The hubby and I had a wonderful time this weekend. We went on the Country Roads Christmas Tour for the second year in a row. Last year was our first time and we had so much fun we had the dates for this year marked on the calendar months in advance. 17 stores took part this year.
The idea is to go to each of the 17 stores, visit, relax, maybe do a little shopping, and get a card stamped at each place. Each store has some kind of little treats and drinks set out to welcome visitors and they’re all decked out in their holiday finery.
This year we had snow in the morning and it snowed most of the day. It was colder than last year as well, although Sunday it warmed up nicely and most of the snow was gone by late afternoon. I liked the snow though. It really added to the ambiance of the entire event.
I decided to take pictures of the places we went to share out trip. Unfortunately I only have pictures of the first day, in which we hit 12 shops. The last 5 I have no photos for due to technical difficulties. ((Ok, if you need to go there.. it was due to operator error. Happy? lol ))
I may not get these in the right order, but it doesn’t matter.
We started out at Red Apple Farm. We love going here and its a favorite stop on many of the bus tours during the holidays and leaf-peeping tours. They do their own baking, cider making, and fudge making. All of which are terrible for your waistline but SOOO good in your belly. We just had to start there and get some homemade cider donuts to fortify us for our days adventure. —>
Down to Earth Nursery is a fun place to go. First thing you notice is how good it smells. It’s a small store, but packed with lovely items made with all kinds of pine trees, berries and various greenery. <—
Whiting Farm is adorable. It’s a small cabin with all the personality of a large house. Inside its packed to the loft with rustic and primitive items. They have a great selection of the “grunge” candles, also known as grubbies. They look much better than they sound and yet the name suits them perfectly. lol. It was warm and cozy and you can’t help but feel welcome. —>
King Phillip Restaurant is a staple in the area. They run a lot of specials during the year and there are always cars in the lot. We haven’t eaten there yet, but I’ve heard all good things about the food. Its on our “todo” list still. <—
Krafter’s Krossing is one of those lovely surprises you find when you’re just out riding around on a nice day. That’s how we found it and we loved the discovery. The shop is entrancing. There isn’t a spare bit of space that doesn’t have something adorable, beautiful or vintage sitting on it, hanging from it, or propped against other wonderful items. Its also much larger than it looks from the outside. From vintage jewelry to handcrafted furniture, from retro kitchen gadgets to primitive crafts, they have it all. If you go there, be prepared to spend some time finding all the little wonders tucked in every corner. —>
<– Nouveaux Riches is one of the coolest little shops you’ll go into. The store is filled with truly vintage items of every kind. From kitchen gadgets you’ll remember from your grandmother or mother’s kitchen, to wedding gowns and clothing from years gone by, to advertising and brand art. There are even items for the newer at heart folks looking for odd little gadgets and doodads from not so long ago. If the main floor doesn’t keep you busy enough looking around, they have even more downstairs. This store is definitely worth finding. If you’re like me, you’ll find all the “antiques” from my mom that I use every day in my kitchen today. lol.
Country Folk Gift Shop has beautiful folk art items. The store is part of Templeton Furniture, a family run furniture store. The furniture is gorgeous and the store has a welcoming feeling. Go through the main showroom and you’ll be in the gift shop. They have really nice handmade rustic furniture that I wanted to just load in my van, set up in front of my woodstove and sit and knit in. —>
<— Heather Croft Quilt Shack is a treasure trove of all things material. The store is packed full with bolts of material in any color and pattern you can think of. They also carry wools of all sorts. The main store is where all the materials and supplies and cutting happens and they also have another small gift shop of already completed items. Ever want to learn to make rag rugs or braided rugs? They give lessons! Need small pieces of material for your quilts? They have tons of them! I also was lucky enough to get the last of one of their treats and it was soooo good I asked if there was a recipe for it. The owner found some paper and proceeded to write it down for me. I was thrilled. I’ll be posting that recipe on the site shortly. I know you’ll all love it. The hubby and I sure did.
