Christmas Lights on the Nubble Lighthouse

Maine is home to many lighthouses; 65 to be exact. Maine along with being called Vacationland is also called the Lighthouse State! The closest Maine lighthouse to me is in York Maine on Cape Neddick. The lighthouse is on Nubble Island with a house and a couple other buildings. The lighthouse was built in 1879 and became automated in 1987.  I believe the official name for the lighthouse is the Cape Neddick Light, but many call it the Nubble Light. The Sohier Park has a gift shop and parking area so you can see the island. You can see the cable contraption to send packages from the park over to the island. It’s a pretty cool spot to visit.

The official lighting for the Nubble was the weekend after Thanksgiving. They had carolers and cookies and Santa; its quite an event. The lights will be on from dusk to midnight until New Year’s Eve. I went the weekend after to see it so I could have a little privacy with the Nubble. Here she is.

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Oh and if seeing a lighthouse in Maine light up for Christmas isn’t enough, on the way in and out of the park, you can see this lovely lobster trap tree!

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Tree Lighting Evening in Portsmouth NH

One of the best things about my new home in New Hampshire is our proximity to Portsmouth!! Portsmouth is on the water, but not really the ocean. Its on the Piscataqua River which is an estuary to the Atlantic. There are “the decks”, which is what we call the restaurants that overlook the river, and then Market Square, and Strawberry Banke. Market Square is sort of the hub of walking in Portsmouth, and the Strawberry Banke is this area that preserved all the historic homes there. There is a museum and tours and such there. Then there is Prescott Park which sadly doesn’t allow dogs, but is a nice place to look out at the water.

The tree lighting takes place every year right in Market Square, followed by the annual illuminated holiday parade. The many holiday activities throughout the month are called “Vintage Christmas in Portsmouth” The Strawberry Banke is decorated with carolers and horse drawn carriages and ice skating. In the evening, they put on all their Christmas lights and their tours are called “candlelight strolls“.

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Beautiful Christmas Tree, and yes bottom left corner is an LLBean hat haha
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It was definitely a night for the down jacket!
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All of the light posts in the city have illuminated wreaths with bows, love it.

I loved everything about this night. The tree was great, not as big as the Boston tree, but great. This was the first holiday parade I had ever been to, and I haven’t seen that many lights since the Disney parade. The marching bands even had lights on their instruments.

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There were a bunch of illuminated and decorated antique VW’s. I loved this pickup truck, so cool! Think it would fit under the tree?
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The Grinch and Cindy Lou Who!
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Yep, a Christmas train with a hot tub car. Definitely a fan favorite!
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Santa! I know him! This was the end of the parade, the kids went wild!

We walked around the perimeter of the Strawberry Banke to check it out, and decided that we are going to do the candlelight stroll next year!!

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The ice skating rink, Christmas tree, and crowd around the fire pit at the Strawberry Banke- so festive

It was cooooold out standing to watch the parade. We got hot cocoa at Starbucks after to warm up walking around. Breaking New Grounds is my favorite spot to get a hot drink in Market Sq but sadly the line was out the door! This is a tradition that I hope to go to every year! I need a better camera to take pictures at night huh? That WOULD certainly fit under the tree ❤

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A very LLBean Christmas

It’s Monday and Christmas has come and gone. We had an awesomely busy weekend, family Christmas gatherings from Christmas Eve straight through yesterday. Yesterday we got my mother’s family together at our family restaurant, Kitty’s in North Reading. My great-uncle was the head chef there from the beginning and they still use his recipe for many things, including their amazing pizza.

As far as gifts go, of course being with my family, having my parents up from Florida and my sister having some time off were the best gifts! For the gifts that you have to unwrap though, I got some great stuff from LLBean!!!

One of my aunt’s got me this amazing LLBean back pack. Its smaller than my backpacking pack, and will be perfect for small hikes where I want to pack light. I can’t wait to use it, probably not until this summer though. Winter hikes require the bigger backpack to bring my sleeping bag in case of emergencies.

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My sister gave me the two pack of cotton ragg camp socks . I have these socks in the boot length as well. They are great socks, very soft and comfortable. They are definitely my second favorite socks only to smart wool. The thing that they do have over smart wool though is they come in more classic solid colors.

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I was given two LLBean scarves this Christmas. They have both sold out though on the website!! The one on the left is a wool blend scarf from my parents, and the one on the right is 100% Irish lambswool made by John Hanley of Ireland for LLBean from my sister. They are both awesome scarves, warm and stylish.

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My parents gave me the heritage fair isle mittens and hat set from LLBean. The inside of the mittens is a nice soft fleece, and the hat is also lined with fleece so your forehead doesn’t itch. These are also sold out on the LLBean website!

