Something Scary at the Museum…

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As soon as I heard word of Something Scary at Berkshire Museum, I couldn’t wait to tour the exhibit.

Something Scary is a study of phobias on view through October 31, 2016. This is right up my dark, ominous alley…an exploration of fears. Art presented as something spookier than it originally was meant to be. Creepy lighting.

But at the same time, no-one is jumping out in front of me, no-one is touching me, and no chain-less chainsaws are buzzing in my ear.

Something Scary was developed by guest curator Kirsti Scutt Edwards, director of curatorial affairs Maria Mingalone, and exhibitions manager Jason Verchot, to allow visitors a chance to  – as the press release reads – “explore their terrors and trepidations …through the museum’s existing eclectic collection.”

This is true. But further, seeing is believing and I’m truly impressed with how this exhibit – which incidentally only houses half of the second-floor evolving exhibit space – was devised.

I was greeted with an amazing shadow show that actually showcased sculptures from the museum’s collection in relief. Beyond, a family portrait stared at me… no matter where I went. It wasn’t until I moved to another part of the exhibit that I realized the eyes were cut out to accommodate holes, from which other visitors could peer.

The literary nerd in me appreciated the horror-quotes interspersed among the art, as well as the Vote-by-Eyeball poll asking ‘What Scares You the Most?’ And, perhaps most importantly, my two-year-old daughter loved the whole experience – the pink lights, the ‘snake pit’ (a ball pit with rubber snakes inside…no thanks), and the ‘make your own monster’ puppet station.

This exhibit just proves I live in the right place for Blogtoberfest. The temperature is ripe for spooking.

Political Punch

drink-19202_1280I’ve been working with the comedy troupe The Capitol Steps this summer, creating some fun promotional and content pieces with them and the team hosting their summer residence, at Cranwell Spa & Golf Resort’s new Harvest Barn stage. Recently I teamed up with a local bartender to concoct two summer sangrias — one sweet and one with a little spice — to celebrate the ‘Steps and their satire domination in the Berkshires.

Check out the recipes below, and share your own versions using the hashtag #CapitolCocktails!

Red, Sweet, and Blue

A sweet tea and berry-based sangria. Serves 12.

55 oz. sweet tea

750 ml Sweet red wine (recommended: Bota Box Redvolution)

2 cups mixed-berry juice

2 lbs. strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries — hulled and sliced


Baby, You’re a Firework

A whiskey- and wine-based sangria with a little spark. Serves four.

1 Granny Smith apple, chopped

1/3 cup Fireball Whiskey – soak the chopped apple in the whiskey, preferably over night

3/4 cup apple juice

1 orange, sliced

1 blood orange, sliced

1 cup red wine (recommended: Malbec)

Cranwell Spa & Golf Resort is offering a chance to laugh off some election-year stress throughout the summer, hosting the award-winning musical satire group The Capitol Steps for a limited run of performances, from July 1 to Sept. 2. The troupe will be the first to perform on Cranwell’s new Harvest Barn stage, a 220-seat venue.

The Capitol Steps began as a group of congressional staffers who set out to satirize the very people who employed them. Now in its 35th year, the show has since evolved to feature 26 actors and five pianists, who stage shows across the United States.

This year’s show is largely based on songs from The Capitol Steps’ current album What To Expect When You’re Electing, featuring tunes that give a comedic nod to some of our most pressing political issues: “Ain’t No Pipeline, Now It’s Gone,” “Hello, Is it Mitt You’re Looking For?” and “We Warm the World” among them.

The Capitol Steps’ 90-minute show will be performed nightly, excluding Tuesdays, at 8 p.m. Cranwell Spa & Golf Resort offers pre-show dining from 4:30 to 6:30 at its Wine Spectator Award-winning restaurant in the Gilded Age Mansion, as well as casual fare at Sloane’s Restaurant and Bar. Show tickets and an optional dinner may be reserved directly by calling (413) 881-1636, or online at For more information on Capitol Steps, visit

Recipes developed by Mitchell Keil

Hilltown Families Handmade Valentine Swap 

Behold, the spoils of the Hilltown Families Handmade Valentine Swap!

I signed up for this annual community tradition for the second time this year, and for the first time as a mom. This time around, the whole process was even more fun, and the entire family got involved.

Created by Hilltown Families, the handmade valentine swap charges participants with creating and mailing handmade valentines to ten assigned addresses, receiving handmade valentines from other families in return.

After signing up, we received a list of addresses of families across Western Mass., and set to work getting our craft on. We started with art supplies in ‘Valentine colors,’ including red finger paint, and several sheets of card stock …

…some of the paint made it onto the paper, along with crayon scribbles and stickers.

Those were set aside to dry, and after bedtime, I added some scrapbook embellishments.

I also threw a few stickers into each of the envelopes — Ben’s job was to create equal piles of stickers for each child — before addressing them and sending them off.

In a few days, we started receiving handmade valentines from other families in return. Some people save them to open all at once on Valentine’s Day, others open them as they come in and display them like Christmas cards. We chose the latter this year, opening them together before bedtime and decorating the mantel. They’re all so creative… we received a heart ornament made out of pipe cleaners and Cheerios, thumb-print love birds, a hand-print fish, a heart made of tiny feet, and two handmade paper hearts in the coolest colors. I definitely noticed a purple trend.


From start to finish, the swap is so much fun! Can’t wait to do it again next year.

Wild and Woolly ArtZoo


Earlier this week, the Family Rags got to check out the Berkshire Museum’s new exhibit ArtZoo at its preview party.

The show blends art with natural history and cultural pieces surrounding all types of animals, arranged to mirror an actual zoo. The big cats are grouped together, the primates, the birds… it’s quite a collection.


Adding to the fun of the party were treats at every turn: cones of popcorn next to Mega Mammals, airy cotton candy in the Aviary, and ‘downward dogs’ next to the Animal Yoga station. At the risk of hearkening back to my community newspaper days… A good time was had by all.

Popcorn Cart

Read my full article at Berkshire Family Focus!