Ashley Billings

Wine & Beer, Oh My!

    Can you believe that summer is already half over? You know the saying, “Time flies when you are having fun?” Well, this couldn’t be more true! However, the fun shouldn’t stop now! This weekend is the perfect opportunity to check out some other parts of Vermont, while enjoying the best wine and/or beer that Vermont has to offer.

    If you are a wine connoisseur, head to the Killington Wine Festival starting on Friday evening, July 19th. Kick off the festival with the Premier Tasting event at the Peak of Killington by taking the gondola to the Killington Peak Lodge for an exclusive wine tasting. This portion of the festival allows you to meet the vintners, ask questions, sample the varieties, and pair them with tasty hors’ d'oeuvres. There is also live music to enjoy! It doesn’t get much better than this; the scenic views of Vermont, wine, food, and music! Get your tickets here!

    The Killington Wine Festival continues through the weekend with the Grand Tasting kicking off at noon at the Killington Grand Hotel and Resort Ballroom. There will be a wonderful and large selection of a variety of wines produced domestically and internationally including France, Italy, Spain, Austria, Germany, New Zealand, Japan, Chile, Argentina, and South Africa. Not to mention, a great selection of Vermont wine and spirits, as well. There will also be delicious local cheeses, chocolates, and more to enjoy while tasting. Make the event even more fun by showing up in your best formal wear. Get your tickets here!

    The event continues into Sunday with the Wine & Nine Golf Outing at the Green Mountain National Golf Course. The afternoon starts off with champagne and snacks at registration with a shotgun start at 3pm. You will play 9 holes of golf each with a tasting of a different specialty wine. After golfing, enjoy dinner and prizes in the club house! Click here for more information!

    If beer is more your style and you are looking to get away to another part of Vermont, head to the Vermont Brewers Festival at the Burlington Waterfront Park! Throughout the weekend, there are four different sessions; Friday, 12-4pm or 5:30-9:30pm, and Saturday, 12-4pm or 5:30-9:30pm. There are over 250 beers to test and trust me, you will not leave thirsty! Some of my favorite breweries in attendance are Stone Corral Brewery, Trout River Brewing, Good Measure Brewing, and Otter Creek Brewing. For a full list of participating breweries and the beer list, click here!

    The Vermont Brewers Festival also has great music throughout the weekend. Each session features a different band; Session One- Funk Shui, Session Two- Nico Suave, Session Three- Chicago Afrobeat Project, and Session Four- Big Ol Dirty Bucket. If you want to take the festival to the next level, check out “The Experience Tent” where you can sample beer paired with a variety of cheeses or chocolates. Don’t worry, there will also be lots of other food vendors in attendance throughout the weekend!

    No matter what you choose to do this weekend, just make sure you enjoy it because summer will be over before we know it! If you are sticking around Ludlow on Friday night, head to Jackson Gore for the Summer Music Series and be sure to visit us under the blue tent!

Fireworks & More!

One of my favorite days of the year is coming up; the 4th of July! First and foremost, Independence Day is a time to remember the history of America and what those that came before us went through to give us this beautiful country. It commemorates the signing of the Declaration of Independence when the thirteen colonies became free from British rule.

While the 4th of July is about remembering the history of America, it is also celebrated by spending time with your family and friends. The 4th is typically the first real kick off to summer, which is so exciting! Even better, the hope is that you have an extra long weekend to keep the celebration going!

What is the best part of Independence Day? FIREWORKS! Start the holiday weekend off right on July 3rd with fireworks at Plymouth Notch! Join in the fun beginning at 9pm to sing patriotic songs prior to the fireworks show, which will begin at dusk! This has always been one of favorite firework displays and should not be missed! 

Another great option on July 3rd is to head to the Grafton Ponds Outdoor Center in Grafton, VT. Here they have a spectacular show put on by the Vermont Symphony Orchestra. After the show, is a beautiful fireworks display! Bring a picnic dinner and enjoy a great summer evening! This is a ticketed event; or purchase them at MKT: Grafton, Village Square Booksellers, and Vermont Artisan Designs.

This year, Ludlow will be hosting their fireworks on Thursday, July 4th, at the West Hill Recreation Area. The Chris Kleeman Band will be playing from 7-9pm and food will be served by Goodman’s American Pie, Squeels on Wheels, and the Simply Asian Food Truck! Make it a full evening with the family with music, a picnic and fireworks kicking off at dusk!

