For all you Pine Top alumni out there, here is a fun email I received from Sally Byrnes Magin who shares her memories of skiing here in the 1950s:

Pine Top Ski Area | Memories from Sally
Memories of Pine Top from Sally Byrnes Magin:  I love the pictures of the ladies sitting on the front porch and the one of Laddie, Elsie and Romey’s dog.

Dear Peggy,

By chance, when googling “Pine Top” for sentimental reasons, I came across the Vermont Woods Studios and Stonehurst website.  After spending many winter vacations as a child at Pine Top, I was so excited to see that you are keeping the memories alive!  My family and our friends, from northern NJ, spent almost every President’s Week in February (from about 1950 until 1958) at Pine Top, learning to ski and having a wonderful time together. In fact, one of the trails that led from the top of the “Tobey” rope tow was named “Stoddard Run” after our friends the Stoddard family.

Eventually, as our skiing skills improved, we branched out to other Vermont ski areas. It was a magical time spent with Elsie and Romey (Racine), Laddie their dog, the kitchen staff, and the local ski instructors at Pine Top.  Our group took over the entire house for a week, and expanded into the “new annex” when it was built.

Some memories that I have of Pine Top are: skiing down the Pelley and Tobey slopes, struggling with those rope tows, the Tiny Tot hill, eating “sugar on snow” in the old warming hut, being excited when the “new” warning hut was built, visiting the farm and cows up the road, the bell that signaled breakfast and dinner, playing board games in front of the fireplace at night, going into Brattleboro to see ski jumping competitions, and how cold the rooms upstairs were in the mornings before the heat came up through the grates. Also, walking back from the warming hut on a cold Vermont night with every star in the sky visible.

Memories of Pine Top | Now Stonehurst Fine Furniture Gallery
The kids always ate first, and I guess we were celebrating someone’s birthday at dinner.   I must have been sitting at the other end of the dining room table (so am not in the picture).

I hope to visit Stonehurst some time in the future and perhaps walk around the property to revisit old memories.             …..Sally Byrnes Magin Township of Washington, NJ

Sally Byrnes Magin | Memories of Skiing at Pine Top
Here’s a picture of me in early 1950’s ski gear, lace up boots, and cable bindings. Those were the days!  By the way, one of those ski instructor’s last name may have been “Herbert”…he taught us all how to ski, and I am still going strong at age 70! … Sally Byrnes Magin

Well, thank you so much Sally for generously sharing your wonderful memories of skiing at Pine Top.  We hope you’ll come up to visit us soon. I think you’ll enjoy the property and all the improvements we’ve made while transforming it into Stonehurst (a showcase for Vermont’s fine furniture and home decor).

Does anyone else out there have Pine Top memories to share?  Send them along!  We’ve got an online compilation of Pine Top stories and yours should be part of it.

This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios.  Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

Vermont Cheese Destination

Alongside such romantic places as France, Spain, and Italy– humble Vermont stands strong as one of the top 10 destinations for cheese lovers! Like with most parts of our creative heritage, Vermont prides itself on the high quality product (in this case, Cheddars, Fetas, Gorgonzolas and more!) that cannot be found anywhere else in the United States.

Seriously, we love our cheese. So much that we have a map highlighting  45 different Vermont cheesemakers who “produce over 150 varieties of award winning artisan and farmstead cheese.”

Vermont Cheese
Starting your VT Cheese Weekend Vacation? Stop by Grafton Cheese (#14) after your visit to Stonehurst! Mention this blog & get a free cutting board (for your VT cheese!) just for visiting.

This map from VTCheese.com illustrates the 45 Vermont Cheese Council members and their locations. Click on the map for more detail, and links to individual members!

Do you have any other cheese destinations that you think should have been included in this list? Let us know in the comments section!

This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

Winter in Vermont | Stonehurst is Warm and Toasty on the Inside

This is for Sally, Pam, Ellen, Annette, Mo and all our friends from the South and West who have escaped this year’s good old fashioned Vermont winter.  Today’s storm took a break this morning just in time for me to snap this photo of the furniture showroom and art gallery we call Stonehurst.  It was 5F when I got to work today but warm and toasty inside.

The sleds are ready.  But where are the riders?  Snug and warm with no intention of going outside in the 5F weather today.

Plenty of toboggans and sleds are out on the back porch, ready for action.  But where are our young, hearty, adventurous riders?  No need for a membership to Outer Limits this winter, Sean.  Just bring your boots to work and trade your lunch for a couple good runs down the ski slopes.  I’ll go too and we’ll share the prize for biggest loser in the 2014 weight loss challenge.  Any teasing from Liz, Michelle and Loryn will surely cease and desist when we walk in all strong and fit.

The outdoor wood boiler that keeps us warm in the winter

Here’s Ken’s baby.  This Central Boiler Outdoor Wood Furnace from Temple Plumbing and Heating in Putney keeps us warm and toasty all winter long.   A green source of energy, it’s fed by wood from around the grounds at Stonehurst.  The furnace supplies a radiant heating system under the floorboards throughout the furniture showroom.

