Naming the NH Mushrooms

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New Hampshire has the most remarkable mushrooms. The colors and shapes amaze me. When you see me bending down in the woods, I’m probably taking a photo of a mushroom. Neighbors even alert me when they spot a new batch in the community, so I head out with my camera to capture them.

yellow mushroom

Yellow mushroom photo by Virginia Allain

I don’t eat them since I have no clue which ones are safe and which ones are dangerous. Recently, I found a Facebook group called, The Mushroom Identification Forum. Great! A group that is as geeky as I am about mushrooms. I show them my photos and usually, someone has the scientific name and even sometimes give tips for cooking it.

Now that I’ve been photographing mushrooms for many summers in New Hampshire, I see a pattern. Some are early, some are mid-summer, some are later, but certain kinds come out about the same time each summer.

They also seem to come up near where I found that mushroom last year. I should study up on this, it could be because the conditions are just right for that particular mushroom in that spot or perhaps there is something with roots or spores from the previous years.

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Boletellus russellii – Note the shaggy stalk.

old man of the woods mushroom

Old Man of the Woods mushroom

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Posted in Mushrooms

Whoopie Pie!

New England has a taste treat called a Whoopie Pie. It started out as two oval chocolate cakes sort of like oversized cookies with a filling or icing in-between. Now the whoopie pie has evolved with a gourmet twist.

The ones shown in my photo are the basic whoopie pie found all over Maine and New Hampshire. I read on Wikipedia that Pittsburg, Pennsylvania claims they originated there, but that’s hard for me to accept. In my mind, they are a New England specialty and the Maine legislature even declared them the official state treat.

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Whoopie pies at the Shaker bakeshop in Alfred, Maine – Photo by Virginia Allain

Anyway, you see some amazing variations on flavors for the cake part and for the filling. I found a site called Wicked Whoopies which featured tasty looking maple flavored whoopies and even chocolate ones with a peanut butter flavored fluffy filling.

If you don’t mind drooling on your keyboard, check out the site for Wicked Whoopies and admire the pretty pictures and amazing flavors.


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Posted in food

Encountering a Toad

I bumped into this fellow last summer while I planted some impatiens. He was partially hidden in the dirt, so I almost jabbed him with my trowel. Fortunately, he moved quickly, as I really didn’t see him. His coloration blended perfectly with the soil.

He’s not the prettiest fellow, but very suited to his environment.

I took this shot with my Canon Powershot A550. It’s a small camera that fits well in the hand and easy to hold steady for a close-up shot.

toad nh

I was particularly struck by how detailed the toad’s eye pattern is in this photo. Somewhere I read that to get good wildlife photos to focus in on the eyes. Too many of my shots just show the animal’s rump as it disappears into the brush.

The eye is the only part where I got the focus right. I’ll pretend that I planned it that way.

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Posted in wildlife

Got Skunks?

Maybe you noticed a slight whiff of skunk around your yard. Oh, oh, hopefully, there isn’t one hiding under the shed. Luckily, the black and white striped critters are mostly nocturnal, so you are unlikely to come face-to-face with one unless you are a late-night star-gazer.

This is the time of year when we are more likely to notice skunks. Apparently, the young ones start roaming more in the fall as they become independent. They are less careful about their scent than grown skunks. That’s why you get that slight drift of skunky smell. It’s likely as the young skunk wandered about searching for its nightly meal, it left a little odor behind it.

Skunk Poster Print
Skunk Poster Print by WildlifeAnimals
I forgot to close my Havahart trap this evening. Around 10 pm, I heard the clang of the metal trap door. It was unlikely to be the pesky red squirrel that I wanted to trap. They aren’t usually out after dark. Cautiously, I tiptoed down the steps from the deck and shone my flashlight on the trap. It looked empty.

What a relief. Just then, a skunk hustled away towards the woods. Fortunately, it wasn’t interested in confronting me. I’m guessing that it triggered the trap, but was too big and wasn’t fully inside when the door started down. It must have been after the peanut butter on the inside lever but was able to back out.

That was a lucky escape for the skunk and for me too. I certainly wasn’t anxious to deal with an annoyed skunk in a cage. We learned that lesson the hard way, some years ago. Always close the trap at night.

Skunk inside a catch-and-release trap.

Skunk inside a catch-and-release trap.

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Your Cottage in the Woods

HGTV popularized the concept of a “tiny house,” but at Lake Forest RV Resort in New Hampshire, these small cottages have been popular for years. Let’s check out one that’s on the market right now near Great East Lake.

