An Outrageous Giveaway!


Rex’s Road Crew Crunch officially began in 2006, though the recipe had been in the family for many years before then. Rex shares that his grandmother Jobyna created the original “Gravel” recipe with cereal, pretzels and peanuts covered in white chocolate. Here is his story of acquiring the recipe: “Originally from Pennsylvania, my wife and I moved to VT in 2000 – it didn’t take long to run out of a supply of Gravel. The problem became that Jobyna refused to ship it to us here in VT! After an exchange of heated words in her kitchen at Christmas, she threw the recipe at me and said “You make it!” Well, we kinda took it from there and built a business that both my wife and I do full time. We are now up to 15 flavors (8 year round and 7 seasonal) with distribution all across New England and it still continues to grow.”

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Our family enjoyed all four of Rex’s flavors that we tried. Gravel, pictured above, combines salty peanuts and pretzels and sweet white chocolate. That’s a great combination of texture with a powerful crunch. Note that all of Rex’s flavors are gluten free, even with the pretzels.

My friend Lauren was happy to help us taste test these products. Here is her review: “Yes yes yes! That is my review..yes to white chocolate, yes to peanuts and yes to crunchy cereal and pretzel pieces.  And they work soo well together.  Sweet enough to feel like a treat yet light enough to grab a handful at noon (if you have the willpower for just one) and not feel guilty all day. The ratio of the chocolate coating to the peanuts and cereal pieces and pretzels was perfect, It wasn’t globbed on, so that every bite contained the perfect amount of each ingredient.  I thoroughly enjoyed every bit of this treat.”


The Backfill flavor was addicting and I can confess to eating the whole bag in one day. Toasted coconut makes this crunch a bit more chewy than other flavors and it’s simply out of this world!


Pot Hole has a great story: “This is the Rex’s Outrageous ode to the winter of 2009 and the disastrous roads that were in the wake of that winter . . . We named this first, then picked the ingredients – hemp seeds (aka pot) were the first of the required ingredients, and the pretzels have holes – thus Pothole. Incidentally, this is the healthiest choice of the Rex’s Outrageous lineup as the hemp seeds are 33% protein, super high in antioxidants, super high in omega 3 fatty acids – but sadly they don’t get you super . . . well you get the idea.” I didn’t want to share this bag. I selfishly kept it all to myself. The rich dark chocolate wrapped around the nuts, the pretzels and the cereal. This bag didn’t last long either.


When I asked Rex what made his products stand out this is how he responded: “What doesn’t make us stand out?!? Road Crew Crunch is a healthier snack alternative with no preservatives or artificial flavors. It is also Gluten Free – even the flavors with pretzels! – they are manufactured with potato starch and bamboo fiber eliminating gluten! And it is FUN! From the point you pick up the bag and read our story to your first and last bite – we keep you Diggin’ In for more!”


Learn more about all of Rex’s flavors here. You can order directly from Rex’s website, or find Road Crew Crunch in a store near you.

ENTER HERE to win Rex’s Outrageous Road Crew Crunch:

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Happy snacking,

PS: Keep an eye out for Rex’s LIMITED EDITIONS! We loved “Lover’s Lane” this Valentine’s Day!


Alloy Jewlery Giveaway



In honor of Mother’s Day Alloy Jewelry would like to host a giveaway for Try Vermont First readers!

Alloy Jewelry was created 4 years ago when owner Leah Jones had a desire for a more creative career. With two young boys at home she set up shop and began to create custom stamped silver and copper jewelry. Each piece that Leah creates is unique and one of a kind. Each piece has its own character and charm.


Here are a few of Leah’s custom pieces:

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Leah would be happy to host a trunk show for you and your circle of friends and family. You pick the time and the location and she will bring lots of jewelry for you to try on, purchase, and enjoy. The trunk show host gets a free personalized necklace.


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In addition to personalized necklaces Leah makes earrings, cuff bracelets, charms, and more. Here are a few more of my favorites:

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Leah is a busy mother of (now) three young boys. She finds time to work out of her home and she says balancing everything is not always easy, but always worth it. “People ask me all the time how I manage three kids and running my business.  I always say “it’s not pretty”! And that’s the truth.  I work all the time whether it is taking care of the kids (which sometimes feels like work and sometimes it doesn’t) or working on my business.” ~Leah

In addition Leah is on the Vermont Hand Crafters Board of Directors and Scholarship Committee, which awards two scholarships a year to VT students pursuing studies in an arts-related field.

