Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Heritage Days Are Coming!

It is hard to believe that Independence Day is just around the corner. It frightens me really as it means summer is well under way...and in my life it has barely gotten started.

But, anyhow....

I don't know of a town (though my dear friend Heidi would probably argue that Vinalhaven, Maine does it better) that celebrates Independence Day better than Bath, Maine. It is good old fashioned Americana at its finest, Maine-style. A four day festival that boasts:
  • Maine's largest parade (Better get there early to get a good spot!)
  • A boat parade--on the Kennebec River, of course!
  • A Carnival--the kind we all have a love/hate relationship, rides and, yes, cotton candy and fried dough.
  • A Chili-Chowder Fest--a local competition between some of the area's finest restaurants)
  • Fireman's Muster--an event which pits teams from five states with antique fire pump rigs)
  • 5K Fun Run -- a fun run through the town's historic district
  • The Front Street Shuffle--more than 125 antique cars will line nationally acclaimed Front Street.
  • Strongman Competition--trolley pulling!
  • Arts & Crafts Fair--features more than 30 Maine artisans!
  • Fireworks over the Kennebec River.
  • Children's Activities--a day just for kids, includes face painting, arts and crafts activities, bounce houses and more.
  • Outdoor concerts--featuring Bath's Municipal Band (More on this another day...but this is one of my favorite Bath activities all summer long.) and good old fashioned American ballads on the lawn by the town's gazebo.
Find out more about Bath Heritage Days.

If you are within driving distance, I highly recommend checking this festival out. If not, well, I'll try to share some highlights (in photos, of course!) here.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Ice Cream Season

It is without a doubt, ice cream season. To celebrate, we took Baby R. for her first ice cream (My food rules have clearly slipped with child #2. I believe child #1 was denied all refined sugar until 2. Sigh.). Clearly, she needs a little help on the eating technique. But, boy was she a happy little girl.

I hope you are enjoying ice cream season.

4th of July Style

Perhaps you already known Betz White? If you don't, you should. Betz is a super creative designer, blogger, author and crafter. You can find her on her blog or via my Blog Favorites list.

Just look at what she's made for Independence Day! Oh, how I want one of these! (And, I love her idea of using them as awards/medals for 4th of July activities.)

{photo via Betz White}

She calls it the Libby Brooch and she's shared the how-to here.

Like craft books? I recommend Betz' books. The books are fun to read and the projects are not only cute and original, but have easy-to-follow projects. I personally own Warm Fuzzies: 30 Sweet Felted Projects -- it has some great projects. I (and I'm not a sew-er) have even made a few of the projects.


A Really Sustainable Marriage

 {photo via Portland Press Herald/Tim Greenway}

Got your attention, huh?

In the fields of Washington, Maine, a young couple (pictured above) is busily tending their 7,500 square foot garden in preparation for their wedding. Yes, preparing their garden for their wedding. But, unlike the image you might have of a couple making sure the flowers look "just so", this couple is busily growing the food that they will serve to their wedding guests in September.

Very cool, huh? Well, I think the even cooler thing is that they are enlisting the help of friends and family the day before the wedding to help transform the harvest into the wedding dinner. Now, this is what I call the ultimate pre-wedding bonding activity.

Their is certainly a green wedding trend - and even a more homemade wedding trend. For example, some caterers now offer organic menus or 100-mile menus - and brides and grooms are giving away homemead favors such as self or locally-made jams (We did this at our wedding 7 years ago...way ahead of the curve, I tell you...). But, this takes it to a whole new level for sure.

For the budget conscious wedding planner, this couple's approach is a winner. So far they've spent less than $600 growing the vegetables and chickens. Their wedding budget is about $6600 (about $1500 earmarked for food) -- that's half the national average!

Join me in following Julia and Andy as they approach their really green wedding and embark in what will surely be a sustainable marriage (afterall, a couple who can embark on such an endeavor clearly has what it takes!). Here is their blog, A Local Food Wedding from see to Plate

In the meantime, look at what they have on the menu:

Veggie sticks (carrots, cucumbers, cauliflower, green peppers, etc.)
Homemade hummus
Fruit (cantaloupe, watermelon, apples, etc.)
Bread from a local bakery
Homemade pesto

Roast chicken, raised by the happy couple
Autumn gold squash soup
Oven fries
Cubed hubbard squash with kale
Green salad
Caprese salad (tomatoes, basil, mozzarella and olive oil)
Asian cabbage slaw
Pickles made from Davis' great-grandmother's recipe
Bread from a local bakery

Pie made by the bride and groom's moms
Ice cream from John's Ice Cream Factory in Liberty, Maine

Friday, June 25, 2010

This Weekend: Hands Across the Sand

 {photo via Hands Across the Sand}

Okay, WARNING, this is a BIG switch from my last post.

