Monday, December 27, 2010

The Christmas Scoop

Well, I just finished washing and hanging the girls velvet holiday dresses which won't fit them next year, recycling the Christmas gift wrap, putting the advent calendars away (the rest of the Christmas decor will be around for a bit yet)

...and reflecting on the magic at our home.

The Christmas Eve present is always pajamas (gotta look cute in Christmas pics) - and, always, it seems we should just stop there. Our girls loved their near-matching PJs...and, in fact, we've had trouble getting them to take them off since.

Just a few notes and highlights...
  • Christmas Eve candelight service. Historically my favorite thing about Christmas because of its peacefulness. This year's service was one hour of pure anxiety.  I was certain we might burn (thanks to Baby R's adventures) down our church which was celebrating its 209th (yes 209th!) Christmas Eve service.
  • The favorite gift of my eldest? Her ladybug Pillow Pet. Gag. How could that be? 
  • Her second favorite gift? Ice skates and the mini backyard rink.
  • Her third? The cupcake maker from her Tutu (my Mom). I am, of course, envious beyond words. I wanted an easy bake oven more than you can imagine. I never got one. She basi
  • Are you wondering where the doorway puppet theatre I agonized over falls in the rank? No where. But, there was genuine excitement about it when it was opened. Baby R thinks it's a peek-a-boo station. By noon on Christmas Day one production was under way and I suddenly wondered if I'd made a grave mistake. 
  • Baby R now comes down the stairs every morning going "ohhhh...." as she turns the corner where those full stockings were hung. She moves on quickly, fortunately.
  • Most played with toys? The tissue packs and band-aids from the girls' stockings.
  • Cutest gift? The apron Tutu made for Baby R. Looked especially cute over her velvet holiday dress.
  • My favorite moment? When I opened up the gift my daughter picked out at her "holiday fair" (the PTA holds a holiday fair full of yard sale type items - and kids come in from their classrooms and buy a gift for each member of their family for 25 cents. It is brilliant.) especially for me. A ceramic napkin holder. The proud smile on her face? Priceless.
  • Loved "elfing" on Christmas Eve day. We delivered goodie bags and real bayberry candles (a New England tradition). I even wore a Santa hat. My daughters refused to wear the antlers. Bah-humbug.
  • Will definitely elf again.
  • Breakage update. All snowglobes have been broken - as well as many Christmas ornaments. My husband reminds me each time we hear the "crash" followed by the "uh-oh" that it is not intentional, but rather, healthy exploration. 

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas from Maine

{photo via here}

Let the magic begin.

Wherever you are, Merry Christmas from Maine.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Doorway Puppet Theatre Finished

I have some creative bones. But, as referenced earlier this week, I question whether I have sewing ability within. I do not. Confirmed. I even tried channeling my mom and my nana (whose machine I was using). No success. But, with much determination, I finished the girls' doorway puppet theatre. It passes the laugh test. Barely. There will be no up-close inspections allowed. Ever. My husband says its gorgeous and the girls will love it. That's one of the reasons I married him. No more sewing for me. Ever. Okay, well, maybe not ever. But, not until I get some lessons.

Told You So

As predicted, our snow globe met its demise, thanks to Baby R's fascination.

(I know, I know, I REALLY shouldn't have let her "play" with it. I didn't per se -- just had it within eye reach.)

I was disappointed (not about it breaking -- but, about losing the opportunity to watch her in awe.). She was really sad, as evidenced by the whimpering, "uhoh" (as opposed to her usual hit and run behavior).

But, in my heart I'm holding onto these images forever.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Free Gift Tags to Go Nuts About

 {photo via Whisker Graphics Blog}

Okay, you've heard it here before...I love Whisker Graphics. And, now she's really done it - absolutely adorable,  FREE downloadable holiday gift tags for. Check 'em out. While you are there, be sure to order some Divine Twine. I'm loving mine this holiday season....the uses are endless around my home.

Happy Solstice

Welcome, winter - we're happy to have you here.

What will you do today to welcome the solstice? We'll be having a quiet candle lit family evening, hopefully while snow is falling...

Monday, December 20, 2010

Update from the Field: Lessons Learned

Okay, I don't have a doorway puppet theatre to show you YET.

But, I do have some lessons learned to share:

  • One hour is not enough time to sew a puppet theatre.
  • I really don't know how to sew.
  • Satin sucks. I mean, sure, it'll look glam as a theatre curtain - but how do you sew that stuff.
  • Felt isn't perfect. (I know, that's a HUGE statement coming from me.)
  • My Nana's sewing machine rocks.
  • I have no idea how to thread my Nana's sewing machine. Or, for that matter, the bobbin. So, I used the thread already there....white. 
  • White thread (especially when not sewn perfectly) looks lousy on purple.
  • One really should have a plan or a pattern before they start cutting fabric. Or, ribbon. 
  • One really shouldn't stake their Christmas plans on a sewing project if they don't know how to sew.
Stay tuned.

Look What I'm Giving the Girls For Christmas

What? You don't recognize this?


I had great plans of making a doorway puppet theatre for my girls for Christmas. They love to give puppet shows....and who doesn't want to encourage that?

