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mYCZwunGTZC0LOTyRSDSIQI have been coddling my starter all week and today, with over two feet of snow on the ground with more on the way, I thought I would use some of it for these muffins bringing a little bit of summer into this winter day. I hate throwing away discard starter and have been looking for ways to use the extra starter without donating it to the septic system (which is fine some of the time). The blueberries come from right across the street at Sugar Hill Berry Farm, which will be open to the public for berry picking this summer. We were fortunate to get the opportunity to do some private picking last summer and these huge, sweet berries have been taking up residence in my freezer since then, waiting for a good recipe.

I used this recipe from Turnips 2 Tangerines . This is the second time I’ve made these muffins and they turn out great. I add a little bit of sparkling sugar to the top of each for both looks and an extra bit of sweetness. I love the recipe because it doesn’t require me to use the mixer to blend the batter, elbow grease and a spoon is all that is needed, so it comes together quickly. 30-35 minutes in the oven and you have some delicious muffins. Give it a try and if you’re up this way in the summer, come pick some berries, your winter self will be thanking you. 🙂



For the first time since I’ve been on the school board, I am running in a contested election. First let me explain that by “contested”. I in no way mean mud-slinging and nastiness, but rather that there is more than just one person (namely, me) running for the open seat. In fact, there are three of us running to fill the two open school board seats in our town. You have no idea how excited I was when I learned that not one, but two townsfolk submitted petitions to also run for school board. I was soooo excited that others were interested in joining the school board and working for our community’s kids. I could hardly contain my excitement that my pleas for folks to get involved seemed to be heeded. It was my husband who, after letting me enjoy my excitement for a bit, had to point out to me (gently, I might add) that this “wonderful news” I was blabbing about meant that I was now involved in a contested election for my own seat on the board. Talk about bursting one’s bubble. NOOOOO! But alas it is true. So, this will be my first contested election. Wish me luck. Here’s a throwback to that first election when I wished my dad could have been alive to see his little girl’s name on the ballot.

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Win or lose, please make sure that you get out to vote if you live in Vermont. Your fellow community members count on your support and it’s an amazing and important process, unique to the New England area and particularly Vermont.




Local is awesome. It’s so neat to be able to have your neighbor plow your driveway, get your eggs and produce from someone down the road and know your firewood came from local trees. It’s such a good feeling to know that your decisions are helping local folks and supporting local businesses. It is also amazing when you see local businesses supporting local people.

Outdoor Gear Exchange in Burlington is an amazing outdoor store, locally owned and operated (if you have never been, get yourself there!) and I just read that they have combined efforts with the Vermont State Parks to offer brand new camping equipment for rental at designated Vermont state parks this season for free (yes, I said free – F.R.E.E.) The program is part of the Vermont Outdoor Recreation Economic Collaborative‘s work. The hope is that by offering essential camping equipment for rental for free at the designated five state parks, it will foster more folks and particularly families to get outside and enjoy all that Vermont has to offer in the great outdoors. The program will make stoves, lanterns, tents and sleeping pads available for loan to folks camping in the parks. Since the only missing item would be sleeping bags, which don’t really lend themselves well to being loaned out repeatedly – Outdoor Gear Exchange is working on getting low cost sleeping bags manufactured so they can be made available for purchase for campers to buy at a very reasonable price.  The idea is that your only “equipment” expense might be sleeping bags allowing you to borrow all the other necessary equipment from the park.

Mark Sherman, the owner of Outdoor Gear Exchange was the person responsible for this amazing brainstorm idea and has already gotten the support of several well known manufacturers, OGE deals with, like Kelty, Black Diamond, Mountainsmith and Jetboil to volunteer their goods to the cause. How amazing is that?

I totally understand that putting together all the necessary equipment to even get away for a weekend of camping can be financially daunting to a lot of families especially if it’s your first time out or your first experience bringing along the little ones. This is the best of both worlds, getting the family outside and getting to borrow new working equipment without having to beg and borrow from family and friends, who may not even be in the same state.

This is just another reason that if you are in need of some outdoor equipment, perhaps you should just bypass the big box outdoor folks and support local businesses like Outdoor Gear Exchange. They are trying to give back to the community with programs such as this, helping to make the outdoors more accessible for everyone.

