Holiday Local Lifestyle Playlist 2020

Admired by CarolinE Tremblay

Photos with Heart

Grab a copy of any local magazine, and you’re likely to find a stunning shot from Beth Pelton inside (or often on the cover!). Pelton, who owns Eight Cattails Imagery, has been obsessed with photography for the last three decades. “This form of expression allows me to be so focused on the outcome that I can get lost in it and I love that,” she describes.

For Pelton, who suffered a traumatic shoulder injury, photography is a way to step outside of the chronic pain that still affects her daily. For a time, she even had to teach herself to shoot using just one arm. “I was determined, and that love for photography catapulted me forward,” she recalls.

Perhaps that experience is part of what influences Pelton’s out-of-the-box shots. “My approach is to go with my feelings and my vision. I don’t always play by the rules,” she says. Even when being paid for a specific assignment as a freelancer, she always manages to return with a totally fresh take. 

Having the Monadnock Region as a backdrop also factors in. “It has some of the most beautiful landscape and intriguing historical places I have ever photographed. I never tire of exploring the backroads looking for places to shoot,” she says. Water is what draws her most. “I heart belongs to nature and I am my happiest when I am outdoors and taking photos of course,” she notes. To learn more about Pelton, her work, and prints available for sale, visit her website.

Michael Faber, General Manager of Monadnock Food Co-op

"I love the bounty of local food products available to help us celebrate the holidays and it's great to be able to get so many of them right here at our Co-op."

Photo Credit: Lisa Scoville

Baking Bread & Building Community

Savored by Sandy Parsons

In Alstead’s rambling countryside of church steeples, pasture, and apple trees, stands a rustic barn that resonates warmth. Step over the threshold into Orchard Hill Breadworks and the aromas of freshly baked goods engulf your senses. You know you're in for a treat. 

Lining the shelves are breads, pastries, cookies, and more. Seriously, how could a person choose? I decide to try a few and immediately grab a cinnamon bun. I bite into a crunchy, flaky pastry that’s moist in the middle. The last flavor before swallowing is the crystallized sugar and cinnamon crust of goodness on the bottom. A light sweetness dances on my tongue rather than the usual overly sugary, frosted rolls I have become accustomed to. Perfection is all I can say, well done! 

A pristine kitchen is set off to the side awaiting the next day of baking and creativity. Bags of flours and grains line the side wall. I could just picture the bakers arriving before sunrise, coffee in hand. And the space resonates with a message the Breadworks shared on social media earlier this autumn: “The mill turns, the sun will rise and bread will be baked. Keep finding the good, stay kind, love each other.”

Through their beautiful breads (and many awesome projects & events), Orchard Hill Breadworks continues to foster a beautiful sense of community. Each month, they prepare a calendar of upcoming bakes for the month. Orders are available year-round and for holidays, as well. If you’re unable to visit Alstead directly, check out your local markets in the Monadnock region; you’ll likely find Orchard Hill baked goods close to home. 

Sharon Laflamme, Somatic Experiencing® Practitioner & Owner of Creating Serenity

"I love the NeW England portrait wrapped in a fresh fallen snow. I love to use nature to bring stress levels down or help neighbors and friends that are stressed during the holiday's using Somatic Experiencing® tools."

Decked Out By Caroline Tremblay

Get Your Green On

While the sweet smell and beautiful bristles of pine always make the holiday season feel festive, this year their symbolism is perhaps even stronger. Traditionally, evergreens, which remain green year-round, serve as a reminder that while the sleepy Earth seems quiet and dark in winter, the light will return. That’s a reminder for all of us to hang out hats on this year. And Michelle Aho Parkkonen of Rindge, alongside her mother-in-law, Miriam, are ready to deck the halls!

“We love being outside in the woods. It’s relaxing to pick all the materials for the wreaths and kissing balls,” Parkkonen describes. They like to have all their greens as fresh as possible, so they wait and produce all their wreaths and kissing balls in just a matter of weeks. 

This is their fifth year selling together, with many friends, family, and community members putting in orders annually. Parkkonen says that with word of mouth, “Every year our sales grow.” To place an order for a wreath or kissing ball and make arrangements for pick up or delivery, email 

Marian Rogers, Co-founder and Whole Health Educator at The Common Thread Health & Wellness

"Holding the spirit of the season close in our hearts as we bear witness to the countless acts of kindness, large & small, being demonstrated throughout our communities this year. Happiest of holidays to all...keep it simple, keep it safe."

Written with Giddiness by Erin Girouard

Trip the Light Fantastic

Residents are invited to decorate their homes, and each registered house will be added to a map so holiday visitors can come and enjoy the spectacle. Whether you go for an elaborate, multi-colored display or the classic candles in the windows, everyone is welcome to join in the fun. In Fitzwilliam, all participating homes will be entered to win a Gift Basket featuring Fitzwilliam-made products (valued at $100). And (most importantly) the honorary title of "Best Fitzwilliam Holiday Lights Display" to brag about for years to come.

