Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Being a Locavore

I'm a little behind in sharing this. But, hey, better late than never?

I'm really proud of living in a place where eating local is possible. I can't claim to be a true-all-the-time-locavore -- but, I try as much as possible to eat things that are grown, raised or processed/packaged here in Maine. I like knowing where our food is coming from -- and, moreover, I like knowing that I'm supporting local folks and not buying food that is trucked (or flown) all over the world. All that said, I'm guilty of periodically buying strawberries in January (and, around here you don't see strawberries until late June).

At Thanksgiving I try really hard to have a totally local thanksgiving. I get a little nuts about it -- tracking down locally milled flour and all -- but when you sit down in front of a table of local food it feels totally worth it. And, man, was it all delicious.

The menu from our meal is posted in the photo above. But, thought you might enjoy a list of sources.

Turkey with Sage (from our garden) from Maine-ly Poultry
My Mother-in-law's Stuffing Made with Local Breads from Borealis Bread
Brussel Sprouts from Squire Tarbox Farm; Sauteed with Local Bacon from Cornerstone Farm
Delicata Squash and Mashed Kennebec Potatoes from Goransan's Farm
Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce Made from Cranberries from Ricker Hill Orchards
Butter and Cream from Smiling Hill Farm
Pumpkin Rolls Made from One Pie Pumpkin (I know it seems odd that I wouldn't use an actual pumpkin - since I even had one...but, well, I didn't have time.)
Celery, Onions, Carrots (for stuffing, crudite and to serve as our roasting rack) from Goransan's Farm.
Pies made by local family :)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Crafty Wonderfulness From My Sister

My sister is neither crafty nor a blog reader. Just ask her. In fact, I'm not sure she's ever read my blog. (Can you imagine?) But, she sent me a dozen pictures of her recent holiday decor demanding I share it with Mainelyhome readers. Inspired by a costly wire lit Christmas tree at a nearby gardening shop, my sister took a wire tomato tower and draped lights over and topped with a bow. And, I must say, it looks darn cute, don't you think?

Monday, December 19, 2011

I'm Blaming it on the Advent Calendar Incident

It's December 18th....
  • I haven't unwrapped a single stick of butter (and I bought pounds in anticipation of the usual one zillion holiday cookies we usually bake and share with friends) to make a single holiday cookie.
  • I haven't addressed a single holiday card.
  • I haven't wrapped a gift. After all, how could I? I don't have them yet.
  • I haven't made a single gift and usually I pride myself on making at least some of the gifts we give.
  • I/we haven't decorated our house one bit. 
  • I haven't organized a single social event for the season.
I've actually been rather sad about this. It's not that I get caught up in the commercial side of Christmas, but it's that I love the traditions I've helped our family create. Decorating our pretty old house - inside and out. Baking up a storm to share with others. Sharing love through photos and news in the mail. Handmade wonderfulness. Pretty packages with surprises.

But, there's a whole lot working against me this year. I'm going to try to blame it on the advent calendar incident. Truth is, we just are exhausted. And busy. A new job. Work travel. A play with a heavy rehearsal and performance schedule. And a ridiculous amount of sickness in our little family.

Given all of this (and an attempt to not beat myself up), I'm trying really hard to focus on what's really important this season. And, it turns out that my 7 year old is helping me keep focused.

The other day amidst a fever and strep throat and packing for a business trip, I told her that I was feeling sad that we hadn't done our usual things...our usual baking, crafting and decorating, etc. She listened really carefully to me and then looked at me and said, "Mom, really all we need is a tree, and we have one."

What do I want for Christmas? I already got it. She is a gift.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Advent Calendar Incident

Every year I give great thought to advent "calendars" for my family. (I blame it on my mother. She always gave us advent calendars of some sort.)

One year it was a small tree with little ornaments to open and hang each day (my Nana assembled one like this for me when I was little).

One year it was 25 mini galvanized buckets each with a treasure, treat or note.

One year it was a candle that you burn down a little every day until Christmas.

This year my seven year old asked if we could do something different--"like one of those paper ones other people get, sometimes with chocolate in them" (I think she recalled the one her Dad gave her a recent year after returning from Germany--and it was filled with delicious German chocolate.).

I was a little sad. A little disappointed. And, well, frankly a lot relieved. You see, this is an exceptionally busy holiday season given the fact that I've started a new job that involves more hours and travel. One of those pre-made paper ones -- sure!

I left the calendars for the girls to open on the 1st after school. They were waiting for them with their sitter.

When I got home, my 7 year old said with a bit of nastiness in her voice, "Mom, I opened up all the doors."

