Juma’s Joy Giveaway For Pets



Meet Indie, the newest member of our family. She is almost 10 puppy months old and loves to P.L.A.Y! She’s pretty cute too, right?


Indie, and our older pup Daisy, are happy to share their reviews for Juma’s Joy. Juma’s joy comes from the toys that her owner Sara Chard makes from the heart. Playful toys made to last.


Our dogs are always happy to get new toys. While Indie likes to be wild and crazy with her new toys, Daisy would like to bring them to her bed and cuddle with them. You can see from the picture above that Indie snagged all of the new toys and is hoarding them.


Sara makes a variety of braided rope toys designed to be more gentle on dog’s teeth. They make for great tug tsoy, especially for two dogs. Indie has been known to take her toy and toss it up in the air and play a game of catch with it by herself.



Sara also knits cat toys and fills them with catnip. I don’t have a cat so I shared this toy with my friend Emily. Here are her thoughts: “I’m upstairs and I hear all this thumping and bumping. Hmmmm then I realize its my cat Lilly ( a respectable 12 years old lazy lady).  She rarely plays this much. All honesty I thought she might be having a seizure.  Great toy big thanks for sharing!”



WIN your favorite pet a new toy from Juma’s Joy! We will choose two winners and each can choose two items!



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Good luck… now go PLAY with your pet,


Boysenberry Giveaway

From the fashion houses in Paris to her own home in Rochester, Beth Frock from Boysenberry, has been designing clothes for the last 20+ years. Her first job was creating ballet and dance costumes. She has spent time designing everything from coats to swimwear to Halloween costumes!



While pregnant with her daughter, Beth found it frustrating that most baby clothes were gender specific and because she did not know whether she was having a boy or a girl she started to make colorful clothes that could work for either. Her current line of clothes is bright and she creates playful color combinations.

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Beth shares more information about the start up of her business: “My business started as a home based shop making to order whatever anyone asked for. Fleece was the new rage here then, although not so well known to me. Because of customer demand I started working with fleece fabrics. Having lost my job to “made in China”,  I was so happy to find that the best source of the best quality fleece was made in USA in nearby Massachusetts: at that time called Malden Mills, where fleece was invented.  I began my love affair with their fabrics. Now called Polartec®, the fabrics they produce continue to be premium quality, durable and long lasting, easy care wash and dry and resist pilling wash after wash, and needless to say maybe: colorful!”


Beth has now opened a store which is located in Rochester at 61 North Main Street, in the same building as the Rochester Cafe. You can make an order online anytime at boysenberryvt.com.

I was thrilled to receive this lime green fleece vest from Boysenberry. I like to be warm, and like to have my neck covered, so a vest is perfect for me. This vest is very soft, fits well and is a lovely color. I think that I would like to get one in every color.


Meet sweet baby Rosemary. She is ready for the snow to fly! She will stay warm this winter in this fleece hat in a salmon color. I really like the pattern on this hat, as well as the time that Beth has taken add stitching details and an under-neck closure (a must with babies!).





How will you stay warm this fall and winter? With Boysenberry of course! The winner of our Boysenberry Giveaway will have a choice of any hat on their website.

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CLICK here to ENTER this giveaway:


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Good luck, and stay warm!
~Honi & Rosemary


Lotus and Lily Giveaway


The creation of Lotus and Lily was out of one family’s need and one mother’s determination. Owner Marcie Taff set out to make high quality and all natural products for her children who have allergies and chemical sensitivities. After Marcie’s friends and family asked her for products she saw a market and started selling her products online and locally.


My family was first introduced to Lotus and Lily by my sister in law, who found these fun soaps at her local health food store. My niece and nephew loved their new and fun soap and wanted to get these soaps to share with their cousins. My son has been scrubbing extra hard to find the hidden toy inside his bar of soap. This idea of hidden toys is a favorite of Marcie’s son, Finnigan too. What a great concept!



Here is more information about Lotus and Lily soaps, from Marcie: “Lotus and Lily’s mission is to produce All Natural/Organic Products that are locally sourced when available, Hand Made in Small Batches, contain No Parabens, NO Artificial Colors or Flavors, NO SLS, are safe and beneficial for your family.  Our products contain Pure Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils, which are the volatile liquids distilled from plants. They are Nature’s Medicine. We use them in our lives every day as a family and in our products to share the amazing healing benefits with you. The baby products are skin friendly, made for sensitive baby skin. Includes a Sensitive Skin Soak for bath time made from Oat Powder, Lavender, Rose, Calendula Flowers, Dead Sea Salts. Calendula,Rose, Lavender Infused Massage Oil. Calendula Healing Salve for rough skin, excema, cradle cap, diaper rash, boo boo’s and more.”




