When planning a home remodel, the scariest thing to most people is the potential for busting the budget.  This is a legitimate concern, as little things can add up quickly.

But, much as they can add up to increase the cost of a remodel, they can also add up to big savings!

And who doesn’t want to save money on their home remodel?

Planning a cushion:

Before we get into tips for saving money on your remodel, it’s important to discuss the likelihood that something additional may come up during your project.  Home construction can be unpredictable, and things like wall cavities can hide various defects and code issues.  In order to account for the unexpected, setting aside a cushion is important with any home remodel.  20% of the project cost is generally recommended, and hopefully you won’t need it.

Does the space need to be bigger or more efficient?

We’ve all been there.  If only we had a bigger kitchen, a larger bathroom, more space…  But is your current space maximized?  Take into consideration that the home addition that is necessary to give you more space will generally be significantly more expensive than a remodel designed to maximize the space that you already have.  Things like custom cabinetry designed to make better use of your existing space, or organization options intended to maximize function may provide you with what you want at a fraction of the cost!

Does the exterior need to be changed?

If you’re getting rid of an exterior door or window, you’ll likely need to replace siding, but do you have to replace all of it?

With wood siding, you often can locate a mill or supply company that is able to match the existing siding.  Getting paint that matches then allows you to only replace the section of siding that was affected by the project.

In the case of vinyl siding, which will fade and discolor over time, you’re unlikely to ever match the color that it is now.  While an option, replacing all of the siding is costly and depending on the condition of the rest of the siding, may be unnecessary.  Other options that you may want to explore, where feasible, are façades such as stone.  Even if you need to replace a somewhat larger section for uniformity or personal preference, it may still be cheaper than residing the entire home.

Minimize wasted time for your contractors:

We certainly understand that you would like the project to be completed as quickly as possible so that you can start using your new space, but hurrying things along can also result in additional unforeseen cost.  While your electricians and framers may be finished in one area, scheduling your drywallers prematurely may create some complications if they catch up to the electricians or framers.  It’s best to handle each project in stages, ensuring that you’re ready for the next step before scheduling this work.  A properly scheduled project may even result in savings for the contractor, allowing you to negotiate a reduced project cost!

Similarly, if you’re responsible for purchasing materials, choose options that will reduce labor costs whenever possible.  Things like moldings that have already been primed can significantly reduce labor costs as it will mean that your contractor will only need to paint these items, saving them a step.  The additional cost for factory-primed molding is much less than the cost to have this primed by your contractor.

Leverage your contractor’s contacts

If you’re taking the responsibility of getting certain materials, ask your contractor who they use.  These vendors may offer you a discount or give you the heads-up that a product is soon to be discontinued or discounted.

Check overstocks, clearance, and remnants

Shopping overstocks and clearance materials is a great way of saving some money on material costs, particularly with flooring.  Floor tile is regularly replaced with newer styles and patterns, forcing the store to offer deep discounts on current stock to make room.  If you’re shopping for carpet for a single room, you may want to look at remnants or the end pieces left over on a roll of carpeting.  People are often surprised by how large some remnants are, and this is a great way to save some money on your carpet.

Is there anything that you can do?

Sweat equity is a great way of saving some money on a home remodel, but be sure to run this by your contractor before you get your hands dirty.  While you certainly don’t want to do anything that will complicate, delay the project, or potentially increase costs, your contractor may have some recommendations of things that you can do.  Perhaps tearing out cabinets or drywall before the remodel begins, or painting after the work is completed.  Safety note: Always use proper safety equipment when performing any construction tasks, and leave things like plumbing and electrical to the experts.

Forget the deliveries

If you have a larger vehicle such as a pickup truck or a trailer, you may want to consider picking up materials rather than having them delivered.  The delivery cost savings is sure to add up quickly, and you can still opt for large items like drywall to be delivered if needed.

Avoid “peak” construction season

If you’re hoping for a discounted interior remodel cost, try to schedule your project for when your contractor is less busy, for example during the winter months.   Not only will you keep your contractor busy when they normally are not (which they will appreciate), but they are more likely to offer you a discount on their work!

Don’t move the toilet or sink

Moving plumbing such as toilets, sinks, and showers can significantly increase the cost of a remodel.  If possible, keeping these items in the same location can save you additional expense that you may be able to avoid.  Your contractor should be able to inspect your plumbing to determine its condition and age and make recommendations as to whether replacement will be necessary.

Plan with stock sizes in mind (custom doors/ windows vs. stock items)

Custom windows and doors are much more expensive than stock items, making this a great opportunity to reduce cost if possible.  Often, custom items become necessary for no other reason than a final design that requires an unusual size.  Keeping stock sizes in mind during the design stage will allow you to not only plan for the use of more readily available (and cheaper) materials, but will also avoid the delays that often occur when waiting for custom items to be manufactured and delivered.