I stood in shock.

I expected that of the 2 year old, but was shocked that my older, more mature, more patient daughter would do that. I tried really hard to just let it go. Or, maybe I should say I'm still trying (after all I've just written about it on the 15th day of December...), to let it go.

I think this will, however, be the last year of paper advent calendars -- it clearly didn't work for us.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Nana's Chair

My mom told me I should feel terrible. (That's not the first time she's said that to me, but that's another story.) I have left people hanging about Nana's Chair. I argued that no one is even paying attention. And, I've been really, really busy with a new job and lots of associated transitions.

But, then the other day a Maine-ly Home follower actually asked me if I'd gotten it back. (You can read all about it here.) 

So, IF you having been waiting -- or even worrying -- I am sincerely sorry. But, I'm happy to report that the newly fashioned Nana chair is back home -- and, although it got the cold shoulder for a day or two, it is being much loved, new fabric and all. 

What do you think?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

What We Say

Our children echo us. I am reminded of this time and time again and yet I'm always surprised. Sometimes it's big profound statements, other times not so much. Sometimes just plain funny.

Baby (now toddler) R, as I was picking her up the other day, said, "I getting so heavy."


Monday, November 28, 2011

Dreaming of a Snow Globe Christmas (Thanks Sundance)

{Photo via Sundance}

If you've followed me for a while now, you know that last year we had some snowglobe magic

{Photo via MainelyHome December 2010}

and some snowglobe tragedy.

{Photo via MainelyHome December 2010}
I like to focus on the magic -- and, when you can combine that with my MasonJarLove, well, it's super magical.

And, Sundance has done just that.



Sunday, November 20, 2011

Pumpkin with a Purpose

I know, I know, I've been absent. Lots of transitions going on over here. But, I'm back (I think).

I've been holding onto this photo for a few weeks now - eager to share. It makes me really happy. A friend of my mother's (and, a reader of Maine-ly Home, I'm told!) gave her this lovely floral piece for her birthday. It's just so happy I can't stand it.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Letting Go

Shortly after my very dear Nana died two and a half years ago, I indicated to my mother that if no one had their eyes set on her wing chair, I would love to have it.

I know what you are thinking. A rose floral wingchair. Why on earth would I want such a thing? It's about as old lady as you can get.

But, I really did want it.

First of all, I have grown up in an extended family of wingchairs. Or, rather, an extended family who has (and values) wingchairs. For me, they are a symbol of family and of comfort-- even though I would never have thought a wing chair was my style.

But, more importantly, my nana's wing chair symbolized her to me. At least in recent years, when she wasn't buzzing about, it's where she was. And, when she was sitting in that chair - whether reading, catching a nap, or talking with a visitor, she always looked as comfortable as can be.

I remember in the last few days of her life, her sitting in that chair, predicting that my baby was going to be born on her mother's birthday--she just knew it. It was funny, she was so connected to this pregnancy - maybe because I saw her so much during it. But, it definitely struck me. She was so interested in it - offering thoughts and predictions. Three months after my Nana died, my baby was born on HER birthday.

So, I got the chair. And, much to my husband's shagrin, I insisted that we put it in the antique bay window in our dining room. Odd, I know. But, it's this wonderful sun-filled nook where I knew I could sit and nurse one baby while watching the other frolick outside. That was my vision. After I re-upholstered it, of course. I can't stand rose floral patterns.

Two years later, Nana Chair (yup, that's what we call it) has become a very significant piece of our life. I have nursed a zillion times in that chair. We have all read many a book there. We have all snoozed there. We have all snuggled there. We all seek out THAT chair.

All along I have still intended to reupholster it. A zillion fabric swatches have come home and been rejected. I even purchased 7 yards of fabric that I thought was perfect only to cry when it arrived. Finally, I found a fabric that most of us liked -- and, to me, would bring this wing chair to modern life with a little spunk - just like Nana.

The day the chair was hauled away, my eldest would hardly speak to me. My two year old cried, "Nana chair no go." And for the weeks to follow that space seemed so empty. While I was so certain that I wanted to change that chair, I couldn't help but wonder each day as I stared at the empty space whether everyone's anguish about reupholstering it meant something. I wondered if I had, in fact, taken the magic out of the chair.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Harvest.

After much re-scheduling, we finally carved out time for our potato harvest. For those of you who know me - and where I live - you are probably laughing. I live on less than a quarter of an acre, much of which is shaded. But, I can assure you that we (And by "we" I mean primarily my husband, though I certainly help and give counsel.) take advantage of every square inch of garden-able space. Realistically, this translates into an herb garden, two self-built 8 foot by 4 foot raised beds, and a whole lot of empty pickle buckets that can be moved around as the sun shifts. (While we love many aspects of our in-town life, we do dream often of a farm. And, I'm guessing our neighbors might also wish we'd find one.)