Kudos to you, Mr. Sherman and your business, you will continue to have my support! You can read more about the program here.


Not having an oven makes you become a bit more creative, or at the very least, try things that you keep saying you wanted to do, but just haven’t had time to get around to actually doing. I’ve been wanted to do my own english muffins — even having gone so far about a couple years ago to buy english muffin rings from King Arthur (which still remain in the original package – you don’t actually need them for this recipe).  You see, without an oven, my poor sourdough starter has stayed in the fridge longer than would normally happen over the winter months. I had a bit of a panic attack recently that the only jar of starter in my fridge might not be as patient as I have been waiting on the oven, so out came the 18-year-old starter and it was fed, fed and fed again until it was nice and happy again. Can’t lose that baby, we have a history together.

Now, what to do with my nice fat, bubbly, happy starter? Sourdough english muffins seemed to be calling my name. I found the recipe I used on Genius Kitchen and substituted Lactaid milk for real or powdered milk to deal with lactose intolerance issues in the family and of course the honey added was our own Heffernan honey. The dough mixed up easily enough, sat overnight as directed and with about 1/2 hours’ worth of work total and an hour additional rise time Saturday morning, we had these babies ready to go into the cast iron frying pan to be cooked.


Into the cast iron pan that was already heated and given a tiny bit of butter and oil to keep things from sticking, they went in about three batches. 4 minutes on each side covered to help them bake properly all the way through and here’s how they looked…t3k7Cj8hRVyI+Frnk0lbRgSQTduk++QfGXDbVCnL%9ywnA6G8zfXRoaaMTgPxmV5%w

After they came out of the pan, I took a fork and fork split each one, simply poking the fork into it around the muffin. Easy enough. Of course, Tom and I had to do a QC testing with the warm muffins while I was finishing up the last of them. So, into the toaster they went….


Out of the toaster, topped with some butter and here’s the final result….a nice sour tang and lots of nooks and crannies.



For all of my lawyer friends, this is the brief that we all wish we could have written. Snarky, sarcastic. If you are familiar with Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, you probably caught the recent episode where he discussed coal and a certain coal mine owner who does not like publicity. He threatened to sue, and in fact he did. The West Virginia ACLU filed an amicus curiae brief which is just … too darn good. Even my non-lawyer friends will get a few good chuckles out of this. To give you an idea of what you might be in for, there are section headings such as “All of John Oliver’s Speech Was Protected by the First Amendment. You Can’t Sue People For Being Mean to You Bob” and great legal points such as “Bob Murray thinks John Oliver was mean to him, and doesn’t want him to be mean to him again. While that is sad for Bob Murray, it is unconstitutional for a Court to order such relief.” ACLU Brief, P. 8

I encourage you to follow the link here and give it a read yourself. In addition to brushing up on your First Amendment law, it’s quite the read. Excellent job, ACLU, excellent job.


timToday, our youngest son flips the birthday page and a decade, turning 20. Hard to believe that 20 years have passed in what seems like the blink of an eye. I remember the day he was born like it was merely yesterday. I couldn’t be prouder of the amazing young man he has grown to be, with his feet firmly rooted in his heritage and his family and a soul that loves to explore– always inquisitive, searching, learning, growing. The scope of who Tim is clearly reflected in what he is doing  now and where he has been this summer. He started his summer exploring his Italian heritage in Sicily, working hard to secure himself a coveted spot on the National Italian American Foundation’s Voyage of Discovery where he spent two weeks learning about his Italian roots, practicing his Italian and enjoying all the history that Sicily had to offer him. As I write this, he is exploring this country, from coast to coast, and will spend his birthday today hiking and exploring one of our country’s national parks. This picture taken on his journey this summer, it is so “Tim” I couldn’t help but “borrow” it for this post.

I admire and respect his tenacity, his thirst for knowledge and the breadth and depth of what he already has learned and his beautiful voice. He is a kind soul, always ready to lend a hand and a hard worker as anyone who is familiar with his work last summer could definitely attest to in a heartbeat.

I know that he will do great things in this new decade and those decades going forward.

One night a while back, when we had ordered some take-out Chinese, we sat around and opened our fortune cookies as we normally do, laughing at what each said. Tim’s fortune that night summed up him perfectly ~ “You are a traveler at heart. There will be many journeys.”  