My beautifully fair skinned cousin Jessica tried Lotus and Lily’s Sunburn Soother for me and here is her review: “I did use the sunburn so other and I love it! It is cool without being cold (like the green aloe gel), it is much easier to put on yourself especially your back, It smells great. I don’t think the cooling sensation lasts quite as long as the gel but all the other plusses more than make up for that one thing! Thanks for letting me try this out”

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Jessica also used the Sweet Dreams Bath Soak for her twin girls who are 3.5 years old. She writes: “It smelled amazing and seemed to relax the girls I bet it works wonders with real little ones.”



My friend Talitha is a massage therapist. She is also a mom of three young children. She offered to use the Massage bar from Lotus and Lily on her daughter who started school last month and had a hard time getting to sleep. Here are her thoughts: “I used the massage bar on Mayla’s back last night and it was great. Lovely scent, and a perfect glide/friction ratio for massage. She asked for it again tonight and it really helps her turn off her brain… sleep has been tricky this week despite being exhausted.”


I have a Super Hero at my house. He is six and he just started first grade. It takes a lot out of a child to be their perfect little self all day. I love the idea of a Super Hero spray that uses essential oils including lemon and lavender to help keep kids calm and enjoying their day.


Check out the Lotus and Lily Etsy shop and surprise your kids with new fun soap! Get a puzzle soap kit and give one color to each child in your family.


ENTER here to win a Kid’s Wellness Kit from Lotus and Lily!

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Good luck!

Vermont Maple Granola Giveaway


I am a very lucky blogger! Very lucky to be able to taste test amazing granola from The Vermont Maple Granola Co. I photographed and opened each package on the day that I received them. I had to, they looked beyond delicious! Ten minute later two bags were half gone.

Beth Vickers has been making and selling granola for six years. She started at her local farmer’s market and has since expanded her business with the help of a commercial kitchen in her own home. Beth balances her home based business with raising her three young children.


Vermont maple syrup is one of the key ingredients in Beth’s products. She told us more about her special ingredient: “Using local maple syrup to sweeten the granola has always been central to creating this product, and I source the syrup almost exclusively from a family farm in North Bennington, where the farmer also grows sunflowers and other oil crops including canola that I use when available. The farm also produces its own biodiesel from the vegetable oils to run their tractors. The maple syrup is exclusively produced using a wood-fired evaporator using wood from the farm.”


My favorite granola was the Maple Cherry Pecan. It has already become a staple in my home! The dried cherries are plump and chewy and the nuts add a bit of earthy richness. I ate this by the handful. My son actually asked me why I didn’t share this granola with him and his sister.


My son’s favorite granola was the Blueberry Pomegranate Ginger Granola. He loved the flavor burst from the dried ginger and the dried blueberries that are plentiful in this granola.


Beth tells us that the Maple Oat Nut is her best seller: “The bestseller is the Maple Oat Nut, one or our original and simplest varieties, which is quite popular sold in bulk through my website. With the continued popularity of the original Maple Oat Nut, we may soon offer it in the new 12 oz packaging as well.”.


My friend Emily and her daughters are reviewing the Maple Oat Nut granola for me: “My girls and I really enjoyed the granola.  My eldest liked all the different kinds of nuts.  My youngest like that the granola was sweet but not to sweet.  I appreciated that it was a delicious nutritious and quick breakfast that both girls would eat on crazy school mornings.”



Another popular item from The Vermont Maple Granola Co is their classic trailmix. The combination of crunchy maple granola with roasted sunflower and pumpkin seeds, cashews, wheat-free tamari almonds, Belgian dark chocolate wafers, whole dried cranberries, and jumbo raisins is a great mix of textures. Eat it fast before your kids find it!

Read more about these products and more at The Vermont Maple Granola Co’s website.



Beth is hosting a very generous giveaway for Try Vermont First readers. Enter to be one of three winners! Stock up on granola for your own family, or for gifts and use the coupon code TRYVTFIRST for 15% off your online order (my son has already told me what to re-order for him).

ENTER HERE to win:

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Good luck!