You can find Alloy Jewelry in Katie’s Jewels in Montpelier, The Butcher Block and Board in Burlington, The Birch Street House and Garden outside Boston, and many other stores across the US, and as well as on their website.


There is still time to order a custom piece for Mother’s Day. Contact Leah today!

In celebration of Mother’s Day Leah would like to send one Try Vermont First reader a custom stamped Family Circle necklace. This necklace was featured in Family Circle Magazine! You can choose the names and initial letter to be stamped on your personal piece. What a special gift. Thanks Leah!





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This giveaway is now closed. Please visit our homepage to find our current giveaways and LIKE us on Facebook for real time updates.


Happy Mother’s Day and more!

Love this one too:


Meet Grannie Snow (GIVEAWAY!)



Grannie Snow is not only a Vermont author, but a cat/animal lover and a big supporter of buying local. She contacted us a few months ago about sharing her book Big Ole Striped Silas with Try Vermont First readers. My son took the book as soon as it arrived and came back awhile later to tell me “It’s a great book Mom. It’s about a Grandma who is sad at first, but then she gets a cat and she is SO happy!”.


I love 5 year old book reviewers!


Above is Silas, who inspired this tail (pun intended). Grannie Snow tells us that Silas helped to full a void after her beloved 11 year old Siamese cat passed away. Grannie Snow adopted Silas from a local animal shelter. She is passionate about encouraging others to visit area animal shelters to find an animal companion in need of a good home.


Big Ole Striped Silas is a thoughtful book that is beautifully written and illustrated. It is a must for cat lovers and also for those going through the sadness that comes with losing a pet. The book not only puts us in Grannie’s shoes, but also helps us to feel what Silas felt as he was adopted and sharing his well wishes with others in the shelter.

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From the Silas website: “The Silas Series is, from start to finish, a true Vermont product. All contributors; writer, illustrator, graphic designer, editor, web designer, and printer reside in Vermont, something we all take pride in.


Silas has a new sister named Opal and a book with her story will be coming out later this year in June. Look for it and ask for it at your local book store and find it at!


Illustrator Matthew Gauvin lives in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom. More of his work can be viewed on his website.


Would you like to WIN a copy of Big Ole Striped Silas and have the chance to welcome Grannie Snow into your community for a private reading?

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This giveaway is now closed. Please visit our homepage to find our current giveaways and LIKE us on Facebook for real time updates.

Happy reading!

Happy 2nd Birthday to US!

Two years ago I launched Try Vermont First with the hopes of trying and sharing Vermont made products with friends, family, and readers. I wanted to find Vermont products that no one had heard of. I wanted to meet Vermont authors and artists and share their stories. I wanted to find ways to support my neighbors and community.


I can now say that I have successfully done all of these things. And I am excited to continue in the year(s) ahead. I am honored to have worked with SO many wonderful Vermonters.

I THANK YOU for supporting this blog and in turn supporting the Vermont businesses and artists that I have introduced you to.

What’s next? More giveaways for sure! I would also like to help fill VT gift shops, markets, and more with VT products.

In celebration of Try Vermont First turning TWO we are thrilled to host our 2nd Big Blog Birthday Bash Giveaway. Our TWO winners will each receive a prize pack containing gifts from some, but not all, of the companies below:


Capitol Cupcakes

Learn more!


Two Guys Soup (on Facebook)

Learn more!


Time Out For Whoopie (on Facebook)

Learn more!


Vermont Harvest (on Facebook)

Learn more!


Alloy Jewelry (on Facebook)


Marsh Hollow (on Facebook)

Learn more!


Vermont Village Applesauce (on Facebook)

Learn more!


Sparkle Stories (on Facebook)

Learn more!


Green Mtn Mini Baked (on Facebook)

Learn more!


Ariel’s Honey Infusions (on Facebook)

Learn more!


Blake Hill Preserves (on Facebook)

Learn more!

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Alaina’s Mosaics (on Facebook)

Learn more!


Vermont Soap (on Facebook)

Learn more!


The Groove Tea Project (on Facebook)

Learn more!


Cat Illustrates (on Facebook)



Chunky Love Boutique (on Facebook)

Learn more!



Kid City (on Facebook)


Honestly Simple Soaps (on Facebook)

Learn more!


Nutty Steph’s (on Facebook)

Learn more!


Makayla’s Garden Boutique

Learn more!


Woodstock Granola‎ (on Facebook)

Learn more!


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Stepping Stones Spa (on Facebook)

Learn more!


