Spring Fashion in Vermont

April 28, 2015  
Filed under Feature Stories

Reporter Adam White visited several local retailers to find out what’s new in fashion for the spring season. Vermont Maturity editors added some great accessory suggestions.

By Adam White

Spring fashion in Vermont mirrors the rebirth in Mother Nature herself, as colors and patterns awaken from their winter slumber of greys and blacks. Area experts in style provided an inside glimpse at what to look for in stores as the weather warms up. Versatility rules in the uneven, often-changing temperatures of Vermont spring, making layers and multi-faceted garments the
go-to choice of savvy stylists.

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Spring is about rebirth, and floral prints and vibrant colors help mentally shake off the doldrums of winter. “You want to put on something bright and cheerful because it makes you feel better; it’s good for the psyche after being shut away all winter,” said Peggy Eastman, owner of Sportstyle on Shelburne Road in South Burlington. (ABOVE: Skirt by Krimson Klover, $89. Model: Crystal Minton)


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Spellbound on Church Street in Burlington also features men’s clothing by Salaam, including this brightly-colored shirt (ABOVE) with retro flair that would look equally at home at an art opening or on a dance floor. Spellbound owner Mara Brazilian said Salaam designer Andrea Miksic injects energy and vibrancy into her line. “She switches prints by season, which is refreshing,” Brazilian said. (Shirt by Salaam, $55; hat by Goorin Bros., $50)

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Whatever the occasion, Vermont customers tend to lean as much toward comfort as style — and the name of the designer rarely enters into the equation. “Nobody wants to be weighed down by something heavy; they want something they can move around in better, something more fluid,” said Peggy Eastman (ABOVE) of Sportstyle on Shelburne Road in South Burlington. “People in Vermont are practical, down to Earth; they’re not so hung up on the label as in other areas.” (Dress by Joseph Ribkoff, $199)

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Marilyn’s on College Street in Burlington features not only clothing, handbags and other fashion accessories, but also a selection of fine jewelry. “When we put together an outfit and then pick out the perfect piece of jewelry, we feel like we’ve come full-circle,” said owner Marilyn Gaul. (Earrings by Freida Rothman, $248.)


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Spring fashion is as much about color as any other element, and owner Peggy Eastman of Sportstyle says vibrant hues such as the blues bursting from this dress (ABOVE) are what mark the season. “You won’t see a lot of pastel pinks at this time of year,” Eastman said. (Dresses by Komarov, $329 )

Chicken Coin PurseCheck out this funky chicken purse! Do you fancy yourself as the hottest chick in town? Have some fun and keep your loose change nice and safe inside this life-like Chicken purse!  $13.39 (http://thegiftoasis.com/product/chicken-coin-purse/)

Trevara Derby Cloud

These handcrafted fine leather derbys have a touch of masculinity in their structure with simple feminine lines. Perfect worn with either pants or dresses they offer a contemporary look. Trevara Derby Cloud, $143. (www.cranmorehome.com.au)


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Elissa Colton of Monelle Vermont on Church Street in Burlington says variable spring temperatures make the season’s fashions “all about layering,” with items such as this dress topper (ABOVE) adding versatile style to one’s wardrobe. “It’s convertible; it can be worn as a scarf, and goes from under a jacket to over a dress.” (Cashmere dress topper by In Cashmere, $128; Linen tunic by Vineyard Vines, $118; Silk tassel necklace by Zaccasha, $42. Model: Charlotte Yordon)

Style is only one consideration that goes into making the inventory at Spellbound on Church Street in Burlington. Versatility and responsibility go hand-in-hand with this poncho (ABOVE), made from organic materials through fair-trade practices. “Ponchos are one of the biggest trends in our world,” said Mara Brazilian of Spellbound. (Poncho by Indigenous Designs, $84. Model: Susan Keppel)

Majique Jewellery BH4775 REDMajique Jewellery bangle bracelet studded with semi precious stone and glass beads with a gold-tone metal finish, $23. (oceanicjewellers.com)


10 pattern layers

Patterns and layers are key components to spring fashion in Vermont, and these blouses at Marilyn’s on College Street in Burlington offer the best of both: the cuffs are intended to be rolled back,
injecting a second, complementary pattern into the look to add detail and variation.  (Blouses by Ciro, $135 each.)

