New Hampshire in Mid-Winter

It’s been an icy, icy world out there lately. December and January seemed especially brutal with days on end of sub-zero temperatures, wind, and a couple of ice storms. On New Years Day, with just 2 degrees on the thermometer, Ethan and I set out for a northern adventure. We just had to get out of the house! And we wanted to see the snowy mountains. We bundled up and hit the road, temperature plummeting the more Northward we drove. fullsizeoutput_2cfa

fullsizeoutput_2cfcWe meandered through small towns, such as Grafton and Warren. We tried to take smaller, back roads as we went. Route 118 from Warren to North Woodstock was particularly scenic. From there, we jumped on highway 93 North so we could go through the Notch. The Notch was socked in with fog it was so cold, but the glimpses we got of the mountains were beautiful.fullsizeoutput_2cf6After a quick stop at the Garnet Hill Outlet in Franconia, we made our way to Sugar Hill for a late lunch at Polly’s Pancake Parlor. Situated on a hill overlooking a gorgeous mountain view, Polly’s has quite the spot. If only the food lived up to the location. I hate doling out bad reviews, but the food just wasn’t that great. But the options were many, so perhaps we just made some bad choices (I had the quiche of the day and Ethan had a reuben as per usual). Their peppermint cappuccino on the other hand- yum, yum.

fullsizeoutput_2cfdAfter our lunch, we went over to Sunset Hill in Sugar Hill to take in the view above. Still a  little foggy, but lovely none the less. We were starting to lose light, so we meandered towards home from there, though we were far from it. We went through some little New Hampshire towns that I had never seen before. Most interestingly, we stumbled upon The Brick Store in Bath which is on the National Register of Historic Places as the oldest general store in the country- how cool! It had loads of old character, we had to go in and have a look around. Thankfully, we caught them just before they closed for the day. My favorite thing was the wide front porch with all the rocking chairs. Too bad it was below zero out, it would be fun to sit there and enjoy a treat from the store. fullsizeoutput_2d66

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Other towns of note were Haverhill and Etna. Both new to me, and both very colonial and charming. The moon was rising when we were in Haverhill, so by the time we drove through Etna, it was too dark for photos. Haverhill is along Route 10 in New Hampshire, and Etna is situated atop a hill off a side road- you’ll have to use your GPS to find it, but it’s worth finding- well, hopefully, I did only see it in the dark. fullsizeoutput_2d67fullsizeoutput_2d65Well that was our little mid-winter, sub-zero, just-have-to-get-out-of-the-house adventure! Hopefully we can repeat it in warmer temperatures. There’s a certain rocking chair in Bath calling out to me…

Postcards from Paris

May 2008. A dream fulfilled: a trip to Paris with my best friend! Here are my favorite photos from our arrival day. I will periodically share subsequent days of the trip as I finish editing them. I took the photographs 10 years ago and am just now getting around to editing them! haha! I’m a major photo procrastinator. But I’m glad I waited in a way, as I can delete photos more easily and edit in a nostalgic style, which suits Paris. You must forgive the slightly grainy photo quality as these were taken with my first little 5 megapixel camera. Enjoy~fullsizeoutput_2ab4



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  • My first siting of the Arc D’triumph in our taxi from the airport.
  • The gorgeous architecture of the buildings (I was in awe) and the sights and smells of the open air food market near our hotel.
  • The Eiffel Tower! We went right up it- fantastic views!
  • Locals playing some bocce ball in the park near the tower.
  • The street view of Napoleon’s gold dome burial spot.
  • Wandering the streets in a light rain.
  • Enjoying a creme brûlée for dessert.
  • The tower lit up at night from our hotel room’s balcony.

Looking back on these, I appreciate all the more what a beautiful city Paris is. I’m so thankful I was able to see it with my own eyes. I would love to visit again someday, along with the french countryside. More to come….

