Preserving the Bounty in the Berkshires

Preserving the Bounty: Canning, Pickling and Keeping the Harvest

Berkshire Grown’s Preserve Exchange will take place at the Great Barrington Farmers’ Market in Great Barrington on Saturday, October 15th from 11am-1pm. Join other families in a community exchange of home-preserved goods.(Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

With six canning and preserving workshops in August completed and another six to come in September, Berkshire Grown is demonstrating its commitment to the resurgence of the lost art of preserving food. Preserving the Bounty: Canning, Pickling and Keeping the Harvest is a series of fun and educational community workshops coordinated in partnership with more than a dozen Berkshire restaurants, food purveyors and partners.

The workshops teach participants procedures to safely preserve food with hands-on experience under the leadership of local experts. Preserving the Bounty presents demonstrations and information on preserving fruits, vegetables and herbs using techniques including freezing, canning, pickling and drying, as well as making salsas, sauces and ketchup.  In addition to classes on canning and preserving, Berkshire Grown will host a food swap in October.

Berkshire Grown’s Preserve Exchange, a celebration of Preserving the Bounty will take place on Saturday, October 15th from 11 am – 1 pm at the Great Barrington Farmers’ Market. Community members are encouraged to stop by and exchange their home-preserved goods with other home canners. This free exchange presents an opportunity to taste and take home other canner’s recipes and share personal favorites.

September Workshops:

Saturday, September 10th (4 – 5 pm) – Berkshire Co-op Market in Great Barrington will host Let’s Can with Community Cooperative Farm. The workshop will feature zucchini bread-and-butter pickles, sauerkraut and blueberry jam and is free to the community. RSVP at mattn@berkshire.coop or 413-528-9697.

Saturday, September 10th (2 pm) – Hancock Shaker Village in Pittsfield will present a Return and Learn Event: Canning 101. Led by Danielle Steinmann, associate director of interpretation at HSV, the ingredients will be sourced from the CSA at Hancock Shaker Village. The event is free for HSV members or with HSV admission. RSVP at DSteinmann@hancockshakervillage.org or 413-443-0188 x274.

Read the rest of this entry »

Nan’s Post-Hurricane Irene Report

Post-Hurricane Irene Report

So I went down to Shelburne Falls to see all the looters. Big shopping baskets full of well-made crafts being pushed up the hills, disappearing into random houses – but there weren’t any. And I thought, “BOY, these people DO NOT know ANYTHING about hurricanes!”

The only person I saw get in trouble was a guy who walked across the iron bridge when it was blocked off. The cop kind of acted like he had stolen the bridge – he was darn sarcastic in his questioning about why the man thought he was better than anyone else and could walk across the roped-off bridge, but even then the mocked pedestrian was quiet and respectful in his answers. He didn’t shoot anyone, didn’t scream or do anything that would actually get him arrested. I don’t know about this place. Before the next hurricane I’m going to have to whip you guys into hurricane shape!

And so you can now add to your list of things not to trust:

  1. Creeks
  2. Hurricane forecasters who tell you EXACTLY what is going to happen! Because THEY DON’T KNOW! Hurricanes are capricious as creeks and, when you are looking for wind, they’ll turn a creek into a bulldozer. When a cataclysm is forecast for New York City, they’ll tiptoe past that and move an innocent quilt shop that never hurt anyone to the brink of a dam just for fun.

Read the rest of this entry »

Spoken Word: Teens Define Responsibility

Defining Responsibility

My ultimate goal as a teacher was to turn teens on to themselves and to guide each of them to their own unique value in this world. One of the paths that I chose to accomplish this was through the texts that we explored.

In my last post, I illustrated how each of the “four obstacles” that Paulo Coelho expresses in his book, The Alchemist , could be applied to our own lives. One of the other books that I loved to teach from was Into The Wild, by Jon Krakauer, as I found that the themes and life lessons expressed within would be of much value to my 11th and 12th grade students.

One of the major themes I cover while teaching Into The Wild is that of Responsibility. Inevitably the class breaks into two factions: those who believe that the protagonist, Christopher McCandless, died on his journey in Alaska because he was irresponsible and reckless, and those who admire him for his courage and independent nature and blame his death simply on an unfortunate accident.

Trying to get teenagers to speak effectively on topics that they are passionate about can be quite the task, as they tend to simply rant narrow-mindedly about their viewpoint without any real meaty substance to support their opinion. In all discussions, I take the middle ground, many times playing devil’s advocate while instigating arguments for both sides of the coin. Especially when it comes to discussing their thoughts on “responsibility”, I try to get them to think deeper than their surface level which is mostly made up of ideals they’ve learned from their parents or peers, or their stubborn denouncements of those very ideals.

Today during this class discussion, all of the above is being highlighted, and the volume is getting louder and the voices more animated by the minute.

In a brief moment of regrouping, one of my students raises her hand.

“What exactly does responsibility mean, anyway?” she asks. “I mean, who’s to say that what you deem responsible I won’t deem careless. For example, I’m sure that Chris believed that he was being responsible as he trekked out into the wild of Alaska alone, but I just think he was ignorant to the power of nature and was simply gambling with his life. So, how do we truly define responsibility?”

These are the moments that I relish, when the student becomes the teacher.

“How many of you define responsibility with a positive connotation?” I ask.

Out of fifteen students, only three have their hands raised.

This brings us to the next question.

“For those of you not raising your hands, why do you view responsibility as a negative ideal?”

In an instant, hands shoot into the air… Read the rest of this entry »

Our Daughters: CyberDRAMA

Why Girls Need to Learn About CyberDRAMA, Not Just CyberBULLYING

If it bleeds, it leads: it’s a popular saying in journalism that refers to our attraction to sensational, often violent headlines. As an anti-bullying educator, I have seen something similar: we tend to focus on the most extreme levels of bullying as a way to teach and build awareness.

The problem is that most kids are not bullied in such dramatic ways. Yet almost every child experiences day-to-day aggression. If we only teach intervention strategies for the worst crimes, we don’t teach kids to cope with the daily injustices. We imply that only the most extreme aggression is problematic, while other behaviors – like saying “just kidding” after you do something mean, or giving someone the silent treatment – are unavoidable rites of passage. Lacking the tools to deal with these smaller infractions, kids are more vulnerable to the “flare-ups” of extreme behavior.

This same emphasis on extremes is evident in the anti-cyberbullying world. Most of what’s out there for parents and girls focuses on what to do when the building is already on fire. But what about preventing the fire in the first place?

I’ve spent several years traveling around the country talking with students about how to avoid drama – by which I mean conflict – online. It’s worth mentioning that I rarely use the word “cyberbullying” in my assemblies. That’s because of what I call “cyberbullying fatigue:” many kids have been lectured already about what to do if they are bullied online. While fatigue is a happy sign of the success of anti-cyberbullying initiatives, it also points to the need for more textured education about digital citizenship.

As the girls in your life prepare to begin their school year, consider sharing some of these tips on avoiding drama online. You can find several more girl-friendly video tips in my BFF 2.0 series.

If you wouldn’t say it, don’t send it.

When they are upset, girls type things they would never say to someone’s face. Surges of panic and anger lead to impulsive messages that leave smoldering holes in relationships.

I give girls two tips to avoid making this mistake:
Read the rest of this entry »

Q&A: Hair Cuts in Western MA

QUESTION AND ANSWERS


Any recommendations on a good place to get a hair cut in Western MA? For kids and/or adults?

  • Tinky Weisblat recommends, “Mary at Mary’s Hair Studio in Shelburne Falls was fabulous with my nephew, who HATES having his hair cut.”
  • Kate Thompson Bader recommends, “We are taking Max to Daisy Doo’s & Dudes (Wilbraham, MA) on Saturday for his first haircut!”
  • Amanda Saklad recommends, “We go to Allure Studio 442 Hair Nails & Tanning in Belchertown – Melissa is the Best!!”
  • Kim Robert recommends, “Hair Express & Day Spa in Pittsfield.”
  • Judy Bennett recommends, “Hubby and DS go to Chet’s Barbershop- they’re great with kids (boys). I see Cathy at Elizabeth Alison’s Salon next to Pete’s Seafood- both in Greenfield.”
  • Amy Meltzer recommends, “Damn Good Haircuts in Northampton is $5 for kids. We see Katherine and she does a nice job and is very patient.”
  • Laura Hoffman recommends, “Marche for Hair on Market Street (Northampton, MA) kids and adults!”
  • Pauline Delton recommends, “I’ve been supporting the local salon school. For me, that’s Kay Harvey Hairdressing Academy in West Springfield. $5 or $6 for a haircut. They might not be as fast if they need to check in with an instructor, but the vibe is great, it feels good to be helping… others learn (and as an aspiring midwife, I know how much I appreciate folks letting me practice things on them!), and it’s really inexpensive. I’ve seen them do children’s hair, so I think it would just depend on whether you’re comfortable having your child sit for longer than usual.
  • Deanna Roux recommends, ‎”Station 5 Salon (Belchertown, MA) offers big city modern style at reasonable prices. The salon is also very community-driven and participates in town events. I always feel good when I leave there!!”
  • Erin Burke Murphy recommends, “The Lift in Easthampton is great.”
  • Jaimee Roncone recommends, “My kids get theirs cut with Lisa at Lisa’s Hair Shop in Easthampton…love the cuts.”
  • Kelly Torza recommends, “Lynne’s Hilltown Haircare in Williamsburg.”
  • Lisa Roberge recommends, “Pam’s Kickin’ Cuts on the corner of King and Trumbull in Northampton. Huge talent, they listen to what you say and super cheap.”
  • Dawn Hansen Kempf recommends, “Lindsay at L Salon in Greenfield is great.”

[Photo credit: (ccl) Tattooed JJ]

Nick Deysher Guest DJ Episode: Hilltown Family Variety Show (Podcast/Radio Show)

Nick Deysher Guest DJ Show

♬ Listen Now ♬

Saturday from 9-10am & Sunday from 7-8am
Aug  27th & 28th 2011
WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio
Northampton, MA

Featured Video: “The Dinosaur Song: by Nick Deysher. www.inthenickoftimemusic.com


PodcastsRadio Archives Subscribe Myspace Facebook Twitter

Nick Deysher Guest DJ Playlist

  • Station Id: Steve Weeks [www.steveweeksmusic.com]
  • “Let’s Start Dancing” by The Flannery Brothers [Love Songs for Silly Things]
  • “1-2-3 Sesame Street” by Stevie Wonder [Songs From The Street: 35 Years of Music]
  • “Jelly Man Kelly” by James Taylor, [In Harmony]
  • “Pamajas” by Livingston Taylor, [In Harmony]
  • “Can You Picture That?” by Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem [The Muppet Movie Soundtrack]
  • “Making Silly Faces” by In The Nick of Time [Making Silly Faces]
  • “Going to the Zoo” by Raffi [Singable Songs for the Very Young]
  • “At the Codfish Ball” by John Lithgow [Singing in the Bathtub]
  • “Me and Julio” by Paul Simon [Songs From The Street: 35 Years of Music]
  • “Huptsha Huptsh” by – The Jimmies [Make Your Own Someday]
  • “Slumber Party” by In The Nick of Time [Making Silly Faces]
  • “African Alphabet” by Ladysmith Black Mambazo [Songs From The Street: 35 Years of Music]
  • “Fort” by Recess Monkey [Field Trip]
  • “Walk Tall” by Ziggy Marley and Paul Simon [Family Time]
  • “Fire Truck” by Ivan Ulz [Fire Truck]
  • “The Wake-Up Song” by The Flannery Brothers [Move Over Lullabies… Here Come Wake-Up Songs]
  • “Pinball Number Count” by The Pointer Sisters [Songs From The Street: 35 Years of Music]
  • “Evolve” by David Banner
  • “The Goodbye Song” by In The Nick of Time [Coconut Groove

FeaturedMusic

  • Alastair Moock – “Born to Dance” [These Are My Friend]
  • The Jimmies – “Wash Up” [Practically Ridiculous]

Nan’s Hurricane Irene Report Update

Hurricane Irene Report Update

You know how much I love going overboard, well, you know this Cajun music festival we’re having on Thursday, September 1st with Joel Savoy and David Greely? Well, I just wanted you to get the full effect of the whole Louisiana atmosphere in late August, so we’re bringing this hurricane up to flavor the experience!