Buy building supplies at auction

This is a great opportunity to save a significant amount of money on your materials, but it is not without risk.  Will those cabinets fit in your new kitchen?  Is that going to be enough floor tile?  Whenever considering building materials at auction, always double and triple measure to be sure before placing your bid.  If you’re still unsure, call your contractor to confirm before committing to the purchase.

Make decisions early and communicate

Communication is key during any home project.  Selecting materials early and committing to design plans on time will allow your contractor to plan one step ahead.  Waiting until the last minute, or worse, being late with selections can create delays in the project and could increase costs.

Some decisions, such as the location of recessed lighting, are very labor intensive and costly to change after drywall has been hung for instance.  Making these design decisions early will allow your contractor to plan for this work and the entire project proceed.

While these are some of the most common ways of saving money on your remodel, there are many others.  Don’t hesitate to ask your contractor what recommendations he may have for ways that you can save money on your project!

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7 Reasons You’re Ruining Your Relationships

Sofia Milan Yoga Courtesy The Sofia Milan Company

Expert strategies for attracting more love into your life

While most would respond with an emphatic “yes” if asked if they would like more love in their lives, I suspect few people welcome the extent of “work” required to achieve that outcome.  Of course, the amount of work involved depends on how far away one feels they are from the level of love they desire.  Just like achieving a diet, fitness or career goal, elevating the amount of love in your life requires commitment, change, vision, and patience—with yourself and with others.  Towards this end, it’s entirely possible for sentiment-seekers to create a personalized plan to achieve love goals, no matter how short or long of a journey that lies ahead.  In the weight-loss analogy, if you want to lose 5 pounds or 50 pounds, your personal trainer would have different advice for you.  Similarly, if you want to increase the amount of love in your life by 5% or 500%, the means to achieve this would be different.  To help get you started, here are seven things that may be undermining your love goals no matter how far along you are on the jubilant journey.

