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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.

IMG_4095Well, it certainly was breathtakingly beautiful this morning. The snow blanketed trees and turned things into a winter wonderland. The downside is that to look that good, the snow is very wet and heavy. The trees were bowing graciously under the weight of the snow, but some succumbed to the heaviness and there are many branches and whole trees that are down. This has caused the inevitable, power outages. We were more fortunate that some, our power went out around 3:45 this morning. Others have been without power since Tuesday when the storm first hit. There are, last I heard about 38,000 people without power and there are lots of folks working hard to get us all back online.

Nothing to do but look to the bright side. We have oil lamps, candles, our headlamps and a warm woodstove. We are luckier than a lot of people.

P1080896The Nor’easter that is paying us a visit for a while longer (snow is forecast through Thursday) has already dropped well over a foot of snow. It is the heavy, wet snow, perfect for building snowmen and snow forts. Last night it was falling in giant clumps of snow, and while I type this there is a lull, although we are forecast to get another 2-5 inches today and another 1-3 inches this evening.

There are a lot of people without power because, the snow is wet and heavy. Last night we had several blips of power but so far, we are still connected.

I love a good snowstorm, there is something magical about snow, particularly when you wake up to it. I know there are a lot of folks out there that would disagree, but give me this, okay? Put aside your grumblings and just take a good look at how beautiful Mother Nature can make everything when she puts on her winter coat.

Happy Snow Day!

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Today, with all its beautiful sunshine, makes the colors that are emerging on the trees even more beautiful. It seems that each day the colored foliage is more and more prevalent. Now, the mountains are clearly dotted with yellows, reds and oranges.

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The colors are coming on fast and furious. Every day it seems that there is more and more color in the mountains.  There is serious doubt around our house that there will be any leaves really left on the trees for the leaf peepers that arrive on Columbus Day weekend. In fact, taking a look of the wind blowing around today any of those leaves that have already turned are dropping at a high rate of speed from the trees.

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Seems that we are starting the foliage season already. According to the news, the state will start its foliage reporting to advise leaf peepers of the changing colors. There isn’t much changing happening our way, although you can definitely notice a much lighter green on the trees and a definite yellow tinge to a lot of them. There are some trees that are already changing, mostly those that are either young or stressed.

I thought that it might be fun to post our own foliage report. So, I will post photos of the same view so anyone out there that cares, can watch the leaves in our neck of the woods start the foliage parade through the coming weeks.

Here’s today’s photo. As you can see, not much in the way of color going on yet, but it’s definitely coming.

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I have not had a whole lot of luck growing sunflowers which is pretty frustrating considering just about everyone else can grow these flowers like weeds. For whatever reason, they have been a gardening challenge – either birds or other critters have eaten the seeds before they could germinate or the plants didn’t seem to thrive and never flowered. This year, however, I have sunflowers! Not a lot, just three plants but they are beautiful.

Here are some pictures – seems I’m not the only one that appreciates these beautiful flowers.

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Yes, there is still snow on the ground. Yes, in fact on this first day of spring, we got even more snow. Another few inches of very wet snow fell overnight.

Here’s a throwback for my guy who is celebrating his birthday in a few days.

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I am personally not a stew fan. The guys all love stew and I’ll make it, but I would just as soon make something else for myself rather than eat the stew. It’s nothing personal, I’m told I make good stew, but it just doesn’t hold a whole lot of appeal to me. There are things that are just so much more appetizing. That being said, since yesterday was St. Patrick’s Day and since Irish blood does course through these veins and since we don’t eat corned beef and cabbage, I thought I’d make an Irish stew. I looked online for some Irish stew recipes and decided to go with a hybrid of sorts. A total lamb stew, I’m not sure how that would have gone over since we are not super big lamb eaters. An all beef stew, well, I already stated my opinion on that one. So I mixed them together, threw in some stout beer. I bought a single bottle of chocolate stout from a local brewing company since I couldn’t get a single Guinness (and since we don’t drink beer, I refuse to take up refrigerator space with any) and a bottle of red wine. I started this stew at 4 and we ate at 7. So, it really didn’t take very long at all and came out tasting quite good and coming from a non-stew lover, this is really, really high praise.

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Ingredients:

1 1/2 lbs lamb stew meat cut into bite size pieces

1 1/2 lbs beef chuck stew meat cut into bite size pieces

2 T. tomato paste

1 t. sugar

1 t. Worcestershire sauce

1 bottle chocolate stout beer of your choice

1 c. red wine (I used Shiraz)

4 c. beef broth (I used 1 T beef base with 4 cups water)

3 T. butter

6-7 carrots cut into bite size pieces

6-7 Yukon gold potatoes cut into bite size pieces

1 large onion cut into bite size pieces

2 bay leaves

olive oil for searing

salt and pepper to taste

Process:

1. I took the cut up beef and lamb and browned it in the olive oil in my dutch oven. I did the lamb first and then the beef. Removed it to a bowl when each was done.

2. I put the cooked meat back into the pan and added my onion, sauteed for a few minutes.

3. Add stout, red wine, beef broth, bay leaves, Worcestershire sauce, sugar, tomato paste and bay leaves. Bring to a simmer and cover.

4. In a separate pan, add butter and saute carrots for about 15 minutes. Turn off and leave in pan.

5. Allow meat to simmer, covered, for one hour. Then add potatoes and carrots, season with salt and pepper to taste.

6. Allow to cook uncovered at a medium heat  for approximately 40 minutes or until potatoes and carrots are cooked through.

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