Holidays at Hammond Castle on November 26, 2022

Reblogged from Hammond Castle Hammond Facebook page

Local-favorite the Jambalaya Horns kicks off the season of light and hope with joyous holiday favorites here at Hammond Castle Museum, starting at 6pm. (This concert will be held outdoors, in front of our 12th and 13th Century Arches. In case of inclement weather, the performance will be held inside, in the Museum’s Great Hall.) Holiday lights will be cast upon our majestic castle and romantic arches, creating a magical holiday scene across the Museum grounds. Guests who wish to peek into the Hammond’s historic home to see the Great Hall decked out for the holidays are welcome to do so.
This performance and celebration is free and open to the public.
Please note: Not all portions of the Museum will be open to guests. Guests will only have access to the Great Hall and rooms leading down to the Great Hall.
This event is generously sponsored in part by Cape Ann Savings Bank.
Photo by: CMO Photography Studios

fun news from Sugar Mags @TasteofCapeAnn | Drift Wood Charcuterie boards scrumptious and custom

Melissa Sallah, owner of Sugar Magnolia’s has opened DRIFT WOOD CHARCUTERIE, a delicious catering option to help you entertain in style. When you order Drift Wood Charcuterie boards– like the one featured at Taste of Cape Ann– you’ll get a delicious spread to kick off your party plus a one off charcuterie board hand crafted by RPF Woodworking that you keep! Call Melissy at Sugar Magnolia’s (978) 509-5641

Taste of Cape Ann YMCA Sugar Mags 20171109_182358

Taste of Cape Ann YMCA held at Cruiseport 20171110_072909

Annual Annisquam Sewing Circle Christmas Fair December 2nd

Save the Date! Press Release From The Annisquam Sewing Circle:

Each autumn the members of the Annisquam Sewing Circle gather to prepare for the Annual Christmas Fair, well known for its fabulous one-of-a-kind wreaths and center pieces as well as decorated boxwood trees. Also one will find beautiful bulbs and potted plants ready to give or take home, delicious homemade gourmet food items and handcrafted gift items. 

Annual Annisquam Sewing Circle Christmas Fair
December 2, 2017 – 8:00am – 12:00 pm
Annisquam Village Hall
34 Leonard Street, Gloucester MA 01930-1322

The Annual Christmas Fair & Luncheon and the Annual Plant and Gourmet Food Sale raise funds to support scholarships for graduating seniors who are going on to college, training for a trade or other educational opportunities and community projects on Cape Ann, for example: The Open Door Food Pantry, Backyard GrowersCape Ann Animal AidPathways for Children.

The Annisquam Sewing Circle was begun in 1837 as the Annisquam Female Benevolent Society. It is thought to be the oldest continuous independent society of women on Cape Ann.

The Society’s purpose as stated in its Preamble, was “for the performance of acts of benevolence.” Through the years, the Society, and now the Circle, has contributed generously to community programs and to individuals.

Web site:


Beverly Tree Farm

Are the trees getting shorter….or are my boys getting taller?

Last Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, marked the 7th year in a row that we have driven to the Beverly Tree Farm….Christmas carols cranking…. in search of our perfect tree. Some years we are in search of big….some years small.  Some years we go in search of super full….some years extra tall.

What doesn’t change is how excited we are to enter the Bertolon Family’s gorgeous red barn house to sit by the fire, drink some cider, share some cookies, flip through the “Naughty and Nice” book, inevitably bump into some friends, and head out into the designated field in search of the tree that speaks to us.

Some years it has been unseasonably warm…and a couple of times there has been some snow on the ground.  No matter what the weather, we always leave the farm….tree strapped securely to the roof of the car…full of holiday cheer and ready to kick off the Christmas season.

It means so much to me to know that the boys will look back fondly on traditions like this one as they grow older and will hopefully continue them with their own families.  Maybe they’ll let me tag along.

I want to thank the Bertolon family and all of the wonderful staff who, while conscious of it or not, are helping to make memories for countless families each holiday season.

I got such a kick out of looking back through photos of our “Tree Cutting Days” last night and seeing how the boys have grown each year. I look forward to many more years of tree hunting and the memories that they will bring.

I hope that you all find the perfect one of whatever it is that makes your holiday season so special and that happy memory making awaits you and your loved ones this season.

Learn more about THE BEVERLY TREE FARM Here

Liar, Liar Pants on Fire (Also Known as Merry Christmas)

A good friend asked me to repost this….. as it is timely.  I was more than happy to do so…especially since, with all the shopping, wrapping, and deceiving, I haven’t had time to come up with anything else for this morning’s post.