Here it is,  the 20th of December, and I haven't started it. I have exactly one hour (one hour that isn't committed to work or kids) to make it. Right now. The thing is....I don't really know what I'm doing or how to sew.

Can I do it? Stay tuned.... (man, I just really put the pressure on myself, didn't I?).

Friday, December 17, 2010

Too threatening? Too Subtle?

Not sure what exactly inspired me to do spell this out on my blocks...perhaps a subtitle threat, I mean, reminder? Tell me, it is too threatening, or too subtle?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Life is Good on the Candy Cane Train

Sickness has been visiting here and it has had a hard time finding the door. And, in addition to feeling sorry for all of us, I'm a little annoyed at how it is wreaking havoc on my December Planner.

Though I wasn't sure it was going to happen, we were able to climb aboard The Candy Cane Train this past weekend for our annual pilgrimmage.

Have you been? It's a magical ride. Carolers. Hot cocoa and homemade cookies served by elves. Storytelling. A festively decorated train. A coastal Maine vista. And, of course, a visit with Santa. The best part? The rides (which sell out every year) are a fundraiser for Tri-County Literacy. What's not to love?

So, add this to your bucket list, and for now, climb aboard!

Have some cocoa and cookies.

Sing a little.

Enjoy the view.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Wine Wednesday: Wine for a Cause

LoveVermont has a regular Wednesday feature -- Wine Wednesdays. It's one of my favorite reads...and, this week I'm borrowing the theme just so I have an excuse to tell you about a great wine-related gift idea that my very hip friend Tony told me about. 

Wine for a cause.

OneHope donates a portion of each bottle (totaling fifty percent of its profits!) to charity. Each variety supports a different cause - autism, breast cancer, our troops, AIDS, children's hospitals and more.

Now, that's a gift you can feel good about! :)

OneHope was started by eight friends who worked out of their living rooms, selling wine out of their trunks, trying to help support a friend in her fight against cancer. Now an enterprise, the company has sold over 20,000 cases of wine - and donated $350,000 to charity, since its inception in June 2007. Pretty cool, huh?

There's a few wine lovers in my life I need to get shopping for.

Christmas Tree Gettin' Maine Style

No, not everyone cuts their own tree here in Maine.

But, I insist on it.

It's the perfect Christmas tradition. Everyone gets bundled up. We sing carols on the way to our tree hunting grounds. We merrily pick out the perfect tree. We sip hot cocoa afterwards. Perfection. Just the way we did it when I was a kid.

At least that's the way I remembered it.

But, this year, I had flashbacks to some not so perfect aspects of that perfect Christmas tradition. The trigger of these flashbacks? My crying toddler who really wanted to be napping. My husband's hurried-I'm-doing-this-for-you-attitude and my nearly seven year old's I'm-going-to-be-as-defiant-and-contrary-as-possible-mantra.

I almost left the scene.

But, in a moment of desperation I turned around and said (cried? yelled?), "this is one of my favorite things about Christmas, don't ruin it".

And, on we went. Happy memories being created, damn it!

I climbed under the tree to take the first whack at cutting it. I almost stayed there forever. The snow on my back, the fresh pine smell, it was heaven.

Eager for everyone to have this experience...and eager for a little sawing re-enforcement, everyone took a turn.

Fresh cut tree in tow, we headed home.

Our tree stands now in our antique bay window ready for adornment.

  I can't wait to see what this next Christmas tradition adventure brings...

Magic Discovered

Oh, how sweet the holiday magic is in our home this year.

And, as a side note, I predict this snow globe will not survive 2010. The desire for "Tanta" and more "Snow" is grand.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Merry Stitchmas? Holiday Wishes From Our Local Yarn Store

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Halcyon Yarn 2010 from Halcyon Yarn on Vimeo.

Okay, this is so absolutely adorable and so sums up the wonderfulness of our local (yet internationally acclaimed) fiber store.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Serious Inspiration

This is the next must-have. A silk sky scarve. Read on....

Thanks to the tip from LoveVermont, I discovered Cup of Jo (This IS the way of the blogosphere, isn't? One thing leads to another and, then, hours later you find yourself immersed in something and can't remember how you got there!) whose post today was about THE most unique and fabulous scarves.

Seriously amazing.

Maine artist Maria Alexandra Vettese photographed afternoon skies in Cushing, Maine in October and had the photographs printed directly onto silk. These scarves (in a very limited production) are sure to chase those winter blues away, don't you think?

Check out the full collection.

If you don't already know about Maria Alexandra Vettesse (Mav), she is also the co-author of 3191 Miles Apart, a daily visual blog between two friends living 3191 miles apart.

Ten Gift Ideas Teachers Will Really Love

December is well underway--how are you holding up during this holiday crunch? Found the perfect gift for everyone on your list?

