Vintage Recipe: Frugal Portland, Maine Duchess Potatoes

While the world is abuzz about the Duchess of Sussex “stepping back” from her royal duties (seriously, though, I didn’t see that coming and apparently neither did the Queen!) I’ve stepped back in time and from the fancification of Duchess potatoes with this simple, frugal 1915 recipe found inside a Portland, Maine elementary school book. All that is required to make these tasty little puffs are three ingredients plus salt and pepper for seasoning.

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A Bright Bedroom Makeover

Yes, I’ve just completed another thrifty “makeover” for our bedroom! This time I wanted bright colors to help offset the prolonged darkness of the short Maine winter days. I also ended up returning the heavy wool blanket we bought online last year because it turned out to be falsely advertised as being free from mothproofing. The label on the blanket stated otherwise, in another language! Sneaky!! To the merchant’s credit they took it back past the return date once I explained why I “waited” until then. Before I share the specifics of my thrifty purchases for the newest vintage makeover, here are past snapshots:

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Chipmunks are a gift!

Here is our Christmas card everyone! A special thanks to my dear little friend, Cider who is presently underground in torpor until the spring. I’m so happy to have and share the gift of chipmunks in my yard with you all. I would greatly appreciate it if you would answer a few questions in my comments:

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Christmas Fairs in the Country

We opted in for out of the way for today’s Christmas fairs and festivals. There are all kinds of events in the greater Portland area and Kennebunkport is having their epic Christmas Prelude, but battling crowds and partaking in parking fiascos are NOT my thing. It was a beautiful morning with a fresh dusting of snow on the trees as we drove out to Bar Mills and then Limerick for fairs inside charming, historic buildings.

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Our *Real* Tabletop Christmas Tree for 2019

Yes, it does feel strange to have Christmas without assembling and enjoying my vintage aluminum Christmas tree! We both miss it! If we had the space I’d do two trees, but that’s not an option in our cozy little 1,200 sq ft house. However we are really enjoying having a real tree this year. Good news is that in addition to supporting the local economy, our tree will not be going to the dump in January but will be brought into our woods to provide a home for wildlife and provide nutrients for the ground.

Here’s our cute tabletop tree decked out with vintage trimmings for 2019!

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Thanksgiving Dinner in a 1700s House

I just love when I find a hidden gem and that’s exactly what happened for our Thanksgiving dinner. A few weeks ago we decided that we wanted to go out to eat since it’s just the two of us this year. All of the local places serving T-Day dinner were charging between $80 – $90 per person plus tip! Spending over $200 to eat in a trendy or upscale restaurant on Thanksgiving in greater Portland is just no! (Portland was named 2018 Restaurant City of the Year by Bon Appetite.) We’re not into trendy places. We wanted something out of the way in the country that was simple, homey, historic, casual and delicious without fine dining pricing. Then I opened up google maps and did a search for places in “the country”. That’s how I found The Buxton Common, “a community gathering space for families, friends, neighbors and guests serving house smoked, rustic country fare in a revitalized 18th century home.” They were offering a Thanksgiving dinner for $32 per person! Sold!

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Giving Thanks

I had a horrible experience with a new-to-me specialist doctor a little over a month ago who was very rough; I actually yelled out in pain at one point. Based upon little information she told me I likely had cancer of an internal organ (I won’t get into specifics here) and ordered a series of invasive painful tests and biopsies. I immediately made an appointment with someone else to get a second opinion and can say that he is a blessing. Not only does he have decades of experience (which sadly means he will soon be retiring), he is gentle and didn’t have the same impressions as the first doctor. After a couple of painless ultrasounds he determined based upon them and my lack of symptoms that I’m all clear. The one scary growth, something the first doctor overlooked and he found on the first ultrasound actually resolved itself–it’s gone! I was so nervous all month! It was very hard for me to not let it take over my thoughts. My little field trip to Maine Wildlife Park was helpful during this time as was focusing on the beautiful simple things around me. I’m not just thankful for the diagnosis and my new doctor but also the two sonographers who were so incredibly kind, gentle and the second one, hilarious. Who would think that getting an ultrasound in an awkward place could be funny?! 

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Photographing Wildlife

I looked outside my window at 6:50 a.m. this morning and saw Cider who also saw me. He gets very animated when we make eye contact. It was going to start raining the next hour followed by at least two days of a mix of snow and ice. I knew it might be my only chance to get my Christmas card photo before he went underground until spring!

It can be challenging working with non-traditional models. You can’t make an appointment with them for a photo shoot because it’s on their terms and timeline. They will NOT work for free. You will have to pay the talent in seed currency as you go, no exceptions.

Although I had just dressed and my hair was still wet I ran outside with my vintage Christmas photo props and jar of seeds. I didn’t even pause to put on a coat despite it being 40 degrees.

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Passing Beauty and My New Friend

Maine’s autumnal show ain’t over til it’s over! There is still much to appreciate right now including my new chipmunk friend, Cider. At first I thought he lived in my neighbor’s yard but I followed him home and see that he’s living on the other side of my house. About four days ago Buster and Ricky went south (a few feet) underground for the winter so they aren’t here to chase Cider away. Sunny is still awake but I know that she, too will soon be in torpor for winter and the passing of summer’s growth will be complete once it’s covered with a cold white blanket. Thankfully that’s not happening in the near future!

Here are some pics I just took to share all this remaining loveliness with you, including Cider’s audition to be a model.

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