October 10, 2017

What I listen to when I work - Music? Podcasts?

As I look around my classroom, I notice a variety of earbuds and headphones plugged in while my students diligently work away at their assignments.  When I was in high school, way back in 90-something, we were never allowed to listen to headphones during school hours.  If there was one rule I could have changed, that was it.  I listened to music constantly, on the bus, while jogging, while painting, and having the opportunity to listen to music while I did school work would have helped me focus even more.  
Between then and now, I went through a period of ‘silence.’  Maybe it was music overload during college; I was a music major at Shepherd University constantly listening for class, practicing flute multiple hours a day, and being surrounded by others practicing and making music.  While this was the college environment and degree I wanted, when it came to studying and paper-writing in my dorm room, I turned to silence.

I still find myself sometimes needing that ‘silence’ while I work. I have also found a new fix for my ‘listen while I work’ - Podcasts!  I never thought I would be into talk radio, but over the past two years I have really come to like listening to these conversations.  And not just when I work, but also on my commute to and from school; the school I teach at is 45 minutes from home.

What I listen to depends on what I am doing.  When I run, I love to have on something cheery like Grace Helbig’s Not Too Deep.  Her laughter lightens my mood. Other podcasts that get me in good spirits are Ask Me Another and The Dollop (a history podcast.)

When I am painting, sewing, or looking for creative inspiration, two of my long time favorites are Elise Gets Crafty and Etsy Conversations.  In a community that is largely online, hearing these conversations with other makers brings that much needed human connection.  

A few years back, the Etsy Success Team asked “What music do you listen to while you make?”  Amidst the variety of answers, I was pleased to see I'm not the only podcast listener.  When it comes to music though, my favorites include Impressionist composers Ravel and Debussy, singer songwriters like Jack Johnson, and the alternative sounds of Wilco.

What are you listening to?  Add your comment below!

September 10, 2017

Hiking Burlington VT

Nature is a huge inspiration to me, both creatively and spiritually. I love walking in the woods, sitting outside to read, and visiting high overlooks. These loves have taken me all over the country searching out beautiful vistas, amazing trees, and the smell of earth.  

One of my goals for this blog is to share my hiking experiences.  With this post, I am introducing you, the reader, to my hiking adventure in Vermont.  In September 2012, I ventured on my own to Burlington, VT.  I packed up my new, little blue car and hit the highway.  The entire vacation is a trip to remember!  

There are two hiking destinations in particular that I enjoyed; Shelburne Bay Park and Shelburne Farms, both about 20 minutes south of Burlington off Route 7.  First, I visited Shelburne Bay Park, then made my way to Shelburne Farms totalling about 6 miles between the two hikes.  I made sure to relax afterword at Magic Hat Brewing in South Burlington.

Shelburne Bay Park, which covers 104 acres, is managed by Shelburne Parks & Recreation.  This park is dog friendly but leashes are required at all times.  I hiked this trail in the AM and encountered several dogs out for a walk.  The dogs I encountered were super friendly and reminded me of my dog, Rissy, back home with my parents.

The walking/hiking/cross country ski trail loop, known as the Allen Hill Trail, is approximately two miles along Lake Champlain.  Listed as easy to moderate, this trail does include an initial upgrade, but is not overly strenuous.  The loop takes you around a peninsula with beautiful views of Lake Champlain.  Most of the trail is surrounded by lush greenery.  I captured this photo of the sun’s rays shining between the trees.

Next stop was Shelburne Farms. While at dinner the previous evening, a Burlington local highly recommended the hiking at Shelburne Farms.  While there is a small General Admission ($8) it is well worth it!  General Admission is charged mid-May to mid-October, and includes access to Walking Trails, a Children's Farmyard and cheesemaking demonstrations in the historic Farm Barn.  There are 10 miles of trail hiking available.  I chose the Farm Trail, which is 4.5 miles, though I did take the wagon ride up to the Farm Barn initially before beginning my hike.  

At the Farm Barn, I enjoyed several educational experiences including watching the making of that yummy Vermont Cheddar.  This delicious farmstead cheddar is available for sale at the Welcome Center.  I made sure to leave with a chunk!  Also at the Farm Barn, I experienced several animals including a giant tom turkey.

The grounds were designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, famous for his part in designing Central Park, NY.  The Farm Trail starts off in a nice woods mixed with picturesque meadows of long grass and wildflowers and leads you to Lake Champlain.  There are fantastic views of the mountains on the other side of the lake.  I was fortunate to get time by the lake by myself, as I didn’t encounter too many other hikers the day I was there.  After the shoreline, I took a small detour down an unmarked trail.  It was on this small path that I encountered a stretch completely covered by arching bushes creating a tunnel.  It felt magical, like I was in a fairy garden.  It is stated in the brochure that this farm is a “landscape sculpted for both work and leisure; a landscape natural yet contrived.”  It is clear that this is a working farm, but this beautiful hike helped clear and rejuvenate my mind.   

If you are to find yourself in Burlington, VT, first make sure you have comfortable shoes, second make time for Shelburne.

*All photos taken and owned by me with the exception of the Google Map