New England is truly beautiful this time of year. After many days of rain, the fields and forests in this area are so lush and green! The rainy days can be tough, but now on the nicer days we can see the beautiful scenery as a result. We entered the Piscassic Greenway trails from Bald Hill Road in Newfields, NH. The Mraz trail starts there through a beautiful field and then enters the wooded area. There is a community garden that might have a charitable purpose at that entrance as well. In these photos I am five months pregnant (eep!) and I managed these trails really well.
The greenway is a part of the Southeast Land Trust of NH (SELT) and the rules in general (although you should check the site for each individual property) are that dogs should be on a leash OR under owner voice control. We went on a Sunday before lunch and had the place to ourselves. We kept Mizpah on a least until we passed the community garden and then let her go! We only ended up doing the Mraz Loop and we did the Byrne Trail/Spur to the scenic outlook. There is more Byrne Trail to see and the Otis Hill Trail.
This property has an interesting history. We saw many cellar holes and rock walls indicating that it was most likely a few family farms long ago. In 2005, it almost became a 102 unit subdivision called “Mill Woods”, but thankfully SELT stepped in and made a deal with developers to protect this land. The property has fields, wooded areas, and wetlands that are important habitats for NH wildlife, so I am really happy they found a way to keep it undeveloped!!
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!
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!
Well hello there!! I apologize for my absence the past couple weeks. Things have been busy here as spring is gearing up and now that the sprint to April vacation has ended, I can relax a little and catch up! If you follow me on instagram, you might have seen my post announcing that I am pregnant!! My husband and I are expecting a baby boy October 1, which puts me right around 17 weeks right now. I have been feeling great, still able to exercise, so far so good! I did stop riding around 10 weeks, so I have definitely been missing the barn and Chandraki, and we decided this month to take a break from my beloved 4000 footers in NH. The actual act of hiking is fine, its more the length of time and the multiple bathroom breaks that are rough! We are so excited for this addition to our family, I can’t believe how fast the first four months have gone by.
My husband and I celebrated our first year of marriage a little while back with a much needed weekend up at the Mt. Washington Hotel! This history and location of this hotel make it so special to me, and its just beautiful. We stayed at the hotel for a weekend back in early July when it was warm and green, but this time around, the landscape was very different. There was still quite a bit of snow up there, it even snowed while we were driving up! This time around we did dinner in the main dining room, and the food was just amazing. My husband got a duck special, and I got the chicken pot pie arancini. Their dessert menu looked great but I was craving just simple chocolate, so we went to Morsels downstairs for some candy and a chocolate chip brownie! I wholeheartedly recommend the breakfast buffet in the morning. It was delicious and there were so many choices, there was no way not to leave satisfied. Here are some pictures of the beautiful Mt. Washington Hotel 🙂
When we are at the Mount Washington, we tend to just walk around the hotel a lot, exploring and enjoying the hotel and the property. Its so beautiful and there’s so much to do in the area as far as outdoor activities. Quite a few families were up there for spring skiing at Bretton Woods.
Here is my last post from this past summer at the Mount Washington, has more of the awesome history in it!
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!!
Mt. Hale during the summer can be accessed by a trail head off Zealand Road for the Hale Brook Trail. It makes for a quick hike up 2.3 miles, down 2.3 miles. I did it in June a couple years ago and its steep, but fast. In the winter, Zealand Road is closed to traffic and becomes a snowmobile super highway! Another route becomes popular in the winter, an unofficial unmarked trail off the North Twin Trail. In the winter, there is an area to park at the end of Little River Road in Bethelehem and you take a herd path for a mile to the North Twin Trail for about a mile before you come to “the mightiest tree in the middle of the trail”. Its actually a small tree but the trail is so nice and tracked out right now, we didn’t have to search for it. Someone did knife a blaze into the little tree which is nooooo good, but in any case, it was easy to find.