  1. Not vetting the VIPs. Who is the most important person in your life? Did you say “me”?  If not, it’s time to practice self-love and move yourself to the top spot on your VIP list!  The most important person in your life must be you.  Only you can choose a side salad over French Fries.  Only you can choose to react calmly instead of angrily at the driver who cut you off.  Only you can choose to surround yourself with positive people who enrich your life versus toxic people who break you down emotionally.  I’m NOT suggesting that narcissism is good or giving you a license to be selfish.  Just take a lesson from the flight attendants who instruct, “put your oxygen mask on first, before helping others.”
  2. Failing to train your brain. Perhaps you’ve heard about how athletes and other competitors imagine themselves successfully executing their craft with perfection prior to the moment they are expected to perform.  Top competitors practice, watch videos of themselves, mentally visualize their success, and practice some more.  Similarly, a powerful tool is to visualize the love that you desire and imagine it in a way so that you can actually feel it. Imagine the warmth and security of an embrace. Feel the joy of spending time laughing with dear friends.  Just like an athlete, this will train your brain to make it happen and to manifest what you desire.  Another way to do this is to collect images and phrases either from the Internet or magazines and assemble them into a “vision board” collage.  You need not be crafty, and the result may not look perfectly composed, but the exercise itself will help clarify exactly what you want your life to look like in the future.  Then, keep that visual handy—optimally visiting it at least once daily.  Not only is this a wonderful and more accurate way to envision the love and the life that you desire, but also to make it feel more real, accessible, and imminent.
  3. Holding steadfast to your “filter.” Do you know someone who can always cite a litany of reasons why something won’t work? Or the cynical person who thinks everyone has a clandestine ulterior motive?  Or the conspiracy theorist that really thinks everyone is out to get them?  How many people do you know truly see only the goodness in other people and the world overall?  How would you rate?  Does your own perception “filter” need an upgrade?  In today’s crazy and stressful world, whose doesn’t?  Whether it’s with respect to romantic interests, friends, or family members, rather than focusing on the flaws and shortcomings with a critical eye, instead try to see the person’s goodness.             Consider the positive reasons you have crossed paths with this person and practice seeing their good qualities when you interact with them.  A critical eye can always find something wrong.  We’re all human, after all.  Not only will you feel better just by making this small shift in the way you regard and relate with others, but they will also sense the favorable shift in you.  The more you practice this, the more love you will feel in your own life.  Even beyond those you know, try looking a stranger in the eye and smiling while imagining you are sending them happy thoughts, blessings, or even love.  Do so with no expectation of a positive response in return.  If you get one, great.  If you don’t, do not be discouraged and keep practicing.  Notice how you feel.  You have nothing to lose.
  4. Lacking a “Love Action List.” Make a list of “Love Actions,” which are specific things that special someone in your life can do that would make you feel loved. Make sure that small, no-cost gestures are included as well as bigger items.  For example, this list might include things like, “bring me coffee in bed,” “whisper in my ear and make me blush when we’re out,” “plan an outing for us to look forward to,” “send me flowers for no reason,” and other sweet or spicy gestures.  Obviously, some of these are not so easy to do for yourselves.  However, you can buy yourself flowers and plan things to look forward to!  Making the list—and even acting on it for yourself—will be a message to the universe that you wish to attract someone willing and capable of doing all of these things and more.  Note, if you do choose to do this exercise and share your list with your significant other, it’s imperative that you do not judge the items on their list!  Do make sure you understand them, as the list represents the key to their happiness.  Be thankful that you no longer are expected to be able to read his or her mind.  Also, do not keep score.  If you choose a “Love Action” from his or her list to show that you care, do so lovingly rather than regarding it as yet another chore and, just as importantly, do not expect anything in return.  You are giving a gift, and s/he needs to accept it as a gift graciously, with no anxiety about what to do in return.  Give and receive with love and no strings attached.
  5. Raising roadblocks. There are probably plenty of examples in your life, or in the lives of those dear to you, that make a good case for remaining aloof, building those proverbial walls up around your heart and not letting people “in” to experience the real you.  If you wish to experience the kind of deep-seated love you’ve trained your brain to imagine, there is likely some work that you need to do to remove whatever self-limiting beliefs, fears, pain, or negative feelings are lurking in the dark recesses of your psyche.  These are your emotional roadblocks, and you need to figure out how to step over, get around, or completely annihilate these barriers.  To do so, you’ll first need to identify what is blocking your ability to love fully and fearlessly.  Then you can do the internal work needed to transform those negative thoughts into positive ones: for example, a current belief of, “my first marriage was a waste of time and energy and my spouse was a cheating, lying, selfish jerk.” These thoughts are essentially agreements to attract yet another person who is and does the same thing. Instead, you should say out loud daily, until you truly believe it at your core, an affirming statement such as: “My first marriage taught me a great deal about myself, how deeply I can love someone, and demonstrated that I have the courage and strength within me as well as the support around me to recover from painful circumstances.  Thank you for the lessons I needed to learn.  I am strong, loving, and deserve true love.”
  6. Foregoing fun. Many of us are very busy doing things for others–work, family, community.  Imagine if all of those people who are siphoning your time and energy not only stopped, but also instructed you to do something that makes you truly happy.  Imagine them all saying in unison, “We give you permission to take time to do whatever makes your heart happy.”  What would you do?  Take a long walk in nature?  Dance?  Sit by the river and read?  Go to a jazz club and let the music wash over you?  You might be surprised how difficult it can be to identify what exactly will make you feel happy and fulfilled.  Look at your calendar over the next month and commit to doing whatever it is that brings you joy.  If you need to practice more self-love, plan to go solo, so that someone else’s “stuff” does not interfere with your experience and you can truly connect with your own needs.  If being alone feels uncomfortable to you, consider why and wonder if that is exactly why you should go by yourself.   And barring some major league disastrous circumstances, commit to your event like you would to the most important person in your life.  Do it without guilt, as it is for your own health and well-being.   The more connected you are to your authentic self and the better you feel inside, the more positive energy you have to devote to others.  If you are already in a long-term relationship, a key to long-term happiness is “shared experiences.”  Find something that has nothing to do with your family or running your household that you both truly enjoy doing together.  Find the time and commit to doing that and not talking about work or family.  Solely focus on enjoying the experience and being entirely present in the moment.  The more that the shared activity can enable the physical touch factor, the better.
  7. Not gifting unconditional love. A key word in this strategy is “gift,” and this is one you must give to yourself as well as others.  In giving a gift to others from your heart, you must do so with no expectations of a positive response or a gift or gesture in return.  And loving unconditionally, truly and literally, means that you love with no conditions–physical, financial, spiritual, intellectual, emotional or otherwise.  For example, I will still love you if you gain weight or get sick, if you are rich or poor, if you switch religions, if you make more money than I do, and when you are crying when I don’t understand it.  What is sometimes harder is to fire your internal critic, banishing it from your psyche, and replacing that pessimistic voice with a more loving one that says, “I love and value myself no matter what.  I am proud of who I am, what I’ve learned and who I’m becoming.” By addressing these seven issues, you are sure to attract more love into your life and realize the happiness and fulfillment you’ve always dreamed of.  And remember, you deserve it!

Sofia Milan is America’s spiciest and sweetest relationship expert dedicated to helping people have amazing relationships.  Her relationship blog on Facebook regularly realizes engagement in the tens of thousands, serving as a credit to the honesty, vulnerability and witty insights she offers.  Milan may be reached online at

Resolutions Being Kept


By Allison Mowatt

A helipad was built, adjacent houses came tumbling down to make way for 80 more parking spaces, new staff was hired and, most importantly, administrators say, lives were saved at Wayne Memorial Hospital in 2016 that might not have had the same chance one year ago.  Phase One of the hospital’s Master Facility Plan, unveiled just one year ago, is now complete, and it is full steam ahead for Phase Two.

