The end of the school year is fast approaching and I am looking forward to summer days! We have been in southeast NH for almost a year now, and we are still finding great new off leash places to take Mizpah. I have been missing hiking the 4000 footers something fierce lately, but finding new trails to walk on with Mizpah and my growing baby bump has been keeping me moving. As I write this I am just starting week 24 of my pregnancy…..crazy how time is flying. The exercise benefits for momma and baby are huge, so walking with Mizpah will be important this summer. I am also keeping up with spin classes at a gym in my town- trying to do 2–3 classes a week.
Wagon Hill Farm is a property owned by the town of Durham, NH, same town where UNH is located. The 139 acre property was acquired by the town back in 1989 to be preserved for many generations to enjoy. There are old orchards, picnic areas, a beachy area where Oyster River meets Little Bay, mowed trails through fields of grass and flowers, as well as wooded paths. Probably one of Mizpah’s favorite features is a point that juts out into the bay, perfect for puppy fetch and play in the water.
The rules of the property are dogs allowed, but off leash only between the hours of 8 AM and 10 AM, on leash the rest of the time. Its a terrific compromise, as long as people follow the rules. Off leash properties are great, but I recognize that there are people out there that would like to enjoy being outdoors without running into off leash dogs. I wish more places would compromise like this. Many beaches in Maine allow dogs before 9 AM, after 5 PM, Gloucester beaches allow dogs off leash every other day in the offseason.
Wagon Hill Farm will definitely be added to the rotation of places to bring Mizpah. I love that it is right on Little Bay, so beautiful. Next up will be the Piscassic Greenway, a property in the Southeast Land Trust of NH.
This spring I was fortunate enough to get to see Sleeping Beauty by the Boston Ballet twice! I had plans to go with my sister since back in February, but then a friend in the pit offered me her comp tickets for opening night and I got to have a little date night with my husband. In what seems like a past life, I played bassoon in youth and adult orchestras in Cambridge/Boston. My former section mate from when I was in a youth chamber orchestra at Longy School of Music is now a professional musician totally killing it. It was SO cool that I got her comp tickets. I look up to her now as much as I did back in the 8th grade, made me feel so important to get her comp tickets haha.
When we went to see it opening night, it was a Friday evening. The audience on Friday and Saturday evenings can be interesting, more adults…..often more intoxicated. My sister and I went on a Saturday afternoon there more of a family/children vibe. Traffic was crappy getting to Boston on the Friday night, but it was a beautiful night. We didn’t really have time to do a sit down dinner, so we grabbed some slices and cannolis from Sal’s Pizza. By a slice, I mean almost a quarter a pizza! We sat on a bench on the common and ate our dinner while doing some people watching. It was definitely 5 star dining as far as I am concerned!
The ballet itself was amazing as usual. We sat in the mezzanine at the Boston Opera House and had a great view. The story is pretty similar to the Disney movie except the fairies aren’t plump little old ladies, they are majestic ballerinas. The prince doesn’t fight Carabosse (the evil fairy who curses Princess Aurora), the Lilac Fairy does, she is really the hero in the ballet. Finally, the last act in the ballet is a star studded wedding reception for Prince Desire and Princess Aurora featuring Puss in Boots, Little Red Riding Hood with her Wolf, and Beauty with her Beast. The music for “I know you, I walked with you once upon a dream” is actually from the Tchaikovsky score, so you will recognize that tune.
The Saturday I went to see the ballet with my sister we had more time before the ballet. We got breakfast from Sip Wine Bar and Kitchen, a restaurant close to the Boston Opera House. They had a great breakfast menu. We both got the American breakfast and loved the crispy breakfast potatoes and the thick fluffy grilled english muffins. After breakfast we went to walk around the common for a bit. There was a protest going on! We grabbed a cookie at the Cookie Monstah food truck (so delicious) and went to check it out. From what we gathered, one side dressed mostly in camo was supporting free speech, the military, government, and some- Donald Trump. The other side dressed in black- some with helmets on, some with ninja face gear on, seemed to fighting against Donald Trump’s brand of free speech. There were Boston police officers and park rangers all over the place. Very exciting but sort of ruined the scenery of the common. People were on the freedom trail tour walking through that craziness, kinda rough on the tourists I think. Our seats were third row for the Saturday performance which was AMAZING. All the sparkle on all the tutus, so close, it was beautiful.
