Southern New Hampshire Life

Southern New Hampshire Blog by Steve Russo, Realtor

Southern New Hampshire Life - Southern New Hampshire Blog by Steve Russo, Realtor

First Night Portsmouth

The First Night tradition began in Boston in 1976 and has since spread throughout the country. In New Hampshire, Wolfeboro in the Lakes Region and Portsmouth on the Seacoast are the state’s two official First Night celebrations.  First Night Portsmouth is organized by Pro Portsmouth, a local nonprofit group.

First Night includes activities for both children and adults.  Events start around 1PM with ice sculpting by the North Church.  Indoor programs for younger participants begin at 4PM with puppet shows, magicians, storytelling, and face painting in several downtown venues.  At 5PM, the Pontine Theatre will present “A Child’s Christmas in Wales.”  Portsmouth 1212

Musicians will be in various locations throughout the area.  Local singers will be featured at the Middle Street Baptist Hall starting at 5PM.  T. J. Wheeler & Company will be at North Church from 8:15PM.   At South Church there will be a chili cook-off and gospel and folk music.  The Randy Armstrong Trio at Temple Israel will feature world fusion jazz.

The Seacoast Repertory Theater will host comedian Mike Michon and psychic/illusionist Roderick Russell.  The NH Theater Company is offering “The Play’s the Thing” – with theater games, comedy Improv, and other entertaining pastimes.

Outdoor activities will be centered around Market Square, with a street dance on Pleasant Street beginning at 5PM, fireworks at South Mill Pond at 7:30PM, and of course, the Countdown to Midnight in the Square.

The First Night Portsmouth’s website has full details about the events and locations.  You will need a First Night Portsmouth 2013 Button to gain entry to the indoor activities; they may be purchased online by clicking here, or at the Portsmouth Hannaford’s, People’s United Bank branches in the NH Seacoast area and in Dover, Durham, and Rochester, and at the Flower Kiosk on Main Street.Portsmouth Xmas Tree

Most downtown streets will be open to traffic; but Pleasant Street from State Street to the Square, Church Street (next to the North Church) and Parrot Avenue (from Richards to Junkins) will be closed.  The parking garage at Hanover Street will offer reduced rate parking starting at 4PM.  There will be a free shuttle for all First Nighters, which will transport celebrants between the various event locations.

First Night Portsmouth will be an afternoon and evening of fun-filled activities for all ages.  Don’t miss it!

Hospital Rankings

When relocating to a new community, the quality of medical care is often an important consideration.  Hospitals are an important factor, especially for families with young children or for older individuals.  Thankfully, to assist you there are several organizations which publish the standings of hospitals online.  Please note: the organizations which maintain these sites are continually evaluating hospitals, so the rank of an institution will probably fluctuate up and down over time.  Southern NH Medical Center

The Hospital Safety Score site is sponsored by The Leapfrog Group, an independent not-for-profit organization that was founded by some of the country’s leading employers and private healthcare experts over a decade ago.  They try to promote quality care by promoting transparency and value-based hospital incentives.  The Hospital Safety Score rates medical facilities by evaluating 26 factors of patient care. The website tabulates scores like a report card, rating hospitals from A (best) to F (worst).  The site has a section explaining how the score was determined and how potential patients should use it.  At the time this blog was published Portsmouth Regional was rated “A,” Southern New Hampshire Medical Center and St. Joseph’s Hospital in Nashua, Catholic Medical Center in Manchester, Parkland in Derry, and Exeter were rated “B,” and Elliot in Manchester  and Cheshire Medical Center in Keene were rated “C.”  For details, go to this site and click on the hospital’s listing.

HealthInsight’s “National Rankings for Hospital” tabulates its rankings from hospital care in four areas: heart attack, heart failure, pneumonia, and surgical care. It covers over 4,500 institutions, many more than The Leapfrog Group’s site.  To check on their rankings, click here., the official U.S. government website for Medicare,  includes a “Hospital Compare” webpage feature which can be used to find all the hospitals within 50 miles of a town and then allows you to compare them with each other.  To use their hospital compare feature, click here.St. Joseph's Hospital

U. S. News’s list of the best hospitals in the country is on US News’s health website.  They have identified three New Hampshire hospitals as meeting their criteria for strong performance within the state (in Concord, Dartmouth, and Dover); they are listed on the “Best Hospitals in New Hampshire” pageU. S. News selected several Massachusetts hospitals as among the best in the country; they can be accessed by clicking here.

Consumer Reports has a hospital rankings site, but it is only accessible to subscribers of Consumer Reports Online.

And lastly, this is a link to a USA Today article that discusses some of the most popular hospital ranking systems and explains why a hospital may rank differently in each one; it counsels that potential patients shouldn’t pick a hospital solely on its standing in one of the rating systems.


If you are considering a move in or to Southern New Hampshire, please give me a call so I can assist you with your search for your new home!