Country Mischief. Ok, I’m going to tell you right now. Make this a day trip! There are two locations. One is also a restaurant which I’ve been wanting to try since forever. ( We’ve tried twice but they were closed. Note to everyone…always call ahead to be sure they’re open! lol. Still, it IS on our todo list. We’ve heard nothing but good things about the food. BUT…that said…the real reason to visit is to look around. The building with the restaurant has 18 (I believe this is the correct count) rooms packed to the gills with every kind of antiques, quirky item, doodad and handcrafted items that you could possible ever want. I’m not exaggerating either. If you love to rummage around rooms of goodies, this is the place for you. After you wander around, go have lunch and then head down the road a short ways and you find….wait for it….location number 2! This building, the one shown in the picture, doesn’t share its space with a restaurant and if you thought the 18 rooms of the other building had a lot to look at, you ain’t seen nothing yet. I totally recommend this place as a day trip all its own, including lunch. You’re sure to find something you can’t imagine how you lived without. —>
Whatever you do, save room in your stomach for the visit to The Kitchen Garden. This is a Scandinavian bakery in the heart of New England. As soon as you enter your nose will want to run away from your face and just live in this bakery. Unless you are allergic to almonds, you WILL want to try their Scandinavian Almond Cake. It’s incredible. Truly. The store also has all kinds of fun items to look through including, be still my heart, knitting books! Yes, I love knitting and scandinavian knitting is really beautiful. Just don’t leave without some treats. And if you are really lucky, look for a fella who looks like he might be up to mischief and ask him to do a magic trick for you. <—
If you want a lot of pop from a little space, head on over to Country Antiques. Primitives and handmade items live in perfect harmony with the country decorations. Lights were twinkling all around us and you are always made to feel welcome. An elf, in full elfish regalia, had a smile for everyone and added a touch of whimsy to a fun visit. This was our last stop on Saturday and the temperature was dropping fast, making the roads start to be slippery, but it was a great place to end the days travels. Bolstered by a cup of thick and rich eggnog, and lots of ideas on what I could do in my own house, we headed home. This little shop is a real gem in a small package. —>
Now, unfortunately this is where my photos leave off, but I’m not going to leave out the rest of our tour because of that. So I hope they will forgive me for being a photo noob.
There are two alpaca farms on the tour. First one we hit was Colonial Hill Alpaca Farm and B&B. This is a fun place to visit. The animals are usually out where you can see them and one look at their adorable faces will make you wish you had a couple yourself. The shop is a knitter/crocheter’s dream shop. They have yarns in the natural colors of the animal they came from as well as hand dyed yarn that will get your creative juices flowing just looking at them. And if you want premade items, there are absolutely gorgeous hats, gloves, socks, jackets, shawls and purses galore. They also have alpaca finger puppets which it has become a little tradition for us to get whenever we go there. We couldn’t let our visit go by without adding to my little collection.
The second farm is Popple Camp Alpacas. They don’t have a shop per se, but they do a lot of the local fairs and craft shows. They have beautiful yarns and gloves, hats and socks that will keep you roasty. toasty warm in the coldest weather. Their herd of pretties are also there to be seen at the farm itself. Whats also fun is that when you buy the yarn or knitted/crocheted item, the owner can tell you the name of the alpaca the fur came from just from the colors. I think that’s pretty cool.
Hartman’s Herb Farm and B&B is a delight to the senses when you enter the shop. Herbs hang in bunches from the wooden beams overhead, mortar and pestles stand ready to make custom mixes and bags of fresh herbs wait to be bought and taken to your own kitchen. It’s fun and fascinating to see all the herbs there are and how they look when they were on the plant and also after harvesting. If you’re looking for something special or greater amounts you can call and talk to the owner about getting what you need. And all this started from a small pot of herbs that were found on the property and started in a little pot. Good lesson for us all there, eh?
