Happy New Year!

Happy new year kitten



Happy New Year

to one and all.


May you have a healthy, prosperous and peaceful 2011 – and a good time tonight!

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Holiday Shopping at Museum Shops Near Cambridge

Want to steer clear of the malls but still need to finish your Christmas shopping?  Visiting small local shops is always my preference – I’ve made the rounds in Cambridge, Belmont and Concord in the last few weeks.

Every year I try to take shopping local one step further and hit some of the local museum shops.  I’m far happier spending my dollars at a non-profit than at a big box or chain store.

Audubon Shop 

Audubon Shop in Lincoln

Audubon Shop in Lincoln

By far my favorite local non-profit gift shop is the Audubon Shop at Drumlin Farm in Lincoln.  It’s amazing how many people I can cross off my list by the time I’ve finished shopping there.

The Audubon Shop carries plenty of items for bird watchers and bird feeders but the store’s inventory goes far beyond the birding realm. There’s a very good selection of kids’ items and wonderful things for adults too.  There are household accessories, ceramics, jewelry, ornaments, books, and much more. It’s a lovely shop and kudos to the people that make the selections of what to carry in the store.  I can’t list all the treasures I found this year since my family reads this blog – but my bags were heavy when I left. 

Outside the shop there’s a butterfly garden and bird feeding / watching stations to entertain the family while you shop.

The Audubon store is located at 208 South Great Road, Lincoln, MA and is open every day until Christmas.

Orchard House Museum Store

Orchard House ConcordWhen we visited the Orchard House in Concord earlier this year I was amazed to see how the gift shop has grown. Unlike many house museums, Orchard House is open year round so the gift store is worth checking out for holiday shopping.

Most of the store’s merchandise has an Alcott or Little Women tie-in but there’s a lot more here too.  Collectibles, books, stationery, t-shirts, posters, and more fill the shop.  If you can’t make the trip to the Orchard House you can shop the catalog online.

The Orchard House museum shop is open during museum hours and is located at 399 Lexington Road, Concord, MA.

More Museum Shops

Many of the Historic New England house museums have small gift shops including the Otis House on Cambridge Street in Boston. The museum carries an excellent collection of books on historic preservation, architecture and history as well as gift items. Historic New England has an online catalog with some of their most popular items.  The Roseland Cottage ornament is on my wish list this year. 

For kids or anyone on your list with an interest in science or nature the Museum of Science gift shop is worth a visit.  You don’t need to pay museum admission to visit the gift shop.

The Museum of Fine Arts gift shop is a great place to shop for people of all ages – from kids to grandparents. Sculpture, music boxes, prints, games, jewelry, stationery, toys, books, ornaments and much more can be found here. Don’t have time to get into Boston? – you can shop the MFA online.

Seven days left… time to get shopping!

Categories: Living Here
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Decorated Wreaths in New England – A Wreath Slideshow

Wreath on a New England door

Wreath on a New England door

Wondering how to decorate your wreath? Looking for some ideas for holiday wreaths? 

Here’s a slideshow of photos I snapped of decorated wreaths in Salem and Newburyport, Massachusetts.  We went on holiday house tours in those two towns this month.  While we couldn’t take photos of the extraordinarily beautiful holiday decorations inside the houses the wreath on the door outside was fair game.

We vowed to go back to Salem and Newburyport as soon as we could – or at least when the temperatures warm up a bit. Both towns are filled with architectural treasures – outdoor museums of sorts – and worth a full day to wander.

Enjoy the slideshow – it’s filled with decorated wreaths from New England houses – and a swag or two as well.

wreath slideshow

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Somerville Illuminations Tour 2010

The Somerville Illuminations Tour - Dec 18, 2010

The Somerville Illuminations Tour - Dec 18, 2010

Somerville Illuminations Tour 2010   Christmas lights are one of my very favorite things. Many homeowners in the city go all out and the display can be dazzling.  More houses on my street have lights than don’t.  What a treat from our neighbors who pay that hefty electric bill!

Somerville Illuminations Christmas Lights Tour

Some Somerville homeowners really do it up with extraordinary displays of Christmas lights and figures.

Each year the Somerville Arts Council has a trolley tour of the best Christmas lights displays in Somerville. 

This year’s Illuminations Tour is scheduled for  Saturday, December 18, 2010

Tickets went on sale on December 1st and the 45 minute tour typically sells out.  Tickets are sold for set times and for a particular trolley.  Trolleys leave from City Hall and tour times run from 4:30 pm to 9:15 pm.

Tickets are sold only at the Blue Cloud Gallery in Ball Square, Somerville at 713 Broadway.  Tickets must be purchased in person and paid for by cash or check only. 

Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for Seniors and children 12 and under.

The Blue Cloud is open Mon – Thurs from 11 to 7, Fri & Sat from 10 to 6, and Sun from 11 to 6.

Somerville Illuminations Bike Tour

This year the Somerville Bike Committee is holding a bike tour of the Illuminations route.  The tour leaves from City Hall concourse at 7:15 pm on December 18th.  Participants must wear bike helmets and have bicycle lights.  There is no charge to participate.