This year, to stretch our gardening space a little further, I suggested we try growing potatoes in bags. Yes, bags. I'd heard you could do this - and, well, we have lots of those reusable Trader Joes and Whole Foods bags, so why not give it a whirl. (Besides, if it succeeded, it could quite possibly end our relationship-long argument about where the best potatoes come from - Maine or Idaho.).

So, we did it. We procured a couple of seed potatoes, two reusable bags, and organic soil. We poked some drainage holes in the bottom of the bags and filled with soil and the seed potatoes. And, we waited.

And, then there was some signs of hope.

And, further signs of hope.

But, only time would tell if there were actually any potatoes in the bag.

At last, it was harvest time. Nervously, we began to dig.

And, then we struck gold. Our first potato.

And, another!

Honestly, we were like kids at Christmas with each potato found. The full harvest amounted to 15 of the most beautiful  potatoes ever. Suffice it to say, they'll be more bags of potatoes scattered about our yard next year.

By the way, all though we can't say yet, I think the best potatoes are grown in Maine. :)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Ten Simple Things

Okay, I just borrowed some inspiration from Soule Mama. (She always has good ideas.) As you might have noticed, my blogging posts have been few and far between. I'm not gone - I'm just out of sync - and catching up on many things. So, stopping and thinking and listing ten simple things I'm grateful for seems like just the thing I need.

Ten Simple Things

Carefree toddler singing
Unexpected professional opportunities
Sunshine after much rain
An awesome 9 year old friend who told me he wants to be a Senator
Puddle splashing that forces a change of clothes before 8 a.m.
Local honey from a friend's farm
The prospect of apple picking on my mind
The rediscovery of tea
Hard, but productive conversations

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Fair.

It's Fay-eh (yea, that's how we say it here) time in Maine. And, my absolute favorite fair (Maine-ly Home followers and friends are likely tired of hearing this) is the Common Ground Fair.

I look forward to the Common Ground Fair every year. It's my mecca.

This year, there were lots of things working against my attempt to make the annual journey. We had just returned from a very long journey to a wonderful family wedding in Vermont. My husband (who loves The Fair almost as much as me) was overseas. I was not-quite-recovering from a flu/virus and battling a 3-day migraine. And, yet, amidst all that, I was still thinking of making the long journey with my two little girls. It's possible I was delirious from fever.

But, not going really isn't an option. For one thing, like I said, I look forward to it all year long. And, in addition, I collect (and display in our kitchen) the beautiful fair poster from each year that we go to the Fair. That's right, in addition to missing on all the Fair's goodness, if I didn't go, I wouldn't be able to get this year's poster. And, this year's poster featured mason jars (and, we all know about my passion for mason jars, right?). Enough said?

Fortunately (and, quite possibly out of guilt), my mom decided to take the journey with us (Thank you, Mom.).

It was a beautiful (albeit a little bit of a scorcher) day. The usual Common Ground Fair happiness abound (except quite possibly from my two little travel companions who were uncharacteristically grumpy.). Delicious (and organic) food everywhere you turned. Handcrafted wonders in exhibit tent after exhibit tent. Prized veggies on display. Fiddles, fiddles, fiddles! And, I'm certain, lots of interesting and educational talks, demos, etc. - but, well, once again, that wasn't on the to-do list of my little companions.

My brother-in-law (and sister, and niece and nephew) made the journey this year. First time in more than a decade. My brother-in-law was VERY excited about going and when we spotted him, he had only arrived moments ago (but had already grabbed some yummy food) and declared, "I'm so happy to be here." I smiled, "Take off your shoes and stay awhile." We all laughed. A little Common Ground Fair humor (it is the only fair I know of where a good portion of the attendees are actually barefoot).

The busy-factor kept me from taking my usual hundreds of photos, but, I did snap a few. Will I see you at The Fair next year?

Studying the Program

Cousins watching the border collie demos.

Vegetable-dyed yarn. Is it wrong to get so excited about fiber?

Squash anyone?

Miss R's first face painting!

The Sweet Annie tradition. Super fragrant herb/flower that signifies The Fair...and seen most often in makeshift head wreaths.

Catching some welcome shade (do you see the underlying crabbiness I mentioned?) under a picnic table.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

I Eat Maine-ly Lobster?