WOW! That’s a great collection of prizes! To thank each company for being part of this giveaway I encourage you to LIKE their Facebook page. Plus, doing so earns you extra entries in this giveaway! We will have TWO winners and each will receive a collection of prizes that will include gifts from the companies above, though the gift may be different than pictured.


Note that you do not need to live in Vermont to WIN this giveaway (or to buy and enjoy great VT products!).

We appreciate your help in spreading the word about this giveaway. Please LIKE and share this giveaway on Facebook! Please follow us on Twitter and retweet this giveaway.



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This giveaway is now closed. Please visit our homepage to find our current giveaways and LIKE us on Facebook for real time updates.

Thank you again, and remember to TRY VERMONT FIRST!


Honi (& helpers)

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The Multiples Dinnerware Giveaway


Meet Professor One Hoot, a character from The Multiples. His goal, and the goal of his character counterparts and their human distributors is to make children excited and comfortable learning about numbers. Brooks Addington lives in Dorset and is the Co President of Realtimes Products LLC, the Vermont based company responsible for manufacturing and distribution of The Multiples times table plates and other branded products across the Americas and Asia.The Multiples brand and associated characters were created in the UK by Jo and David Clancy, who have both spent their careers in and around education. I spoke with Brooks last month and quickly his enthusiasm for these products rubbed off on me and I had 25 ideas of how to get these wonderful products into more schools and homes.


I asked Brooks to share the story of how The Multiples came from the UK to the US: “I was introduced to the creators of the product via a contact of mine in the UK. They were interested in exploring ways to enter the US market. After many discussions we partnered up for the rights to the Americas and Asia. My partner and I have backgrounds in Finance and living in Asia, we are old friends and colleagues and both recently moved to Vermont. We both have 3 children and have always been focused on children’s education and children’s health. Being back in Vermont we both quickly came to understand the challenges the US faces with early learning and elementary education. 68% of children in the US graduating 8th grade do not meet the standards in math. This simply is not acceptable. It is our belief that anyone can do math, and we aim to make math “cool”, via The Multiples.”


These are such great products! Before my blogging/mommy days I was an elementary and preschool teacher. I knew then, and I can see now that children are sponges. They don’t necessarily know that they are learning new information, but they are surrounded with knowledge to absorb everyday. Both of my children, ages 5.5 and 3, were thrilled to see these plates. After one meal my son was counting by fives. One meal! They are always excited to see what animal is hiding under their food. Now that my son has mastered counting by 2′s, 5′s and 10′s he has asked me to get plates for counting by 3′s and 6′s. I asked my son for his formal review and he said “These plate are AWESOME!”.

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A set of dinnerware from The Multiples would be a perfect gift (*note to grandparents)! It’s a fully functional, something everyone uses (everyday, many times a day) and it’s educational. It checks all the important boxes.

I gave a set of The Multiples to a teacher/mom friend of mine and here are her thoughts: “The dishware is great, even my 4 year old is starting to memorize some of the facts just by having them in front of him. I love the shape and size of the cups, easy for small hands to hold. Nice that they’re dishwasher safe too. As a teacher, I would love to see interactive, educational, reusable  plates and cups like these in the cafeteria!” ~Melissa


I told Brooks that it would be great to see The Multiples in restaurants as well as day-cares and schools. I even suggested that they look into putting The Multiples onto school lunch trays. When I asked Brooks what he wanted my readers to know he told me this: “We have a school program and a home-school program. We want to work with schools/communities/PTAs to get our children off of eating off prison trays or blank plates and have them engaging in the tableware. We are in 80+ schools in the UK and have great testimonials, in one school we saw a 50% reduction in food waste after the plates were implemented. We are have great discounts for schools and home-school associations.  ANYONE can do math. We all need to encourage our children with numbers. Studies have shown that children who have Parents who spend time on math with them perform higher on standardized math tests than children whose parents do not engage in math. what better way than around the dinner table!”


The Multiples can be purchased around the state at many places including Kid City in South Burlington, Healthy Living in Burlington, The Toy Factory in Rutland, Northshire Bookstore in Manchester, and Stowe Kitchens and Baths, as well as online. Want to find The Multiples near you? Ask for them at your local book, toy, and kitchen supply stores (I know I will be!).

Meet the Multiples on Facebook and stay tuned for character stories coming soon.

If you want to talk to Brooks about hosting a PTO event, buying wholesale or even just to learn more you can contact him via his website. I encourage you to talk to Brooks he has a lot of information to share.

Now… our giveaway! Enter below to WIN a gift from The Multiples!


