Creative Free Play: Enter to Win a Handmade Dollhouse & Accessories

Enter to Win a Handmade Dollhouse & Accessories
from the Handmade for Kids Holiday Fair
November 3rd, 2012

Enter to win this handmade dollhouse for hours of creative free play! Comes with handmade accessories, decorated for the holidays. Deadline to enter for a chance to win: 11/1 by midnight!

Hilltown Families is a proud co-sponsor of the 3rd Annual Handmade for Kids Holiday Fair happening on Saturday, November 3rd from 10am-3pm at the Berkshire Trail Elementary School in Cummington, MA.  The holiday fair features local, handmade, creative free play gifts and benefits the Cummington Family Center.

At the Handmade for Kids Holiday Fair, this featured dollhouse will be raffled off, along with an array of  accessories handmade by local crafters… and Hilltown Families is submitting 50 entries to the raffle!  You can be one of these entries and possibly win this dollhouse and handmade accessories!  If you don’t have young kids, it would make a terrific gift, or a great donation to your local library children’s department or preschool! – Details on how to enter to win are below.  Deadline to enter is: Thursday, November 1st by 11:59pm (EST).  Limited to the first 50 entries… but we must receive at least 50 entries for the lot to be submitted (so tell your friends!).


This dollhouse is hand-painted and decorated for the holidays with a felt holiday tree with tree skirt and presents, and a large decorated wreath on front the front door.  Local crafters are donating handmade accessories to fill the house.  Accessories are still coming in with many surprises, including a family of four wooden peg people (mama, papa, brother and baby sister), a family pet, kitchen table with chairs, family portrait, silhouette portraits, and curtains, buntings & rugs (including a runner for the stairs).  Standing 2 feet high and nearly 2 feet wide, this dollhouse would be an impressive delight to any child(ren) for hours of creative free play!


3rd Annual Handmade for Kids Holiday Fair happens on Saturday, November 3rd from 10am-3pm at the Berkshire Trails Elementary School in Cummington, MA.

In it’s third year, the Handmade for Kids Holiday Fair is the Cummington Family Center’s annual fundraiser and an excellent opportunity for community members to find commercial-free handmade items, many supporting creative free play.  The fair features local vendors selling clothing, toys, costumes, decor and much more for children of all ages. This is a family-friendly event with eco-crafts for kids, craft workshops for children and adults, a bake sale, play area and this super cool dollhouse raffle.  For a complete list of local vendors, check out the Vendor List.

There will be two crafting workshops during the fair for children (ages 7 and up accompanied by a parent/guardian) and adults. These workshops can be taken together to make a sweet pumpkin/mouse duo for a nature table or Thanksgiving centerpiece, or taken separately to learn the wonders of working with felt:

  • 11am-12noon: In My Garden Grows a Pumpkin — Families can come wet felt a small pumpkin and maybe a little mouse will come to live in it!  Celia Riahi from The Cottage Garden will lead this workshop using local, plant dyed wool.  Ball felting will be offered for children under age 7yo.
  • 1-2pm: Hand Sewn Little Felt Mouse — Nicole Romer from Heavenly Hues will lead a workshop on hand-sewing with felt, using plant-dyed yarn and wool felt. At the end of this workshop participants will have a sweet little mouse for creative play.

There is a small cost for these workshops to offset the cost of materials ($3-$5) and space is limited, so please preregister.


The first 50 people who enter for a chance to win by 11:59pm(EST) on Nov. 1st will be included in the raffle of this dollhouse and handmade accessories! If we do not reach 50 entries, no one will be entered to win… so after you enter for a chance to win, be sure to invite your friends to participate too! The raffle will take place at the holiday fair on Saturday, November 3rd and will be conducted by the Cummington Family Center (CFC).  You do not need to be present to win, however the winner is responsible for making pick up arrangements with the CFC.  If your name is selected and you are not at the holiday fair, the CFC will contact you via email. To participate simply:

  • SHARE YOUR FULL NAME (first/last)
  • TELL US WHERE YOU LIVE (town/state)
  • GIVE AN ACCURATE EMAIL (we never share your email address)
  • INVITE YOUR FRIENDS TO PARTICIPATE!  We must receive at least 50 entries for all entries to be submitted (so tell your friends!)… but it is limited to the first 50!

IT’S THAT SIMPLE! — Deadline to enter: 11/1 by 11:59pm (EST).  Entries that do not include their first and last name or their town will be removed to make room for valid entries.  Any duplicate entries will be removed too.  One entry per household.