Okay, I just found out OPI has a brand new color that I just have to love because of the name. (Who has the awesome job of naming colors?). I Eat Maine-ly Lobster. Yup, that's the color. Cute name, huh? It's kind of an a cooked lobster. :)

Monday, August 29, 2011

Burlap Love.

Is it possible to love burlap?

Because I do.

Especially when it is in the form of banners. For months now, I've been totally smitten with burlap banners. It started with purchasing one for our family to use to decorate our dining room when celebrating birthdays. (Not surprisingly, it says Happy Birthday. And, already, after just a few months of use, my girls eagerly demand we hang it when celebrating.). Now, I'm slowing collecting others--there are a lot of possibilities as you might imagine. Easter. Christmas. Thanksgiving (I'm thinking "Gratitude").

And, I'm also foisting them on friends and family. My niece, for example, was required to hang one at her graduation party in school colors (hers said "Celebrate!"). And, my dear cousin got one to celebrate her new love. Check it out.

I'm pretty sure I could make these...but, why? So many wonderful Etsy folks do it so well. Here are two of my favorite Etsy banner makers Funkyshique and Expressions in Design.

Friday, August 26, 2011

{This Moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see. Inspired by SouleMama.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Capturing the Moment (s): Soggy Dog Designs

It won't be a surprise to those who know me -- or followers of Maine-ly Home -- that I love photographs. I love to take them. I love to see them.

My passion for photography runs deep. Influenced by my two grandfathers and my dear aunt who were never without their cameras, I learned to appreciate the art of photography at a young age. While other kids were busy saving their money for electronics or baseball cards, I was stashing cash, penny by penny, to buy my first 35mm film camera with multiple lenses (to replace the snap and shoot that took 110 film cartridges!). For decades, that camera was with me. Capturing the moments of life in middle school, high school, college and my travels around the world. After the birth of our first child, the demand for instant photographs became too much to handle (read: grandparents and family from afar needed photos all the time and right away). With great hesitation, we put that camera aside and moved to the digital world. While I love our digital Nikon SLR beyond words, I still hold film nearest and dearest to my heart.

I am rarely ever without camera. Even my husband, who shares a love for photography (we actually each brought darkroom equipment into this marriage!), gets a bit annoyed. I'll admit, sometimes it's my social crutch. And, I love the my niece, for example, counts on me to photograph those special moments (I'm her paparazzi). But, mostly, it's that I think I see the world -- I remember the moments - as I see them behind the lens.

Well, just a few days ago, I went to the beach with a friend and our five girls. I purposely left my camera behind (I didn't think I could manage it with a toddler and the sand.) And, boy, I'm glad I did. For once, I was real-time, while my beach companion and friend (a professional photographer), captured those moments. I'm not a big fan of staged photos, unless of course you have the gift (as Wendy does) of making the staged look candid. But, on this overcast beach day, there was no staging. It was pure candid bliss. And, Wendy captured our girls in their beach day glory. Check out her work --  and think about booking a shoot with Soggy Dog Designs. May I suggest the beach as a backdrop?

Magic Nearby

I just so happen to live just downriver from Merrymeeting Bay -- a natural wonder of sorts. This large freshwater tidal bay--located some 17 miles from the ocean--is quite unique. Geologically an inland delta -- and biologically a tidal riverine - not a traditional bay at all. Sorta more like an estuary, except it fresh water. This place - where six rivers flow - has large tides (averaging 5 feet) and is home to a large population of bald eagles and migratory birds as well as migratory fish including endangered Atlantic salmon and sturgeon.

At any tide Merrymeeting Bay is beautiful -- but I just discovered (thanks to my husband who spends many an hour exploring Merrymeeting Bay by boat and kayak) that low tide holds paradise -- and it is a local secret.

You will find very little written about it, but trust me it is magic.

Twice a day, low tide reveals fine white sand and warm water. Seriously. Like clockwork as the tide lowers, locals in on the secret, beach their boats and enjoy a bit of paradise. Sun. San. And, warm swimming. All while viewing bald eagles, sturgeon jumping and more.

Then, as high tide makes its way, the beach disappears.

Sand castles and footprints washed away.


 Here's a link to a wonderful book about Merrymeeting Bay.

Monday, August 22, 2011

A Back to School Giveaway to Chase Away the Back to School Blues

Last year at just about this time, I had hit what I labeled the Back to School Blues. A sad realization (amidst some longing for routine) that summer was nearing its end and my daughter would be back to school. Sure, I won't have to juggle lack of childcare and work or feel crabby about the state of affairs around the house, but I'll also have to put away that summer-fun-do list. I'll have to concede that there many things on that list - despite a very fun summer - that will not happen. Sigh.

