A Quick Little Post…

I was recently tagged by my friend Katie to list the ten books that had a great impact on my life. As you now know, I love a good list and I really love books so I am sorry to say I could only whittle my list down to 18 (close!). What are some of your favorites?

Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
Wendal, His Cat, and the Progress of Man – V. Campudoni
Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
Persuasion – Jane Austen
Cannery Row – John Steinbeck
The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
Far from the Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
The Unbearable Lightness of Being – Milan Kundera
The Way of the Wizard – Deepak Chopra
Cousin Bette – Honoré de Balzac
The Sun Also Rises – Ernest Hemmingway
Dr. Zhivago – Boris Pasternak
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe – C.S. Lewis
Silas Marner – George Elliot
Lord of the Rings Trilogy – J.R.R. Tolkein
A Room with a View – E.M. Forster
Watership Down – Richard Adams
A Wrinkle in Time – Madeleine L’Engle


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Posted on October 23, 2014
Posted by Meghan

Making Me Smile//3

It’s the end of the work-week and for that I am really excited and grateful! And to celebrate, I think it is a good opportunity to revisit my “Making Me Smile” series…okay, it wasn’t a series. I had hoped it would be a series. I think I did two others so we’re calling this no. 3. Nonetheless, here are a few things that made me smile over the past few days and other bits to which I am looking forward.


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northern lights map
Posted on September 12, 2014
Posted by Meghan

Weekend Wrap Up

What a lovely weekend it has been! Although we are approaching the second week of September, Mother Nature is gifting us here in the northeast with sunny skies and 70+degree temperatures…perfection. It would have been a great day for autumnal activities like apple-picking and pie-baking, but instead I spent the afternoon at the pool, splashing about and reading in the sun.


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me not caring who wins football
Posted on September 7, 2014
Posted by Meghan

52 Lists//My Favorite Albums

Okay, I am obviously way behind on this. WAY behind. If I have ten of these written up by year’s end, I will impress (and shock) myself. But, I am going to keep at them as they are fun and I do love a good list.

What are some of your favorites?

My Favorite Albums

Meghan xo

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Posted on September 2, 2014
Posted by Meghan

My Favorite Bits of Summer…

Today is September 1st…the official end of summer in these parts. This little fact makes me incredibly sad. My summers are usually protected nuggets of sunshine and relaxation – this year was a bit different and much busier than normal. I had high hopes of sharing with you my love of summer through pictures of trips to Manchester-by-the-Sea, photos of me wearing caftans, eating lobster rolls and ice cream cones, splashing about with Didi in our little swimming hole, and conveying to you how very much summer means to me. It didn’t happen. That said, The Mister and I made sure to squeeze in a few fun activities and took advantage of some local events. And as today is a day off, I thought I would take the gift of extra free time to post some pictures of my summertime antics.


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Balloons in the Morning
Posted on September 1, 2014
Posted by Meghan

My ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Okay dear readers, I have been away for a while. I allowed a busy summer work schedule to pull me away from blogging, and I can think of no better way to dive back in than to help promote a recent phenomenon in giving and helping others – The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.


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ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Prep
Posted on August 28, 2014
Posted by Meghan

Discovering a New Sound: The Shana Stack Band

Many moons ago (okay, it was only a few months ago), my friend and colleague Ed invited me to listen to his band, The Shana Stack Band, play at a local venue. As I was already familiar with a few of their tunes, and was also aware of their recent win at the New England Music Awards, AND the fact that they have opened for the likes of Reba McEntire and Sugarland, I knew it was going to be a great show and said yes immediately! I put in a call to my friend, Ms. K., as I knew she would be up for an evening of good music, food, and fun.


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Posted on August 6, 2014
Posted by Meghan

Friendly Visitors!

One of my oldest and dearest friends lives three hours away – thankfully, she and I made a deal with each other years ago to make plans to do something fun every couple of months. We did not want to let the years slip by until one day in our dotage we realize too late that we should have seen each other more often over the years. It is easy to do, especially as we all grow older and busier.


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Posted on May 6, 2014
Posted by Meghan

Sugar Shack Time!

As half my blog’s name is ‘Sugar Shacks’, I felt it was about time to introduce you to a few local sugar shacks…well, sugar houses really. But first, some history. As most know, the maple tree and the maple syrup business are synonymous with the state of Vermont which is quite interesting as prior to colonization and the introduction of industry (and with it, deforestation), the birch and beech trees were what (mostly) populated the hills and mountains of my adopted state, not the maple. The maple was here, but it was certainly not the predominant feature in a 1700s landscape. A century later, things had changed. Only after noticing the visual blight which came as a negative side effect of logging and massive clearing, early conservationists began repopulating our hills and mountains with trees…but with maple trees, not the birch and beech. I wonder if they knew what a massive (and positive) long-term impact this would have on the economy of Vermont.