How about all those teachers and/or caregivers? I personally struggle with this --not because I don't want to give a gift - but because I want to give a gift that they'll really love. So this year I've polled a bunch of teacher friends and family and compiled what I think is a pretty interesting list.
  • A special card or note made by your child. Nothing makes a teacher more appreciated than hearing from one of their students directly!
  • Homemade edibles. Homemade jam and a jam knife (perhaps even a funky vintage one picked up at a yard sale or thrift store). A pottery bowl full of homemade granola. A loaf of bread.
  • Movie tickets for teacher and friend/spouse. I picked up some plastic move-style popcorn boxes in the dollar section at Target -- thinking it will make a cute package with some popped corn as filler; tickets and maybe even some Good N Plenty or other movie style candy.
  • Anything handmade. A knit scarf. Mittens. Earrings. Whatever your craft is!
  • A new plant for the classroom. Let's face it, January can be tough -- a lovely new plant might just help!
  • A customized SIGG water bottle. One teacher friend said she loved getting one of these which included words selected by her class.
  • A gift certificate. Give your teacher a treat. Pool resources with other parents and splurge on a gift certificate for a massage or dinner out.
  • A magazine subscription. A year-long subscription to a magazine that features something your teacher loves -- gardening? crafting? running? Or, perhaps a subscription to a magazine that will benefit the classroom.
  • A donation to a charity in your teacher's name. Is there a cause that is super important to your teacher?
  • Parent coupons. Promises from you. Offer to help plan a classroom party. Lunch delivered for a week. A homemade ready-to-take-home dinner delivered at the end of the day. A commitment to help organize the room or help with a project. Be creative!

One of my favorite ideas came from my sister. Her school's PTA is creating (has created?) giving trees -- each teacher has put wishes (ranging from pencils to pillows for the reading corner) on the tree and parents are encouraged to purchase items off the list. In some ways this might not seem like a gift to the teacher -- but so many teachers spend lots and lots of their own money buying basic supplies like tissues, pencils, etc. that I believe the idea of not doing this would indeed be a gift!

Any other ideas out there? Please share!

Friday, December 3, 2010

December: A Planner

December is one of my favorite months. Especially in Maine. Maine is just SO Christmas-y. Even my husband, a die-hard western mountains guy, will agree. Even though we're always trying to simplify and scale back, our December is busy. Really busy. Here are just some of the things we have planned:
  • Cutting winterberry so I can make wreaths, fill baskets, etc. My husband hates this tradition as it involves making him trudge (usually when he's not prepared) into marshy areas to snip many, many branches. For extra fun, I make him hold the winterberry as I make wreaths.
  • Heading to Wolfe's Neck Farm for their annual Night Tree Event. It's a wonderful event that includes hanging out in a barn listening to a reading of Eve Bunting's Night Tree, making animal-friendly ornaments and then taking a short hike into the woods to hang the ornaments and enjoy cocoa and cookies around a bonfire. Good old fashioned fun, if you ask me. Last year I missed this event - a real favorite - and, instead, we organized one of our own. It was a dreamy evening in the snowy woods, decorating ornaments for the animals, standing around a fire eating nuts, date rolls and homemade bread.
  • Cutting our own Christmas tree. If you have never cut your own, try it. It's a great tradition. This site will help you find Christmas Tree Farms in Maine (and I'm certain other states offer similar resources) if you don't have your patch of evergreens to peruse.
  • Christmas Carolling on The Bath Trolley. Yup. It's true, in this little town of ours, you can go carolling on the trolley (our public transportation). Every Friday night between now and Christmas.
  • Planting Paperwhite and Amarylis bulbs so I'll have something to enjoy come January. How-to in days to come!
  • Shopping. I don't have a huge list because we have scaled back giving -- and sought out alternatives to gift giving - in recent years. But, still there is shopping to be done. I hope to include an Old Port Portland shopping trip in the mix -- and maybe even use my daughters as an excuse to ride the horse drawn carriages around the holiday lit streets.
  • Decorating. Greens. Winterberry. Candles. Cranberries. Simple and festive.
  • Riding the Candy Cane Train. A benefit for Tri-County Literacy, this train ride from Bath to Wiscasset is about as charming as can be. Carolers. Santa. Storytelling. Hot cocoa and cookies. And, a view to boot. 
  • Making cinnamon ornaments with my girls. How-to will follow in the days to come.
  • Sing! One of our favorite events in Bath, Sing! is a free community sing at the Chocolate Church for Performing Arts.
  • Baking cookies. Oh, how I'd hoped (could I still pull it off?) to host a cookie exchange with girlfriends.
  • Addressing holiday cards.
  • Celebrating the Solistice. Not sure how yet. But, I'm thinking of creating a new tradition for my family.
  • Making cinnamon rolls for Christmas morning. I love the King Arthur Flour dough mix. And, it is super cute to make it one of their paper forms.
  • Creating simple Christmas magic.
  • Spending lots of time with friends and family.
  • Drinking prosecco with pomagranate seeds and juice. That was oddly (?) placed after spending time with friends and family.
What do you have planned!?!

    Thursday, December 2, 2010

    Signs of Christmas Maine Style

    This time of year in Maine (am I being narrow minded here -- does this tradition happen elsewhere?) one finds evergreen wreaths placed in many unexpected places. And, I'm so glad. It is such a wonderful thing to be caught off-guard by an unexpected evergreen wreath--it instills an instant sense of joy and wonder. Truly.

    Today, I saw this one and just had to share. Now, this is "so Maine".

