool off, the kids played in the playground, and then we walked along Houghton’s Pond. In a few more weeks I’m sure it will beautiful when the leave change colors.  I’m hoping in the next year to two to get the kids up to Mt. Monadnock in NH, but for now Blue Hills is a perfect hiking spot only 30 minute drive from our house.  Where are your favorite hiking spots? If you have any special tips about Blue Hills I’d love to hear them.
Thank you for reading,
Heather

The word “Hate”. . .

is a word I do not like my children to use.  The word “hate” makes me cringe.  It’s a word I almost always regret saying and try hard not to use.  The word “hate” makes me angry, makes me sad, makes me feel like there is no hope.  Maybe it’s because the word “hate” means that something is so intensely disliked that there no good in it.

There is always good.  There is always another way to look at something.  There is always  hope.  So in this world that sometimes makes you want to “hate”, take that intense passionate dislike of something and force yourself to “love” something just as passionately.  Do not focus on what you hate.  Focus on what you love.  Love your children, love your spouse, love your family and your friends. Love life. Tell me about something that you love.

Much love,

Heather

When skies are gray in summer on the South Shore. . .

(try to say that 10 times fast!)

Like I’ve said before, we literally live in this place where you never can tell what the weather is going to be like. Day by day, or even hour by hour, it’s as unpredictable as your two year old or tween’s mood.   It’s inevitable that we have a week or two in the summer that is rainy and dreary and pretty darn chilly.  That was this past week. And for those of you that took that week off from work hoping for a sunny, beach filled week, I am so sorry.  Sometimes I think it’s Gods way of protecting our New England skin.  You and I know that we were out there just a few days ago in the heat of the July 4th week burning the crap out of our  skin, and now we’re back to sweaters and jeans.  Only to repeat the process next week. . . . Burn, peel, repeat.

Anyway, back to the main point of this post, and that is, what to do with the kiddos when the weather isn’t so hot in the summer, and better yet how to do that and not go broke.  There are a couple of things I do at the beginning of summer and one of them is to stockpile a list of cheap indoor things to do with the kids when the weather isn’t cooperating.  I use my little notes section of my phone and label it “Summer fun list”.  Every time I come across an email or Facebook post, or someone tells me about a deal or adventure that sounds good I jot it down on the list.  Then when the rain sets in I consult the list.  Here’s a few things I’ve come up with.

  1.  Kidsbowlfree.com      If you haven’t already signed up you need to.  There is no catch.  All kids 15 and under can bowl two strings every single day during the summer for free,  all you need to do is rent shoes.  We’ve signed up for this program for the past 2 years and it’s so easy.  All you do is sign up, print the vouchers, and head to the bowling alley.  You can check the kidsbowlfree website to see if the bowling alley near you participates. There are 19 just in Massachusetts.
  2. https://www.regmovies.com/movies/summer-movie-express Take them to the discounted movies.  Many movie theaters offer discounted movie tickets during the week for movies that were released a few months prior.  For my kids they really don’t care what the movie is, they love the experience of going to the movies.  Regal Cinemas in Kingston, MA offers $1 movie tickets for the 10:00 shows on Tuesday and Wednesday.  They offer two different choices each day. We went this past Tuesday and saw Monster Truck.  With a quick stop at Target for candy it cost me $5.00 for candy and 3 movie passes, and when we got out the Sun was shining again.  I believe many other theaters in the area do similar discounted days just check their websites.
  3. https://hmnh.harvard.edu/home  One that is on our bucket list that we haven’t tried yet is the Harvard Museum of Natural History.  A friend of ours told about this museum and how much her kids loved it so I looked into and put it on my “Summer fun list”  Its not super expensive at $12 for adults and $8 for kids but Sunday mornings during the summer from 9am-12pm it’s free admission.
  4. https://ssboston.macaronikid.com/articles/5825dc2bdafd905530a174a4/south-shore-playground-guide   What better thing to do on a cool summer day than hit the playground.  One of my kids favorites is Marshfield playground,  it’s great for older kids to play hide and seek.  Load up the car with some of their friends and they have fun for hours.  Add an ice cream or fro-yo to the trip and you are mom of the year.
  5. http://www.highlandstreet.org/programs/free-fun-fridays  With over 85 different museums and cultural events available for free every Friday during the summer it would be crazy not to take advantage of this opportunity.  Whether it’s a rainy day or you just need to get out of the sun checking some of these places out is also on our “Summer fun list.”

Where do you go when the sun hides for a few days.   Do you stay in and watch movies?  Do you have a favorite thing that you love doing with the kids? Let me know.  I’m always looking to add to the “List.”
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Thank you for reading, and as always “The sun will come out tomorrow.” – Heather