With the onset of Back to School Blues, I also feel this urgency to get things organized -- to start off the school year on the right foot. So, I'll need to get my thoughts together on this. But, in the meantime, my spirits were lifted this a.m. when I saw this terrific Back to School Giveaway from Imagine Childhood. The Giveaway is for $75 towards merchandise for you AND a friend. How delicious.

Log onto today to enter. And, if you win, remember, I'm your friend. :)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

S'More from Maine-ly Home

I'm not sure how three plus weeks have past since my last post -- a sign of the BUSY times in my life these days. Juggling kids, work and summer fun/travel.

But, having just printed out a book version of Maine-ly Home's year one (I used Blurb and am super-pleased with results), I'm re-inspired to keep blogging. It is so fun to look back, even while moving forward :) And, I think my girls might even appreciate this one day -- especially since I have failed in the baby book keeping (which my 7 year old reminded me of).

Our summer has been busy with lots of fun things, including lots of S'Mores. (Remember, August 10th marked National S'More Day -- you can always rely on Maine-ly Home to keep you appraised of such important events.).

Yea, I even let my two year old in on the sugary action.What gooey-ness has been on your summer itinerary?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Piggy Polish: Now Your Toes Can Really Dance!

Generally speaking, I'm sort-a an au natural kinda gal. I dress simply. I don't wear a lot of make-up. Even my jewelry is more or less pretty simple (except for the many awesome handmade earrings that my 7 year old makes...).

But, I love painted toes.

You'll never see me get a manicure -- it interferes with all the dirt, dough and art supplies that usually cover my hands.

But, a pedicure - yes, indeed.

The one thing that has never set well with me (though truth be told, this has not held me back) is the idea of putting such horribly chemical-ly stuff on my toes. Still, I do it.

Now, however, I can do it with a whole lot less guilt (and better health) thanks to Piggy Polish. Piggy Polish is DBP, Toluene or Formaldehyde free! And, it comes in a zillion fabulously wonderful colors. It's $9 a bottle -- but, hey, our toes are worth it.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Circus Smirkus, Yes!

Summer scheduling. It's a juggle for working parents, for sure. Who knew?

We finally, I think, more or less figured it out. No comments, please, on the fact that it's mid-July.

We even planned a vacation. For two self-employed people, this is a huge deal. I'm pretty darn excited.

But, then, just after the airline tickets were purchased I had a moment of panic. We'd scheduled this vacation right through the local Circus Smirkus performances. Panic. I know, I know. It seems silly to be so obsessed about a circus. But, this is no ordinary circus. [I encourage you to read this post to see just how significant Circus Smirkus is to me.]

But, I was wrong. Oh, how I love it when I'm wrong! We'll be here for Circus Smirkus.

If you are in the northeast, be sure to check out the upcoming schedule to see if there's a performance near you.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Strawberries, Strawberries, Strawberries!

Late June into the first few days (or maybe a week or so into July depending on the Spring) strawberry season hits Maine. And, oh how delicious it is! I'm not sure what I like more, the experience of picking them or eating them in their various forms. Jam. Shortcake. Blended. Straight up.

Of course, like many things in Maine (except for winter), the season is short-lived and Maine-rs expend a lot of energy trying to preserve this summer goodness to enjoy all year long. I, however, have never canned a thing. I'm totally intimidated by it. I really want to try it - and I think this year might be the year.

On Sunday, the four of us set out to pick strawberries. And, man was the pickin' good. In less than 45 minutes we had picked 16 pounds of some of the most beautiful berries ever. So, while I try to get my nerve up to can, I've already put half of these strawberries to use. I've made six pints of freezer jam (this is SO easy -- so do it!). I've frozen berries for smoothies. I've made shortcake for 20.

We had PBJ sandwiches today with freshly made jam today -- and, it was wonderful. But, I'm still thinking about the wonderful time we had picking.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

All Before Noon the Fourth of July

A snapshot of a classic Fourth of July morning in New England?

Uncle Sam Leads the Neighborhood Parade

Bicyclists in the Parade (Note for future: Crepe paper and humidity don't mix.)
Miss Grumpy on Her Float

Proud Cyclist - Her First Time Cycling in a Parade
King of the Parade
Worn Out, But Taking it All In
The Line Up
The Littlest Sack Racer Tumbles
Lollipop Race: Score!
Practicing for Water Balloon Toss
Gearing up for the Three Legged Race. The leg length discrepancy is, as guessed, a handicap.
Tug O War Complete with Motivating Fire Hose
Young Winners and
Older Winners
Going home for a nap...winnings and all.