Cindy Lyons

Dive In: Local Vermont Water Spots

Vermont isn’t known for hot weather but with the heat wave we had over the past week we thought it would be appropriate to give a shout out to all the great water spots around our area.

Waterbury

First and foremost is the Waterbury Reservoir – a hidden gem with a beautiful family friendly beach in Waterbury Center. Rent kayaks, canoes, and paddle boards right on the shore from Umiak Outdoor Outfitters. This is the place to be on hot days with lots of parking just a short distance from the water. It does get crowded so make sure you get there early! (Quick tip: Sadly, there are no pets allowed (sans service animals) but you can bring them to the dam access on the other side of the reservoir.)

Waterbury Public Pool – If you’re not a fan of beaches but still love to swim then head to the public pool located right off the interstate. It’s got a roped off kids section and two diving boards for extra fun.

Stowe
The Swimming Hole is a great place to hit the gym and the pool. The 8-lane, 25-meter pool has a diving board, mini water slide, and fountain-style toys for kids while the gym consists of three different rooms for cycling, free weights, and cardio. Just off of Route 100, this place is hard to beat and great for kids birthday parties.

Bingham Falls is located a mile from Stowe Ski Resort along the Mountain Road. A short walk through the woods brings you to a freshwater pool with a 25 ft. tall waterfall. If heights aren’t your thing there are plenty of smaller boulders to jump off of and of course, you can simply float around. Those looking for an adrenaline rush can find shooting flumes, swirling pools and a plummet between narrow canyon walls, all at the top of the main waterfall. (Quick tip: The water is cold since it comes directly from the mountain.)

Warren
Warren Falls are one of the most popular swimming spots in the summer with three waterfalls, three pools, waterslide, four jumping cliffs and some amazing rock formations. It’s very refreshing and the variety of swimming spots mean kids and adults can have fun. (Quick tip: This is a very popular spot to swim, so it’s best to go midday during the week if possible.)
Shelburne/Burlington/Colchester
Lake Champlain is the big one folks. We love this lake which we personally feel could have been a great lake…see what I did there. Despite missing out on a Great Lakes title, Lake Champlain has everything you could want with plenty of access areas along its shore. Some of the more popular places are Sand Bar State Park in Milton and North Beach in Burlington. If you have a boat we suggest skipping the crowds and lines by launching at a nearby marina and boating around. There are lots of natural beaches around that you can spot as you go along.

Montpelier
If you’re looking for the ultimate pool experience, you’re going to want to head to the Montpelier Public Pool. Enjoy a day with the family and try out the rafts and tower for a little extra fun. They even host fun events during the summer like a BBQ day on July 12th. See their website for more info.

Floating down the River
Both the Winooski and Lamoille Rivers offer plenty of places to cool down on a hot day and many local places offer for boat rentals for day use. This is a great (and free) way to spend a summer day. A fun past time is parking one car at a lower location and driving further up the river. Then you can lazily drift with the current in a tube and not have to hike it back to the car when you climb out.

River spots are not lifeguarded so make sure you stay safe when swimming or partaking in other water activities. Always have a life vest if you’re taking out a kayak, canoe, or paddle board and stick with your buddies. Some parts of the river can be dangerous so always be vigilant.