    By now, many (but certainly not all!) lobstermen and women have pulled their boats (and traps) out of the harbors until warmer days when flocks of tourists come back to this great state. It's a familiar scene to see boats jacked up, resting. Peaceful, yet a tad bit sad. Well, not the Westside (the name of this lobster boat) -- she looks mighty cheery and in-season.

    Keep me posted on evergreen wreaths you find in mysterious locations.

    Wednesday, December 1, 2010

    December- John Updike's Take

    In keeping with tradition here at Maine-ly Home, here is John Updike's poem "December". If you haven't already purchased a copy of this book, I highly recommend A Child's Calendar. The book is filled with lovely illustrations and a John Updike Poem for every month of the year.


    First snow! The flakes,
    So few, so light,
    Remake the world
    In solid white.

    All bundled up,
    We feel as if
    We were fat penguins,
    Warm and stiff.

    The toy-packed shops
    Half split their sides,
    And Mother brings home
    Things she hides.

    Old carols peal.
    The dusk is dense.
    There is a mood
    Of sweet suspense.

    The shepherds wait,
    The kings, the tree--
    All wait for something
    Yet to be,

    Some miracle.
    And then it's here,
    Wrapped up in hope--
    Another year!

    Tuesday, November 30, 2010

    So Behind Already

    Holy smokes, it is November 30th, and I've just returned from a long vacation with my family. That's the good news - vacation with my family.

    The bad news? It's November 30th and that means tomorrow is December 1st which means things are about to get really busy. It also means it's time to dazzle my family with the latest advent calendar inspiration. Every year it's a bit different.

    Last year, I numbered little galvanized pails and hung them on a clothesline filled with little trinkets and messages. Kind of like this one from Garnet Hill which is SO on sale, I just ordered one. Just because. I know, that seems silly, since I have one already. Shoot. Maybe I shouldn't have done that. Oh well.

    Via Here

    One of my traditions is to have more than one advent "calendar". I know, it is wrong. It's like having multiple planning calendars. But, I can't help it. My love for advent calendars is genetic -- just ask LoveVermont. (And, while you are there, check out the amazing advent finds she has spotted!).

    This year I'm resorting to my old standby (which is still going to require some work between now and the morning)--a little Christmas tree with tiny decorations to add each day. It is super nostalgic for me, as my Nana made one of these for us when we were kids). In year's past I've wrapped tiny little boxes and put little miniature gift tags on each. This year, since I'm out of time, I'm going to use this cute little advent wagon I picked up a few years back (I told you, advent calendars are an obsession) to hold a little ornament for the day. I'll try to post a photo tomorrow.

    And, as our second advent calendar, we'll be using the German one my husband picked up on a recent business trip there. It's filled with chocolate. Good chocolate.

    Now, my big worry is little Baby R. The rascal, as she is so fondly nicknamed. Neither of these are appropriate for her -- and, yet she will surely want to join in the counting fun. Hmmm. Can I come up with something before dawn?

    Do you count the days til Christmas with an advent calendar? What's your tradition?

    Monday, November 15, 2010

    Taming the Art: Unique Ideas for Preserving Your Child's Art

    In six plus years, my daughter has created many treasured pieces of art. Some of my favorites, include the very early people drawings. Huge heads with big smiles. Big bellies. Skinny legs. Love 'em. My daughter's current specialty? Flowers, especially Roses (inspired by her baby sister, I suppose). I love the idea of preserving these masterpieces in unique ways. Naturally, some crafty folks at Etsy have come up with some super clever and beautiful ways to preserve (or repurpose?) your child's art.

    Pendant. I love this pendant with a miniature version of your child's drawing. Check out the details.

    And, how about a nifty Key Fob that anyone would be proud to carry.

    And, here's another great pendant or charm.

    I'm thinking there are some great grandparent gift ideas here....what do you think?

    Thursday, November 11, 2010

    Taming the Art: A Portfolio of Their Own

    {photo via Schoolfolio}

    A few years back, I told my daughter it was time to recycle some of her artwork off of the gallery (a clothesline with clothespins in our kitchen). I had no idea the effect this would have.

    I saw her secretly try to hide artwork around the house. Behind a plant. Under a bed. Behind a door. Etc. And, then, I realized that she wasn't ready--she needed to hold onto her artwork longer. But, where could we keep it? Well....

    A dear friend of mine created a brilliant solution for storing your child's art -- Schoolfolio.

    Schoolfolios are archival quality (no fading masterpieces!) plastic storage cases or portfolios. These attractive (and highly practical) portfolios come in two sizes - a single folio and an all-in-one.

    {photo via Schoolfolio}

    Now, all year long, my daughter puts her art (after it has gotten due time on display) in her portfolio (the single version). At the end of the year, I sort through and pick out a good sampling and put them for more permanent storage in the all-in-one. From time to time during the year, my daughter pulls out her portfolio and admires her work. I love watching her sort through it.

     {photo via Schoolfolio}

    If you decide a Schoolfolio is right for you, order at -- please select my name (Michelle Lambert) under Affiliates so my friend knows I referred you! :)

    Wednesday, November 10, 2010

    Taming the Art

    I love kids art - especially art created by my little artists. I hang it with pride.