Another Giveaway from Grannie Snow



This Spring we introduced you to Grannie (Brenda) Snow, author of The Silas Series.  This series of children’s books are sweet stories that my children have enjoyed listening to over and over again. Previously we shared the first book in the series: Big Ole Striped Silas. We are now happy to share the next book in the series: Silas Gets a Sister.


Each book is written with soothing, rhyming cadence and is delightful for both young and old readers (ie: me!). This books brings out emotions from both Grannie, who is still feeling a void in her family, and of Silas, who is a bit lonely.


Illustrator Matthew Gauvin has outdone himself again with his lovely work! He brings life to the animals in the story in a fun and playful way.


Grannie Snow wants readers to know that this is a series of books and the third book is already in production (Silas Gets a Sister is a bit of a cliffhanger!!). Visit her website and order directly from her.


One of the best parts about writing a book is sharing your book! Grannnie Snow is hosting a second (very generous) giveaway with Try Vermont First readers! Three lucky people will win a copy of Silas Gets a Sister and one winner will win a personal reading (for a daycare, school, church group of your choice).



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Happy reading,



CC Outdoor Store Giveaway

A beautiful day at CC Outdoor Store

If you live in Vermont and don’t take full advantage of the great outdoors you are missing out on much of what the state has to offer.  Before you venture out this fall stop at the CC Outdoor Store in Waterbury and stock up on all the gear and equipment you’ll need. CCOutdoorStore.com has been serving online customers for over 15 years and has established themselves as a leader in the field (or in the forest).

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The CC Outdoor Store is family owned and operated. I stopped in recently and met owner Reed McCracken, who is one of the friendliest people I’ve ever met. Customer service is one of the highest priorities for this staff. Read more, from their website: “Trust, honesty, ethics, and good morals are all very important to us, and we run our business every day with these beliefs in mind. We believe a big part of great service is making things easy on the customer, so we maintain 100% responsibility for the order, packaging, contents, shipment, and anything else, until the customer says that they are holding their new gear!

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Above are just a few of the product brands that the CCOutdoor Store carries. They seek out the highest quality gear for their customers. No one wants to be up a mountain, in the river, or across the pond in gear that won’t hold up to elements.  On top of that, people want quality products that will last.

Lowa Boots on a hike with the CC Outdoor Staff

I found this on CCOutdoorStore.com as well: “CC Outdoor Store is family owned and operated.We are NOT owned by Amazon or Zappos or any other behemoth entity. Thank you for your support.

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Note that Lowa Boots are currently 20% off.


Momentum Watches are 15% off until September 26th.

Reed and his team at CCOutdoorStore.com would like to help outfit you for your next adventure. They are giving away $100 gift card to one very lucky winner. ENTER HERE to win:

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Good luck and Happy Adventuring!




Vermont Travel Poster Giveaway


Kevin Ruelle, from Vermont Travel Posters, is a Burlington based artist and designer creating faux vintage travel posters.



The artist shared this with us about this work:

“Using uniquely American, early 20th century watercolor style in concert with a period airbrush technique, Kevin Ruelle creates the Art Deco Vermont Poster that our  nostalgia calls for, but adds the perspective that only a Vermonter could know. Each poster celebrates a facet of the monumental popularity of Vermont’s bucolic reputation.Very sophisticated, yet bold, this is one kind of art you can easily choose for a gift.”

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I gave the mounted poster above to a good friend and her husband (who happens to work at Stowe during ski season). Here is what Shaun had to share:



“This Ski Vermont poster embodies the more non-traditional ski terrain that Vermont has to offer (i.e, either un-groomed all natural terrain that can be found in-bounds or perhaps a backcountry zone accessed by those who prefer to “earn their turns”). As a lifelong Vermont skier I find the setting in the poster to be relatively anonymous in the sense that it does not portray the common ski experience one would find in Vermont; there are no chair lifts, no trail signs, and of course only one set of solo ski tracks. This is not to say the painting is impractical, in fact there is no question many Vermont skiers will be able to relate to this image and immediately be reminded of the swift silent and deep powder days that define a lifestyle.”

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Kevin Ruelle has seventeen different posters available in three different sizes. Your print can be purchased framed, unframed, or just matted. It’s also important to know that Vermont Posters are printed using archival quality paper and archival inks to last a lifetime.