“As promised, we opened a cardiac catheterization laboratory,” said CEO David Hoff, “and six months in, it’s already surpassed our five-year expectations for volume.  We have treated more than 165 patients, including about 10% who were in the throes of a heart attack and needed immediate lifesaving treatment.”

Next up–Wayne Memorial will apply for a Level IV Trauma designation (now that its helipad is built) and break ground for a new patient tower expected to house 50 private rooms.

Wayne Memorial kicked off its master plan with these four projects — a helipad, more parking spaces, a cardiac cath lab and private patient rooms, according to Dirk Mumford, Chairman of the Board of Wayne Memorial Hospital & Wayne Memorial Health System. “While we realize that we can’t provide every potential clinical service, it’s our long term goal to be able to provide these specific services most needed by the majority of the community we serve.”

Each step of the plan is a direct response to community needs, confirmed Hoff, “and to our growth ability to become a regional medical center.  In surveys and interviews, our community and its leaders told us their priorities for healthcare.  That formed our blueprint– and we hope to make it all a reality by 2018.”

The hospital’s service area has been growing with its own expansion, mostly of outpatient services such as lab (blood draws) into new localities.  It now serves approximately 100,000 people across Wayne and Pike counties and the Upper Delaware Region of New York and another 8,000 more in the Greater Carbondale area in Lackawanna County and Forest City in Susquehanna County.

Behind the construction, Wayne Memorial administrators say, are significant community concerns.  “The plan focuses on patient satisfaction and privacy, parking, technology, and infrastructure upgrades,” explained John Conte, Director of Facility Services and Real Estate.  He hopes the hospital will break ground on the new patient tower, which will be built out from the current outpatient services entrance, sometime in the first six months of 2017.  Three floors are planned, with private patient rooms on the first two floors and shell space for future expansion on the third floor.

Private, single-bed, patient rooms are a trend in hospitals now because they reduce the potential for infection, according to Lisa Champeau, Public Relations Manager for Wayne Memorial Health System.

She explained that the new floors will also incorporate new technology.  The hospital is currently looking at advanced call bell systems, for example, that will expedite response time and reduce noise.  Also, patient registration and changing areas will be improved for better patient privacy.  Existing three and four south nursing units will most likely be utilized for different services (as yet undecided), while other areas such as chemotherapy and wound care will be relocated to meet ongoing program needs and provide more convenience to patients.

In early 2017, in addition to the four main projects, WMH also expects to implement inpatient dialysis services and tele-neonatology for hi-risk infants born at WMH.  Through tele-neonatology, staff will have 24/7 virtual contact with neonatology experts from Lehigh Valley Hospital.  The hospital’s New Beginnings Birthing Suites, which offer delivery via an obstetrician or a certified nurse midwife, saw close to 500 births in 2016.

All the new and enhanced services are designed to offer care closer to home.  When a person is sick or injured, minutes usually count—the faster to treatment, the higher the chance for a good outcome.  That’s one reason WMH is applying for a Level IV trauma designation, which Hoff is very optimistic about.  “We anticipate receiving this designation with the authorization and ability to treat more accident and injury victims more quickly by summer,” he said.

Although WMH is non-profit, the hospital pays hundreds of thousands of dollars in property taxes annually on most, if not all, of its properties except the main campus.  “We are part of the community, too,” said Champeau.  “We benefit from many of the same services such as police protection offered by the municipalities in which we are located.  We are more than happy to support the community we serve medically.”

Champeau noted that community feedback for its Major Facilities Plan has been largely positive.  “We’re very grateful the community has supported us and our projects.”

The Plan is estimated to cost approximately $35 million when it’s finished, and the hospital is hoping to borrow much of the remaining funds.  The helipad was built largely through fundraising efforts by the WMH Auxiliary.   “We are very much committed to completing it,” said Hoff, “and we are exploring various options for funding that will keep Wayne Memorial viable for the future.”

Several years ago, WMH became a certified Primary Stroke Center, upgraded its state-of-the-art computerized tomography (CT) equipment, and expanded the emergency room to accommodate 28,000 patient visits a year.  Wayne Memorial Health System also spun off its primary care, behavioral health, dental, and women’s health services when those services received an independent designation as a “federally qualified health center” (FQHC).  This is now Wayne Memorial Community Health Centers (WMCHC), which since its inception in 2007, has grown to encompass more than 13 offices and 200 employees.  Most recently, the area’s two largest primary care practices, Highland Physicians in Honesdale and Pinnacle Health Partners in Tafton, became part of WMCHC.

For more information, visit


Mark Your Calendar for the Annual Mistletoe Ball
The WMH Auxiliary is anticipating the 76th annual event, which is the group’s largest fundraiser for the hospital.  The Mistletoe Ball takes place on January 21st at The Silver Birches on Route 507 on Lake Wallenpaupack.

