The Wolfeboro Project: Survival Tips

The Wolfeboro Project: Survival Tips

When you take on a new house project – especially a fixer – your tip list grows quickly. Despite bouts of fear and sticker-shock, we are still on the road to a home we already love in a town we are quickly growing more and more attached to.

Let’s get right to the tips – based on our missteps, lessons learned and a sprinkling of luck.

  1. Three Ps remain the mantra: patience, persistence and perspective – making measured, informed  decisions result in the project moving along at a pace that works with your budget and schedule. Trust your gut – if you have a shadow of a doubt on a decision, think it through again.
  2. Stick to the plan: we decided to work on this house from the outside-in. While we continue to talk about the ultimate interior renovations, other than some paint and a few window treatments, we are not planning a major investment on the interior until the outside is in shape – or close to it.
  3. Under-play your fixer – your family will be pleasantly surprised. We have told our families that we have a lot of work ahead; deferred maintenance are the words the Realtors used in describing the house (former owned didn’t do much at all to improve or even maintain the house). When our families visited the house this past month, they practically scolded us for describing the house as we have. They, too see the possibilities and  good bones of the house. Their collective responses amount to, “You made the house sound awful; it’s really lovely.” Of course, it’s not their project – but it is good to know we are not crazy and we have their support!
  4. Small-town, small steps. Figure out your possible DIY projects. In a small town – or any town – you can find someone to do anything for you – but you will pay in time and of course, money. Getting on a contractor’s small-town schedule takes finesse; be flexible and communicate with each contractor.
  5. Be specific: when  dealing with your contractor’s estimate continue to do research and ask people for help and advice. Doug reached out to his brother for advice since he had done major remodeling; we compared and contrasted details in estimates and asked contractors to provide more details. Be sure you have a timeline – or at least a finish date. Your two month-long project can stretch to months and months if you do not stay on top of details.
  6. Don’t be afraid to say, “No:”we nixed one project one of our contractors quoted because of price and the cross-over with another project and contractor. When in doubt put the brakes on.
  7. BREATHE: remember why you started this journey. Every day I love and enjoy this house and this town more. Every little DIY task or decision leads us to what will become our very special place. We continue to enjoy the lake, hiking, biking, boating. water-skiing, sailing; town concerts and cultural events; the local gym and shops; amazing lobster, ice cream and food that just tastes better here; getting to know people in town and spending time with them and becoming part of this community.

Those are seven tips for now; there are probably many more to come. With a full month under our belts here, we are heading back to our other home shortly. That will bring the inevitable culture shock (I haven’t waited a traffic light or been in a traffic jam for weeks!). We have a better idea of what to expect at this Happy Place; we have some big projects coming up at this house and we’ll be popping up for brief stays throughout the coming months. Being on this journey with an amazing husband and great family and friend support leaves me content and ever-hopeful of what this home will be in a few years.

Baby, It’s Cold Outside- Think Warm-Think Earth Festival

It hasn’t been this cold in the Philadelphia region for about four years – and I don’t like it. Thinking about baseball might be where I normally wander off to – but this time, I’m thinking about April 27, 2013. The Cherry Hill Art Blooms Earth Festival Art Blooms Earth Day - Color - TEXT - Copytakes place at historic Croft Farm ( 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. – rain or shine). This is the fourth year Sustainable Cherry Hill is collaborating with Cherry Hill Township to put on this free event. We are also collaborating with the Cherry Hill School District to encourage as many of the district’s 17 schools – and any other schools throughout the South Jersey area – to participate. We’re welcoming creative art, science, math or any school project related to the earth and sustainability to be on display at the festival. The event is taking place rain or shine. We have an extremely creative media specialist – Ramona Bregatta – helping coordinate activities from within the schools. We’re talking about a fashion show with students wearing gently used clothing purchased on a budget at Goodwill or a store such as Plato’s EF2012_20120428_23 - CopyCloset (Maple Shade). Or perhaps a fashion show with clothing made from found items  – ‘Trashin’ Fashin’ was the title tossed around at our planning meeting.

