Be Kind to Yourself: De-Stress Your Life

Cover of "In Praise of Slowness: How A Wo...

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Now that we’re beyond the stress of holiday preparations, shopping, and the flurry of social activities and obligations, it may be the perfect time to welcome in 2011 with an evaluation of the demands on our everyday life.

Carl Honore is the author of “In Praise of Slowness” which describes our culture’s addiction to “more—better—faster”.  His response to this is “Be here now.”  He indicates that Americans with full-time jobs and children under 18 years of age are particularly stressed.  Long hours at work are shortchanging families.  One way to change this lifestyle is to add balance.  Cutting down on outside activities or time spent in front of the TV may provide more time that can be spent with the children. 

Key to de-stressing is slowing down and enjoying the minutiae of life, thus improving the quality of our existence.  Discovering activities such as meditation, gardening, bird watching, reading, etc also helps one to slow down and celebrate the small moments.  These can provide calmness, peace and quiet to your life.

The quality of life should be most important to us all and we should enjoy each and every day as well as celebrate all the relationships we share with others.

Donna M. Bellavance
Andrew G. Gordon, Inc.
Insurance & Risk Management

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Sweetheart Trivia


Did you know the best-selling Valentine’s Day candies are not Godiva chocolates but our own locally manufactured Sweetheart Conversation Hearts? Over 8 billion candy hearts with romantically inspired messages were sold last year by the New England Confectionary Company located in Revere, Ma. 

We can credit the American colonists for starting the practice of making a gift of candy with a message inscribed on it.  Early American would make homemade hard candies and etch messages into the surface to give to a sweetheart.  Around the time of the Civil War, Oliver Chase decided to turn a tradition into a successful candy business by founding New England Confectionary Company

They originally manufactured candy in the shape of a seashell with the message printed on a piece of paper wedged into the candy shell. A major innovation was introduced in 1902 when NECCO produced the candies called Sweet Hearts with the mottoes printed directly on the pastel candies.  They offered hearts, seashell and other interesting shapes like horseshoes and baseballs.   

Times have changed and so have the flavors and mottos of Valentine’s Day most loved confection. NECCO recently introduced new flavors and sayings. The new flavors include strawberry, green apple, lemon, grape, orange, and blue raspberry. For the first time in its 145-year history, the public was invited to participate in an online survey to decide which phrases of love would appear on conversation hearts . The winners include: “Tweet Me,” “Text Me,” “You Rock,” “Soul Mate,” “Love Bug,” and “Me + You.” They join classic expressions that continue to appear on the candies: “Puppy Love,” “Sweet Love,” “Sweat Pea,” and “Love Me.”

New sayings also featured food-inspired phrases, such as “Recipe 4 Love,” “Table 4 Two,” and “Top Chef.”

Some favorites among the more than one hundred Sweetheart sayings have been in circulation since the hearts were first factory-made in 1902. These classics include “Kiss Me,” “Sweet Talk,” and “Be Mine.” Sometimes a motto is discontinued for a time and then makes a reappearance while others are gone but not forgotten.  No worries- it may not be long before  “Dig Me” makes a sweetheart of a comeback!

Visit our website for important and timely information on insurance topics for you and your sweetheart.

Kasey McCarthy, CPCU


Get My Drift?

Snow, snow, everywhere…. I know, we have all seen enough of the white stuff, it seems like it is never going to stop piling up.  It seems that we all have done nothing this winter but shovel, snow blow, and plow. 

However, there are a few places that might be forgotten but are extremely important to keep clear.  The most important one are the fire hydrants.  It is imperative that in the case of a fire, the firefighters are able to find and actually use them – your home could be at stake.   The electric and gas meters should be kept clear as well, think of the poor meter readers that may not even be able to find the meter to read.   At least the gas and electric companies will estimate the readings if it cannot be read.  How about the pipe that fills the oil tank??  If the oil delivery person cannot get to the pipe, you may not get that very important oil delivery – this is not the winter to run out of oil!  What about your mail box?  How long are those postal worker’s arms anyways? 

So, bottom line, take a look around your house to make sure that anybody that may need  to get to your house, actually can.  If you are able-bodied, please, check your neighbors, especially the elderly. 

Sooner or later, these piles will shrink down to nothing, but in the meantime, be careful!!  For topical information on insurance issues, visit our website:

Sue Renfrew    

Account Representative                                         

Ice Dams – what to do

Many homeowners may have ice dams forming on their roofs after all the snow we’ve had this winter. Once an ice dam forms, it is difficult to fix. The safest course is to hire a professional because of the dangers of falling snow and icicles, unsecured ladders, and possible damage to shingles and gutters.

If you choose to do the work yourself, take extreme care and follow these recommendations from contracting experts:
1. Use a roof rake to remove snow buildup from the roof.

b. DO NOT climb on a roof or work on a ladder beneath a roof that has lots of snow on it
c. Be especially careful on ladders; be sure the base is well secured.
2. Remove ice buildup around gutters by melting the ice with calcium chloride (other products such as rock salt will damage the roof shingles). For added effectiveness, put the melting agent inside a sock or nylon stocking, and lay perpendicular to the gutters or roof line. This creates a channel in the ice dam, releasing the melting agent slowly and allowing the water to drip to the ground through.
3. After applying a melting agent, if you must chip the ice, do so very carefully. NEVER strike your roof with an axe, hammer, or anything that will damage the shingles.

Warning signs: Aside from leaks, stains, and damaged ceilings or walls, there are several signs that ice dams are beginning to cause interior damage.
• Large icicles hanging from the gutters during cold-snaps following snow storms.
• A thick blanket of snow down slope of bare shingles points toward trouble.
• Water dripping from the roof over a layer of ice is a hint that a dam has formed.
Visit our website at for a list of local contractors who are trained at removing ice dams safely and effectively. The cost to have ice dams removed from your home is usually less than your deductible!
For other tips on keeping the cost of your homeowner’s insurance low, visit, or view our library of whiteboard presentations at