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When you think waterfalls, one does not necessarily think of Massachusetts as a place to see them. I know I didn't, but then a friend told me of a road trip she took that visited a bunch of the waterfalls right here in our state. I was shocked as I had no idea, but sure enough there are a ton of them. I did some research and I thought it would be great to have a list for anyone who wants to go exploring like we did. The weather is getting much warmer so it is a perfect time to plan your first trip of the season.

Lulu Cascade
Berry Pond Circuit (off Cascade Street)
Pittsfield, MA
Located in Pittsfield State Forest

Turkeyhill Brook Falls
Sawmill Road
Paxton, MA
Located in Moore State Park; features a restored sawmill, remnants of other mills, walking paths, and lots of rhododendrons, azaleas and mountain laurel; offers canoeing, fishing, hiking, hunting, cross-country skiing

Peck's Brook Falls
West Mountain Road (or Notch Road)
Adams, MA
Located on Mt. Greylock in Pecks Brook Shelter (off the Gould Trail); 1.3 mile hike up from the West Mountain Rd parking lot; can also be hiked down from Notch Road; There is also a lower falls 600 ft downstream, but it is very dangerous to access

Glendale Falls
Clark Wright Road
Middlefield, MA
Once part of the historic 18th-century Glendale Farm; 1/4 mile trail leads to bottom of the falls; swimming discouraged; seasonal hunting permitted

Goldmine Falls
Route 20
Chester, MA
Located in the Chester-Blandford State Forest just east of Sanderson Brook; the lower falls is about 300 feet from Route 20 on Goldmine Brook; there is no trail, only a wooded hill on the side of the road

Hudson's Chasm
1 McCauley Road (off Route 8)
North Adams, MA
Located in Natural Bridge State Park; features the only naturally formed white marble arch and also man-made white marble dam in North America; walking, fishing, picnicking

Know of another fall not on our list? Type it in the comments or let us know on Facebook!

 

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April is nearly here and that means Spring planting. The soil is warming and now is the best time to plant your vegetable seeds now that the last frost has happened. Start planting both bush and pole beans now that the soil and air are warmed up. Beets and broccoli are next to be planted. If there is any sign of an impending frost, all seedlings must be covered. Planting under row covers or a low tunnel will not only help to warm the soil quicker, but will also protect seedlings from frosts (although a hard freeze, or a long stretch of really cold weather may still be able to kill plants under row covers).

Image result for low tunnel planting

Planting in pots and trays that can be moved outside into the sun on warm days, and brought inside at night, is one surefire way to beat the frost (as long as you remember to bring them inside), and can be a great way to start an early spring garden long before the soil outside is ready to plant. Container gardening is also a good way to start growing some of your own food on windowsills, balconies, or decks, even if you don't have an outside garden plot.

Do not directly sow peppers, tomatoes or eggplant. Start peppers indoor approximately eight weeks before transplanting them outdoors. Remove any buds that appear on your pepper seedlings before transplanting them to ensure that the root system has grown large enough to support a pepper crop. Start tomatoes indoors about six to seven weeks prior to moving them into your garden. Start eggplant in four-inch pots four to six weeks before the last average frost. Do not start eggplant in flats, since these plants are sensitive to transplant shock.

Well known for the amount of vitamin A in them, carrots are popular among gardeners during this time of year because they prefer and grow best in cooler temperatures. Unlike a lot of other vegetable plants, the size of the carrots does not matter when it comes to you harvesting them.

Cucumbers can be planted in the spring but must have warm weather because they are extremely vulnerable to frost. They don’t require much attention after you have planted the seeds, so they’re low maintenance and easy to grow! After they are harvested, you can eat them grated, sliced or even whole, it’s up to you.

Happy Gardening Everyone!

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Even though snow is falling outside, Spring is just 10 days away. What would New England be without one last punch of snow before we roar into Spring? I am not sure about you, but when I think Spring, I think Spring cleaning and organization is a huge part of that. There are a ton of really economical ways to organize. You do not need to go out and spend hundreds on new totes and bins to get the desired result. There are a ton of things around your home that you can use to organize your life and home.

If you are short on space in the kitchen, you can attached bins and trays to the inside of your cabinet doors. Grab an extra magazine rack off your desk and attach it to the inside of one of your base cabinets as seen below. This will free up much needed drawer space and let's face it, do you really need a magazine bin?

