Tag Archives: Home Front

Sometimes I am amazed at how quickly the seasons change. It seems like just yesterday I was writing a fall checklist! Now with Christmas upon us, and January just around the corner, it’s time to prepare for winter. Have you begun your winter checklist?


Depending on where you live your winter preparations might look different from mine. Here in the northeast we usually get a lot of snow. You have to be prepared in case you just won’t be going out for a few days.Winter Checklist


Hopefully all your fall chores are taken care of and your house is ready for winter. In preparing the house for winter you want to make sure you are preventing any heat loss. If you have drafty windows add some weather stripping around your windows and doorframes. If necessary you can cover the windows with plastic.


Make sure your snow blowers are in good working order and the snow shovels are in good shape.Winter Checklist We have several snow shovels, one for our deck and another for the back steps.Winter Checklist


Be prepared for severe storms and make sure you have plenty fo water and nonperishable food on hand. Ideally you need to have 1 gallon of water per person per day set aside.winter checklist


In case you loose your power you should have a manual can opener. Nothing like having a good supply of nonperishable food and no way to open the cans!Winter Checklist


Do you have a portable radio that runs on batteries? A flashlight with batteries is also helpful to add to your winter checklist. I remember as a child a big snowstorm we had and we lost our power. Luckily we had flashlights so we could spend time in the evening reading. Perhaps you have a generator. We installed a whole house generator after the last big storm we had. The generator is connected to our propane tank so the minute we loose power on comes the generator. Having a generator offers a great sense of peace.winter checklist


Whether you have a generator or not it is a good idea to follow a winter checklist and make sure you and your home are prepared.winter checklist



We were away for a couple of weeks in October and as a result we have been scrambling to get the gardens ready for winter. We’ve had some very cold nights, which makes doing that last minute weeding nearly impossible with the frozen ground. Luckily we had a few sunny days and we were able to get the blueberries fertilized and the straw spread out on the rhubarb, strawberries and raspberry bushes. It is such a good feeling to have finally completed all the fall check list and we are now ready for the snow!Fall Check List


All the gardens are weeded and cleaned up for the winter.fall checklist


The compost has been emptied into the garden beds where it will further compost this winter. I like to put leaves and grass clippings from the last mowing into the garden beds as well. By the spring it will have all composted down.fall check list


Our lawn tractor has been used one last time and the gas tank is empty and the tractor is stowed away for the winter.Fall Check List


The hoses have been stored away and the outdoor water faucet has been turned off.Fall Check List


Our firewood is stacked and covered for the winter. We’re hoping we have two years of firewood cut and stacked,. We’ll see how cold the winter is.Fall Check List


If we had gutters now would be the time to make sure they are cleaned out. Clogged gutters during rainstorms can cause water to pool and damage your roof or siding. My husband recently cleaned out the gutters for an elderly neighbor; I don’t think they had been cleaned in years! There were actually plants growing in the composted matter in the gutters!fall check list


The shovels and snow blower are ready to the winter. The ice scrapers have been placed in the car.


Our windows have been cleaned and the screens removed and stored for the winter.


A professional has cleaned our chimney and we are ready for the constant woodstove use.Fall Check List


The outdoor furniture has been cleaned and put away for the season.


With all the fall check list completed we are now ready for the snow to fall. Do you have a fall check list to complete your chores? Are you ready for the colder winter weather?fall check list


A campfire may provide warmth and light and even heat for cooking but it is also a wonderful place around which to gather with friends. We are lucky enough to have a large flat area above our home where we have built a rather large fire pit. Whether it is just my husband and I, or a gathering of friends, one of the joys of a campfire is the atmosphere it creates.the joys of a campfire


Building the campfire is always an afternoon activity. Everyone walks into the woods collecting fallen sticks and branches. Often the chainsaw is taken out and a few dead trees are cut up to add fuel to the fire.Joys of a campfire


Long sticks are cut to provide a method for toasting marshmallows. After all it wouldn’t be a try campfire without ‘smores!


Once the fire is built, the sticks are set aide and there is an ample amount of wood to provide fuel, the chairs are set up in a circle around the fire. Just at dusk the fire is lit. Sometimes only a match is needed, but if the wood is quite wet we also have a torch that we can use to get the fire going.