But I would also like to say that if a hurricane takes out this house over August 28th and 29th, then I am just going to avoid August 28ths and 9ths from here on out.

So I’m still not whooped up, but I am paying attention and you know, the great thing about hurricanes is that you don’t freeze to death when the power goes out, unlike in an ice storm.

Doug Field of the Ashfield Select Board just called a meeting to talk about what he knows and here’s what he got today in a 12:30pm conference call with FEMA and MEMA: (And remember, it’s their job to prepare you for the worst scenario, so here that is.)

  • Where: The whole state will be affected. The eye is expected to fall between Worcester and Boston. We’re on the west side, which is always the worst side of a hurricane. (We try to always do things right!)
  • When: Beginning late Saturday night, lasting all day Sunday.
  • Rain: They expect 5 – 12 inches of rain. Possibility of flooding, but Doug and Tom Poissant opened the dam on Ashfield Lake so that it could go down and be ready to refill.
  • Wind: with winds 60 – 80 mph. After the eye passes over the winds could go from 70 – 90 mph. A possibility of tornados.
  • How big: It should land in Connecticut as a Category 2 hurricane, and by the time it reaches here it should weaken to a Category 1 or a Tropical Storm.
  • And so: Gov. Patrick has already declared the state in a State of Emergency as of 1pm today, and has requested people not travel after 6pm on Saturday night. And that’s a good idea, since we don’t have to evacuate.

The Ashfield Fire Station will be open as a command center and they are looking to have Sanderson Academy open as a shelter, if need be.

But the thing you really might have to worry about is flying stuff – big stuff. Read the rest of this entry »

Suggested Events for Aug 27th-Sep 2nd, 2011

Discover fun and educational events happening this week in Western Mass, along with announcements, upcoming events, links, resources and the HFVS podcast.

SUGGEST AN EVENT

"The Biggest and Best Little Fair in the Country" starts this Thursday afternoon and happens through the weekend, August 25th-28th! - UPDATE: Cummington Fair gates close Saturday evening at 6PM and will be CLOSED SUNDAY. Exhibitors can pick up their entries on Monday anytime between 9-11am or 5-7pm. - (Bird Brains 4-H @ the Fair. Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Suggest EventIf you have a family friendly event or educational program happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, post your event on our “Suggest An Event” page. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these events are happening, along with time, place, age appropriateness and costs before attending.

Enhanced PublicityServing Western Massachusetts since 2005, Hilltown Families supports development and enhancement of our local economy and community! Local businesses, individuals, schools and non-profits are encouraged to support Hilltown Families through sponsorship and enhanced publicity.  Let us help get the word out about your event, camp, workshop, fundraiser, business or announcement. Deliver your message to thousands of families living throughout Western Massachusetts while supporting the work of Hilltown Families. Click HERE to find out more.

BEST BETS

Starting today and going through the weekend, August 25th-28th  – CUMMINGTON FAIR: The 143rd Annual Cummington Fair happens at the Cummington Fairgrounds. With one of the most comprehensive agricultural presentations in the state, the fair is billed as “The Biggest And Best Little Fair in the Country”. This family friendly, four-day agricultural fair is packed with exhibits, family activities, delicious food, classic cars and live music. Truck, horse and oxen pulls headline the fair along with a demolition derby, and the Western Mass Logging Championship. And the fun doesn’t stop there-families can also enjoy midway, games, roving entertainers, live music, petting zoo, 4-H presentations, skid steer rodeo, square dancing and community dinners. Find a full schedule of events at www.cummingtonfair.com. 413-634-5091. Fairground Rd. Cummington, MA ($) [UPDATE: Cummington Fair gates close this evening at 6pm and will be closed on Sunday. Exhibitors can pick up their entries on Monday anytime between 9-11am or 5-7pm.]

On Saturday, August 27th from 12noon – 5pm – HARVEST CELEBRATION: Visit Red Fire Farm for their annual amazing Tomato Festival! The event begins with the Tomato 5K at 10:30, followed by live music, workshops, food from guest chefs, kids activities, vendors, and tomato tasting all afternoon! Local music, local artists, local food! 413-467-7645. 7 Carver Street. Granby, MA. (<$)

Later in the day on Saturday, August 27th at 5pm – BIRDS: Interested in learning more about the beaks, wings, feet, and nests of your feathered friends? You can at the DAR State Forest! The program, called All About Birds, will teach kids fun facts about bird life. 413-268-7098. 78 Cape Street. Goshen, MA. (FREE) (CANCELED DUE TO HURRICANE IRENE)

MARK YOUR CALENDARS

On Saturday, Sept 3rd from 9:30am-5pm – HISTORY: Family Fun Days at Old Sturbridge Village take place this weekend!  The village is buzzing with fun activities and learning opportunities for families, and there will be fireworks tonight!  800-SEE-1830.  1 Old Sturbridge Village Road.  Sturbridge, MA.  ($)

Beginning next Sunday, Sept 4th from 10am-5pm – CORN MAZE: Visit Warner Farm’s corn maze- the one and only original!  There are tons of activities at the farm besides the maze, too!  413-665-8331. 23 South Main Street.  Sunderland, MA.  ($)

BULLETIN BOARD

CIRCUS ARTS CLASSES: A new session of weekday kid’s circus classes will begin on September 12th at SHOW Circus Studio in Easthampton. We will work on trapeze, fabric, juggling, tumbling, human pyramids, tight wire, rolla bolla, globe and more. Circus is a great way to increase self esteem, have fun, get in shape, improve focus and learn new skills. Classes for students new to circus will be held on Tuesdays (Ages 5-7, 4-5pm and ages 8+, 5-6pm). A teen class will be held on Thursdays (ages 12-15, 5-6pm). Continuing students are able to choose from classes on Thursdays (age 5-7, 4-5pm), Level 2 classes on Monday (ages 7-11, 3:30-4:30pm), or the Level 3 classes on Mondays & Wednesdays (ages 8+, 4:30-6pm). Registration is available online at www.showcircusstudio.com.

Enhanced PublicitySPONSORSHIP & ADVERTISING: Reach thousands of families in Western MA while supporting the work of Hilltown Families. Let us help get the word out about your event, camp, workshop, fundraiser, business or announcement. Find out more about our Enhanced Publicity options and how we can help with your marketing.

PreK SOCCER PLAYDATE: Interested in a morning pickup soccer playdate for your preK kids during the weekday? Angela Mulkerin is organizing an informal soccer playdate in the Florence/Northampton area for kids up through 4yo and their parent/caregiver.  Once a week (beginning the week of Sept 5th) parents and their kids can come together to kick around the soccer ball, working on cooperation skills and “playing nice.” Anyone who is interested can email Angela at angelamulkerin@gmail.com.

Amanda Saklad writes, “I would like to start a clothing swap – any interest? or is there one already going somewhere? I have size 5 boys and size 8-10 girls clothes to offer, and I am needing size 12-14 boys and size 12-14 girls. any suggestions? I don’t (and can’t) buy new school wardrobes for the kiddos.” Leave comments HERE.

VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITY: It Takes a Village is offering a volunteer training!  The organization works to help support families during their first three months with a newborn baby- It Takes a Village supports a community approach to raising children.  Volunteers are placed with families and make home visits once a week to help with household tasks like dishes and meals, spend time with older children, etc.  There will be two training sessions, both of which will have free childcare.  For more information, visit itavillage.com or call 413-634-5431.

HOME BUYING: Are you hoping to soon be a first-time home buyer?  Are you overwhelmed or confused by all there is to know about all the steps there are to take before a house is actually yours to call home?  The Hilltown CDC is hosting a series of free workshops for those interested in buying their first home- the workshops are intended to ease confusion and to help answer questions and boost home-buying confidence!  There will be speakers including a realtor, lender, home inspector, attorney, and an insurance agent- all of whom can offer a wealth of information!  The workshops will take place from 6-8:30 on September 13th, 14th, 20th, and 21st at the Cummington Community House.  To register, call 413-296-4536.

HILLTOWN FAMILY VARIETY SHOW: Guest DJ, Nick Deysher

Hilltown Family Variety Show

Nick Deysher guest DJs the Hilltown Family Variety Show this weekend, spinning tunes by The Flannery Brothers, Livingston Taylor, The Jimmies, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Recess Monkey, Ivan Ulz, and many others, including music by his own band, In the Nick of Time.

Tune in every Saturday from 9-10am. Encore episodes are aired every Sunday from 7-8am. Families have several ways to tune in to the Hilltown Family Variety Show:

  • Streaming Audio: Surf on over to ValleyFreeRadio.org on Saturday & Sunday mornings and listen to us live via streaming audio.
  • On Your FM Dial: Tune in to WXOJ 103.3FM if you live near Northampton, MA.
  • Podcast: Listen to the most recent episodes of the Hilltown Family Variety Show anytime you wish! Click here to see our current select of episodes, and be sure to subscribe to our podcast too!

LIST OF WEEKLY SUGGESTED EVENTS:
Aug 27th-Sep 2nd, 2011

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Suggest an Event | Forecast | Museum Passes | Farmers’ Markets | Weekly eNewsletter

Read the rest of this entry »

Berkshire Family Fun: One Last Hurrah Before Back-to-School

End of August in the Berkshires

Music fills the air in the Berkshires this week ranging from free lawn concerts in North Adams and Lenox, to on stage in Pittsfield, North Adams and Great Barrington. (Photo source: Mass Moca; Roomful of Teeth)

The natives are getting restless. The war cries signaling that two brothers have had enough “together time” this summer resonates throughout the house. A drum beats slowly and methodically in my head as I reach for the bottle of ibuprofen to stave off yet another kid-induced migraine — peace drums here, not a chance — while I ready myself to intervene in the latest battle between these warrior brothers: “I will not bet you a dollar that I can be quiet all the way home because you didn’t pay me the dollar last time I won a bet” … “Well, I didn’t pay you because you cheated.” … “I didn’t cheat, a yawn doesn’t count as talking.” … “Well, two years ago when I yawned during the bet you counted that as talking.” … And on and on it goes. And then the smoke signals appear from my seething 12-year-old daughter’s ears (her summer has been spent either loving me or hating me, there seems to be no in between these days), and for the moment she does not like the fact that I have asked her to change out of the short-shorts that are slowly creeping up her backside because she has grown over two inches since they were purchased in May.

This can only mean one thing: TIME FOR THE KIDDOS TO HEAD BACK TO SCHOOL! You know what else signals the end of summer and the beginning of another school year? The fact that family-friendly activities that once filled our summer calendars are slowly coming to an end. But there’s still more year-round fun to be had in the Berkshires and I am on a mission to find it all. Here’s what I’ve found so far:

STILL TIME TO BBQ

Start your weekend off right with a family-friendly outdoor barbecue where kids can play and parents can socialize. Berkshire South Regional Community Center on Crissey Road in Great Barrington is hosting a barbecue this Friday, Aug. 26, from 5:30-7 p.m., in their outdoor courtyard complete with hotdogs, hamburgers and more. For a small fee family members can grab a bite to eat, spend some time on the play structure or bounce around in the bouncy castle. All one has to do is sign up at the front desk or call 413-528-2810. For more information visit www.berkshiresouth.org.