White Picket Studio was new to the tour this year. This husband and wife artistic team has opened a small gallery of their paintings. I wanted to bring home half the store. The wife works mostly in watercolor while her husband does mostly acrylics. The shop is located on their farm and their horses watch you drive up the driveway. The paintings are truly gorgeous. Most are of life on a farm and the country life. Her husband does quite a few of old pickup trucks half taken over by the flora and fauna and I loved looking at those. The paintings of the horses, though, are truly wonderful. It’s not just a picture of a horse, they capture the moment and heart of the horses as well. They may be new to the tour, but if you’re looking for local artwork for your country home, you will want to see these before looking anywhere else.
Down the street from Popple Alpaca Farm is Petersham Leathers. You enter the workshop of the business and all around you are pattern pieces, old sewing machines and the smell of leather. If you’re like me, the smell of leather is a welcoming aroma. We also like going there because not only do they have treats and cider and eggnog, but they have warming “additives” for them. <wink wink> I also had my first taste of Tabouleh there today and I liked it! I’ll be looking for that next shopping trip. Through a door is the showroom of finished items. It smells even better in there and you have to almost forcibly keep yourself from running your hands over the soft, supple leather purses, bags, belts, wallets, etc. The leathers are lovely colors and the items beautifully crafted. The owner, Sylvia, also does custom leather work. Before you go looking for that something special and unique in a big store, go here and talk to the owner and buy something custom made for that special someone.
A tour of this area is not complete without a stop at Smith’s Country Cheese, Inc. This is another favorite stop for the bus tours that come through the region. There are all kinds of samples to try and if you’re a cheese lover like the hubby and I, you won’t be able to leave without buying your favorites. This year they had homemade macaroni and cheese made with their sharp cheddar and smoked gouda cheeses. Let me tell you….it was awesome! We came home with smoked gouda, cheddar and the recipe for that mac and cheese. lol. They also have a full gift shop of fun and unique items. I got a small statue from there last December and wanted to go back and get another but never got around to it. I went back this year and they had more by that artist! I got another one and those two are going to be featured on my next blog banner. Your kids will also love this store and a lot of the toys and knick knacks for kids are a throwback to when they really made toys to last. From primitives, to “educational” toys, to collectibles and all kinds of kitchen gadgets, this store has it all.
I know this post was long, but I just had to let you know what we did all weekend. The sweetie and I had a wonderful time together. It’s a fun and relaxed event that does more to put us in the spirit of Christmas than all the flashy ads and commercials could ever do. We smiled all weekend, snuggled at night and talked about the places we saw and the things we ate during the day. These are the things that you really remember. The things you do with those you love, when everyone just has a good time.
For more information on this event, go to http://countryroadschristmas.com/ . Plan to make this a part of your Christmas season next year. I highly recommend it.
Every year we sing the praises of those we perceive to be heros. This is not to take away from those who are, but we have forgotten the unsung heros of the holiday season.
Our lighted animal friends.
They live in a box for 11 months out of the year, unthought of, undusted, uncared for. Yet, like the troopers they are, come December, they proudly stand on our lawns, lighting the way for Santa and bringing smiles to the faces of those who see them. We smile as we drive up and think to ourselves, “didn’t we arrange them nicely this year? They look so natural.”
They say nothing, but perhaps they burn just a little brighter for the praise.
Christmas is over now, however, and we are thinking of the approaching new year and reminding ourselves that its time to put away our decorations. We pull out the boxes that our faithful animal friends call bed and head out to our lovely, “natural” scene.
This year I rounded the corner and this was what met my eyes. My faithful deer was lying down, giving its last bit of strength for the cause. Her head was feebly bobbing up and down still, as if by sheer will she could rise again and stand proudly amidst the trees.
These are the heros of our holidays. Before you put them away for their long rest, take a moment to remember how they looked, sparkling in the cold night air. Standing in defiance against the cold winter winds and the snows that fell. Pack them gently, my friends. Give them a good bed to rest upon and come next December, they will again stand proudly in their lighted forests, bringing smiles and sparkle in the cold, dark nights.
(ps…I had a video of this that was really funny, but WP won’t let me put up videos.)
