Wacky Winter Adventures

By: Martianne Stanger 

What a wacky winter we are having so far! Snow one day and spring-like weather the next. But after last winter, I’ll take this any day! The mild, but sometimes seasonal, weather we’ve been having offers so many invitations to do what I love most with family: Get outside!

Perhaps snapshots of our simple seasonal adventures will inspire you to do the same:

Panes of ice are fun to find and explore on local trails.

It’s also cool to observe the ice forming and receding as the weather keeps changing.

And, the milder days make for awesome sunset playground dates!

They also make for walks in the woods, where you never know what you’ll find.  One day, we tracked turkey feathers for quite a while!

And when the snow finally arrives? Even if it is mixed with rain, there’s traditional winter pastimes to partake in.  Who says you cannot build a snowman with a dusting?!


Then, on snowier days, true fort building can commence!

As can the “war” of “arctic” battles…

… and the “peace” of cleaning driveways and cars on snowy evenings, leaving love notes on a windshield.

Since spring-like weather keeps coming back, if there’s time when it snows, we’ve prioritized walking through winter wonderlands while they last.

Sometimes we get wild in our snow dens…

… or build our very own snow shelters.


Indeed, getting outside this season has brought us so many smiles…

And some sap, too!  Yep, those trees are running.

And, even if we are often running, too, we do make a point to slow down, to pause and to prioritize enjoying this season outside when we can.


I hope you do, too! What a world of wonder awaits you outside, be it mild or madly snowy.

Enjoy this winter season!

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Cabin Fever Picnic

By: Kathy Trainor 

Who could forget last winter? And the 8 feet of snow in less than 30 days?  With another snow storm headed our way and one just over. I had to bring out a few tricks from last year.

branch-437501_1280When children get “cabin fever,” one way to keep them occupied is by doing something unexpected. In our family, that means celebrating the cold weather with an indoor picnic featuring games and food that the whole family can enjoy.

Possibilities for children’s indoor picnics are as endless as your imagination. Here are some ideas:

Teddy Bear Tea Picnic

Clothing: Kids and teddy bears wear their fanciest clothes

Picnic site: Gather around the kitchen table, or on blanket on the floor

Food: Small cups of tea served with mini sandwiches (peanut butter and jelly, Nutella®, ham and cheese, or egg salad, for instance). Use small cookie cutters to cut sandwiches into fun shapes.

Music: Sing or play the “Teddy Bear Picnic” song

Camping-in Picnic

Clothing: Children’s hiking attire and gear (jeans and boots will do too)

Picnic site: Sleeping bags, pillows, and flashlights or battery-operated plastic lanterns. If you have small tent or even a large sheet eat in the “tent”

Food: Grilled cheese sandwiches, granola bars, a canteen or Thermos of water, and S’mores (made in the microwave or toaster oven, or a ready-made S’mores kit).

Music: Sing campfire songs

After last winter I didn’t really know what else do it. I also found the kids even loved a Movie Picnic where I let them eat in the living room a HUGE no-no but the treat kept smiles on their face and my sanity.

What are your favorite ways to beat cabin fever?

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When Life Hands You a Curveball

By: Janice Johnson-Plumer 

With 2015 behind me I actually have a chance to reflect on what happened to me this past year. I remembered summer had just started and I am preparing for a relaxing vacation with my husband. Well, before the vacation even had a chance to start, it ended. My husband delivers some disturbing news and I was literally frozen in place. It was like his lips were moving, but no sound was coming out. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Something terrible had taken place at his work and now he is out of work while there is an investigation. How can this be? I am tried to gather the details and remain calm. I remember getting up and saying I needed to go to the post office to get stamps. Yes, stamps. Stamps at a time like this.

baseball-956719_640.jpgI drove to the post office which is literally a five minute drive, but took forever. I pulled into the parking lot and broke down to tears. I couldn’t believe what had happened and what could possibly happen. I would’ve called my mother, but she has already passed away, so the next best thing was a cousin who worked nearby. I went to her job with blood shot eyes and began to tell her what just happened. She remained calm and said nothing, just letting me vent. I then proceeded to go home and acted like I wasn’t in hysterics for the past hour.