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What looks at first like an al fresco painting is actually a scarf from Italy. “Scarves are a great addition to a woman’s outfit, because they bring color up to your face,” said Marilyn Gaul of Marilyn’s on College Street in Burlington. A scarf of this size is also incredibly versatile, as it can be worn in a wide array of ways – from tight around the neck to draped loosely over the shoulders.
(Scarf by Italca, $98)


06 VT dress

Mara Brazilian (ABOVE) prioritizes Vermont-made goods at her Spellbound store on Church Street in Burlington. Half of the store’s women’s inventory is from Salaam, a company in Plainfield, Vt. “My top priority is to support the state where I live,” said Brazilian, adding that her store serves as Salaam’s main outlet in the state and sells all the company’s items at 20 percent off. (“Marilyn” dress by Salaam, $109.)

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Those on the Vermont fashion scene tend to eschew the word “trend.” Peggy Eastman of Sportstyle on Shelburne Road in South Burlington prefers “direction,” and says certain elements of style tend to come and go rather than just fade from popularity. “Prints are back this season, and dresses are definitely back,” Eastman said. (Dress by Jude Connally, $168. Model: Crystal Minton)

Cabas Téo Léopard Menthe

Heads will turn at the sight of a Cabas Téo Léopard Menthe tote, $38

Cocktail Walks

April 28, 2015  
Filed under Feature Stories, Food

A representative of WhistlePig Straight Rye Whiskey talks rye at Hotel Vermont. (Photo courtesy of Vermont Farm Tours)

A representative of WhistlePig Straight Rye Whiskey talks rye at Hotel Vermont. (Photo courtesy of Vermont Farm Tours)

Get an inside look at Vermont’s emerging craft spirits scene

From soils to speakeasies, cocktails are a terrific representation of place, and some of the most evocative cocktails in the world are coming out of Vermont. Cocktail Walk introduces enthusiasts to the distillers and bartenders who are turning the Green Mountain State into a cocktail destination.
Chris Howell, founder of Vermont Farm Tours, created Cocktail Walk in 2013 to showcase the array of spirits produced in Vermont, as well as the bartending talent in Burlington and Winooski. Cocktail Walk now runs every other week. Each two-hour Cocktail Walk features a Vermont distiller and visits three restaurants for cocktails and food. The distiller is along to talk shop, and the bartenders discuss their creations and share recipes. The pace is relaxed, with time to eat, drink and catch up with friends.
It starts with dirt
A well-crafted cocktail may be the ultimate expression of terroir—the taste of place. And that taste is shaped first by the soil. Vermont is known as a cheese mecca, but the same soils that underlie the flavor of the state’s best cheeses also grow the grains, fruit, and botanicals that make Vermont’s finest spirits. In the hands of a talented distiller, a bag of rye—and the resulting whiskey—tells the story of the dirt and weather that shaped it.
An increasing number of Vermont’s 19 and counting craft distillers are embracing the notion of terroir and sourcing locally grown ingredients. Some, like WhistlePig in Shoreham, have even started growing their own (rye). Others, like Caledonia Spirits in Hardwick, are using local wood (white oak) for their aging barrels. Still others, like Vermont Spirits, harvest their own botanicals (juniper for their gin).
Ingredients matter
A good cocktail must have quality ingredients. Vermont sets itself apart not only with the sheer number of top-quality spirits made in state, but also with a cornucopia of locally produced herbs, tonics, and bitters—like Urban Moonshine, a medicinal bitters and tonic manufacturer in downtown Burlington.
Thank your bartender
If a cocktail is born in the soil, it is baptized at the bar. Cocktail Walk’s bartenders are assigned a different Vermont libation for each event. From there, the show is theirs. And they do impress—from Scott Christian’s (Bluebird Tavern) passion for prohibition-era cocktails to Mike Dunn’s (Misery Loves Co.) knowledge of the botanicals in Barr Hill Gin, Cocktail Walk’s bartenders consistently craft drinks as dynamic as they are delicious.

