What This New Englander Has Learned about Our National Parks and Nature.
Growing up in a small, rural, New Hampshire town, I was born loving the outdoors. Being raised in a log cabin situated in the middle of a forest gives you a unique perspective on nature and wildlife. My sister and I would spend our days climbing huge glacial rock formations behind our house, using the roots of trees growing on the rocks as our rope. We’d pretend we were pioneers in the winter and hike through the snow covered woods. We got tips at a young age on what to do if we crossed paths with a black bear on our walks. And thunderstorms were always a little scary because we worried a tree would fall on our house.
This Holiday Season We’re Offering A Guide To Some Of Our Favorite Vermont Products
I’ve always considered myself an excellent gift-giver. I love surprising someone with a gift that they really wanted but didn’t expect to get. Recently though, my holiday spirit has been dwindling more and more each year.
I don’t think it’s for any one particular reason and I wouldn’t consider the holiday spirit lost on me. I think I’ve come to want my holidays to truly represent the spirit of giving and making a difference. To try to bring back my love of the holidays, I’ve decided that all or most of my gifts will be American or locally made. This way my friends and family will still be getting a gift, but I’ll also be happy knowing I’ve helped the local artisans, craftsmen and shop owners with my support for their hard work.
If you’re still shopping for this holiday season and you’d like to support American/local businesses, I’ve compiled a Gift Guide of Vermont based products that not only support our economy but that are quality crafted and often still handmade.
When you think of products from Vermont your mind probably goes to maple syrup, craft beer and cheese and those of course made my list, but I’ve included some other great products as well!
The Flame Rolling Pin by Vermont Rolling Pins: The handles of this rolling pin are shaped like the flames from a candle wick. It’s available in Cherry and Maple woods for $64 and Walnut wood for $80. You can also get it engraved for an added $10 fee. It’s the perfect gift for the baker in your life!
Double Wick Apothecary Candle in Christmas Wreath scent by Wilmington Candle Company: Skip the generic name brand candles for your Yankee Swap this year! Not a fan of balsam inspired scents? Not to worry, Wilmington Candle Co. has dozens of scents and candle sizes for you to choose from. The Double Wick candles burn for approximately 125+ hours.
Herb de Provence Chevre Goat Cheese by Vermont Creamery: Must love Rosemary! This bountifully flavored cheese is sure to be a fan favorite at any holiday party. Available in Classic, Three Peppercorn and Cranberry Orange & Cinnamon this spreadable cheese is best when served alongside a plain cracker-let the cheese do all the talking. Cheese logs are available starting at $4.99.
Organic Maple Syrup by Hidden Springs Maple Farm: Certified organic by Vermont Organic Farmers, Hidden Springs maple syrup is available in Vermont Fancy, Vermont A (Amber) and Vermont B (Dark) and is Kosher certified. This syrup is priced at $8.65 for a half pint, $15.75 for a pint, $22.45 for a quart and $41.75 for a half gallon.
Little Bit O’ Honey Gift Pack by Champlain Valley Honey:The perfect samplings of fine Vermont honey, this gift comes packaged in custom tung wood boxes. The gift pack comes with an 8 oz. jar of Raw Naturally Crystallized Honey and an 8 oz. jar of Liquid Honey for $31.00.
Flannel Scarf in Fashion Stewart by The Vermont Flannel Company: With plaid coming back on trend for scarves this holiday season, this could be the perfect gift for that hard to shop for person. Available in 14 color options ranging from neutrals to bright colors, these double-brushed 100% cotton scarves are great for both men and women.
3-Bar Soap Gift Packs by Vermont Soap: Available in four different pack options, for Dry Skin, Oily Skin, Combination Skin and a Swirl Gift Set, these sustainably made soaps are great gifts packs for someone you know that loves bath and beauty products or has had a hard finding a soap that doesn’t irritate their skin! Each pack comes with three different scents and normally sells for $19.98 (At the time we published this post, the packs were on sale for $15.98).
Hiker 1/4 Sock Cushion by Darn Tough Vermont: Have an avid hiker in your life? These socks are high quality and built to last the rigors of hiking and trail running. The sock is made of Merino Wool and naturally repels bacteria and odor. Available in three colors and sizes a pair of these socks is $17.00.
