Happy holidays and thank you all…

Hi Everyone!  Merry Christmas!  Happy New Year!  The holidays are here (whether we are ready or not)!  Game on!  I want to thank all my loyal readers and partners for another fantastic year of blogging fun.  It is an absolute joy to write this blog and to get to know such wonderful people through this venue.  May you have peace, joy and many blessings during this festive season and throughout the new year!




Apple picking etiquette

I love apple picking. I don’t know why, because I don’t really like camping or hiking or anything else like that.  I do love nature and visiting a farm is pretty cool, I think. And I

Apple tree

want my children to know that there is a place where food is grown; it doesn’t just miraculously appear at the grocery store all neatly packaged and ready for consumption.

The whole idea of apple picking is to commune with nature, right?  We live in New England so apples are the fruit. This year, like most years, I visited C.N. Smith Farm in East Bridgewater, MA with my children. Each year the crowds seem to grow. The lines were long: a line to buy a bag to pick apples, a line to buy a ticket for the hay ride and a line to wait for a pony ride and so on. But who minds the wait?

The sun is shining, the air is crisp, the colors of the foliage are wonderful, and yet people are grumbling. Sure, the apple bag prices have gone up a bit but you are not really paying for the apples. You are paying for the experience. I heard people say, “They are really gouging the customer this year.”  And I was thinking, ‘I wonder what the operating expenses are on a farm of this size? It must cost a fortune to run and maintain.’

Truthfully, I don’t know if apple orchards make a bunch of money or not, but they are a part of the New England landscape. None of us would want to see the orchards disappear because they couldn’t afford to stay in business. Right?

The other thing I noticed about the experience this year was that people were intentionally breaking the few and simple rules of the farm.  They ask that you don’t climb the trees to prevent damage, yet I saw several people dangling from the trees like grotesque human ornaments. Most people were shaking their heads, as if to say, “What are you doing up there?”

The management also asks that you only fill the designated bag or bags and not ones that you carry in. Yet, I did see some patrons with pockets, purses and stroller undercarriages loaded with apple cargo. Seriously? How hungry are you for more apples? Would you do this at the grocery store? No, because it is known as stealing. Somehow at the farm some people think it is a free for all! I don’t like to act like the unofficial apple orchard police, but some people need an etiquette lesson.

I once had someone who was visiting my home and who I hardly knew, sit on the arm of my sofa.  I couldn’t believe it. It was an adult, mind you, and I thought it was so rude. I don’t know why these things bother me so much?  But why sit on an arm of a chair when there are seat cushions to sit on? It is called the armrest for a reason. It is not meant to hold the weight of a person. Nor is a tree in an apple orchard.

Anyway, I think the fundamental rule of apple picking is to teach our children how to respect nature and to show them the beauty of growing food. And then to go home and enjoy those apples in pies, cobblers or in the lunch box the next day. Fresh. Juicy. Healthy. A great memory of a fun day.

Somehow I feel better after venting. Now, I will officially, let it go. Happy Fall everyone!

Yes, I baked a pie with the apples we picked! Solid proof my oven was used in the past year!

Yes, I baked a pie with the apples we picked! Solid proof my oven was used in the past year!


Painting with a what? A twist!

painting with a twist

So there is a new hot spot in Braintree, MA where you can enjoy a night with friends exploring your inner Van Gogh.  Who, you ask? You may need to get out more often! He was the artist who allegedly cut off his own ear.  Fun fact:  new evidence has surfaced that his friend Gauguin may have been responsible for his injury.  That’s not a very starry, starry night for either of them.  However, the night I painted was indeed a good one for me.  So are you looking for something fun and different to do with your friends?  It’s called Painting with a Twist.  This is the place.  I was fortunate enough to be invited for a free session on a night when the event was a fundraiser for childhood cancer, which was really something.  It was a sold out event and twice a month Painting with a Twist hosts a fundraising event and gives 50% of the proceeds to charity.  Yes, you read that right – 50 % which is a large amount.  Most places give 10 or 15% but I was told by the owner Matt Varcher that since he and his wife Candice opened their doors 7 months ago, they have given somewhere between $8,000-9,000 to charities through this program.  That is really cool.  They are cool, hip and happy owners who make the experience enjoyable for all.

I thought the twist was that they donated to charity but the twist is you can bring your own beverages and food and make a painting party for you and your friends.  You can book a private event or you can join others.  Although I didn’t know anyone there, my seat mates and I had a good time.  I found myself totally engrossed in the painting experience.  I don’t think I have painted since elementary school and that certainly wasn’t on canvas.  And believe me, I looked at the painting we were supposed to do (pictured above) a few days before the event and I thought, “There’s no way I can do that, especially the rope“.  Somehow we all managed.  In fact, there were a great number of compliments flying around the room and I don’t think it was the wine talking.  As far as I know, no one drank their dirty paint water which Matt cautions everyone to be careful not to do, even though it is non-toxic!  The other thing I thought was funny was the email confirmation said they reserved the right to paint a moustache on anyone who came late.  I didn’t see this email until later but I may have gone late to see if they would actually do it.  Hey, why not be moustached, that’s kind of cool, right?  I would have requested a Salvador Dali ‘stache – all thin and curly at the ends!  Evidently, a couple of people have been moustached, according to Matt.  Good sports, right?  Let’s face it, it adds to the fun.

So go check it out right here.   Whether you channel your inner artist or you just have drinks and laughs with friends, it is time well spent.  Even Van Gogh would approve.  It is a starry night.  Here is the calendar of events so you don’t have to work too hard.  And if you don’t live in MA, don’t worry, there are plenty of other locations. Happy painting!  
In case you were wondering, here is my masterpiece!

In case you were wondering, here is my masterpiece!