If enjoying the history of America is something you are interested, you came to the right place because in the heart of the Okemo Valley is the Calvin Coolidge Foundation, the birthplace of the thirtieth President of the United States. Did you know that President Coolidge was born on Independence Day? This day is commemorated at the Foundation with public readings, a ceremony, the Coolidge Cup National High School Debate Tournament, and a screening of "Recollections of 1919 and the Boston Police strike with President Coolidge”. This is a great event to commemorate the United States and President Coolidge. 

There are so many fun events to attend and things to do for the 4th of July, but as you are celebrating next week, please remember why we have this holiday, but also enjoy the time with your friends and family!

Strawberries Galore!

Nothing makes it feel more like the start of summer than being able to go strawberry picking! It is finally time to head to your favorite local orchard or strawberry patch to pick your own strawberries.

My favorite place to go strawberry picking is Wellwood Orchards in Springfield, VT, only a 20 minute drive from Ludlow. During strawberry season, they are open 7 days a week, 8am-6pm, however, the best time to go is early morning before it gets too hot or busy. If you go on the weekend, you must go in the morning anyway because you can’t miss out on their homemade fresh cider donuts! Check out the other items in the country gift shop, anywhere from baked goods and cider to local crafts! They also have a petting zoo, making strawberry picking the perfect outing for the whole family!

This Saturday, June 22, is Wellwood Orchards Strawberry Festival from 10am-3pm, a must-see summer event! Spend some time picking your own strawberries and make sure you take a wagon ride through the orchard and then check out the live music by John Sullivan Band, Alison Turner, and Dan O and more! There will also be over 45 local vendors including food booths, artists, and more! Even better, admission to the event is free! Of course the country gift shop and petting zoo will be open, as usual! This is truly a fun event with something for everyone!

If you are looking for more strawberries, head to the Plymouth Strawberry Festival at Plymouth State Park on June 19th, from 5-7:30pm. This is a great community event sponsored by the Plymouth Volunteer Fire Department & First Response Services. All funds raised go to support various organizations within the community, including the emergency services. The festival offers a delicious BBQ and most importantly, strawberry shortcake for dessert! This is a family event with plenty of activities to keep your little ones entertained!

Don’t worry, if you don’t make the festivals or aren’t able to go strawberry picking, go to a local farm stand and I am sure you will find some of the sweetest berries around! While strawberries are so good without doing anything to them, make your own strawberry shortcake or try your luck at a delicious strawberry rhubarb pie! Happy picking (and eating)!

It's Time for Summer!

June is one of the best months of the year because it is FINALLY summer! This is the time when everyone starts getting outside, especially those that don’t get out during the winter months.  It is also the start of summer BBQ’s, swimming, and weekend events!

To start off the second weekend of June, join us at Jackson Gore at Okemo for the 2019 B2VT Finish Line Party. This is a party to celebrate the finishers of the B2VT bike ride from Bedford, Massachusetts to Ludlow, Vermont. This ride is also known as the Battlefield to Vermont and let me tell you, this 149 mile ride certainly feels like a battle, an uphill battle at that! The riders complete 9,000 feet of climbing, including 3 significant climbs. This long and strenuous ride calls for a party at the finish line where there will live music by Ruby Street, BBQ, and cold beer! What more could you want on a beautiful summer day?!

Also on Saturday, June 8th, is Vermont’s Free Fishing Day! This event happens annually and gives everyone, residents and non-residents of Vermont, the opportunity to fish without a license. If you have never fished before or don’t get to go very often, this is the perfect chance for you to head out to your favorite river, pond, or lake throughout Vermont to cast a line and hopefully catch some fish! The Okemo Valley has several great areas to fish including the Black River, Lake Rescue, and Echo Lake. Make sure you show us your fish if you have any luck!

Another fun outdoor activity to do in the summer is to play some golf! We are so lucky to have the Okemo Valley Golf Club right in our backyard, as it is a premier course and has something for every level. This summer, for the months of June and July, OVGC is offering a Ladies Golf Clinic every Sunday where you can touch up on your skills and learn about different topics each week. Additionally, starting June 23rd and continuing Sunday’s thorough July, OVGC is offering Summer Junior Golf Clinics. This is a great opportunity for young golfers to get into the game. Of course, the golf course is also open 7 days a week for regular play!

