Chopping Down a Christmas Tree in the White Mountain National Forest

Chopping Down a Christmas Tree in the White Mountain National Forest


Chopping down a fresh Christmas tree is a hearty tradition in my family. One that we've kept alive for over 25 years now. For many years it meant packing up and driving to a far off farm and making an adventure out of the long journey to get there.

Last year it was the total opposite where there was a Christmas tree farm smack dab at the end of the road where my Dad was living in Maine. So we traveled by foot with a wagon in tow to fetch the tree.

Since moving back to New Hampshire a few months ago, this year's jaunt was yet another new adventure. With the legendary Kancamagus highway and the White Mountain National Forrest only a real quick drive away from my Dad's new home in the village of Chocorua, it made for the ultimate "tree farm" this year.

It just doesn't get more pure than that.

We walked and walked through almost three feet of fluffy white snow until...

...there's the one!

With a little shake to take a better look at it without the snow, we took turns chopping it down a little at a time. The tradition at its finest.

And with the trunk hanging on by a thread, the snow falling, and the quietest peace in the air... down it went and we'd officially chopped a Christmas tree from the National forest.

So that it'd actually fit in the truck and the house, we chopped off a bit more and kept the top portion.

Couple of proud tree choppers:

From there we hauled it up the hill and back through the forest path to the truck.

We had so much fun traipsing through the deep snow while even more snow quietly fell on our hats looking for the tree, cutting it, hauling it back and loading it in the truck. This was truly one of, if not THE best Christmas tree chopping adventure we've been on yet. I don't think it can be topped. So we'll just have to do it again next year :)

Once home, we settled in and put on some Christmas music to decorate the tree and sip egg nog. Even the doxies got in the festive spirit. I can't handle the cuteness...

The tree had a vintage-ness appeal to it with its shape so we decided to go all out and throw some silver tinsel on it as well. I'd never decorated with tinsel before but it brought back some fond memories of my Dad's childhood days for him.

How pretty is this.

I love the simplicity of it all; where it came from, the adventure getting there, the nod to good ol' days gone by, and the longevity of this tradition. It's special and brings us together every year. And that's what this season is all about.

Merry Christmas, everyone!
Celebrating 5 Years Together

Celebrating 5 Years Together


This past weekend Derek and I celebrated our five year anniversary together!

That's five years of living, loving, growing, messing up, succeeding, laughing, crying and persisting along side one another.

We always celebrate this anniversary which some may think is trivial, especially now that we're married, but celebrating is kind of our thing. Not only that but it feels more important than ever to acknowledge the years we've spent together building this life of ours.

We covered a lot of ground in the past five and it only feels right to stop and reflect on where we started, where we are now, and where we would like to go looking ahead. It has been a whirlwind at times and has taken a lot of hard work and some sacrifices too. The past five years have been a season of putting our nose to the grind to build a life we love and are proud of as one. A life that is meaningful to us and works for our future.

Celebrating our wedding in August and this anniversary now in December puts a stamp on that and it feels so sweet to look back and say, not only was it all so worth it but gosh almighty we're so darn grateful. With grateful hearts we've already set our sights on where we want to steer our life and marriage in this new chapter. Life is good.

In the past we've celebrated in a lot of different ways ranging from a weekend in far away Quebec City to a sentimental dinner in nearby Boston. This year we decided to celebrate by heading up 95 for a quick hour or so drive to Portsmouth, NH. Our love for New Hampshire and our desire to reside there is no secret, so it only felt fitting to head north for the occasion.

It's always fun to visit a different town or city for our anniversary as it's so close to Christmas so seeing all the festive decorations is a delight.

Portsmouth is charming to begin with but it is even more so at Christmas time.

Something sparked in me when we were walking along between shops and heard the soft hum of carolers across the street. It stopped us in our tracks. With all the negativity out there in the world these days, it was the sweetest reminder that there are still a lot of cheerful hearts out there just willing to brighten your day for the sake of it.

Derek and I stood there, hand in hand, listening to them sing and it made Christmas feel magical in a way that it hadn't felt since I was quite little. The simplicity and innocence of it all was so refreshing.

No one was offended, protesting or telling them to stop -- it was just pure peace.

It was then that I realized how soothing pure peace can be for the soul. I'm setting my sights on prioritizing that going forward.

We had a few hours to wander in and out of shops in an attempt to keep warm on such a chilly night.

How fitting is the quote on this sign? :)

Gus & Ruby was by far my favorite shop we visited. They sell a beautifully curated collection of paper goods, artisan home decor, books and a million other cute things. What more could you want?! I was swoooooning the entire time.

We took a walk down to the water to see the last bits of the sunset. It was so quiet and still and the air was so crisp. We again took in the peacefulness of the moment there.

We then visited the bistro that Derek took me to as a surprise for my birthday two years ago and agreed that this place was quickly becoming more and more special to us as we create memories here.

Eventually we mozied our way to Moxy for an early dinner. We'd been to Moxy once before and the food was so darn good that we new it was exactly where we wanted to visit again. Not to mention, the way to Derek's heart is large quantities of small foods :) aka, tapas! And ironically, we were seated at the same table we dined at the last time we were there.

If you're in Portsmouth, I highly suggest dinner here. It's just so good and the service is incredible. The menu is full of hearty yet small dishes that all have an inventive twist to them. Each dish is so balanced palate wise. And the dining experience is a little out of the ordinary which is fun. You order several tapas and they bring them out to you strategically spaced out. It's like one never ending delicious meal. Our favorites are the lacquered pork belly bites and the johnny cake community. Their beer, wine and cocktail list is extensive and equally delicious. You can even opt for the bar to make you a custom cocktail based on the liquor of your choice and whether you prefer it to err on the side of boozy or refreshing. I gave that a try and chose a refreshing gin mix. It did not disappoint, yum.

It was a delicious meal and we spent the time equal parts reminiscing of our past five years together, reveling in the present, and dreaming of what the future holds.

We opted out of dessert, though I'm sure the menu does not disappoint, and the craziest thing happened when we asked for the check. Something that you seem to only read about in click bait articles on Facebook.

Our waitress informed us that an anonymous customer had picked up our tab.


We were shocked!

Apparently this person had recently experienced something in their own life that was calling to them to pay it forward and we happened to be the lucky ones to be on the receiving end of their generosity.

We initially felt excitement with a mix of feeling underserving yet grateful. Right away we decided we'd carry on this good deed and pay it forward for someone else in the near future as well. We're thinking we'll choose to do so at our favorite lunch spot down town to make someone's day in our own community.

Anyway, it was wild and totally unexpected. It was surreal. Though, I guess that is the point.

We'll certainly never forget this anniversary, date or how it felt to receive such an act of kindness from a total stranger. It was just the thing to cap off such an important day to us. It was inspiring.

I wish I could think of a more eloquent way to express what this whole day and that gift meant to us, but all I can say is that we can't wait to continuing pursuing our dreams together with a spring in our step to pay it forward.