Turning left at the tree takes you up the old Mt. Hale Trail, aka the Firewarden’s Trail. It is more gradual than the trail on the other side of the mountain, but takes longer at 4.7 miles. There are some switchbacks on the trail through these beautiful birch glades. I got a good picture of Mizpah in the glades. A group of backcountry skiers were on the trail too to ski through the glades which looked a bit scary, but fun. There was probably 4-6″ of new snow on the trails, so we used snowshoes the whole time to preserve and maintain the tracks.
There was a nice view area on the trail but no views with the cloud cover. The summit of Mt. Hale is wide and flat without views. There is a very large stone cairn that was barely showing above the snow, and of course the remnants of the fire tower were buried too. The fire tower on Mt. Hale was built in 1929 and removed in 1972. To see pics, head here. I wish I could have seen the tower when it was in use because the little cab on the top is unique.
The fire warden’s trail is used in the summer because even though its a longer trail, it is more gradual. Its not as easy to follow though I am assuming in the summer when there aren’t snowshoe tracks. In the summer you can park right at the North Twin Trail head too so you can cut off that one mile herd path. It was a really nice day, over freezing and no wind, so I was nice and warm. I wish there were views, but there is always next time. Mizpah was great, got to hang with a golden retriever up on the summit. I hadn’t hiked since my birthday, so I definitely felt out of shape, but it was such a nice gradual hike, I lived through it haha.
Spring has finally begun! There might still be a half foot of snow on the ground, but according the calendar, it is spring! This past weekend a few girlfriends and I spent a night at the Portland Regency Hotel & Spa right in the heart of the Old Port in Portland ME. We had such a great time catching up and spending time together.
I was the first to get there Saturday, so I walked around for a while to enjoy the daylight. I have been to Portland many times with friends & family, but I had never really had an opportunity to just wander around alone.
I popped into a few stores and just wandered through aisles. I wanted to get a snack and a drink so after all my wandering, so I walked into The Holy Donut. It was late afternoon so there were very few donuts, just got a hot chocolate. The hot chocolate was AMAZING!! Thick, rich, chocolatey, creamy….all the good words. Their donuts….are made….with Maine mashed potatoes. I got a maple donut the next morning, so amazing. The dark chocolate donut with coconut was so good too….lets be honest, they are probably all fantastic.
I headed back to the hotel and my friends arrived! We had a fruit/cheese/cracker plate and champagne at the hotel and caught up. Maybe we watched School of Rock, maybe that happened too, the final scene at the battle of the bands? Loved it haha. Then we headed out to dinner at Five Fifty-Five on Congress St. The building was really unique. The second floor where we were seated was completely open in the middle looking down on the first floor. Top recommendation would be the truffle mac and cheese with lobster. It was amazing, a little pricey, but the cheese/truffle sauce was delicious, and of course, Maine lobster meat is the best. I also got the side of roasted brussel sprouts, and we got chicken liver pate for the table. For dessert, we got the chocolate parfait, key lime pie, and creamsicle. The desserts were a little…artistic (read not a slice of key lime pie but a plate with 3 blobs of key lime filling on graham cracker crumbs with three little piles of whipped cream arranged around it), but they tasted great.
Metallic patterned wall at the restaurant
Wallpaper in the Armory
From dinner, we went to Bull Feeney’s to listen to live music and hang out, and then The Armory Lounge at the hotel for a nightcap before heading upstairs to bed. I had been to both these bars in the summer, and man what a huge difference in the off season! Both of these bars this past weekend were very relaxed, not empty, but quieter and relaxed. Seats were available, bartenders were attentive, and while the atmosphere was not as lively as in the summer, it wasn’t dead either.
Next day my friend and I headed to The Holy Donut to get fresh donuts. It was so busy! The two of us are the ones who need to eat first thing after we wake up. Thankfully we have each other so we don’t have to wake our other friends that prefer to sleep in a bit! Then we all went to brunch around 11 at the hotel restaurant, Twenty Milk Street Restaurant. We packed up our room, checked out, and went downstairs to the spa! I got a facial and my friends got massages. I love getting facials because with my pale complexion, I worry about environmental damage from the sun in the summer, and the wind/complete lack of moisture in the winter. It was such a nice way to end the weekend and we are definitely planning to go back this summer and see the area in full swing!
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!