For more information, visit www.vermontfarmtours.com/cocktailwalk.html

Securing the Sanctuary You Call Home

April 28, 2015  
Filed under Home & Garden

An external alarm bell box mounted on a house is an audio/visual deterrent to home invaders. Flashing lights alert intruders that the system is working; an audible alarm sounds if an internal alarm is triggered.  (Photo courtesy of Harri Healey)

An external alarm bell box mounted on a house is an audio/visual deterrent to home invaders. Flashing lights alert intruders that the system is working; an audible alarm sounds if an internal alarm is triggered. (Photo courtesy of Harri Healey)

By Chelle Cordero

Home is the place where we are supposed to be able to close the door on the outside world and shut out noise, commotion and worries. Home should be the place where we can feel safe.
Too often, uninvited intruders disrupt that calm. Unwelcome access to our homes makes us fear for our safety. Even more than the financial losses that can occur during a burglary, the emotional loss of violation takes a long time to recover from — if recovery is even possible.
One victim of a burglary (who asked not to be identified) said that she felt “violated” knowing that a stranger went through her things, touched items that held precious memories for her, viewed photographs that showed the story of her life and took valuable possessions simply because he could. Although it’s been over a decade since this woman experienced this burglary, she still shudders when she thinks of it.
There are steps we can take to minimize our risk without becoming paranoid and without forsaking our daily routines. Many local police departments caution residents not to “invite” attention by not making your house look empty: Use outside lighting on the same schedule as when you are home; put indoor lights on timers when you are away; stop mail and paper delivery for extended times or have a trusted neighbor make the pickups for you; arrange to have the lawn mowed and the snow shoveled if you will be away for several days; leave a radio on at “conversation level,” and don’t leave helpful notes on the door such as “gone shopping” or “on vacation, deliver packages to…”; Don’t leave valuables in places that are visible through your windows. Be careful not to advertise you are away from home via social media; take all the pictures you want on your trip, but wait until you are back home to post them. If you do plan to be away for an extended period of time, contact your local police department and fill out a security-check request, which will include the dates you are away, who has authorized access to your home, what cars are in your driveway and contact information for you and a local neighbor who has a key. They can use this to schedule an occasional police drive-by and to know if something appears amiss.
Lock your doors even if you will only be gone for a few minutes; it is a good idea to keep your doors locked even while you are at home and especially if sleeping. Remember to lock your windows, too. Unlocked windows provide easy access: Opening a window is less of an obstruction than breaking the glass would be. If you leave a window “open,” make it less than an inch and use a screw in the frame to prevent it from being opened more. You can also find a variety of window security devices at hardware stores that can lock the windows closed or in place. Replace doorknob button locks with deadbolts; install solid doorframes and metal doors; lock your garage door and the garage door into your home (especially if a garage door opener is used from your vehicle). If you have an enclosed deck or porch, lock the outer access door as well as the entry to your house so that you do not provide privacy for a burglar who’s breaking into your home. Keep hedges and bushes trimmed so that they do not obscure possible broken windows from a break-in. It’s also suggested that you plant thorny bushes in front of ground-floor windows as a deterrent to would-be intruders. Leaving a key with a trusted neighbor is much more secure than hiding a key under the doormat, flowerpot or nearby rock. Replace your locks if your key is ever lost.
Call alarm and home security companies for information on services, plans and pricing. Some municipalities require permits for monitored systems that automatically call 911, as well as monthly fees. You can also install alarms on windows and doors that will sound only in and around your home.   — CNS

