Posts Tagged ‘Holidays’

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A Trip To Moody’s For The Perfect Christmas Tree

MoodyFarm_newOur Christmas tree tradition always involves sturdy boots, a saw, braving the cold and most likely a snowball fight that ends with someone crying.

There are many places around the Adirondacks to find the perfect Christmas tree. Every year my family has an open invitation to explore our neighbor’s property, but most of the time we enjoy walking the fields of one of the nearby tree farms. » Continue Reading.



Wednesday, December 10, 2014

For That Real Evergeen Experience, Buy Local

local spruceOf all the memorable aromas of the holiday season, nothing evokes its spirit quite like the smell of fresh-cut evergreen. Although over 80% of American households where Christmas is observed use artificial trees, about 11 million families still bring home a real tree.

Every species of conifer has its own mixture of sweet-smelling terpenols and esters that account for that “piney woods” perfume. While all natural Christmas trees share many of the same aromatic compounds, some people prefer the smell of a certain type of tree, possibly one they remember from childhood. No chemistry lab can make a polyvinylchloride tree smell like fresh pine, fir or spruce. A natural Christmas tree is, among other things, a giant holiday potpourri. » Continue Reading.



Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Christmas in Essex, Where Santa Arrives By Ferry

TaylorHaskins_newThere are many ways to spend the holidays, or those few frantic weeks just before, that truly ring in the year with quaint Adirondack charm. Schroon Lake’s Olde Tyme Christmas, Lake Placid’s Holiday Stroll and Christmas in Essex are just three celebrations that are prepared to make everyone’s countdown to Christmas just a little more merry.

Though Friday nights do hold a few scheduled happenings, the main events take place over the weekend for most locations. According to Christmas in Essex Co-Organizer Kenneth Hughes, this year’s festival on December 13th is a mixture of traditional activities and new events.

“Christmas in Essex has been happening for at least 20 years so we have the traditional activities people look forward to, like the Reindeer Run and Pancake Breakfast, but we added some things that are brand new. This is the first year that I’ve been an organizer,” says Hughes. “My other Co-Organizer is Susie Smith.” » Continue Reading.



Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Giving Tuesday Can Happen Anytime

Now that we’ve survived Black Friday and supported local businesses with Small Business Saturday, it is time to look at the really big picture and make sure that giving remains a major part of the holiday season. Since 2012, #GivingTuesday has celebrated the importance of generosity and giving back.

Giving Tuesday was conceived in cooperation with the New York’s 92 Street Young Men and Young Women’s Hebrew Association (92Y), the United Nations Foundation and a team of founding partners that understood the importance of fostering kindness.

The concept is simple. We have numerous days for getting, now we have a international day for giving. If you are sitting at your computer or visiting a favorite Adirondack location, please take a moment and search for a way that is important to you to give back. » Continue Reading.



Monday, December 1, 2014

Adirondack Holidays: Decoration And Gift Ideas

F_Krüger_VorweihnachtI love greenery and lights this time of year and it doesn’t take much to make a difference. I’m in awe of the super creative folks but as long as I can see some deep green and lights, I’m content. If you feel daunted at the thought of making your own wreath, consider a simple swag for your door. Gather a handful of nice looking greens, wrap them together with green wire, add a ribbon and you’re done.

I recently discovered one of the easiest ways to decorate. I use the planters on our porch that were full of flowers all summer, and fill them with greenery. You can use a variety of greens to provide different textures and color. Cut the greens in varying lengths but mostly about twice as long as the pot is high and stuff them into the potting mix to hold them in place. » Continue Reading.



Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Black Friday: Christmas On Main Street

OldForgeChristmas_newPersonally I feel that all decorations have their time and place. Just because chain stores decided on Christmas merchandising before my kids had even pulled together Halloween costumes, does not mean I have to succumb. I need some distance between my holiday celebrations. Christmas won’t happen in our house until the turkey is considered a leftover.

Around the Adirondacks local stores and businesses aren’t feeling the pressure to celebrate early. They are saving their energy and pulling out all the stops for a Black Friday weekend that is uniquely Adirondack. » Continue Reading.



Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Tips On Recycling Your Christmas Tree

Christmas Tree RecyclingLooking to recycle your Christmas tree when the holidays are over? If you want to let the birds benefit from your tree for a bit – you might think about staking it in the ground and leaving it out in your backyard for a while – after you have replaced the ornaments with some yummy bird feeders of course (think pinecones covered in peanut butter and bird seed or suet cakes).

You can then set it aside once all the needles have dropped and it no longer provides good cover for the birds to chip and use as mulch in the spring. » Continue Reading.



Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Finding A Christmas Tree in the Southern Adirondacks

Christmastree_newI grew up getting a tree from a parking lot and yearned for a storybook experience of searching the woods for the ideal tree. Though getting any Christmas tree was exciting, I wanted to give my children a different family ritual.  I also wanted to stick to the legal version of obtaining a Christmas tree. A few of my friends may disagree (and shall remain nameless), but I believe that searching for a tree should not involve stealth, cloak of darkness and a get-away car.

How we obtain our Christmas tree varies year to year, but so far we have either been gifted a tree from a neighbor’s property or we’ve visited one a local Adirondack Christmas tree farm. » Continue Reading.



Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Shopping Small in the Central Adirondacks

scan0001We try to find the time to make sure some of the items being sent to family and friends are “made in the Adirondacks.” That special moniker indicates a range of products from maple treats or rhubarb concentrate to elaborate bark-trimmed furniture. Since we live in the Adirondacks we are fortunate to be able to share some of the bounty with other family members not so fortunate.

The advertisements for Black Friday specials come at such a steady stream of daily flyers and commercials that my head starts to ache. Black Friday may be the day to brave the mall, but Small Business Saturday is the day that I support the backbone of the Adirondacks: the downtown shops, business owners and restaurants. » Continue Reading.



Saturday, December 29, 2012

Lost Brook Dispatches: The Christmas Turkey, Part Two

When I was a  teenager I had a small streak of juvenile delinquency.  This is not uncommon in young men of course and it comes in different flavors.  Some do a little drinking or drugs.  Some do a little stealing.  Some  might commit minor vandalism.  I didn’t do any of that stuff.  I liked to set things on fire.

One March in Cleveland when I was fifteen or so, after a particularly long  and snowy winter the weekend broke into the sixties, setting me and two of my like-minded friends, who were possessed with acute cabin fever, into a manic tizzy to play basketball.  Sadly the driveway was covered in slush from the thaw, splattering us with every aborted dribble.  We tried shoveling, sweeping, even hosing it down, but to no avail. Then we came to another solution. » Continue Reading.



Monday, December 24, 2012

Holidays to Remember: Christmas, 1945

Among the finest Christmas seasons in America’s long history is the year 1945. We’re constantly bombarded with how special the holidays are, so it’s tough for any one year to stand out as extra special, but 1945 makes the list. Events across the Adirondacks that year epitomized the nation’s attitude. Surprisingly, it wasn’t all about celebrating, even though the most destructive war in history had just ended a few months earlier. We often mumble mindlessly that we’re proud to be Americans. But the first post-World War II Christmas was the real deal, worthy of the word “pride.”

To set the scene, consider the events that had transpired at that time. After being mired for a decade in the worst financial collapse in our history (the Great Depression), Americans had begun preparing for what seemed inevitable: joining the war in Europe. And then, between the Pearl Harbor attack and the war’s end four years later, hundreds of North Country boys and men were killed in action. Thousands more were injured or missing. » Continue Reading.



Thursday, December 13, 2012

Outside Story: Natural Christmas Tree Decorations

“What a horrifyingly garish sight,” I said to my friend as we surveyed my Christmas tree last year. We had just finished decorating it and my eyes were sending messages to my brain, like, “Hey, this is really tacky.”

Truth is, the décor I had accumulated after years of city dwelling in my sassy twenties looked awfully out of place in my humble Vermont cabin. What I once thought dazzling – glitter-coated icicles, a miniature disco ball, a purple-feathered bird with jeweled eyes, flocks of shiny gold and green balls – now looked as out of place as a pink flamingo at my bird feeder. Even the duck decoy my great uncle carved seemed to give the gaudy fiasco an alarmed stare. Such a tree no longer belonged in my world. » Continue Reading.



Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Adirondack Family Activities: The Nutcracker Ballet

One holiday tradition for our family is to see a production of the Nutcracker ballet. Throughout the Adirondacks and beyond, this is a tradition that many hold dear to their hearts as a family-friendly way to kick off the holiday season. With productions in Old Forge, Plattsburgh, Lake Placid and Glens Falls, this ballet gathers professional and community dancers on stage for a limited performance.

“Seeing a performance of the Nutcracker is part of the theatre tradition that is wholesome and something the whole family can see,” says Old Forge Ballet Company Director Sue Ann Lorenz-Wallace.” If children are performing in the production, it is something that will stay with them the rest of their lives. If they watch it, it will always bring back fond memories of the holidays.” » Continue Reading.



Sunday, November 25, 2012

Cabin Life: The Thanksgiving Bet

It’s Thanksgiving week, and there’s no snow on the ground.  There’ve been some heavy frosts, and I’ve had to scrape my windshield most days in the last week.  Right now there’s a heavy frost covering the apple trees and the sun is coming up over Whiteface.  I really wish my camera battery was charged.

When I was growing up, I had a running bet with my grandfather that there would be snow on the ground Thanksgiving morning.  We always hosted dinner, sometimes with more than twenty people, but Grandpa would always walk in and give me five bucks and not say anything to me.  I would grin and pocket the money, happy in my ability to predict the weather.  Of course, most years, there was already snow on the ground before Thanksgiving, so it wasn’t much of a surprise that I had a pretty good streak of winning that bet.
» Continue Reading.


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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

High Peaks Happy Hour: Thanksgiving Cocktail Recipes

After years of kitchen drudgery and dishpan hands, all of a sudden everyone wants us to join them for Thanksgiving dinner. Provided, of course, WE BRING THE DRINKS! Pammy’s no Julia Child but she can do a throwdown cocktail that’ll make Bobby Flay take notice! Creativity is all you need to shake up the traditional feast. Just keep the menu in mind. Compatibility with the flavors of the meal is important. Compatibility with family members or other guests is something we’re not qualified to help you with, but a few tasty beverages might not hurt.

We’re not sure how it goes at your house, but we always have a plethora of snacks and appetizers, serving no other purpose than to keep the hungry guests from whining and the kids out of the kitchen. The unfortunate result, once dinner is ready, is a roomful of gluttonous guests too stuffed to engage in the carnage that is Thanksgiving Dinner!
» Continue Reading.



Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Adirondack Family Activities:
Black Friday, Small Business Saturday

My children show more interest in the newspapers during the holiday season than any other time of year. They are the first two people in our household to get the newspaper and start drawing circles around toys and games that are suddenly on the “must have” list. They are driven by the constant marketing and inundated by advertising with items they truly feel they need. We also have many cousins to buy gifts for.

Though I am asked to get popular named brand clothing for some, I also make a point of giving something handmade or locally made. I don’t pick it out. I give each of my children the name of one cousin to shop for at a time. My kids are given a budget and walk through various stores to see what small item they can pick up that may complement the purchased sweater. » Continue Reading.



Monday, December 19, 2011

History: Dangerous Ideas from Christmas Past

Twenty years ago, Dana Carvey’s character, “Grumpy Old Man,” was a popular recurring feature of Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update.

He’d offer an assessment of current times compared to the so-called “good old days,” highlighting some barbaric practices of the past (exaggerated to great comedic effect) with the closing line, “And we liked it!” » Continue Reading.



Monday, December 19, 2011

Balsam Fir: Adirondack Christmas Tradition

As a rule, the severity of the winter becomes harsher with an increase in altitude. In the lowlands, around the periphery of the Park, conditions are more favorable for life, as these valley settings are capable of supporting a wide diversity of flora and fauna. However, closer to the summit of the peaks, the weather becomes as inhospitable as at much higher latitudes, such as near the Arctic Circle, where only a handful of extremely hardy forms of vegetation can flourish to grace the rugged, boulder strewn terrain. Among the woody plants that are successful in rooting in the shallow soil of these frigid, wind swept sites is the balsam fir (Abies balsamea), known as our most popular type of Christmas tree.