Additional raffle tickets can be purchased at Stitch Lounge in Greenfield, MA.  These 50 entries will be combined with all participants who purchase raffle tickets too. – GOOD LUCK!

DVD Giveaway: The Complete Series of The Magic School Bus

The Magic School Bus: The Complete Series

The Magic School Bus celebrates the excellent idea of field trips as a vehicle for supplementing the education of children outside of the classroom, but Ms. Frizzle takes it even further combining magic with science for animated adventures sure to enrich the learning of science with elementary children. This complete series of all 52 episodes is a resource all teachers and parents will benefit from having it in their DVD collections. Selecting episodes to supplement curriculum in the classroom or interests at home will add enthusiasm and adventures to various fields of science.

Not many children’s brands can stand the test of time, entertaining and educating multiple generations. The Magic School Bus, which recently celebrated its 25th anniversary, is one such brand. This month the Emmy Award winning TV series has been re-launcehd to DVD, The Magic School Bus: The Complete Series, bringing together all 52 episodes of the program on 8 DVDs… and Hilltown Families has a set to giveaway to one very lucky family! Deadline to enter to win is Tuesday, October 2nd by 7pm (EST). Find out how to win below.


The Magic School Bus (Scholastic) has been capturing children’s imaginations since the first book came out in 1986. Since then, the acclaimed series has sold over 60 million books and spawned a successful animated TV series, which premiered in 1994, with support from The National Science Foundation. Now the longest-running science series to air on television, the star-studded program features the voices of Lily Tomlin, Wynonna Judd, Dolly Parton, Tony Randall and Malcolm-Jamal Warner. Along with the adventurous and energetic Ms. Frizzle and her pet lizard, Liz, the entire class – along with the audience –invites students to explore volcanoes, the inside of the human body and much, much more!


Your chance to win The Magic School Bus: The Complete Series DVD collection ($79.95 value) is as easy as 1-2-3(4)!  To enter to win simply:

  • CONSIDER SHARING THIS POST ON FACEBOOK by selecting the Facebook icon below;
  • FULL NAME (first/last);
  • LIVE (TOWN/STATE) (must include your town to be eligible);
  • ACCURATE EMAIL (we never share your email address);
  • From our favorite entries (so make them good!) we’ll randomly draw a winner and will share the results below.

IT’S THAT SIMPLE! — Deadline to enter to win is Tuesday, October 2nd by 7pm (EST).

GIVEAWAY: Eco-Friendly, Locally-Made, Free-Play Toys

Local Artist Creates Toys That Encourage Creative Free Play

Enter to win a fantasy birthday celebration kit that includes these non-toxic limited edition free-play toys by local artist/entrepreneur, Janet Street, plus CD's and a kids birthday party performance by local kids musician, Dennis Caraher. Deadline to enter to win: Midnight on Dec 5th, 2011

We were recently approached by Janet Street, a Northampton artist and entrepreneur who has launched an eco-friendly, open play toy initiative, Easy Keepers, that she is campaigning to fund through Kickstarter, a crowdfunding platform that showcases creative projects by individuals or groups who are seeking funding… We were intrigued! I shared Janet’s video that outlines and highlights her toys with my 9yo daughter. Her response, “I’d play with those.” – So we invited Janet to tell us more about her project to share with our readers.

Plus, we’re pleased to partner with her in a fabulous promotion to giveaway a very exciting package of toys and music to one very lucky family! Wait until you see the package she has put together! Along with her husband, local musician Dennis Caraher, they are not only offering a limited edition of her new toys, but also music CD’s and a kids birthday party performance! We’ve gushed about it below, but first we want to tell you about both Easy Keepers and Kickstarter, two really cool ideas!


Easy Keepers are eco-friendly bendable horse toys, created by Northampton artist Janet Street. Janet first came up with the idea and sculpted prototypes in the mid 1990’s but shelved the project until a year ago. With online technology like Kickstarter, and the growing demand for non-toxic, locally-made, creative free-play toys, the time just seemed right to pick back up the prototypes and move forward.

NON-TOXIC: Unable to find an eco-friendly USA manufacturer to make these toys, Janet developed her own process and materials for manufacturing. “My hope is that Easy Keepers will catch on and provide a viable alternative to toys manufactured in China, made of toxic, environmentally harmful plastic, mainly PVC,” writes Janet.

NON-COMMERCIAL: Although the materials are an innovative feature of Easy Keepers, the most important feature by far is the play factor. “It’s a toy that needs no media-driven backstory to dictate what to do with it. No electronics or gimmicks. No overstated “educational” component,” she writes. “My belief is that children want to and need to create their own world of play, using their own imaginations. Toys should be a starting point, an inspiration, for self-discovery.”


