Lanes Cove and Halibut Point From Mary Barker

Hi Joey,

I spent some time walking around Halibut Point and Lanesville recently. Despite the ice still left on some of the smaller more shaded ponds and the trees still dressed in their winter browns and grays, the sight of the ducks sunning on the rocks, the magnificent blues of the sky and water, and the gorgeous rock formations – natural and carved – helped me shed the winter doldrums. Here are a few photos.

Mary Barker

Floor in The Art Room-

Kate Seidman submits-
I just spent the last two weeks painting the floor in The Art Room- I felt like Tom Sawyer because before I was finished others wanted to join in and have fun too- thanks: Judy, Loren and Stella.
What a great crew! The floor is done but now I have to finish the rest of my renovations. Hoping to be open by May 1st. Stay tuned….
photo (75)
photo (76)

Kate and Stella painting The Art Room Floor…

Antennae for Design: Native Flowering Dogwood

white dogwood cornus florida © Kim Smith 2013Currently I am working like mad on design projects, both creating new gardens and organizing existing gardens. Along with butterfly and pollinator gardens, I design many different types of gardens, including fragrant gardens, night gardens, children’s gardens, and seaside gardens. One of my favorite aspects of the design process is creating the horticultural master plan, which is typically done simultaneously after discussing with the client their needs, hopes, and aspirations for their garden, and when working on the plan drawings.

While working on planting plans, I thought our GMG readers would benefit from suggested plantings and illustrated design tips. I started this series awhile back and called it Antennae for Design, and still like that name.

Cornus florida rubra @ Kim Smith 2012 copy

In designing gardens the first step is always creating the framework and trees comprise a major component in establishing the framework, or bones, of a garden. Trees provide a welcome sense of shelter with the shifting light and shadows filtering through the ever-changing ceiling. Fragrance, flowers, the shelter they provide, form, and texture of the leaves are not the only attributes of a tree garden. During the winter months there is the elegant beauty of pure line, the beauty of the branch.

Cornus florida rubra pink dowood © Kim Smith 2012 copyFor a multitude of reasons, one of my top choices when planting a tree-garden is our stunning native American dogwood (Cornus florida), both white and pink flowering forms. The fresh beauty of its spring blossoms, horizontal level branches, myriad pollinators attracted to the tiny florets, and the elegance of its bare limbs in winter are just some of the reasons why I love this tree! For a night garden especially, the white flower bracts are especially luminous in the moonlight. And, the American dogwood is also a larval food plant for the diminutive Spring Azure butterfly’s caterpillar!

white dogwood cornus florida ©kim Smith 2013 copy

 Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities! ~ Notes from a Gloucester Garden is available at my publisher’s website, click here.

Honors Youth Choir of Chorus North Shore Spring concert “Songs of Love and Friendship” at Shalin Liu – Friday May 2

The Honors Youth Choir will   perform songs of love and friendship including selections from early opera, sentimental favorites, revolutionary war songs, humorous songs and even a little doo-wop.  The concert will be a walk down memory lane with songs that cover the gamut of love and friendship.

Sunny says the youth have been working very hard to prepare for this concert and are looking forward to presenting an evening of fun, sentiment and beauty.

Youth in the Concert: 
Rockport:  Emily Dailey,  Sarah Palmer,  Sophie Shwartzer,  Katrina Tuck
Gloucester:  Lucas Brisbois,  Lucia DiMeo,  Olivia Francis,  Moriah Murphy-Thornley,  Shannon Murphy-Thornley,  Kayla Saltonstall,  Isabel White,  Silas White,  Rachel Wolfe
Essex:  Anna Newkill
Manchester:  Naomi Franklin,  Madelaine Potter,  Sarah Potter,  Tori Potter
Ipswich:  Taeko Abuza,  Bailey Amazeen,  Regan Amazeen,  Elsa Anderson,  Marina Beauvois,  Elijah Bergner,  Isaac Bergner,  Nicole Brouillette,  Daniel Buletza,              Teaghan Duff,  Maggie Gould,  Myles Kercher,  Rachel McCatty,  Fiona O’Connell,  Erica Prisby
Wenham:  Shayne Bower
Boxford:  Emma Vitale
South Hamilton:  Ellie Greer
Rowley:  Emily Beckingham,  Alice Thornton
Georgetown:  Grace McGrail,  Laura Tarr
Newburyport:  Isabelle Bacon,  Anna Moreland
North Andover:  Breanna McCarragher
Marblehead:  Iryna Polunia


April Vacation Activities


April Vacation is here….and not a moment too soon if you ask me!!!