Image result for magazine rack inside kitchen cabinet

This next one is my favorite as it can be used in almost any room. You can purchase a clear shoe holder that hangs on the back or any door. These are only a few dollars at almost any store. Use one in your bathroom to store al your soaps, toothbrushes, makeup, or anything else you store in your bathroom. You can also pop one up in your office and put all your supplies in it. Craft room? Don't even get me started…

overthedoor

Another great idea to save base cabinet space is to hang rods across the width of the cabinet. You can then hang your cleaning products from the rod or hanging bins to hold sponges,etc…

rodimage

I also saw this great idea to use an old sled as a pot rack. I LOVE this idea and you can go about it so many ways. Paint it, crackle it, anyway you decide, it will look fabulous.

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I also love the new trend of magnetic storage. You can hang these super cheap magnetic strips almost anywhere. You can dress them up with fabric or other backings. You can use these to hang knives in the kitchen or bathroom toiletry tools. Jewelry also would be great!

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What do you all do to get ready for Spring? Have any great organizational ideas? Post them in the comments!

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Blessed Spring, it is less than 3 weeks away. March 20th to be exact. What does this mean for you… Spring Preparation! I am not talking outside, I am talking indoor spring cleaning! Am I the only one who gets excited about this? Throwing the windows open and cleaning out the closets just puts me in a warmer state of mind. Admit it, that first time you have the windows open and the breeze comes in…nothing like it.

I start off with the windows. I shut the heat off and open them all up. First thing you need to do is clean those sills out and wash the windows. This can take sometime, but it has to be done after the winter months. It is also time to pop the screens back on, but hose those suckers off first then lay them out to dry in the sun. Yes, the Sun!

Once I have the windows set, I like to start on the wardrobe swap. This is a great time to toss any holey socks or worn items not suitable for donation. After that, start to sort your winter items into pack away or donate boxes. Makes it much easier next winter to see what you need and it is a great chance to purge. Box up all winter coats, hats, scarves, etc.. too along with your boots and any other winter shoes. Please make sure you give everything one last wash before you pack. I also layer febreeze dryer sheets in between layers of clothes so they stay nice and fresh all summer. Really, this small thing makes a difference.

Make sure you do this to every ones bedrooms. This is definitely one of the more time consuming tasks you will have to do, but well worth it!

Next up is the dreaded deep cleaning. I am talking wiping down the blinds, ceiling fans, baseboard molding, and heater covers. Clear out under sinks and toss what you do not use and organize the rest with bins/baskets. Organize your kitchen cabinet draws and pantry and spray the oven cleaner and let sit.

It is also a good time to break out the magic eraser and hit the walls, cabinets, etc.. This is seriously the best cleaning tool I have ever used.

Lastly, pour a glass of wine, you done good!

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There is so much you need to know, take into consideration, and be wary of when doing your yearly taxes. It becomes even more complex when you are a senior. Making sure you are up to date on the latest tax laws and staying clear of scams can be daunting and hard to navigate. Hiring an experienced tax preparer is recommended, but if you are going to file on your own here are a few tips this year to keep you on track.

For starters, make sure you even have to file. Unless you own property or a similar major asset, or you made a major purchase last year, you may be able to avoid preparing a tax return altogether. Consult your tax preparer to find out if you have to file or go online to your federal or state tax website for more information.

If you need to have someone assist you, there are a number of agencies that can help. The IRS-hosted Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program offers tax preparation help to seniors. The program is free of charge to those who qualify. Click here to find nearby centers. The AARP also offers assistance to seniors with low to moderate income.

You also need to be wary of scams and phishing schemes. Seniors are always targeted during tax season and some scams can be very convincing. Head on over to our Facebook page for a great article from USA today describing the latest scam and what to be wary of. Click here for more info: https://www.irs.gov/individuals/seniors-retirees

Also don't forget about the top tax breaks for the senior bracket.

1. Medical and Dental Costs
2. Home Sales
3. Retirement Contributions
4. Investment Expenses
5. Business Expenses
6. Charity Contributions
7. Take the Standard Deduction

However you decide to file, please make sure you do your research and if you do file on your own, make sure you take advantage of every deduction and credit you can.

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Don't get me wrong, flowers and chocolates are lovely and traditional V day gifts. No matter what, they will make you smile and feel all warm and rosy inside. If you are looking for something a bit different though, we've got some ideas for you. While I love roses, giving them to my husband does not seem like the best gift. While he would appreciate the sentiment, it just isn't the perfect gift for him. I've done a few different things over the years so I thought I would share my crafty gifts in case you are looking for something new to try.