The bicycle ride will be canceled in the case of heavy wind, rain or snow.  The Illuminations Tour by trolley will be held even if there is rain or light snow and typically is only cancelled if there is a snow emergency.

Whether you’re traveling by bike or trolley be sure to bundle up – and enjoy the ride!

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Little Wanderers Gift Drive Drop Off

You’ve still got a week left if you want to drop off presents for the Little Wanderers Gift Drive.  My office – Coldwell Banker at 171 Huron Ave in Cambridge – is  a drop off site.  Unwrapped gifts will be accepted through Tuesday, December 14, 2010.

The Home for Little Wanderers is a child and family service agency – the largest in New England. It is the oldest agency of its kind in the U.S. with Massachusetts roots that date back to 1799.  Thousands of children are helped through its services and programs each year.

little wanderers gift drive

Here are some ideas for gifts.

If you don’t have time to drop off a gift you can buy a gift online from the list of items requested by Home for Little Wanderers programs. The gift will be purchased and shipped for you.

Or – consider a gift card.  Gift cards are popular with teens and with families who can use them to purchase basics like clothing, groceries and housewares.  Here’s the scoop on the Gift Card Challenge.

Coldwell Banker and Bernie & Phyl’s Furniture are matching up to $5,000 in gift card donations.  Gift cards from these stores are eligible for the Gift Card Challenge:  TJ Maxx, Wal-Mart, Marshalls, Stop & Shop, Target, Old Navy and CVS.


Presents can be dropped off at Coldwell Banker, 171 Huron Ave, Cambridge, MA through Tuesday, December 14, 2010.  Our office phone number is 617-864-8566.

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Holiday House Tours This Weekend and Next

Holiday House Tour

Holiday House Tour

December might as well be called Holiday House Tour month in Massachusetts –  at least two dozen Massachusetts towns are holding holiday house tours over the next two weekends – December 4 and 5 and December 11 and 12.

A few towns have been holding house tours in December for years and now many other towns have jumped on the bandwagon.  I could do with a lot more tours in spring or fall and fewer tours in the cold, busy days of December but what’s a house tour enthusiast to do? 

Fans of house tours probably can’t fit in more than four so how to choose?  I try to find tours with plenty of properties for the price and my preference is for older houses, not new.  I’m not really interested in Christmas decorations – it’s good houses I’m after.

Towns’ tours are sometimes better one year than another so the quality of a tour can be hard to predict.  Some tour organizers don’t like to repeat houses so the pickings get a bit slim after a number of years.  My thought is that a beautiful house is worth a return visit – I won’t complain!

Here are my picks for December 2010 holiday house tours in Massachusetts:

This weekend:

The New Bedford house tour was wonderful the year I went.  New Bedford has a wealth of antique houses and an active preservation group that sponsors the tour. The 19th annual holiday house tour in New Bedford is scheduled for December 4th and 5th.

Neeham is celebrating the 300th anniversary of its founding this year so the Needham Women’s Club chose to focus on historic houses with six dating from 1755 to 1910.  The Needham Historical Holiday House Tour is on Sunday, December 5 from 1 to 4:30 pm.

I give up – there are too many tours to choose from!  Salem is always a good bet, the house tour in Lowell is focusing on Lowell lofts which sounds like fun,  Stockbridge, the 28th annual holiday house tour in Nantucket (that’s tonight!), or the Springfield Tour of Historic Homes all sound like great tours.

Next weekend:

The Newburyport House Tour is celebrating its 17th year and will have ten houses in five towns on tour this year. We’re planning on doing the Newburyport house tour on Saturday, Dec. 11 from 10 am to 4 pm. 

I’ve been on the house tour in Milton several times and it always makes my short list.  There isn’t much info on the website from the sponsors, the Forbes House Museum, but this post has the scoop about the tour scheduled for Sunday, December 12 from 1 to 4 pm.

There are plenty of other house tours -from Western Mass to Cape Cod – you’re sure to find one close to home.  So bundle up and head out on tour!

Here’s the full schedule and links to all the holiday house tours

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Secret Santa at Walgreens in Arlington

Secret Santa at Walgreens

Secret Santa at Walgreens

The Secret Santa gift tree is up at the Walgreens in Arlington Center.  The tree is decorated with senior citizens’ wishes for gifts. 

I dare you to pick just one! 

That was my problem last year – it was hard to stop. 

So many of the requests are poignant – and irresistible- either because they’re so simple – ” a sweatshirt, Ladies Large, dark color if possible” or because the potential recipient really went for it – asking for multiple items or something really big.  If only I could have gotten the air conditioner someone asked for last year.  

You select your gift request(s) and bring the items back to Walgreens for distribution.  The presents are due in a couple of weeks – details are at the store.

Stop by Walgreens at 324 Mass Ave, Arlington, MA and make somebody’s Christmas wishes come true.

Categories: Living Here
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Happy Thanksgiving


May you have the best of holidays.

Happy Thanksgiving

                                                              from my house to yours.


Thanksgiving Table 2010

Let the fun begin!

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