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Two lovely LLBean sweaters made their way to me this Christmas as well. My fiancé’s parents gave me a black double L cotton cable knit sweater. This is a great staple item in your wardrobe. Crew neck sweaters and button downs are basically my fall to winter uniform. Between my cousins and my other aunt, I got some LLBean gift cards, so I stopped by the LLBean in Burlington yesterday and picked up the cream fisherman sweater from the signature collection. I usually size down for most LLBean tops, but for this sweater, I got my true size. I wanted it to be a little more roomy on me, sort of like a boyfriend sweater.

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Finally, with my gift cards, I was able to almost cover a pair of the LLBean Boots Rubber Mocs. I think I had to chip in like, $24 of my own money. I am in love. They are awesome because they are waterproof, comfortable, and they just slip on!!! So great for New England weather when you have to take your pup out all times of day.

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Some other LLBean gifts in my family were these  moccasins that my sister got and this awesome fleece lined flannel shirt that my fiancé got. Don’t fret about sold out items on LLBean.com. If it doesn’t come up as backordered, then it is just gone for the season and will come out again next year with some new tweaks usually.  I have this week off so I had some day trips planned, but we will see if the weather cooperates. Tomorrow, southern New England will see its first snowflakes!!! I am so excited, but of course the weather will probably keep me from going to see friends in RI……typical New England problems. What were your favorite Christmas gifts!? I hope you all had a lovely Christmas weekend!!

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My Top 10 Christmas Movies!!

I am happily writing this post with a beer watching Lifetime Christmas movies, today was my last day of work this year!! I am drinking the Magic Hat Snow Roller from Vermont….it has a graphic of Jack Frost riding a snow wave, awesome.

No snow here though….Massachusetts has been warm and snow free thus far. Today it was in the 50s…and its supposed to get warmer until Christmas. Jon and I got rid of our premium cable this year to save soooo much money, and so now we don’t get ABC Family or Hallmark, the two big Christmas movie networks. We already had a good collection of movies going, but I added a bunch through Amazon.com, and all the movies still cost less than what we save in one month with the more basic cable #savings !!

Here’s my top 10 list for Christmas movies!!

10. 12 Men of Christmas- ok, this is the only made for TV one. It came out a few years ago, and can be seen on Lifetime. Kristin Chenoweth is so good in it, and its about her making a calendar of the search & rescue men from a town in Montana to raise money. The scenery and the romance between Kristin’s character and Josh Hopkins’s character is pretty good. Oh and Anna Chlumsky is in it, from My Girl? Throwback!

9.  Charlie Brown Christmas- Who doesn’t love the little Charlie Brown Christmas tree!? All of them singing together….its a good one, often on of the major networks at least once. I got a DVD set though that has the Christmas, Thanksgiving, AND Halloween specials, woo!

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8. The Grinch That Stole Christmas (cartoon version)- I love the cartoon version….I don’t like how the Jim Carrey version kinda makes the Whos look kinda crazy & materialistic with the light competition and the Cheermeister stuff.

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7. Elf- probably the newest on my list. This one typically plays on the cable stations almost on loop, but not having those stations this year means I actually appreciate watching this so much more! A few years ago I answered the phone at school, “Buddy the Elf, whats your favorite color?”….it was not received well as the person on the other line assumed I was a student answering the phone which is not allowed lol.

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6. Santa Claus is Comin to Town- Rankin & Bass animated classics are amazing…this one is narrated by Fred Astaire…if you need more than his amazing voice, it also has some really fun characters like the Winter Warlock and the Berger Meister Meister Berger. It has a really cute story about how Santa Claus came to be!

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This is a 2-DVD set with Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Santa Claus is Comin to Town, and then some lesser known Christmas specials like Little Drummer Boy, Cricket on the Hearth, Flinstones Christmas, and Frosty Returns- awesome set!

5. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer- Another classic, the misfit toys, Hermey and Yukon Cornelius, Sam the Snowman…classic story about never prejudging/excluding someone because you never know when you might need them!

4. Year Without a Santa Claus- The last Rankin & Bass treasure on my list….I love the Snow Miser & Heat Miser!!

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This one also has Rudolph’s Shiny New Year on it!

3. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation- no matter how many times I see this movie, I still laugh hysterically at soooo many scenes. This movie was in the running to watch today with my students….I just couldn’t haha.

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2. White Christmas- this one is on Netflix so I don’t own it! The music…the dancing….the costumes…..the scenery…WWII! Where to start!? Vera Ellen has the most amazing legs in Hollywood, and I love Wallace & Davis (Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye) together. The final scene with the red velvet dresses and the little ballerinas…love.

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It’s an older movie, get it, watch it, love it

1. Muppet Christmas Carol- this one is a family tradition. We watch it every Christmas Eve and then my mom would read Twas the Night Before Christmas and then off to bed we went. It’s the best version of The Christmas Carol in my opinion.