Summertime is often when we have the most campfires. As the fire dies down and the stars come out it is a beautiful way to enjoy a starlit evening. In the quiet of the woods you can often hear the Barred owls or the howls of coyotes. Recently we had an impromptu gathering of friends and enjoyed a campfire under the November full moon.joys of a campfire


Before you build a campfire in your backyard make sure you know the laws of your state. In Vermont it is legal to enjoy a campfire, but if you are building a large bonfire you need a permit. WE always have a hose available but luckily we have never needed it.joys of a campfire


Sitting around the campfire with a circle of dear friends is one of my favorite ways to spend an evening. The conversation is always interesting and sometimes there is even singing. Occasionally someone will ask a hard question or share an intimate detail of what’s going on in their life. The conversation just flows. The joys of a campfire are so simple… the warmth of the fire and the warmth of wonderful friendships.the joys of a campfire



One of the things I enjoy most about blogging is the people you meet along the way. Recently an inventor of a new game, Peter Martinazzi reached out to me to see if I’d be interested in reviewing a new game called Story Bowl. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect as we were planning a trip to the west coast for a family reunion. Not only would there be lots of folks to share the game with but our family loves to play games!story bowl game


Story Bowl is the game to play with the entire family. It’s a goofy, lighthearted team game that ends in everyone telling stories. In just 45 minutes you’ll shout, play charades, squeak and more. All with clues that re 3-word “micro-stories” about everyone’s past memories. At the end of the game, you’ll reveal which micro-stories everyone wrote and tell the actual stories behind them.Story Bowl Game


TO play Story Bowl you’ll need at least 4 players but you can have as many as 14 playing the game. There were 9 of us, which was perfect. We had two teams and it really doesn’t matter if the teams are not equal. Depending on how many people you have playing the game it takes about 30-45 minutes to play.Story Bowl Game


How in the world did this game come about? Peter and his friend Rob, two friends from California who love to play games came up with the idea.


Story Bowl is based on a parlor game that Peter’s family calls “The Naked Game” (not sure why, and they haven’t heard it called this anywhere else). The game is super fun to play, and whenever we successfully play it, it creates a ton of good memories because the micro-stories are based on people’s own stories and they talk about them after the game.  BUT we found it was difficult to corral a group of friends, describe the game to them, and help guide each one of them to come up with their words. We heard things like “this sounds complicated”, “is this actually going to be fun”, and “what should i write”, etc…

So Rob and Peter made Story Bowl to make it easier for players to understand what to do and write memorable “micro-stories” about themselves.  The prompt cards reduce the friction to play, take a lot of the pressure and complication off the host of a game, and result in even more memorable “micro-stories”!Story Bowl Game


Not only were Peter and Rob nice enough to send me a game to review but they have also included a code for all my readers to get 15% off the game if they order a copy before October 17th! It would be a perfect gift or stocking stuffer for the holidays. Just use the code WX7LKEUL and order your game HERE.


I hope you enjoy playing this wonderful game as much as our family did!



If you’re like many people, you’ve thought about making an estate plan, but you just never get around to doing it. Perhaps you’re too busy, or maybe you’d rather avoid considering what will happen in the even of your incapacity or death. Although these concerns are understandable, estate planning is a vital component of your financial well being, and one that’s bet tackled sooner rather than later.estate plan


Why you need an estate plan.


An estate plan is designed to provide financial security for your family, ensuring that your property will be preserved and passed on to beneficiaries. IN addition it can minimize estate taxes and other administrative costs, ensure competent management of your property iin the case of incapacity, enable you to provide for a favorite charity and help mitigate or avoid disputes among family members.


Having lost both of my parents in the last four years I can’t tell you how true this is. My mother always had all of her affairs in order. When she passed away it was an easy estate to settle and there was minimal costs involved.


My father was another story. He was still working on getting his affairs in order when he went into the hospital. As a result we had to hire an attorney and it took three years to settle the estate with the attorneys getting the bulk of his estate.


Now contrary to popular belief you don’t need to have significant wealth to have an estate plan. Basic estate planning is for everyone. Putting a plan in place will help you protect assets during your life and control how you wish your estate to be distributed on your death, as well as ease the administrative burden on you family.