Happy 20th Birthday my (not so little anymore) traveler! Love you!


dad and tjRemembering the first guy to steal my heart and wishing that he was still here to see how this grandson and the other two grandsons have thrived and grown to be men he would be proud of, especially considering how glowing he was in this picture with TJ.

IMG_5938this guy who I am so lucky to call my best friend and I can’t imagine life without him in it. He’s a great dad to our boys and I love sharing the parenting journey with him.

12308198_989180081121162_5920617141299348996_oMy brother, Bill whose smile reminds me of my dad and is a wonderful dad himself.

Damian, my brother through marriage, who has a generous heart, raised three men who are sweethearts with my sister and I am lucky to have him as part of our family._DSC0757

and my dad through marriage, Poppy, who, among other things is responsible for being the dad to my husband and raising him to be the man that I love.


Happy Father’s Day to these wonderful men and to all our friends who are dads. You all hold a special place in my heart.


Today is my middle son’s 21st birthday and what follows is for him.


Dearest Tyler:

It is so hard to believe that 21 years have gone by since the day I first held you in my arms, amazed that I could fall in love all over again with a kid with beautiful blue eyes and platinum blonde hair. A St. Patrick’s Day baby is what you were supposed to be, but you were having no part of that and decided that you would make your entrance into this world (with a little help from the doctor) in your own good time. Thinking back after all these years, I understand now why you are not a morning person since you made your way into the world at 5 p.m. 🙂

You have grown from that no-so-little baby into a handsome, kind, empathetic man that towers over me. You have always had an amazing smile that lights up a room, remember to use it often, no one can ever smile too much. I am and always will be very proud to be your mom. As I told you many times, I am and always will be your biggest fan and supporter. You are destined for wonderful things. Despite the world now considering you a full and complete adult, you are and will always be, my baby.


Happy 21st birthday Tyler, I love you. 




DSCN3991Tomorrow is Town Meeting Day across Vermont. Tonight was Town Meeting in Wallingford. Democracy at its finest. If you’re not from New England and have never been to town meeting, I strongly suggest that it be a reason for visiting during the midmost of mud season. Tom really wanted to bring popcorn but he held back. Honestly, depending on your town, it can be that good. 🙂

The first Tuesday in March is a state holiday, Town Meeting Day. While some towns in Vermont vote all or a part of their town meetings through Australian ballot, there is no legal requirement to do so and in fact, there are still some towns that do all their voting from the “floor” a town meeting. For instance, tonight herein Wallingford, there was actually a motion from the floor to increase our town’s budget and therefore the town’s taxes from the floor by a fellow citizen. Where else does one person just raise their hand, stand up, state their name and make a motion to increase the town’s taxes? Not in New Jersey, that’s for sure. The vote because it passed, required the moderator to do some math on the fly to revise the following article to reflect the new budget amount when the same group of town residents voted on the town budget.

The issues run the gamut as stated by the Burlington Free Press from whether or not to purchase a new truck in the town to impeaching the president. I remember our first town meeting, we showed up wide eyed and amazed at this wonderful New England tradition. Here in Vermont, the farmer down the road, the local elementary school teacher or the 18-year-old college student can stand up, raise his or her voice and change the whole budget for the town or persuade the town to support a cause or convince them to pull support for a cause or a budget item. Amazing, still after ten years.



Plastic shopping bags. You can accumulate them like mad if you have a family and do any amount of shopping. While you can recycle them at the store for re-use or reuse them yourself for trash can liners on wastebaskets or such, they do accumulate quickly, don’t they?

I always used to smirk at the sign planted just outside the automatic doors at Hannafords – “Did you remember your reusable bags?” I have joked with the cashiers that the sign, while loaded with good intentions, didn’t help walking into the store at all since if I forgot my bags, they were a good 12 miles away at home. That sign, I have said more than once, needs to be in my driveway.

I try to use my resusable shopping bags every time I go grocery shopping. In fact, I often say that I feel like a tourist if I forget them because it becomes very apparent to me, in the store that everyone else who isn’t from away on vacation, has their bags.

Pretty soon, here in Vermont we may join California, Florida, Arizona and many hundreds of other towns and cities across the country in banning the plastic disposable shopping bag from our stores. H.105 is a bill that has been introduced here in Vermont to ban plastic disposable shopping bags. The bill would protect small businesses and not apply to compostable bags or recycled plastic bags.