Sleeping Beauty is a beautiful ballet. The costumes, scenery, and music are gorgeous. I mean, Aurora wears three different tutus- a pinkish one for her birthday party, a blue one for the dream sequence with the prince, and then a white stunner for the last scene. For this ballet they took some stunning promotional photos at Hammond Castle in Gloucester, MA.
The next ballet I would go to is The Nutcracker, but who knows, I will have an infant then, so all bets are off. Next season is going to be HUGE. Boston Ballet is doing Romeo & Juliet AND La Sylphide next season, total ballet swoon.
Here are some other Boston Ballet posts from the past to check out!
Hello everyone!! Recently I received my new iPhone case from Very Troubled Child! They are a great company that makes travel bags & accessories, as well as phone cases. As a brand, they seem to be increasing their digital marketing with more frequent instagram posts as well as a new affiliate program. I was so excited to be asked to embark on an affiliate partnership with them because I really like them as a brand. I will always be very upfront with you about products that I review on the blog so while this item was sent to me free of charge and links may be affiliate links, the opinions on the product are 100% my own.
Back to the phone case! I have an iPhone 6 and chose the Seafarer case because I loooooved the print. Being a girl who just loves the New England coast and lakes, this print just spoke to me. There are lighthouses, anchors, sailboats, and 4 point compass roses. The print is mostly red and white on a blue background….so I mean, red, white, and blue? Great color combo. ‘Merica! The phone cases from Very Troubled Child are personalized too! I got my initials on mine.
The case is stiff plastic, not the bendy/flexy plastic. It doesn’t cover all the sides of the phone equally. All the buttons on the sides are exposed, as well as the top and bottom of the phone. This can certainly be considered the downside to this case if you are looking for protection for your phone. Aesthetically, I love this case, and for the price it is an amazing deal for a personalized phone case. If you are someone who is a little rough with their phone, then something more like the Lifeproof cases might be up your alley. If you enjoy a beautiful phone case that is personalized and will certainly become the subject of many a conversation, BUT you will have to be a little more careful with your phone, then this case is for you.
The price of this phone case is $59, which is a similar price point to the Minnie and Emma cases here, and much more affordable than the KJP personalized leather cases here. The other VTC patterns are the Savannah which is tan and Birds of a Feather which is green, and they have a leather case too not shown in the pic below, no increase in price, without a print.
I have gotten so many compliments on the phone case. Multiple people have told me that this case is “so me”, just because I really love those nautical seascapes. I always laugh when people who are comped items comment on the price it costs, but after checking out other companies, the price for this case is right on.
The first time I saw something from Very Troubled Child was on KJP and Sarah’s instagrams a few years ago. Dave Willis aka nakednantucketer also has a beautiful collection of the VTC travel bags that he features often.
The leather luggage IS pricey, but I will say that as the company grows and adds new products, I think we will see other accessories at lower price points. The luggage might be more like an investment piece for many of us. The quality looks great, the type of thing your kids will fight over borrowing someday. Check out everything Very Troubled Child has to offer here, and definitely follow them and Very Troubled Girl on Instagram to see their fantastic world travels! Literally in the past few weeks they went from Hong Kong to United Arab Emirates to Italy….fabulous for travel inspo/ envy!
Many horse professionals from New England travel to the Aiken South Carolina or to Wellington/Ocala Florida for the winter to continue training and showing and return in time for the show season up here! My former barn in Massachusetts, Orchard Hill Equestrian Center, started their schooling show series in April AND the very next weekend was the UNH Spring Trials, a recognized show important to many Area 1 eventers. The schooling show at my old barn was a 2 phase, meaning just dressage and stadium jumping. Right now the cross country field is too soft/muddy. The event at UNH was all three phases meaning dressage, stadium jumping, and cross country.
I volunteered as dressage scribe for the schooling show, which is always a fun job. It can be crazy furiously scribbling down every word the dressage judge says onto the score sheets, but I always learn a lot. I am always too busy during dressage to take any dressage pics. Once dressage was done though, I got to be a spectator for the stadium jumping.