Can’t make the barbecue? The community center will also host a Community Supper Mon, Aug. 29, from 5 to 7 p.m. in the lounge and meeting room. This supper, with seatings at 5 and 6:15 p.m. is free (monetary donations or donations of nonperishable foods are excepted) and features a fabulous meal prepared by some of the Berkshires’ finest chefs, including Naji Nejaime (Naji’s), chefs from the Route 7 Grill, Annie Dinan (Dinan with Annie), Jim Gop (Guido’s), Michael Ballon (Castle Street Café), the Berkshire CoOp, Tommy Lee, and the Masiero Brothers (Guido’s and Baba Louie’s). To reserve a seat call 413-528-2810, ext. 10.

OUTDOOR MOVIES

If the increased wearing of sweatshirts and layers are any indication that the end of summer is near then so, too, are the last of the outdoor movies. Today, Thursday, Aug. 25, at 5:30 p.m. the Norman Rockwell Museum will screen “Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs,” in Stockbridge. For more information go online to www.nrm.org.

Then on Friday, Aug. 26, the town of Adams will celebrate Christmas in August with activities and a visit from Santa beginning at 6 p.m., followed by an 8 p.m. screening of “The Polar Express.” For more information visit www.celebrateadams.com.

The last of the movies on the summer schedule is set for Sunday, Aug. 28, on the Dalton CRA lawn, Main Street, Dalton, where a screening of “The Incredibles” will help celebrate Back to School Movie Night. The movie will begin at 8 p.m. Visit www.daltoncra.org for more details.

HISTORY IN THE AREA

If you have read any of my previous columns you will know that I’ve had a little infatuation lately with teaching my children about local history and, surprisingly, I have found that a cemetery is a treasure trove of historical information. Apparently the members of VOICES Theatre Company have found another use for the area’s cemeteries: performance space. Tonight Aug. 25, and also on Sept. 1 and 8 the company will perform “Shades of the Revolution: A Ghostly Re-Enactment of People, Places and Scenes from Pittsfield’s Past,” with actors dramatizing key scenes from Pittsfield’s colorful early history at the Wahconah Street Cemetery at 7 p.m. There is a small fee, but it sounds intriguing, for lack of a better word. For more information 413-442-1793 or pittsfield250.com for more information.

GOTTA LOVE ACTIVITIES FOR FREE

I love the fact that there is so much to do around the Berkshires that will entertain the entire family while leaving your bank accounts virtually untouched. I’ve discussed various free hiking opportunities throughout the Berkshires, and let me tell you the small price of a $2 parking pass was definitely worth the trip we took to Natural Bridge Stage Park in North Adams last week.

From local parks, to free community days at local museums and venues, to a plethora of art galleries and historic sites throughout the area, there is never a lack of something to do at anytime of the year. And if I wasn’t heading to Boston today for a much-needed parental vacation with my husband I would definitely be capitalizing on one of these free opportunities, Friday, Aug. 26, with my family. From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield will offer free admission as part of the highland Street Foundation’s Free Fun Fridays. With myriad opportunities to view a variety of geckos, create an invention of one’s own, partake in an archeological dig, journey under the sea (lake, stream or river) and more, this is definitely a free activity you won’t want to miss. For more information visit www.berkshiremuseum.org or call 413-443-7171.

Another free activity for families, besides a hike on any one of the trails leading up to Mount Greylock’s summit (I still haven’t gotten to the Cascades in the Greylock Reservation, but summers not over yet), is the Aug. 31 “Guide to Understanding the Stars” with Kevin Collins beginning at Bascom Lodge atop the mountain at 6 p.m. Sounds pretty interesting, if the forecast is for clear skies that night our family just might take a short vertical drive that evening. Call 413-743-1591 for more details.

Read the rest of this entry »

A Day at the Local Swimming Hole

Nothing Like a Swim

Swimming at DAR in Goshen

Swimming at the DAR in Goshen, MA (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Summer for us means a few trips away, a week of camp for each boy and many days of waking up in the morning and figuring out the day based on an algorithm of weather, health and how much energy the boys need to expend versus what I have to balance with work commitments.

It is hard to explain but easy to do. The upshot is swimming. All weather being fair, we calculate the amount of time we have for the project and then I pack snacks.

Swimming at Plainfield Pond

Cooling off at Plainfield Pond in Plainfield, MA. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

When I have just a little time, we go directly to Northampton’s Musante Beach (Leeds, MA). For just a few dollars – or about $60 for the summer (depending on if you are a town resident or not), we can enjoy a life-guarded beach portion of the Mill River. The water is cold and clear. The current is unnoticeable unless like me you notice that it keeps the water nice and clean.

For all you parents, yes to bathrooms and life jackets, if you prefer them. Also, yes to the occasional ice cream truck- arm yourself with a few singles…if your kids are little you will enjoy how close the parking is to the spot where your kids will get to start playing.

Given a few more hours, we are likely to head to Puffers Pond near UMASS in Amherst. The kids love this oversized pond. Its water is perfect swimming temperature- chilled only when you get in and out. There is not that much sand to play with at the pond but it is nicely packed in for kids who like to drive their trucks around.

Sand Castles at DAR

Building sand castles at DAR in Goshen, MA (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

For parents of swimmers, there is no lifeguard on duty- or as I tell my kids, mama is on duty.  The upside side- yes to water wings, inflatable rings, rafts, pool noodles! You can even put in a canoe or kayak. Head’s up to parents: it can be a bit of a hike from roadside parking to parked on your blanket & there are port-a-pottties only.  It is all worth it, to find yourself in a sweet New England swimming hole.

Other places we land for a swim are the DAR (Goshen, MA) and our beloved Hampshire YMCA (Northampton, MA) on off weather days.

What about you? Where do you go when you want to jump in a lake?


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Karen Bayne

Karen grew up in Manhattan and lived in Connecticut before moving to Northampton with her husband Matt to raise their boys. Her sons Isaac, Henry and Theo are 11, 6 and 4,  leaving Karen on a search for all the “just right adventures” that will wow them and wear them out.  She works as a birth doula, childbirth and parent educator in the greater Northampton area. She writes about mothering at Needs New Batteries and about birth in our culture at Gentle Balance Birth.

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Are your children’s back to school supplies safe?

Make sure your children’s back to school supplies are safe & PVC free!

Did you know your child’s school supplies may be loaded with toxic PVC plastic? Go PVC-free this Back to School Season with their free guide.

The Center For Health, Environment and Justice (CHEJ) has created a Back-to-School Guide to PVC-Free School Supplies allowing parents and children healthier and safer options when it comes to choosing school supplies. CHEJ’s product list of PVC-free items include:

  • backpacks
  • binders
  • notebooks
  • lunch boxes, food wrappers & dishware
  • raincoats
  • shoes
  • art supplies
  • clothes
  • electronics
  • and more

Click here to download their free guide.

The Science of Making Butter

MAKING BUTTER
by Robert Krampf

My Grandmother is going to have her 103rd birthday this month. I have been thinking about how much the world has changed during her life. Imagine only having fruits and vegetables when they were in season. Imagine no computers, no television, no air conditioning, no refrigerators. This time we are going to step back in time a bit, and make our own butter.

To try this delicious treat, you will need

  • a small container of heavy whipping cream
  • a glass jar with a tight fitting lid

If you have never made butter, these instructions may sound strange, but trust me, it works wonderfully. The first thing to do is to let the cream sit on the counter, at room temperature, for about 12 hours. I put it out on the counter after supper, and I had freshly made butter on my toast the next morning.

After letting the cream sit, pour it into the glass jar. Don’t worry if it has a slightly sour smell. Put the lid on the jar. Now we have to shake the jar, but we don’t want to just start shaking it wildly. We want to watch what is happening. Give it one good hard shake about once every second. Watch carefully. For the first few minutes, not much will happen. Then suddenly, you will feel something solid hit the jar when you shake it. Look inside and you will see a large lump of butter. Give it a few more hard jolts and your butter should be ready.

Open the jar and look carefully. Around the butter is a thin, white liquid, which is commonly known as buttermilk. If you have ever had buttermilk biscuits, this is what they are made with. Pour off the buttermilk and add some cold water to the jar. Swirl it around a bit and then pour it off. Repeat this a few times, until the water remains clear. Drain all the water and put the lump of butter into a small bowl.

At this point, you have sweet cream butter, which is wonderful on hot bread or fresh biscuits. If you prefer salted butter, simply sprinkle some salt into the butter and stir it in. At this point, treat the butter just as you would the butter you get from the store.

That was quite yummy, but how and why did it work? First, we have to know a bit about milk. If you have ever been lucky enough to have milk fresh from the cow, you know that if you let it sit for a while, the cream floats to the top. That is because milk contains lots of tiny globules of milk fat, each surrounded by a thin membrane. Imagine tiny balloons filled with butter instead of air. Because the milk fat (butter) is lighter than the liquid, they tend to float. The cream that rises to the top is really a very high concentration of these fat globules floating on the milk. The milk from the grocery does not do this because it has been homogenized, a process that makes the fat globules small enough to keep them mixed evenly in the milk.

We left the cream out of the refrigerator overnight for two reasons. First, it helps the fat in the globules to form crystals. These crystals will help to break the membrane when we shake the cream. Imagine a water balloon with shards of glass inside. One jolt would cause the glass to slice through the balloon. That is what we want to happen.

Letting the cream sit at room temperature does something else. It allows lactic acid bacteria to grow. We think of bacteria as a bad thing, but many of them are quite useful. These bacteria make the cream more acidic, which prevents the growth of harmful bacteria. They also produce chemicals that give the butter a stronger and richer flavor.

When you shake the cream, some of the globules slam into the glass and break open. Soon, the cream is filled with tiny globs of butter. As these tiny bits of butter bump into each other, they stick together. The lumps of butter get larger and larger, as more and more globules are ripped open. Very quickly, you have one large lump of butter and a small amount of liquid buttermilk. I was amazed at how little liquid was left once the butter formed.

You will probably notice that the color of your butter is more pale that the stuff you buy at the store. Some manufacturers add yellow color, but a lot depends on what the cows are eating. Cows that eat grass get lots of a chemical called carotene, which adds a yellow color to the butter.

Of course, the true test of your butter is a fresh, hot biscuit, or some crusty French bread, or some nice pancakes, or some…. well, you get the idea.


Reprinted with permission. © 2008. Robert Krampf’s Science Education

Q&A: Wacky But Useful Parenting Advice

QUESTION AND ANSWERS

"When the baby cries non-stop and you can't figure out why, check for hairs wrapped around toes."

What’s the wackiest but most useful advice you’ve ever received as a parent?

  • Gayle White recalls, “Feed her when she’s hungry, she’ll stop when she’s full. (Maybe not so wacky but given all the crazy ideas for feeding our kids, this one worked with no residual food issues.).”
  • Kosse Feral recalls, “Throw out the clock.”
  • Candy Bird Laflam recalls, “Don’t change the diaper in the middle of the night.”
  • Rebecca Plona Peterson recalls, “When she’s having a night terror, put her feet in cold water.”
  • Robert P. Ross recalls, “It’s ok to say no, and sometimes answer the question why… Because I say so.”
  • Pranee Malin Terry recalls, “When the baby cries non-stop and you can’t figure out why, check for hairs wrapped around toes.”
  • Maureen Cooper MacPhail recalls, “A and D ointment for everything skin related…it’s good advice. LOL!