One of my favorite events of the summer is the Plymouth Strawberry Festival at Plymouth State Park on June 19th, from 5-7:30pm. This is a great community event sponsored by the Plymouth Volunteer Fire Department & First Response Services. All funds raised go to support various organizations within the community, including the emergency services. The festival offers a delicious BBQ and most importantly, strawberry shortcake for dessert! This is a family event with plenty of activities to keep your little ones entertained!

The last weekend of June offers a Yoga Weekend Intensive at Go With the Flow in Ludlow. This workshop is being instructed by Boston-Based Senior Teacher, Raquel Marra. There are classes offered Friday through Sunday, all of which are available by the class or you can register for the whole weekend. This is a great way to restore your body just in time for the craziness that summer brings!

We hope that you are able to soak up all the sunshine you can get and take advantage of the long summer days ahead!

We Always Knew You Were #1, Ludlow!

In case you haven’t heard, Ludlow, Vermont, is the number one winter destination to buy a vacation home according to Vacasa. Even though we have been firm believers in this for a long time, we are glad that the secret is finally out! While the article will tell you statistics as to why it is a good idea to buy a vacation home here, we will tell you the real reasons.

First of all, the most obvious reason to choose Ludlow is because of the all mighty Okemo Mountain in the middle of town. Did you know that Okemo means, “all come home,” in a Native American language? This couldn’t be more true, as Okemo and Ludlow are home to so many people, whether physically or in their hearts. While Okemo does have the best grooming in the east and some great trails, it really is a family mountain. Up until recently, Okemo has been a family owned and operated since 1982, and even though Vail Resorts now owns Okemo, there is still an unbelievable sense of community surrounding the mountain. If you are looking for a winter vacation home, Okemo should be your first place to look, whether you want a small condo or a large mountain home.

Another reason to choose Ludlow as your winter destination is due to the wide variety of amazing restaurants in town. For a small town, we sure know how to cook...and eat! Whether you are looking for a slice of woodfired pizza from American Pie, Tex-Mex from Mojo Cafe, farm to table from Homestyle Hostel, or Italian from Mama’s, you truly will not be disappointed. You can also find a delicious breakfast or lunch from The Hatchery or Java Baba’s, along with dessert from Big Eyes Bakery or Sweet Surrender. Did we mention that we have some great bars, as well? You must check out Main and Mountain, Killarney, and Tom’s Loft Tavern, all for their great selection of drinks and hometown atmospheres.

We understand that not everyone participates in skiing or snowboarding, but that doesn’t mean that Ludlow can’t be your choice for your winter vacation home! There is so much more to offer including a Nordic Center for snowshoeing and cross country skiing, the Ice House at Jackson Gore for ice skating, a wonderful yoga and bodywork studio at Go With The Flow, or the recreation center at Jackson Gore with a great indoor pool. If those aren’t your style either, there is often live music at various restaurants, cute shops around town, and beautiful drives.

Have we convinced you yet? If not, come into William Raveis Vermont Properties to speak with us about our community and why we love living here or even to start looking at your very own vacation home!

Cheers to ALL the Mama's!

 

Mother’s Day is just around the corner on May 12th and it is time to spoil the special woman in your life, whether it is your Mom, wife, sister, grandmother, or just a friend. We all know that our mom’s really are just looking to spend time with their families, but if you need some ideas, check out our favorite Mother’s Day plans!

One of my personal favorite ways to spend Mother’s Day is by bringing my Mom out to brunch. A great local option to try is Coleman Brook Tavern at Jackson Gore. They do a beautiful buffet display using Vermont ingredients and the ambience of the restaurant is the perfect setting to make your Mom feel special. They have various seatings, but be sure to call for a reservation!

If you are looking for a more traditional dining experience, check out The Free Range in Chester! They have a brunch menu every Sunday, but this week they will be serving brunch all day, 9am-4pm! They always have the best cinnamon roll pancakes you can find, but they have specials this week including Maine crab cakes! They also have delicious, loaded bloody mary’s, along with mimosas with fresh squeezed orange juice; the perfect choices for celebrating Mother’s Day! Another local brunch is going on at Mama’s in Ludlow! Be sure to call for reservations for either option!

If you prefer to stay home and enjoy a lazy Sunday with the mom’s in your life because let’s face it, all moms deserve a day of relaxation! However, make sure you bring her a treat. Whether you are looking for a breakfast item like a muffin or quiche or a mouth-watering dessert (or two), look no further than Big Eyes Bakery in Ludlow! They have an awesome assortment of baked goods that you can bring home to share with your Mom. We promise she will love it!