From where I now live in NH, UNH isn’t that far at all! Mizpah and I headed over to watch some friends from Orchard Hill compete. We weren’t there early enough to watch a lot of dressage, but we did get to see some stadium jumping and cross country. Walking the cross country course is always a lot of fun with Mizpah. We totally have her do all the jumps and play in the water complex haha. The course was definitely muddy and wet in some areas, but UNH did a great job of spreading gravelly sand to the approach and landing areas for jumps that needed it. The UNH students in the equine science and agricultural programs volunteer to make this show run as smoothly as possible.
A great place to watch some cross country is here at the water complex. In that one area you get to see a few jumps and of course the spaaaalash into the water!
The earliest I will be riding again will be this coming winter, so for my own sanity, I will be trying to attend a lot of horsey fun events to get my fix until then. It was so nice seeing my barn friends and supporting the schooling show at Orchard Hill as well as the riders at UNH. Mizpah was an absolute star. Most horse people also looooove dogs, so it was a great day to get her out on the leash greeting kids, adults, other dogs, and select horses who I know are ok around dogs. At horse shows its particularly important for Mizpah to NOT jump on people because no one wants muddy paw prints on their riding pants before entering the ring!!
Anyone planning on getting out to some horsey events this spring and summer? Maybe a polo tournament, a race, or a local show?? Kentucky Derby is coming up, wish I was going!!!
This past week was my April vacation, one of the many joys of being a teacher! I tend to go visit my parents in Florida during the February vacation, and then April vacation I usually look forward to for fun day trips with my pup, Mizpah. The weather wasn’t amazing this past week as we definitely had some of those April showers, but we made the best of the days that had good weather.
The two coastal areas I took Mizpah too this past week were Good Harbor Beach in Gloucester MA and Narragansett/Newport RI. I had wanted to do a little Kennebunkport ME on Friday but it was rainy in the AM! Good Harbor Beach is off leash on the even days until April 30, Wingaersheek is the dog beach on the odd days. I looooove the way Gloucester runs these two beaches in the offseason. The clear rules allow everyone to be happy- the dog people and the not so much dog people. After the beach, we hit up Woodman’s for the lobster roll special- $15 on Mondays during the offseason.
Both beaches in Gloucester have views of lighthouses. From Wingaersheek you can see the Annisquam Lighthouse, and from Good Harbor you can see the Thacher Island Twin Lighthouses. Here is a great post from a terrific website about the lighthouses. Mizpah had a blast running around the beach and playing in the water.
Our other coastal adventure was down in RI. We met friends at the Narragansett Town Beach which allows dogs on leash until May 15th. Now….interesting situation. Dogs are supposed to be on leash, but as you reach a concrete wall on the beach, the dog officer told us he can’t patrol past there because its private property……sooo can your dog be off leash? I let Mizpah off for a bit to run around, but this particular beach has stairs off the beach to the Dunes Club, hotels, and homes….and Mizpah’s explorer personality made it hard for her to resist heading up to those private properties. Its the off season so no one is at these properties for the most part, but still, I don’t want to be an irresponsible dog owner that disrespects property owners’s wishes.
From the beach, we headed to Iggy’s for lunch and then off to Newport to walk around. As I have said in previous posts, Mizpah really benefits from not only playing off leash out in nature, but also socializing on leash in busier town centers and such. To be her best dog self, she needs to be good at both. I want her to greet people with the same respect off leash on a trail in the White Mountains and she would on leash on Thames St. in Newport.
In the offseason, parking at the metered spots on Thames is free so we nabbed a spot near Kilwins with the plan in mind that ice cream would be procured at the end of the day. If we hadn’t eaten lunch already, I probably would have gone to O’Brien’s Pub because they have an outdoor seating area that is dog friendly. It was a long day with the drives back and forth. From NH to RI, the drive was around two and a half hours each way. As we walked around Bowen’s Wharf, I looked around for spots where the KJP store could be opening and I did happen to see a nice space next to the Alex and Ani that was being renovated…..we shall see! Hope you have enjoyed our adventures!
So the April Fool’s Day snowstorm was crazy….we had about 10″ of snow from Friday afternoon to Saturday evening. It was heavy, wet snow, the kind that makes all the branches droop. Sunday was a really nice day though and the snow is already on its way out! I wanted to get out of the house and go to Laney & Lu’s for a treat, so I took Mizpah along for a walk around Exeter NH’s historic district after.