First, look what my beloved sweetie gave me! I love the colors and there are a full dozen. (I counted ) He really is the best. He said I haven’t brought you flowers for no reason for a while and when I saw these I just had to get them for you. Have I mentioned he’s the best? <silly grin>
Phones. Really, you can’t live without them, but you can drop them in stew, throw them against a wall, sit on them, trip on them, pull them out of puppies mouths, find them in the freezer… Needless to say we’ve been through quite a few over the years, but the ones we have now are just driving me out of my mind. They don’t do any of the things we bought them for, but can we find the receipts? No, of course not. Plus the store we got them isn’t very close so we’ve been stuck with them. Then the bill keeps going up, like everything else, so we made a decision. We bought cell phones. We bought a smart phone for the sweetie. Yes, a real live welcome to the 21st century phone that does everything but cook dinner for you and clean your toilet. We found a company to use through a friend who had found them. No contracts, very very reasonable prices and fits our needs perfectly. Did I mention yet that its going to be over $20 a month CHEAPER than the phone company? Yay! Big outlay initially, but going to more than pay for itself.
We needed two phones, however. One for him to carry with him all the time, and one for the main house phone (or to go with me). I just got a cheap phone, but it has caller ID. texting, (which I have no idea how to do), and messaging (replacement for the answering machine), so it should be fine. Going to look into having the house phone unlisted, but not sure you can do that with cell phones. Still, it will be an improvement.
Now you are asking yourself, you know you are, why would the sweetie get the state of the art, does everything but cook dinner and clean the toilet phone and I get the cheap phone? I knew you were going to ask that! Well here is the reason. This is MY christsmas pressie this year.
Yes, this is a brand new Nook Tablet. I have a kindle and I love to read on it and play the games, and I looked at the Fire, but after having spents hours and hours researching it all, I went with the Nook Tablet. The Fire is probably the number one returned item this year unfortunately. It had a lot of potential and will probably be much better by the third generation of it, but it was rushed out for the holiday sales and was far from ready. Well, this isn’t a sales ad, so I’ll just say that I’m loving my Nook so far. There is a real learning curve, though. At least for me. I feel so Jetson-ish now. LOL. We had to get WiFi in the house for it as well, but that will also help with my Kindle (which I still use cause I have lots of books on it), and with our blu-ray system in the living room which gets updated from time to time via WiFi. We are soooo space age now!
If you buy one though, I seriously suggest buying the book for the Nook Color. It was 30% off at Barnes and Noble so it was a good deal, too. The book you get on the nook is barely useful, of course. Since it does a million things, I was lost, so I think the book is going to help alot since it goes through all the basics and then hits the more advanced features. The only thing it doesn’t tell you about is the Hulu, Netflix, movie streaming stuff, since thats the Tablet but not the Nook Color. The rest will work though.
Anyway, we had a really lovely holiday. Today we are having lunch meats, salads, cheesecake and curling up all day together by the woodstove with some movies. I need to make a big tray of stuffed shells for the sweetie to take to work for their potluck dinner on Monday, but that won’t take long to make. It’s going to be wonderful.
I hope you all have a wonderful and blessed Christmas. Remember the real reason for the holiday and spread some love around. It’s not what you have, it’s who you have it with that matters.
Merry Christmas all!
So today we set out to finish our tour of shops. We had 4 shops left that we just couldn’t get to yesterday.
Today was a leather shop where everything is made from scratch. I love the smell of new leather and the stuff they made was really beautiful. We had 2 Alpaca farms which had me drooling over the stuffed animals made with alpaca fur and the gorgeous full capes. The one had lucious yarn made from their own herd and the owner hand dyes. It was beautiful and so soft to the touch, but that’s something you have to save up for at $18.00 for a small skein. The other one had mostly hats, gloves and socks in natural hues which made my tootsies yearn for on a cold winter night. lol. The last shop was an antique shop. The owner was all decked out like one of Santa’s elves right down to the bells on her pointie boots. It was fun looking around the kitchen section and seeing so many things that I have in my kitchen and still use. (and see how much they were worth! lol )
We handed in our cards after the final stamp and tomorrow morning all the participants are having breakfast at one of the local restaurants on the tour. They will be pulling the winners then. While, of course, we really hope to win, the truth is that we already won. We had a wonderful two days together, the weather was stunning and I can’t wait to go back to some of them again.
