21 Community Highlights: Tap Dance to Folklore. Tulips to Trees.

Edible Book to Dr. Seuss Birthday. Wind Turbines to Hydrodynamics. Black Holes to Hubble Telescope. Food Systems to Sugaring

These are just a few of the community learning highlights we’re featuring this week!

Peruse our list below and make plans to get out into your community and learn while you play!

Featured learning highlight this week: Just when you think you can’t stand winter for one minute longer, the spring flower shows open up at area colleges offering smells and colors of spring! Both the Smith College Botanical Garden and the Mount Holyoke College Botanic Garden will show off their extensive collections of flowering bulbs in their greenhouses starting this Saturday, March 1. Smith College’s annual Spring Bulb Show will take place at the Lyman Conservatory in Northampton, and The Spring Flower Show at Mt. Holyoke will be held in the college’s Talcott Greenhouse in South Hadley. A visit to these free shows can support or inspire a love for flowers and learning about botany and plant habitat. Why is it, children might wonder, that the bulbs are blooming even though nothing else in nature seems to have woken up? What is it about greenhouses that allows plants to bloom when there is still snow on the ground? Ask questions and learn what makes a greenhouse different from outdoors to better understand the different needs that species of plants have.


Literacy/ArtLocal History  ♦ Performing ArtFolkloreHuman StudiesBotanyDendrologyFood StudiesScience & SustainabilityMaple HistoryAstronomyParent WorkshopsEngineering


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31 Community Highlights: Shaker Inventions to Turkish Coffee. Telescopes to Architecture.

On Saturday afternoon, Feb. 22, families are invited to Mt. Tom State Reservation in Holyoke for a free guided family program – “Signs of the Season.”

Shaker Inventions to Turkish Coffee. Smith Splash to Kitchen Kaboom. Telescopes to Rainforest

These are just a few of the community learning highlights we’re featuring this week!

Peruse our list below and make plans to get out into your community and learn while you play!

Featured learning highlight this week: Students in grades 6 through 12 (ages 11 through 18) are invited to come to Smith Splash in Northampton on the Smith College campus for a day of workshops for middle and high school students taught by college students. Write a parody song, learn about energy and mathematical proofs, create a zine, and learn American Sign Language. Takes place on Saturday, Mar 1. Registration deadline is Wednesday, Feb. 26!


HistoryBirds of PreyFilm StudiesNature StudiesSTEMEntomologyCultureFood StudiesArchitectureBlack History MonthParent Workshops


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26 Community Highlights: Chain Reactions to Aviation. Candy Land to Medieval Feasts.

To help kids understand the concept of interrelatedness, try building your very own chain reactions at home using dominos! Building chains of dominoes is the classic DIY chain reaction. On Monday afternoon, Feb. 17, the 7th Annual Domino Toppling Extravaganza take place!  See this classic DIY chain reaction take place on a large scale and marvel at the cascade of a chain reaction.

Chain Reactions to Aviation. Saber-Tooth Cat to Arctic Gray Wolf. Candy Land to Medieval Feasts….

These are just a few of the community learning highlights we’re featuring this week!

Peruse our list below and make plans to get out into your community and learn while you play!

Featured learning highlight this week: Did you know that the world’s largest collection of dinosaur tracks is housed at Amherst College in the Beneski Museum of Natural History?  The Museum offers opportunities for families and students to learn about the natural history of the Pioneer Valley and many other parts of the world during February Vacation week, Feb 18-21, with free guided tours for families with children ages 5 and up. There are over 1,700 specimens (including skeletons of a mammoth, cave bear, and saber-tooth cat, and skulls of a tyrannosaurus rex and a triceratops!), some from as far away as Patagonia, housed at the Museum, along with several collections, including anthropology, ichnology, meteorites, mineralogy, osteology, paleobotany and taxidermy. These guided tours will help museum visitors discover all the neat things the museum has to offer while learning about the natural history of the Pioneer Valley.


Animal TrackingMusic StudiesHistoryWolvesSTEMMuseum AdventuresCreative Free PlaySnowshoe Hikes


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Valentine’s Day Tips for Dads and Daughters

Don’t let Valentine’s Day be just one more chance for Dad to feel like a walking, talking (and unappreciated) checkbook. These Dads & Daughters Tips will help fathers and stepfathers to show daughters that they care on Valentine’s Day and beyond.

  • ❥ Remember, a Daughter hungers for healthy involvement and attention from Dad (even if she doesn’t always show it).
  • ❥ A Daughter wants assurance that her Father and/or Stepfather really knows her and cares about her.
  • ❥ A Daughter wants to feel that Dad is proud of her and that he loves and understands her.
  • ❥ A Daughter wants these intangibles far more than she wants a box of candy or any other present or card.
  • ❥ Daughters sometimes feel that Dads only know how to show their love by buying something. So supplement this year’s store-bought Valentine’s card and candy with your unique message of love.
  • ❥ Give her a hand-written note or personal email — in your own words — telling her how proud you are of her, what you admire about her, how much you enjoy your time together, etc.
  • ❥ Give her the greatest gift of all: your time. Listen to what she has to say and what’s important to her.
  • ❥ Spend 1-on-1 time together on Valentine’s Day or the next available weekend. See a movie, take a walk, go out for coffee or ice cream, play catch. There are a million possibilities (for more ideas, see The Dads & Daughters Togetherness Guide: 54 Fun Activities to Help Build a Great Relationship).
  • ❥ Remember that she only gets one chance to have you as her Dad or Stepdad while she’s still a girl.
  • ❥ Out of the thousand things you do every day, make sure you always give attention, thought, time, and affection to your Daughter — and your Son.

Have a wonderful Valentine’s Day with your children! Read the rest of this entry »

A Love Letter to My Children

The Good Life: A Year of Thoughtful Seasons by Sarah Mattison Buhl

A Love Letter

My daughter is curious about love. She is ten going on 25, and wants my dirt. “Who was your first kiss?” Tim Rikkers. “Were you in love with someone in high school?” Yes. “Did you ever curl up and cry really hard over someone?” Gulp. The last response gets stuck in my throat like a long-forgotten bone. Yes, I answer honestly, wanting her to know the truth about me and inevitably, herself. I explain that it was a really long time ago, and that the morning he left, I felt as though my heart walked away from my body. “Did you tell your mom?” No, I admitted, I hadn’t. My mom wasn’t the touchy-feely type, and had little time for foolishness. But if someone could have told me a few things about love ahead of time, I would have listened hard. There are lots of articles on the general topic, but most are written with the finger pointing squarely at the other person, and what they are sorely lacking. They have titles like, “11 Signs you are Dating A Boy, Not a Man,” and “30 Signs you are Dating a Jerk.” But everyone knows, or has at least heard, that you can’t change people, you can only change yourself. So assuming that my young adult children will not associate with complete sociopaths, there are some things I want them to know before I miss the opportunity. A “love letter” to them would read something like this: Read the rest of this entry »

40 Community Highlights: Valentine’s Day to Black History Month. Creative Free Play to Chemistry.

Pioneer Valley Bread House in South Hadley is holding a bread-baking event that’s open to everyone on Tuesday evening, February 11! Come learn how to bake bread from scratch and share, learn, and create with community members. Baking bread is a fun and useful skill and this is a perfect event to help you get started! Takes place at Five College Women’s Studies Research Center.

Valentine’s Day to Black History Month. Creative Free Play to Chemistry. Bread Baking to Snowshoeing.

These are just a few of the community learning highlights we’re featuring this week!

Peruse our list below and make plans to get out into your community and learn while you play!

Featured learning highlight this week: The UMass Department of Chemistry and the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education Institute is holding a family chemistry demonstration night to display the wonders of chemistry and chemical reactions on Thursday, February 13 in Amherst. There will be exciting explosions, colorful reactions, and much more! Come see how cool chemistry is at this family event! Students, parents, and teachers are especially encouraged to attend this free night of science!


Creative Free Play Community Service/Animal WelfareSportsValentine HistoryLocal HistoryNature StudiesOutdoor AdventuresSTEMBaking ♦  Valentine’s DayBlack History MonthParent Workshops


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Random Acts of Kindness with Handmade Valentines!

Handmade Valentine Workshop for Families on Friday, Feb. 7th from 4-7pm The Art Garden in Shelburne Falls

Make Your Own Handmade Valentines with Hilltown Families at The Art Garden in Shelburne Falls during a free family workshop: Friday, February 7th, from 4-7pm.

Handmade valentines are wonderful expressions of thoughtfulness that can be shared with neighbors and friends, or with people you might not know. Join us to make many! Think about making a valentine for your librarian, postal worker, or teacher. Make several and deliver them to a nearby homeless shelter, nursing home, or an elderly neighbor in your community. Send them in the mail to long lost friends or relatives you have never met!

Handmade valentines are lovely tokens of kindness to share with others!  Join us to make a batch of your own! Drop in anytime. All materials included, but feel free to bring any materials you’d like to incorporate into your handmade valentines. Space is limited for this free event and pre-registration encouraged. Click here to sign up!

Valentine History & Events in Western MA

Valentine History & Events in Western MA

Esther Howland, a Mt. Holyoke graduate and Worcester native, began designing fancy valentine cards in 1848 and hired young women to help cut and paste together these small works of art. By 1850 she was advertising her cards in the newspaper, and by the 1860s she was selling up to $100,000 worth of valentines annually. – This cloth and lace Valentine card was made by Esther Howland, ca. 1870s.

Every year, Americans exchange an average of 142 million Valentine’s Day cards – making the holiday near the top of the list of holidays where large amounts of cards are exchanged (second only to Christmas). Valentines come in many different shapes and sizes, and can be handmade or store bought, clever and creative, or very traditional. Whatever form they come in, the valentines that we exchange each year have their roots right here in western Massachusetts!

The American valentine industry was started during the mid-19th century by Esther Howland, a Mt. Holyoke graduate and Worcester native. Often called “The Mother of the Valentine,” Howland was inspired by the beautiful, ornate valentines imported from England and suspected that there might be a market for them in the United States, as well. Through her father’s paper company, she sold her first valentines in 1848 and within a few years was able to begin her own business, the New England Valentine Company.