[Photo credit: (ccl) sabinmaggy]

HFVS Key Wilde & Mr Clarke Guest DJ Episode (Radio Show/Podcast)

Listen to Podcast:


Key Wilde & Mr Clarke Guest DJ Show

Saturday from 9-10am & Sunday from 7-8am
Aug  20th & 21st 2011
WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio
Northampton, MA

Featured Video: I Had a Little Dog, a children’s song written & performed by Key Wilde & Mr. Clarke. www.keywilde.com


New Podcasts ♦ Archived Podcasts Subscribe to Podcast
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Key Wilde & Mr Clarke Guest DJ Playlist

  • Station Id: Steve Weeks [www.steveweeksmusic.com]
  • Key Wilde & Mr Clarke “Rise and Shine” (Rise & Shine)
  • Harry Nilsson “Me and My Arrow” (The Point)
  • Beach Boys “I Get Around “ (Endless Summer)
  • The Okee Dokee Brothers (w/ KWMC) “Auctioneer” Unreleased / Live
  • The Okee Dokee Brothers “Lucy & Tighty” (Take it Outside)
  • Roger Miller “Treat Me Like a Human” (King of the Road)
  • Roger Miller “Reincarnation” (Box Set)
  • KWMC read an original story “A Memorable Day for Pepito”
  • Key Wilde & Mr Clarke “Pepito” (Hey Pepito!)
  • J. J. Cale “Clyde” (Naturally)
  • Screaming Jay Hawkins “You Made Me Love You” (Cow Fingers and Mosquito Pie)
  • Buddy Holly “Heartbeat” (Box Set)
  • Dick Dale “Misirlou” (King of the Surf Guitar)
  • Syd Barrett “Effervescing Elephant” (Barrett)
  • Key Wilde & Mr Clarke “Rattling Can” (Rise & Shine)
  • Key Wilde & Mr Clarke “Summer Lullaby” (Hey Pepito!)­­­­­

Suggested Events for Aug 20th-26th, 2011

Discover fun and educational events happening this week in Western Mass, along with announcements, upcoming events, links, resources and the HFVS podcast.

SUGGEST AN EVENT

Stone Fruits at Florence Farmers' Market

It's time for peaches in Western MA! Picking peaches with the kids is a great family activity. Lisa Smith-Hamilton recommends Quonquont Farm in Whately, and Heather Richardson recommends Cold Spring Orchards in Belchertown. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Suggest EventIf you have a family friendly event or educational program happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, post your event on our “Suggest An Event” page. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these events are happening, along with time, place, age appropriateness and costs before attending.

Enhanced PublicityServing Western Massachusetts since 2005, Hilltown Families supports development and enhancement of our local economy and community! Local businesses, individuals, schools and non-profits are encouraged to support Hilltown Families through sponsorship and enhanced publicity. Let us help get the word out about your event, camp, workshop, fundraiser, business or announcement. Deliver your message to thousands of families living throughout Western Massachusetts while supporting the work of Hilltown Families. Click HERE to find out more.

BEST BETS

On Saturday, August 20th starting at 8am – AGRICULTURAL FAIRS: Take your pick from agricultural fairs happening throughout the region in Westfield, Hardwick and Heath; plus a Chilifest in Belchertown starting at 12noon. ($)

Later in the day on Saturday, August 20th from 6-7:30pm – ASTRONOMY STUDIES: Educator Rachel Roberts presents Space-Tacular, a program for kids 7 and up about the science and mythology of stars! The program takes place at the Northfield Mountain Environmental Center and includes hands-on art and science activities. Registration required. 800-859-2960. 99 Millers Falls Road. Northfield, MA. (FREE)

On Sunday, August 21st from 4:30-6:30pm – HARVEST SUPPER: Enjoy a delicious dinner of healthy local food at the annual Harvest Supper in downtown Greenfield! Along with excellent food there will also be live music from local acts and some fun activities to keep kids entertained! The dinner takes place near the town common. Court Square. Greenfield, MA. (FREE)

MARK YOUR CALENDARS

On Saturday, August 27th from 12noon – 5pm – HARVEST CELEBRATION: Visit Red Fire Farm for their annual amazing Tomato Festival! The event begins with the Tomato 5K at 10:30, followed by live music, workshops, food from guest chefs, kids activities, vendors, and tomato tasting all afternoon! Local music, local artists, local food! 413-467-7645. 7 Carver Street. Granby, MA. (<$)

Later in the day on Saturday, August 27th at 5pm – BIRDS: Interested in learning more about the beaks, wings, feet, and nests of your feathered friends? You can next weekend at the DAR State Forest! The program, called All About Birds, will teach kids fun facts about bird life. 413-268-7098. 78 Cape Street. Goshen, MA. (FREE)

BULLETIN BOARD

CUMMINGTON FAIR: The 143rd Annual Cummington Fair happens August 25th-28th at the Cummington Fairgrounds. With one of the most comprehensive agricultural presentations in the state, the fair is billed as “The Biggest And Best Little Fair in the Country”. This family friendly, four-day agricultural fair is packed with exhibits, family activities, delicious food, classic cars and live music. Truck, horse and oxen pulls headline the fair along with a demolition derby, and the Western Mass Logging Championship. And the fun doesn’t stop there-families can also enjoy midway, games, roving entertainers, live music, petting zoo, 4-H presentations, skid steer rodeo, square dancing and community dinners. Find a full schedule of events at www.cummingtonfair.com.

SUSTAINABILITY WORKSHOPS FOR FAMILIES: North Amherst Community Farm presents “Building Sustainability Together: Skill for Kids and Families.” This series of workshops will offer hands-on activities for kids 5yo and older, accompanied by a caregiver. Workshops in the series include; Worm Bin Composting (Wed., 8/17, 10am-12noon); Seed Saving: Plant the Future (Sat., 8/20, 2-4pm); and Harvest the Sun (Wed., 8/24, 10am-12noon). All classes are $10 for each child/adult pair, and $3 for additional children, and will be held in Amherst at the North Amherst Community Farm (rain or shine), home of Simple Gifts CSA (1089 North Pleasant St.). Pre-registration is required by calling 413-624-6223, or email programs@nacfonline.org. For more info about this series, visit www.nacfonline.org.

Bright Eyes

Enter to win a pair of tickets to see Bright Eyes plus Titus Andronicus at Calvin Theater in Northampton, MA (previously scheduled for Mountain Park) on Sunday, August 28th! Deadline to enter to win is Wednesday, Aug. 24th. Click on banner to find out how you can enter for a chance to win.

PreK SOCCER PLAYDATE: Interested in a morning pickup soccer playdate for your preK kids during the weekday? Angela Mulkerin is organizing an informal soccer playdate in the Florence/Northampton area for kids up through 4yo and their parent/caregiver. Once a week (beginning the week of Sept 5th) parents and their kids can come together to kick around the soccer ball, working on cooperation skills and “playing nice.” Anyone who is interested can email Angela at angelamulkerin@gmail.com.

BACK-TO-SCHOOL: The Springfield Parent Academy and Springfield Public Schools are hosting a back-to-school celebration… and they’ll be giving away 3,000 free backpacks filled with school supplies! This is a great opportunity to get your kids excited about going back to school and to ensure that your student will have all of the tools they need. The celebration will take place from 10am-2pm on Saturday, August 27th at Blunt Park in Springfield. Along with free backpacks, there will also be a barbecue and activities for kids.

PAYING FOR COLLEGE: Do you have kids who are going to be applying to (or thinking about applying to) college soon? Are you unsure about how to pay for college, or even how to apply for financial aid? Forbes Library in Northampton is hosting a workshop on filling out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form and strategies for affording college as tax-efficiently as possible and with the least amount of out-of-pocket expense. The workshop will take place on Wednesday, August 31st at 7pm. For more information or to register, call the library at 413-587-1011.

LOCAL FOOD: On Tuesday, August 23rd and Wednesday, August 24th, nearly 50 Pioneer Valley restaurants will highlight dishes featuring locally grown products as part of CISA’s 2011 Local Hero Restaurant Days Celebration. Enjoy delicious foods at local eateries and celebrate the relationship that CISA has encouraged between restaurants and local farms. Though all of the participating establishments use local produce regularly, some will have special menu items for the event. Participating businesses include Taylor’s Tavern, Bistro les Gras, Cup and Top Cafe, Karma, The Lone Wolf, The Night Kitchen, Soup, Paul and Elizabeth’s, and Great Wall Restaurant. Bon appétit!

SENIOR FARM SHARE: Good food for grandparents! Do you know a low-income senior who could benefit from a farm share? CISA (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture) is continuing its Senior FarmShare program, thanks to enormous community support. Senior FarmShare partners with 12 local farmers and 17 distribution sites, including senior centers and Councils on Aging, throughout Franklin, Hampshire, and Hampden County. For more information, call 413-665-7100.

Enhanced PublicitySPONSORSHIP & ADVERTISING: Reach thousands of families in Western MA while supporting the work of Hilltown Families. Let us help get the word out about your event, camp, workshop, fundraiser, business or announcement. Find out more about our Enhanced Publicity options and how we can help with your marketing.

HILLTOWN FAMILY VARIETY SHOW: Guest DJ, Key Wilde & Mr Clarke

Hilltown Family Variety Show

Key Wilde & Mr Clarke guest DJ the Hilltown Family Variety Show this weekend, spinning tunes by Syd Barrett, Screaming Jay Hawkins, Okee Dokee Brothers, Roger Miller, J. J. Cale and many others – along with music off of their CD, Rise & Shine.

Tune in every Saturday from 9-10am. Encore episodes are aired every Sunday from 7-8am. Families have several ways to tune in to the Hilltown Family Variety Show:

  • Streaming Audio: Surf on over to ValleyFreeRadio.org on Saturday & Sunday mornings and listen to us live via streaming audio.
  • On Your FM Dial: Tune in to WXOJ 103.3FM if you live near Northampton, MA.
  • Podcast: Listen to the most recent episodes of the Hilltown Family Variety Show anytime you wish! Click here to see our current select of episodes, and be sure to subscribe to our podcast too!

LIST OF WEEKLY SUGGESTED EVENTS:
Aug 20th-26th, 2011

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Suggest an Event | Forecast | Museum Passes | Farmers’ Markets | Weekly eNewsletter

Read the rest of this entry »

Another Misguided Parenting Technique

The World Can Be Tough

The world can be tough. If you are soft or Pollyanna-ish, it can really do a number on you. I am beginning to believe that in our current days one of the most important things we can do as parents is to prepare, not shield, our children from the unfair and sometimes downright cruel things that take place whether worldly or locally, whether in families or with peers. Building an armor of awareness and teaching strategies for handling strife to our children, in my opinion, is paramount parenting. I just wish someone had told me this 17 years ago.

Raising my sons, I did nothing to prepare them for the inevitable hardships and the unjust. Instead when bad things happened, I wanted to spare them any negative emotions and so I sugar-coated, coddled and downplayed anything that might make them upset or uncomfortable or unhappy. Let me give you some examples:

  • “Gannan, you should have won that baseball game. That umpire was blind! Little Johnny was safe!”
  • “What do you mean the teacher yelled at you in front of the class? Just because you didn’t do your homework doesn’t mean it gives him the right to humiliate you!”
  • “Oh Aidan, of course they like you. They probably just didn’t invite you to the birthday party because they could only choose a couple of people.”
  • “I know you don’t like to read, so why don’t I read to you.” (Ugh. And I call myself a teacher?)
  • “Just tell them I needed a little more time in the hospital. Don’t mention my heart failure.”
  • “Just don’t talk to them anymore because they let you down.”
  • “He didn’t really mean it when he called you that name.”
  • “He didn’t really mean it when he made fun of you.”
  • “You didn’t make the team? I’ll have your step-dad call the coach. He’s a friend of his.”
  • “You are scared of not winning? Then you don’t have to compete.”

You get the idea. I spent the majority of those boys’ lives, trying to keep them from hurting. As if that is what a good mom does. (There’s that blasted phrase again! See previous column!)