There were so many others out and about walking so it was the perfect walk for Mizpah to do some socializing. Mizpah is a dalmatian and they have a reputation for not always being the most social breed. She’s a dog who needs exercise daily, but more than that, she needs mental stimulation too daily. Having to walk on a sidewalk to my left and manage all the new smells and say hello (or not say hello) to other dogs on leashes, children, and adults is a lot of stimulation.
So these images are of the Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, NH, not to be confused with Phillips Academy in Andover, MA. Phillips Academy in Andover was founded by Samuel Phillips, Jr in 1778 and Phillips Exeter Academy was founded by his uncle, John Phillips, three years later. As you can imagine, there is quite a rivalry between the two schools. Phillips Academy is the one that the Bush’s went to as well as JFK Jr. Phillips Exeter is where Franklin Pierce, Ulysses S. Grant, and Abraham Lincoln’s son Robert went. Also if you ever read A Separate Peace by John Knowles, he is a Phillips Exeter alum soooo Devon School is really based on his alma mater.
The classic New England boarding schools with the brick buildings, crisp white accents, stone chapels, and grassy courtyards are beautiful. I wonder sometimes if I could live the teacher life at a boarding school. Maybe when I have retired from public school teaching and have gotten my PhD in biology (which I totally want to do, I will be the old lady shuffling around the lab with the 25 year old post docs saying things like “Back in my day..”), I will teach at a private school to supplement my summer travel account!!
Yesterday was quite the day for my pup Mizpah. We did off leash fun at a park with awesome trails near us and then made the short trip to Hampton Beach. Massachusetts and Maine both have beaches with more lenient rules for dogs in the offseason. Maine beaches and some of the beaches on the cape actually allow dogs during the summer before a certain time and after a certain time…usually before 9 and after 5. I moved to New Hampshire, the land of live free or die, and our short coast line here is made up of state parks and there is a hard and fast rule that there are no dogs allowed. Even the short sections of beach that are considered “town beach” can’t be accessed without going through state beaches.
We went expecting to just walk along the boardwalk- not as good as walking on the beach, but still nice views. When we got there though, sure enough there were lots of people walking their dogs on the beach! They were all on leash. It seems like the rule is in effect, but just not enforced because the rangers aren’t around patrolling.
It was strange to be at Hampton with all the stores and restaurants boarded up, but it was also so nice and quiet! Hampton Beach is…..lively in the summer. The first time I went to Hampton was in 6th grade with two friends and I was totally overwhelmed in a good way I guess. The beach, arcade, and all the food. I had only ever been to Wingaersheek, Crane, and Good Harbor on the North Shore in MA where we brought our food in a cooler and just ran around the beach. The best deal on the boardwalk was at Sal’s Pizza- $5 for a huge slice of pizza and a can of soda. There’s the Candy Corner, the numerous trashy tshirt companies, and leaving the beach, we always had to stop for ice cream at Hodgie’s Too. Hampton is certainly not the most classy or picturesque beach, but it is definitely fun. Ok, time to stop procrastinating and pack for Florida!
So from pretty much the day after snow polo to the end of this past week, I have had the worst cold!! Coughing, sneezing, watering eyes, fatigue, all of it. Thankfully I started to feel better this past week just in time for the unseasonable heat wave here in New England.
For my first “finally feeling better afternoon out”, I headed to Ipswich MA to visit a friend who just moved there just down the street from Crane Beach. It felt so good to get out of the house for more than just work, hang out with friends, and of course be at the beach!!! Crane Beach allows horseback riding and off leash dogs from October 1 to March 31, so we brought her chocolate lab Wellie with us. I totally felt like I was cheating on Mizpah, she will come next time. We both ride horses so of course are both dreaming of trail riding there as well.
Here are some pics I snapped. With the blue sky and the setting sun, the water looked an iridescent blue. It was perfection for my first adventure out in the world post-sickness!
My friend got her resident beach sticker recently, which I think will make for some really fun day trips this coming summer! Crane Beach is usually pretty busy in the summer, the normal parking rate can be pricey at $25 but they do have nice bathroom/shower facilities and a snack shack type place with food and novelty ice cream. Where I am in NH now, while I of course have way closer access to the NH beaches, I am more excited about being closer to the North Shore beaches in MA that I grew up loving. Alrighty, hope everyone enjoys their weekends! I am on vacation next week so I will be heading to Florida to dust off the Palm Beach sandals again!