True to Howland’s plan, the valentines sold by the company included lots of lacy, cut paper and fanciful images of all kinds. Today, Mt. Holyoke College’s Archives and Special Collections house a variety of valentines created by Howland’s company. Seen in a video offered by the college, the valentines embody the spirit of the Victorian era with their intricate designs and elaborate decorative features. Eventually, Howland sold her company to a competitor and left the valentine industry. However, her legacy lives on in the tradition that we practice every Valentine’s Day!  Monday, February 10th through the end of the month the Archives & Special Collections will feature a student-curated exhibit case of valentines in the Library’s courtyard (next to Rao’s coffee shop inside the building). You can see examples of many valentines from the Mount Holyoke collection on their valentines Pinterest board.

Find out about events happening this weekend that celebrate the history of the valentine…

Handmade Valentines Workshop: Spreading Random Acts of Kindness with Hilltown Families & The Art Garden

Handmade Valentine Workshop for Families on Friday, Feb. 7th from 4-7pm The Art Garden in Shelburne Falls

Make Your Own Handmade Valentines with Hilltown Families at The Art Garden in Shelburne Falls during a free family workshop: Friday, February 7th, from 4-7pm.

Handmade valentines are wonderful expressions of thoughtfulness that can be shared with neighbors and friends, or with people you might not know. Join us to make many! Think about making a valentine for your librarian, postal worker, or teacher. Make several and deliver them to a nearby homeless shelter, nursing home, or an elderly neighbor in your community. Send them in the mail to long lost friends or relatives you have never met!

Handmade valentines are lovely tokens of kindness to share with others!  Join us to make a batch of your own! Drop in anytime. All materials included, but feel free to bring any materials you’d like to incorporate into your handmade valentines. Space is limited for this free event and pre-registration encouraged. Click here to sign up!

6th Annual Handmade Valentine Swap for Western MA Families

Hilltown Families 6th Annual
Community Handmade Valentine Swap

Hilltown Families 6th Annual Community Handmade Valentine Swap! Free to sign up and open to all. Deadline to sign up: Jan 31st. Join us!

It’s that time of the year again! For the past six years Hilltown Families has coordinated a community Handmade Valentine Swap — and we’re doing it again! Making handmade valentines is a great way to push against the commercialization of yet another holiday, while being creative with your family and friends. Sign up below!  It’s free and open to all families in western Massachusetts!

A handmade valentine swap gives local families an opportunity to be creative together while connecting with other families in Western Massachusetts.  Through the swap, participating families mail out handmade valentines to ten assigned addresses, and in return, they receive handmade valentines from ten other participating families.  The cards can be handmade by any combination of child and adult, so if you’re kids aren’t completely up to the task, or if an adult would like to make their own design, there’s flexibility.  All are welcomed!

Deadline to sign up (below) is Friday, January 31st. On Saturday (02/01/14), you will be emailed your assigned names/address of participants to mail your handmade valentines to.  Everyone is kindly requested to mail your valentines off by Feb. 7th.

Here are a few samples of valentines swapped in years past to stir your creative juices:

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If interested in participating, the information below must be filled out and submitted by Friday, January 31st.  If you have multiple children and would like each one to receive their own list of families to swap with, please register each person separately. Click here to sign up!

Music About Love, Kindness & Friendship for Valentine’s Day

Hilltown Families’ Friends Share a Little Love!

Moon hugs and star kisses! Our friend Charity Kahn from Charity and the JAMband in San Franciso wishes us all a Happy Valentine’s Day in this archived episode of the Hilltown Family Variety Show which aired last year for Valentine’s Day on Valley Free Radio:  HFVS Valentine’s Day 2012 Episode with Guest DJ, Charity Kahn.

This year Charity gathered artwork from children all over the country, ranging in ages 1.5-9 years old, and put them together in this video to accompany her song, “Valentine,” off of her album, Family Values, Hilltown Families number one pick featured in our post,  Top 11 Family Music CD Releases from 2012.

Another little love gem from our archives is with our friend Robert (aka Uncle Rock) when he guest DJed the HFVS back in 2007:  Valentine Episode with Guest DJ, Uncle Rock.

And this past fall, our friend Ben from Ben Rudnick & Friends, put together a show that celebrates love: HFVS Love Episode with Guest DJ, Ben Rudnick.  Give a listen and check out music he features off  of his CD Love, also featured in our post, Top 11 Family Music CD Releases from 2012.

22 Community Highlights: Victorian Valentines to Mardi Gras. Winterfest to Fire & Ice.

Having a snow day? Here’s a fun papercraft to make with your kids for Valentine’s Day : Swedish Heart Baskets. Click on the image for directions.

Chocolate History to Guitar History. Victorian Valentines to Mardi Gras. Winterfest to Fire & Ice… These are just a few of the learning & community highlights we’re featuring this week. Get out into your community and learn while you play!

History | Valentine Celebrations | Animals | Community Events | Outdoor Adventures | Mardi Gras | Fiber Arts | Science | Theater Studies

HISTORY

Chocolate and Valentine’s Day go together like peanut butter and jelly! Learn about the history of chocolate – bean to bar – and Valentine’s Day traditions at Old Sturbridge Village on Sunday, February 10th. Families can make their own valentines and meet the local women responsible for the tradition of sharing cards on Valentine’s Day. The tradition began with handmade cards, and grew into an entire company! There will also be demonstrations of chocolate processing and the making of a hot, spiced chocolate drink. Families can also learn a 19th century recipe for chocolate cake! There will, of course, be the usual opportunities to learn about life in early New England that Old Sturbridge Village offers. Families can supplement studies of American history and culture by visiting the village, and make their visit fun and holiday-related by learning about Valentine’s Day traditions! Read our featured post, Be Mine: Chocolate and Valentines.

The Springfield Museums will host a lecture titled, “Les Paul’s New Sound: Re-Imagining the Electric Guitar in 1950’s America,” featuring Smith College professor Steve Waksman on Sunday afternoon. The talk will teach visitors about the role that Les Paul’s music played in the changing sound of American music during the mid-20th century. Also featured will be Quinnipiac University professor John Thomas, who will share his process of x-raying vintage guitars to examine their craftsmanship. Great for older students interested in music, music history, and cultural studies and ties into the current exhibit, GUITAR: The Instrument That Rocked the World.

Hold your pinky high – it’s time for a fancy tea at Ventfort Hall on Thursday afternoon, February 14th in Lenox! In honor of Valentine’s Day, the museum is hosting a special tea-tasting event, where visitors can learn about the history of specific tea blends, as well as the origins of teas and recent changes in the tea market. Special emphasis will be placed on the history of the JP Morgan blend, a special tea commissioned by JP Morgan himself – it was his favorite! Best for older students with some background in world history and basic economics, the event will help students learn about world trade, and the changes in food sourcing and sales throughout American history. BYO teacup! Victorian high tea to follow the tasting.

VALENTINE CELEBRATIONS

Use antique valentines for inspiration at a valentine-making workshop at the Wistariahurst Museum on Sunday afternoon, February 10th in Holyoke! There will be plenty of materials on hand, along with Victorian poetry and sayings to embellish your artwork with. Read our featured post, Victorian Valentines Workshop & Era Days at Wistariahurst Museum.

On Tuesday afternoon, February 12th, visit the Sixteen Acres Library in Springfield for a special Valentine tea! Kids ages 5-8 and their parents can learn about different kinds of tea and have some treats (including chocolate milk in place of tea, if they prefer!) – and there will be a special edible craft, too! Wear a fancy hat or don one borrowed from the library. (FREE)

Still need to make some last-minute valentines? The Williston Library children’s department in Easthampton is hosting a pre-Valentine’s Day celebration that will include card and craft making, and a performance of “Little Bear’s Valentine” by Emily’s Players on Tuesday afternoon. (FREE)

Looking for a date night on Valentine’s Day, Thursday, February 14th? Spend Valentine’s evening at MASS MoCA in North Adams – there will be tours, gift-making, romantic games, and couples yoga. End the evening with dinner at Lickety Split! The Kidspace will offer kids’ programming, and parents can drop off kids for their own special Valentine’s evening, including crafts, dinner, and lots of other fun activities.

Another way to celebrate Valentine’s Day is seeing a screening of Casablanca at the Amherst Cinema for a cozy date night on Thursday! Well known as one of the greatest love stories from the golden age of film, the movie stars Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman as lovers forced to choose between love and virtue in Africa during World War II.

Parents and their kids 10 and under can enjoy an evening out at a special parent/child Sweetheart Dance on Friday evening, February 15th in Florence! Hosted by Northampton Recreation, the dance will have live (family-friendly) DJ music, crafts, games, and treats.

ANIMALS

Pooches of all shapes and sizes strut their stuff on Sunday, February 10th at Berkshire Community College in the 12th annual Not Your Average Dog Show in Pittsfield! There are lots of non-traditional categories for pups to compete in, including mystery mutt, best trick, most beautiful eyes, “earresistable” ears, and more. Dog lovers of all ages will love spectating at this event.

Preschoolers can become track-finding nature detectives this morning at the Hitchcock Center in Amherst on Friday morning, February 15th! The Winter Wonderland Detectives program will teach young children to look for tracks in winter, and will include a track-themed storytime and a track-finder guide making activity.

COMMUNITY EVENTS

Shovel out your car and visit MASS MoCA in North Adams on Saturday, February 9th – for Free Family Day!  Along with the usual opportunities to learn about (and make) modern art by visiting the museum’s galleries, there will be special performances, tours, and workshops today, too!  Families can learn all about the many works of art housed at MASS MoCA  by taking tours which will be held throughout the day.  Visitors ages 16 and older can take part in a dance workshop with Batsheva Emsemble (bring water and a towel!).  The day ends with a family-friendly psychedelic Latin dance party featuring the sounds of Brooklyn’s Chicha Libre!  Tickets to the show cost extra for those over 12.   (FREE)

Easthampton’s 5th annual Fire and Ice Art Walk takes place on Saturday evening, February 9th, FEBRUARY 16TH! The event features, of course, beautiful and interesting artwork by local artists and locations throughout town, and will also offer exciting wintery activities for families. There will be a bonfire at Nashawannuck Pond (but ice harvest has been cancelled), luminaries, live music, poetry readings from 6:30-7:30 at participating Art Walk locations, and a collaborative community art project titled, “For the Love of Easthampton, Valentines for the City,” will be taking place at city hall for families to participate in! Read our feature post, Warm Up this Winter with Easthampton Fire & Ice Art Walk!