As I now sit at my kitchen table writing I look out the window and see our growing apple trees and look forward to the day when I see an orchard, like the one above. September’s harvest is one of my favorite times of year. Kevin’s artwork is beautiful and I look forward to sharing it with my readers!



Find Kevin’s travel posters and more online or at the Vermont Poster Gallery on St Paul St. in Burlington. Enter below to win your choice of matted poster!

Enter here —->

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Travel on,



Kat’s Paws Giveaway


I love a good small business story. And I love a good family story. Kat’s Paws is a mother and daughter team making a vareity of sewn products from bibs to bags to coasters and more! Daughter owner Kat Salemno tells us more about the start of her business: “My mom taught me how to sew when I was a kid. Since then, she and I have sewn and quilted many gifts for others. People often ask where we bought the purses and other things we have made for each other, so we decided to start selling our work. We have also done a few craft fairs in recent years under my mom’s business name, but I specialized in other products, so for a while, we kept our businesses separate. In January of this year, we joined forces under my business name (Kat’s Paws), made it official, and put all of our products in my Etsy shop. Since then, we have sold nearly 300 items (through Etsy, at the beCAUSE Show, and the Maple Fest in St. Albans). We ship worldwide through Etsy, and have sold products to customers in Australia, the UK, and Canada. We both have a room in our house dedicated to just sewing! Having our business means we can keep shopping for shopping for fabric (which we love), trying new patterns and ideas, and we get to spend lots of time working together.”


One of the best sellers in the Kat’s Paws store is their coaster sets. Currently there are over 80 different sets listed in their Etsy shop (some at great sale prices too!). Coasters are a great gift item and something that everyone needs and uses. The set that Kat sent me is made with bright and vibrant fabrics. They are expertly sewn and are already being put to good use.


Reversible baby and toddler bibs are another best seller for Kat’s Paws. Let’s be honest… kids are messy eaters, especially when making the transition to feeding themselves. It’s nice to have something soft, functional, and practical to keep the food off of their clothing.

Kat’s Paws can also make custom products for you. If you have a fabric/pattern in mind contact them!


Beautiful baby model Kaitlyn showing off her reversible bib while enjoying a picnic snack. (The reverse side with numbers is shown above.)


The picture above shows my kitchen counter, AKA Grand Central. Here is my to do list, my computer, art work from my kids, notes, bills, my phone, and more. It looks 100 times better than it usually does thanks to the cord keeper that Kat sent me. Thank you for helping me to stay organized!



You can find Kat’s Paws products on their Etsy page. Mark your calendar for December 3rd from 9am to 3pm and plan to meet Kat and see her products first hand at the Holiday Bazaar at UVM’s Davis Center.


Take a moment to LIKE Kat’s Paws on Facebook. As a fan you will be the first to learn of sales, discount codes, and more. With the code FALL14TEN Try Vermont First readers will take 10% off their order of $5 of more through Sept. 30. Happy shopping!

Kat and her mom will send one lucky Try Vermont First reader a gift from their collection. Enter below to WIN this giveaway:
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Good luck!


Burke Mountain Confectionery Giveaway


Burke Mountain Confectionery has turned a life long hobby into a sweet new business venture for owners Tom and Nancy Taylor. The Taylors were living in Tennessee with their four children, though their hearts and dreams were in Vermont. Burke Mountain Confectionery officially started in March of 2012, though the Taylors gave themselves the following 18 months to develop and perfect their products.


Peppermint Bark is popular in my house around the holidays. Burke Mountain Confectionery is making this classic sweet all year. The combination of white and dark chocolate with candy peppermints is traditional, comforting, and very tasty!


Nancy and Tom are committed to using the best local ingredients and working with local producers. Nancy tells us: “We try to keep our ingredients simple and few to bring out the very best of flavors.  We don’t put any preservatives in our confections and we try to use as many local pure ingredients as possible in our products.” Their Eden Ice Cider Truffles are mildly sweet with a hint of apple.

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I really (really really really) enjoyed the Sweet Maple Truffles. The combination of rich dark chocolate and sweet maple is delectable.  While I wanted my family to try these and share their review with me, I also wanted to keep the truffles all to myself. These are fairly large truffles, and with four in a package there are plenty to share.