Portrait of Peterborough

Nestled below Mount Monadnock there is a very special town; a creative community bursting at the seams with arts, culture, good food, and cute shops. The place I describe is none other than Peterborough, New Hampshire. Peterborough, self described as “a good town to live in” or simply, “our town”, is one of New Hampshire’s best gems (perhaps even one of the country’s best gems as far as small towns go). Consider this post a miniature tour of downtown Peterborough wherein I describe my favorite places to go and things to do in this special place. While certainly not all-encompassing, these are some the highlights.24814210031_7a442bf529_opeterborough stroll

First let’s talk food. Cause when it comes to good eats, Peterborough is where it’s at. It’s hard to chose a favorite but if I was forced to, Twelve Pine would win. Gourmet market-meets amazingly deli-meets awesome coffee shop-meets excellent restaurant is how I would describe Twelve Pine. Oh, and they sell flowers and homemade gelato too. All under one roof! In a casual, yet somewhat refined atmosphere. I have probably spent thousands there collectively over the years (joking, but probably pretty close- some do refer to it as “twelve dollar pine”-worth it!) and yet, I consider it well spent. twelve pine

espalierharlowsThere are some new places to eat in town that are definitely worth a shout out as well. My new favorite spot (especially for lunch) is the Thai Cafe, located in the same building as chocolate maker and sweet shop Ava Marie’s (which has the best iced coffee in town- their secret: coffee ice cubes and swirls of homemade caramel sauce). The food at the Thai Cafe is made to order, fresh, and so delicious! Oh, and they have amazing iced coffee too (we are spoiled on break around here!) Other Asian restaurants are down the road, there’s Kogetsu – great for sushi- and Pearl – a more upscale Asian-fusion dinner place that specializes in Oysters on the half shell. And then, if you want a good ole’ pub environment there are two great options: Harlow’s Pub and Cooper’s Hill Public House. The former is a Peterborough landmark, it’s been downtown for years and is a funky place to relax and listen to live music. Cooper’s Hill is new, and is great because it’s open late (something Peterborough lacks) and you can sit in armchairs and talk for hours (if you can hear yourselves above the music that is) I would highly recommend the Irish Nachos at Cooper’s Hill, instead of corn chips they use thinly sliced potatoes, topped with cheddar cheese, bacon, sour cream and scallions – yum!img_9374

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bowerbirdWhen it comes to treasure hunting in antique shops and cute little stores, Peterborough’s got it covered. Some of my favorite antique stores ever are in town, but it is hard to pick an absolute favorite. It’s a tie between Bowerbird and Friends and Grove & Main. Both are meticulously curated and styled, and both are filled with beautiful and interesting things to look at (generally I just look, cause both stores are a bit pricey). Bowerbird even has a little terrarium building room overlooking the river in the back of the store. Another good one is Laurel & Grove down the street. Smaller than the other ones, they have good sales and a lovely selection of potted plants. For more eclectic, international gifts try out Joseph’s Coat. For unique clothing and jewelry, there is Alice Blue. Depot Square is home to many little shops, too many to list. I am not including everything here- you have to go to Peterborough and see for yourself 🙂

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Yes, I’m sure you’ll spend more on stationary and office supplies at Steele’s Stationers than you would at Staples or Wal-mart, but the fact that Steele’s is still in business since the 1800s and you can go into a cute little mainstreet store like that makes me so happy. I wish big box stores didn’t exist so all downtowns could be as thriving as Peterborough. Peterborough also has a very large and well stocked book shop called Toadstool which includes new and used books. If buying books isn’t for you, check out the oldest free public Library in the country- the Peterborough Town Librarygrove street peterborough

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winter peterboroughPeterborough is a very walkable town. There is a path along the river (next to the big parking lot by Toadstool’s Bookshop) which is lined with flowers in the summer. There is a small outdoor stone seating area where you can overlook the water. There is also a pathway of birch trees you can meander up from Depot Square to Grove street. Off of Grove street there is a bridge over which you will find another nice park to roam around in. Peterborough really is a paradise for the pedestrian- I wish all small towns were still that way. Whether you come in warm weather or cold, or visit when the fall colors are out, or when the flowers start blooming, I am confident you will enjoy your visit to Peterborough. Please comment below if you need any further clarification on the places listed, or if you would like more detailed directions or information. Happy adventuring!