Take a horse-drawn sleigh ride, race down a hill in a cardboard box, play some frisbee (winter style!), watch fireworks, taste chilis entered in the chili cook-off, a marvel at ice sculptures, and practice your cross-country ski skills on Sunday, February 10th at Winterfest Amherst (rescheduled from Saturday, Feb. 9th)! The annual event takes place at the Cherry Hill Golf Course, and features tons of exciting winter-themed family activities. Beat cabin fever and spend the day outdoors!

OUTDOOR ADVENTURES

Snowshoe with the Trustees of Reservations at Peaked Mountain in Monson on Sunday afternoon, February 10th! Snowshoes available for rent with registration.

Explore Chapel Brook in Ashfield with the Trustees of Reservations on Thursday morning, February 14th and learn to identify moss and lichen species! The 1-2 hour hike will include lots of stops for observation and identification practice, so bring any interesting field guides or other resources if you’d like!

Look for tracks and other signs of wildlife on Wednesday morning, February 13th at Mt. Greylock with the Berkshire Natural Resources Council in Adams! The 2-4 mile expedition will take about 2 hours, but is relatively easy. Hikers can see a new beaver lodge, and can wander through some of the many game trails created by the wildlife who call the mountain home. An excellent supplement to studies of local biodiversity and natural resources! (FREE)

MARDI GRAS

On Saturday, February 9th from 9-10am and Sunday, February 10th from 7-8am, tune in on your FM dial, or listen live via streaming audio at www.valleyfreeradio.org, to the Hilltown Family Variety Show! Children’s book author and musician Johnette Downing and Grammy Award winning producer Scott Billington offer a carnival of Louisiana roots music; a showcase of Cajun, New Orleans Rhythm and Blues, Zydeco, Brass Band and Jazz music by Louisiana artists. (FREE)

Celebrate Mardi Gras and Carnival together at Mardival on Sunday afternoon in Nothampton! The Academy of Music hosts this special performance, featuring the Expandable Brass Band, Samba SA, and the Jaimoe Jasssz Band with special guests Samirah Evans and Duke Robillard. The event will share New Orleans-style jazz and Brazilian music to celebrate the annual celebration of Carnival in New Orleans and Rio de Janero.

With Mardi Gras is coming up, prepare for the celebration by making a mask at the Forest Park Library in Springfield on Tuesday afternoon, February 12th! There will be feathers, beads, glitter, and more to make beautiful, unique masks with – express yourself, cajun-style! (FREE)

FIBER ARTS

On Sunday afternoon, February 10th, see a display of needlework in the Springfield Central Library’s Wellman Hall, and then work on your own crochet and hand-weaving skills! All skill levels are welcome, but young weavers/crocheters/knitters should be mature and able to interact with adults easily. Guidance will be offered for beginners. BYO materials. (FREE)

SCIENCE

Students from Pittsfield High School and Taconic High School present their projects for the Science and Innovation Fair at the Berkshire Museum on Tuesday, February 12th in Pittsfield! Approximately 170 students have participated in preparation for the event, and 80 collaborative projects will be displayed. Visitors can learn about the projects and ask questions about the young scientists’ methods and processes, and will also get free admission to see the museum’s exhibits. Students can be inspired by the projects that they see, and the high schoolers can serve as role models for independent work and scientific inquiry. (FREE)

THEATER STUDIES

By special arrangement with Hilltown Families, Shakespeare & Company in Lenox is pleased to offer our readers a rare opportunity to take in a classic Shakespearean performance paired with a guided tour backstage. On Friday, Feb. 15th at 10am, schools and homeschooling families are invited to a performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Tina Packer Playhouse, followed by a backstage guided tour where participants can learn how the process of theatre is crafted in the costume shop, prop studio, and production workshop. Tickets for this package are only $8/person and a Study Guide for educators is available to download before attending. To reserve discounted tickets, contact Alexandra Lincoln, and let her know you are a Hilltown Families reader: 413-637-1199 x131. Shakespeare & Company is located at 70 Kemble Street in Lenox. www.Shakespeare.org.

List of Weekly Suggested EventsFind out about these events and over 100 other events & activities happening all next week in our List of Weekly Suggested Events. All of our listed events are “suggested.” Please take a moment to confirm that these events are happening as scheduled, along with time, place, age appropriateness and costs before heading out.

SUPPORTING BOOK TITLES

Be Mine: Chocolate and Valentines

Be Mine: Chocolate and Valentines
The Roots of Valentine’s Day Traditions
Old Sturbridge Village: Feb. 9th & 10th

Historians at Old Sturbridge Village will celebrate the history of Valentines in America and demonstrate old-fashioned chocolate-making with “Be Mine: Chocolate and Valentines,” a weekend program set for Saturday and Sunday Feb. 9-10, 2013. – UPDATE: Due to the impending storm, the Village will be closed, Friday, February 8 and Saturday, February 9.

[02/08/13 UPDATE: OSV will be closed Sat., Feb. 9th and opened Sun. Feb. 10th]

The tradition of having chocolate on Valentine’s Day is a longstanding one – it has been around since the early days of New England, even!  Today’s Valentine’s traditions tend not to involve a lot of homemade chocolate or laborious preparations, however – usually we buy our chocolates at the grocery store or, in the most thoughtful of cases, from a local candy shop.  However, early Americans spent a lot of time preparing their delicious chocolate foods – a tradition that families can learn about this weekend at Old Sturbridge Village!

The village’s annual Be Mine: Chocolate and Valentines offers families a chance to learn about the history of chocolate – how it was prepared, where it came from, and how it was eaten.  Cacao beans were processed and ground by early New Englanders in order to create things like a spicy hot chocolate-style drink or a chocolate cake – with a surprising secret ingredient!  There will be both displays and demonstrations from which families can learn about 19th century chocolate-making techniques.  Do you know where the first Americans were supplied their chocolate from?  Before visiting, watch a video on the history of chocolate to learn some useful background information on the process of acquiring and preparing cocoa beans!

Along with chocolate, Valentine’s Day brings the sharing of valentine cards!  Since the roots of this tradition are local, the village will have special educational programs and hands-on activities on this topic, too!  Families can learn about the Worcester resident whose humble handmade card business blossomed into a large card-making company and, eventually, the huge tradition of Valentine’s Day cards that we have today.  Then, make your own valentines to share – inspired by images of antique cards shared by villages in the 1800’s.

Families can use a visit to the village to make this Valentine’s Day an educational one, rather than a commercialized one!  Students can exerience the roots of some of the traditions that they participate in, and will learn to better understand early American culture.  The village is open from 9:30am-4pm on both Saturday, February 9th and Sunday, February 10th.  More information and a complete schedule of events is available on the village’s website.  www.osv.org

Did You Know?

Chocolate

  • Spanish conquistadors brought chocolate from Central America back to Spain in the 16th century.  From there, it traveled through Europe, to England, and back to America.
  • Early versions of “chocolate cake” do not actually contain any chocolate. The name means that the cake was intended to be enjoyed with a cup of chocolate, just as “coffee cake” today is meant to be served with coffee.
  • Boston pharmacists advertised chocolate as a medicinal remedy as early as 1712, and by the late 1700s, there were hundreds of chocolate vendors in the city.
  • Chocolate was drunk as a medicine during the Lewis and Clark Expedition, and by California Gold Rush miners, but later in the 19th century, with the addition of milk and more sugar, chocolate was preferred more as a confection than as a health tonic.
  • New manufacturing processes developed during the Industrial Revolution transformed chocolate from an expensive drink into an inexpensive food.  By the late 1800s, chocolate was widely advertised to women and children through colorful posters and trade cards, and its iconic status as the world’s preferred candy was secured.

Valentines

  • The best known legend about St. Valentine has that he was a Roman martyr killed for his faith on February 14, 269 A.D. He may have been a priest who married couples in spite of the Emperor’s ban.
  • Valentine’s Day, like Christmas and many other Christian holidays, was originally an attempt to Christianize popular pagan festivals.  In pagan Rome, February 14 was dedicated to the goddess Juno (Hera in Greek mythology), wife of Jupiter (Zeus) and patroness of women and marriage.
  • Few New Englanders marked Valentine’s Day before its rise in the increasingly sentimental and economically prosperous 1840s.
  • As with other holidays, those who made money from Valentine’s Day encouraged its observance. In the 1840s when printing technology improved, sending handwritten notes and printed cards became even more popular. Enterprising shopkeepers encouraged the exchange of gloves, books, candy, and other gifts among a growing middle class.
  • Esther Howland, of Worcester, Mass. began designing fancy Valentine cards in 1848, and hired girls to help cut and paste together these small works of art. By 1850 she was advertising her cards in the newspaper, and by 1860 she was selling between $50,000 and $100,000 worth of Valentines annually.

(Source: Old Sturbridge Village)

Victorian Valentines Workshop & Era Days at Wistariahurst Museum

Victorian Valentines Workshop
Wistariahurst Museum in Holyoke
Sunday, February 10th, 2013

Join museum staff for an afternoon of crafting valentines for friends, family and sweethearts on Sunday, February 10th. Antique valentines, bygone love poems and enchanting phrases will be on display for inspiration.

On Sunday, February 10 from 1-3pm, come to Wistariahurst Museum for this fun and creative program that will inspire the artist in everyone! In 1847, the year she graduated from Mount Holyoke Female Seminary, Esther Howland of Worcester, Massachusetts received her first Valentine’s Day card. She was so pleased with this English novelty that she tried making some valentines of her own. With the help of her brother, a salesman who carried her cards with him along with his other samples, she received $5,000 worth of orders her first year in business!

Esther was able to handle the large volume of orders by employing friends and using “assembly-line” techniques for the production of her cards. Her cards were covered with an array of linen lace, colored paper, hand-painted birds and flowers and hand-inscribed, rhymed messages.