I almost forgot to do it at all….but then I went to the front yard and side deck to shred some carrots to look as though those messy reindeer ate the ones we left out with Santa’s cookies….and I remembered “the lies.”   Next, I’ll go eat 1/2 of one of Santa’s cookies and put the rest back into the ziplock bag that they were in earlier this evening.

My boys are now 8 1/2 and 6 1/2 and both still totally BELIEVE.   I must admit, however, that I’ve become more sloppy.  Just a few minutes ago I shoved things in their stockings with price tags still on them because I am W.I.P.E.D.  Not sure if the boys will notice or not….and not sure how I’ll explain that stuff in their stocking came from Dick’s Sporting Goods.  Bygones.

So, my friends, I wish you a Very Merry Christmas….and some good luck 😉


Here’s Some Holiday Spirit

What a wonderful treat these two families give to the community by putting so much time and energy into decorating their homes for the enjoyment of so many.

If you haven’t taken a spin by this wonderful display on Arthur Street in Danvers you really should.


Nichole’s Picks 12/19 + 12/20

There’s still time to get your holiday on!

Pick #1:   The Mayor’s Celebration of Lights

I’ve always thought that spending a few evenings in the city during the holiday season is totally special.  Grabbing a nice dinner, maybe getting a bit dressed up, and seeing the holiday lights is a wonderful tradition.  By now, you all probably know about BLINK! at Faneuil Hall, but there is also the Mayor’s Celebration!



Running December 17-20, 2015, The Mayor’s Celebration of Lights, Lights of Boston presented by luminARTZ will transform the Dartmouth Street side of the Boston Public Library with 3D projections sharing the message of peace, hope and unity each evening from 5:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m., looping every 10 minutes. The light installation is the first of its time in the United States, and is produced by artist Anthony Bastic of AGB Events best known for the Vivid SydneyView more


Pick #2:  

Candlelight Stroll at Strawberry Banke

Strawbery Banke Museum celebrates the theme of “Winter Pastimes” during the 36th annual Candlelight Stroll, December 5-6, 12-13 and 19-20, 2015. The event takes place from 5 to 9 pm on Saturdays and 4 to 8 pm on Sundays.


Stroll through life in a simpler time as 350 years of American history, winter traditions, and holiday celebrations unfolds around you in New Hampshire’s oldest waterfront neighborhood.

  • Historic houses from four centuries with decorations hand-crafted from natural materials
  • Hundreds of wood and glass candle boxes lighting the lanes and landscape
  • Live music and holiday entertainment for all ages
  • Horse-drawn carriage rides
  • Holiday decoration demonstrations
  • Traditional barrel making demonstrations
  • 18th century holiday hearth cooking
  • Tinsmith demonstrations
  • Ice skating at Labrie Family Skate at Puddle Dock Pond, daily December-February.

CLICK HERE FOR MUCH MORE INFORMATION! (and to save time and purchase advanced tickets)



Pick #3:  Zoolights at Stone Zoo


ZooLights promises to dazzle visitors of all ages this holiday season. Enter a winter wonderland of tree-lined paths lit by thousands of twinkling lights. Stroll through festively decorated Yukon Creek, home to bald eagles, Canada lynx, reindeer and arctic foxes.

  • Meet Stone Zoo’s reindeer up close during nightly photo opportunities.
  • Enjoy holiday hot chocolate with the reindeer (see registration and full details below).
  • Have your photo taken with Santa (see video below).
  • Lights, Camel, Action!
    Known as “ships of the desert,” dromedary camels are incredibly adapted to harsh, arid environments. Learn more about these animals and enjoy a camel’s-eye view of ZooLights!
    Camel Rides: $10 per person
  • Gift Shop Discount on Member Mondays: Members receive an additional 10% discount on all gift shop purchases on Mondays. That’s a 20% savings! Learn more about becoming a member.

– See more at:


For a more comprehensive list of family activities, please visit our friends at North Shore Kid

What Are Your Favorite Holiday Traditions?

Yesterday I wrote about the importance that I place on holiday traditions.

Earlier this month I wrote about Santa coming to Rockport and the tree lighting.  I got a lovely response from a Facebook reader that shared her own Rockport holiday memory.

