Gift Shopping for Myself


Sweet silver heart from White and Company Gifts

I indulged myself with browsing in White and Company Gifts on Friday. What a treasure trove of goodies they carry there! I couldn’t resist one of the silver hearts. The weight of it will serve nicely to hold down a stack of papers on my desk.

If you’re in Sanbornville, NH at the Gaffney Library or City Hall or Leno’s, the gift shop is just a few steps away. Park in the lot opposite the library and cross the street. The shop’s in a vintage house with marvelous plantings and intriguing art out front.


fleur de lis, black eyed susan flower, rock in Sanbornville

Pretty plantings in front of White and Company Gifts in Sanbornville


Inside I found all sorts of tempting merchandise from lake signs to antiques and t-shirts with the local towns on them. My cottage wall space is limited and sadly there’s no room for another thing. If you need wall decor, you will find a good selection here.

Two armoires filled with shelves of shirts caught my eye. I happily selected 2 vee-necked t-shirts for myself and a sweatshirt for hubby.I didn’t have anything with Wakefield on it. I’ll take that pink one to Florida and advertise New Hampshire to all my friends there.

Anyway, if you need a gift for someone or something pretty for your house, stop by and check it out on 20 High Street in Sanbornville. Don’t forget to get a gift for yourself while you are there.



Wakefield NH t-shirts and sweatshirt from White and Company Gifts.


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Posted in Shopping

Baby Maples Everywhere

Our New Hampshire camp has gravel in the parts of the yard that aren’t wooded. It makes an easy-to-maintain place with no lawn mower necessary. After all, you come to the New Hampshire woods to hike, kayak or read on the deck, not to push a lawn mower around.

This year, the woods seem to be attempting a takeover of the yard. Dozens, maybe even hundreds of teeny maple seedlings sprang up in May and June, right through the gravel.

reforestation in our yard, baby maple trees

Reforestation in our yard, baby maple trees

Now, in addition to the exercise I get taking walks in the woods, I’m getting lots of bending down exercise. I guess it’s a good way to burn calories as I pull up all these baby trees.

I seem to remember that last year was the takeover attempt by the pine trees. There were fallen pinecones everywhere. The year before, we had an over-abundance of acorns. That bumper crop probably made the squirrels happy. Actually, the squirrels eat the pine cones too, not just the acorns.


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Trio of pine cones. (photos by Virginia Allain)

It really makes me wonder how long it would take for the forest to fill in our clearing and obliterate any signs of human habitation.

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Posted in Uncategorized, Woods

Patriotic Blueberry Patch

My neighbors probably paused in surprise on their evening stroll. It’s mid-July and the Allains suddenly decorated a section of their garden in all-out red, white, and blue bunting. There’s a good reason for it, and it isn’t because I’m mixed up on my calendar of patriotic holidays.

This frenzy of decorating happened yesterday after I spotted a plump robin landing in the yard. From my computer workspace, I have a panoramic view of the gardens and the woods. “How nice,” I thought, “we have a big robin visiting.” The second time, I caught the flash of its wings, I tuned in a bit more to observe what it was doing. Darn! It was eating the blueberries. Yes, the very ones I intended to pick later today after finishing my blog updates.


Blueberries from my patch

The blueberries I picked a few days ago

I rummaged out the string of pennants that I’d decorated our front deck back on the 4th of July. Placing stakes around the edge of the blueberry patch, I strung the small vinyl triangles completely around the planting area. In addition, I placed a red, white, and blue pinwheel in the garden. My hope was that any breeze would keep these things fluttering and distract the birds from my delectable berries.

One drawback to this plan was that it takes a fairly windy day for a breeze to filter through the woods into our yard.

patriotic blueberry patch



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Posted in birds, gardening

Looking for a Summer Getaway?

Who doesn’t dream of a small retreat for the weekend after a busy workweek or of escaping to a shady summer home in New England away from  the heat of Florida? Ideally, it would be surrounded by big pines and maples with a lake not too far away. There would be interesting activities, yet plenty of quiet time on your own.  Some seniors get an RV and head off to find a remote place like this.

Unfortunately, the average campground is filled with rambunctious kids jumping and screaming in the pool or riding pell-mell past you on their bicycles. Not exactly the pleasant, relaxing scenario you had in mind. For me, a senior resort is the way to go.

That’s why I love the Lake Forest Resort in central New Hampshire. There are seasonal residents who come from Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, Florida and other overly hot southern areas. There are weekenders who live within a 2 or 3-hour driving distance and look forward to the day they can retire and be in Lake Forest for the whole summer. Then, there are individual RVers and now and then, RV rallies on the rally field. It makes a great blend of retirees and almost-retirees enjoying the delightful New England spring, summer, and colorful autumn.