Esther found herself a true businesswoman by the end of 1849. She continued to make valentines for two decades. She eventually would profit $50,000 -$100,000 annually from the sale of her cards. Esther Howland’s business success made her one of America’s first “modern woman.”

Channel your inner Esther by creating your own beautiful, unique card for special friends, family and sweethearts. Antique valentines, bygone love poems and enchanting phrases will be on display for inspiration. Reservations for the workshop are suggested. $5 per person.

Victorian Era Days

Holyoke: From Monday, February 18 to Thursday, February 21 from 11am – 12pm, step out of the winter doldrums and back in time at Wistariahurst Museum! The museum is offering daily craft workshops for interested Girl Scouts and other young women. Victorian Era days is a program designed to educate young women on pastimes of yore. $5 per person per activity. Reserve online at www.wistariahurst.org

Monday, February 18, 11am-12pm: Decorated Diaries
Each member of the Skinner family kept countless journals, diaries and scrapbooks. Help keep the tradition alive by binding and decorating your own diary and learning a bit more about what was in the heads of the Skinner family.

Tuesday, February 19, 11am-12pm: Build a Bookmark
Before Kindles & Nooks there existed books! Often acting as mini-scrapbooks, bookmarks were more than just a placeholder. Join us for story-time and the opportunity to make your own bookmark keepsake.

Wednesday, February 20, 11am-12pm: Historic Hats & Hatboxes
First, take a peek at some of the antique hats Wistariahurst has gathered over time in its archives. Then, after being inspired by such ornate headwear, decorate your own miniature hatbox to take home with you!

Thursday, February 19, 11am-12pm: Fancy Fans
Become bilingual in the language of the fan with an afternoon at Wistariahurst! Scouts can see some examples of antique fans and then have the chance to decorate their own. Ending the hour of fun is a lesson on the art of communicating with your fan.

Wistariahurst Museum is located at 238 Cabot Street in Holyoke. For more information, please call 413-322-5660 or go online at www.wistariahurst.org.

-Submitted by Marjorie Latham [Photo credit: (ccl) SLV]

26 Community Highlights: Glass Blowing to Handmade Valentines. Ice Harvest to Hobby Railroad.


February is Black History Month, also known as African-American History Month. From the archives, we have a few episode of the Hilltown Family Variety Show that would make excellent listening anytime, including the Underground Railroad Episode, Martin Luther King, Jr. Episode and Black History Month Episode— great shows for introducing American history and heroes to younger children through song and story. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield) 

Spelling Bee to Cosmology.  Glass Blowing to Handmade Valentines. Ice Harvest to Hobby Railroad. African-American History Month to Groundhogs Day… These are just a few of the learning highlights we’re featuring this week.  Get out into your community and learn while you play! And be sure to check our list of supporting book titles to supplement the learning on the different topics highlighted each week. Purchase them for your family library, or check them out from the public library!

Animals & Nature MYO Valentines
Black History Month
HistoryMusic & Art
Science & SpellingParents’ Night Out

ANIMAL & NATURE STUDIES

Saturday, February 2nd is Groundhog Day! Families with young children can celebrate in the morning at the Great Falls Discovery Center in Turners Falls by learning about the winter habits of the shadow-searching creatures, and make a guess about whether or not winter will last for six more weeks

Learn about raptors at the Greenfield Center School on Sunday afternoon, February 3rd at their annual free Birds of Prey Open House with Tom Ricardi, Raptor Rehabilitator. Bird-related activities and projects, like owl pellet dissecting, will be lead by Center School teachers.

In Williamstown in the afternoon on Sunday, explore Field Farm for their free Winter Wildlife Day at Williamstown Rural Lands Foundation. Dress warmly to trek around the farm, searching for signs of wildlife and learning about how the many creatures who call the farmlands home survive during the winter months. Bring snowshoes or skis if you wish. Warm up after your adventure by toasting marshmallows over a campfire! 4

In the morning on Wednesday, February 7th in Williamsburg, start out your day with some fresh air with a free guided hike at Petticoat Hill with the Trustees of Reservations. The theme of the hike is edible plant identification, and the hike will stop a few times along the way for observations. Bring a field guide and a camera if you want.

HANDMADE VALENTINES

Did you sign up for the Hilltown Families 5th annual Handmade Valentine Swap? Whether you did or not, making handmade valentines is a great way to push against the commercialization of yet another holiday, while being creative with your family and friends. There are a few opportunities to get out in your community to make valentines with others this weekend!

On Saturday morning, February 2nd, sign up to take part in the Eric Carle Museum’s Valentine-making party, which will take place in the museum’s art studio in Amherst or make your own valentines at the Mason Library in Great Barrington. In the afternoon on Saturday, families can also make their own handmade valentines at Art Party in Easthampton. If you can’t make any of those, on Sunday evening, February 3rd, kids ages 8-14 can learn basic drawing and print-making techniques with local artists at the Shutesburny Town Hall to use to create unique and beautiful handmade valentines.

BLACK HISTORY MONTH

There are also a few upcoming events happening at area museum that support the study of American history for older students. On Saturday morning, February 2nd the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield presents, “Envisioning Emancipation: Black Americans and the End of Slavery,” the first in a two-part lecture series featuring author Barbara Krauthamer. The presentation will use historic images (including the Massachusetts 54th Regiment, Sojourner Truth, abolitionist conventions, and more) to examine what the freedom granted by the Emancipation Proclamation really looked like in the years just after its implementation. Older students can pair the event with studies of American history and civil rights – gaining a critical understanding of the implications of the historic proclamation can help students better understand the roots of race-related conflicts and inequalities. The second lecture will take place at the same time on Saturday, February 9th.

Learn about the history of slavery in the Connecticut River Valley on Thursday at noon, February 7th at the Springfield Museums’ Museums a la Carte lecture, featuring Amherst College Professor Robert Romer. During the 1700’s, it was commonplace for important, prominent people to own slaves – even ministers. Older students can learn how the practice of slave-holding affected the history of their community.

Learn about the powerful images that Norman Rockwell created during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s on Friday afternoon, February 8th in Stockbridge. Norman Rockwell Museum’s Curator of Education Tom Daly will share the stories behind the creation of such paintings as “The Problem We All Live With,” “Murder in Mississippi,” and “New Kids in the Neighborhood,” and Rockwell’s dedication to civil rights throughout his career.

HISTORY

The annual Amherst Railroad Society Railroad Hobby Show takes place this weekend (Feb. 2nd & 3rd) at the Big E in West Springfield, and contains everything related to rail travel, from real life railroad pieces to scale models and extensive hobby train set-ups. There will be displays from railroad historical societies, hobby builders, suppliers, and more – the event has something for everyone, whether you’re new to studying railroads and model trains of a seasoned enthusiast! Families can learn about the history of rail travel, and the numerous types of trains and their uses. Kids can also learn about the history of railroad use in the area, and will learn about how their community has changed over the years.

Attend an old-fashioned ice harvest at the Old Shop Pond at the Noble and Cooley Center for Historic Preservation in Granville on Saturday afternoon, February 2nd. Dennis Picard, director of Storrowton Village, will teach visitors about the historic practice of cutting ice from the pond to store for the year. The museum will show a short video about the history of ice harvesting in New England on loop, so that visitors throughout the day can learn even more about winter life in early New England.

Local author Sarah Kilborne will read from American Phoenix: The Remarkable Story of William Skinner, the Man Who Turned Disaster into Destiny. on Sunday afternoon, February 3rd. The book tells the story of Skinner’s life, and offers much information about the history of local silk production, and Haydenville’s recovery from the 1874 flood. Takes place at the Meekins Library in Williamsburg.

Families can do hands-on activities to learn about early New England life at Old Sturbridge Village! The village’s winter homeschool day takes place on on Friday, February 8th and will feature a variety of special workshops for all ages, in addition to the daily opportunities to explore the village, meet historical re-enactors, and learn all about 1830’s culture and practices. Some of the workshops offered today include learning to make a kitchen grater using tin-working techniques, open hearth cooking, and studying the language of fans and dance etiquette.

MUSIC & ART STUDIES

Celebrate the opening of glass artist Noah Rockland’s new glassblowing studio on Sunday, February 3rd in Montague. Families can learn about the art of glassblowing and watch demonstrations.

Smith College’s John M. Greene Hall will be filled with the sounds of a capella on Sunday afternoon, February 3rd in Northampton. The Northampton Arts Council’s annual Silver Chord Bowl will feature groups from Smith College, Northeastern, the University of Connecticut, Yale, Tufts, NYU, Berklee College of Music, and the Northamptones. Families will love the unique sound that each group has, and can learn to better understand a capella music by listening to a sampling of well-performed pieces.

The Mt. Holyoke College Music Department presents flutist Andrea Kapell Loewy, principal in the Acadania Symphony, in concert on Wednesday afternoon, February 6th in Hadley. Students with audience skills can learn about the unique sound of this beautiful wind instrument at this free performance.

SCIENCE & SPELLING

Older students can learn about the science behind the human sense of smell at the OEB Science Cafe on Monday evening, February 4th in Hadley. This free event will take place at Esselon Cafe, and will be lead by UMass graduate student Tom Eiting will explain his work researching how nasal passages work and how smell is perceived in the brain.

Where did the universe come from? Learn about its origins on Tuesday evening, February 5th with cosmologist Lawrence Krauss at Williams College in Williamstown. Best for older students, the talk will cover recent developments in the field of particle physics, as well as ideas behind why there is something in the universe instead of nothing at this free talk.

The second annual Westfield city-wide spelling bee, Words With Friends, takes place on Thursday evening, February 7th. Students from all of the city’s fifth grade classrooms have participated in preliminary bees, and this final event will include two top spellers from each school! Takes place at Westfield State University.

PARENTS NIGHT OUT

Saturday night, February 2nd: Enjoy an evening of classic jazz at the Gateways Inn Restaurant in Lenox. The event is a fundraiser for the Great Barrington Rudolf Steiner School’s high school, and will feature local musicians.