    Or, at least it started out this way. 

    But, a couple of years ago, I started getting pretty overwhelmed by the quantity of art being cranked out by my prolific aspiring Van Gogh.

    I haven't found the solution. But, I've been slowly figuring out a way to tame the art. It's a delicate balance of proudly displaying these masterpieces, then finding it's next life. (Yes, sometimes that includes the recycle bin.) This process has involved a lot of research into clever ways to display, store and re-purpose art -- and, I thought I'd share some of my learning.

    So, throughout the rest of this week -- and into next week, I'll be highlighting the various cool things I've learned about. And, as always, I'm eager to hear from you. What do you do with your child's art?

    Monday, November 8, 2010

    Wicked Cool New Photograph Technology

    In Maine, when something is really something, you say "wicked". Wicked cool. Wicked cold. Wicked hot. You get the idea.

    Well, I have some wicked cool photograph technology to tell you about.

    About a month ago, I was given the opportunity to try out Fracture for free. I wrote about how excited I was to try it out. And, I'm so glad I did.

    Basically, you upload your photo to their website, pick the size and border you like - and then Fracture prints your photo, complete with border, right onto glass that doubles as a frame. A few days later you receive your Fracture print and it is ready to go. It comes ready to hang -- or with an easel for tabletop use. Here's a snapshot of the product I got!

    It's super affordable and cool looking. I'm thinking holiday gifts...

    Footnote: I received a free Fracture frame for review. The thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are my own.

    Thursday, November 4, 2010

    The Early Bird Catches the Worm

    This coming weekend includes the first Saturday in November -- and, here in Bath, Maine that means something important.

    It's the Early Bird sale.

    What IS the Early Bird sale you ask?

    It is, among other things (I would be remiss if I didn't point out that it is also the opening of hunting season - which for me means the beginning of many solo Saturdays and the need to add flame orange to my wardrobe), one of the very cool things that happens here in this town.

    Before dawn, hundreds of area residents in search of bargains will head to town in their PJs. Most stores open at 5:30 to 6 a.m. with huge sales. The sales begin to diminish as the morning arrives. By 9 a.m., store prices are (typically) back to normal. It is a hoot. People in curlers and PJs, scrambling around in the dark trying to score a deal. As the clock strikes 9, people gather in the streets to say hello to friends and neighbors and enjoy some donuts and hot coffee.

    For those of you unfamiliar with this cool town, you should know that we have a real main street--we work hard at keeping our historic downtown alive. Here on Front Street in Bath, you'll find everything you need (and no big box stores or chains). There is a fabulous coffee shop, a bookstore, a 1950s style got-everything-you-need-department-store, an awesome cooking store, a couple of banks, an everything-made-in-Maine-gift store, a toy store (with really terrific toys), a kids clothing boutique, a couple of gift stores, a pharmacy, a health food store...oh, and I'm probably missing a few things...but you get the picture!

    So, now you know what I'll be doing on Saturday. And, Miss Baby R who is our resident social butterfly and early bird, is counting the days.

    Wednesday, November 3, 2010

    Do-Over-Dinner: Thai Curried Fish Chowder

    I can't believe I'm even going to admit this.

    I'm a Maine-r and I've never made fish chowder (or, more appropriately said, "chow-dah"). Shocking, right?

    Truth is, I'm not a huge fan of it. Don't get me wrong, I won't refuse (and, I'll probably even really enjoy) a really good chowder. But, the really good ones are few and far between.

    But, I decided it was time to learn to make my own fish soup or chowder. I mean, goodness, I have fresh fish at my doorstep and I love soup...what is holding me back?

    So I purchased some really fresh chowder pieces from Port Clyde Fresh Catch (at the Bath Farmer's Market -- but you can also order online) and decided to try my hand at a Thai Curry Fish Chowder. But, remember, I live in Bath, Maine. And, while this town has many wonderful things to offer, an ethnic supermarket is not one of them. So, naturally, I couldn't find all the ingredients I needed for any of the recipes I found. So, my recipe, which one do-over status, involved a whole lot of improvisation.

    Maine-ly Home's Thai Curry Fish Chowder

    What You Need:
    • 1 tablespoon live oil
    • 5 green onions, finely chopped (white and green parts)
    • 5 garlic cloves, minced
    • 2-3 tablespoons green curry paste (start with 2, add another -- or more - for more spice)
    • 3/4 cup fish stock (I bought it in a box - but your fish counter might sell their own.)
    • 1/2 cup water
    • 2 cans (~13 oz each) of coconut milk (I used one "light" one regular.)
    • 1 large carrot, thinly sliced on the diagonal
    • 2 handfuls of snow pea pods
    • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
    • 1 lb of fish, cut in small chunks (my fish was haddock)
    • 1 tablespoon of fresh mint, chopped finely
    • 2 tablespoons of fresh basil, chopped finely
    • salt, to season
    • a wedge of lime
    What to Do:
    • Heat oil in dutch oven (or a saucepan with a thick bottom) over medium heat.
    • Add garlic and saute until fragrant (20 seconds-ish).
    • Add green onion. Saute 1 minute, stirring frequently (to prevent burning).
    • Once garlic is browned, add a large spoonful of the coconut cream (don't shake the can - just open and the coconut cream will be separated).  Melt.
    • Add in green curry paste. Stir and cook approximately 3 minutes. The fragrance is amazing!
    • Add the rest of the coconut cream and "milk" (the watery part), water and stock.
    • Bring to a boil, then turn down to simmer.
    • Add salt to taste.
    • Add in fish. Cook for 5 minutes.
    • Add in carrot. Cook another 5 minutes.
    • Check fish for "done-ness".
    • Add in pepper, snowpeas, basil, mint and lime juice. Simmer 1 minute.
    • Serve over jasmine rice.