We are welcoming ‘green crafters’ – artists who are making items that are from materials sourced locally – or at least in the USA; we welcome businesses that focus on sustainable or resource-saving practices. We’ll have a recycling area – still under discussion; our Gardening Task Force is working on its second EF2012_20120428_03 - Copyplant exchange that will be bigger this year; the township will bring in compost so people can pick up plants along with a few shovels of compost for the  garden. Springdale Farms is a return participant; Chimp Ade (benefits the Jane Goodall Foundation) and J-Dogs are scheduled to provide delicious – and healthy – food selections. It looks as though we will have a great moon bounce for the kids – always popular along with other activities that are family friendly which will go along with Mayor Chuck Cahn’s focus on the township’s wellness program.

EF2012_20120428_59 - CopyWe’ll have two entertainment stages with student groups performing throughout the day. Also, the local DG Band (easy listening) is scheduled to sing original tunes. All this happens as the township’s week-long Art Blooms event gets underway in the Croft Farm Art Center. Local and regional artists will have beautiful workEF2012_20120428_19 - Copys on display in competition and art-for-purchase.

To really warm everyone up and promote healthy and safe biking, the second Family Fun Bike Ride pedals off from Challenge Grove just across from Croft Farm at about 9 a.m. that morning. Sustainable Cherry Hill’s Way to Go Task Force is working with the township and police department on finalizing the route. It will be an easy ride to encourage all ages to participate.

If you are in the South Jersey-Philadelphia area and want to keep up with the plans for the Art Blooms Earth Festival, April 27th, go to www.sustainablecherryhill.org and click on ‘Earth Festival.’ You can also send in the information form below and I will send you information if you are interested in being a vendor, green crafter, food vendor, student entertainment group or you have a display appropriate for the family-friendly earth festival.

EF2012_20120428_99 - CopyAnd…since Sustainable Cherry Hill is a 501C3 non-profit organization and any funds we raise goes back into education and outreach, we are welcoming sponsors for our event. I can also send you the information about that when you fill out the contact form.

As I write this, I can feel the warm, power of the sun that (hopefully) will be shining on that Saturday. We have a lot of planning to do – and it’s so exciting to be part of this engaging – and free event that brings several thousand people out to historic Croft Farm.

A Walk in the Woods

Isn’t it funny how you live in a place your entire life and never stop to see things that you’ve passed dozens of times? It always amazes me how people who live in the Philadelphia area and have never visited the Liberty Bell. When I worked in center city Philadelphia I was at a party making casual conversation with people I did not know. When I told them I lived in Cherry Hill, they wondered why I lived so “far” from work. IMG_0274 IMG_0281-1 IMG_0297I got to work in under 15 minutes when it took them 45 minutes or more to travel to center city from the western suburbs. The point is, they had no idea where Cherry Hill, NJ is – it is just over the bridge from center city Philadelphia.

I’ve passed the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge dozens of times. The 450 acres sits in the shadow of I-95, Philadelphia International Airport and Southwest Philadelphia. On a gray, but warm January Sunday, we stopped there for a walk in the woods. There were dozens of people – walking dogs, jogging; there was a little boy’s birthday party underway. From the Environmental Visitor’s Center to the trails, the refuge is a gem. There are signs showing how frogs are being preserved; birders were noting the different species throughout the refuge. Even in the middle of winter when the leaves and flowers are gone and the grass is dormant, this place sings with nature.

Despite the roar of aircraft from the airport and the hum of traffic from I-95, you feel as though you have a small piece of nature to enjoy. The well-kept trails, boardwalks and bridges along the winding paths make it easy for anyone to enjoy the refuge. Park rangers offer assistance; there are easy to follow maps and friendly people who will gladly tell you that they have been coming to the refuge for years. Perhaps you’ve passed by dozens of times as well. Find a few hours and visit the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge.

The Finale

Not wasting a minute of our final day here in Moultonborough, we quickly planned a day on the lake. After a quick breakfast, the serene water pulled me in. Doug and I went for an awesome canoe trip to the point where we are and around the bend and one island. There were birds, bugs, rocks, a gentle breeze, warming sun, the occasional barking dog and such peace that it should be bottled and patented. If more people could experience serenity like this, there would be no toxic arguments – or at least there’d be fewer arguments.

After the ride back at the house, we tried to encourage Andrew & Adam to come with us on our last adventure on the lake for this vacation. I’d packed lunch for us all – but the boys decided they’d rather stay at the house and head out in the canoe a bit later. Believe it or not – they actually did take a canoe ride and eat lunch.