Hello! Its been a crazy few days. Huge blizzard this past Thursday into Friday, and another big one Sunday in today. We have gotten over two feet of snow in these storms. Thank god for our snowblower. This past Saturday that snow was useful for the first annual Northeast Snow Polo Championship. The match was between a team from NY and Boston Polo at Boston Polo’s new home as of this summer, Twisdenwood Farms in Georgetown MA.
Boston Polo, Stage Hill Polo, Newport Polo; all polo clubs in New England that have serious high level players but also have lessons and programming to help people get involved and develop skills in polo to eventually play in the higher level chukkers! It’s smart, they bring more people into the sport while generating revenue to keep the clubs going. Mark Tashjian is the man behind Boston Polo- head instructor and manager of the club. He served as the umpire for the match on a cute flea-bitten gray pony named Mimosa. They used red arena balls and played 3 on 3 for 4 chukkers.
It was a cold day for sure but we dressed for it, brought blankets, and of course some thermoses of hot apple cider. We packed some chicken salad sandwiches, cheese n crackers, and I even made some chocolate dipped strawberries. Spectators set up around the arena and there was also an indoor area that had live music and get this, heated bathrooms!
It wasn’t St. Moritz or Aspen, but it was beautiful. I love horses, I love watching them move. Watching these polo ponies race through the snow kicking up snow dust instead of dirt was pretty cool.
The Piscataqua River is a tidal river that separates NH from ME, forms Portsmouth Harbor, and empties into the Gulf of Maine. Recently I ventured out into New Castle, NH, which is an island. Driving around the island I found a nice spot to see the Portsmouth Harbor Light and was so happy to see that from the same park, you can see the Whaleback Light just over the border in Kittery ME. Another site worth checking out in New Castle is Wentworth by the Sea, but I made the decision that visiting that historic beauty would need more time than I had…probably a nicer outfit too.
Portsmouth Harbor Light is actually at Fort Constitution. You can drive toward the Coast Guard Base and then follow the signs for the Fort Constitution Historic Site. From May to mid-October they actually do tours of the lighthouse! I am definitely going this coming summer. You can actually climb all the way up to the lantern room! Fort Constitution was originally Fort William and Mary. In 1791, NH gave the site to the US, and the fort was renovated and renamed something a little more American : )
I viewed the light houses from Great Island Commons, which is a pay to enter park in the summer, but is free right now! I also got a closer look at the Portsmouth Harbor Light from the end of Ocean St…..like I was one step away from trespassing on US Government property haha. The original wooden lighthouse was built in 1771. It was rebuilt in 1804, shortened in 1851, and then rebuilt again in 1878 lined with cast-iron bricks. There is an oil house built in 1903 and a keeper’s house from 1872 that is being used as US Coast Guard offices.
The Portsmouth Harbor Light is a fixed green beacon that can be seen 12 nautical miles out. Part of the reason for the steady fixed beacon and for the shortening of the light house was the construction of Whaleback Light, a little farther out in the harbor. Whaleback Light is actually just over the border in Kittery Maine off the coast of Wood Island. The original Whaleback was built in 1820, rebuilt in 1872 after a bad storm caused cracks to the foundation. The lighthouse is made of granite blocks and sits on a rocky outcrop in the harbor. There is a keeper’s living area and a storage area within the house. Whaleback has a bright white LED light (new in 2009) every 10 seconds. It originally had a fog bell, but at some point it was changed to a horn. The light was automated in 1963, so the last keeper to live there was James Pope, USCG in the early 1960s.
Wood Island is home to the Wood Island Life Saving Station. It was built in 1907 in Kittery, and before the USCG was around, this station had rowboats for the US Life Saving Service to help mariners in distress. The station is actually in the midst of a restoration to be used as a maritime museum! See the progress and more history of the station here.
There is something about exploring the coastal areas of New England during the off season. Great Island Commons is probably packed in the summer with walkers, families, picnic-ers, and so on. I bet there are days when the parking lot gets full and they have to turn people away! It is definitely cold, but for me its rejuvenating! Getting out of the car to this beautiful scenery and that raw wind blowing in your face- talk about all the shivers! In the winter, these coastal areas are so quiet, and still.