Last year, proceeds went toward constructing the helipad and have also helped with the purchase of a mobile mammography van, which is scheduled to hit the road this year.  In addition, the auxiliary raised funds for upgraded fetal monitoring systems.  “We confer with the hospital and determine where best to allocate funds,” said Martha Wilson, of the WMH Auxiliary.

This year, proceeds from the Ball will be dedicated to the cardiac rehabilitation department, specifically to upgrading its telemetry system and the purchase of new equipment.  “The new cath lab’s been a huge success,” said Ms. Wilson.  “It’s important for the rehabilitation lab to have the most up-to-date equipment to better serve the growing need and to give patients the very best follow-up care.”

Ms. Wilson further states, “This event would not be successful if the community did not support it through attendance and/or through donations.  It is a wonderful, fun evening with cocktails, dinner and lively dancing to the music of the Groove Train Band.  We hold a raffle that night also for wonderful gift baskets that include overnight stays, art work, fine wine, and more.  Again, our community is very generous with its donations.  Our hope is to raise $30,000 dollars this year.  The last two years we raised $28,000.

The on-going core of our Auxiliary has to be the Other Shops in Honesdale and Hawley that sell used clothing and goods and our Gift shop at the Hospital.  The shops are run by volunteers and their commitment is extraordinary. We also have vendor sales throughout the year and most recently had a Bake Sale, featuring cookies made by our members, at the hospital which generally makes about $3000.  On September 17th, we will host our 4th concert at Woodloch Pines.  This year we will have the Mahoney Brothers performing tributes to famous singers.”

Tickets for the Mistletoe Ball are $85.  Call (570) 226-9750 for more information or to make reservations.

Country Sidewalks


By Allison Mowatt
Country sidewalks, busy sidewalks, dressed in holiday style…”  This popular holiday tune speaks of city sidewalks, but here in Northeastern Pennsylvania, our country sidewalks are brimming with shoppers as people flock to the pretty, quaint streets for holiday shopping in our towns.

Northeastern Pennsylvania’s historic downtown districts twinkle brightly, welcoming residents and visitors to explore and experience all they have to offer.  There are many unique boutiques and novelty shops specializing in the perfect gift you can’t find anywhere else.

These towns not only offer a wide variety of shopping but also feature holiday events, festivals, tree lightings, parades, caroling, and other seasonal activities.  So grab your coat, hat, mittens and scarf and visit these towns this holiday season to shop, participate in a festive event, and gaze at the brightly decorated streets and storefronts as they glitter and glow with wreaths, snowflakes, angels, icicle lights, and bells.


Come to Honesdale and experience all this historic town has to offer.  Downtown Honesdale is the place to go for unique shopping with its cafés, restaurants, gift shops, clothing stores, and many more.  There is plenty to do throughout December for people of all ages, from holiday open houses to breakfasts with Santa.  Shop till you drop and then head to these businesses for festive holiday fun.

The anticipated 25th Annual Holiday Open House at Highlights for Children takes place on the 3rd from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., complete with treats, entertainment, storytelling, an art show, craft room, puppetry, and more.  Other open houses with holiday refreshments, raffles, door prizes, and other specials include Dr. Michael C. Rogers of Complete Health Dentistry of NEPA on the 1st from 6 to 8 p.m., Arts for Him and Her Too on the 5th from 5 to 8 p.m., Apple Day Spa & Hair Restoration on the 7th from 5 to 7 p.m., and Gina Lenz Photography on the 14th from 6 to 8 p.m.

On the 3rd from 9 to 11 a.m., children can enjoy hot cocoa and donuts with Santa at Papa’s Primo Pizza and pictures with Santa at Fins and Feathers at noon where people are invited to bring their pets for photos with Santa.  In addition, refreshments, snacks, and specials will be available.  Pictures with Santa will also be offered on the 11th from noon to 3 p.m. at the Velvet Maple.

Other holiday events include the annual Children’s Ornament Hunt in Central Park on the 10th at 10 a.m. where children have the opportunity to hunt for ornaments and for a chance to win prizes; the annual Holiday Artisans’ Market on the 11th from 11 a.m. to 4  p.m. at The Cooperage, featuring local and regional artisans selling unique and hand-made items, live music, snacks and a hot lunch; on the 16th a reading of “The Night Before Christmas” at the Wayne County Historical Society from 6 to 8 p.m. with classic holiday stories, treats, letters to Santa, and fun prizes; the Annual Chorus and Band Holiday Concert on the 20th at 7 p.m. in the Honesdale High  School Auditorium; a Holiday Light Spectacular from Dec 16th through the 21st from 6 to 9 p.m. in the Honesdale High School parking lot; and Luminaries on Main on Christmas Eve, with 300 luminaries lining historic Main Street and other areas of town.

Throughout the month, Santa Express train rides on the Stourbridge Line will be available.  Kids will receive a present from Santa and a candy cane.   Call (570) 470-2697.