What transpired over the next 6 months was something out of a Lifetime Movie, except my husband and I were the main characters and it wasn’t scripted. This was a real, hard core situation that I thought was never going to end. I find when you are in a personal situation it’s almost as if you are numb from the outside world. People can spit at you, talk about you to your face, throw things at you, and you are literally helpless. I was living a real life nightmare. How could this be happening to me? My husband? My family? How could this situation happen to a good, hardworking man who was a provider and head of my home? We were not exempt from going through trying times. We may have thought so, but we were sadly mistaken. Everyone questioned my husband’s integrity, character, motives, etc. You name it, they asked it.  I couldn’t believe how people I thought I could trust would turn their backs on me.

This was my curve ball. This was something that was out of the ordinary and it could have really affected me to the core if I was not armed with the right tools and a strong support network. How did I get through it? Here are some of the tools that helped me.

  • My Faith kept me on the right road. It was a road of many things. Forgiveness of people, strength in adversity and perseverance. I learned to let go, and let God take over.
  • Not talking to everyone about it, especially family. I have found that family can sometimes be the hardest to talk to sometimes because they are the closest to you. They start questioning if it was something they did, or said, that prompted the situation.
  • Keeping busy. If it weren’t for the gym it would not have been a good situation for me. Did I get any skinnier? No, but I released a lot of stress. Plus I am also a spin instructor so all the stresses of the day went into my class.
  • I looked within myself and made it a point not to let this break or destroy my son, family, household, etc.
  • I had one family member (some family are okay) that called me here and there to check in on me. I could be myself and I knew I could talk to her openly and she would not judge me.

When life throws you a curve ball do you stand there with your glove ready to catch it or do you run in the opposite direction?

By the way, I had two gloves and I was ready to catch that curve ball with finesse!

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Signature Healthcare Wins Women’s Choice Award for Patient Safety!

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The Signature Moms Blog would like to congratulate Signature Healthcare on their 2016 Women’s Choice Award for America’s Best Hospitals for Patient Safety. More than 3,500 hospitals were included in the analysis, which was sponsored by INC.500, and Signature Healthcare was one of only 472 to ear the award. Signature was selected based on consistently low rates of infection and surgical errors, as well as patient recommendations.

Way to go!

 

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Burnt End Cornbread Pie – RECIPE

By: Kathy Trainor

I love brisket and burnt end are the best part, I feel. Real burnt ends are the crusty parts that you end up with after you slice a brisket. It turns out, if you over-cook a brisket, like I did, you have lots of burnt pieces

And thus, Burnt End Cornbread pie…

This one features chopped burnt ends from the point, along with fire roasted Hatch medium and mild chiles, red bell pepper, onion, and fresh local bi-color sweet corn that was added uncooked just before I poured the Jiffy Corn muffin batter. Disclaimer: lots of fresh Texas chile powder was hurt in the making of this pie. 

After removal from the oven, I melted some unsalted butter over the top

The brisket was so tender, the hard bits had softened and worked into the gravy, which you can see are dark, rich and shiny.

I hope you enjoy!

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‘Tis the Season Should Last All Year

By: Sandy Churchill 

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“‘Tis the season to be jolly” is one of those cute sayings that instantly reminds one of Christmasy songs and Hallmark movies, but wouldn’t it be nice if every day fit that spirit? Imagine if EVERY day provided a reason to be jolly—brimming with grateful moments, smiles all around, and good deeds both large and small… just because.

People stopping to let you in on a rush-hour-packed street, a welcome smile from a drive-through teller, or a surprise open parking space that boosts your spirits as if you hit the jackpot… It doesn’t take very much to brighten our days and yet we need to notice these little gifts for them to reach maximum impact. What’s more—they can be contagious if we let them lift our spirits enough to want to “pay it forward” with similar good deeds for someone else.

I wonder if more of those moments actually pop into our days than we notice or even recognize for the gifts they are. On a recent Christmas shopping trip with my oldest daughter we shored ourselves up with extra patience for the quest through busy, overstocked aisles and lengthy register lines. We were tired, and the store was hot and stuffy, but were on a mission—and determined to be patient.

The surprises came two-fold. First, when a scratch-and-reveal coupon showed a 15% discount on our order, I joked with the clerk that I was really hoping for a 30% but my lucky little guy (who usually scratches the discount coupons for me) wasn’t here with me that day. She kindly proffered a 20% coupon she had handy at the register and I was thrilled. That was surprise #1.

The clerk continued ringing up our order and was nearly finished when a customer in another line turned around and asked me if I had a 30% coupon. I shook my head no and said “sorry” because I wished I could help her out. Clearly I misunderstood because she handed me one without a word. Wow! I was ecstatic! “Thank you!” I called and was truly touched by her gesture—not simply for the monetary help—which saved us close to $30, but for the random of act of kindness. Her decision to pause and help out a stranger sang of the Christmas spirit above the music of the carols playing throughout the store. She took a few moments to think of someone else—someone she neither knew nor would see again—and I was truly touched. In fact, I am still thinking about it a week later.