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Hancock Through the Seasons

Here are some photographs of Hancock, a gorgeous little New England Village tucked away in Southwestern New Hampshire. I was fortunate enough to work as the Children’s Librarian there for one year, so I enjoyed Hancock through each season.

Spring:

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Flowers sprouting up around town. Budding trees in front of the Hancock Inn. Apple trees with new leaves in the orchard on Norway Hill. Irises on Main Street. Trees in bloom in front of the Hancock Town Library.  Lilac bushes in front of a colonial house.

Summer: img_6197

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Processed with Snapseed.old dublin roadElliot's GardenMy most favorite view off of Old Dublin Road. Flowers at the farmer’s market in the old circular stables. A place of sanctuary at the Harris Center. Giant bubbles from a performance I planned at the end of summer reading.  Scenes from the Tour Hancock Gardens summer garden tour. A walk down the dirt sidewalks of Main Street. Storm clouds approaching Nubanusit Lake. Walking Old Dublin Road. The Elliot’s amazing private garden.

Autumn: img_4153

hancock main streethancock autumnwillard pondHancockInnnorway hillGolden trees on Main Street. Ivy growing up an old colonial house. Norway Pond stillness. Main Street littered with leaves. A walk on an old dirt road. Kayaking on Willard Pond close to sunset. The historic Hancock Inn. The fall colors starting to appear at the apple orchard on Norway Hill.

Winter: 

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hancock winterA snow storm in February blankets an old colonial home. Lilies brighten up the winter day inside Fiddleheads Cafe. The huge tree outside of the library covered in snow. The Hancock Inn and it’s Fox tavern is a cozy place for a winter’s evening meal. Frost patterns inside the library’s windows.

No matter what season you visit Hancock, it is always going to be beautiful.

Common Ground

I made it to the Common Ground Country Fair this year, a haven for agricultural producers and creative makers, animal lovers and foodies, and just plain regular people like me. I’ve always wanted to check out this fair since reading about it on soulemama, yet something inevitably came up during the notoriously busy month of September, and I was never able to make it. This year though it happened! Here are some highlights from the wonderful event.img_0656

We entered through the Rose Gate, which brought us right into the farmer’s market section. I didn’t realize how gorgeous a farmer’s market could be. Instantly, I was in love with this fair! Every booth was thoughtfully and artfully set up, and there were dried flowers hanging everywhere and beautiful produce of all shapes and sizes. It was magical. We even managed to stumble upon a greenhouse just full of snapdragons in bright shades. There were fruit trees planted in grassy fields, with winding paths throughout. Children ran around happily and slid down a hill on cardboard boxes (summer sledding! that brought me back to my own childhood!). Within the first 15 minutes, I was smitten.img_0693

img_0671We wandered along to the fiber section, and I was blown away by Mindful Folk Farm‘s booth- they matched their flower bouquets to their hand dyed yarn and it was just gorgeous!! We then watched a sheepdog demonstration, which is always amazing to watch. What obedient dogs! (and sheep!) My friend and I had planned to line up our day with all sorts of fun and practical workshops, but instead we just wandered. I wasn’t disappointed at all in that approach, I was happy to get the lay of the land this year, and the next time I return, I will be ready to dive in to some workshops.img_0702-1img_0663img_0706-1

In summary, here is  what I loved and didn’t love about the fair.

What I loved:

  • healthy food vendors! (I had fresh fish tacos on a homemade gluten free tortilla with homemade sauce and cabbage – yum!)
  • no litter! (it just didn’t have that “trashy fair vibe” you sometimes find at fairs)
  • beautiful gardens and displays.
  • agricultural and environmental focus. (people who care about this planet!!)