When we were little Children we lived in Gloucester…we would come in the bus to Rockport …we would get off the bus at Dock Square and join the other lined up kids..watching for Santa… to come down the hill in his sleigh…it was loaded down with …nuts candy and a big stocking…for every child ….then we would run ahead of mother and dad to get to our Grandfather’s house on Summit Ave?..he was a night watch man at the railroad round house….he would always give us a report on what Santa had to say to him as he dropped off our presents…he told us how each of the rain deer were ..and …would be happy to get back to their nice warm house back at the North Pole…we believed every word he said sister and I

Her response made me start to think…..  What about the rest of you?

Anyone else up for sharing their favorite holiday memories in a comment below?  Please do….I’d love to hear them!



I hope that when my boys look back on the holiday season, or really their childhoods in general, that they remember fondly and treasure the traditions that we’ve created for them.

While there is something to be said for being spontaneous and trying new things, there are definitely some steadfast traditions that we like to hold true each year….especially this time of year.

The boys know that on Thanksgiving night we make popcorn and hot chocolate, spread out sleeping bags, and watch The Polar Express.  They know that within the next two days we’ll head to the Beverly Tree Farm and cut down our tree. They also know that we won’t leave there until they’ve tolerated a mini photo shoot.   They know that one day in very early December, if not earlier, a white star will suddenly be lit near the train bridge and they’ll get the warm fuzzies when it is first spied each year!  They know that we’ll be watching Santa arrive on the Freemantle Doctor from right under the hoist on T-Wharf and they walk to that spot automatically the first Saturday of December each  year.  They know that later on that evening will be the tree lighting at Dock Square, there will be a trip to Tuck’s to buy one treat, and then we’ll head home to decorate our own tree. The boys know that there will be fried dough on Christmas morning and that my mom will arrive later with a coffee cake that is always still warm….just like the one that she made each year when I was little (Tradition). They know that after opening presents we go downtown to the tree and say “thank you” to Santa for the gifts he left for us. They know also to thank the police officers on detail Christmas Day and to always shake their hands.

They know the Santa mugs will come out to drink from for the month of December and that one will get filled with milk to sit alongside some cookies and carrots.  They know in the morning they’ll find little pieces of carrot left on the side deck from those messy reindeer.  There will also be a sleigh bell in their stockings.

Sprinkled into the “givens” are the less consistent holiday activities. Usually a trip to Boston, but always for different reasons.  There will be at least one night of driving around with cocoa to see holiday light displays near and far.  Some years we’ve trekked to Santa’s Village….other years to Edaville Railroad.  Other years neither…especially with hockey in full-swing.

And then….then, there’s the Curtis Family Countdown.  We’ve looked forward to watching the days tick down from their front yard display on Main Street each December day for the last few years.  It is a true sign that Christmas is on it’s way.  I blogged about it last year so that you could all make a point to drive by and see how wonderful it is.

If I remember correctly, it usually begins right after Thanksgiving. So…you can imagine how off-kilter we felt when December began and there was no countdown.  December 1st…nothing.  Wait.  What?Then December 2nd.  Nothing.  And even, the horror, December 3rd. It was time we take matters into our own hands.  You can’t mess with tradition after all.

So, we did this.

Dear Sean,
While we could probably just do the math, it is truly much more entertaining to drive by your house each morning and night to see the Countdown to Christmas. I know that you are really busy…so this is what we’ve decided to do. If it isn’t up by Sunday morning, I will leave Thatcher and Finn with you aaaaaaall day long to help you out. (How’s THAT for motivation)
Just kidding.  Kind of.
The Schrafft Family

In return, later on the same day, we got this….

Image 1

Send your kids over, Nichole, they can do the lights on the rest of the house.

He decided to do the lights himself when I readily agreed to drop the boys off to do the rest of the lights while I took his wife out for some drinks.

ImageImage (1)

Thanks again to the Curtis Family for helping to create lasting traditions.  Thank you for making time to set up that display so that undoubtedly many children can drive by each day and see how many days are left until Christmas! It means a lot to us…and I’m sure we’re not alone in that.

Nichole’s Picks 12/12 + 12/13

A great hometown weekend.

Pick #1:  The Middle Street Walk


The Middle Street Walk is such a great way to experience community, celebrate the holiday season, and spend time with family.

As always, the program for this year is packed with some pretty special events such as choir concerts, buoy painting, a gingerbread house contest, story telling, a puppet show, holiday treats, guided walking tours, music, and of course…the lobster trap tree lighting ceremony at 4:30 at the Police Station.