    Tuesday, November 2, 2010

    Love and Elections

    Today I celebrate two things.

    My marriage to a wonderful man...

    and the freedom to vote.

    Two very important things.

    Monday, November 1, 2010

    November: A Planner

    Yikes. It's already into November and I haven't got my ducks in a row. Here are some of the things I've got planned for November.
    • Raking leaves. We have three trees that have a whole lot of leaves.
    • Hitting the Early Bird Sale in Bath. Saturday, November 6th.
    • Planning December (because it will be here before I've digested my Thanksgiving turkey and as you will soon learn - December is a very important month in my life and in Maine life).
    • Eating lots of turkey.
    • Snipping winterberry for my holiday decor.
    • Starting to think about holiday gifts - though I'm really excited to say that we have successfully scaled back the gift giving in our extended family. 
    • Heading indoors for the Bath Farmer's Market.
    • Picking up my local meat for the winter. This year, we're getting half a lamb, a turkey and a quarter of a pig. Honestly, I've never done this before - and, I know nothing about cooking lamb or pork - but, I'm looking forward to the adventure.
    • Signing up for our Maine Shrimp share through Port Clyde Fresh.

    Halloween Weekend

    Well, we did it. We survived Halloween 2010. Here's a glimpse into our Halloween weekend.

    Jumping in leaves, waiting for the high schoolers who were supposed to rake them (They never showed up! Grrr.).

     We carved a jack o' lantern.

    We tried to make our house look festive and a little spooky.

    We got dressed up in our costumes. We were able (luckily) to convince our eldest that we shouldn't (as a family) be the lifecycle of a butterfly. D and I were duking it out for the roles of chrysallis and caterpillar. And, I thought the photo opportunities for Baby R (appointed "the egg" by big sister) were limited (and disappointing!). But, many kudos to our eldest for her smart idea! :) In the end, we decided on a beautiful monarch butterfly and a lovely flower. With the exception of the wings, we were able to piece together the outfits from things we had (and a couple of thrift store finds!).

    We gathered on the steps (we seem to alternate steps) for our annual neighborhood photo. These kids have been trick or treating together most of the last 7 years.

    We (Baby R, really) discovered candy. Eek.

    The one thing I am bummed about is that I forgot my camera (what is up with that?) when we went to the Pumpkin Festival at LL Bean. It was a truly magical event - many thousands of jack o lanterns lit for a cause (Camp Sunshine). It was especially fun as Baby R is currently obsessed with pumpkins which she calls "pum-pums" -- so it was an hour of "pum pum, pum pum, pum pum." :)

    And, how was YOUR Halloween?

    November - Updike's Take

    In keeping with tradition at Maine-ly Home, here's John Updike's monthly poem from A Child's Calendar.

    The striped and shapely
    Maple grieves
    The loss of her
    Departed leaves

    The ground is hard
    As hard as stone.
    The year is old.
    The birds are flown.

    And yet the world,
    Displays a certain loveliness--

    The beauty of
    The bone. Tall God
    Must see our souls
    This way, and nod.

    Give thanks: we do,
    Each in his place
    Around the table
    During grace.

    Friday, October 29, 2010

    Pumpkin Patch Failures

    Are you tired of me talking about how much I love Fall? Sorry. It runs deep.

    Anyhow, one of my VERY favorite Fall activities is getting pumpkins. In part because of the part because of the photo opportunities.

    This year's pumpkin gathering, however, didn't go exactly as hoped.

    Attempt number one. Vision. A hayride to pumpkin patch. Charming in concept; disappointing in execution. The day turned out to be exceptionally warm (75!) which meant the girls were in summer clothes which wasn't what I had in mind for the pictures. The second disappointment was that the pumpkins were ever-so-obviously (evidenced by the huge empty box marked pumpkins) planted in the field and were miniature (look at the disappointment on Baby R's face!)- hardly appropriate for carving. Sigh.

    Attempt number two. Weather chilly enough to seem more appropriate. Pumpkins large enough to satisfy. But, pumpkin hat forgotten and only 11 minutes at the pumpkin patch on the way to take Dad to the airport.

    Result? A beautiful and huge pumpkin...and exactly 11 minutes of great fun with my pumpkins.

    The Not-So-Brilliant Halloween Decoration

    I must admit, I was rather impressed with super simple and inexpensive Halloween table decor.

     What I didn't anticipate was this.