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All of these are on Amazon, some for super cheap, like quite a few of them were just under $10 or just under $5. So worth it to have the movies, no commercials, and I don’t have to miss the cable stations we got rid of to save money. My parents are here for the week, and my sister is coming for the weekend, so I wanted to make sure that I had all of the movies we love on hand, and I was so happy about how affordable it was.

It’s been so warm here in Massachusetts (#greenchristmas), the Christmas movies are definitely helping to get me in the Christmas spirit! What are your favorite Christmas movies??

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Favorite Christmas Tree Ornaments

I am going to keep my writing brief because I definitely fell off my horse tonight into the wall of the indoor. We had just done a jump perfectly after many tries and he bucked while I was leaning forward and off I went. I’m sore, but ok. Got back on for a little while so no one starts to think that bucking me off is a good way to end a ride, but I will be rocking some IB profen, a heating pad, and lots of hot cocoa tonight to recover. I have a red line on my back from where I made contact with the bottom of the wall….I will be fine haha.

This post is about some of my favorite ornaments. I hope that you enjoy them!!

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An older ornament from my parents, the swan boats in the common
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Santa in his workshop, one of my favorites from my childhood
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One of my favorites from my Breyer’s ornament collection
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My Barbie ballerina for Nutcracker season
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Another great one from my Breyer’s collection, how many little girls have asked for a pony for Christmas? 🙂
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This one is a gift from my mom, love it
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Rowing on the Charles in Cambridge ornament, perfect for a tree belonging to two rowers!
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I have the whole set of Rudolph characters, the Bumble, Hermey, Yukon, Rudolph, and Santa.

I hope everyone’s holiday preparations are going well. I had a big food shopping trip tonight for the weekend into next week….it was painful and slow moving. Of course I ran into a student while I was limping through the supermarket still covered in dirt haha, oh well. Happy Friday everyone, one week til Christmas!!

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Creating a wish list for your boyfriend/fiance’s family…

My parents retired to beautiful sunny Florida a couple years ago, and last year was their first year ever not being in Massachusetts for Christmas. Last year my sister went down to FL mid-December because she is a nurse and worked right through the holidays, and I went down for a few days right after Christmas. My fiance’s family truly took me in last year for Christmas. His parents got me a stocking and stuffed it with candy, travel size toiletries, handwarmers, and chapstick. They got me some really nice gifts including a jewelry box decopaged with a picture of my dog, Mizpah, on it. They even got Mizpah a toy and a bone. The sadness I felt over not being with my family for Christmas morning was greatly offset by the warmth from my fiance’s family. I am so lucky to be marrying into this family.

Yesterday….my fiance asked me to come up with some gift ideas to pass along to his mother…..this is a gift guide often looked over….

I had a few criteria:

  • Affordable, like under $40
  • From a well known retailer- your own mom might go to any lengths to get you the perfect gift, your boyfriend/fiance’s mom? keep it simple, don’t send her to an Etsy shop that she’s never heard of.
  • Hassle-free/free shipping- free and easy shipping is always a plus
  • Commonality- something that she feels comfortable buying, not too intimate, something that she would buy for a friend in her life

OK, here’s what I came up with!

  1. A basic cotton cable knit sweater from LL Bean, on sale for $39.99. I had to toss my black crew neck sweater this year, so this would be an awesome replacement. These sweaters are a wardrobe staple and my fiance’s parents love LLBean too! IMG_2314
  2. A nice Kate Spade mug with the words “One Smart Cookie” on it from Macy’s, $15. Some of the other little sayings might be weird for her to buy, but I am a smart cookie! This is a mug I would feel comfortable drinking from in front of my students 😉IMG_2315
  3. Smartwool socks!!! I am a Smartwool sock addict, they are my favorite. I sent along these from REI because I know my fiance put some stuff from REI on his list….trying to make it easy on my future inlaws 🙂 The socks run ~$15, especially for the 2014 closeout ones! I live in the nice warm medium cushion socks all winter. IMG_2316
  4. Books!! Books are a great gift. I am asking for Not Without Peril by Nicholas Howe from Barnes & Noble for $15.21. I have read a borrowed copy from a friend but would like my own. It’s an amazing book filled with the history and mishaps in the Presidential Range in the White Mountains of NH.IMG_2320 (1)
  5. Timex Weekender watch in plaid from Kohls, $34.42. I wrote about the Timex Weekender here and I love the plaid pattern strap. IMG_2319

Its so nice when the important people in your life ask for gift ideas. It shows that while they know you, they are interested in what you want/need right now. They want to get you something you will like!  Tis better to give than to receive for sure, but coming up with suitable gift ideas in the gifter’s price range can really make your family/close friends lives easier. I make different wish lists for my parents, my aunt & cousins, my sister, and for my future inlaws. It takes time, but really helps alleviate the mall wandering and shopping anxiety for the people you love most.  Its the thought that counts of course, but its a great feeling to be done with your Christmas shopping and be confident that everything you got for your people will be loved.

What do you think? Share your comments!

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