Kickstarter is a crowdfunding platform that showcases creative projects by individuals or groups who are seeking funding. It brings together a community of people looking for project funding with people interested in supporting creative ventures. It provides a format for participants to communicate their idea with a wide audience. The site provides an alternative to traditional funding sources, with the main qualification being a compelling presentation of the project. Supporters receive incentives or rewards for their donation, if the funding goal is met. If not, no funds are paid out. If the funding goal is met or exceeded, the donations are paid and Kickstarter receives a small percentage.

“Kickstarter funding will allow us to hire skilled artisans to help make the molds, cast and finish the toys,” writes Janet. “Otherwise, making toys by hand, in small quantities will make it difficult to price the toys reasonably. With the help of our community and new Kickstarter friends, we hope to reach our funding goal by December 5th.”

Want to find out more about Janet’s project on Kickstarter? Check it out at HERE.


Here’s the amazing package Janet and her husband, Dennis Caraher, are offering (valued at over $400):

  • Two limited edition Easy Keepers toys
  • Two Carrying Case Barns
  • One Easy Keepers Gift Certificate
  • Two signed Easy Keepers posters, set of four refrigerator magnets, set of four coasters and bookmark
  • Three music CD’s by Dennis Caraher: I Miss the Mud, Dog Bone Town, Bow Wow Baby
  • Dennis Caraher Music: Kid’s Birthday Party Performance

Win this packet and have the most amazing birthday party for your favorite kid, presents included!


Your chance to win Janet’s collection outlined above is as easy as 1-2-3 (4)!

To enter to win simply:

  1. CONSIDER SHARING ON FACEBOOK by selecting the Facebook icon below;
  3. FULL NAME and where you
  4. LIVE (TOWN/STATE), Must include your town to be eligible.
  5. ACCURATE EMAIL IN THE EMAIL FIELD BELOW (we never share your email address with a third party).
  6. We’ll randomly draw a winner and will share the results below.

IT’S THAT SIMPLE! — Deadline is Monday, 12/05/11 by midnight (EST).

Find out more about Janet Street, Easy Keepers and Kickstarter, check out her project HERE.

GIVEAWAY: A Pirate’s Guide to First Grade

A Pirate’s Guide to First Grade
By James Preller, Illustrated by Greg Ruth
Win an Copy Inscribed by Illustrator Greg Ruth

Deadline to enter to win is Monday, September 27th 2010.

Local Hilltown artist Greg Ruth has released a new children’s book titled Pirate’s Guide to First Grade and Hilltown Families has an inscribed copy to giveaway to two lucky families.  Deadline to enter to win is Monday, September 27th 2010. Details below.


Arr! It’s the first day of first grade, and it’s all hands on deck for a young pirate and his crew. How much trouble can they get into? What will they do at recess? And, most important, what treasure awaits them at school?

Written by James Preller, and illustrated by Greg Ruth, Pirate’s Guide to First Grade is a story of the first day of school. “This rambunctious first day tale is fit for any young buccaneer… Preller’s buoyant pirate-inflected storytelling and Ruth’s illustrations, which have a decidedly vintage flair, form an exuberant tribute to imagination and a spirit of adventure,” writes Publishers Weekly.

“Young would-be buccaneers facing their own first-day jitters will enjoy this droll title, which ends with a cheer for libraries. A great choice for sharing on September 19th, International Talk Like a Pirate Day.” - Booklist

The Wall Street Journal recent review writes, “Greg Ruth’s retro illustrations for James Preller’s story adhere in a satisfying way to piratical convention—his buccaneers have flowing beards, eye patches and gnarly expressions—but he adds witty modern-day touches, too, like the vaporous juice box in one man’s hand.”


Photo credit: Jen SmithGreg Ruth lives and works in Western Massachusetts with his wife and fellow artist, Jen Smith, and their two boys, Emmett and Nathaniel. He has been known to craft graphic novels, children’s picture books, music videos and illustrated novels and currently does not own a parrot. Yet.  You can find out more by visiting his website:


Meet the Illustrator

  • Elmer’s Store in Ashfield, MA be celebratin’ National Talk Like a Pirate Day on Sunday, September 19th with a special book signin’ and readin’ by t’ artist, Greg Ruth o’ A Pirate’s Guide to First Grade, written by James Preller from 10am till 1pm. Come by for good food, pirate goodies and a signed copy o’ t’ book. There be only a few copies port o’ t’ first edition, so make aye t’ come early! Orders will be taken for signed, personalized books as well. – This event be rated “Arrrrrrr!”
  • Later that day, Greg will also sit down for a signin’ at T’ Old Creamery in Cummington, MA as part o’ their tenth anniversary celebration at 3pm. Copies o’ his first sprogs’s book, Our Enduring Spirit, written by President Barack Obama will be available.