Maximize Storage and Countertop Space in a Small Kitchen

April 28, 2015  
Filed under Home & Garden

Install a shelf system on an unused kitchen wall -- using modular, customizable shelving units can expand your storage and display space. (photo courtesy of Rigid Kitchen)

Install a shelf system on an unused kitchen wall — using modular, customizable shelving units can expand your storage and display space. (photo courtesy of Rigid Kitchen)

By Sharon Naylor

If you have a small kitchen, you might be fighting the all-too-common problem of clutter: crowded countertops that leave little room for food prep and the dreaded avalanche of cooking pot lids and storage containers every time you open a cabinet door. But with a few easy improvements and just a few purchases, you can transform your small kitchen into an organized, airy space that still gives you access to all of the cooking pots, cookie sheets, spices and coffee mugs you need. And you’ll never deal with the mess and racket of cabinet avalanches ever again.
Here are some of the top ways to maximize your small kitchen’s storage space and open up your countertops for a nicer look and better function:
Get rid of your upper cabinet doors. Sounds crazy, but according to Taniya Nayak, host of HGTV’s “$100 Half-Day Designs” online series, removing those doors for an open-shelving look can give you an extra 12 to 18 inches of storage space on each shelf and make it easier to access those neatly piled plates and drinking glasses.
Design multi-shelf and pullout shelves for your lower cabinets, maximizing the entire cabinet height for better storage and easy access.
If you have an L-shaped cabinet system with a corner cabinet, install an oversized Lazy Susan to put pots, pans and smaller cooking items on for maximized tall storage space and, again, easy access.
Redesign your under-sink cabinet with pullout drawers, tilting drawers, stacking shelves and plastic buckets to gather all of those cleaning supplies into a smaller storage space. Use the full height of that tricky space with items like pullout wire racks in a three-tier system that lets you store smaller items.
Hang mugs on hooks under your upper kitchen cabinets. Getting them out of your upper cabinets frees up a lot of storage space, perhaps allowing you to move some of those items from your kitchen countertop into the upper shelving area, and your display of mugs adds to the decor of your kitchen while still being reachable.
Get larger cooking utensils out of your utensil drawer. Serving spoons, soup ladles, spatulas and all longer utensils can be stored in a tall metal canister on your kitchen countertop, freeing up a third or more of your utensil drawer. And in-drawer utensil caddies can fit and be used better with those larger tools and tongs gone.
Do a little DIY. Those non-opening drawer fronts at waist level by your sink can be removed and fitted with hinges so that they do tilt open to reveal smaller stored items such as cork screws and bottle openers.
Install an organized shelf system on a kitchen wall. Using modular, customizable shelving units can expand your storage and display space and make better use of a wall you haven’t optimized for use.
Use that space above the fridge. Don’t overload it because it will get warm up there, but a pair of pretty rattan baskets can hold extra kitchen items.
Get creative with the sides of your kitchen cabinets. Shelving affixed to the sides of upper and lower kitchen cabinets gives you more storage for items such as bud vases, cookbooks and other smaller items, and small shelves in a kitchen window are perfect for growing kitchen herbs or displaying small plants.
Use magnetic storage on the sides of your refrigerator. Without cluttering up the sides of your refrigerator, you can affix magnetic spice tins and other magnetic storage items high up on your refrigerator to keep them out of the way.
And of course, a wise way to maximize your small kitchen’s storage space and countertop availability is to go section by section through each of your cabinets, pantry and countertops to discard or recycle anything that’s outdated, such as stained storage bowls (with or without lids) and other items that you no longer use. You’ll be surprised and delighted at how much space you free up with years’ worth of belongings cleared out, and you might just wind up with some choice items for a garage sale, using some of your profits to invest in additional smart storage racks, bins and canisters for your kitchen and for other rooms in your home.  —CNS

No AC, No Problem: How to make your home cooler without an air conditioner

April 28, 2015  
Filed under Home & Garden

No AC pic

Energy saving blinds and curtains can cool your rooms. (Photo courtesy of The Blind Alley)