When we got home it was dark and we decided to ride around the road nearest to us because they tend to put their lights up early and guess what we found??? One of the houses had done their lights with the music linkup. They had tons of lights and shapes and sculptures and all of it is choreagraphed to match music. You can find stuff like this on You Tube, but I never thought I would see one in person. Yet there it is one street from us! The especial nice thing is that you tune to a certain station on your radio and thats the music its synched to so the neighbors are blasted by music from huge speakers all the time. And no matter what music plays, it responds to it in all different kinds of ways. It was really special to watch and we’re going back this weekend again with some hot cocoa to watch longer.
So if we win any of the prizes I’ll let you all know!
So today the hubby and I participated in an annual event called Country Roads Christmas. WE’VE never heard of it before but apparantly its a big event around here. We found the flyer for it at the last festival we went to, a couple weeks ago, and I told the hubby to GET THOSE DAYS OFF! So he did.
The way it works is that you get a list of businesses and a map to them. They are all in a 2-3 town radius so its not like you are going all over the state. And around here the towns are tiny so its really not bad at all. Anyway, they each have a special flag that hangs outside so you can find them easier when you are close. They’re all decorated up, some had music playing and all of them put out some sort of small snack and drink for travelers.
So you go from store to store and get a card, which you can pick up from whichever store you start in, and you get each store to stamp it. When all of them are stamped, they all have special wooden boxes where you can deposit your finished, or unfinished, card. On Monday, all the folks who organized it get together and draw cards for prizes. If you did all of them you qualify for the grand prize and second prize as well as all the third/fourth place prizes. Unfinished just get into the third/fourth place prizes.
Now mind you, this is not stores like Walmart, or Sears, or places like that. These are all small, local businesses. And around her that means that almost all of them are country themed, antiques, woodcrafts, leathergoods, cheese farms, apple farms, a couple restaurants, alpaca farms, etc. So the shopping, and window shopping, at all of them are a lot of fun and really interesting. It was fun seeing all the same groups of people following the “trail” from store to store. Everyone was in a fun mood, including the store owners, who at one store even dressed up in period clothing for it. It was also nice to see where some of these places were finally. We’ve seen signs for some of them, or see them at various festivals, but never actually went to find their stores. Now we know!
We got 11 out of 15 done. Tomorrow morning we’re finishing it up. You get 2 days to finish, which is good because unless you don’t plan to stop and look around the stores at all, its hard to do in one day without totally exhausting yourself. We were beat as it was by the time we hit the last one at 4:30pm.
I want to encourage people to look for local events like this one to do. It cost nothing besides a bit of gas, you get to see shops you might never have found otherwise and its a lot of fun to meet the owners and other “travelers”. These days, when everyone is out for a buck and charging you for every little thing, its nice to have something fun and holiday-ish to do that isn’t going to cost you anything. And you never know what you will find for those little gifts you just couldn’t seem to nail down. It also doesn’t hurt to support your local shops. I totally support that. And if you own a small business, think outside the box and see about doing things like this in your town, or just to promote your own shop. I never would have known that there is a finish bakery around here, or that there is a quilt shop with tons of material this close to home. (this was important since the walmart idiots got rid of their material/sewing dept. and we’ve had to travel 45 mins away to get material. mutters). And the woman who owns the shop also gives classes in quilting and rug braiding, (I’ve always wanted to learn rug braiding). We now know where the cheese farm whose cheese we always get at local festivals is located. woohoo! We found a beautiful bed and breakfast with a primitives store attached so when we have company we can offer that instead of a motor inn 20 mins away. We found where the little restaurant we’ve always wanted to try is, and found out that it also has 18 ROOMS of handcrafted goods there. (I was in heaven there. lol)
So its good for everyone, shoppers, window shoppers and owners. Tomorrow we have two alpaca farms to visit (ohhhh, lovely yarns…drools), an antique shop and another country goods shop.
Enjoy the season all.