Come see members of the Gloucester Stage Youth Acting Workshops preform this annual holiday treat! 



PICK #3:

A Very Grinchy Holiday Special

We saw this holiday show last year and loved it!  A great opportunity to see a seasonal and funny show without spending tons of money or traveling too far.

Gallows Hill Theatre presents:
A very Grinchy Holiday Special!

Join us at Gallows Hill Theatre for a fun re-telling of the classic tale with music, audience interaction, Max the dog,The Who family and Thing One and Thing Two!
A great holiday show for all ages, featuring Erik Rodenhiser as The Grinch.
After the show, kids can meet The Grinch, and take picture with the cast!



As always to see a more comprehensive list of family activities, please see our friends at North Shore Kid

The Great Christmas Light Fight

We have several holiday traditions.  Some are silly and some are really, really special.

One of the sillier ones started last night….the 3rd season of The Great Christmas Light Fight.

The boys LOVE to hunker down with some cocoa and popcorn and watch the 4 families compete with pretty fantastic holiday light displays.  The boys continued to love it even after they realized it wasn’t going to be a show with families chucking holiday lights at each other….as the title evidently led them to believe.

We love “getting to know” the four families, seeing where they live, and hearing their stories.  We love seeing them come together and work so hard to make their magic happen.  We love guessing Who Will Win.

While it’s no, It’s a Wonderful Life, it works for us.

Check it out if you have some time to kill….if nothing else, it’ll help bring the holiday season to your living room.





Santa Claus Comes to Rockport

I posted a few “live blog” photos of Santa’ much awaited arrival, but here are several more.

Such a fun tradition.  It is so fun to watch the boys, and all of Rockport’s children, get older each year as they stand on T-Wharf and await Santa’s arrival.

This was our 9th “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” and the novelty has certainly not worn off.

Buddy the Elf

Late night for the Schrafft boys last night.  We took the boys into Boston to see “Elf the Broadway Musical” at the Wang Center.

We enjoyed some city holiday decorations, a quick dinner in the theater district, and then went into the show about 40 minutes early to bask in what is the awesomeness of the Wang.

While the show certainly had some mildly inappropriate parts….and it’s fair share of adult humor….it was a great time and a really fun way to kick off our holiday season.

There are strict rules about no photography during the show and, while I entertained the thought of being sly and snapping a couple during the production, the boys were mortified at the thought of me “breaking the law” so I resigned to use my pre-game pics of the Wang and to Google some images when I got home.

If you are interested in learning more about the show, CLICK HERE



Everyone Poops

Hmmm.  See now, I always thought the concern was too much excess during the holidays.  Maybe the saying is, too much excretion during the holidays.

After all, Everyone Poops, right?

Even the snowmen and the reindeer, I suppose.

I’ve been known to go a bit overboard during the holidays.  Jingle our Elf  on the Shelf has gotten into a fair share of late night mayhem, carrot peels have been scattered by reindeer with poor at best eating etiquette, Santa’s cookies have been crumbled and dipped into his mug of milk for that “eaten on the run” kind of effect, letters to Santa have been “mailed”, videos from the Portable North Pole have been delivered, and reindeer food has been sprinkled on the lawn. Special reindeer bells have even been wrapped in boxes just like those that appear in the Polar Express and placed far back under the tree for the boys to find last.

Lies, deception, and holiday fun at its best.  All of that having been said, however, you won’t find me throwing around snowman or reindeer poop anytime soon….or feeding it to the kids.

“Ho! Ho! Ho!  Sorry the reindeer just had to go 

I’ll be singing this all week now.

“Dumpity, Dump, Dump,

Dumpity, Dump, Dump,

Look at Frosty go”



Decorating the Trees, Manchester by the Sea

The tree decorating for the Festival of the Trees is ongoing. Remember that the official lighting of the Freedom Tree and the Festival of the Trees is this Sunday.

SUNDAY: The 3:30 holiday concert performance at the First Parish Church. Immediately following the performance at 4:30 will be the official lighting Manchester’s Friendship Tree and the Festival of the Trees on town hall common to officially kick off the holiday season.

Making My List and Checking it Twice

Well, since there’s no denying that the holidays are coming…. I may as well make my list.

So, here’s item #1

What local peep is going to start cranking these out to sell in downtown Gloucester or Rockport so that I can buy one….or several?

Challenge on.  You make them, I’m first in line to buy some.

This one is from a company called Suzy Kuzy….how excellent.


check more out here