Your chance t’ win an inscribed copy o’ Pirate’s Guide to First Grade by local illustrator Greg Ruth be as easy as 1-2-3 (4)! T’ win simply:

  1. POST A COMMENT BELOW IN YOUR BEST “PIRATESE(one entry per family) and be sure to tell us your
  2. FULL NAME (first/last) and where you
  3. LIVE (TOWN/STATE) must include your town to be eligible.
  4. ACCURATE EMAIL (we never share your email address).
  5. We’ll randomly draw two winners and will share the results below.

IT’S THAT SIMPLE! — Deadline is Monday, 09/27/10 @ 7pm (EST).


Blueberry Bake Off with Local Blueberries

Get the Kids a Cookin’ for the Blueberry Bake Off
Hosted by the CISA and Greenfield Farmers’ Market

Gluten-free Blueberry Cake (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Gluten-free Blueberry Cake (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

On Saturday, August 1, CISA and the Greenfield Farmers’ Market will host a contest featuring desserts made from locally grown blueberries. Participants should drop off their blueberry creations at 9am that day. No need to pre-register. A CISA staff member, a local farmer and other judges will determine the winning recipe. A $50 Greenfield Farmers’ Market gift certificate and a CISA Community Membership valued at $60 will be awarded to the winning entry; a $25 market gift certificate and a CISA tote bag will go to the runner up. Look for entry details soon on the CISA website and at the Greenfield Farmers’ Market.

HFVS Giveaway: Treasury of 25 Storybook Classic: Dinosaurs, Trucks, Monsters and more! (DVD Collection)

Treasury of 25 Storybook Classic:
Dinosaurs, Trucks, Monsters and more!

DVD 4-Disc Collection

Scholastic/Weston Woods debuts two new DVD collections in their Storybook Treasures series this month, aimed to appeal to both boys and girls:

  • Treasury of 25 Storybook Classics: Dinosaurs, Trucks, Monsters… and More!
  • Treasury of 25 Storybook Classics: Fairytales, Magic… and More!

Each collection includes 4-discs of carefully crafted productions that stay true to the original text and illustrations.

This series is an absolute favorite of my family and can be a wonderful way for kids to see their favorite award-winning storybooks come to life. Each story includes a read-along function which highlights words as they’re read, encouraging early readers to follow along and discover the fun of reading.


This week we are offering the Treasury of 25 Storybook Classics: Dinosaurs, Trucks, Monsters… and More! collection, featuring the following DVD’s:

  1. How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight?… and more dinosaur tales
  2. I Stink!… and more stories on wheels
  3. Pete’s a Pizza… and more great stories about kids!
  4. The Mouse and the Motorcycle

Stories feature celebrity narration by Chevy Chase, Anthony Edwards, Michael McKean, and many more

Be sure to check back with us for more opportunities to win great family entertainment! Next week we will be offering the second collection in this series, Treasury of 25 Storybook Classics: Fairytales, Magic… and More! win great family entertainment!


Your chance to win this free DVD collection is as easy as 1-2-3 (4)! To win simply

  1. POST A COMMENT BELOW and be sure to tell us your
  2. FULL NAME and where you
  3. LIVE (TOWN/STATE) PLEASE include your town and state to be eligible. We’ll randomly draw a winner from those who leave a comment (along with their name and town/state) and contact the winner via email, so be sure to leave an
  4. ACCURATE EMAIL in email field of the comment box (we never share your email address).

IT’S THAT SIMPLE! — Deadline is 06/03/09 @ 7pm (EST).

Morgan Taylor of Gustafer Yellowgold Guest DJ Episode (12/11/07)

Morgan Taylor or Gustafer Yellowgold with Persephone at WXOJ HILLTOWN FAMILY VARIETY SHOW

Morgan Taylor Guest DJ Episode
with Morgan Taylor of Gustafer Yellowgold

WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio
Northampton, MA

Tuesday evening @ 7pm

12/04/07 PLAYLIST

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Big thanks to Morgan Taylor from Gustafer Yellowgold who we had on as our special Guest DJ playing tunes from his childhood. Being the youngest of three, Morgan’s music exposure as a kid was from 45s his older siblings had and the radio, where he remembers listening to songs by the Beatles and Crystal Gayle in the mornings while eating breakfast. Morgan selected a couple of tunes by Harry Nilsson for this weeks show. This led me to discover a video from The Point with one of Harry Nilsson’s songs that Uncle Rock played on his Guest DJ visit, “Think About Your Troubles:”




on winning the DeSota Record’s compilation album, Play! and t-shirt from last week’s contest.


