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P1090776-WMToday, March 20th marks the vernal equinox or one of two days in the year that the length of daylight and the length of darkness are equal. “Equinox” is Latin for “equal night”. Today, neither the South Pole or the North Pole are tilted toward the sun. When the South Pole is tilted toward the sun, the southern hemisphere gets more light during the days and when the North Pole is tilted toward the sun, the northern hemisphere gets more light during the days. Hence, the longer days of summer and the shorter days of winter for us folks here in the northern hemisphere. The equinox occurs at the same time regardless of where you are in the world.

Spring brings with it revitalization and rebirth. It is the time of the year when we shake off our winter hibernation and think of the warm days ahead of us as we slowly start to see longer and warmer days in the weeks leading up to the first day of summer or the summer solstice.

Around the world there are lots of different ways that folks celebrate the vernal equinox. One of the biggest myths is that you can balance an egg or a broomstick on this day due to the gravitational forces at play in the sun being equally distant from the North and South poles. While fun to try, you won’t be successful because it is only a myth.

The shamrock is the official plant of the equinox — according to Celtic mythology, the shamrock represents the three hearts of the Celtic goddess also referred to as the Three Morgans. The shamrock symbolizes the regenerative powers of nature — and you thought it was only for St. Patrick’s Day!

In Italy it was symbolic for women to plant seeds on the vernal equinox in the gardens of Adonis. According to the Mirror, the custom persists in Sicily where  women plant seeds of grains – lentils, fennel, lettuce or flowers – in baskets and pots.

When they sprout, the stalks are tied with red ribbons and the flowers are placed on graves on Good Friday, symbolizing the triumph of life over death.

However you may celebrate, Happy Spring to you!




Tim is starting his own business this summer and here’s the article that showed up in the business section of this morning’s paper. One proud mama – no need to say more.


Photo credit: Rutland Herald

Robert Layman / Staff Photo Tim Heffernan poses outside his home in East Wallingford Thursday morning.Program gives local student a start in business

By Gareth Henderson

Staff Writer | March 14,2016

While many students were busy vacationing, local college student Tim Heffernan spent his recent spring break planning his first business.
Heffernan, 18, lives in East Wallingford and is a Mill River High School graduate in his freshman year at the University of Vermont. Already, he is well on his way to starting a residential painting business, thanks to the company Collegiate Entrepreneurs Painting Services. 

The company, which operates throughout New England, hires students as branch managers and gives them a chance to create their own painting business. 

Shortly after arriving at UVM last fall, Heffernan went for an interview with the company and was accepted as a branch manager. The intensive training process started in November.

Officials with the company warn that it’s not for the faint of heart — students quickly dive into the challenging process of starting a business. The point is to immerse them into the startup process and have them grow a strong set of entrepreneurial skills they can use throughout their careers.

The program trains the students on business planning, hiring employees, marketing, sales and other key aspects of starting a business. Collegiate Entrepreneurs handles the accounting tasks for the students, but other than that, it’s up to the student to build the business, gain customers and grow income. 

Heffernan is studying history and economics at UVM, and he said the Collegiate Entrepreneurs experience is helping him put business concepts into practice quickly. 

“I’ve always had a keen interest in how these things work, as applied to real markets and real business,” he said. 

Also, it’s a true hands-on approach. The branch managers are out in the field training with their regional managers in the program, as they learn the ins and outs of starting and running their own business. 

Heffernan enjoys the idea of building it from the ground up.

“My success is dictated by what I do,” he said. 

Currently, he is learning about the marketing and sales aspect of starting a business, including booking a full summer of house-painting jobs — which will happen this year. 

This goes along with learning the craft of interior and exterior house painting, along with power washing and deck staining.

“We will be going into production training and a more detailed look at painting a house,” Heffernan said. He will also learn how to train and hire a team of painters. 

He added that Collegiate Entrepreneurs works in full compliance with federal environmental regulations and is lead-certified. Branch managers are trained on lead renovation and will learn all about the related rules.

Heffernan will hire and train a team of painters during the spring, and he’ll continue to oversee various painting jobs in the area until the fall semester starts. 

“I’ll be at least on site, if not painting with my team, most days of the summer,” Heffernan said. 

His business will be primarily based in the Rutland area, but he is able to give bids for any painting jobs within an hour of the area.

Heffernan has already begun the process of dropping off fliers in different locations, going door-to-door to speak with potential customers and booking estimates for painting jobs.

“I’ve also put a great deal of time and effort into developing goals and a specific business plan so that I stay on track throughout the remainder of the semester and the summer,” he said, describing his spring break routine last week.

In the training program, Heffernan said one of the key things he’s learning about his how to find and train reliable employees. 

“That sort of sets the tone for the work you’re providing and the quality of work you’re providing,” Heffernan said. 