    I know. There are SO many things wrong with this. My toddler climbing up on to the table. My toddler reaching into where a candle might be lit. My toddler eating candy. Oh, and, the fact that I took time out to grab my camera when I discovered the Candy Corn Caper in action.

    Clearly, she must have seen someone else do this...In any event, the display is clearly coming down.

    Thursday, October 28, 2010

    Weekend Halloween Festivities

    Man, oh, man. There are SO many local Halloween-y options for the weekend. Here are just a few I have my eyes on...
    • Trick or  Treat Tromp. It takes place in Bath at Waterfront Park from 3-5. Parade. Candy. Photos by awesome photographer SoggyDogDesigns. Learn more.
    • 15th Annual Pirates Party at the Maine Maritime Museum (Bath, Maine). 
    • Camp Sunshine Pumpkin Festival at LL Bean. Pumpkin carving (and lots of other activities) for a cause.
    • Red Cloak Haunted History Tour. The Lady in the Red Cloak wanders the streets with a lantern in hand (I've seen her for years and always wanted to know what she has to say. Of course, there is the risk she'll tell tales of ghosts living in my 170 year old house. Get the scoop on the tours.
    And, of course, we've got to carve our own pumpkins, put finishing touches on our costumes and gear up for trick or treating.

    OooLaLa! It's National Chocolate Day!

    Did you know? I didn't. But, thankfully, the Internet informed me in time. You see, I'm a huge chocolate fan.But, not just any old chocolate. Good chocolate.

    Honestly, it is my biggest weakness (no comments from the peanut gallery on other weaknesses). I could do without sugar. But, eliminate dark chocolate from my life? Can't be done, I'm afraid.

    I credit (blame?) my French genes. My grandfather Pierre was also a huge chocolate fan. He typically started a meal by thinking about what chocolate concoction would end his meal. Love that.

    Even one of my very closest friendships has a rich chocolate history. I'm serious. A woman I met while studying in Africa shared my chocolate passion. But, chocolate wasn't easy to come by. She and I would buy chocolate (Cadbury chocolate was the only chocolate available) in Nairobi and stash it so when we were in the bush we could have small rations of chocolate goodness. The moment I knew when this lovely woman would be my friend forever? When I gave her (she stole?) my last piece of chocolate when we were camped out in Samburu -- days away from seeing chocolate.

    Today, it seems, there are so many wonderful chocolates on the market. I'm a big fan of Endangered Species Chocolate which not only is delicious, but also practices sustainability and gives portions of its procees to organizations near and dear to my heart, like the African Wildlife Foundation. My current chocolate of choice? Chocolove Dark Chocolate with Sea Salt and Almonds. It is the perfect concoction of sweet, salty and dark rich chocolate. And, as an added bonus, a love poem inside!You've got to try it.

    If you are in Maine, there are all sorts of chocolate wonders. Havens has been making chocolate wonderfulness since 1915. You can even tour the chocolate factory! Or, chocolate and blueberry combinations like Maine Munchies. Or a local favorite, Main Sweets -- her needhams (a Maine chocolate tradition which contains potato!) are to die for.

    Whatever your favorite chocolate concoction is, I hope you enjoy some today -- it's mandatory.

    Wednesday, October 27, 2010

    The Summer Job That Keeps on Giving

    When I was seventeen, I wanted a summer job away from home. Not just anywhere. Not just any job. Specifically, I wanted to wait tables at the Maine seaside resort where my Dad had waited tables many years before.

    It was out of the question. They [my parents] said so.

    Then, miraculously, through business, my Dad [the meanie referenced earlier] met the owners of the neighboring small Inn [If you are looking for a wonderful place to stay on the coast of Maine, I highly recommend this place--Rock Gardens Inn and Cottages]. They just so happen to be hiring a full-time babysitter for the summer for their three year old son. They weren't, however, eager to have a 17 year old living in their staff housing. But, they took a chance on me--and, I'm so glad they did. For the next few summers and periodic school vacations, I was the babysitter.

    On most days, it was an exceptionally fun job. Seriously, what's not to love about taking care of children on the coast of Maine? But, I think one of the most rewarding parts of the job was the relationships I developed with the family. To this day, they are a part of my life. (They were there to meet my first born in the hospital!)

    One of the many wonderful experiences this "job" afforded me was the opportunity to meet - and get to know their grandfather -- great American painter, Will Barnet. He is a remarkable man with endless energy, patience and charm. One of the times I stayed with the family at the National Arts Club in Gramercy Park, Mr. Barnet took me out to galleries. We hopped on buses (yes, buses!) and rode from gallery to gallery. He introduced me to people (what people, I have no idea); he talked to me about art. He exposed me to a world I knew nothing about. I was in awe of the whole experience. Galleries. Buses. People in fancy clothes. Had I really comprehended who he was, I might have been intimidated. But, to me, he was this completely approachable grandfather figure who was taking me on an outing in the city. It is a memory I will cherish forever.

    Mr. Barnet, now 99, continues to paint in his Gramercy Park studio every day. Yesterday, Mr. Barnet was featured prominently in the New York Times. The article tells his story -- and the photos show the kind and approachable man who opened up my world in a whole new way.