For more information about these and more December events, contact the Greater Honesdale Partnership at (570) 253-5492 or visit

The quaint village of Bethany is just three miles north of downtown Honesdale on Route 670.  The Annual Christmas in the Village is a free event held on December 3rd featuring holiday open houses from 2 to 4 p.m. with seasonal food and beverages at several historic bed and breakfasts: the James Manning House, the E. Kellogg, and the Mansion at Noble Lane.  At the James Manning House, the Honesdale High School Chamber Choir will sing carols and local author Will Wyckoff, who recently published his third book, will offer a book signing.

In addition, starting at 2 p.m., Mrs. Claus will be visiting from the North Pole to help children write letters to Santa Claus at the Bethany Public Library.  Tours of the library and historical society are from 2 to 4 p.m.  There will also be a special holiday display on the second floor of the library building.

Bethany Village Senior Living Center will be holding a tree lighting at 3:30 p.m. and a tricky tray with drawings at 4 p.m.  Information for a self-guided walking tour to see Bethany’s historic architecture will also be available.

For more information about Christmas in the Village, call Janet at the James Manning House (570) 253-5573.


This time of year, Hawley is decked out in holiday splendor, resembling a Victorian town.  Historic inns, bed and breakfasts, candy shops, novelty stores, an historic company playhouse, a yoga studio, boutiques, and antique shops line the streets, beckoning shoppers with the promise of warmth and wonder.

A must-see landmark in Hawley is the historic Hawley Silk Mill, a large bluestone structure built in the 1800s.  Once an operating silk factory, the Mill is now open to the public featuring a community college, Harmony Presents- an intimate performing arts space in the Boiler Room, a fitness center, Art on the Edge, the Mill Market with locally sourced produce and other items for sale, art galleries, clothing boutiques, and more.  When visiting the Hawley Silk Mill, be sure to stop in the Cocoon Coffee House situated in front of the building for a steaming beverage of any kind and gourmet treats ranging from luscious quiches to mouth-watering muffins.  Ledges Hotel is also part of the Hawley Silk Mill campus and is below the Silk Mill on Falls Avenue in Hawley.  This is another bluestone building constructed in the 1800s when it operated as a cutting glass factory.  Now, it’s a luxury hotel with a wine bar and restaurant called Glass-Wine.Bar.Kitchen., specializing in small plates for sharing, an extensive wine list, and a variety of local beer.  Further adding to its uniqueness, the Hawley Silk Mill campus overlooks gorgeous views of cascading falls over the Wallenpaupack Creek.

What better way to celebrate winter and the upcoming holiday than with an old-fashioned festival celebrating the pre-holiday season and Hawley’s historic roots?  The town twinkles with holiday cheer, and the cold, fluffy snow provides the perfect backdrop for the 18th Annual Hawley Winterfest, which takes place December 9th through the 11th. This three-day event throughout the quaint town is one of the most celebrated holiday festivals in the area. The one stop winter wonderland offers wintery fun activities including cookie decorating, holiday theater, ice sculpture demos, horse and carriage rides, author book signings, live musical entertainment, a living nativity, train rides, open houses, holiday feasts, arts and craft shows, holiday house tour, a beer tour, art exhibits, and so much more.

During Hawley Winterfest, the Enchanted Christmas at Bingham Park will be held on December 10th from 4 to 6 p.m.  Adults and children can enjoy a holiday sing-a-long, visits and pictures with Santa and his friendly Elf, and roast marshmallows over a bonfire with hot cocoa.

Hawley Winterfest is presented by the Downtown Hawley Partnership, a non-profit organization dedicated to maintaining and enhancing the high standard of living the community and tourists enjoy. The event is made possible through the generous contribution of local sponsors, donations, volunteers, participating residents and merchants, and the Winterfest Committee.

For more information and a complete schedule, pick up a Winterfest brochure at local businesses, visit or call (570) 226-2141.  For more information about Hawley events year-round, visit


This town is a real gem with antique stores, unique cafes, restaurants, inns, coffee shops, a historic theater, and a plethora of specialty shops.  The charming streets and alleys throughout Milford are home to many historic architectural structures housing art galleries, salons, bed and breakfasts, and specialty shops.  Two of the well-known buildings are Grey Towers, the former home of America’s first forester Gifford Pinchot, and The Columns Museum, which houses the Pike County Historical Society and features historical artifacts and memorabilia including the famous “Lincoln Flag.”  Both buildings are open to the public, offering visitors a glimpse into Pike County’s past.

Other than its historical claims, Milford is considered a destination based on its shopping and dining alone.  Strolling along the twinkling tree-lined streets is a treat, discovering such places to dine as the Apple Valley Restaurant and Pub, Balch’s Seafood Restaurant, Holy Crepes, Tequila Sunrise, the Flying Pig Tea Room, Bar Louis at Hotel Fauchere, Patisserie Fauchere, Chang Mao Chinese Restaurant, the renowned Milford Diner, Laurel Villa Country Inn, the Waterwheel Café, and The Dimmick Inn.