Thursday, afternoon February 7th: Enjoy an indulgent night of wine and chocolate at the Springfield Museums! There will be wines to taste, chocolates to try, and delicious chocolate hors d’ouevres, as well as guest speaker Donald Williams, a professional wine buyer.

Friday, evening February 8th: New Orleans’ own legends the Preservation Hall Jazz Band are playing The Clark in Williamstown! Playing both Dixieland and traditional jazz, the group represents the historic Preservation Hall’s decades-long musical tradition.

List of Weekly Suggested EventsFind out about these events and over 100 other events & activities happening all next week in our List of Weekly Suggested Events. All of our listed events are “suggested.” Please take a moment to confirm that these events are happening as scheduled, along with time, place, age appropriateness and costs before heading out.

SUPPORTING BOOK TITLES

Families Gather to Make Handmade Valentines in Shelburne Falls

MYO Handmade Valentine Workshop
Brings Families Together

On Friday, January 25th, Hilltown Families and the Art Garden presented a Make Your Own Handmade Valentines Workshop, as part of a 3-part free Friday family workshop series in Shelburne Falls. Families with children of all ages gathered to make Valentines together.

Getting crafty with family, friends and neighbors in a community art space like The Art Garden, builds relationships, affords opportunities to share and connect, and allows the space for creativity that our otherwise busy lives might not offer.

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Join in the Swap!

Hilltown Families 5th Annual Handmade Community Valentine SwapThere’s still time to sign up to participate in the Hilltown Families 5th Annual Community Handmade Valentine Swap! For the past several years Hilltown Families has coordinated a community Handmade Valentine Swap — and we’re doing it again! Push back against the commercialization of Valentine’s Day while getting creative with your kids and connecting with your community… sign up to participate! Swapping happens through the mail with 10 other families! It’s free to sign up and open to all in Western MA. Deadline to sign up: Jan. 31, 2013. Western MA (FREE)

Handmade Valentines: Free Family Workshop

This free workshop is full and pre-registration is now closed… however, there’s still time to sign up for our Valentine Swap! Click on the banner to sign up by Jan 31, 2013:

Handmade Valentine Workshop for Families
Friday, Jan. 25th from 4-7pm
The Art Garden in Shelburne Falls

Is your family participating in the Hilltown Families 5th Annual Community Handmade Valentine Swap? Come create together in The Art Garden’s community supported art-making space. Find inspiration from other along with great direction from visual artist/teacher Jane Beatrice Wegscheider!

Make Your Own Handmade Valentines with Hilltown Families at The Art Garden in Shelburne Falls during a free family workshop: Friday, January 25th, from 4-7pm.  Families can create their own unique valentines using simple book-making techniques or countless other ideas with materials provided by The Art Garden in Shelburne Falls.  Drop in anytime.  Pre-registration required (Sign up below.).

This is the first of a series of three Free Friday Family Nights Hilltown Families and The Art Garden will be offering this winter.  All materials included, but feel free to bring any materials you’d like to incorporate into your handmade valentines, such as photocopies of personally relevant images if you’d like (photos of loved ones, poems you love, pictures of places and things your Valentine cares about, etc.).

PRE-REGISTRATION HAS CLOSED. EVENT IS FULL: This free workshop is full and pre-registration is now closed… however, there’s still time to sign up for our Valentine Swap! Click on the banner to sign up by Jan 31, 2013:

The Art Garden is located at 14 Depot Street, Suite 2 in Shelburne Falls, MA (in the same building as the Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum.).   SEE MAP.
Art Garden Valentine's (submitted)

5th Annual Handmade Valentine Swap for Western MA Families

Hilltown Families 5th Annual
Community Handmade Valentine Swap

Hilltown Families 5th Annual Community Handmade Valentine Swap! Free to sign up and open to all. Deadline to sign up: Jan 31st.

It’s that time of the year again! For the past several years Hilltown Families has coordinated a community Handmade Valentine Swap — and we’re doing it again! Sign up below!  It’s free and open to all families!

A handmade Valentine swap gives local families an opportunity to be creative together while connecting with other families in Western Massachusetts.  Through the swap, participating families mail out handmade Valentines to ten assigned addresses, and in return, they receive handmade Valentines from ten other participating families.  The cards can be handmade by any combination of child and adult, so if you’re kids aren’t completely up to the task, or if an adult would like to make their own design, there’s flexibility.  All are welcomed!

Deadline to sign up (below) is Thursday, January 31st. On Friday (02/01/13)  you will be emailed your assigned names/address of participants to mail your handmade Valentines to.  Everyone is kindly requested to mail your Valentines off by Feb. 7th.

Here are a few samples of Valentines swapped in years past to stir your creative juices.  Click on the thumbnail image to see a larger image:

If interested in participating, the following information must be filled out and submitted by Thursday, January 31st.  If you have multiple children and would like each one to receive their own list of families to swap with, please register each person separately.

SIGN UP:












Be sure to click on the submit button above!  You should receive a personal confirmation within 24 hours.  If you do not receive a confirmation within 24 hours, email us at hilltownfamilies@gmail.com to inquire.

Q&A: Where to Dine in Western MA for Valentine’s Day with Your Family

QUESTION AND ANSWERS

Erin Burke Murphy writes, “Can anyone recommend some restaurants my Husband and I could go to with our 20 month old for an early delicious Valentine’s Day dinner?”

  • Matt Grillo recommends:Bertucci’s (Amherst, Longmeadow & West Springfield) is very family-friendly, inexpensive and tasty. ♥”
  • Lori Shine recommends: “The Apollo Grill in Easthampton! Especially on the early side (5:30pm) they are usually not that busy, staff is super kid-friendly, their menu has a luxurious side and less expensive options too. Not to mention if the 20-month-old needs a break from her seat, one of the parents can let her run in Eastworks‘ long hallways for a few minutes! Hands down our favorite restaurant for family dining! p.s. the food is fantastic.”
  • Ron Frost Wright recommends: “There’s always Four Main Street Bar and Grill in Huntington if your looking for a quiet atmosphere or the Russell Inn in Russell, MA.”
  • Kathy McDonnell Elsea recommends: “I’m with Lori… Apollo Grill… Roberto’s Restaurant (Northampton) is yummy too.”
  • Kara Kitchen recommends:Pizzeria Paradisio in Northampton, The Brewmaster’s Tavern in Williamsburg, Hope and Olive in Greenfield… I heard Chandler’s Restaurant (South Deerfield) is very nice for Valentine’s Day…and the little one would love a trip through Yankee Candle. Maybe Magic Wings before hand to really make it special-butterflies+flowers are a perfect celebration of love!”
  • Judy Bennett recommends:People’s Pint in Greenfield is kid friendly with great food & beer.”
  • Sandra Dias recommends: “Roberto’s Restaurant in Northampton is very family-friendly.”
  • Melanie Courtemanche recommends:Judie’s Restaurant in Amherst.”
  • Rebecca Trow Addison recommends: “I will add that while it’s not romantic at all .. the Route 9 Diner in Hadley is family friendly and on Tuesdays kids eat free. Valentines’ Day happens to fall on a Tuesday so… if kids ask nicely the cashier will let them pick a toy out from a bin tucked under the cashier’s desk when the family leaves. Plus of course the kids menus are made for coloring and doing activities etc… On nights other than Tuesdays the prices are reasonable. Kid’s pancake is about $2, burgers and other items a few bucks more. Great place!”
  • Erin Burke Murphy writes, “Great suggestions! Thanks everyone, I’ll let you know where we end up.”

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HFVS Valentine’s Day 2012 Episode with Guest DJ, Charity Kahn (Radio Show/Podcast)

Listen to Podcast:

VALENTINE’S DAY EPISODE
with Guest DJ, Charity Kahn

Saturday from 9-10am & Sunday from 7-8am
Feb. 11th & 12th, 2012
WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio
Northampton, MA


New Podcasts ♦ Archived Podcasts Subscribe to Podcast
Radio  Facebook Twitter

CHARITY KAHN’S PLAYLIST

Find out more about our Guest DJ, Charity Kahn at www.jamjamjam.com.

Previous Valentine’s Day Podcasts:

Feb 12, 2008 — Valentine’s Day Episode with Guest DJ, Uncle Rock — Playlist ♦ Podcast

Suggested Events for Feb 11th-17th, 2012

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

Northampton's 2nd Annual Ice Art Festival happens this Friday, Feb. 10th as part of Northampton Arts Night Out. See sculptures being made during the day on Friday and enjoy them Friday night and throughout the weekend. (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 partner with Hilltown Families through sponsorship and advertising. Let us help get the word out about your after school class, 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

Flywheel Saturday Morning Music PartyOn Saturday, February 11th from 10am – MUSIC/PANCAKES – The first in a series of Saturday Morning Music Party events kicks of at Flywheel with a pancake breakfast, screening of Pancake Mountain, and DJ Youthelectronix for a family dance party. This series is presented by Flywheel, Hilltown Families and The No Nap Happy Hour. 413-527-9800. 43 Main St. (Old Town Hall). Easthampton, MA (FREE)

Then later on Saturday, February 11th from 12:30-3:30pm – VALENTINES/HISTORY: Create your own Victorian-inspired valentines today at the Wistariahurst Museum!  The museum will have antique valentines on display for participants to view and gain inspiration from.  413-322-5660.  238 Cabot Street.  Holyoke, MA.  (<$)

In the evening on Saturday, February 11th from 5-8pm - COMMUNITY CELEBRATION: Easthampton’s annual Fire and Ice celebration takes place tonight!  It’s during the town’s monthly Art Walk event, and along with galleries being open across town, there will be ice sculptures all over town, street performances, and live music!  Families can see art created by local artists and enjoy the pop-up winter street art.  Easthampton, MA.  (FREE)

Parents' Night Out ticket giveaway for Valentine's Day to see Ruth Moody at the Iron Horse in Northampton, MA! Deadline to enter to win: 02/10/12 by 7pm (EST)

On Sunday, February 12th from 10am-12noon – CREATIVE FREE PLAY: The Cummington Family Center is hosting a valentine-themed potluck and box play event for families today!  Bring a dish to share, and then enjoy creative free play using a collection of boxes big and small.  Kids can exercise their creativity by building and creating- boxes are great for free play, and it’s a totally non-commercial activity!  33 Main Street.  Cummington, MA.  (FREE)