The tiny house is really a Kropf park model, assembled in Indiana and trucked to the New Hampshire woods. There, a glassed-in room is added and a good-sized screened room. These are ideal for living close to nature with woods on all sides.


Take your morning coffee here while enjoying your woodsy view. Another good spot for that is the table on the screened porch. Keep an eye out for the ever-so-cute chipmunks and the sassy squirrels.

You have several seating areas in the added room or the interior of the park model. Relax, entertain friends, watch television, or read a good book. You are away from your regular routine and living the life of Riley in this senior community. You’ll make lots of new friends among the seasonal residents who spend their spring, summer, and fall away from the steamy heat of Florida or the Carolinas.

Lake Forest RV Resort provides ample recreational activities from boating on Great East Lake or golfing on its own 9-hole course. Residents plan weekly hikes, yoga, bingo, shuffleboard, and plenty of community dinners. Stay as busy or as lazy as you would like.

This cottage includes lots of storage with tall cabinets all along the hallway. There’s extra utility storage space just off the bathroom too.

Compared to the ones you see on HGTV, this is a palace in the tiny house category. Kropf creates various floor plans for its park models and the one used here is particularly well-designed.





Used for occasional weekends, this cottage is like new.


The dramatic windows in the living room brings the woods right inside. This cosy woods cottage comes fully furnished and ready for you to move right in. Bring your shorts, a sweatshirt, walking shoes, and don’t forget the swimsuit for swimming in the lake.



More views of the delightful New Hampshire retreat that could be yours.




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Posted in Lake Forest Resort

Last Chance for Willowbrook Village

I was mad at myself when I heard that Willowbrook Historic Village was closing permanently this fall. For years, I’d intended to visit it and now it was almost too late. Low attendance and funding difficulties force the historic site to close after Columbus Day (October 10, 2016). The hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The village, in Newfield, Maine, is well off the beaten track. As you pull into the parking lot, you see an idyllic 19th-century scene with a bandstand on the green. Across the road, willow trees frame the millpond. Houses, barns, and a one-room school take the visitors back in time when life was slower.

The place is a treasure trove carriages, toys, musical instruments, furniture, and tools from the bygone days of the 1800s. Arranged in vignettes with labels to satisfy your curiosity, it’s a fascinating glimpse into the time of our great-grandparents. I loved it and think you will too. Please, set aside some time to see it before it closes forever.


It is open Thursday through Monday (closed on Tuesday and Wednesday).  You can read more about the closing of the museum in this article. Many of the exhibits are going to a museum near Bangor. That’s quite a distance, so I recommend seeing them while they are nearby at Willowbrook Village.

For more details on visiting the historic village, go to the Willowbrook webpage.

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Posted in Daytrip, Sightseeing

Shopping Again

Don’t call me a shopaholic, but here’s my second post about a shopping excursion. We stopped at Job Lots in Ossippee on our way up Highway 16. Autumn is here and summer folks need tarps. Job Lots is great with a good stock of various weights and sizes of tarps; just perfect for covering your wood pile or deck furniture.

Of course, their eclectic selection of discount and remainder items entice you into browsing. Before you know it, you’ve filled your cart with the oddest assortment of inessential essentials. I didn’t really need the pumpkin spice flavored biscotti but I sure look forward to dipping the crunchy sticks into my cappuccino.

Nonnis PUMPKIN SPICE Biscotti


Now, I did need the food storage containers for my kitchen and the divided tote to keep my groceries from spilling all over the trunk of my car. The cheese slicer isn’t essential, but will yield nice straight slices of cheese which I can never achieve with a knife.

I sorted through a stack of sturdy plastic trays with graphics of lighthouses, boats, and crabs. When I found the one I wanted, a lobster design, into my cart it went.


Lobster tray found at Job Lots. (photo by Virginia Allain)

We found another tray of bamboo with legs that folded for storage. Great for breakfast in bed which I never do, but I might use it with my laptop on the bed while I prop up my feet.

The khaki slacks from Land’s End for $6 tempted me until I realized they were for 6-foot-tall women. I eyed the birthday cards, the office supplies, and the bathroom rugs. Then, I tossed a down-filled bed pillow into the cart and an herbal, microwave-heated neck wrap. It was $10 cheaper than the one I’d researched on Amazon. Job Lots had some microwavable booties too, but I restrained myself.

The cleaning supplies aisle contributed some solution for the shower’s soap scum. Mundane, but needed. Our cart filled, we checked out and headed home with our discoveries.

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Posted in Shopping