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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

Today, we were on our way into Ludlow to run an errand and came upon the Mount Holly Moose once again.  We have seen her many times in the past months, sometimes with an out of town guest which really made their day. This time, she was laying down in someone’s yard just relaxing. So, with good camera in hand, here are some of the pictures. She looks totally unfazed by the humans on the side of the road that were gawking at her and taking pictures. After all, not many moose posing for cameras. A few years ago, we had a couple young moose that would wander through our neighborhood, but we haven’t seen any that close around our house in years.

There is concern that the moose is ill and that is the reason for her lack of concern for cars and people. There is talk that the moose may ultimately have to be euthanized. Hopefully, that is not the case.

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img_5108It is a very quiet house here at the T’s. The boys are all back to school and our company over the holiday weekend is gone. While this is the beginning of the second semester of school for the boys, it is the beginning of Empty Nest Part II here at home. Empty Nest Blues….when it hasn’t quite sunk in yet that they are gone again.

In thinking about it, the dog and I have a great deal in common at this point in time. While sitting here in the living room by the wood stove, typing away, I half expect a kid to come sauntering in. No such luck but at every errant noise, both the dog and I look to the doorway expectantly, both with similar expressions of hope in our eyes. Both of us realize almost simultaneously – no, that was just a noise, not a boy. We probably have the same disappointment float momentarily over our faces. We then both turn to Tom to entertain us and make us forget that there was no boy at the doorway.

Sad, but true. I have been reduced to equating myself with the dog. At least when it comes to the first few days after everyone has left. My goals for the second semester is to take my dog companion and get out there and soak in some Vitamin D on a daily basis. A little (okay, any) snow to make it a little more appealable (and ski-able) would be greatly appreciated.

 

 

 

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Since just before Christmas, I have been chicken sitting for a friend. There were three hens that needed some watching while my friend was off doing research during the college break. Among my many talents (adding this to my resume) is my years of experience with chickens, although this honestly is my first official chicken sitting stint. I liken it to babysitting. Once you are a parent, you pretty much have the necessary qualifications to babysit other people’s children. As a chicken owner, I evidently have chicken cred. 🙂

Just for giggles, I actually googled chicken sitting. Yes, much like everything else anyone can think of, there are several pet sitting services that offer chicken sitting as part of their services. I get it, but there are honestly a few businesses which as their sole business, do chicken sitting. I. Kid. You. Not.

Which brings me to the question. Why? Oh why did I spend all that money on a law school education when I could just have been a professional chicken sitter? 58% of Pet Sitters International 2016 survey on pet sitters do chicken sitting, which it reports is a sharp increase from its previous survey. It appears that chicken sitting is an up and coming area of the pet sitting business. Silly me. I thought that chicken sitting was something a neighbor does for you when you are out of town for a few days or a few weeks. A simple neighborly thing, not a whole profession. I really do need to get out more. Seems I have been missing this.

Seriously though, I have enjoyed my chicken sitting stint. Particularly since there is no rooster involved. Roosters can be a pain in the bottom and I bet those  professional chicken sitters probably collect hazard pay when there is one or more roosters involved, since that usually involves having eyes in the back of your head to make sure that rooster isn’t trying to take you out while you are tending to the ladies and collecting the eggs.

Eggs. Gotta love fresh eggs. For all those folks out there that haven’t experienced freshly laid eggs, you have no idea what you are missing! Nothing better than cracking open an egg that has a beautiful bright, deep yellow (almost orange) yolk. Trust me, once you’ve had a fresh egg, you  will simply hate anything that comes to you weeks (or more) old.

So, what do you think? Professional chicken sitter as my next career? Somehow I think I’d have to move to the city or darn close to one to pull that off, and I’m not ready to make that move.