Doug and I first got some gas, then headed to a section of the lake we had not been to before. We went to the town of Glendale which included a marina, the N.H. Marine Patrol and “Snuffer” the fire rescue boat and the Lyons Den Restaurant which is supposed to be quite good. People were waiting for the place to open as we got there before noon. After a walk on shore and on the dock, we motored out, noticing all the beautiful houses – some large – some small – but all waterfront and just delightful. We headed to the shore of Ellacoya State Park. The shore was also dotted with homes; there were swimmers and boaters, but it just wasn’t quite right for what we were looking for. We continued along the lake passing Welch Island, then Sleepers Island – that actually has an old castle on it which is now someone’s home. Across from Sleepers Island was a cove where about a dozen boats were anchored in an area that had a great sandy bottom , with water shallow enough to just float around and enjoy the sun and the glorious day. We had lunch, lounged around in and out of the water; had a catch and enjoyed each other’s company. It’s also fun watching other people enjoy their family, friends and their boats.

After a couple of hours, it was time to move on. We pulled up anchor and headed around Treasure Island and back toward Rattlesnake Island. We made our way across The Broads and back toward Long Island. We were back at the house around 2:45. Unfortunately, it was time to starting the trip home by taking the boat out of the water. For the first time all week, I had mom-son time. Adam drove the boat the five-minute ride from the house to the public ramp at Long Island. It’s always easier to talk with your son with no other interruptions. That was the highlight of my day – that five-minute ride.

Adam expertly guided the boat onto the trailer with Doug acting like he was directing and airplane on the tarmac. (Quite amusing) Dinner took us to Tamarack near Weirs Beach. Doug had a craving for a lobster roll – certainly something you can’t get at home. I stuck with a salad and clam chowder (or chowdah as they say up here). I asked for lobster on the salad. I ended up with more lobster on my salad than Doug had on his lobster roll. The guys also chowed down with fried shrimp for Adam and a lobster roll for Andrew. It’s interesting to note that I have never stood in line for take-out food and faced a $73 tab. All that lobster is not cheap! But oh, is it ever good.

Now, it’s time to pack up our things along with our great memories of this wonderful place. My heart is here – I find true happiness here – I love this place – the loon will welcome us back as they always do.

All Good Things

The cool wind shifts in Moultonborough

The wind in New Hampshire has taken a noticeable turn. While the breeze is still refreshing and clear, the 10 to 20-mph gusts are creating white caps on our little piece of Lake Winnipesaukee. The sky is crystal clear and the greenery vibrant and whooshing in these winds. The sun is warming things up a bit, but there is a slight chill letting us know that it is time for a change.

While the boys and men hike Mount Major about an hour from our vacation house, we are enjoying a bit of quiet while starting to pack our things for the long ride home tomorrow. It is always bittersweet ending a vacation. The memories are countless: discovering the simple

Simple pleasures 1

pleasures of swimming and floating on a calm lake with two families tossing balls; heading to Smitty’s Golf to hit a few buckets of balls and discovering – we’re not bad at this;

Simple pleasures 2

enjoying a local classic car show and gobbling pizza and salad at Pizza Barn in Ossipee; canoeing and rowboating out to an isolated, tiny island in the lake and building a small fire to toast marshmallows and make s’mores. Earlier in the week, we again enjoyed Rocky Gorge, nature’s swimming sight that Disney could never replicate, along the Kancamagus Highway around Conway, NH.

Simple fun at Rocky Gorge

The simple pleasures also include one of the boys thanking me for the great ideas that filled our second-to-last full day on vacation. We had to improvise given that our boat decided to konk out Wednesday afternoon. The fix could either be simple or more complex, but my husband reminded me we have boated more in these past two weeks than we ever have on vacation here in New Hampshire. We discovered new parts of the lake where we had never been before and I got to drive our boat several times enjoying how it glides across the waters and seems to have been made for this area.

The loon have been so incredibly active during these two weeks. In the past, there have been vacations when we did not see or hear a loon once. Nearly every night and morning, the call of the loon reminded us how

precious nature is. The lack of car and airplane noise and the vivid scenery that is present always in this

Simple pleasures 3

Sunset from "S'more" Island

place let me know that I will return often to find peace and joy.