I made a crazy, long list of activities to do with children over February Vacation.

See here.

While several of those activities focused on ice skating, tubing, or winter weather activities, many did not.

For this week’s April school vacation, I am going to start my list of activities by focusing on a few “stay-cations”…, either kind of long day trips, or quick over night getaways.  Please, though, if you’re looking for more local activities, go back and check out February’s post for some awesome museums, indoor climbing, trampolining, etc.  They all still apply as great things to do…some of the shows/exhibits offered may have changed, but the places are all still awesome!

Some of those choices were The Charlestown Navy Yard:

The Larz Anderson Museum (to see some pretty rad cars):

The Seacoast Science Center, NH

The awesome smartphone based scavenger hunt in Boston called Stray Boots

Some serious trampolining at SkyZone

And some mad rock climbing at MetroRock

Disclaimer:  I’m not going to lie…most of my suggestions for this April Vacation post would be a wee bit better if the weather was warmer, but if this is your one week off for some FFF (forced family fun) then you may want to buck up and make some plans.

The first must do is in Nashua, NH.   So, not too much of a hike…but a solid day trip.  At SkyVenture New Hampshire you can do indoor sky diving, climb the giant rock wall, brave their awesome Fishpipe water slide or catch a wave in the Surfs Up indoor pool!  So cool!!

Second on the list is an all-time favorite of the Schrafft family.  The Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut.  My boys are literally counting the days until they are tall enough to chill with amazingly incredible beluga whales!!!!

Mystic is just over a 2 hour drive.  Not bad….other than the yucky part of driving through Providence.  For the record, I have nothing against Providence, but I’m kind of a horrible back seat driver and the stretch of highway through Providence (and Quincy, Ma) for that matter, brings out the worst of my door grabbing and fake break slamming.

This aquarium is really something special.  Small, but not too small.  Some really decent marine life (including the only beluga whales I’ve ever seen), several outdoor exhibits, a great opportunity to hand-feed the little rays, a bird aviary where the birds literally land on your hand/arm/shoulder to eat, a sea lion show, tons of crazy-adorable penguins (which you can sign up to spend some quality time with….not like that…that’d be weird) and a state-of-the-art indoor aquarium too.

We usually stay at the Hyatt Place.  Modern, nicely appointed rooms…super clean.  A small outdoor pool is a bonus along with a pretty decent free breakfast before heading off to the aquarium.  Reasonably priced too…otherwise we wouldn’t be there!!

Banging in at third is actually a repeat.  Forgive me if you actually went back and checked out February’s post, because this was on it, but I didn’t elaborate too much on how truly cool it is!  The Roger William’s Zoo in Providence is truly perfect.  I have only been there once, but plan on making it a frequent day trip from here on out.  It was spotless and so beautifully manicured.  The animals have fantastic habitats and it seemed to me as if there was a zoo volunteer around every corner!  Only about 1.5 hours away….totally worth it.  “A great take”…as Joey would say.  We seriously watched the river otter for 30 minutes easy…never mind some of the amazing larger animals!  AND…April vacation week happens to be Fairy House week.  You can explore the botanical gardens to hunt for Fairy Houses.  The week concludes with the Fairy Festival!

Fourth in line is definitely an overnight trip.  If all goes as planned, we’ll be hitting the road for this little getaway sometime next week…or one spring weekend.   One word. Portland.  Other than being super pretty and home to great shops, outlets,  and restaurants, top on our list of things to do while there are:  1.  Catch a Portland Sea Dogs’ Game at Hadlock Field (home games towards the end of vacation week).  Super reasonable prices and small venue make seeing this Red Sox affiliate team a no-brainer     2.  The Main Wildlife Park  Again, crazy cheap…and crazy cool if you have nature lovers like my boys!  3. Hop on the ferry and spend some time on Peaks Island.  The island can be walked in shortly over an hour or biked in less than 30 minutes…depending on the biker (obviously).  Pack a picnic..grab an ice cream…enjoy the short scenic ferry ride.