From Whoopie Pies to an around-the-world movement (taking place on the SAME day as the Whoopie Pie Festival) protesting offshore drilling. Quite a switch, eh? Well, that's the kind of thing that you can expect here at Maine-ly Home - especially when it is important stuff. Well, this i important so listen up.

This weekend(Saturday, specifically), all around the world, people will be joining hands on beaches (and in cities) in a peaceful moved called Hands Across the Sand. This international movement is made of people of all walks of life and crosses political affiliations and designed to send a positive and powerful message about the importance of protecting our coastal economies, oceans, marine wildlife, and fishing industry.  Its about protecting all of the above from the devastating effects of oil drilling.

Finding an Event Near You
Whether you live near a beach or not, it is likely a Hands Across the Sand event is happening near you. Look here to see.

Planning an Event in Your Neighborhood
Any person in any country may plan events--and this website provides all sorts of helpful tool including templates for flyers, press releases and advertisements. And, not to panic, it's a pretty simple event, just:

Go to your beach on June 26 at 11 AM in your time zone.
  • Form lines in the sand and at 12:00, join hands.
The image is powerful, the message is simple.  NO to Offshore Oil Drilling, YES to Clean Energy.

Send a Message
Whether you plan to stand on a beach this weekend or not, consider sending a message to President Obama expressing your support for stopping offshore drilling and moving towards more clean energy. This site makes it easy -- really easy -- just a click of a button.

See you on the beach!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Whoopie! It's the Maine Whoopie Pie Festival

{photo via Like The Dew}

Start working up your appetite for the sweet goodness of Maine's favorite dessert -- whoopie pies! This Saturday is the 2010 Maine Whoopie Pie Festival.

What, you aren't familiar with a whoopie pie? Say it isn't so. Well, it is THE sweetest dessert on the planet, for certain. And, around Maine it's commonplace (and, you'll find them in all sorts of flavors) -- I think it safe to say that many households make their own (though I must admit I never have). 

I think Wikipedia describes it best...

A whoopie pie (alternatively called a gob, black-and-white, bob, or "BFO" for Big Fat Oreo) is a baked good made of two round mound-shaped pieces of chocolate cake, sometimes pumpkin cake, with a sweet, creamy frosting sandwiched between them.[1] While considered a New England phenomenon and a Pennsylvania Amish tradition,[2] they are increasingly sold throughout the United States.[1] According to food historians, Amish women would bake these (known as hucklebucks at the time) and put them in farmers' lunchboxes. When farmers would find these treats in their lunch, they would shout "Whoopie!"[1]

Intrigued to try this sweet treat? Or, already consider yourself a whoopie pie connoisseur and ready to cast your vote? Well, now's your chance. On June 26th (this Saturday), Dover-Foxcroft will become whoopie pie central with the arrival of the 2010 Whoopie Pie Festival. Professional and amateur bakers will let you sample (and vote!) their creations. And, of course, the festival will have a whole host of other activities too--including a performance by Dave Mallet.

101 Things To Do

Yes, indeed, I have 101 things to do. But, that's not what this blog post is about, thankfully.

I recently learned (thanks for the tip, Kate!) of this really wonderful website called Maine: 101 Things to Do. A comprehensive list of 101 uniquely Maine things to do. Whether you are looking for a unique adventure like catching your own lobster or simply looking for some scenic drives -- this should be your go-to site. Maps. Coupons. An at-a-glance list of today's happenings. You name it, they got it. I know I'll be frequenting this site -- hope you will too!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Green Time

{image via Sprout}

As we established a few days ago, summer has officially arrived. In my life that means for the next few months I'm trying to cram in a whole lot of summer living. In the spirit of slowing down, I'm hoping to not be a slave to a schedule.

The reality is, however, (though my husband will disagree with me on this point!), that one does always need to know the time. And, well, I keep looking at my grown-up metal watch and thinking that I'd like to spice things up a bit. So, I was pretty pumped to find this cool watch. It comes in a million colors (including subdued colors-- but, c'mon it's summer!) -- but, this blue and green combo is my favorite.

Here's the real bonus -- it is $24 -- and VERY green.

