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For those of you that might be traveling to Vermont in next few days, I don’t want you to fret over mud season. I know that mud season in Vermont can be daunting, and vehicles can get stuck and things can get downright ugly. In fact, most Vermonters tend to use mud season to run away to anywhere that is not here just to avoid it. I know that around this time of year, you may worry about mud season. But, folks, seriously, there is no need to worry, we’ve got plenty of snow and ice to take care of it for you!

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_DSC0058I know that spring officially arrived just about a week ago, but there’s lots of snow on the ground, some really good skiing and snowmobiling and another 5-8 inches forecast for the weekend. So, no worries about mud here.

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On Tuesday, the grass was showing in spots and it was almost 50 degrees. What a difference a day (or two) can make around here. Starting Wednesday morning the snow started falling and continued until this morning. When it was all said and done, we had about 2 1/2 feet on the ground although it is windy as heck here so an exact measurement (assuming that I was going outside to measure) would be next to impossible. Let it suffice to say, it is a LOT of snow.

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There was a lot of shoveling out this morning.

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Believe it or not, those sap buckets are actually hanging off the top of our three foot fence and hold flower in warmer weather.

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Dinner last night was homemade French Onion soup with homemade baguettes. It was delicious and well worth the effort of making it from scratch. While I was at it, I made some more sandwich rolls for lunches.

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Lunch rolls all ready for tomorrow.

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The onions, about 8 cups of them, thinly sliced sauteed for a nice long time to get a beautiful golden brown and form the base of the soup.

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The baguettes right from the oven. These were thinly sliced and popped into the toaster to crisp them up to use as the croutons. Of course, had I prepared better, I could have made the bread a day or two earlier and let the slices crisp up without the use of the toaster. Alas, I am not that prepared.

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The soup bowls are getting assembled and prepped for some broiling.

 

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The finished product …. was …. delicious.

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We had about 30 inches of snow on the ground before the weather got warm the other day. Then, things melted and it rained and as predicted, it got cold again and everything froze. Our driveway is crunchy and icy and challenging to say the least.

When the snow was falling though the other day, it was time to bake some rolls. These are my new favorites, and the boys’ favorites, too. Quick and easy to make, they bake up quite nicely. I got this recipe from The Kitchen Whisperer and while, my rolls and her rolls looks different, (which I haven’t quite figured out why yet) they are absolutely a great sandwich rolls.

 

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Today is a snow day and it’s our first real, actual snowstorm of the winter. Can you believe that? While other parts of the country were getting hammered with snow (talking about you, Jersey folks) we could see mostly grass on our lawns and fields. We awoke to several  inches of snow on the ground and for the first time this season, I got to pull out my Sorrel boots and wander out in the snow. Honestly, there really hasn’t been enough snow at once to warrant boots – muck shoes have been fine.

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Things are finally totally white — now this, this is what winter is supposed to be like here in Vermont.

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I was out, bright and early, visiting with my other kids – the ones that are somewhat hairier than the ones that live inside the house. Honestly, who can refuse this face? Lots of goat love (or maybe it was just that I was feeding them).

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Sometimes, you look up from your desk and see such beauty outside your window that you have to stop what you are doing and just admire it. Admire and be in awe of how beautiful the world around you really is and how small you really are in comparison.

This was today’s sunset. It was breathtaking. I hope you enjoy as much as I did.

This year, as most years, the guys celebrate their birthday together. It has affectionately come to be known as the “I have a dream weekend” because the guys’ birthday usually falls on or very close to MLK Day. This year was no exception to the celebration.

Here are some of the photos and yes, the cake had a lot of candles on it — 100 to be exact, courtesy of our very patient children who placed and lit each and every one.

It’s a very rainy day here. The weather is just plain old WRONG. It is the middle of January and while I don’t necessarily like the idea of a January thaw – I can accept it. What I cannot accept is the fact that it is pouring outside. Normally, the sound of rain tapping on the roof of my office is comforting but today it is just plain annoying. The day has been dreary and dark, the rain has been falling, the radar looks all green and gross. As you can see, I have nothing particularly uplifting to say, so I thought I would share some photos of our house that were very kindly given to us by a woman who lived here for a summer while she was a nursing student in the 1970s.

It was very nice of her to lend me her photo album to scan these pictures. We have a little bit of the history of the house, which always intrigues us. Who lived here before us? What parts of the house existed at that time and what did they look like?

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The view from the front of the house is pretty much the same.

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I love the sign that says “Sugar Hill” on the front of the house……

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This is a picture of the “facilities” surprisingly, they were out of doors still in the 1970s.

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For those of you familiar with our house now, this is how it looked before the addition of the den and garage which were put on sometime between this picture and when we purchased it.