What I didn’t love:

  • the traffic (we waited in stopped traffic for nearly an hour to park)
  • the crowds (they expected over 65,000 visitors in one weekend, I guess that shows how awesome it is!)
  • the price of the food (but isn’t that all fairs??)
  • the heat- record breaking for that time of year in Maine- but that’s not the fair’s fault!

Getting there: The fair’s physical address is 294 Crosby Brook Road in Unity, Maine. There is parking all around, and it’s well marked (just follow the traffic!) We ended up parking over a mile away to avoid sitting in more traffic, and opted to walk in on a lovely dirt road with beautiful country views. We took a golf cart shuttle to get back to our car at the end of the day however, as we had done enough walking for one day 🙂

For 2018’s fair date, check out the Maine Organic Farmer’s Association, and mark your calendars for next year! I sure would like to return to the Common Ground Country Fair.

 

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Sculptured Rocks

There is a very special place tucked away in quiet Groton, New Hampshire. It’s a geological site called the Sculptured Rocks. Nearby to gorgeous Newfound Lake, the Sculptured Rocks are on an unassuming back road through the little towns of Hebron and Groton. Signs point the way once you get to Hebron. I will let the photos speak for themselves but the Sculpured Rocks are worth a trip, and would be an especially fun place to swim on a hot summer’s day. img_8351img_8411img_8398img_8394img_8392The drive home isn’t so bad either. No matter where you live, take the back way. img_8412

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Lake Towns: Meredith & Center Harbor

The biggest lake in New Hampshire, Lake Winnipesaukee has always held a special place in my heart. My grandfather has owned cabins on the lake for decades so my family have taken summer trips up to Center Harbor for many years. Center Harbor is a special little town full of unique spots, and nearby Meredith is bustling with arts and antiques. Both towns have awesome little shops and food options. And both towns are right on beautiful Lake Winnipesaukee, are right down the road from one another, and are definitely worth a visit. The photos are not in any real order, and my descriptions of places will provide links when available if you’d like to know more particulars. img_8293

I’ll start with one of Center Harbor’s best restaurant, Lavinia’s. Though I’ve only eaten take out there once (and it was great food!) everyone who has dined there that I know has always thoroughly enjoyed it. My sister told me that you can eat in the very top cupola section, which has an amazing view out over the lake. I’m not sure if they still offer that, but if they do, I’d recommend a reservation. Two of my favorite shops in Center Harbor are the yarn shop, Patternworks and the book shop, Bayswater Books. Both are fun places just to browse. The book shop has lots of beautiful little trinkets and gifts which are fun to look at as well. Sandwiched between the yarn and the books is Keepsake Quilting, a large quilting shop with tons of fabric choices. This was my favorite shop to go in when I was younger, before I realized how much time quilting takes and how difficult it is. I would also pick out my fabric with high hopes, but I never did get around to finishing a quilt. Hopefully I will someday. Now I don’t even go in the quilt shop because I don’t want to be tempted into another hobby, but I hope to have the time to do quilting eventually 😉

img_8291Another classic Center Harbor spot is the Yikes Craft Gallery which features work from various local artists and craftspeople. If you’re looking for a unique gift to give someone, I bet you could find them something in Yikes. And my favorite place in Center Harbor is Dewey’s Ice Cream Parlor! They have my favorite ice cream flavor in all the world: Phantom Berry! It’s black raspberry ice cream with chunks of brownie and swirls of brownie batter. YUM. I made sure to get a cone of that good stuff every day we were there 🙂 For a summery eating experience, try Red Hill Dari for all your classic summer food, ordered at a pick-up window and eaten outside.