If you would just like to enjoy Fitzwilliam’s light display, get your free map at the Parks and Rec Facebook page. Lights can be viewed from December 11th to the 27th. As a drive-thru event, Fitzwilliam’s Light up the Night is a safe way to celebrate. You’ll stay socially distant, while still feeling like you’re part of a celebration in your community.


If you’re planning on visiting, make the evening special for you and yours. Bring a thermos of hot chocolate for the fam and crank up the holiday tunes. Arrange a caravan with friends and soak up the festivities or take yourself out for a night and enjoy the beauty of this lovely little town. To quote Sheena Royce, “We all need a little extra magic this year”.

Participating in the light display is easy and FREE! Simply contact your local Recreation Department to get on the map. But hurry, the deadline for most towns is early December!


Shop Indie Local...made easy!
Head to the
TLC Monadnock Mercantile for all things local this holiday season💗. 

Gratefully Enjoyed by Caroline Tremblay

Centering Circle Sing

“We get so drawn away by our roles as humans but also by all the things that get thrust at us all day long,” says singer, teacher, and guide, Marybeth Hallinan of Fundamentally Harmonic. Our phones go off, the kids have an argument, the dog needs to go out…we have so many things going on at once. That’s why Hallinan started offering her weekly Centering Circle Sings. She says sometimes, “You just need to like stop.”

Sound healing is the term she uses to describe the work she does both in individual sessions and during her weekly Centering Circles. And it’s all about how sound resonates. “There’s nothing magical about the frequencies at all; they just bring your body back to center,” she says. The Wednesday-morning, online circles last just a half hour, giving listeners a chance to settle into themselves and then go about the day. “Once your body remembers what it feels like to be home, you can really recall that without needing anything,” Hallinan says.

Her work in this realm of sound dates back to 2003 when she took a class in tuning forks. “They’re tuned particularly so that the human body really resonates with them,” she explains. But when she came back to Peterborough, she felt like locals wouldn’t really be ready for this kind of intuitive work yet. So her tuning forks gathered dust for a decade. Until…she tried gently using one near the sternum of a voice student who had been struggling, and their voice completely shifted. That’s what these specific frequencies do, Hallinan explains, “they bring us back to ourselves.”

To explore the impact of frequencies yourself, tune in Wednesday mornings. For only a $10/month contribution, support Hallinan’s work and get centered for the day ahead. 

Erin Girouard, Owner of Rainbow Crown Bakery

"I am thrilled to be building my new cookie-decorating business in the Monadnock Region! Many of my cookie designs are inspired by the beauty of the landscape, the wildlife, and the heart of the community here!"

devoured by Erin Girouard

Holiday Happiness in a bowl

Ice cream is a treat most people associate with the summer time, but I am here to tell you that “most people” are wrong. Ice cream is a year-round delight, and I would argue that winter time is where it truly belongs. I recently took a trip to my new favorite ice cream parlor, Walpole Creamery, where I put my theory to the test with owner Rob Kasper and his wonderful wife Barbara. 

This all natural, small batch creamery is a hidden gem, with it’s handcrafted super premium ice creams made right in house. Walpole Creamery is proudly branded as a “Cow to Cone” company, working with a local dairy (Sawyer Farm, right down the road!) and churning their ice cream from scratch without using a pre-made mix. Gathering the freshest produce for every season allows them to craft unique and delicious flavors such as Brown Sugar Rhubarb, Wild Blue Lemon and Real Maple Cream (with local syrup from Twin Spruce Farm!).

The real dilemma is which ice cream to choose. Per my earlier “ice cream is perfect for winter” argument, I recommend their current seasonal flavors, Granny’s Apple Pie, Peppermint Cream, and White Christmas. If those aren't reasons enough to eat ice cream in the winter, I don’t know what is.

Walpole Creamery’s dine-in parlor is open all year round where they serve not only their heavenly ice creams, but also Barbara’s scrumptious homemade butter-scratch pastries (I’ll take that pastry a-la-mode please!). When ordering your ice cream, I recommend the Taster Flight (4-6 mini scoops for customers like me who can’t make a decision).

At Walpole Creamery, they follow all social distancing restrictions to ensure a safe experience, but if you’re not comfortable dining in, they also have an ordering window. Or find many of their traditional flavors at your local grocery store.

Create a space for internal serenity and deep healing.
Transform pain into peace using a multifaceted approach.  

Geared Up for by Caroline Tremblay

Crunch, Crunch, Pause

“It's fun to float on the snow, after a fresh snowfall, and you never know what other tracks you might find,” describes Katrina Farmer, communications and outreach manager for the Monadnock Conservancy. Looking ahead to winter, many folks are brainstorming ways to stay healthy (in mind AND body), get outdoors, and do it all in a safe way. Snowshoeing is a great option.