So I ask you to consider this holiday season, when the presents are torn open and relatives have gone home, to ponder what “’Tis the season” means to you. Are there random acts of kindness that could truly be part of every day and not saved for the magic of December? I hope so. In fact, “’Tis the season” might just be the makings of a New Year’s resolution for this grateful mom…

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Animated Light Displays

By: Kathy Trainor 

Walking through a winter wonderland doesn’t have to be bitterly cold. Your whole family can enjoy Animated Light Displays across New England. Families across the region turn their homes into magnificent creations of lights and sounds.

Screen Shot 2015-12-22 at 10.40.38 AMYou and your family can sit in the comfort of your car, turn on your car radio, and watch these Animated Light Displays. Many may ask for donations to offset the cost of powering these Animated Light Displays and we gladly partake with $1.00 per location  Many even take donations from the Animated Light Displays and donate them to local charities.

Please be mindful of traffic with these Animated Light Displays. Also this list of Animated Light Displays is only a guide– these families may choose not to do a display from night to night and year to year.  Some of the locations below also have social media pages and websites you may want to search for up to date info.  Enjoy your time at the Animated Light Displays.  Come back and let me know what you think!

1. 75 GRISTMILL ROAD, WARWICK, RI

Frank Picozzi is always working to make his Warwick display bigger and better. Spectators can see Christmas lights “dance” in time to seasonal songs on his front lawn every night this holiday season. The lights go on daily at 5:30 p.m. and shine until 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and until 10:00 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Music can be heard by tuning car radios to 97.1 FM. Picozzi also accepts donations from those who attend the display to benefit the Make a Wish Foundation.

2. THE CRAZY CHRISTMAS HOUSE & THE CONWAY CHRISTMAS LIGHTS EXTRAVAGANZA – 265 MAPLE VALLEY ROAD, COVENTRY, RI

Tyler Horrocks and Joey Conway have come together this year for a massive Christmas light display in Coventry. They even went on national TV, competing this year on ABC’s Great Christmas Light Fight.  This year’s display features more than 100,000 dancing lights, 65 handmade character cutouts and a 30-foot “Frozen” castle. They’re also raising money for The Tomorrow Fund and accepting donations for the Coventry Food Bank on December 6, 13, and 20.

3. 283 MASSASOIT AVE., EAST PROVIDENCE, RI

The Frisina Family sets up a show of 9,000 lights at their Massasoit Avenue home. Listen to the holiday tunes on 89.9 FM and watch the show nightly from 5 to 10 p.m. The Frisina family will be collecting donations for the Ronald McDonald House.

4. 12 SHENANDOAH ROAD, WARWICK, RI

Take a turn off Post Road in Warwick as you head to East Greenwich and you’ll find the Lewis Family Christmas light display. The family of seven all contributes to the display, which even includes fake snow. The lights come on daily at 5 p.m. and shine until 9. The Lewis family – who uses solar panels to help power their display – collects donations for the West Bay Community Action Energy Fund. Music can be heard on 106.9 FM.

5. 6 MERCHANT STREET, RUMFORD, RI 

This display of 20,000 lights dances to the music on 91.7 FM. The Head Family collects donations for the Make A Wish Foundation and runs their show daily until Dec. 31. The lights come on every night at 5 p.m. and go until 9 p.m. weeknights and 9:30 p.m. weekends. 

6.  6 HEBDEEN STREET, JOHNSTON, RI

Charles Cavallaro started decorating his home in 1972 and never stopped. Although his lights don’t “dance” and there’s no music, locals9 still flock to his yard to look at his dazzling display. Cavallaro’s lights shine nightly from 4:30 to 9 p.m. He says he continues to decorate his home just to see the smiles on kids’ faces.

7. NATIONAL CHAIN CHRISTMAS DISPLAY – 55 ACCESS ROAD, WARWICK, RI

The sprawling display on the front lawn of the National Chain Group in Warwick can be seen glowing from Route 95. But you can also visit it on foot, too. Head into the industrial area off Jefferson Boulevard and you’ll be able to get an up-close look at the dozens of figurines and thousands of lights that sit just off the highway. The display has been up and running since 1973.