I remember the first reusable grocery bags I found years and years ago when I still lived in New Jersey. Chico Bags. They were very nice bags that could fold up and be put right in your purse or glove compartment or pocket. They could even attach to your car key ring. They came in a variety of colors, but all the same shape. osrd-3

Now, Chico Bags have bags on their site in every style, size and color. In fact, most every store you walk into, be it grocery, clothing or hardware, has its own type of reusable bag for sale. Bags are made from varying materials for strength and durability.

Do you use reusable shopping bags? Do you need that Hannafords’ reminder sign in your yard? What’s your favorite bag?


img_4887So here’s a question. Do you push in your chair when you get up from the table?

Does the type of table you are getting up from determine whether or not you return the chair to its position tucked under the table?

Do you even have any idea what you do or don’t do with your chair when you get up from the table?

Do you push in your chair when you leave a conference room?

I have been observing. In my heart, I think I am a true people watcher.

Lately, I have been noticing people and their chairs. Weird, I know, but I notice that it is about evenly split, whether one pushes in one’s chair when they leave a table or not. This got me to thinking about the etiquette of pushing in one’s chair and if there was even such a thing.

img_5364I was raised to push my chair in after I got up from the table. Maybe part of it was that our kitchen was also our dining room and there wasn’t much room to spare, so pushing in your chair when you got up was not only polite, but it made sense. With our house, our family pushes in chairs when they get up from the table. The boys were taught that was the proper way to do things, at least at home, although I have personally observed them pushing in their chairs when we are out at dinner. Proud mama moments, they are truly the little things – but I digress. 🙂

I notice that not everyone pushes in his or her chair. In fact, a lot of people don’t push in their chairs. It can be annoying when you get up or try to get up from the table at a restaurant and bump into the chair behind you that wasn’t pushed into the table. At home, it is frustrating when I have to go around and push in chairs if someone doesn’t push in their chair when they get up, things look off, could be OCD on my part, but hey, it’s my house and I like my damn chairs pushed into the table. 😉

So, the question remains, what is the proper etiquette? According to Emily Post, the mother of all things “etiquette”, it is basic table manners to push in one’s chair when one leaves the table. It’s so basic in fact, that it is in categorized in her 1922 etiquette book under the category “The Kindergarten of Etiquette”. Evidently, according to Ms. Post’s rules, a child should not even be allowed to dine at the adult dinner table until the child learns how to pull out and push in his or her chair (along with other basic table manners).

As I investigated even further, modern manners, almost 100 years later, still expect that when you get up from the table, you push in your chair, even if you are just leaving to use the restroom! In fact, just because you are eating your meal at McDonalds and not some fancy five star restaurant doesn’t excuse you from pushing in your chair. You are even expected to push in your chair when you get up from a conference room table at a business meeting. The prevailing thought is that it is just plain ol’ polite and helps to prevent someone else from bumping into or falling over your chair.

Therefore, it appears that we all may have a bit of work to do in the chair pushing in department. Next time you are out and about, be a bit of a people watcher and take notice. Let me know what you find to be the prevailing trend. I’m truly curious.




Friends and family often comment that we are lucky to live here. We absolutely are. We are blessed with beautiful views, good friends, wonderful neighbors, good cross country skiing and great fresh air. But we are also stuck with nights like tonight. We decided to head out to a local place for a quick bite. It was not late, but it also wasn’t early. We got to the spot and it was packed. Of course what did we expect? Friday night during ski season in the land of skiing, right in the path of those coming from out of state. It was disappointing to both of us and reminded us that there is a downside that is not always readily apparent to those that come to visit.

Enough of the whining. Now, the upside. We headed home grabbed some frozen beer battered haddock from the Wallingford Locker, made some rice pilaf from scratch with lots of garlic and parsley and had a delicious but quiet dinner at home. When you are in the mood to go out and socialize, as my husband who doesn’t get out all week with work, was – it was disappointing. But we made the best of the situation. And the other upside, was the delicious blueberry turnovers for dessert. Ssshhhh.  Those are the same turnovers I am bringing in the morning for my school board retreat. 🙂fullsizeoutput_6ad4fullsizeoutput_6ad5


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