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Moving on to Meredith, the Main street winds up and around uphill, and is filled with antique shops, art galleries, and a really yummy coffee shop with a book store inside and a cozy fireplace. There’s a shop that sells homemade soap, a kitchen gadget shop, and a cool health food shop. All of my photos from Meredith are places that can be found just by wandering along the Main street. When going between Meredith and Center Harbor on Route 25, be sure to stop at Moulton Farm. It’s a huge farm store filled with gorgeous produce and other products. I think they even have a corn maze in the fall.img_8231

img_8237 img_8331And no trip to Center Harbor or Meredith is complete without walking down to the docks and just gazing out at the water. If you can catch a sunset, that’s even better. Though these local spots highlighted in the post are fun to visit, my favorite part of being there is to wake up very early and kayak across the glassy water, and hear loon calls echo from one end of the lake to the other. I’m thankful to be so familiar with these fun New Hampshire towns. I hope you will be able to visit them too 🙂

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Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music

Tucked away down a winding dirt road in Nelson, New Hampshire, you will find the Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music, a center for musical education for students from around the world. I had read that they offered classical concerts for the public on Tuesday nights in the summer, so one hot August evening Ethan and I made our way up to Nelson, not knowing at all what to expect.

What we found was delightful. As we wound our way up the dirt road, suddenly we came upon a big colonial house and barn that was humming with people. The front porch had a large buffet of food and the lovely yard was lined with picnic tables filled with happy, friendly neighbors. Looking closer, you could see a yurt or a small house in the woods, which presumably house the students who go to Apple Hill. After dinner, a bell was rung and (most) everyone filed into the big barn to hear the concert. img_9586 img_9582We sat outside of the barn and it was so peaceful to watch the sunset over the distant mountains and just listen to the beautiful music. If I were to do it again (which I will!) I would definitely bring bug spray and a sweater- once the sun goes down it got buggy and chilly fast. I would also bring my own picnic dinner! It’s free to sit outside and it costs $15 to get into the barn. Watching in the barn would also be a neat experience someday so we would actually get to view the concert too. But it was relaxing to just listen.img_9596img_9587img_9600After a little while, when we looked up, the lights came on in the tree above us. What a nice (and free!) night out. Not only is Apple Hill Center a place for musical education, it is also a charming and unexpected venue for concerts in the summer time. Keep it in mind.img_9601

Andres Art Trails

Tucked away in Brookline, NH is a very cool place which combines two of my very favorite things: walking in nature and art. This place is called Andres Art Institute and is a network of trails throughout the woods. Interspersed along the trail, seemingly around every corner, there are sculptures which make turning each corner especially exciting.fullsizeoutput_1cad

img_7310There are trails for various ability levels, though I thought even the trails marked easy or moderate were still somewhat steep in parts. Absolutely no problem if you walk in the woods or hike a lot, but if you don’t, just prepare to get a little bit sweaty and winded. But in a good way 🙂 I have wanted to visit the art trails for a very long time, and finally got there with some friends on a Sunday afternoon. We did two trails, and saw a lot of art, but I feel we hardly scratched the surface of the place and I am eager to go back again. I’m not going to post photos of every sculpture we saw- I want them to be a surprise for you if you go- cause that really is the fun of it: anticipating what the next sculpture around the corner will be.fullsizeoutput_1c85 fullsizeoutput_1c8cfullsizeoutput_1c8eSome of the sculptures are very apparent, others, like the one pictured above blend right in to the woods. This is a great place if you want to get some fresh air, exercise, and feel cultured at the same time! haha. It really is a cool idea and I’m glad there are places like this so close to home. Also, it’s free to get in! They do accept donations of course.

fullsizeoutput_1c73fullsizeoutput_1c72I love the little snail who made his home in my favorite sculpture! So if you want a fun and different outing this summer, give this place a try! Getting there: Andres Institute of Art 106 Route 13, Brookline NH 03033. And on an unrelated note, but just around the corner from Andres is a Chinese Restaurant called New Kun Garden, and they make ice cream rolls! We were sure to get some of those 🙂 img_7309