Like so many other misguided parenting techniques, this one while it soothed in the moment has lasting consequences. My boys, you see, are absolutely, positively, and completely unprepared for anything bad to happen to them. The problem is that the older they get, the less natural it is for their mother to step in. Therefore that means that the consequences stay the consequences.

When this realization hits one or both of these boys, they crumble like a two-day old sand castle. Ummm….it’s much more dramatic than that. Let me try that again…They implode like a dynamited city building during a controlled demolition. There’s a lot of noise and all that is left is pieces after the dust settles. I realized a few years back that I had created this monster in the boys and have worked diligently to reverse it by slowly and gently introducing life skills that will help them with the old “life isn’t fair” adage. Trying to work against mindsets that expect things to go their way has been a difficult task, but one that I think is imperative if they are going to be successful human beings. So, like any other parent who has to right a wrong, I push along, hoping that through consistency even though they are ever so close to adulthood that a mind shift will take place. A perfect example happened a couple of weeks ago with Aidan. Believe me, it was excruciating for me not to try and fix the problem for him, but I dug in with nails and teeth and limbs and instead tried to teach him the necessary strategies to stand up for himself.

Aidan is working this summer at a very popular pub in a horse-racing town not too far from here. He was extremely lucky to get the job as bus-boy and food-runner. The pay is amazing, and I grew up with the owners so he is comfortable with his bosses. The first night was highly anticipated for its potential to earn a great amount of tips as this is THE pub that the racing clientele flock to after a long day at the track. Even I was excited for him as he left that first night, and I waited up to find out how he made out.

Hearing the car pull up in the driveway late that evening, I sat up a little straighter on the couch eager to give him my full attention. He opened the front door and I expected him to bound in with tales of cash, of tray carrying, of flirting with the waitresses and swearing with the cooks. (I know…I really need to reign in the imagining part of my brain.) But what came through the front door wasn’t at all what I expected. Read the rest of this entry »

Experience Pittsfield Cultural Panorama Card

Pittsfield Cultural Panorama Card Rewards Those Who Experience Pittsfield’s Offerings Firsthand

Mary Rentz, Pittsfield 250 Committee co-chair writes:

Pittsfield Cultural Panorama Card

The Experience Pittsfield Cultural Panorama Card provides a fun way for people, whether they live here or are visitors, to try out the many cultural opportunities in our city. The lottery prizes at the 20-stamp level offer significant benefits for the winners, such as a tuition rebate for lessons at the Berkshire Music School, or a year-long family membership and gifts from Hancock Shaker Village. On top of that, it adds a sense of adventure to something that is already interesting and entertaining.

Like a passport that documents a person’s travel history, the new “Experience Pittsfield Cultural Panorama Card” keeps track of cultural attractions visited all year long during Pittsfield’s 250th birthday celebration. Only this passport has an added benefit: those who visit 10 or more venues on the itinerary will receive souvenirs and memorabilia, and will be eligible for drawings of valuable prizes.

The Experience Pittsfield Cultural Panorama Card is part of the year-long celebration of the 250th Anniversary of the city’s founding in 1761, and seeks to highlight the many cultural activities which are available year round. It is funded by a special grant from the Pittsfield Cultural Council, and operates using a simple process: visitors get their card stamped, and they win prizes.

At 10 stamps, the passport holder may choose from a selection of Pittsfield prizes; at 20 stamps, they may enter a lottery of their choice for memberships at museums, passes and tickets, for performances, or tuition rebates for classes. Those who garner 25 stamps will be recognized on the P250 website and at the Thanksgiving Weekend festivities, when the P250 celebration ends.

Many events are free. Furthermore, museum passes for free museum passes may be checked out at the Berkshire Athenaeum. For theatre shows or other ticketed events, ticket stubs can be brought to a redemption site for a stamp; and, venues’ websites and the 1/2 TIX booth often have reduced-price tickets.

Blank passport cards are now available at the Pittsfield Visitor Center, 111 South Street (at the Colonial Theatre); the P250 headquarters and exhibit at 441 North Street; the Berkshire Athenaeum; the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts, and other cultural venues. In addition to being available at several tables during Pittsfield’s Third Thursday downtown block party, it may also be downloaded from pittsfield250.com.

Read the rest of this entry »

Q&A: 18 Kid-Friendly Restaurants in Western MA

QUESTION AND ANSWERS

Cup & Top in Florence, MA

Jessica Berrien and Tish Serani give a shout out to Cup & Top Cafe in Florence as their favorite kid-friendly restaurant in Western MA (picture here). With their kid friendly menu, playspace, family friendly entertainment, fair trade coffee and delicious grown-up sandwiches, Cup and Top Cafe is a destination the entire family will enjoy! (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

What is your favorite kid-friendly restaurant in Western MA?

  • Jennifer Martin recommends, “Freight Yard Pub in North Adams.
  • Sarah Suriner-Hagadorn recommends, “Flavours in Pittsfield
  • Justin Richard recommends, “Green Bean in Northampton, Deja Brew in Wendell, and Burrito Rojo in Turners Falls.”
  • Myssie Casinghino recommends, ‎”Bueno Y Sano, Paul & Elizabeth’s, and Local in Northampton.”
  • John L. Grossman recommends, “Bring Your Own Restaurant in Holyoke.”
  • Jessica Berrien recommends, “Cup and Top in Florence!
  • Tish Serrani recommends, ” Cup and Top for sure.”
  • Rae Griffiths recommends,The Steaming Tender in Palmer for all the train loving kids!!”
  • Robin Sidel recommends,Wagon Wheel (Gill, MA)!
  • Jane Stephenson recommends,Wagon Wheel in Gill, on Rt. 2. Great locally-grown food, big grassy lawn to play on, picnic tables, HOME MADE ice cream!”
  • Judy Bennett recommends,People’s Pint (Greenfield, MA).”
  • Kerry Shaw recommends, “The Wagon Wheel in Gill!”
  • Gillian Daley recommends,La Vera Cruzana in Northampton. Not enough high chairs but there is no problem with children walking around and being cheerful (read: slightly loud).”
  • Andrea Slattery recommends, “Four Main Street Bar and Grill in Huntington.”
  • Laurie Ritrosky recommends,The Summer House in Southwick.”
  • John L. Grossman recommends, “Green Bean (Northampton) has a toy bin and books!”
  • Nancyjo Craig Rongner recommends, “My vote is for Teapot (Northampton). We’ve been there several times and each time the staff is genuinely happy to see my toddler. They’ve always taken extra time to interact with him. There are no crayons and coloring page, but they’ve got fish!”
  • Nancy Madru recommends, “Cup and Top–great food selections for kids and a cool play area.”
  • Susan Countryman recommends, “Elmer’s in Ashfield. Best pancakes, great friendly atmosphere.”

Suggested Events for Aug 13th-19th, 2011

Discover fun and educational events happening this week in Western Mass, along with announcements, upcoming events, links, resources and the HFVS podcast.

SUGGEST AN EVENT

Peter Freisem of Cricket Hill Jams preps yellow beans he plans to pickle into country style dilly beans. Pick up a jar this weekend at the Ashfield Farmers' Market.- Click on the photo to read resources CISA recommends for putting food by, and get those jams and jars ready to enter into the many upcoming agricultural fairs! (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Suggest EventIf you have a family friendly event or educational program happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, post your event on our “Suggest An Event” page. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these events are happening, along with time, place, age appropriateness and costs before attending.

Enhanced PublicityServing Western Massachusetts since 2005, Hilltown Families supports development and enhancement of our local economy and community! Local businesses, individuals, schools and non-profits are encouraged to support Hilltown Families through sponsorship and enhanced publicity.  Let us help get the word out about your event, camp, workshop, fundraiser, business or announcement. Deliver your message to thousands of families living throughout Western Massachusetts while supporting the work of Hilltown Families. Click HERE to find out more.

BEST BETS

On Saturday, August 13th from 10am-10pm in the Berkshires – COMMUNITY CELEBRATION: West Stockbridge hosts the 8th annual Zucchini Festival today! The event begins with a pet parade and show, followed by exciting activities throughout the day including a slam dunk challenge, mini golf, rock climbing, a zucchini catapult, dunk-a-fireman booth, zuke races, and live music! The day ends with a fireworks display. The festival takes place in the town center. 413-232-0222. Routes 41 and 102. West Stockbridge, MA. (FREE)

Later in the day on Saturday, August 13th from 3-6pm in the Pioneer Valley – COUNTRY FAIR: If you can’t make it to the entire NOFA (Northeast Organic Farming Association) conference at UMass, at least visit the Country Fair! There will be all kinds of exciting activities, including horse-drawn wagon rides, tomato bobbing, sack races, melon seed spitting contests, pie-eating contests, cow plop bingo, and more! 413-230-7835. Massachusetts Avenue. Amherst, MA. (FREE)

Also in the afternoon on Saturday, August 13th from 1-6pm in the Pioneer Valley- MUSIC FESTIVAL: KidsRock for Beacon music festival takes place today- the event is to raise money for the Beacon Field Playground Project. There will be live music all afternoon, as well as raffles, food, and a kids play area! All of the bands performing include local kids. 20 Sanderson Street. Greenfield, MA. ($)

Then on Sunday, August 14th from 10am-6pm in the Berkshires - NATIVE AMERICAN CULTURE: The 6th Annual Rock, Rattle and Drum Pow-Wow is this weekend at Wirtes Farm! The event is a celebration of Native American arts and culture and includes all kinds of entertainment, activities, vendors, and learning opportunities! 413-443-2481. 45 Greylock Road. Lanesborough, MA. ($)

MARK YOUR CALENDARS

On Saturday, August 20th starting at 8am – AGRICULTURAL FAIR: Visit cows and sheep, hear live music, play games, learn about local agriculture, and more today at the Westfield Fair!  The grounds open early, and there are tons of exciting events happening throughout the day.  413-222-4067.  Fair Lane.  Westfield, MA.  ($) 

On Sunday, August 21st from 8am-5pm – AGRICULTURAL FAIR: Today is the final day of the Heath Fair!  Today’s events and shows are mostly the youth category- check out what the kids are doing!  There will also be a blueberry pancake breakfast, classic car cruise, wagon rides, and a Primate Fiasco show at 2!  9 Hosmer Road.  Heath, MA.  ($)

BULLETIN BOARD

SUSTAINABILITY WORKSHOPS FOR FAMILIES: North Amherst Community Farm presents “Building Sustainability Together: Skill for Kids and Families.” This series of workshops will offer hands-on activities for kids 5yo and older, accompanied by a caregiver. Workshops in the series include; Worm Bin Composting (Wed., 8/17, 10am-12noon); Seed Saving: Plant the Future (Sat., 8/20, 2-4pm); and Harvest the Sun (Wed., 8/24, 10am-12noon). All classes are $10 for each child/adult pair, and $3 for additional children, and will be held in Amherst at the North Amherst Community Farm (rain or shine), home of Simple Gifts CSA (1089 North Pleasant St.). Pre-registration is required by calling 413-624-6223, or email programs@nacfonline.org. For more info about this series, visit www.nacfonline.org.

CUMMINGTON FAIR: The 143rd Annual Cummington Fair happens August 25th-28th at the Cummington Fairgrounds. With one of the most comprehensive agricultural presentations in the state, the fair is billed as “The Biggest And Best Little Fair in the Country”.  This family friendly, four-day agricultural fair is packed with exhibits, family activities, delicious food, classic cars and live music. Truck, horse and oxen pulls headline the fair along with a demolition derby, and the Western Mass Logging Championship. And the fun doesn’t stop there-families can also enjoy midway, games, roving entertainers, live music, petting zoo, 4-H presentations, skid steer rodeo, square dancing and community dinners. Find a full schedule of events at www.cummingtonfair.org.