For this week’s contest we’re offering a grab bag of goodies including music and the t-shirt that Gustafer Yellowgold submitted to the HFVS T-Shirt Review. Here’s what you can win:

  • Gustafer Yellowgold’s Wide Wild World CD/DVD package
  • Gustafer Yellowgold T-shirt (youth size small)
  • Gustafer Yellowgold plush doll
  • Tattoos of four different GY characters
  • GY sticker

“Once you’ve gotten to know Gustafer Yellowgold from his DVD you’re hooked. He’s cute and yellow and likes to jump on cakes. But many of our reviewers didn’t know this, and when they saw his yellow head framed by a black t-shirt it was love at first sight. “I want that one,” said Josh (age 5) of Williamsburg, MA. “He just looks cool,” commented Shomari (age 9) of Buckland, MA. “Auction that one off TODAY!” remarked Bryn (dad) of Buckland, MA.” – HFVS T-Shirt Review.

HOW TO WIN: For your chance to win, simply post us a comment below. We’ll randomly draw a winner from everyone who leaves a comment. IT’S THAT SIMPLE! Deadline is 12/18/07 @ 7pm (EST).

Shop Local This Holiday Season … AND WIN!

4th Annual Think Local First Contest

PV BALLE 4TH ANNUAL THINK LOCAL FIRST CONTESTThe Pioneer Valley Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (PV BALLE) 4TH Annual Think Local First contest will be running through the end of this year. As an incentive to get folks to support local, independent business in the Hilltowns and Pioneer Valley, over 90 local businesses have donated more than 130 gift certificates that value nearly $4,000 to PV BALLE’s contest this year. Visit to find out how you can participate.

Best Friends Forever Episode on HFVS (10/02/07)

with Sienna & Persephone

WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio Northampton, MA
Tuesday evening @ 7pm

Best Friends Forever Episode
10/02/07 Playlist

  • Jack Johnson – “We’re Going to Be Friends” [Sing-A-Longs & Lullabies for the Film Curious George]
  • The Hipwaders – “”Watch Your Friendship Grow” [The Hipwaders]
  • Laurie Berkner – “I’m Me and You’re You” [Under a Shady Tree]
  • The Pop Rockets – “Best Friends” [Blast Off With The Pop Rockets!]
  • The Pop Rockets – “Bubbles” [Blast Off With The Pop Rockets!]
  • Ella Fitzgerald – “Chew-Chew-Chew” [Nicky’s Jazz For Kids]
  • Rebecca Frezza – “Bubble Bath Blues” [Music in My Heart]
  • Steve Weeks – “Someday” [Alphabet Songs Vol III: Rabbit Run]
  • Barney Saltzberg – “Best Friends with Jackson Browne and Vonda Shepard” [Crazy Hair Days]

listen now | subscribe to podcast | archived shows | contests


This week Persephone’s learning friendship skills in her kindergarten class. Important skills that will carry her through her life. Skills that teach communication, understanding and how to work through conflicts. (I wonder if there’s a refresher course available for parents?) To celebrate friendships, we’ve put together an episode with several songs about friends, including “Best Friends” off of The Pop Rocket’s brand new CD, Blast Off with the Pop Rockets!


As promised, for the next year we will be offering a chance to win a CD and T-shirt from one of our featured bands. This week’s contest features the Pop Rocket’s, and here’s what you have a chance to win:

  • Newly released CD, Blast Off with the Pop Rockets!
  • Youth size green t-shirt (Size XS 2-4) (Design above)
  • Pop Rockets poster, signed by all members of the band
  • Pop Rocket stickers

(c) Hilltown FamiliesWe like Funny Caption contests like Milkshake does on their website. Taking into account the photo displayed here (which was taken during a recent Pop Rocket’s performance in Florence, MA), the family/individual who posts the funniest caption (as determined by an expert panel of judges: Persephone, Persephone’s dad and myself) will win our Pop Rockets giveaway packet. Click here to see a larger image.

Be sure to put your email address in the proper field (it won’t be visible to the public) but please do not post links in the body of your post for it may be filtered out as spam. Deadline is midnight on 10/08/07. (And remember, this is a family radio show. Good old clean fun works best!)

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