 

 

A couple years ago, Tom went out and bought himself a fat tire bike when his knee was acting up. The orthopedist’s advice was to keep his knee moving without jarring it too much and causing further damage. He suggested biking. Tom did his research and while we both have mountain bikes, they are probably as old (if not older) than the wedding anniversary we just celebrated. He wanted a new bike and the idea of a fat tire bike intrigued him. It would give him the ability to have a little more four season biking opportunity. When he showed up with his new bike that looked quite odd at the time, I really didn’t quite get it. We had mountain bikes, which could go almost anywhere, why fat tires? He seems to enjoy it, and he can go places (like the beach) where my little old mountain bike just can’t handle because of its fat tires. But alas, fat tires on their own can get you a lot of places but they still don’t work well when there is ice and snow on the ground. So, he has lusted after studded tires for his fat bike for a while. Honestly, we couldn’t justify the expense of another set of tires for a bike, when there were trucks that needed tires and the costs could actually be somewhat similar on a per tire basis.

When we were up in Stowe last weekend, we came across a fat tire bike convention/gathering of sorts that we decided to stop at and take a walk around. The place where he bought his bike, up in Burlington, Old Spokes Home (don’t you love that name?) had a tent with some cool bikes and accessories. Lo and behold they had some studded tires at a great price. I treated my sweetie to an early birthday present.

The next day, after doing some research, he decided to give a try to change over the tires himself. A few hours which included a complete clean up of the bike and reassembly and  the studded tires were on. He took it for a test drive on our icy roads and had nothing but good things to say about the studded tires. I think that this will make the snow/ice riding much more pleasurable and falls due to the bike slipping and sliding, less likely to happen.

If you are a fat tire biker and are debating the studded tires, I can say that they work, I’ve seen it up close.

 

 

Sounds like a great mystery book or a movie title, but it’s not. This week in Vermont is Open Farm Week. It gives those of us who love to wander through farmers’ markets and eat fresh from the farm produce a chance to see what actually goes on at your favorite farm and learn more about agriculture and farming in our lovely state. This opportunity gives a whole new meaning to “learning where your food came from” as you have the opportunity to not only see where it came from, but meet the folks behind your favorite fare in their own environment — and even lend a hand and see what it’s like to be a farmer for a few hours. A great opportunity to gain even greater appreciation for the men and women who are behind the farmers’ market tables each and every week.

There are farms all over the state of Vermont that are opening their barn doors for you! Of course, Vermont farmers are so friendly and welcoming that you don’t need a special week to visit your favorite farmer. But, I digress.

Here is a sampling of some of the things you can do this week at a farm near you. You could even schedule a whole week of farm fun and take a tour of Vermont farms, taking in their uniqueness as each of these places puts their own special twist on farming and for that, we are very grateful.

Merck Forest and Farmland Center will teach you all about draft horses and maybe even get the opportunity to help drive them around the farm.

Health Hero Farm is having cooking classes demonstrating how to cook their fresh beef.

Have a Farm to Table Dinner by the gardens at Boyd Family Farm in Wilmington. The proceeds for this dinner go to charity.

Take a nature photography course at the Smokey House in Danby.

You can also visit an alpaca farm, visit a vineyard or visit a mushroom farm. There are lots of choices and really something for everyone. Take advantage of really learning where your food comes from this week. You’ll be glad that you did.

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I have been trying, for several years to grow lavender. Last year, I had beautiful plants that I grew from seed but didn’t flower much but were hardy. I brought them in to over-winter since the prior year’s plants that I bought as young plants didn’t survive. Guess what, the hardy plants died on me.

This year, (third time’s a charm) I purchased several small lavender plants in late spring and put three together in one planter and the fourth elsewhere in the yard. Guess what, all four of them are flowering with lots of flowers on each plant.

Mind you, they aren’t those lush lavender plants that you see in photos, the fields of lavender, but they are my four little plants and they are alive and they are flowering. That makes me happy. In fact, ridiculously happy — I’ve been trying so hard to grow this for years now. Today, I harvested my first bunch of lavender flowers to dry and couldn’t resist snapping this picture to mark this rather monumental (in my book at least) occasion.