Do you have a Mom that loves the outdoors? You may want to consider bringing her for a hike since tt is the perfect time of year to get outside! You can’t go wrong with a hike on the Healdville Trail on the backside of Okemo. If you really want to spoil your Mom, bring a picnic lunch to the top with sandwiches from Java Baba’s and pick out her favorite craft beer or a bottle of wine from Brewfest to go along with it!

No matter what you do, just be sure that the mom’s in your life know how special they are and that you appreciate everything they do. Being a mom is not an easy job and so many make it look like a walk in the park! We also want to give a special shoutout to our Vermont Properties Mom’s; Kathy Burns, Sarah Sheehan, Alyson Blodgett, Raye Lin Collins, Marlene DeArruda, and Heidi DeGraw! Also, dog mom, Abby Stone!

William Raveis- The Event!

At the beginning of April, our Vermont Properties team attended the William Raveis Training Event at Mohegan Sun. This was an educational event for the entire company and included over 4,000 agents from all over New England and Naples and West Palm, Florida. Not only did our team learn a lot, they were also able to network with other agencies, which is always beneficial, especially when working in a town like Ludlow where there are so many second home buyers from states throughout New England.

The event included, but was not limited to luxury property trainings, internet response training, and managers training. There were also “breakout” sessions where agents were able to choose sessions that were most interesting and beneficial to them. Some of these included learning about digital market, going paperless, team building, and personal branding. The team was also able to be a part of presentations given by the Raveis family, along with the Keynote speaker, Tom Ferry.

The event was topped off with awards to the top performers within the company. We are always so very proud of our team, but it is also nice to be recognized for our efforts. This year our team at Vermont Properties was named the #1 Affiliate Team in Closed Volume Companywide and the #1 Affiliate Team in Closed Units Companywide! This wouldn’t be possible without all of our loyal customers and we thank you all so very much for supporting us and allowing us to buy and sell homes for you.

Our team at Vermont Properties feels so fortunate to be a part of such a wonderful company as William Raveis. They always go above and beyond for The Event and this year was no different. However, they go above and beyond everyday to make sure all of their agents feel like a team and have the knowledge they need to be successful. Thank you William Raveis!

How to Survive Mud Season!

If you have been in Vermont over the last few weeks, you have likely seen cars that have turned brown, roads with closed signs, and everyone wearing rain boots. Even though it is spring, Vermonters know this time as mud season, one of Vermont’s extra seasons. It sounds awful, doesn’t it? Well, it doesn’t have to be!

   Photo taken by OkemoIf you are still in winter mode, you still have a few days to get some skiing in! Okemo plans to shut down this Sunday, April 14th. One of my favorite times of the year on the snow is in the spring. There aren’t any lift lines, the snow is usually great first thing in the morning, and you can get a killer goggle tan! If you are really brave, you can be one of the die hard skiers wearing shorts and a t-shirt on the hill on those beautiful 60 degree days! If you still aren’t ready to give up the snow, you can travel to Killington where they will be open typically into the end of May.

Another option is to jump on board with alpine touring, also known as skinning. This sport has become increasingly popular over the last couple of years. It is not only a great workout, but an awesome way to beat the crowds in the heart of winter, or this time of year, take advantage of the snow still left on the mountain after closing. If you don’t have your own gear, check out The Boot Pro at the bottom of the Okemo Access Road, where they have a rental package that includes, boots, skis, skins, and poles! The staff themselves are also avid “skinners” and would be great people to talk to if you are interested in getting involved in the sport!

If you are anything like me and love the restaurants that Ludlow has to offer, the next couple of weeks are a great time to eat out. Not only are they usually less busy, but many of them shut down in the spring, typically right after Easter and open back up around Memorial Day. Some top choices to definitely check out are Stemwinder, Homestyle Hostel, and The Downtown Grocery!

If you are still looking for things to do, spend an afternoon at the Spring House at Jackson Gore, where you can use the fitness facility, take a dip in the pool, take a Zumba class, or play a game of racquetball! If you love yoga, take a variety of classes at Go With The Flow in the center of town. You can even get a massage to rejuvenate your mind and body after a long winter.

No matter what you are doing, be sure to stay active and enjoy all the sunshine you can get! Summer will be here before we know it!

Vermont Maple Open-House Weekend!