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It all adds up to FUN!

Green Tree Apparel Giveaway


David Johansen is not only a full time student at UVM, but he also has a one year old business to keep him busy. Green Tree Apparel started as a hobby and is now a successful Etsy shop.


David sent us this lovely sweatshirt with his original fusion design of our state of Vermont and the American flag. This medium weight hoodie is perfect for most Vermont weather. Cool fall nights, winter hikes, spring thaw. The sweatshirt is soft and the design is eye catching.


Check out Dave’s other designs in his Etsy shop and note that he is happy to create a custom logo, design, shirt just for you.


Would YOU like to win a Vermont Flag hoodie from Green Tree Apparel? Enter BELOW and be sure to LIKE Green Tree Apparel on Facebook to support this growing business and to earn extra entries in this giveaway.


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Good luck!

Vermont Harvest Giveaway


Whip Burks, Vermont Harvest owner and NECI graduate, generously introduced me to his fine products and I am excited to share them with you tonight. With Whip’s chef training and food business curiosity (and a lot of hard work) he has begun to take Vermont Harvest national and hopes to soon go international with his specialty food products.


Whip tells us that playing new recipes is his favorite part of his job. In his first month at Vermont Harvest Whip created this rich Pumpkin Butter. It’s creamy and sweet and a reminds me of fall all year long.


My friend Aubrey is still talking about Vermont Harvest’s Blueberry Bourbon Conserve months later and here is her review: “Sooooo delicious, I smothered half the jar on a mess of pork ribs, baked them, then put a little more blueberry conserve on top when they came out of the oven. My whole family, kids included, loved the ribs with conserve!”


“Delicious of course (we’ve come to expect nothing less)! We eat a lot of pork so I smothered the chutney on pork chops this time, and it was a BIG hit with everyone!” ~Aubrey


The story behind this product is great – it started as a customer recipe that Vermont Harvest tweeked to make a sweet sauce full of deep flavors. Whipp and his staff never rest!


Now onto a very important announcement: I AM OBSESSED WITH THIS PRODUCT. Really. Honestly. It’s a must-get on my weekly shopping trip (I find it at Shaw’s!). I never even knew that I liked peanut sauce, let alone that I LOVE IT. This wonderful sauce was a finalist for a Sofi Award last year. You must try this sauce. It’s salty, a bit spicy and full of flavor. Pour it over noodles and serve hot or cold. In my house I would have it on hot noodles for dinner and on cold leftover noodles the next day. Sometimes I would add peas or broccoli. Be generous with your sauce. Add more than you think you need, as you will want some left when you lick the bowl.

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The Smokin Garlic Tomato Spread has a sharp, smoky, garlic flavor and was the perfect addition to burger night at our house. This jar did not last long as we found that we loved the spread on sandwiches as well. This is a must try!


Vermont Harvest’s Jalepeno Pepper Jelly is one of their best sellers. This sauce will fulfill your need for heat and can be used in so many ways. My husband and I like it as a snack with crackers (sometimes with cheese as well). Find over a dozen different recipes for this product and others on Vermont Harvest’s website.

Look for, and ask for Vermont Harvest products in stores near you!

Whip would like to share his products with you. Enter below to be one of three winners to receive a gift from Vermont Harvest.


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Off to enjoy more Satay Sauce,

beCAUSE Craft Show & Ticket Giveaway


Last year at this time we told you about the very popular beCAUSE Craft Show held each Spring at St. Michael’s College. Mark your calendar for Saturday March 22nd from 9:30-4:00 for the 9th annual beCAUSE Craft Show.


This year’s show promises to be the best yet. There are over 120 Vermont vendors, crafters, and artists. Each has committed to donating 50-100% of their day’s profits to a charity or non-profit of their choice.


The beCAUSE Ctraft Show was created by PJ Neverett from Essex.  The idea for the show was “created around the lunch table at work, the goal has always been to support peaceful charities locally and globally while providing an opportunity to buy wonderful hand-crafted gifts for yourself or those you care for.” (beCAUSE website)


Even the day’s $3 admission is going to a important organization The Vermont Foodbank.


The goal for this year’s show is to generate $20,000 or more in donations for local charities and non-profits. What a great way to support our communities and neighbors and pay it forward!


Vendors this year include Pin Up Pickles & Crafts, Marsh Hollow, Vermont Chocolate for Change, Chunky Love Boutique, Healing Earth Vermont Herbals, and more! Check the full vendor list here.