One of Milford’s biggest holiday traditions is the Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony.  The town resembles something out of a charming picture book with the entire downtown twinkling with lights and the big star on the cliff glowing from a distance.  The free event is held December 3rd at 5 p.m. on the lawn of the Community House at the corner of Broad and Harford Streets. In addition to the tree lighting, people can enjoy a visit from Santa, cookies, and cocoa.  On December 10th, the Milford Theater hosts the concert Shirim’s Klezmer Nutcracker, via Kindred Spirits.  Enjoy this Boston-based group as they celebrate the holidays with their hilarious rendition of this holiday classic.  For more information about these events, visit

Enjoy Holiday Mansion Tours at Grey Towers National Historic Site beginning December 5th through the 17th.  Guided tours of all three floors with each room beautifully decorated for the holidays are available at 1 and 3 p.m.  For more information on Grey Towers, visit

Another Milford winter highlight takes place after the holidays when people are looking for fun things to do to break up the long, cold season.  The 9th Annual Winter Lights Festival/Celebrating the Arts takes place January 20-22, 2017.  The festival kicks off Friday evening with the Milford Historical Society’s Dinner and a movie.  On Saturday morning, non-stop indoor and outdoor events begin at the Milford Public Library with a family/children’s theater event, followed by the popular Mac & Chili Contest (11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.) at the Dimmick Inn.

Over at the Ann Street Park ice rink, from 2 to 3 p.m., the centerpiece of this year’s free ice show will feature skaters, actors, and puppetry in “Merlin Awakens”: His eternal struggle with wisdom and truth versus the love of Morgan Le Fey, her enchantments, dragons and the most dangerous, to be loved by the “Dark Side.” “Merlin Awakens” features an original score, mixing Medieval instruments within an electronic format, similar to the Alan Parsons Project.  Following the show, the rink will officially be open to free public skating, and as darkness descends, torch light skating will commence with the first of two musical events at the Good Shepherd Church that evening.  The second will be on Sunday at 3:30 p.m., so drive the winter blues away in Milford, PA.  For additional Winter Lights Festival information and updates, “like” Winter Lights Festival, Milford, PA on Facebook.


Scranton, otherwise known as the Electric City, truly lives up to its name this time of year.  The town is decked out in lights, wreaths, and snowflakes from streetlights to storefronts.  The many storefronts gleam brightly as shoppers discover this interesting city.  Downtown Scranton is full of stores, salons, eateries, theater, and cultural events.  There is never a shortage of things to do any time of the year, but the holidays are even more exciting in Scranton.

The city gets electric when the Holiday Light Spectacular begins.  This unique light show, on a grand scale locally, is a breathtaking event highly anticipated every year.  Nay Aug Park lights up gloriously every evening during the holiday season beginning at dusk until about 10 p.m.  The show depicts scenes of the season and runs through the first week in January.  The display is across from the Everhart Museum and can be seen from anywhere in the park, even from parts of the interstate.

On December 9th, head to the Marketplace at Steamtown for the Opening Reception for the annual Festival of Trees exhibit and fundraiser. This year, the event benefits Toys for Tots and Steampunk—a genre of science fiction featuring machines and technology from the industrial revolution.

Join in the fun during the Holiday Market, which will take place on December 2nd from 5 to 9 p.m., the 3rd from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and the 4th, from 11 a.m. to 4 the old Globe Store.  The Globe Store is a dream location to celebrate the best and brightest of local artists and independent businesses, showcasing their talents, crafts, music, and food.

“Christmas in a Small Town” welcomes Santa as he rolls into town on the Santa Train.  At all five stops, people of all ages are included for fun and exciting holiday activities, including handing Santa a wish list before he heads back to the North Pole.  For information on the five stops and times, call (570) 963-6730.

Also in December, enjoy the timeless holiday story of “The Nutcracker,” performed by the Ballet Theatre of Scranton at the Marywood University Performing Arts Theater.  This is an annual free production of the classic ballet.  For more information, call (570) 347-2867.

For more detailed information on these and many other events, visit or call the Lackawanna County Convention and Visitors Bureau at (570) 496-1701.


Montrose in Susquehanna County is a thriving town with a lot of culture, stores, restaurants, activities, and annual events throughout the year.

Get in the holiday spirit during Christmas in Montrose, which is held December 2nd through the 4th.  It’s fun for the entire family.  On Friday at 5 p.m., a Chocolate Santa Roll gets the fun started in the evening as a four-foot tall chocolate mold crafted by Chocolates by Leopold is rolled up Public Avenue to the delight of the young and young at heart.

On Saturday, some highlights include a variety of craft fairs at area churches throughout the day, a Jingle Bell Fun Run at 9 a.m., which is a three mile run/walk starting on the Courthouse steps, at 10 a.m. a Chocolate Santa Decorating at Chocolates by Leopold, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. a Christmas Trimmings Farmers Market, also from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., an Around the World Nativities, a free showing of Home Alone from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Montrose Theater, from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. S’mores Stations with local Boy Scouts offering make your own s’mores across from the Montrose Public Library and at the Inn at Montrose, and from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. free pictures with Santa at the Susquehanna County Library.  On Sunday, listen to the Christmas Chorale Concert at 3 p.m. in the First Presbyterian Church.