Here is a bit more about Burke Mountain Confectionery from Nancy: Our chocolates are designed with the gift giver & receiver in mind, and we have been very intentional creating a product that reflects the true essence of Vermont.  Our best seller to date has been the dark chocolate Sweet Maple Truffle, however we have had huge success with preselling our brand new salted dark chocolate Maple Caramel Truffle made with Fat Toad Farm Farmstead Goat’s Milk Caramel this summer at various summer craft fairs and festivals.  We are super excited about this collaboration with Fat Toad Farm and expect this new product to be a huge hit!”


Want to know where to find Burke Mountain Confectionery? Find their long list of retail partners here. We encourage you to request these products at your local stores, co ops and markets.


Nancy and Tom would love to work with you to cater your corporate event or wedding. Contact them today!


Enter HERE to win a Tower of Chocolate from Burke Mountain Confectionery! Good luck!

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Thanks for sharing your products with my readers Nancy & Tom!




Back to School Giveaway 2014

One of my favorite things about living in Vermont is the constant change. Change in seasons, time, and life. Summer in Vermont is lovely, and it ends all too soon! In just a few short weeks, or days for some, children will be starting a new season, a new school year. To celebrate the back to school season we are hosting our second annual “Back to School” Giveaway.


We thank each company for being part of this giveaway and we ask that you like/follow them on social media and keep them in mind when you need a gift, a snack, or a unique Vermont product. Take a look at the great prizes in this giveaway:



Meet The Multiples will send our winners a set of their educational dinner plates. My children really enjoy learning how to skip count (and multiply) while enjoying breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Meet the Multiples is also working with families, PTOs, and schools to put their products into cafeterias around the state and beyond. LIKE Meet The Multiples on Facebook and learn more about these products here.

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My son was recently asked what he likes me to pack for him in his lunchbox and he responded “meat sticks!”. We stock up each week and have them ready to pack, ready to go, and ready to snack on. Vermont Smoke and Cure will send each winner a box of RealSticks. Like Vermont Smoke and Cure on Facebook and learn more about their products here.



Did you know that Alaina’s Mosaics was started by a young Vermont entrepreneur at the age of 13? She has turned her colorful mixed media collages into cards (use as a first week of school thank you to the teacher!) and also an ABC book, which is very inspiring to young artists. Win a copy of Alaina’s book in this giveaway! LIKE Alaina’s Mosaics on Facebook and learn more about her business here.




Kids need a lot of supplies and gear when they head back to school. Find all the things on y our list at Kids City in South Burlington. They are sure to have everything that you need including nap mats, lunch bags, back packs, food storage, reusable bags, shoes, rain-wear and more! Kid City will send each winner a $50 gift card! LIKE Kid City on Facebook!



Here is a pantry must – a few jars of your favorite jam from Marsh Hollow. Top your favorite bakery bread or breakfast French toast with a Blueberry Almond Jam (each winner will receive a jar!). Or use a delicious jam as a base for your dinner marinade or dressing. LIKE Marsh Hollow on Facebook and learn more about this Central VT company here.



Win a beautiful, hand made bar of soap named Unicorn Poop (insert non stop giggles from my six year old) from Sapling Naturals. These soaps smell great, clean amazingly, and are really fun for kids (and adults!). LIKE Sapling Naturals on Facebook and learn more about this company right here.



At any given time it’s likely that you will find Vermont Village Applesauce in my pantry or fridge. It is the only store bought applesauce I will buy for my kids. It’s thick and delicious and comes in six flavors. When doing your back to school grocery shopping make sure to get Vermont Village Applesauce. LIKE Vermont Village Applesauce on Facebook! Learn more about Vermont Village Applesauce here.




Bug and Bot offers a large selection of personalized gifts for the kids you love- lunch boxes, water bottles, puzzles and more! Both of our Back to School Giveaway winners will receive a personalized lunchbox from Bug and Bot. LIKE Bug and Bot on Facebook and learn more about this playful company here.



Fall at CC Outdoor Store


The CC Outdoor Store in Waterbury, VT is the place to go for your outdoor gear needs and they carry a great selection of backpacks too! Our winners will each receive a $25 gift certificate towards a new backpack.. LIKE CC Outdoor Store on Facebook and stay tuned to Try Vermont First to learn more about this company.



It would be great to have a sweet treat from Time Out For Whoopie to celebrate your child’s first week back at school. Or enjoy your dozen mini traditional whoopie pies yourself in celebration of your child’s first week back at school! LIKE Time Out For Whoopie on Facebook and learn more about this sweet company here.



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Best of luck, with the school year ahead, and this giveaway!