Renovation Mistakes to Avoid

It seems like there is always something that needs to be changed or improved upon in your home, am I right? The kitchen is too small, the bathroom is falling apart, and don't even get me started on the living room carpet. Wanting to go crazy with renovations is a natural conclusion, but you want to make sure you do it right so you don't have to do it again. Putting in a new window to have a view of the Green Mountains won't be worth it if it's drafty during a Vermont winter. We've put together a list of things to avoid when you're starting on your renovation journey.
Overestimating Your Skill - If you're a DIY fanatic you might have a hard time swallowing this little bit of knowledge: you can't do it all yourself. You can get away with painting and some smaller projects, but you'll want to leave the bigger jobs to the pros. A blog from Carlisle Wide Plank Floors & Rugs explains; "Large items like structural changes, electrical, plumbing, or roofing, is an exacting job and potentially dangerous. If it is not done properly it can lead to larger, and more costly issues, in your home. You are better off spending the money now, to work with a professional." 
Minimizing the Timeline - Anyone who has ever had a renovation done can tell you they almost never get done by the intended date. Maybe some item doesn’t get ordered in time or you put off making a decision that halts the contractor's progress. This isn’t always the case but you should be prepared if it is.
Budget - Oh, the budget. There are many aspects that come into play when dealing with the cost of a renovation. First things first, you need to know how much you can realistically spend and what materials you are looking to use in the renovation. While it might be tempting to go for the cheapest option, that's usually the option that will fall apart not so far down the road. You'll also want to avoid spending too much on certain things while neglecting others. Getting a pricy light fixture won't be worth it if you downgraded on something important, like cabinets or flooring.
The budget also applies to who you want working on your project. The most common advice, because it is good advice, is to get multiple quotes on your project before you choose your contractor and not go straight for the lowest bid. An article on MarthaStewart.com explains; "The low bid is tempting, but it's often not realistic. The low bid is misleading -- usually, the contractor simply hasn't accounted for costs that are bound to emerge during renovation. If you take a low bid, Soria says, you may end up just paying the same as the highest bid. Soria suggests interviewing at least 4 or 5 contractors and taking the middle ground. You don't have to take the highest bid, but the lowest bid is a red herring."

Vermont Summer Events

Vermonter's love to celebrate. Seriously, we'll celebrate everything from cheese and wine to bikes and cars. We like to think we know how to have a good time, which is evident from our numerous festivals and fairs. Some upcoming fun includes:

Concerts in the Park - Waterbury's Rotary Club runs a free concert series in conjunction with the Farmers Market every Thursday from 6pm - 8:30pm. Peruse the market from 3pm - 7pm, grab something to eat and snag a spot in front of the stage. Upcoming musical acts include:

  • July 12: Jenni Johnson and the Junketeers (high-energy jazz).

  • July 19: The Phineas Gage Project (“phabulous pholk punk”).

  • July 26: Full Share Band (eclectic rock).

  • Aug. 2: Northern Flyers (bluegrass).

  • Aug. 9: Cop Outs (Celtic folk punk rock).

  • Aug. 16: Robin Gottfried Band (rock, soul, funk).

Music in the Meadow - A summer-long concert series at the Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe that we are proud to sponsor! The meadow opens 2 hours prior to the concerts giving you plenty of time to enjoy a picnic or just relax. Ticketed shows are only $30 for adults and $10 for children. The 2018 schedule includes:

  • July 15 – Marcia Ball (7pm - 9pm)
  • July 29 – The Dustbowl Revival (7pm - 9pm)
  • August 5 – Phoebe Hunt & The Gatherers (FREE; no tickets required) (7pm - 9pm)

July 13-14 - Waterbury Arts Fest - Kick off this fun-filled event with a Friday night block party that includes a beer garden, food trucks, and raffle to win a beer-lovers package (every attendee gets a ticket). Gates open at 5:30pm and live music starts with Red Hot Juba at 6pm followed by The Grift and Josh Panda at 8pm. Saturday kicks off at 10am with 90 artisans and 10 food vendors lined up on Stowe St and Bidwell Lane. Entertainment includes Cooie Sings, Joe Adler, Hot Box Honey, Papa's Porch String Band, and Green Mountain Performing Arts. This event has quickly become one of the most anticipated of the summer.

August 10-12 - Vermont Antique Car Show - In its 61st year, this car show is the one of the biggest and longest running in New England and this year it's moving to Waterbury! Check out over 800 vehicles on display and 500 flea market auto vendors. Head into town on Saturday at 3:30pm for the parade of antique and classic cars as they drive through. Then check out the Train Station that evening for the Saturday Night Street Dance with a live DJ, food vendors and, of course, more cars (sponsored by Revitalizing Waterbury)!