1. Last year –  I made 2 dozen chocolate cupcakes with heart sprinkles. I arranged them on a platter in the shape of a heart. Edible Valentine 🙂 Men love these.

2. Year before that –  I went to the local hallmark store and got those small blank cards that are next to the gift bags. I got 12, one for each day of the year. In each card, I wrote something I loved about him. Some were serious and some were funny. I had these arranged with some rose petals and candles.

3. Maybe the year before that – I surprised him with a night away from the house and children. It was a simple room down the cape, but we enjoyed a nice dinner out and roamed the shops in Hyannis. We slept in and then came home refreshed. It was perfect.

4. – Within the last 5 years – We went to Foxwoods for the night and stayed over in their hotel. It was a great deal and we had a delicious meal at the Hard Rock Cafe. We played some blackjack and went home $300 in the plus. It was a great time!

5. 5 Years back – this one took some planning from the year before so while this one may not work now, it would be great to start for next year. Starting this V Day make a jar and each week put in a note of something nice he did or something great that happened. It can be as simple as a thank you for a small kindness or something big like a new home purchase. Just something each week on a sheet of paper.

Whatever you decide to do, no gift is too cheesy or too mushy if it comes from the heart. Happy Love Day everyone!

 

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The January freeze is now here. Temps are dropping and no one wants to go outside for any extended period. Being shut in does have its drawbacks like boredom, but to the avid book reader, there is no shortage of new titles to take in on a cold day. There are tons of websites you can peruse to check out the latest releases and of course there is the NY Times and Oprah's list. I am and have always been a huge lover of books so some of the ones I am suggesting , I have read myself. So take a peek and let me know if I am missing your favorite!

Everything We Keep – Kerry Lonsdale – READ
This was a great book and surprised me right to the very end! Lovely read.
A luminous debut with unexpected twists, Everything We Keep explores the devastation of loss, the euphoria of finding love again, and the pulse-racing repercussions of discovering the truth about the ones we hold dear and the lengths they will go to protect us.

When I Found You – Catherine Ryan Hyde – READ
Sad story, but wonderful read.
From the bestselling author of Pay It Forward comes When I Found You, an exquisite, emotional tale of the unexpected bonds that nothing in life can break.

The Year We Turned 40 – A Novel – Liz Fenton
If you could repeat one year of your life, what would you do differently? This heartwarming and hilarious novel from the authors of The Status of All Things and Your Perfect Life features three best friends who get the chance to return to the year they turned forty—the year that altered all of their lives, in ways big and small—and also get the opportunity to change their future.

The Whiskey Sea – Ann Howard Creel
The book begins with a mysterious image of a woman who is in the water and fears drowning. Then the story moves to 1908, when two young girls are orphaned after the sudden death of their mother. They are taken in by a kindly fisherman, and settle into life in a fishing community in New Jersey.

The Throwaway Children – Diney Costeloe – READ
Sad, but enjoyable read.

Rita and Rosie Stevens are only nine and five years old when their widowed mother marries a violent bully called Jimmy Randall and has a baby boy by him. Under pressure from her new husband, she is persuaded to send the girls to an orphanage, not knowing that the papers she has signed will entitle them to do what they like with the children. And it is not long before the powers that be decide to send a consignment of orphans to their sister institution in Australia. Among them—without their family's consent or knowledge—are Rita and Rosie, the throwaway children.

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Whether you like him for his unorthodox views or you can't stand him, Donald Trump WILL be our next President and his term starts today. The official swearing-in ceremony is scheduled to begin at 11:30 a.m. on Friday on the West Front of the Capitol overlooking the Mall. Most of the nation’s dignitaries will be on hand, including Mr. Trump’s presidential opponent, Hillary Clinton, and her husband, former President Bill Clinton. Nice.

Mr. Trump will recite the 35 words mandated by the Constitution:“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” Then it will be time for his inaugural address which has a lot of people speculating what he will say. Then it will be parade time! A tradition since Thomas Jefferson’s inauguration in 1801, the parade is one of the inauguration’s highlights and typically draws large crowds and TV viewers around the country.

Next it will be time to dance! Trump will attend 3 balls even though more are going on. He will dance the first dance with his wife at every ball. as is custom, and will give a small speech at each event. Washington is expecting protesters and a lot of them. All inaugurations have protesters present, but Trump is the most controversial president elected yet so protesters will be at an all time high this time and so will security.

The largest event by far will be the Women’s March on Washington, which is on Saturday and is expected to attract several hundred thousand people. AT the same time the National prayer will be held and will signal the end of the inauguration.