He added that a big part of this is making sure there are clear lines of communication between the business owner, the employees and the customer — to ensure the customer’s needs are met and the employees are having a positive experience as well. 

Heffernan said Collegiate Entrepreneurs puts a strong emphasis on being professional and having that drive the company’s public image. 

“We’re not going to be the people who are cursing and swearing and leaving cigarette butts all over the yard,” he said. “We’re going to be a team of respectful and professional painters.” 

Alex Arrick, a 20-year-old business major at UVM, is Heffernan’s regional manager and has already gone through the startup portion of the program that Heffernan is now experiencing. Arrick ran his own branch last summer in Burlington. 

He described Collegiate Entrepreneurs as “an entrepreneurial development company.” 

“We take college students and we teach them, mentor them and provide them with the resources and training on how to run their own business,” Arrick said. 

He said the company focuses on residential house painting because it’s a fairly simple trade to teach and is not as training-intensive as some manufacturing jobs and other fields. Therefore, the company is able to put more time into focusing on giving students the skills they need to run a business.

Another reason is, that house painting is “high-volume,” Arrick said. 

“Our average branch manager runs a $50,000 business in revenue,” he said. 

Collegiate Entrepreneurs officials spread the word through career services offices at colleges and universities, distributing fliers and having face-to-face meetings with interested students and classes. They emphasize that the program will be very challenging. 

“I would not say it’s an easy program,” Arrick said. “Running a business obviously takes a lot of work and involves a lot of different stages.”

The recruiting lasts for about a week, and “very in-depth, we go over what’s involved,” he added.

The program gets students out into the field fairly quickly, and provides them with business know-how that many entrepreneurs don’t have until later in life. 

“He’s out there getting skills that most people don’t get until they’re 28,” Arrick said of Heffernan. “We put people way ahead of their peers. That’s what we pride ourselves on.” 

Collegiate Entrepreneurs is a for-profit company and does business throughout the Northeast. 

More information is available at


img_5143Bagel chips are a popular snack. You can pay about $3.50 or so and grab yourself a bag at the supermarket. But, the next time you buy bagels and have some sticking around, it’s really easy to make them yourself. Usually when I buy bagels, I will buy extra with the thought of bagel chips in mind. When you make bagel chips yourself, you can also season them as you like, either by buying a particular type of bagel (onion, garlic) or season them as you make them. You can also adjust the salt as is best for your dietary preferences.


  • Bagels, thinly sliced
  • Canola oil
  • Salt

Place the sliced bagels on a sheet in your toaster oven. Brush or spray with canola oil to coat and toast for about 4 minutes per batch. Keep an eye on the first batch so you can adjust your toasting time accordingly. I have had some rather crunchy chips that I thought needed a little more time and it turned out, the “little more” was too much. When they are nicely toasted, season with salt to your taste. If you are seasoning them yourself, now would also be a good time to sprinkle your garlic or onion powder or other seasoning.

Toss into a bowl and enjoy. At our house, these don’t last very long at all. If you really wanted to make bagel chips completely homemade, you could also make your own bagels first. Check out this link for that post.


IMG_4989These two. These two are amazing people (and I’m not saying that just because I am related to them.) I complain when my day becomes a bit overwhelming, yet their every day is filled with many things that I can only try to wrap my head around and understand. Every day these two deal with the challenges that having autism in your family brings and they do it with such strength and love.  Even though their plates are already very full, they always, always find the time to fit in something for someone else who needs it. They are the first to offer help and they are sincere in their offer. They don’t complain and they always manage to bring laughter and good cheer along with them. I have seen them do things for others with such selflessness and love.   These two people always have a smile on their faces.  I am proud to call them my family.

Today these two celebrate their wedding anniversary. They have raised three wonderful boys who I am proud to call my nephews. They are an inspiration to all of us that have the privilege of being related to them or having them as a part of our lives.

They deserve a little love and a big Happy Anniversary! from us.

Happy Anniversary to my little sister and her wonderful husband. May you be blessed with many, many more!

Love you!

The title of this post is just wrong. Rain and February should not be in the same sentence in the State of Vermont. We went from one weather extreme to the other in a matter of days. On Saturday evening, the temperatures were -19 degrees without a wind chill factored into the mix. Some spots reported temperatures with wind chills of -50. The summit at Whiteface mountain reported -114 degrees with the wind chill. Yesterday evening it began snowing and there were about 4-5 inches of new snow on the ground this morning before the rain started. Now, as I type this, the rain is pounding the rooftop, reminiscent of a warm July afternoon than a February day. The temperature hovered just around 50 degrees about 70 degrees different than Saturday night. Amazing – simply amazing.