Individual Caramel Packs by Big Picture Farm in Sea Salt & Vanilla: Each pack comes with a choice of 25 pieces of individually wrapped caramels for $20, 50 for $38 or 100 for $75. The caramels are available in Sea Salt & Vanilla, Maple Cream, Chai, Cocoa Latte, Raspberry Rhubarb, Cider Honey, Brown Butter Bourbon and Wild Chocolate Mint flavors. The caramels are made with fresh goat milk and have won numerous awards.
These are just a sampling of the many products proudly made and sold by Vermonters. So whether you’re looking for last minute stocking stuffers or even a gift for yourself, these Vermont made products are sure to be a hit. I know there are a few items on the list I’ve already bought (and eaten!).
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No need to trek through the forest, Christmas tree farms throughout Vermont have you covered!
A Guide to Christmas Tree Farms in Vermont
Being a native New Englander I’ve come to expect a lot out of a Christmas Tree. It can’t be fake, it has to be real. It needs to be a Fraser or Douglas Fir. It has to be naturally even on all sides with no major gaps between branches and it can’t be too tall or short. One of my family’s outings to a Christmas Tree Farm can last hours and usually results in a major family deliberation over which tree to cut down.
Did you know real Christmas trees are great not only for their added ambiance but because they are a renewable and recyclable resource? To help with my idea that real trees trump artificial trees I dug a little into the world of Christmas Trees. According to the National Christmas Tree Association, 85% of artificial trees are manufactured in China and often contain non-biodegradable plastics. Christmas trees from farms are grown as a crop and once they are harvested new seedlings are planted to replace the harvested trees, so the cutting down of a Christmas Tree is actually better environmentally than buying an artificial tree. It also supports local economies!
If you’re like me and need to have the best tree, I’ve gone ahead and compiled a list of a few Christmas tree farms here in Vermont and a provided little information about what each farm offers you!
Christmas Trees of Vermont:(456 Old Connecticut River Road, Springfield, VT 05156) Located just 15 minutes north of the famous Vermont Country Store, this tree farm offers thousands of Fraser Fir trees to choose from. You can cut your own or choose from ones that are pre-cut. There’s a shop on site with complimentary hot cocoa and candy canes, Santa’s cabin, furry friends from the Vermont Humane Society on the weekends and free sleigh rides and tree baling.
The Russell Farm: (1248 VT Route 116 Starksboro, VT 05487) Located just under 40 minutes south of Burlington, VT, the Russell Farm boasts a feel-good family environment. You can cut your own Balsam Fir and catch a ride on a horse drawn sleigh (with a fee) and buy handmade wreaths and garland. You can warm up by a cabin fire and nibble on homemade cookies. You’re sure to feel part of the family!
The Bishop Farm:(Park Farm Road, Springfield, VT 05156) Also located a short 15 minute drive from the Vermont Country Store, the Bishop Farm grows both Balsam and Fraser Fir trees. You can choose your own tree, which the staff will happily cut down for you, or choose from a variety of pre-cut trees. On the weekends you can hop on a tractor ride and they offer free baling, hot chocolate and Christmas candy. They sell tree stands and handmade wreaths, as well. If you’re unable to make the trip, they offer delivery options, just choose the type and size of the tree and it’ll usually ship within 2 days.
Paxton Greens:(97 Stewart Lane, Cuttingsville, VT 05738) Located just 20 minutes north of Okemo and 40 minutes south of Killington, Paxton Greens offers primarily Fraser and Balsam Fir trees. You can cut your own tree, or have a staff member cut it for you as well as choose from from a selection of pre-cut trees. Their Christmas shop sells handmade wreaths, tree stands and has a wood stove you can warm up by. They offer hot mulled cider and the shop has great gift ideas.
Walker Farm’s Elysian Hills: (223 Knapp Road, Dummerston, VT 05301)New to the farm this year, you can cut your own trees on the weekends at the Walker Farm. Staff at the farm will help guide you the cut-your-own section and provide you with a price guide. Their farm store sells wreaths, center pieces and holiday greenery. If you’re in need of warming up after cutting down your tree, stop into the store where they offer free hot cider, hot chocolate and pretzels! You’ll also find fresh Certified Organic veggies, honey, maple syrup and more on sale in the shop!
All the farms supply hand saws-please don’t bring a chainsaw! And they all offer baling and/or netting of your tree. Good luck and may the best tree win!