A green watch? Yup. You bet. Here are some of the green features:
  • Sprout® watches have fabric bands made from green materials -- organic cotton, bamboo, and corn resin (corn resin will actually break down in a compostable environment!).
  • Sprout® lenses are made from Mineral crystal which is a type of glass made from sand. It can technically be recycled.
  • Sprout® packaging is made from at least 80% post consumer fibers. It is both recycled and recyclable.
  • Sprout® batteries are mercury-free.
  • Sprout watches are entirely lead and phthalate free
So, what are you waiting for...swap out whatever is on your wrist for this fun AND green watch.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Tooth Fairy Crisis

You'd think I'd have this - the toothy fairy thing -- all figured out. Afterall, my daughter has been desperately trying to lose a tooth for the entire last year. And, maybe, just maybe, I would have stepped up the planning when her bottom tooth got REALLY wiggly a week ago. Not even the hourly, "See how loose it is Mama" reminders seemed to kick me into gear.

But, when the tooth came out at 5 p.m. tonight and she proudly displayed it in her hand, panic set in.

I know there is a protocol for this. I'm certain. I just don't know what it is. Shoot, I wondered -- what does the tooth fairy do these days? In my day, the tooth fairy left a quarter. Seemed reasonable, though somehow it seems inflation must have changed this. But, what if the other kids in the 'hood have a fairy that does something different...maybe everybody here is on the same page...and the mystique of the tooth fairy could be blown by me. Ugh. Such pressure.We'll just have to chart our own course on this, I guess.

My daughter and I had sewed a little pouch in anticipation of losing a tooth and, it turns out, she had been keeping close tabs on it so she actually handed it to me and said, "what do we do with this?".  I said, "oh, right, well, you'll put your tooth in that pouch and put it under your pillow." "BUT, MAMA....we were supposed to make a tooth on it so the tooth fairy knows what it is!". I tried to dissuade her of this idea, but the long -- the very long - face made me desperately unpack all the carefully packed up boxes (in the process of a move here) in search of a felting needle and wool...or something. I found some embroidery thread and needle and set to work stitching a tooth on the outside of the pouch. (Okay, CLEARLY, I need some serious work on my embroidery skills...). The proud little (toothless) smile my little one flashed made me realize that the mad dash was worth it.

Cute little pouch with cute little tooth from my cute little girl placed under pillow in great anticipation of the tooth fairy.

Phew. Crisis overted.

Um, well, until, it turns out, we (my husband and I) realized we didn't know (read: weren't on the same page) what the tooth fairy would leave behind.

After discussion (one must discuss these things, of course), we agreed upon (and implemented) our plan.

Let's just hope we have been consistent enough to pass the laugh test. :)

Now, onto more important things like watching my little girl figure out her new smile, how to eat with a missing tooth and the like.

What does the tooth fairy do at your house?

Sunday, June 20, 2010

It's Official

Summer has officially arrived. It's summer solstice today, in case you didn't know!

My Summer Wishes:
  • little girls (my girls) who are sweaty, dirty and tired from having so much fun
  • listening to music -- in outdoor parks and in cabins on Sundays at "camp"
  • camping (at least once) with my family (wish us luck...Baby R promises to challenge us in this arena)
  • boat rides in our  little Morning Star in Merrymeeting Bay and down the Kennebec and Back Rivers
  • sand in my toes
  • swimming in favorite secret (and not-so-secret) swimming holes
  • listening to (and watching) fishing stories...and hopefully eating some fresh fish (trout or stripers!)
  • eating lobster on a dock -- the only way I believe it should be eaten
  • more meals outside than in
  • summer carnivals/fairs -- the kind that serve strawberry shortcake and fresh squeezed lemonade)
  • frequent (and impromptu -- the best kind!) gatherings of family and friends
  • watermelon, watermelon, watermelon
  • ice cream (preferably locally made) chins
  • sand castles
What are YOUR summer wishes?

    Saturday, June 19, 2010

    Happy Father's Day

    {Me and My Dad 40+ Years Ago}

    I am a really lucky girl. Really lucky.

    I just so happen to have the greatest father on earth. Truly.

    As a Dad, he set the standard high. Really high.

    I grew up thinking that all Dads were really funny and really fun. I thought all Dads played with their kids; took their kids on outdoor outings every day of the weekend (like it or not); showed up at games and dance recitals; scheduled weekly one-on-one special times with us; and more or less dropped everything to be there when we needed him. (As an adult, I've come to realize, sadly, that this isn't true for so many.)