August 12 - Vermont Cheesemakers Festival (Shelburne) - Don't be fooled, this festival celebrates much more than cheese with local foods, wines, ciders, beers and spirits for you to try. The festival has been picked as a "Top Summer Food Festival in the United States" and sells out every year. This 10th year will have more cheesemakers and more food in celebration of the tenth year. Festival runs from 10am - 4pm.

August 26 - Race to the Top of Vermont - Bike, hike, or ride to the top of Mount Mansfield, Vermont's highest peak (Stowe) with this challenging course. There's something for everyone with a Youth Run for Fun for ages 4 - 14. After a long day you can rest and relax with a BBQ and Music at the base lodge. 

Past Events:

June 30 - Not Quite Independence Day - A long-standing tradition in Waterbury, VT. This year, the parade will start at 4pm and festival activities will take place downtown featuring children games, rock climbing, yoga drumming, lawn games, food trucks, a beer tent, talented bands, and fireworks.

Tip and Tricks for Hanging A Gallery Wall

Ah, the gallery wall. It’s a classic design choice that can really show off your personality and values. The best part? This can be a completely DIY project if you want, which means keeping costs down. We break down what you'll need to keep in mind as you get started.


Plan
You may think winging it is the way to go, but you want all the pieces to fit together in a cohesive setting. This doesn't mean you need to shoot for symmetry or keep a pattern, but it can look messy or off if it’s just thrown together.
You also want to plan where this gallery is going to go. Big, blank walls are the target here and even better if you can put it where nothing else can fit, like next to a stairway or door. You’ll also need to take into account how big you’re looking to go. An 8x11 photo isn’t big on its own, but a dozen will eat up space quickly.
Once you have a space chosen you'll need to map it. You can do this on the floor, use paper cutouts to map it out on the wall, or buy a fancy wall gallery kit which will give you a template. It all depends on how DIY you want to be!


Have Fun
Realize that you don’t just have to hang photos. If you’d like an eclectic collection you can choose to hang photos, paintings, and objects like wooden letters and album covers. Honestly, you don’t have to hang any photos at all.


How to Hang
You have a couple options for getting those items on the wall. These include:
Nails
Shelves
Adhesive Strips
If you’re feeling extra fancy you can try out a hanging system, like what they use in museums where cables hand down from a rod along the edge of the wall and ceiling. Make sure whatever you use is sturdy enough to handle what will be holding it, especially if it has sentimental value, like a vase.

Quintessentially Vermont: Farmers Markets

If there is one thing that embodies Vermont culture the most, it might just be farmers markets. The mix of community, art, food, music, and nature are fun for everyone and help promote and support local artisans, farmers, and musicians. Many towns combine the markets with concert series and other events for the community.

The point? You want to go to at least a couple each summer. It's the perfect place to pick up a last minute dinner, a gift, listen and relax to music, or chat with neighbors. New to town? The farmers market will be the fastest way to make new connections. 

We've listed all the markets in our general vicinity that will be starting within the next couple weeks:

Capital City Farmers Market (Montpelier)  - May 12th - Saturdays from 9am - 1pm

Waitsfield Farmers Market – Opens May 19th - Saturdays from 9am – 1pm

Morrisville Farmers Market - Opens May 19th - Saturdays 9am - 1pm

Stowe Farmers Market – Opens May 20th - Sundays from 10:30am - 3pm

Waterbury Farmers Market - Opens May 24th – Thursdays from 3pm - 7pm 

Five Corners Farmers Market (Essex Junction) - Opens May 30th - Wednesdays 4pm - 7:30pm

Barre Farmers Market - Opens June 6th - Wednesdays 4pm - 7pm

Some have indoor winter markets that are worth visiting as well! See their websites for more details.