On Sunday, February 12th from 2-5pm – FATHER/DAUGHTER VALENTINE BALL: Dads and granddads can take the special daughters and/or granddaughters in their lives to Longmeadow Parks and Recreation’s annual Father-Daughter Valentine’s Ball! Dress up in your fanciest clothes and enjoy a fun afternoon of holiday-themed music, dancing, decorations, and treats! Perhaps dads and daughters can learn a few dances together before the event. Takes place at the Community House. 413-565-4160. 735 Londmeadow Street. Longmeadow, MA. ($)

MARK YOUR CALENDARS

Enter to win tix to the Winklepicker Festival's Mardi Gras Ball with Buckwheat Zydeco at the Ashfield Town Hall followed by an after-party with The Primate Fiasco. Deadline to enter to win: 02/15/12 by 7pm (EST)

On Saturday, February 18th from 9am-1pm – ANIMAL ADVENTURE: Spend the day outside learning about animal tracking, botany, and how animals adapt for survival during the winter today at the Guyette Farm with the Franklin Land Trust!  Naturalist John Foster will lead the exploration. Registration required.  413-625-9151.  Gloyd Street.  Plainfield, MA.  (FREE)

On Sunday, February 19th from 3-5pm – FAMILY DANCE: Families are invited to Laurel Park for live music, traditional country dancing, singing and some games, all led by an experienced caller, for families with little ones. 413-230-7037. 2 Laurel Park. Northampton, MA (>$)

BULLETIN BOARD

ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS: Accepting applications for fall 2012. The Bement School founded in 1925 and located in Deerfield is a co-educational junior boarding and day school serving 245 students in kindergarten through grade 9.  Bement’s rich, traditional curriculum motivates and challenges students with strong academics, a renowned fine arts program, and a diverse athletic program. Students participate in athletics and fine arts daily. The pervasive atmosphere at Bement is that of a family, learning and living together. Bement actively seeks an academically diverse, international, and multi-cultural student body. For information on how to apply, financial aid, or to arrange a visit to campus, call 413-774-7061  www.bement.org.

Jennifer Van Beckum writes, “There are currently 2-3 openings in my home-based Waldorf Childcare Program in Florence, ½ or full day options.  The program is based on rhythm, a love of nature, the protection of childhood, and the belief that the caregiver should surround the children with the love and happiness which will help their capacities unfold and flourish.  Our days include creative play, crafts, painting, baking, and gardening, circle time, story time, outdoor play and rest time.  Warm, home-made, nutritious snacks and lunch are served.  I have 20 years experience as an Early Childhood Teacher and am also a Certified Simplicity Parenting Group Leader.  For more information call Jennifer Van Beckum: 413-586-0596 or email: javanbeckum@iglide.net.”

SPONSORSHIP & ADVERTISING: Reach thousands of families in Western MA while supporting the work of Hilltown Families. See your event, camp, workshop, business featured here in the bulletin board section of our list of Weekly Suggested Events and eNewsletter! Find out more about our Enhanced Publicity options and how we can help with your marketing.


LIST OF WEEKLY SUGGESTED EVENTS:
Feb 11th—Feb 17th, 2012

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

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Non-Commercial Way to Celebrate Valentine’s Day

Be Mine: Chocolate & Valentines
Non-Commercial Way to Celebrate Valentine’s Day
February 11th & 12th at Old Sturbridge Village

Discover the history of chocolate and Valentine cards at OSV this weekend. A visit to the village during the special Valentine weekend is a way to celebrate Valentine’s Day non-commercially, and is also a great way to teach kids about life in early America!

Even when you’re immersed in the 19th century at Old Sturbridge Village, Valentine’s Day is still about sharing cards and eating chocolate.  OSV’s “Be Mine: Chocolate and Valentines” takes place from 9:30am to 4pm this coming weekend, February 11th and 12th.  Visitors to the village will learn about the history of chocolate in the United States, as well as how Valentine cards became an important part of celebrating Valentine’s Day.  Historians at the village will show visitors the process of grinding roasted cacao beans to use in making chocolate cake and a spicy hot chocolate drink (not like the hot chocolate we have today!).  Kids can create their own Valentines, an activity that they may be eager to take part in after learning where the tradition comes from (Hint: it involves a stationery maker, his young daughter, and an English tradition!)!  A visit to the village during the special Valentine weekend is a way to celebrate Valentine’s Day non-commercially, and is also a great way to teach kids about life in early America!  Learning about early customs and traditions can spark a discussion on the evolution of culture, and can supplement learning about customs and traditions for many different holidays in a variety of cultures.  For more information, visit www.osv.org or call OSV at 800-733-1830.

PARENTS’ NIGHT OUT: Ruth Moody at Iron Horse on Valentine’s Day

Ruth Moody Band
Iron Horse Music Hall ♦ Northampton
Wednesday, Feb 14th, 2012 @ 7pm

Parents' Night Out ticket giveaway for Valentine's Day to see Ruth Moody at the Iron Horse in Northampton, MA! Deadline to enter to win: 02/10/12 by 7pm (EST)

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!

For Valentine’s Day we are pleased to offer a chance to win a pairs of tickets to see Ruth Moody Band on Valentine’s Day, Wed., February 14th, 7pm at the Iron Horse Music Hall in Northampton, MA.

Win the tickets and take your sweetheart or BFF out for Valentine’s Day. Deadline to enter to win is Friday, 02/10/12 @ 7pm (EST). More details below.

ABOUT RUTH MOODY BAND

Although best known for her work with The Wailin’ Jennys, Ruth Moody is a Juno Award winning songwriter who’s made numerous critically-acclaimed albums and appeared more than a dozen times on A Prairie Home Companion. She’s also the former lead singer of The Duhks. She plays guitar, banjo, accordion, piano, and bodhrán and is a gifted songwriter. Writing with a maturity and wisdom that belies her age, her songs are timeless, universal, and exceptionally well-crafted, all sung with an intimacy and honesty that is unmistakably hers. Ruth released her highly-anticipated solo album The Garden in Spring 2010 features with an all-star cast including Crooked Still, Kevin Breit (Norah Jones, k.d. lang), Luke Doucet, and a guest appearance by The Wailin’ Jennys. The Ruth Moody Band, is Adam Dobres (electric guitar), Adrian Dolan (strings, mandolin, accordion) and Sam Howard (bass, vocals). www.ruthmoody.com

HOW TO WIN

Your chance to win a pair of tickets to see Ruth Moody Band on Valentine’s Day, Wed., February 14th, 7pm at the Iron Horse Music Hall in Northampton, MA. is easy & simple!  To enter to win simply:

  • CONSIDER SHARING ON FACEBOOK by selecting “Like” below
  • TELL US HOW HILLTOWN FAMILIES KEEPS YOU CONNECTED WITH DATE NIGHT OPPORTUNITIES  below (one entry per household) and be sure to tell us your
  • FULL NAME (first/last) and where you
  • LIVE (TOWN/STATE) must include your town to be eligible.
  • ACCURATE EMAIL (we never share your email address).
  • We’ll randomly draw a winner and will share the results below.

IT’S THAT SIMPLE! — Deadline is Tuesday, 02/10/12 @ 7pm (EST)

If you don’t win you should still go. Tickets are available at the Northampton Box office, online at IHEG.com, or by calling 413-586-8686.

4th Annual Handmade Valentine Swap for Western MA Families

Hilltown Families 4th Annual
Handmade Valentine Swap

Handmade Valentine Card Swap

Hilltown Families 4th Annual Handmade Valentine Swap. Deadline to sign up: January 30th. Open to all Western MA families.

It’s that time of the year again! For the past several years Hilltown Families has coordinated a community Handmade Valentine Swap — and we’re doing it again! Sign up below!  It’s free and open to all families!

A handmade Valentine swap gives local families an opportunity to be creative together while connecting with other families in Western Massachusetts.  Through the swap, participating families mail out handmade Valentines to ten assigned addresses, and in return, they receive cards from ten other participating families.  The cards can be handmade by any combination of child and adult, so if you’re kids aren’t completely up to the task, or if an adult would like to make their own design, there’s flexibility.

Deadline to sign up (below) is Monday, January 30th. On Tuesday (01/31/12)  you will be emailed your assigned names/address of participants to mail your handmade Valentines to.  Everyone is kindly requested to mail your Valentines off by Feb. 7th.

Here are a few samples of Valentines swapped in years past to stir your creative juices.  Click on the thumbnail image to see a larger one:

If interested in participating, the following information must be filled out and submitted by Monday, January 30th.  If you have multiple children and would like each one to receive their own list of families to swap with, please make a note in the comment field.










Valentine’s Day Links

Valentine’s Day Tips for Dads and Daughters

Dads & Daughters Valentine’s Day Tips
By Joe Kelly

Dad and Daughter Sledding in Northampton, MA

Spend 1-on-1 time with your daughter. Take her sledding, to the museum, visit the library... (photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Don’t let Valentine’s Day be just one more chance for Dad to feel like a walking, talking (and unappreciated) checkbook. These Dads & Daughters Tips will help fathers and stepfathers to show daughters that they care on Valentine’s Day and beyond.

  1. Remember, a Daughter hungers for healthy involvement and attention from Dad (even if she doesn’t always show it).
  2. A Daughter wants assurance that her Father and/or Stepfather really knows her and cares about her.
  3. A Daughter wants to feel that Dad is proud of her and that he loves and understands her.
  4. A Daughter wants these intangibles far more than she wants a box of candy or any other present or card.
  5. Daughters sometimes feel that Dads only know how to show their love by buying something. So supplement this year’s store-bought Valentine’s card and candy with your unique message of love.
  6. Give her a hand-written note or personal email — in your own words — telling her how proud you are of her, what you admire about her, how much you enjoy your time together, etc.
  7. Give her the greatest gift of all: your time. Listen to what she has to say and what’s important to her.
  8. Spend 1-on-1 time together on Valentine’s Day or the next available weekend. See a movie, take a walk, go out for coffee or ice cream, play catch. There are a million possibilities (for more ideas, see The Dads & Daughters® Togetherness Guide: 54 Fun Activities to Help Build a Great Relationship).
  9. Remember that she only gets one chance to have you as her Dad or Stepdad while she’s still a girl.
  10. Out of the thousand things you do every day, make sure you always give attention, thought, time, and affection to your Daughter — and your Son.