If you’ve been to a great Christmas Tree farm in Vermont that I didn’t list, please let me know in the comments section!
I guess word is getting around about our unique Vermont furniture store because we’re starting to get many visitors from New York, Boston and other metropolitan areas. Customers tell us they’re looking for something beautiful, sustainable and uniquely theirs. That’s why we’re here, of course but “here” isn’t necessarily easy to find.
Directions to Stonehurst, Our Fine Furniture Showroom
So Rebecca and I teamed up with next-door neighbor, Drew Amidon to make a video showing the route to Stonehurst, our Vermont Woods Studios furniture showroom. Drew made the scenic journey and filmed it from Interstate 91 (exit 28A, Northfield, Route 10), past the Inn at Crumpin Fox, left onto Bald Mountain Road, right onto Huckle Hill Road and 5 miles to Stonehurst. He used his GoPro and drone helicopter to show visitors just where we are and what to expect when they get here.
Most Furniture Stores Don’t Have to Make a Video on How to Get to Their Showroom
Who had the crazy idea of putting a fine furniture store in the middle of nowhere, anyway? OK that was me. Well… sustainability is important to me and it’s part of the mission of our company. Customers come to us because they want to feel good about their furniture. They want to know where their furniture comes from. They want to be sure it originates in a sustainable forest that provides recreation & habitat for wildlife, a forest that’s going to be around for future generations.
So when the Stonehurst property on 109 acres of pristine woodlands became available in 2012 I knew it was the perfect location for a Vermont Woods Studios showroom. We’re 3 1/2 hours from Manhattan and 2 hours from Boston. It’s a beautiful drive to get here and once you arrive, you’ll feel a relaxed Vermont vibe before you even get our of your car. Be sure to pack a picnic basket and a bottle of wine because fine furniture shopping should never be rushed.
See you in the woods!
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Vermont’s premier arts & history venue, the Shelburne Museum is unveiling it’s newest exhibit today, Rich and Tasty: Vermont Furniture to 1850.Frequent readers, customers and visitors to Stonehurst are well aware of Vermont’s current reputation as the Fine Furniture Capital of America. Now you can learn about the history of Vermont made furniture and see the incredible craftsmanship that VT woodworkers began developing as far back as the 1700s.
The Rich and Tasty exhibit “dramatically expands popular understanding of Vermont high style furniture. It reveals the exquisite craftsmanship of individual forms and encourages a wide audience to learn about regional tastes and economics that help define Vermont furniture’s stylistic features and unexpected aesthetic innovations in the early decades of the nineteenth century. Approximately 40 documented pieces will be displayed, the majority of which have never been on view before. In addition to showcasing pieces from Shelburne Museum’s extensive permanent collection, public and private collections contributing pieces in the Northeast will include: the Vermont Historical Society, the Collection of the Woodstock Historical Society, Fleming Museum of Art, The University of Vermont, Historic Deerfield, Inc., the Collection of J. Brooks Buxton, the Collection of Norman and Mary Gronning, the Collection of the Fowler Family, and other private collections.”
Some of the furniture in the exhibit was recently sold at a Skinner auction in Marlborough, Mass. Pieces ranged in price from a few thousand dollars for a mahogany sofa to $65,175 for a maple, mahogany and birch dresser. We’ll be checking those out today and look forward to sharing more details and photos with you.
If you’re in the Burlington area, stop by the Museum. It’s a beautiful place set on 45 acres along Lake Champlain. You can easily spend the whole day browsing through their 150,000 works which are displayed in 38 buildings, 25 of which are historic. In addition to Rich and Tasty, you’ll find great concurrent exhibits including:
The Unknown Rockwell: A Portrait Of Two American Families. This includes personal memoirs of James “Buddy” Edgerton, Norman Rockwell’s neighbor in West Arlington, Vermont, for 14 years, and a frequent Rockwell model, as well as best friend with the Rockwell sons.
American Moderns, 1910-1960: From Okeeffe to Rockwell. 50 artworks from the Brooklyn Museum’s collection in a variety of styles that explore the depth and range of specifically American and thoroughly modern art.
I hope to see you there, in the new Pizzagalli Center for Art and Education where Vermont’s furniture making history will be on display until Nov 11. Take some photos and share them on our Facebook!
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