8. GIROUX FAMILY CHRISTMAS DISPLAY – 69 OUTLOOK AVENUE, EAST PROVIDENCE, RI

Now that their Halloween display is done for the season, the Giroux Family is moving on to Christmas. The Giroux Family Christmas Display lights nightly, starting at 5 p.m. and running until 9:15 p.m. weeknights and 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday night. Listen to the music for the display on 94.9 FM. The Giroux Family collects donations for the Rhode Island Community Food Bank.

9. THE SACHS FAMILY LIGHTS EXTRAVAGANZA – 21 MANN STREET, BELLINGHAM, MA 

It takes the Sachs family nearly 365 days, 40,000 lights and two miles of extension cord to make their Christmas display a reality. Listen to the show on 101.7 FM and be dazzled by the dancing lights. Like the Giroux family, the Sachs also go all out for Halloween, but now it’s all about Christmas. The show runs nightly starting at 5:30 p.m. and continuing until 10 p.m. weeknights and 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Although their address is in Mass., the Sachs home is only about a block away from Woonsocket, RI.

10. QUIET CORNER CHRISTMAS – 251 WAUREGAN RD., BROOKLYN, CT

Hop over the western Rhode Island border to Brooklyn, Conn. for this light show. Just 10 minutes off Route 6 is Quiet Corner Christmas, which collects money for the Wounded Warrior Project. The show features 77,000 lights and a half dozen Christmas songs for your enjoyment. Listen to the tunes on 95.1 FM. The display runs nightly starting Nov. 28 from 5 to 10 p.m. with an extra hour on Fridays and Saturdays.

11. WOONSOCKET CHRISTMAS – 45 VICTORY BOULEVARD, WOONSOCKET, RI

A Mount St. Charles student is behind this colorful display. Working hand in hand with his father, teenager Tom works to set up 5,000 lights on his family’s Woonsocket home. Located at 45 Victory Boulevard in Woonsocket, the lights in this display run nightly from 4:15 to 10 p.m. Listen to the music for the show at 91.5 FM.

12. THE ZOMPA FAMILY DISPLAY – 9 HAWKINS BLVD., NORTH PROVIDENCE

The Zompa Family’s display doesn’t dance or blink in time to music, but it does draw a crowd. The display features about 9,000 lights, which adorn nearly every inch of the house, including the roof!

13. AMARANTE’S WINTER WONDERLAND – 8 PRATT ROAD, DAYVILLE, CT

Just over the Connecticut border in Dayville, Amarante’s Winter Wonderland has been lighting up the night for the past seven years. Started by Daniel Amarante and his father, the display has grown each year. It now features more than 120,000 lights, 23 inflatables, and a LED walking path around the entire display. Visitors can donate to Make-A-Wish, DKH Deary Cancer Memorial Fund, Friends of Assisi Food Pantry or to the light display itself. The displays runs nightly, 5 to 9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 5 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

14.  LOGANBERRY DRIVE, ABINGTON MA 

Handmade wooden models, and lights set to music. This a narrow street so follow the traffic flow.

15.  THE WONDER OF CHRISTMAS  BROCKTON, MA 

Visit their website See a Christmas show displayed on a 60′ movie screen, stroll through Christmas Park with lights set to music, visit with Santa, and catch live performances on Friday and Saturday nights.   Runs from 6-9pm, Mon/Tues/Thurs/Fri/Sat from December 1-27.

16. 3 OAK ST, HOLBROOK, MA

Computerized light and music show with over 20,000 LED lights and 40 yard decorations.  Tune your radio to 102.1 FM.    Shows play nightly from 6-9pm from Mon-Thurs, and from 6-11pm from Fri-Sun.

17. CRAZY TECH CHRISTMAS LIGHTS,  FURLONG CIRCLE, LAKEVILE, MA 

Light show set to music – tune your car radio to station 87.9, sit back and enjoy the show!  Visit the Crazy Tech Christmas website for dates and times, and to see photos/videos of the display.  Show runs through Jan 6th.

18.   85  BUCKINGHAM ROAD, MILTON, MA

Featuring animatronic penguins and lights set to music.  Music plays over a radio station and on a speaker in the yard.

19. FOREST STREET, NORWELL, MA

A Christmas light display set to music, the 25 minute show repeats from 5-9 each night. This road is a narrow follow traffic carefully.

20.  LILAH LANE with INGHAM WAY , PEMBROKE, MA 

Off of Rte 53 – Multiple houses set to music, tune in to a radio station and enjoy!

Have you visited any of these locations before? Do you have a favorite that we might have missed? Let us know!

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