Below is an example of the park models that you can buy in the resort. Only one is for sale at the moment, but you can work with the resort’s owners to order a new one to place on a lot of your choice. You can even own the lot. Most RV resorts only rent their spaces. This cottage is for sale for $73,000. It’s furnished, and only a few years old. It has central air, but one seldom needs that in the cool woods of New Hampshire.


This cottage is for sale for $73,000. It’s furnished, and only a few years old. It has central air, but one seldom needs that in the cool woods of New Hampshire.

For more reasons to like Lake Forest Resort and summers in New Hampshire, browse through the various topics on this blog. You won’t be able to resist this scenic area.




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Posted in Lake Forest Resort

One More Project

Some people love having a project to plan and execute. My husband falls into that mindset. Me? I’m quite happy to put my feet up and read a good book.

About three summers ago, he constructed a ground-level deck with planter boxes along one side. It makes a great place for me to relax under the shade of the gazebo with my book. I enjoy trying out varied plants and flowers in the additional planting space too.

His woodworking project this summer was to add to this ground-level deck with a short, raised walkway over to our raised deck. He had most of the supplies (boards and screws) already on hand. That made it a quick, one-afternoon project.

drill deck

Making the walkway

I’m the designated helper, to hold a board in place while he is sawing or to fetch a tool from the shed. The finished walkway turned out fine and now, I can go back to my gardening and my reading.



Wooden walkway from lower deck to upper deck.


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Lake Cottage – A Home by the Water

Making the Most of a Lake Home

Living by a lake is something many people dream of. There’s something about being near the water that contributes to a feeling of well-being. Seeing the lake is special at different times of day, going out on the water in a boat or canoe, and watching the birds, wildlife, vegetation, and weather.

If you’re lucky enough to be living this dream, here are some tips on decorating and maintaining that lake house. It may be a cottage or a mansion, but time at the lake is a treat for the whole family.


Amphibious plane and various boats at a lake cottage in New Hampshire. (photo by Virginia Allain)


Make Your Cottage Inviting Inside

On HGTV, you see home stagers prepping a house for selling. Those same staging techniques are useful in preparing your lake cottage for visitors or just for your own comfort. Walk through the house looking at all angles as though you’ve never seen it before.

hebert park model (32)

This comfortable futon sofa converts to a bed when guests arrive.

Note the things that need fixing and try rearranging some of the furniture for a better flow. What has gotten shabby? You can replace it, refinish it, or just call it the shabby chic look.

If space is limited, opt for furniture that can do double duty like the futon sofa above. Think of coffee tables that double as storage space, for instance. We have bench seats to go with our dining table. The seat lifts up so you can store placemats, napkins and tablecloths in it.

I like to decorate with found objects like rocks from the shore, some bird feathers that I find on my walks, and my own photos.


Blue jay feather (photo by Virginia Allain)

For a splurge, look for local artists at a craft fair and decorate your space with an original painting of your lake or a woven hanging of an egret or a carving of a loon.



  • Hosting Visitors in a Cottage
    If you have a summer home, a weekend cottage or rent a place for a vacation, chances are you like to entertain visitors there. I have some tips to help you prepare for house guests. It’s time to get ready.
  • Decorate a Lake Cottage on a Budget
    A cottage at the lake or cabin in the woods can be a relaxing place to get away. Don’t spend a fortune decorating it when casual accessories delight the eye and fit the vacation theme. Here are some ways to achieve this for just pennies.
  • Woods Cottage: Caring for a Home in the Forest
    A cabin or house in a wooded setting requires some extra care. Here are tips for such a situation with solutions for your problems. Moss on the roof? Squirrels in the attic? Bears in the garbage?
  • Closing Your Summer Home
    Tips for securing your outdoor gear and prepping the cottage for the winter.
Posted in Care of Summer Place

The Ossipee Valley Music Festival

If you missed this marvelous festival last year, you’ll want to get it on your calendar right away. Here’s your reminder to get on their mailing list or like their Facebook page so you can catch this marvelous festival this summer. It’s July 28 – 31 for 2016.

You can go for one day or for all four and even camp at the festival. It’s just an hour away, over in Hiram, Maine. We took our RV to get the full musical saturation. The camping was $10 a day for electricity and water. You pay for the festival separately. Our camp site was close enough to the main stage, that we could sit under our awning in our deck chairs and hear the music just fine.

There were several smaller, more-intimate stages, but this was the Maine Stage for the bigger performers.

There were several smaller, more intimate stages, but this was the Maine Stage for the bigger performers.

The music is folk, bluegrass, world music, or variations on all of those. I’m especially a fan of Celtic music and there were several sets of that. There are dances almost every evening.


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Musicians at the Ossippee Valley Music Festival. (photos by Virginia Allain)

If the sound of a fiddle starts your toe to tapping and a string band brings a smile to your face, don’t miss this music festival. Grab some folding lawn chairs or a blanket and go. There’s plenty of festival food booths or you can take a picnic with you.

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Posted in Events, Fun