Have a wonderful Valentine’s Day with your children! Read the rest of this entry »

Swedish Paper Hearts For Valentine’s Day

Hilltown Families Valentine Social: A Look Back

(c) Hilltown Families - Making Swedish Paper Hearts

Weaving Swedish Paper Hearts (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

With classroom rosters in hand, several hilltown families set to work on making Valentines during a Hilltown Families Valentine Making Social on Sunday, Feb. 11, 2007. Families from Ashfield, Chesterfield, Cummington, Plainfield, and West Chesterfield gathered together with red and pink construction paper, glitter glue, white doilies and an assortment of stickers to set forth on the venture of making Valentines for friends, family and classmates.

Making 20 Valentines can seem daunting. Making nearly 50 seems unreasonable. But when you have two children in school, that’s what the tally can add up to. Never mind having more than two children attending the same school! Some might say, “That’s what Hallmark’s for,” but we’re talking about hilltown families – motivated, creative and expressive folks who take on the task of Valentines with excitement and enthusiasm, letting the glitter fly!

Preceding the cutting, glueing and glittering, children were shown a five-minute video which demonstrated how construction paper was made. Narrated by Fred Rogers, children took a video tour through a construction paper factory, illustrating how red construction paper is made – from log to shrink wrapped product. This video tour can be found as an extra feature on the DVD Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood: What Do You Do with the Mad That You Feel?

As the Valentine social progressed, and the kids finished their little love-notes, running off to play, the parents settled into their own projects and conversations. Over discussions on education, winter sports and safety, parents made heart-shaped mobiles, steamers of doilies and Swedish Paper Hearts. And when the kids tummies started to rumble, muffins donated by Bread Euphoria were served with tea and fruit.

WEAVING SWEDISH PAPER HEARTS

Weaving Swedish Paper Hearts can seem difficult at first, but once a rhythm is discovered, it is a pleasant activity to unwind with while relaxing with friends and community.  These paper hearts were traditionally made as ornaments filled with goodies that went on the Christmas Tree, but they also  make a wonderful Valentine’s craft. Learn how to make Swedish Paper Hearts for your loved ones.

(Originally posted: 2/13/07)

Suggested Events 02/12/11-02/18/11

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 Magic Wood at Notchview in Windsor, MA (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: Reach thousands of families in Western MA while supporting the work of Hilltown Families. Hilltown Families has been serving & supporting our local community for over 5 years! Help us continue to serve our community by supporting the work we do! 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. Email hilltownfamilies@gmail.com for more information. — Help us help you!

BEST BETS

In the morning on Saturday, February 12th at 10am FAMILY CONCERT: The Alchemystics perform at The First Churches of Northampton as part of Nonotuck Community School’s 2nd Annual Winter Concert Series. The band labels themselves as new roots music- the group plays a mixture of reggae, soul, hip hop, and dub. Before the show, students from Easthampton’s SHOW Circus Studio’s Circus Stars Youth Performance Troupe will present a show of tumbling, juggling, and other circus feats! 129 Main Street. 586-5996. http://www.nonotuck.org. Northampton, MA. ($)

Later from noon-6pm down in the Pioneer Valley — WINTER FEST: Amherst Leisure Services hosts Winterfest 2011. Bring the family to enjoy both indoor and outdoor winter activities a the Cherry Hill Golf Course (323 Montague Rd.). There will be sled dogs, music, kids carnival, cross country ski lessons, fireworks, sledding & tubing, hay rides, food, and much more. www.winterfestamherst.com Amherst, MA ($)

Also at the noon hour, up in the Berkshires VALENTINE: Family Valentine’s Day celebration at Ventfort Hall (104 Walker St.). Activities through out the day: bonfire, hot cocoa, roasted marshmallows, Nutshell Playhouse in concert, Victoria Tea, “The Might Mysterious Megapuff”, guided tours and more. 637-3206 www.guildedage.org Lenox, MA ($)

Then on Sunday, February 13th at 2pm UKES & YOYOS: Northampton Arts Council presents Ukes and Yoyos at the Academy of Music Theatre, featuring extraordinary ukulele and yoyo performers. 587-1269 Northampton, MA ($)

And in the evening in the Hilltowns on Sunday at 6:30pm FOOD ADVENTURE: Visit The Old Creamery for their popular Chocolate Tasting! Learn about and taste many different varieties of chocolate. Pre-registration requested. 445 Berkshire Trail. 634-5560. www.theoldcreamery.coop. Cummington, MA. (FREE!)

MARK YOUR CALENDAR

Saturday, February 19th from 9am-2pm — WINTER FARMERS’ MARKET: Bernardson Winter Market happens at United Church (58 Church St). www.buylocalfood.org Bernardson, MA (MARKET)

Sunday, February 20th from 2-5pm — BUBBLES: BubbleMania! at the Colonial Theater. Loaded with visual comedy, quick wit, big band swing music and the untamed, often unbelievable qualities and beauty of bubbles. www.thecolonialtheater.org Pittsfield, MA ($)

BULLETIN BOARD

DEBUT OPENING CELEBRATION: Despite the “wintery mix” that made last Saturday night a slippery, slushy evening, a hearty crowd of supporters of Hilltown Families came out to the debut opening celebration of Hilltown Families: A Traveling Photography Exhibit at Cup & Top Cafe in Florence, MA. See snap shots taken at the opening (thank you Tony Lemos!) in our Facebook photo album. The show will be up at the cafe through March and the proceeds from the sales go to benefit Hilltown Families. — In April the show travels to Haydenville to Bread Euphoria where it will be on display in the Corridor Gallery at Andrew Quient Pottery. Mark your calendars for April 10th. There will be a Benefit Birthday Bash at Bread Euphoria for Hilltown Families from 4-7pm with pizza and birthday cake donated by the bakery and a family concert with Mister G. Interested in volunteering for the party planning? Email us at hilltownfamilies@gmail.com.

SAVE THE DATES FOR PRESCHOOL AND KINDERGARTEN SCREENINGS: Preschool screening will be held on April 4th at Littleville Elementary School. Kindergarten Screening will be held for children living in the towns of Huntington, Montgomery, Russell and Worthington on April 14th at Littleville Elementary School. Kindergarten Screening will be held for children living in Blandford, Chester or Middlefield on April 14th at Chester Elementary School. More information will be coming soon, including the ages of eligible children and how to schedule an appointment.

ART EXHIBIT: From Feb. 2 – Feb. 28, Mexican-inspired metal embossments created by students from the Montessori School of Northampton will be displayed at The Green Bean. Students from K-6 created embossed metal designs based on Mexican folk imagery. They began with drawings of designs containing forms found in nature, transferred their designs to aluminum sheets, embossed them by drawing and punching shapes, and added color to highlight elements of their designs. The project was guided by art teacher Barbara Neulinger and fits into the school’s cultural curriculum. This is the third year that The Green Bean has hosted an exhibition of work from the school’s students. 241 Main Street. 584-2326. Northampton, MA.

SHORT STORY CONTEST: The Westfield Athenaeum Library is holding a short story contest. Stories can be about any topic, and submissions will be accepted from January 31st-February 26th. Submissions may be no longer than three pages, and should have been written within the last year. Stories will be judged based on creativity, grammar, presentation, and overall writing skills, and all submissions will become the property of the Boys and Girls library at the Athenaeum. More information is available at the Athenaeum Library website- www.westaeth.org.

JUNIOR SOLAR SPRINT: Are you an educator? Homeschooler? Attend a free Junior Solar Sprint workshop on Tuesday, February 15th from 4-7pm and learn how to lead middle school students through the Junior Solar Sprint experience- a program where kids design, build, and and compete with model solar cars. 950 North Street. www.cetonline.org. 445-4556. Pittsfield, MA.

DOCTOR FOR A DAY: The Hampshire District Medical Society is again sponsoring their annual “Doctor for a Day” program. Juniors and seniors interested in becoming a physician should pick up an application in the Gateway High School Guidance Office in Huntington, for a chance to spend a full day shadowing a real physician! Applications, including two letters of recommendation, are due to the Society by February 18, 2011.

HILLTOWN FAMILY VARIETY SHOW

Hilltown Family Variety ShowTune in every Saturday from 9-10am. Encore episodes are aired every Sunday from 7-8am.

This week on the HFVS is our Black History Month Episode celebrating musical legends, including: Ella Jenkins, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Nat King Cole, Bessie Smith, Little Richard, Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross, Ella Fitzgerald, Mahalia Jackson, and many others. 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

    Saturday Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday

    Suggest an Event | Local Forecast | Free Museum Passes | Playgroups & Family Centers | Movies in the Valley | Movies in the Berkshires | Listen Here

    Events Happening in the Hilltowns | ♦ On-going Events

    Saturday, February 12th, 2011

    First Annual Northampton Ice Art Festival

    Hilltown Family Variety Show6-10am – FAMILY RADIO: Valley Free Radio (WXOJ-LP 103.3FM Northampton, MA) airs 4-hours of commercial-free family programing every Saturday, including the Hilltown Family Variety Show and Spare the Rock. Tune in on your FM dial, or listen live via streaming audio at www.valleyfreeradio.org.