For some other destinations…some closer than others…check out Discover New England’s list of best day trips from Boston here:

For a shorter day, but not your average trip to the movies or bowling alley, head to Fenway Park.  Not for a game….although CLEARLY that is a great option too…but for a tour.  If you’ve never had a tour you are missing out.  I think one of the best things about the tour is that you have the opportunity to be within those magical walls of Fenway without thousands of other fans.  I’ve said this before, but one of my favorite times to be in the ballpark is when it is empty.  Corny, I know, but the sense of reverence can take your breath away.

And, while in Boston, the opening day for the Swan Boats in the Boston Commons was on Saturday, April 19th!!

The Wheelock Family Theater is always a great option.  They are family friendly and it is a nice venue for kids to take in a play!  Over school vacation week they are offering performances of Where the Mountain Meets the Moon.

The Arnold Arboretum is gorgeous!  It is a must see if you’re into botany…or not.  The last time I went I went to their website first and made a little booklet of trees and flowers for my children to hunt for during our visit.

ALWAYS check out the many, many properties belonging to the Trustees of the Reservation AND/OR the Massachusetts Audubon .  So many great ways to spend the day!!  With the weather getting a little warmer many of these are such a great way to spend  1/2 a day.

Some of my favorites are Drumlin Farm, Joppa Flats, obviously Ipswich River, and even the very close Long Hill Farm in Beverly.

If you’re like me, yard work is top of the list of this week’s activities too.  No matter what you do this week, enjoy!  Please feel free to add to this list by including activities that you are planning on doing in the comment section!!  We are all always looking for new ideas!!!


Johann Wolfgang von Goethe quote of the week From Greg Bover

April 18, 2014

I have come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element.

It is my personal approach that creates the climate.

It is my daily mood that makes the weather.

I possess tremendous power to make life miserable or joyous.

I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal.

In all situations, it my response that decides whether a crisis is escalated or de-escalated and a person is humanized or de-humanized.

If we treat people as they are, we make them worse.

If we treat people as they ought to be,

We help them become what they are capable of becoming.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe  (1749-1832)


Often cited as the one of the most brilliant men of his time and the best writer in the German language, Goethe excelled in literature, philosophy and science. Although best known for his seminal poem “Faust,” which tells the story of a man who sells his soul to the devil, Goethe also made significant contributions to the theories of both evolution and the perception of color. He did important work in botany and meteorology while simultaneously heading the Weimar Theatre.  Politically conservative in an age of revolution, he was a principal advisor to the Grand Duke of Saxe-Weimar.  Goethe’s effect on early Romanticism and Humanism is hard to overstate.   Hesse, Nietzsche, Freud and Jung all cite his influence. His poetry was set to music by Mozart, Beethoven, Mahler, Schumann, Wagner, and Brahms. The botanical park and the Ducal Palace that Goethe helped to design are today a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Greg Bover

Happy Peter Scola Making Sicilian “Cannateddi” Easter Egg Cookies!


 This weeks GMG Cook is Happy Peter Scola! 

Peters mother Grace Moceri-Scola captured this priceless moment in time for her parents living in Florida.  I’m sure this video of “Happy Peter” enjoying every minute of this years annual Sicilian Easter baking tradition will make Grandparent’s Carlo and Mary Ann Moceri feeling “Happy Too!”


1st Annual Cape Ann Easter Bunny Drop From Drayton Freeman


We thought you might enjoy our 1st Annual Cape Ann Easter Bunny Drop™ which we held on our balcony opposite St Peter Square in Gloucester.

Attached is the pic of the Easter Bunnies (they aren’t real bunnies) lined up awaiting the perilous drop and video of them being launched off the balcony and parachuting safely to earth.

Keep up the great work with your blog!

Drayton Freeman

Patriots Day Monday April 21st , 2014 Cape Ann Weather…

Marine Forecast…
Mon S winds 5 to 10 kt…increasing to 10 to 15 kt in the afternoon. Seas 2 to 3 ft.
Mon Night S winds 10 to 15 kt…becoming SW 5 to 10 kt after midnight. Seas 2 to 3 ft.

Patriots Day Forecast : Mostly Sunny with a few clouds along the immediate Coastline highs in the 50°s at the Coast , 60°s over the Interior.. South south east winds 10-15 mph becoming west south west late in the day with temps warming to the 60°s at east facing shores … Monday night clear to partly cloudy lows in the 40°s..

Hourly Forecast…


Extended Forecast …

Happy Running Marathoner’s !
Boston Strong ! Boston Marathon..