The beCAUSE team is ready to send YOU a free ticket for the show. Enter below to be one of  FIVE winners to win a pair of tickets. Please take a moment to LIKE the beCAUSE page on Facebook. They appreciate your like and support.


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Happy Shopping & Donating!

Earl’s Big Adventures (Giveaway!)


I would like you to meet a special monkey named Earl. He is sure to capture your attention as he travels the world with his friend John. Earl and his stories were created by Waistfield author and adventurer Hanna Haidar.


Earl and John have traveled to many of the places that Hanna has been to himself. Hanna tells us that he has traveled all over the world and wanted to share his love of traveling,  meeting new people and trying new things with his readers.

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On Earl’s trip to Japan he meets new friends, learns new words, and eats lots of new foods. He learns that it’s okay to be nervous about traveling, and that you learn a lot while in new countries and parts of the world.


Earl also travels to Costa Rica, this time to go surfing. In addition to surfing, Earl makes sandcastles and plays soccer with the local children.

My own children, ages 5 and 3, really enjoy reading about Earl’s adventures. It’s great fun for kids to learn about new places and these books are well written and full of facts about each different country. The illustrations are colorful and bright. The books are geared toward younger children, but can be expanded on for older children. Read and then make a map of Earl’s traveling route. Or look up more new words. And of course write your own adventure!


This Vermont author says he is a little of both Earl and John. He also tells us: “The message I want most to share with the kids who read my books is that traveling and other cultures are something to be enjoyed, not a afraid of. Learning new languages, trying different foods and meeting people who come from very different backgrounds is a lot of fun.”


Hanna’s books can be found in many Vermont stores (and beyond), such as Bear Pond Books, Bridge Side Books and The Flying Pig. Find all of the locations here.

Now let me tell you the details of this generous giveaway! Hannah would like to give a set of autographed Earl books to three different winners AND each winner can choose a school to receive a set of books. Earl will continue traveling around with your help!


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Adventurously yours,

Vermont Snacks Giveaway


Just six short months ago Amelia Coleman shipped the first Vermont Snack boxes, though the idea for the company was formed a year earlier. Amelia tells us more: “The concept for Vermont Snacks was born on a sunny summer afternoon in 2012.  My friend, MK, had just moved to Burlington and, having lived here for most of my life, I took it upon myself to show her around.  I led her on a stroll through the Burlington Farmers’ Market and I was struck by how much the market had grown in just a few years’ time.  The look on MK’s face was priceless as we weaved through, sampling jellies, salsas and baked goods.  “It’s like we live in a postcard,” she remarked.  “I wish my friends in Boston could see this place!”  And that was just how I’d felt so many Saturdays before: this place is incredible, I wish I could share the experience.  And that was the idea behind Vermont Snacks.”

In the last six months Amelia has sent boxes to twenty states and has worked with over 25 VT companies. I think the year ahead will continue to be wildly successful for Vermont Snacks!


Amelia sent us the box above, the February box. It included products from Benito’s Hot Sauce, Jan’s Farmhouse Crisps, Vermont Nut Free Chocolates, and Burnham and Mills. It was packaged beautifully and thoughtfully. Everything was in perfect shape, nothing was broken.

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With a subscription to Vermont Snacks (3 month, 6 month, or 1 year) you will receive a box of 4-6 artisan Vermont products each month. In our box was something sweet, something salty, something spicy and something to fuel the day. Perfect! The MetaBalls from Vermont Nut Free Chocolates are compact protein balls. They have dried wild blueberries to make them sweet and have a great amount of protein. They made a great grab and go snack before a workout. We love all of the hot sauces from Benito’s! This Habanero Infused Maple Syrup is my new favorite ingredient in pulled pork. Jan’s Farmhouse Crisps have dried cranberries, pistachios, rosemary, and more. They addicting! They are super crispy and the complex flavor is earthy and sweet and nutty. I ate the whole bag in one sitting. Of course everyone wanted the maple lollipop from Burnham and Mills, but we sent it to my niece in VA.


I can think of a dozen great reasons to send a Vermont Snacks gift subscription including a new home, baby, move to a new state, college, or as a thank you gift (Vermont corporations and companies, take note!!!). See past boxes here. They all look really yummy!

I can’t tell you what will be in the March box from Vermont Snacks, but I can help you to WIN one TWO! Win one box for yourself, and choose who to send the second box to. Please take a moment to LIKE Vermont Snacks on Facebook; by doing so you will be supporting this great Vermont company and you will warn extra entries in this giveaway!


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Snack on,
~Honi Bean Barrett