For full details, visit



Do A One Hour Check-up: It could Save Your Life


By Gary Ryman

This isn’t a new hoax designed to separate you from your hard-earned cash; the kind that seem to appear daily in your email.  It’s not even a reminder about that colonoscopy you’ve been putting off for the last three months—that you should do.  It’s about something close to home, literally.  A question.  Do you have the oil changed in your car, tires rotated, and brakes checked?  Sure, you say.  Cars are expensive and I want it reliable and safe.  Makes sense.  Cars are the second most expensive item most of us will ever buy.  Then what about ensuring the safety of our most expensive investment?

Houses need the same regular safety inspections—check-ups—especially for the most dangerous disease they’re exposed to, fire.  Investing an hour or so once a year can pay inestimable dividends, not only in keeping the property safe, but also the loved ones who live and sleep there.

Start with your heating system.  Pick up the phone and make an appointment for a professional to inspect and service your furnace.  Have a fireplace?  Get that chimney cleaned and make sure your wood supply is dry and well seasoned.  Have a safe place designated to dispose of ashes.

Check your smoke detectors.  Have the batteries been changed?  Are the detectors less than ten years old?  Smoke detectors were never intended to last forever, and now new models designed for a ten-year life with sealed batteries which never need to be (and can’t be) changed are readily available.  “Just like any electrical appliance, the components of smoke alarms wear out over time.  When a smoke alarm reaches ten years of use, the potential of failing to detect a fire increases substantially,” says the National Association of State Fire Marshals.

Do you have detectors everywhere needed?  The answer can differ depending upon the home and local or state codes.  National standards recommend that for new homes, a smoke alarm is provided in each bedroom, and at least one outside the bedroom area, but near enough to be heard in the bedrooms with the doors closed.  In addition, there should be at least one detector on each floor level of a home, including basements.  This is so regardless of where a fire starts; inside or outside a bedroom, the occupants receive prompt warning.  For existing homes, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends a detector outside the bedrooms and at least one on each level of the structure.  Both they and the National Association of Fire Marshals agree that more is better, and providing the numbers called for in new construction is best.

Check your dryer.  Why, you ask?  I clean the lint trap every time I use it.  I’m very careful.

I’m sure you are, but when is the last time you checked the dryer hose itself?  First, make sure it’s metallic.  The plastic ones are inexpensive, but burn like solid gasoline.  Second, disconnect the hose and check the interior.  Have a vacuum ready.  You’ll probably be surprised at the amount of lint which gets by the screen and accumulates in the hose.  A good annual cleaning helps prevent dryer fires.

Home Fire Inspection Check-list

  • Smoke Detectors
  • Home Evacuation Plan
  • Heating System Check & Maintenance
  • Chimney Cleaning
  • Dryer Vent Vacuuming
  • Carbon Monoxide Detector
  • Fire Extinguishers
  • House Number Visible?


Do you have a fire extinguisher in the kitchen or garage?  As importantly, do you know how to use it if you need to?  When the stove is on fire is not the time to be reading the instructions.  Remembering one word will help you: PASS, pull, aim, squeeze, sweep.  Pull the pin, aim the nozzle at the base of the fire, squeeze the handle, and sweep back and forth, applying the agent to the fire.  An important tip: keep a pot lid, pizza tray, or similar item out when you fry.  Covering the pot can smother the fire.

Annual inspection time is also a good time to review your home evacuation plan.  Don’t have one?  They’re not complicated to develop.  Have a safe meeting place outside the home and teach children never to go back inside.  Keep bedroom doors closed.  If a hallway fire occurs, a closed door may hinder the smoke from overpowering family members giving firefighters extra time for rescue.  Teach toddlers not to hide from firefighters.  Their protective gear can be scary in times of crisis.  Teach children that firefighters are there to help in an emergency.  Take children for a tour at your local fire station so that they can see a firefighter in full gear.  Teach your children how to crawl under the smoke to reduce smoke inhalation.  Also, teach your children how to touch closed doors to see if they are hot before opening.  If so, use an alternate escape route.

Check your carbon monoxide detector.  Over a ten-year period, the Center for Disease Control and prevention reported over five thousand deaths from unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning.  You can’t see it, smell it, or taste it.  Without a detector, you can be one of the statistics.  Visit your local hardware store and make sure that won’t happen.

Is your house address visible from the roadway?  This is a big help for emergency responders who may be trying to find you in the dark.

You wouldn’t think twice about spending an hour cleaning the gutters or washing the windows on the house.  Take the same amount of time to check it for fire safety.  It can be as important as that annual physical from your doctor.