    Unfortunately, my Dad's life was cut short --much too short.

    And, I miss him terribly. There honestly isn't a day that goes by when I don't think of him.

    One of the greatest parenting challenges (so far!) I face is trying to find a way to have my girls know their grandfather without ever having met him. All while making sure that we don't dwell in the past. It isn't easy.

    Lucky for me,  I married a man who is a really wonderful Dad to our two girls. So my girls will grow up like me, believing that fathers are this wonderful...this special. That's the way life should be.

    Happy father's day to all you wonderful fathers.

    Friday, June 18, 2010

    Celebrations - oh my!

     {photo via Film and Thread}

    Wow, who knew June 18th could be such a busy day?

    As I've been saying all week, it's Etsy's birthday. This, of course, means we are supposed to be celebrating by participating in or hosting a craft party. But, it also means, in my book, that I'll just have to celebrate with some Etsy shopping. Yippee!

    But, lo and behold, June 18th is also...are you ready?....National Picnic Day. What a splendidly important day to celebrate, don't you think?

    So, now, of course, I have picnics on the brain. Oh, how I love a picnic!  What do you like to pack in your picnic basket? A loaf of artisan bread and cheese? Fried chicken and potato salad? Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches? Sandwiches from the local sandwich shop?

    For years, I have dreamed of having one of those fancy vintage-style picnic baskets (picnic hampers is actually what I think they are called.). You know, the kind with the real flatware, glasses and plates and checkered napkins? It goes hand-in-hand with my image of pulling up to a Maine coastal hide-away in a vintage pick-up truck (or convertible, I'm flexible).

    But, my actual life lends itself more to an insulated backpack or perhaps an insulated market tote:

    I am, however, totally inspired to step back into my romantic vision of life and get one of these eco-friendly options (e.g. bamboo plates, cutting board and utensils, wine glasses made from recycled glass, natural and undyed cotton napkins; etc.) from Uncommon Goods. How cool is the little wine and cheese table!?!

    And, in the spirit of keeping children busy (a reality of my actual life) and giving Etsy another nod, here is the perfect felt picnic basket for your little one!

    Other Shopping Resources (Besides Uncommon Goods & Etsy):

    Thursday, June 17, 2010

    Etsy Love: Etched in Stone

    {photos in my collage from sjEngraving}

    Okay, so perhaps one of my very favorite Etsy finds of late are these personalized rocks.

    Yes, personalized rocks.

    Engraved by sjEngraving these beautiful natural rocks can be engraved with virtually anything. They can even by engraved on both sides. The possibilities are endless...

    ...a nest of rocks with the names of her children for a mom.
    ...a marker of an important date (I just got one of these for a wedding gift for a couple who claimed to "have everything") important word
    ...a message to a loved one
    ...a reminder to yourself.

    I have a million gift ideas for these. (And, yes, Mom, I absolutely want that owl necklace.)

    Wednesday, June 16, 2010

    Etsy Love: Mason Jar Art

    Mason Jar Love is genetic in this family.


    I grew up with a Mom who used mason jars for virtually everything and even had a collection of antique ones -- many of which were dug up in our Maine yard! I'm happy to report that I've inherited many of those jars. I know for a fact that Mason Jar Love runs deep in this extended family. (Am I right all you family followers?)

    Anyhow, you'll hear more about Mason Jar Love from time to time on Maine-ly Home. But, for now, in the spirit of Etsy Love Week, I'm featuring some Etsy Mason Jar Art.

    Midwest Finds clearly shares my love for Mason Jars. She offers Mason Jar soap/lotion dispensers. And, Mason Jar Hanging Lanterns -- just perfect for summer outdoor parties (Or weddings! Would have been perfect for my barn wedding!)

    Oh Little Rabbit has some to-die-for organic cotton produce bags handblocked with Mason Jars. (They also have dish towels if produce bags aren't your thing.) I'm adding these to my Christmas wish list.

    And, LampGoods (based in Maine!) has some gorgeous pendant lights made out of old Mason Jars! I love, love, love these!

    I think I'll go finish drinking my wine (in a Mason Jar, of course!) and contemplate which of these Mason Jar Loves should be my next purchase.

    Tuesday, June 15, 2010

    Etsy Love: Sustainable and Personalized Blocks

    As I've mentioned, I'm a total Etsy junkie. My friend Kate is, too. (Sorry, Kate, just had to have company on this.) Sometimes we compare guilt stories. And, we always rationalize our purchases by the fact that we are supporting artisans.