When you drive through the countryside here, you can’t go too far without passing a house or farm that has a large sign saying “VT Maple Syrup for Sale.” We have several on our road alone – that said, our ‘road’ is approximately 20 miles of a country route. As you can see in my avatar, we have an old fashioned sugar shack on our property.

american gothic

Here’s a better shot of our actual sugar shack, not functional as it has been stripped of all its parts.

sugar shack

I have dreams of putting in a pool next to it and reinventing our little shack as a pool house… The Mister is horrified at this idea…I think it is brilliant. Anyway, I digress.

And, as sugaring season makes its appearrance, you also see aluminum buckets attached to trees everywhere. Like these two, right here.

You also see trees roped with blue tubing. I will admit that when I first moved here, I had no idea what the blue tubing was….my flat-lander brain assumed it was some old-school way of mapping one’s property. I know…I can hear you laughing. :) I now know that the tubing carries the sap hither and yon, through one’s property to its destination which is often something larger than the buckets (which are only used to capture small amounts), and which will then be boiled down to delicious, delectable maple syrup.


Maple sugaring is a cottage industry that is done “mom-and-pop style” by individuals all over the state, as well as on a bigger scale by larger farms. And, because the maple sugar season is so short and is so dependant on a perfect transition from winter to spring, and at just the right time, any fluctuation can cause prices to rise dramatically….I think the current going rate for VT maple syrup is $50 US dollars/gallon…I kid you not. That is why, my friends, it is often referred to as liquid gold.

In any event, a weekend a few weeks back is celebrated across the state as the official start to the maple season and sugar houses across the state – big and small – have open houses and welcome visitors to see how the sweet magic is made.

Despite it being Spring, this year’s kick-off was a bit more wintery than maple producers had wanted. When The Mister and I left the house it was snowing and only 20 degrees (F)….kind of cold for this time of year. But it would not deter us! Off we went, over the hills and streams…on un-plowed roads (I’ll save my commentary on that for another post).




The first sugar house we visited was Silloway Maple in Randolph and you can find information on their history, as well as details on all their yummy maple products by clicking here. They are a larger producer and are even solar-powered! It was super-busy when we arrived and there was a bit of excitement in the air about the start of maple season…it could also be that with maple season comes warmer weather which we here in the northeast desperately want!


Paul, seen here, was kind enough to explain all the ins-and-out of their process to us.


Silloway has switched to a reverse-osmosis machine for producing syrup which makes the process a lot more efficient. For example, making syrup without the reverse osmosis machine would mean you’d need 86 gallons of sap to produce 1 gallon of syrup. I know…kind of mind-blowing, isn’t it??? With this new technology, a producer can reduce this ratio to approximately 57 gallons of sap to a gallon of syrup (I do hope I remembered this correctly!).


After tapping thousands of trees throughout their property, they gather it all up using recycled milk tanks (love that VT spirit of environmentally friendly industry!), and bring it back to the sugar house.



Next, the sap begins moving through the reverse osmosis machine. It was on the one hand a very simple process but also very technical as the soon-to-be syrup moves its way through various filters…these maple producers have to keep a close eye on the process from start to finish.




After a great tour of their process, it was time for the tasty part of maple sugaring season – donuts, cider, and sugar-on-snow! And yes, that is actually snow! If you haven’t tried maple syrup on snow, I highly recommend you add it to your wintertime bucket list. The best parts are the little chewy bits where the syrup has become semi-frozen…yummm….




We then picked up a few bottles (for ourselves and for friends) and went on our way to the next stop: Sugarbush Farms in Woodstock which is a smaller (but no less awesome) operation. As you now know the process, I will just give you a visual tour of Sugarbush. On our way we were very happy to be able to cross the Taftsville bridge which has been rebuilt after having been wrecked during Hurricane Irene.











That my friends, is maple sugar weekend in Vermont. I hope if you are ever in the northeast and thinking of paying a visit this time of year to our fair state, I hope that you check out one of the many sugaring houses scattered throughout VT!

Meghan xo

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Posted on April 11, 2014
Posted by Meghan

Making Me Smile//2

It has been a while since I wrote my first (in what I cheekily had hoped would be a weekly series…okay, it might be quarterly….alright…honestly, it might be a biannual event) post on things that made me smile in recent days. As I have been an absentee blogger, I want to make it up to you all and here is my peace offering.


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Posted on March 19, 2014
Posted by Meghan
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