    8am-12Noon - ICE FISHING: Get outside for the Annual Children’s Ice Fishing Derby on Ashfield Lake for all school aged children. There will be prizes and a spaghetti supper, plus an educational presentation following the supper for the kids. 628-4400 Ashfield, MA (FREE, />$)

    WINTER FARMERS’ MARKETS:

    9am-2pm – Winter Farmers’ Market in the basement of Thornes through April 30th. Food, live music and art. Northampton, MA
    10am-2pm – Winter Farmers’ Market at Amherst Middle School (170 Chestnut St.). Amherst, MA
    10am-2pm – North Amherst Farmers’ Market happens a the Big Blue Barn at SwartzFamiy Farm (11 Meadow St.). www.northamherstmarket.com Amherst, MA
    10:30am-1pm - Springfield Winter Market happens at Forest Park. 2nd & 4th Saturday of each month. www.buylocalfood.org Springfield, MA

    9am-1pm – FAMILY BREAKFAST: Enjoy a locally grown breakfast, proceeds from which benefit the Northampton Survival Center. Visit the Food Shed at Enterprise Farm for a meal of pancakes made from local wheat flour from Four Star Farm, local bacon and sausage from Austin Brothers Farm, and local cider and locally roasted coffee from Pierce Brothers. 72 River Road. 665-8608. www.enterpriseproduce.com. Whately, MA. ($)

    9:30am-4pm – MUSEUM ADVENTURE: Learn about the history of chocolate, and how it became a symbol of Valentine’s Day. Try chocolate cake made from an original recipe from 1824. 1 Old Sturbridge Village Road. 800-SEE-1830. www.osv.org. Sturbridge, MA. ($$)

    10am- FAMILY CONCERT: The Alchemystics perform at The First Churches of Northampton as part of Nonotuck Community School’s 2nd Annual Winter Concert Series. The band labels themselves as new roots music- the group plays a mixture of reggae, soul, hip hop, and dub. Before the show, students from Easthampton’s SHOW Circus Studio’s Circus Stars Youth Performance Troupe will present a show of tumbling, juggling, and other circus feats! 129 Main Street. 586-5996. http://www.nonotuck.org. Northampton, MA. ($)

    10am – FAMILY CONCERT: Enjoy the music and storytelling of Sarah Pirtle and Erin Berard, founders of the touring program Courage Stories. Some songs and stories inspired by life on the farm! 4 Norman Road. 625-2355. www.redgatefarm.org. Buckland, MA. ($)

    10am – NATURE WALK: Take a nature walk with Ted Watt at Benson Place. Look for tracks, snow fleas, bird songs… 337-5340 Heath, MA (FREE)

    10am-12Noon – ANIMAL STUDIES: Berkshire Sanctuaries is sponsoring a Bird Banding Demo at Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary for families w/kids 3yo & older. Use mist nets, band birds, record data, relase birds unharmed. (472 West Mountain Rd.) berkshires@massaudubon.org Lenox, MA (>$)

    10am-12Noon - OPEN HOUSE: Spring Street Preschool with host a Kids’ Party and Preschool Open House with a student art show, bake sale and kids’ activities. http://www.springstreetpreschool.org Amherst, MA (FREE)

    10am-4:30pm - MUSEUM ADVENTURE: Visit Historic Deerfield for the 2011 American Heritage Chocolate Celebration! Enjoy learning all about how delicious chocolate treats are (and once were) made, make Valentines, and take a ride in a horse-drawn carriage. 84 Old Main Street. 774-5581. http://www.historic-deerfield.org. Deerfield, MA. ($$)

    10:30-11:20 – SCIENCE ADVENTURE: Visit the Haskins Center in North Adams for Kitchen Chemistry: Science Fun for Families, a hands-on workshop where children and their parents can explore science through everyday materials found in most every kitchen. Activities will likely be messy, and every child will be able to bring home their own ocean in a jar. Pre-registration required. 210 State Street. 664-4821. www.ccberkshire.org. North Adams, MA. (FREE!)

    11:30am-9pm – ICE SKATING: Outdoor ice pavilion (435 Main Rd.). No skate rentals. 528-1443 x248 Monterey, MA (FREE)

    12Noon – VALENTINE: Family Valentine’s Day celebration at Ventfort Hall (104 Walker St.). Activities through out the day: bonfire, hot cocoa, roasted marshmallows, Nutshell Playhouse in concert, Victoria Tea, “The Might Mysterious Megapuff”, guided tours and more. 637-3206 www.guildedage.org Lenox, MA ($)

    12-2pm – TEEN/TWEEN: Get henna-ed! Professional henna artist Sangita Desai will visit the Meekins Library for a seminar in which participants can learn about the Indian tradition of henna and pick out their own designs to be henna-ed on their hands. Ages 12+, pre-registration requested. 2 Williams Street. 268-7472. www.meekins-library.org. Williamsburg, MA. (FREE!)

    12Noon-6pm – WINTER FEST: Amherst Leisure Services hosts Winterfest 2011. Bring the family to enjoy both indoor and outdoor winter activities a the Cherry Hill Golf Course (323 Montague Rd.). There will be sled dogs, music, kids carnival, cross country ski lessons, fireworks, sledding & tubing, hay rides, food, and much more. www.winterfestamherst.com Amherst, MA ($)

    1pm – STORYTELLING: Author and illustrator Jerry Pinkney shares stories and reflects on how he pieces together tales. Pinkney is a 2010 Caldecott Medal winner. 125 West Bay Road. 658-1100. www.carlemuseum.org. Amherst, MA. (FREE with museum admission!)

    1-3pm – ARTS AND CRAFTS: Get creative with lace, paper, stickers, glitter, etc. at the Dickinson Library! Sponsored by The Friends of the Library, this Valentine-making workshop is open to anyone! 115 Main Street. 498-2455. www.northfieldpubliclibrary.org. Northfield, MA. (FREE!)

    1–3 pm: CRAFTS: Make Your Own Paper at the Berkshire Botanical Garden for families w/kids 5yo+. Learn the craft of paper making from beginning to end, and take home hand-crafted paper for cards, collage, printing or framing. 298-3926 Stockbridge, MA ($$)

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Chocolate in the Hilltowns

    Night of Love and Chocolate!

    GRANDPARENTS AS FACEBOOK FRIENDS

    I just got friended by my dad on Facebook. Me, I got nothing to hide that I would show on Facebook anyway, but then I thought about the nieces who may. I know that one of my nieces told me not to judge her when I friended her, and so I don’t; the stuff she’s doing is way less dangerous than what I was doing at her age!

    So then I started thinking that all grandparents should sign up for Facebook and friend all of their grandchildren. I’m thinking that if every kid had their grandpa as a filter for everything they thought about posting, they would probably keep themselves out of trouble later on when they apply for jobs and wish they hadn’t put those stupid naked pictures of themselves at the last office party on their page. So that’s my thought; I’m still trying to find goodness in Facebook.

    LAND OF TINY STREETS

    Welcome to the Land of Tiny Streets! The more it snows the less space there is for the snow to go and the streets get narrower and narrower up here! My own street in Ashfield, I believe, only passable by one and a half cars at a time. Fortunately we don’t have many cars on this street so we haven’t had a stand-off yet. But even Main Street is down to the two lanes, only, no room for swerving. The other snow-wonder is how icicles know what to do—which way to do. You’ll have all these icicles going straight down and then, all of a sudden you get three snaggle-tooth ones that jut out from the building. Why did they do that? Are they just making a statement? I have one outside my door that suddenly has a curvaceous twist to it. It didn’t have that day before yesterday; what is it up to?

    MR. CHRISTMAS TREE

    Update on Mr. Christmas Tree who I threw out last week: So, he was lying there in the snow at the back door, trying to get back in, looking sad and desperate, when all of a sudden a roof-alanche slid off and buried him! He just has a few plaintive little branches grasping at the air, frozen in time. Poor guy, this whole thing is my fault: I brought him inside, I made him the toast of the living room, I took him out of his natural habitat and warmed him up with lights, made him feel safe and warm and then I PUSHED him out into the snow! Just PUSHED him! I feel bad.

    NIGHT OF LOVE & CHOCOLATE IN THE HILLTOWNS

    Okay! It’s almost Valentine’s Day! And we’re celebrating it this Friday night (2/11/11) with Elmer’s Night of Love and Chocolate (there are so few events that we actually do more than one year that you know if we’re bring it back it’s because it was so good the first time!)!

    And this just in: Chef Jim Dion is coming back to make the dinner portion of our evening! Mary will be out of town this weekend, and so our old buddy Jim is coming back to make the dinner hors d’hoeuvres! (I have no idea how to spell that word and neither does Spellcheck. If you do, let me know before it drives you crazy.)

    Elmer’s Second Annual Night of Love and Chocolate this Friday, Feb 11th beginning at 5pm at the Inn: hors d’houvres and tapas-sized dinners; whatever you want, as much as you want – made by Chef Jim Dion!  Then, Chocolate: Chocolate Mousse Roullade Cake; Flourless Chocolate Layer Cake; Raspberry Ganache Tort; Espresso Ganache Tort; Vanilla Ginger Ganache Tort; Strawberry fondue; Pretzels & cookies fondues; Dark Chocolate Truffles; Habanero Truffles; and Hot Pepper Toffee Popcorn. ($$) – You don’t have to be in love to enjoy this-you can just love chocolate and good company. Call 628-4003 for reservations.


    ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Nan Parati - Elmer's StoreNan Parati

    Nan is the proprietor of Elmer’s Store in Ashfield, MA. A New England transplant from the Deep South, Nan shares her southern wit, wisdom and charm in her column, “Notes from Nan.”  nanparati@aol.com

    Handmade Valentine Swap for Western MA Families

    Hilltown Families 3rd Annual
    Handmade Valentine Swap

    Handmade Valentine Card Swap

    Hilltown Families 3rd Annual Handmade Valentine Swap. Deadline to sign up: January 30th. Open to all Western MA families.

    The past couple of years Hilltown Families has coordinated a community Handmade Valentine Swap — and we’re doing it again! Sign up below.

    A handmade Valentine swap gives local families an opportunity to be creative together while connecting with other families in Western Massachusetts.  Through the swap, participating families mail out handmade Valentines to ten assigned addresses, and in return, they receive cards from ten other participating families.  The cards can be handmade by any combination of child and adult, so if you’re kids aren’t completely up to the task, or if an adult would like to make their own design, there’s flexibility.

    Deadline to sign up (below) is Sunday, January 30th. On Monday (01/31/11)  you will be emailed your assigned names/address of participants to mail your handmade Valentines to.  Everyone is kindly requested to mail your Valentines off by Feb. 7th.

    Here are a few Valentines swapped last year to stir your creative juices.  Click on the thumbnail image to see a larger one:

    If interested in participating, the following information must be filled out and submitted by Sunday, January 30th:








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