    Anyhow, I was shopping for a personalized baby gift (I love personalized baby gifts) for my dear friend Chrissy who had just had a baby boy (with one of my very favorite boy names!) and found these wonderful wooden blocks made by Hudson Block Company.

    The blocks are made of Missouri maple and are free of paint and stain. They are sanded super smooth -- just perfect for a baby! The personalized blocks arrive in a muslin drawstring bag with the name/personalization hand stamped on the outside.

    I'm smitten with the blocks, can you tell?

    Anyhow, the blocks are an obvious baby gift -- but, I think they have lots of gift potential.
    A family name for a newly married couple. A message for a loved one. Holiday greetings for mantels and window sills. Oh, the possibilities!

    Monday, June 14, 2010

    A Birthday Tribute to Etsy

    As I mentioned the other day, Etsy's birthday is this week -- June 18th. In celebration, they are encouraging crafters and aspiring crafters alike to host or join in a Craft Party on the 18th. Learn more here.

    In my own little tribute (have I mentioned how much I LOVE Etsy?),this week I am going to feature some recent Etsy finds I love.

    Tell me, what have you found on Etsy?

    Friday, June 11, 2010

    A Camping Must-Have for Foodies

    I'll admit, I've been camping a lot less since I started having children. 

    I never meant for that to happen. 

    But, well, I'm pretty sure I know why.  

    The first trip with my eldest was well-planned. We even opted for car-camping instead of backpacking. We had a lovely dinner, watched the sunset over the mountains and off to bed. At 2 a.m. we were awakened by our daughter vomiting all over us AND our sleeping bags. Had it been just us, well, I'm guessing we would have stayed. But, wet and smelly sleeping bags wouldn't cut it. So, we packed up in the dark and drove an hour home. 

    The second camping effors were pseudo back-packing trips (e.g. we carried our stuff for a mile). No vomit on this trip. But, the only way my daughter would sleep was on top of my head. Literally. Naturally, I woke (truthfully, I neer even slept) with a migraine and a stiff neck.

    Third trip: repeat of second.

    Fourth trip: I declared that for some time going forward camping would be a father-daughter thing. 

    Fortunately, we have had  a couple of successful efforts now. Thank goodness. Because, when it works, camping really is fun.

    But, now little Miss Goo-Goo-Pants has entered the picture, so I'm guessing...just guessing (the terrible sleep patterns, the put-every-in-thy-mouth-mantra, the seek-danger-attitude are just a few of my cues)...we might be in for some camping bumps again.

    In any event, I'm very excited to get one of these very cool Mobile Foodie Organic Spice Kit for our next camping trip. We love to cook when we are camping. To us, sitting down and having yummy food in the middle of the no where is a really cool feeling.  But, packing the right things for this isn't always easy -- and, now we can be certain we'll have the right spices for whatever we cook (e.g. whatever we catch!) on the trail.

    Mobile Foodie Survival Kit 

    The spice kits are available in four different flavors...a general "survival" kit which includes a little of all the most-common spices; Mexican, Thai and Indian. 

    The Mobile Food Organic Spice Kits are made in New York City by a team of developmentally and other mentally challenged adults, under the supervision of professionals training in working with the mentally challenged, at the Manhattan packaging and assembly workshop of the nonprofits AHRC.
    AHRC, a nationwide 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, was founded to support developmentally disabled children and adults. The organization currently offers adults in this population the opportunity to be gainfully employed in various ways. This allows them not only a sense of accomplishment and the opportunity to contribute to their own support, but a place to build an ongoing, daily community and the accompanying sense of place.

    All the herbs and spices in the kits are USDA-certified organic (not including the wasabi, which is so expensive in organic form that the kit would be prohibitively expensive itself), and come from a farming co-op in Oregon that is dedicated to sustainable farming practices. At this point the Tabasco and soy sauce in the kit are conventional, but that will change at the earliest opportunity. In the meantime...

    By buying a Mobile Foodie Organic Spice Kit, you are supporting not only sustainable, organic farming practices, but also the gainful employment and sense of well-being of the disabled adults who made it. 

    Wednesday, June 9, 2010

    Let's Have a Party!

    I'm a huge Etsy fan. (I promise you'll hear this again and again from me.)

    Not sure what Etsy is? It is an amazing collection of creative people selling their creations on line. Log on - and I dare you to limit your visit (not possible -- you'll be sucked in for hours of window shopping).