CLOTHING EXCHANGE: The Family Resource Center of North Adams would like to remind Berkshire parents that their Clothing Exchange is a great resource for back-to-school clothes!  The exchange has gently used clothing in every kids’ size (including babies) and there are new clothes coming in frequently!  Along with clothing, the exchange also has a shelf of free children’s books.  If your kids have outgrown clothes that are still in great shape, consider contributing them so that other families may benefit!  Families needn’t donate in order to take clothes, but there is a 2 bag per visit limit.  The exchange is in the Haskins Center at 210 State Street in North Adams.  For more information, call 413-664-4615.

Bright Eyes

Enter to win a pair of tickets to see Bright Eyes plus Titus Andronicus at Mountain Park in Holyoke, MA on Sunday, August 28th! Deadline to enter to win is Wednesday, Aug. 24th. Click on banner to find out how you can enter for a chance to win.

PIONEER VALLEY MAP: Hiking, biking, and general outdoor adventuring in the Pioneer Valley are now all easier than ever thanks to the new trail map that the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission has developed!  The map shows the exact locations of all trails in Hampshire and Hampden counties, along with a description of each trail to help adventurers choose the right location for their abilities!  The map is great for people who already hike and bike frequently, but it’s also great for those who don’t- it helps to make trails more accessible.  The map is available for purchase at many Pioneer Valley bookstores and outdoor equipment shops.  For more information, visit pvpc.org.

CALL FOR SIDEWALK CHALK ARTISTS: Northampton’s annual Chalk Art Festival will be taking place on September 9th, and the Northampton Center for the Arts is currently seeking artists to participate!  Artists must apply for the festival, which takes place as part of Arts Night Out.  Artists will work within a 5×5 concrete area and will spend from 8am-4pm the day of the contest creating their masterpiece.  There is a $100 stipend for participation, and larger cash prizes for winners.  Applications are available at Guild Art Supply (Northampton) and the Northampton Center for the Arts.  For more information, including contest rules, visit www.nohoarts.org.

GARDENS AS CLASSROOM: The National Institute of Food and Agriculture has announced a formal request for applications to its People’s Garden Grant Program!  The grants are available for the creation of produce, recreation, and/or wildlife gardens in both urban and rural areas, so long as the gardens provide opportunities for informal science education.  Applicants who receive funding may be required to provide micro-subgrant support to other local projects.  For more information about the grants and the application process, and to download a copy of the application form, visit www.nifa.usda.gov.

COMMUNITY BIKE RIDES: The Trustees of Reservations have organized a series of bike rides in and around Holyoke!  The rides, which will take place on August 20th and 27th, will begin at 9am from the Open Square Farmers’ Market (4 Open Square Way) and follow a 6-8 mile route.  During the ride, participants will get to explore various properties run by the Trustees within Holyoke, such as the Lands of Providence.  Cyclists of all ages and abilities are welcome, so long as they are capable of participating in a long ride that includes hills.  After the ride, cyclists will be able to buy fresh produce at the market!  For more information, visit ttor.org or call 413-274-8288.

Enhanced PublicitySPONSORSHIP & ADVERTISING: Reach thousands of families in Western MA while supporting the work of Hilltown Families. Let us help get the word out about your event, camp, workshop, fundraiser, business or announcement. Find out more about our Enhanced Publicity options and how we can help with your marketing.

HILLTOWN FAMILY VARIETY SHOW

Hilltown Family Variety Show

Tune in every Saturday from 9-10am. Encore episodes are aired every Sunday from 7-8am. Families have several ways to tune in to the Hilltown Family Variety Show:

  • Streaming Audio: Surf on over to ValleyFreeRadio.org on Saturday & Sunday mornings and listen to us live via streaming audio.
  • On Your FM Dial: Tune in to WXOJ 103.3FM if you live near Northampton, MA.
  • Podcast: Listen to the most recent episodes of the Hilltown Family Variety Show anytime you wish! Click here to see our current select of episodes, and be sure to subscribe to our podcast too!

LIST OF WEEKLY SUGGESTED EVENTS:
Aug 13th-19th, 2011

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Suggest an Event | Forecast | Museum Passes | Farmers’ Markets | Weekly eNewsletter

Read the rest of this entry »

Berkshire Family Fun: A Few More Weeks of Summer

Back to reality? Not yet

Feeding the animals at Whitney’s Farm Market in Cheshire, MA (Photo credit: Kelly Bevan McIlquham)

I have been spoiled this summer. I took a five-day family trip to Alabama. I’ve been to Hampton Beach twice for day trips and took a brief road trip to Cape Cod to pick up a sea- and homesick 12-year-old boy. I’ve spent a few days enjoying my childhood vacation haunt, York Beach, Maine, with my mom, sister, our kids, plus one extra (he’s like one of the family) and I’m even sneaking away with my husband for a few days in Boston for some much-needed grown-up time. Did I leave out that we were given free preseason Patriots tickets for today? But even better than all that is the fact that I’ve gotten to enjoy an absolutely gorgeous season in the Berkshires with my husband and children, and though the summer is slowly winding down, I’m not ready to return to reality quite yet. So out with the back-to-school fliers and trips to chain stores for supplies, I’m taking a few more weeks to simply explore and enjoy the Berkshire surroundings with my family — and you can, too.

A RARE DAY WITH ONE

We’ve been introduced to Glendale Falls in Middlefield this summer and thanks to a rare single-kid day last week, my youngest, Shea, was finally introduced to the beauty that is Wahconah Falls in Dalton. But the falls wasn’t the only highlight to our Wednesday last week. The day began with Shea and I heading to the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail, a 11.2-mile trail that runs from Lanesborough to Adams, with our bikes, beginning at the entrance of the Berkshire Mall. Despite a few grumbles from Shea in the first mile or so, we made the approximate 3.5-mile jaunt up the trail to Farnum’s Road in Cheshire and enjoyed a snack and a beverage on a bench overlooking Cheshire Lake. After a breeze sent a nauseating whiff of goose poop our way, Shea decided it was a good time to hop on our bikes and head back to the car, but I had a surprise in store for him.

After a little over a mile or so (before any complaining arose), I veered off the trail towards Route 8 and made a stop a Whitney’s Farm Market for lunch and a few farm-fresh veggies. (Sorry folks, I can’t remember the name of the road that you take before you hit Route 8, but you can see Whitney’s from the trail.) Shea and I ventured inside and decided on some fresh tomatoes, apples, salsa and guacamole for our dinner that night and a delectable roast beef, lettuce, tomato, and avocado Panini on herbed bread to savor at the picnic tables. Yum!

After a relaxing lunch, Shea fed a few of the animals at the petting zoo and climbed around on the wooden playground ship for a while, while I sat back and watched parents chase their children up and down the slides and wooden tractor structure. At one point I spent a few scary seconds scanning furiously around the playground to help a grandmother locate a “misplaced” grandchild. Note to readers: If you take a trip to Whitney’s and find yourself in a similar predicament, the lower-level of the boat structure makes for a good hiding place.

Shea and I wrapped up our trip by biking back to our car, grabbing Dad at his office and stopping by Wahconah Falls off of Route 9 in Dalton to introduce our poor neglected son to one of the area’s natural wonders. It was a rare occasion to spend this day with only one child, but it is something Shea and I will surely make time for again.

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Ticket Giveaway: Summer Night Out at Mountain Park with Bright Eyes plus Titus Andronicus

UPDATE (8/16/11): Concert has been moved to The Calvin Theater in Northampton

Bright Eyes plus Titus Andronicus
at Mountain Park in Holyoke, MA Calvin Theater in Northampton
Sunday, August 28th, 2011 @ 7pm

Enter to win a pair of tickets to see Bright Eyes plus Titus Andronicus at Calvin Theater in Northampton, MA on Sunday, August 28th! Deadline to enter to win is Wednesday, Aug. 24th. Details on how to enter to win are outlined below.

Hilltown Families and Iron Horse Entertainment Group have partnered up to offer a chance to win free tickets to see adult venues in the Pioneer Valley for a PARENTS’ NIGHT OUT! You pay for the sitter, we’ll pay for the tickets!

Bright Eyes plus Titus Andronicus are coming to Mountain Park in Holyoke Calvin Theater in Northampton, MA on Sunday, August 28th this month and we are giving way two pair of lawn tickets for two lucky couples to enjoy an evening out!

Win the tickets and take your spouse, partner or good friend for a night out. Deadline to enter to win is Wednesday, 08/24/11 @ 7pm (EST). Details below.

ABOUT BRIGHT EYES

Bright Eyes became a household name (in a certain kind of household) when, for a few months in early 2005, they seemed ubiquitous. From magazine covers to late night talk shows, they were name-checked by everyone from sports casters to country stars. Conor Oberst has spent much of the last few years recording and touring with friends and musicians, The Mystic Valley Band, as well as releasing a a highly acclaimed album and tour as part of the so called indie supergroup Monsters of Folk. The People’s Key – the band’s seventh studio album – is the eagerly awaited follow-up to 2007’s acclaimed Cassadaga. Fully realized and bursting with charisma, The People’s Key is assured and accomplished, artfully arranged and filled with the engaging and mesmeric songwriting for which Oberst is renowned. www.conoroberst.com


ABOUT TITUS ANDRONICUS

Titus Andronicus is a punk/indie band from Glen Rock, New Jersey formed in 2005. The group takes its name from the Shakespeare play Titus Andronicus. Their debut album, The Airing of Grievances received widespread acclaim. The album’s loud, heavily distorted guitars are influenced by the shoegaze genre, while the lyrics and song titles are references to various books and other forms of entertainment (such as the album title, from the Seinfeld episode, “The Strike”, about Festivus). Titus Andronicus’ second album, The Monitor, was released on March 9, 2010, the same month that Rolling Stone magazine named the band one of the 10 best new bands of 2010. www.titusandronicus.net

ABOUT MOUNTAIN PARK

(UPDATE (8/16/11): Concert has been moved to The Calvin Theater in Northampton.) Following its opening in 1894 as a picturesque retreat on the side of Mount Tom, Mountain Park expanded and evolved into one of the most beloved amusement parks in New England. At the beginning of the 20th century, Holyoke was the most prosperous community in the state and the first planned industrial city in the United States. The city’s progress drew crowds of visitors to Mountain Park, and the park gradually developed into a bustling destination. Although the park closed its gates in 1987, the echoes of laughter from generations of visitors still reverberate throughout the Pioneer Valley. Today, Mountain Park evolves into the next millennium as a new host for music, entertainment and outdoor family fun.

HOW TO WIN

Your chance to win a pair of lawn tickets to see Bright Eyes plus Titus Andronicus at Mountain Park in Holyoke, Calvin Theater in Northampton, MA Sunday, August 28th, 2011 @ 7pm is as easy as 1-2-3 (4)!

To enter to win simply:

  1. CONSIDER SHARING ON FACEBOOK by selecting “Like” below
  2. TELL US ABOUT YOUR FAVORITE WAY TO SPEND AN ENTIRE DAY IN WESTERN MA WITH THE FAMILY (any season) below (one entry per household) and be sure to tell us your
  3. FULL NAME and where you
  4. LIVE (TOWN/STATE) Must include your town to be eligible.
  5. ACCURATE EMAIL IN THE EMAIL FIELD BELOW (we never share your email address).
  6. We’ll randomly draw a winner and will share the results below.

IT’S THAT SIMPLE! — Deadline is Wednesday, 08/24/11 @ 7pm (EST).

If you don’t win, tickets can be purchased at the Northampton Box Office, 76 Main Street, by phone at 413-586-8686 and online at IHEG.com.

Five Ways Families Can Enjoy MA State Parks

Western MA State Forests: Where Shall We Go Today?