 

Simple Kitchen Updates this Spring

If you’re planning a lot of spring and summer barbecues, you’re going to be spending a lot of time in the kitchen doing meal prep and cooking. If your kitchen is feeling a little bleh lately we have some tips for you.
Looking for something totally new but not too much commitment? Check out these ideas:
New Lighting
A kitchen can look incredibly different depending on the lighting and the options are endless. Adding or changing the hanging lights above your counter can really balance out the room. We personally love dimmable lights, so you can easily control the mood. 
New Faucet
If your faucet is less than ideal it can make something as simple as doing the dishes seem like the worst possible chore. Try an upgrade and add features like a sprayer to make your job easier.
Paint
We’re not talking the whole kitchen...unless you want to! Just painting the cabinets will completely change the look that you’ve grown bored of. Make sure to do your research though; painting cabinets can be tricky.
Open Shelving
If you have space, try some open shelves for a more modern look. It’s perfect for easy accessibility and you now have more storage space!

If something even simpler is more up your alley, check out these ideas:
New Curtains
Throw some fabric up! It softens the look of the kitchen and the possibilities with color and patterns are infinite. A valance might be perfect for you if you want an accent to the room but don’t want to hinder the natural light coming through the window.
Bring in the Green
It’s spring people, take advantage! Placing potted plants and flowers on your counters can add just the right amount of fun, and color, that you’re looking for. Make it herbs, and it can be functional when you’re cooking too.
Create a Focal Point/Counter Decor
If you don’t have a green thumb, there are other options. Buying or placing a bowl or pedestal and putting fruit on it can look really nice. Or if you have a nice vessel that can hold all your spoons and spatulas, it can be functional as well.
Add a Rug 
If your floors are less than perfect, or you simply want to add some “more” a rug can be the perfect solution. Chances are you might even have one hanging around that you can repurpose. Make sure to add some rug grippers to the bottom if you have kids or pets running around.

Race Around Vermont

Vermont has some of the most amazing landscapes and one of the best ways to enjoy it is to get out and get active. We've put together a list of some of the most popular bike and running races in the area. Don't worry, they're not all marathons. If you're looking for something a little easier check out the 3 mile Mutt Strutt in Waterbury or the 5k Craft Brew Race in Stowe followed by a craft beer festival.

Biking

April 28th: Muddy Onion Spring Classic - Montpelier

May 6th: Waterbury Gravel Grinder - Waterbury

June 24th: Central Vermont Cycling Tour - East Montpelier

Early September: Green Mountain Stage Race - Waitsfield

Running

April 22nd: 22nd Annual Mutt Strutt - Waterbury

May 19th: Stowe Craft Brew Race – Stowe

May 27th: Vermont City Marathon - Burlington

June 23rd: Catamount Ultra Marathon - Stowe

July 8th: Mad Marathon - Waitsfield (Top 10 in Runner's World Magazine)

July 29th: Barre Heritage Festival 5K Race - Barre Town

August 26th: Race to the Top of Vermont - Stowe

Jump Start Spring Cleaning

April is just around the corner and that means you need to get your act together. We know you've been ignoring the steadily growing checklist of things you need to do; declutter, wash the windows, sweep, etc. The truth is you just have to do it. 

One of the biggest things people seem to struggle with is an overabundance of STUFF. Do you really need so much STUFF? Probably not. Getting rid of unwanted or unusable items will make your job much easier. We've made a list of some things that need to be chucked.

Wire hangers - They're bent, they're awkward and every piece of clothing you own falls off of them. Chuck 'em.

Dish sponge - If you can't distinguish what color the sponge was when you got it, it's got to go!

Old shoes - We all tend to stock up on shoes since they're generally not cheap but if they've seen better days then you need to let go. Maybe donate them if they're still usable but not your style.

Clothes you’ve never worn - Along the same lines; you know you have clothes that you have never and probably will never wear. Bag or box them up and give them to someone who WILL use them.

Solo socks - If your sock has lost its companion give up all hope. You will never find it again.

Expired makeup/medicine - This is important for space and for health. Old makeup can build up bacteria and irritate your skin and old medicine becomes ineffective. 

Toothbrush - Our rule of thumb? If you can't remember when you bought the brush, chuck it.

Calendars - We know it's March but I still have a 2017 calendar up so I figured I wasn't alone. 

Unidentifiable frozen objects - If you want to risk it, that's your prerogative. 