Every time I glanced out my office window this afternoon, there was less and less snow. Now, we are once again back to mainly grass with the occasional pile of plowed snow. Depressing. Makes one want to pack her bags and her dog and move to colder climates, someplace like the North Pole perhaps – maybe they have some snow?


A year ago for my birthday, Tim gave me a beautiful orange Kalanchoe plant. The flowers died and the plant thrived, but I was uncertain if it would in fact flower again for me. I have that kind of luck, we are talking about the girl whose dad saved, rooted and nurtured the ivy from my wedding bouquet and planted it for me, only for it to slowly die on me.

Surprisingly, just recently, there were buds as it sat on the kitchen windowsill. The flowers came again, beautiful orange flowers. As I wash the dishes, it is right there, on the windowsill, making me smile, reminding me of my boys. Today, the sun was just perfect this afternoon.

I hope you all enjoy it as much as I do. Tim, thanks again for the beautiful plant, it makes me smile and think of you when I see it everyday.

 One of my favorite hobbies is to cook, must be part of my Italian background because I love to see people eat. Mangia, Mangia, as my grandmother would say. It was never much of a problem with four men in the house – there was always someone happy to eat. Now, there are two of us in the house and the cooking presents a bit more of challenge, you see I am used to cooking…a lot (again, the Italian coming through). It’s difficult to figure out how to just make dinner for two, day after day.

We have had our share of good meals and our share of popcorn or PBJ for dinner when neither of us could seem to decide what we should do about that meal. I think, however, that I am coming around. Over the weekend, we felt like carrot cake, knowing full well that we couldn’t eat a whole carrot cake even if we spaced it out over days (carrot cake day #1 is great, day #2 is good, day #3 really, carrot cake again?) so I figured out that I would make a small carrot cake. I searched around and I found a recipe for a small carrot cake but it required a 6 inch cake pan. I searched around in the hopes that I could find something that I could use but not 6 inch cake pan or anything close to it. So I figured I would work with what I had, ramekins and make little carrot cakes – two of them.

They came out resembling little muffins, I cut off the raised tops to flatten them to look more like cakes, then cut each cake in half so there were two layers. The recipe called for a maple cream cheese frosting which was spread on top of one “layer” and then iced on the whole cake–it was delicious! Two little individual carrot cakes for dinner earlier this week.

The recipe was adapted from Betty Crocker’s website. I omitted raisins and walnuts which could certainly be added as you desire.

Carrot Cake

1/4    all-purpose flour
 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch salt
Pinch ground ginger
Pinch ground cinnamon
Pinch ground nutmeg
1 egg white
2 tbs packed light brown sugar
2 tbs canola oil
 1 1/2 tps milk
1/4 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup packed grated carrot ( 1 carrot)

Maple-Cream Cheese Frosting

2 oz cream cheese, softened
1 tbs unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup powdered sugar
2 tps maple syrup 


  • Preheat oven to 350°F
  • Spray 2 (6-oz) ramekins with cooking spray.
  •  In small bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, salt, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg; set aside. In medium bowl, beat egg white, brown sugar, oil, milk and vanilla with wire whisk until blended. Stir in flour mixture until combined; stir in carrots.
  • Divide batter evenly between ramekins. Set ramekins on baking sheet and place in oven.  Bake 17  minutes or until cakes are set and spring back when touched lightly in center. Cool in ramekins 5 minutes; remove from ramekins to cooling rack. Cool completely.  Level cake layers with a serrated knife.
  • For frosting, in small bowl, beat together cream cheese and butter until blended. Beat in powdered sugar and maple syrup until smooth.
  • Fill and frost layers with maple-cream cheese frosting.

For those who asked, here is my go-to recipe for the battered onion rings that we put on our salads.

  • 2 parts masa harina (corn flour)
  • 1 part all purpose flour
  • Creole seasoning 1 tbsp
  • Jerk seasoning 1 tbsp
  • Black pepper 1 tsp
  • Salt (when they are cooked to taste)
  • Water (enough to thin batter to desired consistency)
  • 2 medium onions thinly sliced and separated into rings
  • Canola oil for frying

I take two onions and thinly slice and separate into rings. In a small bowl I combine the masa harina (usually 1 cup) with all purpose flour (1/2 cup) and the seasonings. Add enough water to make a batter that is not runny. Add onion rings to batter and mix to coat. Heat canola oil and place onion rings into hot oil. Cook until golden on one side and flip – do the same with the other side. Remove from oil onto tray with paper towel to absorb excess oil. Salt to taste.

Most often, I do more than I need for the salads since many of these guys never make it past the cooling tray.🙂

Can you identify this?


This, my friends, is what remains of our screen door.

Mother Nature can be a scary one.