    Anyhow, Etsy's birthday is June 18th, and in celebration they have launched Etsy Craft Party, a global initiative to energize your local community, make art together, and throw a party in your neck of the woods. They want to celebrate crafting together on June 18, 2010 with as many celebrations across the globe as possible.

    Etsy and the Craft Party sponsors (more to be announced soon!) will provide every event organizer with a free downloadable Craft Party Kit containing crafty project instructions and templates, along with tips and ideas for hosting your own party. There might even be a few fun coupons and surprises — who knows?!

    So, I invite you -- know I challenge you -- to organize an Etsy Craft Party. Not too long ago, I hosted the first in what I hope is many Crafternoons at my house. And, it was truly a ball to drink wine, eat cake and craft with friends. I'm thinking an Etsy Craft Party could be even better.

    How It Works:
    Etsy started an umbrella Etsy Craft Party on the new and fabulous Meetups Everywhere site. From this over-arching event anyone can start an Etsy Craft Party Meetup, attend an existing Craft Party Meetup, or even step up as an organizer (if there isn't one already).

    If there isn't an Etsy Craft Party Meetup scheduled in your town yet, click Schedule a Meetup near you to get one on the map.

    To find a local Meetup, just search for your town on the Etsy Meetup map and click I'm interested. That will let others know that you'll be there on June 18, and together you can decide what project(s) to make, what snacks to nibble on, and what your individual Craft Party will be like.

    Then, drop some ideas for a location and activity for the Meetup in the comment box to help folks get ideas flowing on where to meet. If your Craft Party Meetup doesn't have an organizer, you should consider stepping up. This will enable you to set the location, change the time, and to curate comments and guests.

    Gearing Up for an Supercharged Outdoor Summer

    {photos via}

    Like many parents, I am keenly aware that school is letting out (already out in some places!) across the country.

    And, frankly, I'm thrilled at the prospect of a break from making sack lunches and fighting the daily "hurry, up you are going to miss the bus" and "you can't wear that" battles. (Oh, and, of course, I'm thrilled about more time with my kid, too!)

    But, I'm also aware that I'm entering a new juggling to work without the regular routine of to help my children have a fun and fulfilling to balance the constant begging for playdates (because, after all, it has been a year of being around kids all the time) and how to make the most of this outdoor season.

    I'm pretty excited to put this relatively new online resource to use this summer. Nature Rocks is a national program that aims to inspire and empower families to play and explore in nature. The website has all kinds of tools like a "Find Nature" activity which enables you to search for a variety of natural spots by zipcode; a "Find Activities" feature which helps to figure out an activity appropriate for you (by age of children, duration of time available and location) -- and even a "Connect" feature which helps you connect with others.

    For our little family, figuring out how to "be" in nature is second nature. Still, sometimes it is nice to have a little help thinking about what nature-rich activity to do -- and how to make it even more engaging for little ones.

    No matter where you live, you'll find something in your area. Go to Nature Rocks and check it out. And, report back on what you did!

    And, if you are looking for some related summer reading, why not check out Richard Louv's Last Child in the Woods -- the inspiration for Nature Rocks.

    Monday, June 7, 2010

    For the Lobster Lover--A Yummy Father's Day Idea!

    {photo via Catch a Piece of Maine}

    For those of you followers who are lucky enough to live in Maine, this idea may seem a little absurd since the odds are you are just minutes away from a lobster dock where you can dine on the freshest of fresh lobster.

    But, for those of you lobster lovers from away, this might be the answer to your culinary prayers.

    Catch a Piece of Maine offers lobsters (and some other native goodies) direct from the lobstermen of the Coast of Maine.

    That's right -- direct from the fishermen themselves -- no middle man.

    Catch a Piece of Maine was started in an effort to help Maine lobstermen. Due to the ever-increasing costs of the trade, many lobstermen are leaving their heritage behind. In fact, according to the Island Institute, of the 5,300 miles of Maine coast, only 20 miles remain as working waterfront.

    By bringing the consumer "closer to the dock" (e.g. buying direct  from the lobstermen), lobstermen earn a much-needed premium, effectively preserving the traditional working waterfront. And, by removing the middle man, consumers have a chance to get to know the dedicated lobsterman who harvested their dinner. (On the website, you'll get a chance to learn about the different lobstermen that caught your meal!)