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Water was pumped in the kitchen.Centerville house 2

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Vermont is no slacker. Although it is a small state, with an entire state population that is less than the county where I grew up in New Jersey, it basically takes no crap from anyone. Vermont protects its “brand” with a tenacity and protectiveness that I haven’t seen elsewhere. Let’s face it, when one thinks of Vermont one’s thoughts generally go to the “concept” of Vermont — the great outdoors, the snow, the leaves, au natural. There is no great industry in Vermont, our industry is in fact our people, our surroundings, our welcoming arms that take in the skiers, snowboards, naturalists, hippie wannabes and those looking for some oneness with nature. So, you see, Vermont is its own brand. One that needs protection. Skiing, snowboarding, leaf peeping and maple syrup are all synonymous with Vermont.

Photo credit: Burlington Free Press

Photo credit: Burlington Free Press

From a 2003 report by the O’Neal Strategy Group on the Vermont brand, which can be found here are the following excerpts:

Vermont’s image for visitors remains unchanged from the 1998 study. “Beautiful” and “peaceful” remain the 
dominant attributes, while “respectful of the environment,” “authentic” and “friendly” are seen as the dominant 
personality traits. “Surprisingly sophisticated” is barely on visitors’ radar screens, and “skilled professionals” and 
“high tech” are off the screen altogether.

This brand image is similar to the one held by visitors. “Beautiful” and “peaceful” are the strongest attributes, but 
in this case, product-type associations such as ”authentic/genuine” and “natural/pure” are a stronger part of the 
image (not surprising since these are people whose primary connection to Vermont is the purchase of products).

If you may remember, a while ago, Vermont took on McDonalds. Turns out that McDonalds was not providing Vermont maple syrup with its breakfast selection of oatmeal. No way, not in Vermont. Not too long after the media hoopla, there was word of a settlement. Turns out that in Vermont, you have the right to request McDonalds to provide you with real Vermont maple syrup when you order your oatmeal. It’s a fact.

So, the latest action by the Vermont Attorney General’s office comes as no surprise. There is a product called  “VerMints” which are tins of mints that make one think of…..Vermont? According to the advertising from 2006 through 2011 they were advertised on the tin as “Vermont’s all natural mints” which claims  have gradually been replaced over the years by the word “Vermint’s all natural mints”.  You would be led to believe, or at least the Attorney General’s office states that you would be led to believe that this is a Vermont product. In fact, VerMints are manufactured in Canada by a Massachusetts-based company and contain no substantial Vermont ingredients. The only thing Vermont about VerMints is evidently that you can buy them in the state.

Today, a settlement was reached whereby VerMints will pay $35,000 to the Vermont Foodbank and $30,000 to the State of Vermont for violations of state consumer protection laws. It will also see that its packages contain corrected and accurate labeling which is not misguided.

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Presently it is -15 outside. That’s cold and not as cold as some of my friends are reporting on Facebook. There are posts listing -17, -18 even -20. Actual real temperatures, not wind chill. Factoring in wind chill some of those are reading close to -30. That’s cold, in fact, that’s damn cold.

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It is a good night to be grateful for the small things that are really big things that we often take for granted. Warm toes, blankets, a place to be in from the cold and the wood to keep it warm. A nice hot cup of tea by the fire. Someone to share it with — these are all very good things.

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Lots of fluffy white stuff landed up this way, turning everything into a winter wonderland. There is about 16 inches on the ground here but the last snow was very light and fluffy so it is hard to measure exactly since it blows from here to there and back again. 

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While it all looks very pretty outside, the temperatures were quite cold. We didn’t come up to even zero today.

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Stay warm folks!

P1110997

P1110996Truth can be stranger than any fiction. We were reading an interesting article yesterday about parasitic flies that are eating the brains of Vermont honeybees. These flies, known as phorid flies pierce the abdomen of honeybees and deposit eggs. The fly larvae then consume the insides of the honeybees, turning them into what has been dubbed zombees. These bees exhibit extremely strange behavior such as leaving the hive in the dark and have been seen flying around outdoor lights, where they often are found dead the next day. This is strange with a capital “S” behavior.

There have been a lot of sightings of zombees on the west coast and yesterday we learned that these zombees have been found most recently in Vermont as well. There is a site called www.zombeewatch.org which is attempting to document the presence of these zombees. They are looking for zombee hunters, (a/k/a citizen scientists) so if you’re passion has been to hunt zombies, hunting zombees might be up your alley. There is a tutorial on how to become a zombee hunter on the website, which includes collecting the dead bees that you may find in certain outdoor locations into resealable plastic bags. The guide will instruct you on how to make a light trap to capture zombees and how to contain the dead bees while you wait and then watch the larvae emerge. Since I personally squirm when there are maggots in the summer garbage can, I most definitely can tell you that this is not the project for me; I am sure that those who are of much hardier stock may take some great interest in helping the folks at ZomBeewatch.org document the presence of these infected bees around the country.  I mean, how cool it is t be able to say that you are both a citizen scientist and a zombee hunter in the same breath?

Evilwife on the move

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

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