The Read My Writin’ Round-up

I’ve been able to write a lot about where I live, recently – in the Berkshires of Massachusetts – so this shameless round-up of my own work is pulled together with a Berkshire County theme.

First, the latest; I wrote a ‘Parents-Eye Review’ for Berkshire Family Focus, upon the opening of the new Berkshire Carousel. Juli was my intern on this project.


Next, on to the world of corporate spa retreats…an actual thing, apparently, and growing in popularity. I used two world-class resorts in the Berkshires to illustrate the trend of spa retreats as part of workplace health and wellness packages.


Finally, a look at the entire region from the point-of-view of the visitor’s bureau and the owner/managers of some attractions in the area, including outdoor recreation spots as well as theater venues (two of the biggies in these parts).




Rest, Relaxation, and ROI

According to the “Global Spa & Wellness Trends Forecast” published by Spafinder Wellness Inc., workplace wellness is one of the top 10 trends in the spa industry for 2016.

The study suggests that this is a direct response to a growing number of businesses across the country taking the well-being of their employees more seriously, for the health of both their teams and their companies’ bottom lines. I was recently able to look into this trend for a freelance article, and while it’s not one that is taking off as quickly as some spa professionals would like, it’s gaining popularity and acceptance in both offices and resorts.

Read more:

Photo: Cranwell Resort spa, JCS

Bright Colors, Clean Lines at Hotel Indigo

We were able to escape for a quick getaway last weekend, to see Trevor Noah live at the Wilbur Theatre, and take a break from reality at Hotel Indigo in Newton.

It was a whirlwind stay in the dead of winter, but we’re definitely planning a return. Here’s a quick run-down of some of the hotel’s higher points:

The Art.



The plans and schematics of inventions created in New England are printed on bright paper and placed under frameless glass in rooms and hallways. Our room also included a floor-to-ceiling print on fabric that looked like batik, but upon closer inspection, turned out to be a macro photograph of a cocktail umbrella.


The Location.

This isn’t the prettiest of photos, but it illustrates how soul-crushingly cold it was that weekend, and also how close the train station (The ‘T’) into downtown Boston is to the hotel. Hotel Indigo is just off Route 95 and right next to Riverside Station, one of the last stops on the green line, so it can’t be easier to get to — or into the city. Another perk that bears noting with all this close proximity to transportation: Sound. Proof. Glass.

The Bar.

We missed dining hours due to the show we were seeing in the city and slept past breakfast so I can’t speak to the restaurant on-site — an American steakhouse. The bar had a great late-night menu though,  as well as comfy seats, a cool atmosphere, and live entertainment, so we were happy with the goods.

A grab-and-go cafe is also open until 1 p.m for coffee, yogurt, bagels … just enough when all you’re doing is heading back on to the MassPike anyway. Next time, we’re hoping to book a room in the summer, in order to take advantage of poolside service, cabana rentals, and night-time fire pits.

Jax Rating





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.