    Wednesday, October 20, 2010

    Crafternoon: Featuring My Husband!

    I know, I know, it has been much to long since we've crafted over here at Maine-ly Home. Believe me, I'm suffering. But, it's back. And, I'm really pleased to share this "crafternoon" (which was more like a whole lot of early mornings and evenings) with my husband.

    Move over, Martha Stewart. Meet my husband.

    My crafty (who knew?) husband took a bright yellow plastic kayak and turned it into a totally camouflaged vessel designed for "looking for" ducks and geese.  It wasn't easy.  

    He researched what ready-to-buy camo boats look like; he researched options for how to effectively cover plastic (I scored big points when I pointed out that Krylon makes a spray paint especially for plastics--and, wouldn't you know, he discovered they make it in camo colors!); he researched what patterns of reeds and grasses make you most sneaky;  he researched accessories (e.g. clips to attach duck decoys); etc.  
    Armed (!) with duct tape (yup, it comes in camo, too!), spray paint -- and his own stencils (yes, he made stencils! I asked him, jokingly, if we were going to use those same stencils to decorate our bedroom. He didn't take it as a joke, so now I live in fear that I might come home one day to be living in a stenciled duck blind.) 

    Ultimately, he created his very own, one-of-a-kind, waterfowl-seeking hide-a-way. Pretty, cool, huh?

    Now, let's see what he can do with some wool, buttons and a glue gun!

    Tuesday, October 19, 2010

    The Curse of the White Picket Fence

    {photo via here}

    A house with a white picket fence. Every girl's dream, I'm told. Well, I have that house -- a house with a white picket fence. It's vintage, to boot.

    Like many historic home owners, I have a love/hate relationship with my 170+year old beast. I love the stories the walls tell. I love the wide pumpkin pine floors. I love horse hair plaster walls. I love the clawfoot tub and pedestal sinks. I love the high ceilings with elaborate plaster ceiling medallions. I love the look of old windows with the ripples in the glass and pulleys that make them work.

    I hate the lack of storage. I hate that nothing is level. I hate that plaster cracks (and, therefore, I never hang anything in fear). I hate that beautiful white trim must be painted. I hate that those charming old windows leak air and rattle (oh, and have lead paint). But, do you know what I hate the most?

    You guessed it. My picket fence.

    It's not that I don't still love the look of a white picket fence. I just hate the upkeep. Have you ever tried to paint a fence with toddler in tow? I did it once 5 years ago - and now I'm doing it again. Yesterday, I set out to tackle it all on my own. Grand ambitions - slap on a coat of paint in an hour. Reality? I painted the gate and one section and it started to rain. Grrrr. I repeat. I hate my white picket fence.

    Thursday, October 14, 2010

    In Honor of Water-Blog Action Day!

    You may or may not know, but today is Blog Action Day. It's a pretty cool annual event that unites the world's bloggers in posting about the same issue on the same day.  The idea? Raise awareness and trigger a global discussion around an important issue that impacts us all. This year's topic? Water.

    Not unlike many people in the developed world, I take water for granted. I assume that when I turn on my water faucet, water - and, more specifically, clean water, will flow abundantly. I also assume that the waterways that are so key to my personal grounding - and my recreation--will not only continue to exist, but be healthy, clean and full of life. (Not likely, given that 40 percent of America's rivers and 46 percent of America's lakes are too polluted for fishing, swimming or aquatic life.)

    I take these things for granted - and, yet, I have personally experienced and/or seen that water - let alone clean water -- should not be taken for granted:

    I grew up in rural Maine on a 55-acre hobby farm. Blueberries, chickens, sheep, pigs and acres and acres of Maine loveliness. But, a decade after moving into this home, we were no longer able to drink our well water thanks to groundwater contamination from a now-designated Superfund site that was miles from our home. For more than a year, my family was forced to take showers in the local public school locker rooms and cart bottled water home for drinking and cooking. Not horrible in the scheme of life, I know, but a hardship for us at the time. Eventually, the groundwater contamination situation meant our rural home was piped into town/city water. Since then, while I love the taste (and the concept of) well water, I'm a pretty big believer in town/city water.  

    I've also seen time and time again (I am - or at least I was pre-children - an avid traveler - the developing world my preferred destination!) that in the developing world, water, particularly clean water, is a rare commodity. In Africa, women walk miles and miles (Continent-wide, African women walk 40 billion hours each year to fetch water for their families!) to collect water to bring to their families. Sadly, all that hard work, and, in all likelihood, their families are drinking water that potentially threatens their lives. It's true. In fact, almost a billion people on the planet don't have access to clean, safe drinking water.That means one in eight of us are subjected to preventable disease and even death. 

    I have also witnessed the powerful impact of "water wars" in a California region near and dear to my family's heart. Critical ecosystems have been drastically affected (huge efforts are reversing this trend, thankfully!) by the water demands of the City of Los Angeles hundreds of miles away. 

    As I sit here writing, I sip on a glass of clean water from my kitchen faucet. I am grateful. I am hopeful that today as bloggers around the world unite on this issue that we are making a step towards ensuring that everyone can have access to clean water. It is a matter of life and death.