The bitter cold atmosphere that prevails at these locations is incapable of holding much moisture, resulting in extremely low humidity. As this ultra-dry air buffets the needles, twigs, and trunk of the balsam, along with the few other species of trees that grow in this zone, it attempts to draw out whatever water molecules are present in exposed tissues.

Similarly, under the crystal clear skies of the long days of early summer, the intensity of the sun at these higher elevations would quickly bake moisture out of surface cells if they were not somehow sealed. It is intense dryness, rather than exposure to low temperatures, that creates a challenge for the various plants that attempt to gain a foothold there.

The resin that gives balsam its characteristic fragrance is fundamental to the fir’s success, as this gooey sap is highly effective in sealing moisture in and preventing desiccation. Even though the soil may often be saturated with water from frequent periods of rain, and prolonged exposure to water laden clouds that may shroud the slopes for days, once the ground freezes in late autumn, the resulting ice crystals can not be taken in by the roots and transported throughout the tree.

Consequently, it is quite common for plants of this zone to be without access to outside water from mid November through April. Any water that is in a plant at the start of the winter must be held there for the next 5 months, or it could suffer debilitating dehydration, or death.

Because of balsam’s drought tolerance, its needles are far less likely to drop off its twigs after the tree has been cut. When placed in a stand containing water, a balsam fir will remain relatively fresh for several weeks. This is considerably longer than other conifers, as some react to the dry inside air by shedding their needles within a week after being propped-up in a living room corner.

Periodic snowfalls and bouts of rime icing that encapsulate the surfaces of everything at upper elevations not only create a picturesque appearance to the terrain, but also are effective at assisting the plants of this region to deal with the issue of dryness. Being encrusted in a layer of dense snow or ice, the needles and twigs are no longer exposed to the evaporating effect of the air, regardless of how strong the winds may become.

Even though the weight of the snow or ice on the branches occasionally becomes substantial, the limbs of fir are adapted to bend, rather than snap. Despite being entombed in ice for well over a month, the branches spring back to normal once the weight falls off, or melts. This ability of balsam branches to support a fair amount of weight allows people obsessed with hanging hundreds of ornaments to completely cover its boughs with all-types of seasonal decorations and not have the branches break.

Aside from making a great Christmas tree, balsam fir contributes greatly to the wildlife community of those areas in which it grows. The ecological role of balsam was best presented by Ellen Rathbone’s article on balsam fir which appeared in the Almanack almost exactly two years ago.

Please remember that while balsam makes a great Christmas tree, it is one of our most flammable trees, especially after it has been indoors for a few weeks. Caution should always be used to ensure that it is a safe distance from heaters, wood stoves and candles; and when its needles start to fall off, it is time to put it outside.

Have a great Christmas and enjoy your Christmas tree, even if it isn’t a balsam.



Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Local Food: An Inspired Adirondack Holiday

Holiday gift giving offers many opportunities to support locally owned and run businesses – maybe tickets to a show or an annual membership to your local arts organization, a contribution to your local library in someone’s name, public radio station, or even a subscription to a regional publication. A CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) share works here, too, in that your local farmer benefits as well as the receiver. In addition, you might need some last minute ideas for the teacher, mail delivery person, or the relative on your gift list who seems to have everything. » Continue Reading.



Sunday, December 4, 2011

Selected Holiday Art of Kathy Ford

Courtesy of the artist, here is a selection of Kathy Ford’s holiday glass paintings from the past twenty-five years (click below)

1987 Goose with Wreath

1994 Angel

1996 Kids Making Snowman

1998 Skaters on Pond

2000 Santa with Horn

2003 Little Girl with Snow Globe

2006 Carolers on Main Street

2008 Angel with Dove

2009 Little Boy Looking Up Chimney



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