    So, this Father's Day, why not treat your Dad to a lobster meal caught by another Dad from the Coast of Maine. Although there are many options on their site, Catch of Maine offers a yummy "lobster share" (for $249 including overnight shipping) which includes:

    Four 1 1/2 lb hard shell lobsters (caught by lobsterman Captain Brendan Ready)
    1 lb Maine mussles
    1 lb Jonah crab claws
    4 servings of Maine-made desserts
    lobster bibs, cooking instructions and recipes, utensils, wet-naps, sea salt AND
    a photograph of Captain Brendan, a map detailing the date and location where your gourmet feast was harvested

    (Plus, you also get a DVD about the Catch a Piece of Maine lobstermen.)

    Crafternoon: My New Obsession

    Yup,  knitting baby hats, that's my new obsession.

    And, I just love this new pattern I adapted (aren't I fancy adapting my own patterns!?!) slightly from this pattern.

    Except for the fact that I had to re-do this entirely because my sweet little toddler pulled out some of my first attempt (and, I'm not a fancy enough knitter to know how to fix things...), this was super easy and quick.

    Rolled Brim Baby Hat with a Topknot
    (size 0-6 months)

    What You Need:
    • Size 7 Needles: I used a 16" circular, then switched to size 7 double point needles when I started to decrease.
    • 1 skein of worsted weight yarn. I used a soft acrylic yarn from Michael's called Impeccable in Seaside Ombre.

    How to Make:
    Cast on 72 stitches
    Join in the round, being sure not to twist your stitches. Mark where your round begins, and move along row-to-row.
    Within a few rows, your knitting will begin to roll (this is your hat's brim).
    Knit until your project measures about 4.25" from the bottom of the rolled brim (don't unroll the brim to measure).
    Move your project to double point needles.
    Begin decreasing as follows:
    Row 1: k6, k2tog, repeat around
    Row 2: k5, k2tog, repeat around
    Row 3: k4, k2tog, repeat around
    Row 4: k3, k2tog, repeat around
    Row 5: k2, k2tog, repeat around
    Row 6: k1, k2tog, repeat around
    Row 7: k2tog, repeat around
    You should now have 9 stitches remaining on your double point needles (I used 3 at this point.).
    Knit until this measures 3 3/4 inches
    Bind off.
    Weave in the loose end on the "stem".
    Tie the "stem" into a knot.
    Weave in any other loose ends.

    Thursday, June 3, 2010

    Rhubarb Cake

    When you mention rhubarb to folks, they often let out a happy sigh while saying "strawberry rhubarb pie".

    And, while I imagine strawberry rhubarb pie to be yummy, I'm just not a pie person. (I know, I know, this is incomprehensible to all of you - including my husband -- who love pies. But, it is the truth.)

    Nevertheless, I have a whole lot of rhubarb to put to use, so I went in search of a rhubarb cake recipe. I found a recipe that sounded yummy on (I adapted ever so slightly) -- what cake with buttermilk isn't yummy?

    Despite the fact that my oven went on the fritz while baking (it shot up to 500 degrees despite the fact that I had set it at 350 degrees!), the cake was a HUGE hit with both my family and the company we shared it with.  (I am afraid, however, I have no photos to share as the cake was quite charred on top!)

    Rhubarb Cake

    What You Need:

    For the Cake
    1/2 cup butter
    1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
    1 egg
    1 tsp of vanilla extract
    2 cups of all-purpose flour
    1 tsp baking soda
    1/4 tsp salt
    1 cup buttermilk (if you don't have, just mix one cup of milk with 1 tablespoon of vinegar and let stand for 10 minutes)
    2 cups of rhubarb, chopped and tossed with 1 tablespoon of flour

    For the Crumble Topping
    1/4 cup butter
    2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
    1 cup brown sugar

    How to Make:
    1. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Beat in egg and vanilla extract.
    2. In another bowl, sift together flour, baking soda and salt. (As indicated in previous posts, I don't sift, so I didn't sift!)
    3. Alternate adding buttermilk and flour mixture into creamed mixture.
    4. Add rhubarb. Stir into batter. 
    5. Spoon batter (it's pretty thick!) into a butter 9x13 pan. Smooth.
    6. Using a fork, mix the contents for the crumble topping. Sprinkle evenly over batter.
    7. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.
    How to Serve:
    Truth is, because the top of my cake burned, I didn't serve it. But, my family and company insisted on eating it - right out of the pan! If all things had worked as planned, I would have served on a plate with a dollop of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

    Wednesday, June 2, 2010

    It's National Leave Work Early Day: Rhubarb Margaritas Anyone?

    Don't ask me how I find all these special holidays...but, aren't you glad I do? I mean, who doesn't love the idea of leaving work early?