I have said often that I find myself here in New Hampshire. That has been reinforced once again after a two-week respite. I have managed to get a little work done and enjoy restful, stress-free days and nights. We realize reality will face us with work and school in the days ahead. But during those stressful moments that will inevitably strike, if only for a second, I can close my eyes to find my happy place – a scene in New Hampshire frozen in time in my mind’s eye.

Adventures in Rocks, Friends and other Wild Life

Vacationing with friends is a wonderful thing – if everybody “gets it.” You can make meals together or separately; you can do activities together or separately; you definitely need a rhythm to get the bathroom thing done efficiently.

Week two of our NH adventure is going swimmingly. The four boys are enjoying canoeing together and seem to be sharing their bunk room well – though I will not go in there. (I can only imagine what it’s like in a room with four teen-aged boys.) The grownups are a hoot. The day revolves around what activity to get to next here at the lovely Moultonborough house. The lake called us – so we went boating. Doug followed the Lake Winnipesaukee

Andrew leaps into the lake

map and we got to what used to be called “Girl Scout Island.” There we found a huge rock formation that was OK for leaping 15-20 feet into the lake below. We had docked our boat around

The rocks with training wheels for the less brave souls

the other side of this small island. Other boaters anchored just off the rocks so they could watch the crazy guys hurl themselves off the rock and into the lake. Doug was the only grownup in our group to attempt this feat. Adam and Andrew made the jump several times. I was the official photographer (are you out of your mind???? ME jump??). We motored over to another smaller rock formation in the same cove area. Everyone but me got up the nerve to jump the 6 feet or so into the lake. I was thinking too much (Don’t think – just jump).

Mealtime is a real test of how you are all getting along. We almost never run into each other in the kitchen area and the prepping, cooking and cleanup routines go extremely smoothly. It’s great having teen-aged boys who will empty the dish washer, take care of the pans in the sink and take out the trash – all with little or no whining.

The trip about 15 miles to the remote Sandwich Creamery in Sandwich, NH was the highlight of the day. The dairy is open 24/7 for ice cream, cheese,

Donna and her friends enjoy Sandwich Creamery

eggs and bread. But the shop during non-business hours is a small cabin with a screened door. The ice cream refrigerator has three different sizes of

Exploring a tiny island off our vacation house

ice cream and about 10-12 different flavors. The upright refrigerator has a selection of cheeses and eggs. It’s the honor system for paying. You slip your dollar bills into a mail slot, grab a wooden spoon and enjoy! Outside, the calves come up to the fence and enjoy handfuls of grass from Donna while we all marveled at how she adored these animals.

Even today, which is a bit damp and gray, we’ll have a day filled with heading to town, checking out a movie and trying candle-pin bowling (a very New England thing).

Adventures await.

Moving Day

Once you take a two-week vacation somewhere, it’s difficult to ever go back to one week. I haven’t taken a two-week vacation since 1990 – before we were married.

This morning is a perfect start to a New Hampshire day. Danforth Bay is like a mirror; reflecting the wispy clouds set in a pale, blue sky. The loon, as they have all week, are active this morning with their unmistakable call cutting through the cool morning air. The chorus of birds are welcoming the day while the occasional fish jumps in the water.

This is quite an active and busy weekend in the White Mountains and Lake Region. Our neighbors have a party of eight spending a long weekend. Their

Friends arrive for week 2

first night lasted well beyond midnight (but they are up this morning grilling something and walking the dogs). There were some loud guys somewhere in our cove, but they quieted down around midnight. Our son and his friend spent the evening enjoying the Comedy Network and laughing it up. My husband collapsed about 9:30 p.m.

In a few hours, we’ll be packing up and moving 20 miles or so to our week 2 house in Moultonborough. Our friends, the Brauns and my friend, Donna will be joining us. While it will be another New Hampshire adventure, I’ll miss the serenity of this piece of paradise. The boys

Go-karting in Ossipee

enjoyed some tubing on Broad Bay yesterday; we had a BBQ dinner at Yankee Smokehouse, then spent an hour at the nearby Go-Kart track.

We’ll say farewell to Danforth Bay with more happy memories of a week spent in this nearly pristine place untouched by Starbucks and stress. We move to another place to experience another dose of paradise. One more week…