Thrifty Gardening: Repurposing Old Things

For the first time since mid-March I went to a store. I knew it would be different, but it was exceptionally unpleasant even though it was a plant nursery. The locally owned nursery from which we usually buy our vegetable plants and offers home delivery or curbside pickup didn’t have the two tomato varieties that are our favorites–Lemon Boys and Beefsteaks, so I went to Lowe’s. Although the nursery is mostly outdoors they forced people to first walk through the store instead of directly entering. The woman at the register was not distancing from me and they aren’t set up so that you still have to use the gross stylus pen to approve the purchase, something that has grossed me out long before the pandemic. A chipmunk popped out from nowhere as I was paying so that helped me feel more at peace. Also it was very windy so my nose began to run underneath my mask!

OK, enough whining. Here are a few ways I’m reusing some old things laying around for gardening tasks!

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The Simplicity of Success

I really wish the cliched photo of a human silhouette standing on a mountaintop or road with arms raised would cease to be the image to represent “success”. I keep seeing it on marketing materials and a quick google search for “success” turns up the same nonsense. It seems so 1990s Tony Robbins which works for some people, but not for me. All I can see, besides lack of imagination and following a tired marketing message is someone expressing their own greatness for having climbed a metaphorical mountain on their own. If that’s success then I’m an abysmal failure!

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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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Last Call for the Real Deal

We ran out of fresh picked apples last week so I bought some “local” (New England but not from Maine) “apples” from the grocery. Those mealy imposters were shameful! I was reminded that “local” is often used very liberally to extend to surrounding states hundreds of miles away and does not mean picked yesterday, last week or even in the past month. It’s the same with grocery tomatoes. After I tasted home grown I couldn’t go back to those hard waxy pale orange replicas. Wayne agrees, so it’s for those reasons that we went apple picking this morning in thirty degree weather. It’s the last weekend for picking apples at our favorite orchard, Libby & Son U-Picks, and it turned out to be filled with simple beauty.

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A Chairlift into the Clouds, a Carousel Ride into the 19th Century

What a weekend! This is a long post loaded with pics and videos. Early Saturday morning our first stop on the way to Sunday River for the fall foliage chairlift ride was breakfast at a diner.

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Forbidden Fruit on Friday the 13th

At the express check-out line at Whole Foods this morning I was greeted by the cashier who often checks me out weekly, so to speak. He’s always very jovial, not just to me but everyone, but he said something that startled me!

“You are a great lover.”

What did he just say?! I immediately blushed and said nervously laughing, “What do you mean I’m a great lover!”

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Vintage Recipe: Margaret Chase Smith’s Blueberry Cake

After months of denying rumors that she would seek the top of the Republican ticket or the vice presidential nomination, inspirational Mainer Senator Margaret Chase Smith announced her run for President in January, 1964.

“I have few illusions and no money, but I’m staying for the finish,” she noted, “When people keep telling you, you can’t do a thing, you kind of like to try.”

Although she wasn’t elected, Mrs. Smith was the first woman to have her name put in for nomination for the presidency by a major political party. She also created a winning Maine classic: Margaret Chase Smith’s Blueberry Cake. This delightful recipe is from an undated vintage very well-loved pamphlet in my collection, “Maine Blueberry Recipes…” Seventh Edition, Published by The Maine Department of Agriculture. Continue reading “Vintage Recipe: Margaret Chase Smith’s Blueberry Cake”

I’m A Homemaker

I have many roles in my life, of course, but I see “homemaker” as part of my identity. It’s not a consolation prize or because I’m not empowered. Now when asked about what I do for work, instead of telling people only about my for-profit pursuits as a self-employed person I’m now also sharing that I’m a homemaker. I even added it to my LinkedIn profile! The conversation usually goes something like this:

“I love cooking and cleaning! When Wayne comes home he has a hot, nutritious dinner made from scratch waiting for him on the table.”

I sometimes get a look, so I follow up with: “You know, like June Cleaver.”

“Well as long as it’s a choice,” is a common response, or a variation along the lines of concern that I’m fallen prey to antiquated societal dictates. No. Well yes less the dictates. It is a conscious choice! Is it so odd for a woman to consciously choose to find joy in house work or apartment work, wherever you live work? Does that make one a vapid throwback? Continue reading “I’m A Homemaker”

Garden Update: Chipmunks, Fairy Tale Eggplant & The Seven Dwarfs

Early in July I finally found a charming weathered hand-painted concrete set of the Seven Dwarfs at an antique & collectible shop in Cornish for $45 that costs around $900 new when painted. Those who have been following my blog for a while know I adore vintage kitschy garden statues of animals and gnomes. Since it’s not unusual for people to call me “Snow White” when I tell them about my yard pets I wanted to complete the cast of characters. I also figured they would make terrific props for chipmunk photo sessions. Tailor, however, did not agree! Check out the little linked video for her reaction. A couple of days later, she disappeared!

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Simple Recipe: Patriotic Red or Blue (Berry) Ice Cream

July 4th used to be a frosted holiday for me meaning that it was about consuming artificially colored overly sweetened highly processed “patriotic” red, white and blue cupcakes on display at the grocery bakery. You know the ones of which I speak that seem to be everywhere this time of year? I used to think I was treating myself by eating them even though I felt awful afterward. That’s so yesterday but definitely not eating retro. Now I make ice cream from scratch with wild Maine blueberries or rich red strawberries that we picked locally and pure heavy cream from the local dairy that doesn’t add gums. Here’s my recipe for 1.5 quarts of strawberry or blueberry-infused ice cream:

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