The skills aren’t that much different from walking, while many other winter sports may require additional skill sets. “So minimal effort, low cost, and easy for anyone to try,” Farmer says. You can even rent shoes by the day from Eastern Mountain Sports (EMS) in Peterborough. Just call ahead to reserve a pair at $20 per day, and pay an additional $10 for each day thereafter.  

Then head to one of the region’s excellent snowshoeing destinations, like Whittemore Island on Thorndike Pond in Jaffrey once the ice is at least four inches thick. “The open expanse of the ice crossing (leave from the town boat landing) offers sweeping views of Mount Monadnock, and then is contrasted with the shelter and intimacy of the island and its trail loop,” Farmer describes. Take a little rest and then head back.


Other great spots include the Porcupine Falls Trail at Calhoun Family Forest in Gilsum, the Sip Pond Peninsula Trail at Chamberlain Conservation Area in Fitzwilliam, and the Gramwick Trail at Mountain Brook Reservoir Conservation Area in Jaffrey. Mostly flat and pretty short, they are all great for an outing, even as part of an otherwise busy day. For a longer option, Farmer says the new trail network within the Cunningham Pond Conservation Area in Peterborough will likely be popular this winter, too. Wherever your adventure leads, don’t forget to pause and soak in the sunshine. It’s good for the soul. (Photo by Katrina Farmer.) 

"Sometimes when your trade is words, it can feel hard to make a difference. But this holiday season, we're feeling grateful for the stories we've been honored to tell during this strange year. And we're looking forward to many beautiful stories to come. The lucky thing is, this amazing community is full of them."

Caroline Tremblay, Founder of Owl & Pen

Three Cheers for Local by Erin Scollans

Shop Indie Local...Made Easy

In the midst of this crazy year, The Local Crowd (TLC) Monadnock successfully made it easier to buy gift cards for local businesses, supported existing and emerging local delivery services, raised money for a fund that provides support for rent, heating, food and childcare, and teamed up with United Way to create a Monadnock United Way Pandemic COVID-19 Relief Fund (which has raised over $200,000 so far!)

Most recently, they launched the TLC Monadnock Mercantile with the mantra: “Shop Indie Local made easy!” Just in time for the holidays!

People who shop the Mercantile online will find a plethora of offerings from the region’s makers and locally-owned businesses, all in one place. One of Jen’s personal favorites at the moment is Little Blue House Toys and Gifts. The shop was inspired by the want for simple, all-natural toys for play, which the shop owner Ali Killgren says, “is the ultimate work for the child.” She adds, “having local, hand-made toys for them to work with is even better!”

No matter which local products you fall in love with for the holidays, you can enjoy a feeling of togetherness (even when we’re apart). Because the goal here is simple: keep our local economy thriving during uncertain times. What a wonderful and easy way to do it. Instead of in-person shopping, support local businesses right from the comfort and safety of your own home. Keep it fun, merry, and meaningful this season and support local.

Get 25% OFF a scrumptious cookie order with coupon code "MONADNOCKER."
(For local delivery within Monadnock Region only.)
Visit the Etsy Shop

A Sunday Drive with Sandy Parsons

A Feel Good Farm

Archway farm was acquired in 2014, with its 80 acres of fields and woods on both sides on Arch Street in Keene. The farm believes healthy, active animals are happy animals – and produce better quality meat. So all their livestock is humanely raised, and the farm is Animal Welfare Approved (AWA) by A Greener World. AWA has come to be the most highly regarded food label when it comes to animal welfare, pasture-based farming, and sustainability. 

The Archway Farm store is your local source for pasture-raised pork, beef, chicken, and lamb products. The biggest seller is their bacon (no surprise there!). I cooked up a pan this morning; it was cut thick the way I like it. Such an intense, satisfying flavor. 

The store is also stocked with other local products and breads like: Echo Farm pudding, Faber Family maple syrup, Frisky Cow gelato, and West Wood Forest Farm eggs. Why Buy Local? – buying from a local farm helps preserve the region’s rural character and strengthens the local economy.

The store is open every day, 9:00 AM – 7:00 PM. It operates on a self-service, honor system basis. The pigs need to eat every day, so they figure the farm store might as well be open. Stop by and check it out or visit

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A Jaunt with Caroline Tremblay

Be There With Bells On

Over 100 years ago, Roscoe Sawyer married his wife Rita and soon moved into a farmhouse now known as part of the Silver Ranch in Jaffrey. Many generations later, the horse farm is going strong and continues to offer a magical winter pastime: sleigh rides. Rachel Sawyer Hennessy says she hopes “people take advantage of an outdoor adventure with their family” this season. 

Silver Ranch offers all private sleigh rides starting at $200, so you can enjoy the experience safely this year with just your family or small group. When there’s enough snow, the farm also offers a two-person ride for $125. Hay rides are available until the snow flies, as well.

So this season, pack a blanket and a thermos, then settle in for a fun ride over the river and through the woods. There’s plenty of gorgeous landscape here to soak in. Why not do it from the seat of a sleigh?