– Steve Russo, Connecting People with Homes in Southern New Hampshire and North Central Massachusetts.  Steve Russo


Facebook page: Steve Russo, Realtor

Unique Shopping Opportunities: Bedford Fields Garden Center & Home Decor in Bedford

Bedford Fields Garden Center and Home Decor has been a mecca for plant lovers for almost 20 years. During planting season, its grounds are covered with choice perennials and annuals, many from local nurseries. This locally owned shop also features organic vegetable and herb plants, organic weed and feed products, outdoor/garden furniture and statuary, and a wide range of quality items for your pet and home. The friendly informative staff includes master gardeners and horticultural-degreed employees. Bedford Fields

During the winter holiday season, Bedford Fields’emphasis is on home decor. This Bedford town institution is transformed with several artificial holiday trees, including their celebrated upside-down balsam fir.  The trees are covered from top to bottom with traditional and contemporary ornaments for sale.

The store also offers a wide variety of distinctive home accent items and a selection of tasteful gifts, even including gift ideas for pets. Of course the shop also stocks interesting plants for the holiday season, and is well-known for its wreaths and garlands in a wide variety of styles.  Their website details the wide variety of items they stock. Open daily, Bedford Fields is located at 331 State Route 101 in Bedford.


Unique Shoping Opportunities: The League of New Hampshire Craftsmen Gallery in Nashua

Nashua’s League of New Hampshire Craftsmen Gallery features the best by master craftsmen and artists who have qualified to be members of the League.  A wide selection of giftables in pottery, stained glass, textiles, jewelry, prints, and wood are available in this interesting shop, as are holiday ornaments and cards. Nashua League Store

The store at 98 Main Street in Nashua changes its stock regularly, so one should stop by frequently to see the unique goods that are constantly arriving on its shelves. Hours vary during the year; check their website for current open times. There are other League of New Hampshire Craftsmen Galleries throughout the state; a list can be found at this site.

Unique Shopping Opportunities: Frye’s Measure Mill in Wilton

The artisans at Frye’s Measure Mill craft colonial and Shaker trays, round and oval wooden boxes, and other hand made items the same way they were originally fashioned over a hundred years ago.

Visitors are invited to tour the water mill where some of the production processes haven’t changed in over 150 years.  The Mill is a great place to view the best in handcrafted wooden ware,  glassware, pottery, pewter, and tin ware from not only New England, but from throughout the country.  Old-fashioned books, candles, and linens are also available.

You will find many unique items in the seven-room gift shop.  Frye’s Measure Mills’ website will acquaint you with all that’s available to experience at the old sawmill.  Frye'sMeasure Mill

The mill and shop, at 12 Frye Mill Road in Wilton, is on the National Register of Historic Places; it is open Tuesdays through Sundays.

Unique Shopping Opportunities: Wilderness Creations in Dublin

Wilderness Creations is the place to go for rustic furnishings for your home or cabin. They feature handmade pieces crafted by New England and other American woodworkers, everything from spoons and cups to chairs, tables, beds, and desks. There is something for every room in the house.  Wilderness Creations 1

The store also includes rustic-themed bedding and lighting, books on cabins and log homes, and playful chainsaw figures of bears.  A recent addition to Wilderness Creations is barrel saunas – easy to assemble kits made from Western Canadian Red Cedar.

If you can’t find exactly what you want in their showroom, they will be happy to arrange with an artisan to make a special creation just for you.  A tour of their website will give you many decorating ideas.
Wilderness Creations 2

Wilderness Creations is located at 1327 Main Street (State Route 101) in Dublin.  They are open Tuesdays through Sundays.
Wilderness Creations 3


Unique Shopping Opportunities: C’est Cheese in North Hampton

C’est Cheese in North Hampton is a great resource for imported and domestic cheeses. They carry all the popular favorites as well as artisan cheeses from some of the world’s most renowned cheese makers. The varieties are endless: soft-ripened, rind-washed, made from goat’s milk, sheep’s milk, cow’s milk, etc.

In addition to myriad dairy-based cheeses, C’est Cheese also features fine wines and imported cheese accompaniments, such as olives, mustards, meats, breads, crackers, and marinated vegetables. They encourage in-store tastings, and are also happy to put together a gift basket to suit your needs and tastes.

The shop’s website details their wide range of products and services. C’est Cheese, located at 61 Lafayette Road in North Hampton, is open Tuesdays through Saturdays the year round.

Unique Shopping Opportunities: The House by the Side of the Road in Wilton

The family owned The House by the Side of the Road is the perfect place to go for plants any month of the year.  During the planting season, their extensive collection of annuals and perennials fills their expansive buildings; perennials spill over to the large area in back, and are grouped into shade-loving, sun-loving, herbs, trees, shrubs, etc.

Looking for a distinctive  plant for a room in your house?  Year-round they offer a huge collection of houseplants; and their greenhouses contain the largest selection of orchids and cacti in the state. The House by the Side of the Road

In December, The House by the Side of the Road has probably the largest selection of holiday plants and wreaths in Southern New Hampshire.  Their poinsettias range from one-inch mini-plants to huge conversation pieces in every color imaginable.  A large selection of other seasonal plants is also available, such as cyclamens and amaryllises, as well as wreaths, garlands, and centerpieces.  If you like to make your own festive holiday decorations, they carry greens, pine cones, ribbons, small ornaments, etc.

The House by the Side of the Road is located at 370 Gibbons Highway (Route 101) in Wilton; it is open seven days a week. They also have an informative  website.