The winds that were predicted by the weather services to kick up and be scary yesterday during the daylight hours never arrived.  Instead they showed up last evening, arriving with the darkness. The wind was howling and very gusty. A sudden and very loud slam alerted us to the fact that the screen door (which was not fully latched at the time) decided that it liked the field across the street better than our door frame. Perhaps I exaggerate just a little, it didn’t quite make it to the other side of the street, traveling a few feet down the driveway instead. We reclaimed what was left and now scratch our heads because we now have a very large doggie door (minus the flap part) that could easily fit two goats stacked on top of each other.IMG_2681IMG_2696



(Hmmm… before those goats get any ideas, maybe we should just forget I said that.)

Could always have been worse… we could have had flying doors and flying goats. We must always see the bright side….always.


Today was a very un-January-like January day. The weather here has been less than winter-like and reminiscent of spring. Thank you (NOT) El Nino. Winter is supposed to be snowy and cold. Most of the day was rainy and damp with the actual temperatures well into the high 40s. What is left of the snow is either a lot of slush or a sheet of ice, not much in between.

On this lazy Sunday, a gumbo was simmering away on the stove. Tonight we had that gumbo made with North Country andouille sausage, chicken and okra that was flourishing in the garden a few months ago. Served with a loaf of bread, not mine but from the farmers’ market yesterday and some roasted hot peppers.


There have been Christmases since we’ve been here that the weather has not been very Hollywood Christmas-like. In fact, there have been a few Christmas mornings were there wasn’t snow on the ground, but we may have had some snow flurries for the effect, as if on cue. I remember one recent year that the snow began to fly as we left Christmas Eve mass, adding to the magic of the day. There was one Christmas when we went to bed without any snow on the ground and woke to a world glistening from an ice storm.

In general, though, even despite the lack of snow in years past, the weather has been winter-like, temperatures that required the wood stove to be casting its warm glow across the living room floor. This year, it was about 70 degrees on Christmas Eve and not much cooler on Christmas Day. The wood stove had no fire. I learned this year what those folks who live in Florida or other southern parts of the country must experience at this time of the year. I definitely realize that I am a winter/snow Christmas person – no flip flops and beaches on Christmas for me.

For Christmas morning, there was a feast of overnight eggnog french toast, sausage patties and wedges of fresh oranges. Better than the food, however, was the company. It was nice to have all of us around the table.


I am the first to realize that I have adjusted less than optimally to this empty nest. I vow to embrace the upside of the situation even though two dinner plates look lost on our farmhouse table. Seems like it took forever to get the table that was my ideal for our family — and in a short amount of time it became too big, too soon. I think Tom and I are going to have to have one of those dramatic Hollywood style dinners one of our evenings — me at one end and he at the other….in the meantime, we’ll settle for a cozy dinner by the fire more often than not.

Whether your Christmas was warm or cold, dry or snowy, frantic or calm, I hope that you shared it with those that are close to your heart. Blessings and Peace this season.

Unless we make Christmas an occasion to share our blessings, all the snow in Alaska won’t make it ‘white’ ~ Bing Crosby


English: hundreds of redheads together at the ...

English: hundreds of redheads together at the annual redheadday in Breda, The Netherlands (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today is the day we celebrate those folks in our lives with a natural pizzazz of red hair. According to  here are some redhead facts:

  • The highest concentration of Redheads is in Scotland (13%) followed by Ireland (10%). Worldwide, only 2% of the population has red hair.
  • People with red hair are likely more sensitive to pain. This is because the gene mutation (MC1R) that causes red hair is on the same gene linked to pain receptors. It also means redheads usually need more anesthesia for dental and medical procedures.
  • Having red hair isn’t the only thing that makes some redheads unique. They are also more likely to be left handed. Both characteristics come from recessive genes, which like to come in pairs.
  • Redheads probably won’t go grey. That’s because the pigment just fades over time. So they will probably go blonde and even white, but not grey.
  • Rumor says Hitler banned marriage between redheads. Apparently he thought it would lead to “deviant offspring.”
  • Redheads most commonly have brown eyes. The least common eye color: blue.
  • Bees have been proven to be more attracted to redheads.
  • Being a redheaded man may have health benefits. A study published by the British Journal of Cancer suggested that men with red hair are 54% less likely to develop prostate cancer than their brown and blonde-haired counterparts.
  • Redheads actually have less hair than most other people. On average they only have 90,000 strands of hair while blonds, for example, have 140,000. However, red hair is typically thicker so they it still looks just as full.

Did you know?

The mutated MC1R gene causes red hair. If both parents carry it their baby has a 25% chance of being a redhead even if parents are not redheads.

Redheads are more likely to be lefthanded.

Bees prefer to sting redheads.

Redheads are more sensitive to heat and cold.

To all those gingers out there, and one in particular, Happy RedHead Day!

Evilwife on the move

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There have to be 5 things even on a really bad day.