This is particularly good news since the garden is coming along, but slowly. It is the battle of Tammy v. the Vole (or vole family, not sure yet). I plant, it eats. I plant more, it eats more. I douse my plants in castor oil, cayenne and dish soap and, you guessed, they are eaten (although it did take a few days). I pull out the Italian mama’s size jar of crushed red pepper, cover my little plants in red pepper (haven’t quite figured out how I’m going to get that pepper completely all out of the lettuce – so house guests beware!) but it has managed to slow the critters down. Next step, break out the Irish spring soap – my mom told me that would work and I’m ready to give it a shot. I am hopeful that as the little plants grow (grow plants, grow!) they will become less appetizing and the critters will go elsewhere for their green veggie intake.

So….you see, a little tiny bunch of lavender is really a pretty monumental thing in my world of gardening these days.

 

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.

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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 http://www.collegiateentrepreneurs.com.

 

English: a bird nest Français : un nid d'oiseau

English: a bird nest Français : un nid d’oiseau (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s been two weeks since we moved the boys to school, that’s two weeks without any kids still living at home.

My question is….  who came up with this whole “empty nest” symbolism anyway? Obviously no one who actually did some research. From what I have read, most adult birds don’t stick around the nest when the fledglings leave, in fact, from what I’ve read some even leave the nest before their little baby birds are off on their own.

Imagine just how that would play out in the human world.

Kid: I will be leaving in a week for college. Are you going to miss me? I need some help packing and getting my stuff there and set up in my dorm room.

Parents: Hope you have fun with that. We are outta here! Headed south for the winter or maybe for forever. The house has been sold since we aren’t living here anymore and you’ll have to leave earlier than a week.  Don’t even think about coming home in a month or two for a break or Thanksgiving because the house may be gone or new folks may be living here but one thing is definitely certain, your father and I, we won’t be coming back….ever. And that moving in and getting settled at college thing. Good luck with that.

I came across this quote online and it definitely takes some of the sting out of the whole “empty nest” stigma.

I don’t like the term “empty nesters”…. I prefer “parents of free range young adults.” Robin Fox.

It is definitely a weird transition to go from a house where I have to wonder and plan for things like who is going to be here for dinner and what food shopping needs to be done to a house where there’s really no one to care what time we eat (my husband is pretty flexible with the whole food thing) or if we even eat. Makes my hobby of cooking and baking pretty darn obsolete, doesn’t it? Think I have to find a new hobby to occupy my time.

We just hosted my nephew and his girlfriend for the weekend. We had fun, I got the chance to bake some goodies, make a real breakfast for all of us and enjoy their company. There is one thing that I can tell you though. When we would have a houseful of company and they would leave after the weekend, the house, with the five of us in it, seemed empty. The house with just two of us in it after company leaves is even more empty and quiet. Sigh…….

P1010201The beginning of this week, our anniversary evening was cold and windy. The end of the week, today, is also cold and windy. While the temperatures both those days pale in comparison to the temperatures we had mid week, it is still pretty darn cold. Wednesday into Thursday here we had a low temperature without wind chill of -14 and with the wind chill of -30. Some places were checking in with even colder temperatures running closer to -20 without taking into account the wind chill. Definitely the weather to stay hunkered down in your fleece pjs or if you needed to venture out, your flannel lined jeans. Lots of eskimo looking folks wandering around like the stay put marshmallow man – yours truly included with them.

None of this though seems to hold a candle to the place reported by the Weather Channel as being the coldest recorded temperatures for an inhabited area on the earth. That distinction goes to Oymyakon, Russia where the average winter temperatures (average, okay?) are around -50. The coldest recorded temperature in the town was back in 1924 and registered -96 degrees. Here’s a link to the website which has some pretty amazing photos, especially of those Russian folks bundled to the hilt.

Stay warm.

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