By Sharon Naylor

Don’t have an air conditioner in your home? You’re not alone. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, one-third of all U.S. homes do not have central air conditioning. And in homes that do have central air, the U.S. Department of Energy says that air conditioners use 5 percent of all energy in the U.S., costing $11 billion to households. So whether you do or don’t have central air conditioning, you certainly will want to find easy ways to cool your home without the need for an air conditioner — or without yours running all the time at great expense.
Here are some of the top ways to cool your home without air conditioner usage:
Shut off lights. Every time you leave a room, even for a few moments, shut off those lights. Compact fluorescent light bulbs and LED lights may be energy-efficient, but they will best serve you by being turned off. Incandescent light bulbs create a large amount of heat in a room, and so if you have those types of bulbs, keep them off as often as possible.
Hang energy-efficient window coverings, say the experts at Future Energy Corporation (energysavers.com). Curtains, shades and blinds created from energy-efficient materials and those with “blackout liners” behind them will block the sun’s rays, keeping it cooler in your home and guarding your hardwood floors, carpets, art and furniture from the harmful UV rays that cause fading.
Improve your home’s ventilation. When you shower or take a bath, and for a while afterward, have your bathroom ventilation fan running to remove the heat and humidity that warms your home. The same goes for your oven range vent, which can pull stovetop cooking heat and steam out of your home. “An energy audit showed me that my stovetop vent fan wasn’t just for when I burned something in the oven or on the range,” says retiree Philip Dawes. Fans help cool the home, and Future Energy Savers say ventilation is one of the least expensive and most energy-efficient ways to cool your home.
Avoid using your oven. Your home will stay cooler if you cook more often outdoors on your grill, or if you use a slow cooker, pressure cooker, rice maker or other small kitchen appliance.
Operate your ceiling fans in the right direction: counterclockwise. This circulates air downward, creating that cooling breeze. But these, too, should be turned off when you’re not in the room, because that breeze is more efficiently cooling your skin, not cooling the room.
Be mindful of your attic fans. Turn them on to help cool your home, and be sure to turn them off at night when not needed to avoid energy overuse.
Close windows. You may be tempted on a hot day to open your windows, hoping for a cool breeze to waft in, but open windows on a hot day just bring more heat into your home. At night, open your windows wide to let that cooler air in, but close windows, blinds and curtains before sunrise to prevent the morning sun from warming your home.
Close blinds, even on a sunny day, to help keep your home cool.
Place houseplants on your windowsill or by your windows. They will absorb some of the sun’s rays.
Improve your home’s insulation. Refresh or install insulation in your attic, as well as in your walls, to help prevent your home’s cool air from escaping. Also, seal any ducts. The folks at Future Energy say doing so can save you 30 percent on your cooling costs, and good seals throughout your home will keep your home cooler.
Install patio and window awnings outdoors. Not only are these attractive elements of your outdoor living space, but they also can reduce the heat inside your home by 65 percent for southern-facing windows and by 77 percent for western-facing windows, all by keeping the sun from reaching your home’s windows, walls and siding.
Plant deciduous trees around your home. In summer, their leaves will create shade that will keep your home cooler inside. And plant shrubs and bushes near heat-producing outdoor elements such as your air conditioning unit and heat-radiating driveways.
Use energy-efficient fans, and choose an energy-efficient air conditioner should you wish to install one or upgrade your inefficient system.  — CNS

Social Band Spring Choral Concerts

April 28, 2015  
Filed under Arts & Entertainment, News

Inspired and invigorated by the coming of spring, Social Band, Burlington’s lively band of choristers, sings of journeys, both literal and figurative, that change us along the way — an hour of song and poetry that explores transitions and rites of passage and their transformative power.