If you are a Vermonter, you know that Vermont has more than 4 seasons. One of our additional seasons, the best one in my opinion, is maple sugaring season! Since we have had such a cold and snowy winter, the Vermont sugaring season has been delayed. However, many Vermonters around the state are finally getting their trees tapped and have been able to start boiling! You know what this means, right? Fresh maple syrup!

Every year, all of the sugar houses in Vermont open their doors for the Vermont Maple Open House Weekend. This year, it is March 23-24th. Spend your Saturday or Sunday taking a drive to some of our favorite local sugar houses for yummy treats and to learn more about the sugaring process!

If you frequent our blog, you know that we are a huge fan of Green Mountain Sugar House, especially their maple creemees. This weekend, they will be open and offering complimentary sugar-on-snow, maple cream donuts, maple coffee, and maple milk! However, you shouldn’t leave without purchasing a maple creemee or a gallon of delicious maple syrup! They have started boiling, so hopefully you will be able to catch a glimpse of the action!

Another local favorite of ours is Papa John’s Sugar Shack! This is a small, family-owned operation, but you can tell that they put a lot of hear into what they do. They will be open for the Vermont Maple Open House weekend with many maple products to test, as well as waffles and with any luck, fresh maple syrup! This wonderful family loves teaching about how maple syrup is made, so make sure you take a tour of the sugar house!

If you have time, travel a bit further to Shrewsbury to Smith Maple Crest Farm for their open house. On Saturday, they are holding a pancake breakfast in support of the Shrewsbury Community Sharing Project, of course with their maple syrup. They will also have samples of maple syrup, sugar-on-snow, maple cotton candy for sale, and other refreshments. Keep your fingers crossed for good boiling weather and check out their boiling demo to learn more about making maple syrup!

If you want to find other sugar houses in Vermont or even if you just want to know more about how maple syrup is made, visit Vermont Maple! If you are looking for ideas on how to eat or drink maple syrup, check out last week’s blog for ideas!

Vermont Gold: Maple Syrup- Part 1

What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think about Vermont? My answer is always MAPLE SYRUP! Because who doesn’t love syrup! Maple syrup is good on and in practically everything and for every meal.

    The obvious choice is to have maple syrup on pancakes or waffles. There is nothing quite like waking up in the morning and having someone cook you breakfast, especially when syrup is involved. Those fluffy pancakes and delicious waffles are the things that dreams are made of. Have you ever tried warming your maple syrup in the microwave before putting it on your breakfast? Let me tell you, there is nothing better! However, breakfast isn’t complete without a hot cup of coffee. Instead of sugar, try adding a little bit of maple syrup. I promise, you won’t be disappointed!

    Maple syrup is also a necessity with lunch. Did you know that a ham and cheese sandwich goes GREAT with maple syrup? I know, sounds strange, right? This isn’t an ordinary ham and cheese sandwich though, it’s a monte cristo. The bread is actually french toast, with warm ham and melted cheese. This sounds delicious already, but to top it off, you dip the sandwich in maple syrup. This makes the perfect brunch meal!

    You also can’t go wrong with incorporating maple syrup into your dinner either. A very “Vermont” thing to do is simply to have breakfast for dinner, so you can double up on those pancakes and waffles, or dive into some eggs with maple breakfast sausage. However, there are so many options for adding maple syrup into your dinner or even substituting it as a healthier option than granulated sugar! I like using maple syrup in stir fry or in my recipes for slow cooker meatballs.

    Last, but most definitely not least, is dessert! Obviously maple syrup and dessert go hand-in-hand. One of the easiest choices is vanilla ice cream with maple syrup. I know it sounds simple, but it is the best combination. If you want to get really fancy you could try maple creme brulee or maple cheesecake. You can even make it a healthy dessert by roasting bananas with maple syrup and cinnamon!

    Now, to be a true Vermonter, you must have sugar on snow, which is good any time of the day. Here’s how: Heat syrup and butter in a pot on the stove (about 1 quart of syrup per stick of butter). Make sure you watch it carefully and stir regularly. You will need a thermometer because when the syrup reaches 234 degrees fahrenheit, it is ready to be poured over the snow. Poor it slowly and carefully. If the syrup sits on top of the snow, it’s ready! Peel it off and enjoy!

Stay tuned for next week’s blog on how syrup is made and where to get it in the Okemo Valley! In the meantime, let us know your favorite way to have maple syrup!