How can families enjoy our state parks… let me count the way! Gini Traub, Regional Environmental Education Coordinator at Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation recently shared with Hilltown Families five different family initiatives they offer at our state parks.  These initiatives encourage families to explore the diverse natural, cultural and recreational resources our state parks provide:

Great Parks Pursuit

The Great Park Pursuit (GPP) is a free family adventure, connecting families, or teams, with their state parks. Hike to amazing views, step back in time, uncover stories in stone, cast away, explore the night sky, and much more. Visit www.mass.gov/dcr/gpp for information or to register your team. Teams who earn stickers from programs in six different GPP categories are invited to the Grand Finale on September 10. Eligible teams can also enter a lottery for great prizes!

Discovery Packs for Families

Make your own adventure at participating parks. Each Pack has the supplies and information you need to get started. Look for birds; examine the rocks, explore streams, ponds, woods and fields, [learn about some of the critters that inhabit our parks]. Stop by the park’s Visitor Center or speak with the Park Interpreter to see what what’s available. Parks include DAR State Forest in Goshen, Mount Greylock in Lanesborough, Tolland in East Otis, Mount Tom in Holyoke, Skinner in Hadley, Mount Holyoke Range, and Erving State Forest and others.

Park Passport

Massachusetts has one of the largest and most diverse state park systems in the country! Document your travels with passport stamps of original artwork depicting a special feature of participating parks. Make it into an adventure, and create lasting memories. Visit www.mass.gov/dcr/passport for information and to download your free passport. “Where shall we go today?”

Healthy Heart Trails

Walk at your own pace on gentle terrain. DCR’s Healthy Heart Trails are designed for people who would like to walk but may not be sure where to begin. There are over 70 designated Healthy Heart Trails in Massachusetts State Forest and Parks, so there is one near you. Most are less than 1.5 miles. Visit www.mass.gov/dcr/recreate/hht and look for the green and white healthy heart trail symbol.

Self-Guided Family Hikes

So many trails! Which ones to choose? Visit the DCR website, www.mass.gov/dcr/recreate/trails. Click on “Self-Guided Hikes” for Western, Central, Southeast, and Blue Hills Massachusetts State Forests and Parks. Brochures describe a selection ranging from easy to strenuous and highlight what makes each trail special. “It’s your choice.”

Voices in the Valley ❥ Local Radio

Mash Notes to Paradise by Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Note 4, Local Radio

When I go back to Philadelphia, my hometown, there are only a few things that make me the least bit wistful for the place (besides some people, of course): the Wissahickon woods’ walking path, the vegan chili at Jonathan’s, those generous stone houses fronted by neon stands of forsythia, and WXPN’s World Café.

I may have every Live at the World Café CD ever made. I’m a very longtime member (also of WFCR and WAMC, worry not).

WXPN love is a big deal for me. I listen to the station when I’m driving around Philly and I wish it were mine, in person, in the car, not streamed. How funny since I’m so entirely delighted by my radio here at home. I mean we’ve got NPR in spades. We’ve got our own college station, where my friend, Fern, plays great music. And we’ve got WRSI.

❥ One of the crowning moments in my adult life was the day I stopped automatically turning to Morning Edition or All Things Considered if I got into the car when those shows were on. It wasn’t that long ago. I listen to the news, sure, however these days, I tend to stay with music. I am a much happier driver, now.

❥ The River—in that old-school-Valley way I still think of as RSI—has had all sorts of great folks sharing their voices over its airwaves. Its mixture: catchy songs, older songs, homegrown songs—and if you listen at the right time—you can even learn a little bit about birds.

Unlike many stations, I am glad to happen upon the radio on Saturday morning for Spare the Rock Spoil the Child’s whimsy-through-kindie music or Sunday morning’s acoustic and homey Back Porch.

During farmers’ market season, you can go say hi to Joan Holliday in the WRSI tent on Tuesdays. Year-round, there are all sorts of fun live broadcasts. The ridiculous wealth of local talent, from locals who play on the street to locals who play in small clubs, to locals that are whispered about when spotted in cities far from here, all contribute to our local radio’s awesomeness.

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Q&A: Ear Piercing

QUESTION AND ANSWERS

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends having piercing procedures done by a doctor, nurse or experienced technician. Click on the photo to listen to their recommendation on the best way to avoid infection after ear piercing.

Ear piercing … many girls around my daughters age are having them done and now she’s begging to have her ears pierced too. Any recommendations on where to have ears pierced – or advice on earrings or care?

  • Jannell Drennen recommends, “You can go to the mall and have it done. I took my daughter to Walmart to have hers done… Walmart does have free ear piercing with the purchase of studs. It is always best to go with gold or sterling silver earrings.  The store will give you the information on how to care for your piercings, as well as some solution to clean them with.”
  • Jennifer Leveille LaValley recommends, “Claire’s does free ear-piercing … Age is your decision… I’ve been doing it for almost 11 years and I’ve pierced from 3 months up to 96 years old and I’ve seen it all. Some parents make there kids wait until [their t(w)eens], other parents are free and don’t care….some cultures want babies pierced after birth so you think about it long and hard and discuss all the pros and cons that come with piercing before jumping in. It’s a commitment not just an ear piercing.”
  • Barb Peaslee Snow recommends, “Piercing Pagoda is where I took my daughter. They have a large selection of earrings to choose from and the piercing is free.”
  • Gayle White recommends, “I would recommend going to a piercing place such as in Haven Body Arts in Northampton. My daughter is 16 and has had a number of piercings done, Penelope knows her stuff (she used to be at Lucky’s). You have no idea what is in those guns used at the mall, yuck!!”
  • Myssie Casintagna recommends, “I would absolutely take your daughter to a professional piercer, as Gayle suggested above. The guns they use at the malls can be traumatizing to the tissue and hard to keep sterile (as is the environment of a store).  Some doctors will pierce ears as well.  I encourage you to at the very least, call a piercing professional and talk with them. There are many in our area.”
  • Julie Rodrigues Tanguay recommends, “Definitely check with your pediatrician’s office- they may do it, ours does.”
  • Jennifer Leveille LaValley replies, “Most doctors do not pierce ears these days. Our doctor came to Claire’s and I pierced his daughter’s ears. In terms of body piercing shops, yes, that is the best way to do piercings. I agree. But a lot of them will not pierce children, so you are limited to a so called “gun.” However, different places use different instruments.  Some are an actual gun … but not all systems are the same.”
  • Tonya Lemos recommends, “I fully agree with Gayle. Piercers such as those at Lucky’s in Northampton are trained in piercing often from the tribal approach! Who knows about those at Claire’s or Walmart! We had Jeremy and he was fabulous with my six year old- communicated well and had a good bedside manner. They also have a simple and effective aftercare procedure that a child can handle. I highly recommend Lucky’s!”
  • Kate Erickson recommends, “Rather than the malls, whom I don’t trust, when my daughters get to that point I plan on taking them to Lucky’s in Northampton-professional piercers.”
  • Anita Morehouse recommends, “Haven Body Arts or Lucky’s in Northampton.”
  • Holly Rowe Charette recommends, “We had out girls ears done young, so we had no choice but hit up the mall. Luckily, Claire’s did a great job and we had no issues. I have had many many peircings, but for some reason the needle through my ears even creeps me out.”
  • Marya Kozik LaRoche recommends, “Doctors will do it.”
  • Lee Bingham recommends, “Penelope at Haven Body Arts in Northampton has lots of experience with kiddos. She did my friends’ son’s ear beautifully. Do NOT go to anyplace that uses piercing guns EVER!!!”
  • Robin Morgan Huntley recommends, “I’m not a mom but I definitely agree about Haven- it’s the cleanest, friendliest, and most professional piercing place I’ve ever been to.”

[Photo credit: (ccl) Loren Kerns]

HFVS Hope Harris Guest DJ Episode (Radio Show/Podcast)

Listen to the Podcast:


Hope Harris Guest DJ Show

Saturday from 9-10am & Sunday from 7-8am
Aug  6th & 7th 2011
WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio
Northampton, MA

Featured Video: Hope Harris with the title track off her new album, Cousins Jamboree. www.hopeharris.com


New Podcasts ♦ Archived Podcasts Subscribe to Podcast
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Hope Harris Guest DJ Playlist

Suggested Events for Aug 6th-12th, 2011

Discover fun and educational events happening this week in Western Mass, along with announcements, upcoming events, links, resources and the HFVS podcast.

SUGGEST AN EVENT

It's blueberry season! Whether you like to pick your blueberries off of the high bushes, or rake them off the low ones, there are many places to PYO in Western MA and a couple of festivals to celebrate all things blueberry this weekend. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Suggest an EventIf you have a family friendly event or educational program happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, post your event on our “Suggest An Event” page. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these events are happening, along with time, place, age appropriateness and costs before attending.

SPONSORSHIP: Serving Western Massachusetts since 2005, Hilltown Families supports development and enhancement of our local economy and community! Local businesses, individuals, schools and non-profits are encouraged to support Hilltown Families through sponsorship and enhanced publicity.  Let us help get the word out about your event, camp, workshop, fundraiser, business or announcement. Deliver your message to thousands of families living throughout Western Massachusetts while supporting the work of Hilltown Families. Click HERE to find out more.

BEST BETS

On Saturday, August 6th from 11am-5pm – BLUEBERRY FESTIVAL:   10th Annual Wild Blueberry Jubilee at The Benson Place.  Learn about low bush blueberries through fun and educational activities. Celebrate the harvest with your community.  PYO low bush blueberries in small quantities. 413-337-5340  182 Flagg Hill Road. Heath, MA (FREE)

On Sunday, August 7th from 12Noon-4pm – BLUEBERRY FESTIVAL: 9th Annual Blueberry Days of Summer at the Kelso Homestead Blueberries. A festive day with PYO high bush blueberries, live music, pie eating contest, animals, Birds of Prey program, games and great food. Take a wagon tour of the farm and enjoy a day with the family. 413-354-7897 207 Bromley Rd. Chester, MA (>$)

Also on Sunday, August 7th from 12Noon-6pm - ETHNIC FAIR: Pittsfield Ethnic Fair returns with food, music, and costumes to the first block of South St. (between Park Sq. & Housatonic St.). International music and dance on two stages, the fair highlights the diverse culture found in Pittsfield. Come with the kids and enjoy delicious food, music, crafts and dancing. 413-443-6501 South St. Pittsfield, MA (FREE ENTRANCE)

MARK YOUR CALENDARS

This week on Thursday, August 11th at 10am-4pm – LITERACY: “LittleFest” happens at the Springfield Museums.  The event is designed to promote literacy and a love of reading in young children.  There will be science demonstrations, art activities, crafts for kids, food vendors, free books for the first 500 visitors, and performances by storyteller/musician John Porcino and musician Brian Chevalier.  800-625-7738.  21 Edwards Street.  Springfield, MA.  (FREE w/Museum Admission)

On Saturday, August 13th at 1pm - FAMILY CONCERT: Mister G rocks the Berkshire Museum with a family concert in their auditorium. With his newest release, BUGS!, kids can learn about insects and the natural world through music, and then after the concert check out the live exhibit, “Geckos: Tails to Toepads”. Within the exhibit are 14 different types of geckos all living within their natural (museum-created) habitats!  413-443-7171.  39 South Street. Pittsfield, MA.  (FREE with museum admission)

BULLETIN BOARD

LEARN TO CAMP: Do your children/grand kids want to go camping but you just don’t have the experience or confidence to go alone? The DCR and DFW’s Becoming an Outdoors Woman Program will be offering a Becoming an Outdoors Family Camping Weekend next weekend, Aug. 13-14, at Myles Standish State Forest in Carver, MA. If your family is just beginning their camping adventures, join other like-minded families for a weekend of skill building for outdoor recreation, including camping, canoeing, fishing, hiking and outdoor cooking skills. Enjoy a night hike, camp fire and outdoor adventures with other families learning the skills of camping. $30 per person, includes 2 meals. Register by Friday, Aug. 5th. Call for more info. 508-389-6300

SCREENINGS: The Family Resource Center in North Adams offers FREE Ages and Stages Screenings. Infants and young children have so many developmental changes and milestones in the early years, it’s helpful to know where your child is developmentally and how to best support their growth. Ages and Stages is a well respected screening tool that will guide families in understanding their child’s development. The FRC staff will spend an hour with you and your child to go through this screening tool. Please contact their office for more information or an appointment at mzepka@ccberkshire.org or 413-664-4821

Find out more about our enhanced publicity options and how you can advertise your event, class, camp - or join our team of amazing sponsors!