“A Beautiful Adventure” — Songs of Travels and Transformations
April 11 – 7:30 p.m. Richmond Free Library
April 12 – 3 p.m. First Unitarian Universalist Society of Burlington
April 18  – 7:30 p.m. Hinesburg United Church
April 19 – 3 p.m. Charlotte Congregational Church

Selections include pieces by the Renaissance master William Byrd juxtaposed with traditional English tunes – both genres wending their way through the springtime themes of death, rebirth and improbable transformations.
Social Band also offers new compositions written by its own members. Bruce Chalmer has set the “Threefold Blessing” in Hebrew and in English – a blessing used in modern Jewish practice. Lily Jacobson’s “I am Coming Home” features the poetry of her spiritually adventuresome grandmother, Dorothy Jacobson, and describes the “post-rite-of-passage” homeward journey. And Don Jamison entreats, “Awake my zeal, awake my love to serve the spirit here below,” with his song “Little Mountain.”

Admission is by suggested donation of $15. Tickets are available at the door. For more information, visit www.socialband.org or call (802) 355-4216.

Pot and the Brain

April 28, 2015  
Filed under Feature Stories, Health & Wellness

Doctor reading x ray.

Real, Negative Effects That Come with Too High a Cost
Submitted by SAM-VT

Scientifically speaking, why does one feel “high” from marijuana? As Vermont contemplates legalizing marijuana and increasing the access to it and acceptance of it, it’s worth learning about what marijuana does to the brain.  Arguably there is still much scientific study to do on the subject, but research on pot and its effects has come a long way in the past three decades. The most troubling results of this research involve the negative effects on the user and, by extension, the impact these effects have on society.
Marijuana contains several psycho-active chemicals that are similar to chemicals that the human brain creates – chemicals that are important to proper functioning of the brain. As a group, all of these chemicals are known as cannabinoids. In every cannabinoid, one part of the molecular structure matches up with special receptors on brain cells that are designed to latch onto the chemicals the brain itself produces. However, the rest of the molecular structure in the marijuana cannabinoids is not the same as the natural brain chemicals.
When marijuana cannabinoids reach the brain, they fill up lots of receptors, so the natural cannabinoids can’t latch on and produce the effects they’re designed for. Instead, the odd shapes of the marijuana cannabinoids produce unintended effects. Many of these effects are not benign. While study is far from over, what many see as a harmless diversion causes real disruption to ordinary brain functions and can lead to far more serious conditions for a user – especially a young user.
One of the marijuana cannabinoids is delta-nine-tetrahydrocannabinol, better known as THC. Perhaps its most benign side effect is to overpower the normal appetite regulation system and give users “the munchies.” But THC also fires up the pleasure circuit in the brain, which many years of surveys have shown leads to dependence in one out of 11 users in the general population. The dependence rate goes up to one in six users who start using as teenagers, and at least one in four for heavy users, those who use daily or near daily.
There is very solid evidence that marijuana is a major risk factor in mental illness, causing earlier onset in people who are predisposed and worsening the symptoms in those who are afflicted. New research in the U.S. and Europe indicates that marijuana can be not just a risk factor but a causative factor in these mental health disorders. Marijuana’s cannabinoids are associated with several mental health disorders, including general anxiety disorders, anti-social behavior, OCD, depression, suicide, PTSD and psychosis, including schizophrenia. Between 10 percent and 15 percent of marijuana users experience temporary psychotic outbursts of varying intensity at one time or another. This can happen in people with no family or personal history of mental illness of any kind.
These effects must not be lost in the discussion of new tax revenue, increased tourism and an overall attitude of “what’s the big deal?”  The negative impacts are real and so are the costs, both in terms of dollars and the intangibles that make our Vermont, its citizens and its communities special.

SAM-VT is a volunteer organization made up of Vermonters – parents, grandparents, young people, senior citizens, and other concerned adults. We represent diverse backgrounds, including drug & alcohol prevention, youth services, education, health care, law enforcement, mental health services, and business leaders. We are funded by small, local donors that share our concerns about the harms of marijuana and the social costs associated with regular use, particularly among our children.