Shoes are not required at this furniture showroom

So that’s what Stonehurst looks like today.  Stop by and see for yourself.  Sean has hot chocolate and his own homemade cookies waiting for you.  Shoes are not required inside the showroom.

This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

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This coffee table with reclaimed wood top and steel legs is protected from any overheating of the glass candle jar with a slate coaster. Both the table and the coasters are available for purchase in our showroom!

We in southern Vermont are very lucky in that we live very close to several popular candle makers. Half an hour away is the Yankee Candle flagship store in S. Deerfield, MA and in less than fifteen minutes you can get to Kringle Candle in Bernardston, MA. Vermont is full of smaller artisan candle makers. Wilmington Candle Company makes soy based candles and Vermont Honey Lights specializes in beeswax candles.

You can find candles in bright colors or bright white, tiny tea lights to massive multi-wicks. They are used for aromatherapy or setting a mood, come with subtle scents of botanicals, bold tones of aftershave, your favorite foods or no scent at all. The best part of all is that they’re made right here in New England. And you can’t beat candles for an affordable, Made In America holiday gift perfect for teachers or as hostess gifts.

While candles are very popular, they can also be very dangerous. No matter what sort of candle you like, there are certain rules you should always follow when burning:

  • Always trim the wick to a height of approximately ¼” – make sure to remove any of the wick debris from the wax pool. Trimming helps keep it from flickering and smoking, which can cause soot buildup on the container
  • Never leave a burning candle unattended
  • Make sure the candle is sitting on an even surface that won’t be damaged if the container should get too hot – we’d hate to see your beautiful Vermont made hardwood furniture marred!
  • Keep away from any flammable objects
  • Keep out of reach of pets and children

For a full list of tips, visit the National Candle Association web site.

Here’s one more tip: If your candle is nearing the bottom of its container and you don’t want to throw the container away, simply place it in your freezer for about 20 minutes, take it out and shake out the leftover wax. This only works if the sides of the container are straight, not contoured. Now you can reuse it!

A candle reflects serenely in this beautiful stained glass window — one of the many features that make Vermont Woods Studios such a unique shopping experience.

This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

Some indicators of the severity of the coming winter are: the thickness of a walnut's husk; the ratio of brown to black segments on a Woolly Bear; the number of acorns an oak tree drops.
Some indicators of the severity of the coming winter are: the thickness of a walnut’s husk; the ratio of brown to black segments on a Woolly Bear; the number of acorns an oak tree drops.

A couple of weeks ago I was walking with my family when I observed the little fellow in the above image making his way across our path. I had heard that Woolly Bears are prominent in folklore as predictors of winter. I thought I’d poke around and see what other indicators we have. Here’s what I found.

Woolly Bears (the larvae of Isabella Tiger Moths): the longer the middle brown band, the milder and shorter the coming winter; the shorter the brown band, the longer and more severe winter will be. The woolly has 13 segments to the length of his body–the same number of weeks there are of winter. From what I can tell of this picture, my little friend only has four solid-brown segments with a couple that are both black and white. Uh, oh.

Black Walnut trees: The thicker the green husk on the Black Walnuts the snowier the winter, because nature knows when the walnut needs more protection from the elements.

Onion skins: If thin, a mild winter is coming.

Corn: Husks are thick and tight and the silks are heavy — these are indicators of a bad winter.

Apple skins: If tough, winter may be as well.

Oak trees: If the ground of your yard, driveway, or porch is covered with acorns, folklore predicts that these same surfaces may be blanketed by snow this winter. This one makes me feel a little bit better about what my Woolly Bear friend told me. Some years we can hear the acorns pinging off the metal roof of our storage shed. This year I haven’t heard any.

The Month of August: For every fog there will be a snowfall. If the first week is unusually warm, the coming winter will be snowy and long. If a cold August follows a hot July, it foretells a winter hard and dry. We’re not far from the Connecticut River and a small area of beaver-created wetlands so fog is not unusual.

Spiders: Spinning larger than usual webs

Honey Bees: will store honey in mass in preparation for a severe winter

Yellow Jackets: build nests either high in trees or in the ground depending on what the coming winter has in store.

Squirrels: If tails are very bushy and/or if they’re more active than usual, a severe winter is on its way. Hmmm, I don’t know that I’ve ever seen an INactive squirrel.

Ant Hills: If they are unusually high in July, it will be cold and snowy. Darn, forgot to measure them last summer.

Thanksgiving Goose: If the breast bone of the Thanksgiving goose is red or has many spots, expect a cold and stormy winter; but if only a few spots are visible, expect a mild winter.

If the first snowfall lands on unfrozen ground, the winter will be mild.

Final assessment: I have no idea what the winter will bring us in Southern Vermont. I’m just grateful I’m only a short walk from Stonehurst!

This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.