SPONSORSHIP & ADVERTISING: Reach thousands of families in Western MA while supporting the work of Hilltown Families. Let us help get the word out about your event, camp, workshop, fundraiser, business or announcement. Find out more about our Enhanced Publicity options and how we can with your marketing.

INSTRUMENT DONATIONS WANTED: Have an old piano, violin, flute, or other instrument taking up space in your home? Donate it to the Artspace’s Used Instrument Sale. Donations or consignment both accepted. All proceeds will benefit Strings for Kids, free weekly group lessons for grades 3 – 6 at Greenfield Public Schools. Artspace’s mission is to encourage and nurture the appreciation of and participation in the arts. Artspace serves 350 students annually with weekly lessons and classes. For more information, call  413-772-6811 , email info@franklyarts.com or visit www.franklyarts.com.

HILLTOWN FAMILY VARIETY SHOW

Hilltown Family Variety ShowHope Harris will Guest DJ the HFVS this weekend show playing tunes by Annette Funicello, John Prine. The Sippy Cups, The Subdudes, Ella Fitzgerald, Sly & The Family Stone, Johnny Cash, Julie Andrews, and many others, including selection off her new CD, Cousins Jamboree.

Tune in every Saturday from 9-10am. Encore episodes are aired every Sunday from 7-8am. Families have several ways to tune in to the Hilltown Family Variety Show:

  • Streaming Audio: Surf on over to ValleyFreeRadio.org on Saturday & Sunday mornings and listen to us live via streaming audio.
  • On Your FM Dial: Tune in to WXOJ 103.3FM if you live near Northampton, MA.
  • Podcast: Listen to the most recent episodes of the Hilltown Family Variety Show anytime you wish! Click here to see our current select of episodes, and be sure to subscribe to our podcast too!

WEEKLY LIST OF SUGGESTED EVENTS:
Aug 6th-12th, 2011

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Suggest an Event | Forecast | Museum Passes | Farmers’ Markets | Weekly eNewsletter

Read the rest of this entry »

100 Links (Spring/Summer 2011)

100 Links (Spring/Summer 2011)

Nearly every day we add recommended links to the Hilltown Families bank of on-line resources.  Some of you might find these links well suited for your family, others, maybe not so much.  But it’s a fun and useful list worth perusing of online resource that are educational and entertaining!

Follow Me on DeliciousWhere are these links? Hilltown Families Del.ici.ous Page!  This icon can be found at the top of our site, in the left-hand column.  Click any time to see what links we’ve added!

Below is the latest 100 links we’ve shared: (you will need to use the “back” button to return to this page). All links are provided as a courtesy and not as an endorsement:

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5 Ways Springfield Shaped the Art of Dr. Seuss

And to Think that He Saw It in Springfield!

Sara J. Orr of the Springfield Museums writes:

The huge old building with four belching smokestacks that was the Springfield Gasworks appears as the Thneeds factory in "The Lorax".

The influence of Springfield, MA on the world famous children’s book author known as Dr. Seuss is explained in And to Think that He Saw It in Springfield, a new exhibit at the Lyman and Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History at the Quadrangle.

Theodor Seuss Geisel was born in Springfield, MA on March 2, 1904, in his family’s home on Howard Street. The Geisels moved to 74 Fairfield Street in the Forest Park neighborhood when Ted was two years old, and it was there that he grew up.

Although Ted Geisel left home after he graduated from Dartmouth in 1925, the familiar buildings, people and landscapes from his childhood in Springfield appear again and again in his books. The exhibition includes many remarkable comparisons of his fanciful illustrations with actual photographs of places and things in Springfield that he would have known.

Vintage photo of the former Springfield Gasworks building, the Thneed factory depicted in "The Lorax". Click to see larger image.

The title of his first published children’s book, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, refers to an actual street in Springfield that Ted Geisel would have walked past on his way to high school.

The huge old building with four belching smokestacks that was the Springfield Gasworks appears as the Thneeds factory in The Lorax. The crenellated towers of the castle-like Howard Street Armory in Springfield appear in The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins.

The strange-looking vehicle driven by Sylvester McMonkey McBean in The Sneetches looks very much like a huge tractor built in Springfield by the Knox Automobile Company. The winding paths that once weaved their way through Springfield’s Forest Park, where Ted Geisel’s father was park superintendent, appear in Horton Hears a Who!.

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Sharing Shabbat in Western MA

Not Your Grandparents' Shtel: Exploring Jewish Culture in Western Mass by Amy Meltzer

Shabbat: Friday Night Dinner

Painting of Shabbat symbols by my daughter, Ella.

I grew up in the suburbs of Baltimore. At 17, I left for college in New England. I eagerly traded sprawl for small town centers, malls for main street, and never once looked back. Other than family, what could I possibly miss?

The answer caught me by surprise. I was raised in a Jewish family, and almost everyone I knew in Pikesville, Maryland celebrated the same holidays, observed some version of the same dietary laws, and casually tossed around the same Yiddish expressions. At the time, I despised the lack of diversity. Now, as my husband and I raise our daughters in the Jewish tradition, I sometimes miss how easy it was to be part of the majority.

In Western Massachusetts, we’re a minority, and it’s not always so easy. But this challenge is also a gift. We take nothing for granted, and every ritual that my husband (who is not Jewish) and I choose to observe with our daughters involves a conscious choice, an explanation, and a concerted effort. If Pikesville was a few steps away from the traditional shtetl of my Eastern European ancestors, then Western Massachusetts is a good, long shlep. Which means that finding other families to celebrate with isn’t as simple as looking next door or down the block. We’ve had to work a little harder to create community, and, our definition of community has expanded.

This new column, Not Your Grandparents’ Shtetl, is my attempt to share a little bit of how our interfaith family has made Judaism a part of our lives, and to look more closely at what Western Massachusetts has to offer other families who are interested in doing the same.

Friday Night Family Dinners

The girls help prepare homemade challah bread for Shabbat. (Photo credit: Amy)

One of my favorite rituals is the traditional Shabbat, or Friday night, dinner. The Hebrew word Shabbat means rest, and harkens back to the biblical story of creation, when God rested on the seventh day after forming the world.  While our family makes a concerted effort to have a family meal almost every night of the week, it tends to be rushed, without much fuss on the part of the cook (me) or much lingering on the part of the diners. There’s a race to get homework done, the dog walked, lessons planned, and bodies cleaned (or sort of clean) before a 7:30 bedtime.

Shabbat is different. The Jewish Sabbath begins at sundown on Friday. The meal traditionally starts with blessings of thanks – we light candles, sing a prayer over wine or grape juice, and recite a blessing over braided challah bread. The food is usually a little fancier than weekday fare – in our house, the challah is homemade, the entrée is usually chicken, and there’s always a special dessert. Bedtimes are stretched, or ignored altogether. Many weeks, we invite another family to join us. Other times, another family invites us. Sometimes, we gather at our synagogue for a communal meal.

The traditional observance of Shabbat involves abstaining from all work until nightfall on Saturday. In our non-traditional family, Saturday isn’t always quite so restful. The girls might have swim lessons, my husband might referee a soccer game, and I might catch up on housework. But a relaxing Friday night dinner is non-negotiable.

Western MA Events: August 2011

This month, an array of Jewish institutions are co-sponsoring a series of Friday night intergenerational picnics called “Shabbat Under the Sky.” Open to all, these evenings are a chance to experience some of the traditional aspects of a Jewish Shabbat dinner along with music, conversation, kid-friendly activities, and a picnic in a beautiful outdoor setting. Challah, juice and dessert will be provided. The events are from 5:30-7:30pm and are free of charge. More information is available here, or by calling Dyan Wiley at 413-439-1941.

August 5 –Amherst
Location: Groff Park off Route 116.
Entertainment: Puppet Show and music by Felicia Sloin.
Dinner: Bring your own vegetarian picnic.

August 19—East Longmeadow
Location: Heritage Park.
Entertainment: Puppet show by Anna Sobel.
Dinner: Bring your own vegetarian dinner or purchase sandwich wraps (click here to pre-order by August 10).

August 26 –Greenfield
Green River Swimming & Recreation Area, Nash’s Mill Road.
Entertainment: Puppet show by Anna Sobel.
Dinner: Bring your own vegetarian dinner OR potluck item to share.

August 26—Northampton
Location: Look Park, Westwood Shelter.
Entertainment: Jam by local musicians, TBA.
Dinner: Bring your own vegetarian dinner.

Next Month

The Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, falls in the month of September. Next month we’ll look at ways to celebrate the new year with apples, honey and a delicious challah recipe, and find out about family friendly events for the holiday.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Amy Meltzer

Amy is a Kindergarten teacher at Lander-Grinspoon Academy in Northampton, MA, and the author of two children’s books, A Mezuzah on the Door, and The Shabbat Princess. She writes the blog Homeshuling for Beliefnet, and a monthly column for the Jewish parenting site Kveller.com. Amy lives in Northampton, MA with her husband and two daughters.

The Bloomin’ Onion

An Awkward Dance

Yesterday I saw my youngest son for the first time in five weeks. He wasn’t away at camp or on vacation, and he still lived just a mere 7 miles away with his dad. But for reasons I won’t go into here, he didn’t want to see me or any of us who lived in the little house in which he used to reside. So it came as a surprise when he called wanting to attend his big brother’s play with me.

Just before I left to pick him up I was nervous as a middle-schooler going to her first dance, a combination of giddiness and anxiety crashed around in my stomach. He came out to the car hiding under his bangs which were down to below his nose. The mom in me wanted to shout, “Ever heard of a hair cut??” But the middle- schooler just wanted him to like me. So I put on a cheery smile and tousled that long hair and said, “Hey stranger! I am so glad to see you.” He blew the hair out of his face but avoided my gaze. Staring straight out the front window of the car smiling awkwardly as if he cut out a picture of the Cheshire Cat’s grin and pasted it on his face he answered, “Yeah.”

Luckily the drive to the theater where the play was being performed was a short 60 seconds, but the silence that loomed in the car made it feel like 60 years. So much to say, and yet I was so unsure of how, when, or even if I SHOULD say it. As we approached the school, I mustered a few comments about someone taking my secret parking spot. Perhaps I tried too hard…perhaps it was too cheery, but I got a multi-word response–progress.

Sitting down in the auditorium, I glanced up at the clock and realized that we had 30 minutes until the show started. Thirty minutes—an eternity with the way things were going. Still in middle school mode, my palms sweat and I searched for something “cool” to say–some area of conversation that we could find common ground, but my mind was blank. No. Not really blank. It was filled with all the things I wanted to say, needed to say, wanted him to hear, needed him to hear, and all of that was too loud and drowned out any clear thinking.

I was sweaty. I was mad at myself. I felt like a fool. I mustered a “How’s work?” question. He turned toward me, still not meeting my eyes, but answered in a short paragraph. Once again the silence loomed over us and I began to chastise myself. Then…well then Mark arrived, and well, I can only describe his appearance as a gift from the Universe.

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