There are three basic components of your estate plan: a durable power of attorney for financial matters, a health care power of attorney and a last will and testament. What are each of these components?


Durable Power of Attorney

This document allows you to appoint someone to handle your financial matters in the event that you become incapacitated.


Health care documents

A health care POA allows you to name an individual to make medical decisions on your behalf in the event you are unable to do so. It may be used in conjunction with a living will, which authorizes your health care provider to take specific actions in the event that life-sustaining decisions need to be made.


Last will and testament


A will dictates who will receive your property upon your death and under what circumstances. It also enables you to direct the payment of estate administration expenses and taxes and to nominate an executor to handle these matters. It also allows you to designate a guardian for your minor children.


Revocable Trust


A revocable trust allows you to maintain control and ownership of the trust assets during your life and direct how and when your beneficiaries will receive trust distributions upon your death. By funding a revocable trust during your life, your assets will avoid probate administration.


Remember a will governs only probate property; a trust governs only assets owned by the trust. It is also important to review the ownership and beneficiary designations of such assets as jointly held property, life insurance proceeds, retirement benefits, employee death benefits and retirement plan proceeds.


This may all seem a bit overwhelming but working with an experienced professional will help you to plan. The time to start your estate plan is now!estate plan

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, roughly 1 out of every 8 children suffers from an anxiety disorder. Based on the same research, children with anxiety disorders may be at a higher risk of poor school performance, or of having normal social lives. Later on, the risks are also higher that they might use illicit substances.


However, this is far from a sure thing. Plenty of children with an early anxiety disorder live healthy and happy lives. You, as a parent, can help your child work through their anxiety and learn to function with it, until it isn’t nearly as much of a problem in their life. Here are some tips on how to help a child with anxiety…


Always remain calm


For parents, it can be frustrated to have your child be anxious in so many situations, especially when it comes to social situations. However, it’s important that you shouldn’t be the thing that adds to their anxiety, but helps them work through it. Because of this, always make sure that you remain calm in situations when they might be panicking.


You should be the anchor that reminds them that it is okay, and that they can work through their emotions with you. When you lose your calm, then their mental anchor is gone, and their anxiety can skyrocket.


Use family therapy


Counseling can be an especially useful tool to help kids work through their anxiety and lessen the impact it has on them. Plenty of counselors specialize in anxiety and other mental disorders in children. One particular tool that many counselors use is family therapy, where the session takes place with the child and their family members, together. This post has some helpful guidance for what to expect from family therapy, which can sound intimidating to many people.


Don’t make the mistake of assuming that you shouldn’t participate in family therapy because you don’t have any need of it, yourself. Family therapy is a great setting to help a child talk about things that they might be nervous about talking about in their normal day-to-day lives.


Give them praise when it is due


Positive emotions help children deal with underlying anxiety. It is especially good for them to feel pride when they have done something well. Be sure to give your child praise, when it is due. This doesn’t mean dishonestly congratulate them for everything they do, as that is setting them up for horrible expectations in life, but offer praise for each step that they take towards mitigating how anxiety affects them. This encourages them to examine their emotions and get a good read on how anxiety is impacting their life, as well as change that impact.


Understand what will trigger them


Your child’s anxiety may be triggered by different things. If they have social anxiety, then social events are definitely going to be a trigger. Specific phobias, such as the fear of dogs or heights, are also common triggers for anxiety disorders, depending on the child. Make sure you understand what it is that triggers your child’s anxiety, but don’t focus on avoiding those triggers.


If you steer your child away from everything that might give them anxiety, then you are teaching poor life habits that encourage them to run from their problems, instead of address them. Instead, focus on guiding them through these encounters with anxiety triggers, and teach them how to process their emotions, wisely, in those situations.


Assure them that nothing is wrong with them


When a child is diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, they are definitely going to feel an impact to their self-worth. The common thought that children have in this situation is that something is wrong with them. It’s natural for them to think this way, but it can also be very destructive. Talk with them about what an anxiety disorder is, and help them understand that it is something that naturally happens to some people, but that it is just a challenge that is going to make them stronger people and better for it.

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