You will be able to watch every event on TV, live stream it, and a thousand other ways. It all kicks off at 11 am today so dry your tears and get on board. 4 years of Trump, here we go!

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It goes without saying that you need to be extra careful this time of year. Especially after a snowstorm and the frigid temps that follow, safety is prime concern. In good weather it can be hard to keep our seniors safe so add ice, cold, and winter and the risk goes up. Living in a retirement community in Massachusetts, like Pine Hill Estates, protects Mom and Dad more than others living on their own, but it can still be dangerous this time of year.

Seniors are especially prone to becoming dehydrated simply because they eat and drink less than younger people, thus they consume less water. In general, people also feel less thirsty during the winter and so are more prone to not drinking enough as they should. Make sure your elderly loved one is drinking consistently.

I know it sounds silly, but stock up on GOOD gloves and outerwear. We live in the North so this is a place to NOT skimp on the good stuff. Even when an elderly person is indoors, they should be dressed in warm layers so they can take clothes off if they are too hot, or put more on if they are too cold. Go with Columbia, North Face, etc…

You likely won’t be going outside as much in cold weather, which means that you won’t be getting as much exposure to sunlight. Your body produces Vitamin D when exposed to sunshine, so it helps to adjust your diet accordingly. There are Vitamin D supplements available, but you can always fix the problem by eating more fish and dairy.

Be educated on the signs and symptoms of frostbite and hypothermia. Frostbite usually involves numb, waxy skin that has turned slightly grey, white or yellow. Hypothermia patients may feel confused, dizzy and sluggish, and have an irregular heartbeat, trouble breathing or slurred speech. If you suspect you might be suffering from either of these conditions, seek medical help immediately and keep warm.

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More and more people are opting to stay home tonight and for good reason. It is safer, cheaper, and more fun! Want to have a great New Years? Invite a bunch of friends over, make some easy apps, and play some super fun games while waiting for the ball to drop. You can easily make this into a tradition and it is something my family has been doing for as long as I can remember. You can still party, but safely at home. Not sure where to start? I have made a list of some of the funniest game we have played over the years and  a few new ones I found online or from a friend or two. No matter what you do, have a fantastic start to your year and be safe!

**Top Pick! – Pictionary!!

Grab a large dry erase board or some big sheets of paper from the dollar store along with pens or markers. You can grab the pictionary cards or any cards from whatever games you have on hand for the clues. Split into teams of 2 and let the laughs begin. This is tons of fun and people really get into it.

Name that person

Everyone writes the name of a celebrity, famous person or character on a piece of paper and then they stick to the forehead of the player on their left (use tape or office Post-It notes). Make sure they don’t see the name.  Now the game starts. Everyone else can see your forehead. The objective is to work out who you are. Going around the table, each payer takes a turn to ask the party questions about who they are – answers can be YES or NO only. If you get a YES you may continue asking, if you get a NO play moves on to the left. Last person to guess their name is the loser.

Host a Scavenger Hunt

Okay, I know we are not 8 years old, but this can be a blast, Make a list of items guests have to find and the fist person who does it gets a prize. You can have them collect items or just write down their location. This can be pretty funny to watch once people get a few glasses of champagne in them.

2 Resolutions and a lie

This game is a twist on the classic Two Truths and a Lie party game where guests have to try to figure out what the other guests are lying and telling the truth about. With this game, though, they'll have to figure out what two resolutions you really want this year, and which one is completely made up.

Charades

You will need old magazines, newspapers and other literature from the current year, to use as references for this game. You will need to locate several big events that took place throughout the year. You can write them down on sheets of paper or cut out the sections pertaining to them. Fold them up and place them in a bowl. When your guests are ready to play a game have them gather around. Ask for a volunteer to start the game off. They will go up in front of the group, pull a paper and read it to themselves. They will have one minute to come up with something to act out, without speaking or making a noise. They will have one additional minute to act it out. The remaining guests will try to guess which event they are acting out. The person to guess correctly will go next. This continues until the bowl is empty or you are ready to move on to a new game. The person with the most correct guesses wins the game.

Race to the toast

You will need champagne, champagne flutes, plastic bowls, and plastic spoons. Give each player a bowl with champagne in it, a spoon and an empty flute. When the game begins they must use the spoon to transfer the champagne from the bowl into the flute. Once they have gotten all of the Champagne into their glass they will grab their glass and stand. The first person to get this down will get to give the toast for the New Years.

Have the Happiest of New Years!

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