    Well, I've got the perfect way to celebrate -- because in my world this is actually National Rhubarb Awareness Week.

    Rhubarb margaritas.

    I know, it sounds odd. But, trust me. Yum. (It also makes a great soda -- which my daughter loves --by mixing the rhubarb syrup with sparkling water.)

    (Oh, and for all you I'd-like-to-try-a-rhubarb-margarita-but-just-don't-want-to-go-to-the-effort people, if you happen to live in Maine, you are in luck! I just learned (thanks, Mom!) that El Camino in Brunswick serves them!)

    Rhubarb Margaritas

    2 cups rhubarb, roughly chopped
    2 cups water
    1 cup sugar

    How to Make Rhubarb Syrup for Drinks
    1. Wash and chop rhubarb (about 1" chunks worked well for me).
    2. Place rhubarb, sugar and water in saucepan. Bring to boil, then turn down to simer.
    3. Cook for about 15 minutes.
    4. Turn off the heat and allow to cool.
    5. Strain syrup into a large jar (a carafe or pitcher is fine, too.)
    How to Make a Rhubarb Margarita
    • Mix equal parts tequila and rhubarb syrup. Pour over ice (might even try blending?). Squeeze a wedge of lime. Pour in a glass (I recommend a Mason Jar!). Drink. Ahhhh. 

    Tuesday, June 1, 2010

    Moveover Rhubarb -- It's National Go Barefoot Day

    Not to worry, I'll be back on the rhubarb kick tomorrow, but I just learned (how could I have missed this!?!?) that today - June 1st - is National Go Barefoot Day.

    I'm serious.

    And, it is a serious issue. 

    Sure, you may be psyched for the opportunity to kick-off those shoes -- and even show off those recently painted toes. But, for 300 million children, going barefoot is a daily reality, not a choice.

    This day, go barefoot to show your support -- but, also consider donating to Soles4Souls. For every $1 donated, one pair of shoes will be distributed to a child in need.


    Do-Over-Dinner: Roast Pork Tenderloin with Rhubarb Reduction


    Years ago, at a wonderful restaurant that sadly no longer exists, I tasted wild boar served with a rhubarb reduction. It was amazing. And, I've wanted it ever since.

    Well, this year, I did it. I came up with a rhubarb reduction for pork -- and it won "do-over" status!

    Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Rhubarb Reduction

    What You Need:
    1 pork tenderloin
    herbs for pork (Herbes de Provence or Coriander, kosher salt and pepper)
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    1 sweet onion, chopped
    1 shallot, minced
    1 clove of garlic, minced
    2 cups of rhubarb, diced
    1/8 cup white wine vinegar
    1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
    1/4 cup brown sugar
    1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt
    fresh ground pepper

    How to Make:

    1. Preheat oven to 450°F.
    2. Rub herbs (I prefer Herbes de Provence -- but I think coriander would be a good choice as well.) and fresh ground pepper on your pork tenderloin.
    3. Place pork tenderloin in roasting pan and roast until an instant read thermometer registers 145 degrees. Let rest 5 minutes before slicing.
    4. Meanwhile, in a large sauce pan (I use my enamel-coated cast-iron dutch oven.) over medium heat, saute onion, shallot and garlic with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, as needed to prevent sticking. Saute for 5-6 minutes until tender.
    5. Add rhubarb, vinegar and sugar. Cook 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently, until rhubarb is broken down and soft. Season with salt and fresh ground pepper. (You can use as is - or, I pureed with a blender.)
    6. Drizzle reduction over slices of pork tenderloin. Enjoy.
    Optional: Consider garnishing with minced chives and parsley.

    Bebopareebop It's Rhubarb Time

    Where's my baby, where'd she go 
    I asked her friends but they don't know
    So I got me a piece of rhubarb pie
    And here comes my baby strollin by 
    I know my baby loves rhubarb, 
    rhubarb Bebopareebop Rhubarb Pie
    I see that rhubarb look in her eye 

     Bebopareebop Rhubarb Pie.

    It's rhubarb season here.

    For some, rhubarb season means it is time to get that big weed out of their yard.

    For me, it means it's time to start cooking.

    For a week now, since my father-in-law mentioned that "it was time" to harvest the rhubarb, I've been singing Garrison Keillor's Rhubarb Pie jingle. I don't like pie. But, I love Garrison Keillor and I can't get the jingle out of my head. :)

    So, in the spirit of the harvest, I'll be all about rhubarb this week. Stay tuned for some good stuff.