Old glasses - If you've upgraded prescriptions you're never going to be able to use those glasses anyway. Donate them.

Old chargers - People today get new phones every other year or so but it can seem like a waste to throw perfectly good chargers away. Too bad. Ask if anyone can use it and then toss it. Older model phone chargers won't work with today's newer models anyway. 

Remotes - You know how you have 5 remotes on your coffee table? Chances are you don't need them. At the very least, pack away the ones you never use or have forgotten the use for.

Manuals - Most manuals can be found online these days and you don't need to keep a textbook-sized packet on your new blender.   

Games with missing pieces - If you're missing an integral part of your game, like the wheel in LIFE, it might be time to get a new set. 

Old maps - They made GPS for a reason.

We hope these help you on your quest to conquer spring cleaning!

Winter Storm Prep - Before & During

As Northeastern Quinn barrels up the east coast, we figured it would be a good time to discuss prepping for a storm and best practices for during. Snow can build up fast in New England and Vermont especially where winters can be unpredictable. Most of the time, life moves as usual, if at a slower pace, but you want to be prepared. Heavy snow can lead to home damage and power outages and this can become very dangerous if you're not ready for it.

Emergency supplies: First things first you'll want to hit the grocery store and make sure you're stocked up on water & food that doesn't require a microwave or oven. Depending on your heating situation you'll want to bring in more wood, make sure your propane tank is full, or check on your generator.

Simple supplies like blankets, pillows, and warm clothes are very important if you rely on electric heat. Power lines going down are not uncommon with big snowstorms and depending on how bad the forecast is, it could take a while to get your power restored. 

Shovels are a must-have for any homeowner and we suggest owning a couple. Heavy snow has broken more than a few shovels, so it's best to invest in quality ones. In this case, finding the best deal is not advised if it's a cheap piece of plastic.

A couple of other items to make sure you have handy would be flashlights, batteries, and matches.  

Snow removal: During a storm, it's important to keep up with things like shoveling. Roofs and decks can collapse under the weight of snow if it accumulates too much. It's best to shovel before too much builds up, so you don't overexert yourself trying to remove too much at once. If you are living in Vermont, or other New England states that can see a lot of snow, you will want to invest in a roof rake as well. You might not be able to remove all the snow from your roof but even shoveling off half will reduce the stress being put on your structure.

If you know of a place in your house, maybe a window or door, that is generally drafty, make sure you cover it up. There are actual draft guards but rolling up a towel and placing it appropriately can be just as effective. This will keep you warmer and save energy costs.

Storm prep BEFORE winter: It's too late to do some of these now, but they can save you a lot of trouble in the future.

Clear gutters – build up in your gutters can lead to ice dams in the winter where water can sit for long periods on your roof. If this happens and the water sinks under your roofline you can be looking at thousands of dollars worth of water damage. 

Trim branches - tree branches can get extremely heavy under the weight of snow and power lines aren't the only thing they can take out. Trim back any large branches that extend close to your home and you won't have a rude awakening when a branch decides to break a window or take out part of your roof.

Insulate exposed pipes - the cold weather from a few weeks ago caused major damage to businesses and homes around the state when pipes burst. Simply using foam can help and be done relatively easily, depending on how accessible your pipes are. Some people also suggest leaving warm and cold water dripping, so there's movement through the pipes. 

Maple Open House Weekend 2018

One of Vermont's most popular events is the state wide Maple Open House Weekend. Every March, dozens of sugar shacks open their doors to the public and spread the delicious joy that is maple syrup! This years's Open House Weekend is just about a month away on March 24th and 25th. Some things you can expect are:

  • Free maple samples
  • Sugar on snow
  • Maple inspired foods (donuts, waffles, maple candy, maple pops, etc.)
  • Maple creemees (deserves its own category)
  • Tours
  • Maple gifts
  • Hay rides
  • Animal Interactions (some shacks are located on farms)

Activities and products vary based on sugar house so it's best to visit a bunch to get the full experience.

You can see a full map of the open maple houses here.