Beautiful Maine Made Cotton & Wool Blankets

Many of my long-time readers know how much I love vintage linens and changing up our bedding to create different looks. I broke from tradition last fall and bought a new (as in not new old stock but NEW new) wool blanket online that was made in France. Other than being a drab color like most every wool blanket on the market it seemed nice enough until I realized that the French on the label said it had been mothproofed! I do NOT want to have a chemical-treated blanket against my skin! I sent it back.

Wayne and I took a ride up to Freeport last weekend to buy him a few things at Brooks Brothers. Afterward we stopped in the Maine Woolens outlet. I had never been in it before and assumed they were selling ubiquitous made in China blankets perhaps with added kitschy lighthouses or starfish on them. I was not anticipating the wonderful surprise inside!

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Waterfall Trail Hike At Fuller Farm

It was a cold morning with temps in the 40s and the sky was overcast, however we joyfully navigated mud, snow and ice to see a seasonal little waterfall that’s tucked in the woods. The thing is, we hadn’t planned on the snow and ice…or snakes! Even so, nature put on a beautiful show.

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Be a Rebel. Eat a Potato!

I’m naughty, according to many “experts”. I eat a lot of potatoes! Potatoes have an unscientific and undeserved bad reputation among many who recoil at consuming carbohydrates. When I wrote my first vintage diet book I received some feedback from people stating that the wholesome foods I mentioned in the book, like potatoes, make people fat! They will give you diabetes! (Fact: the American Diabetes Association states you CAN have potatoes even when you have diabetes!)

The humble potato, instead of being branded as bad for you or any weight loss program, should have rock star food status. It’s subversive yet secretly healthy! Potatoes in raw form are inexpensive, simple to prepare, delicious and readily available at most grocery stores. They are also a Maine diet staple. Let’s take a look at the numbers:

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Grace Before Meals For This Recovering Ingrate

When I first started “eating retro” and lost weight over ten years ago I was leaving behind the tyranny of an insatiable appetite which seemingly stemmed from two issues: my relationship to food and eating junk. Underlying the usual analysis of overeating and weight loss was that I was feeling sorry for myself. Why? Because I couldn’t eat as much as I wanted when I wanted without consequences. I was also attached to the illusion that a lifestyle of eating too much, especially sugar and refined carbs was somehow good for my soul. I mistook edible artifice for nourishment. I was always “hungry” but was feeding the wrong appetite. I was focused on eating all the things instead of seeing all the gifts from a healthy relationship to and with food. Why would I, right? Shouldn’t I be entitled to unlimited access to what was mine? Did God put food on my table? No! I worked hard to put that food on the table, and why even talk about God when all I wanted was an Oreo Blizzard from Dairy Queen.

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My Outdated Vintage Eat-In Kitchen

We live in a culture of RENOVATE! UPDATE! BE ON TREND! with the specific dictates changing frequently. We’re confronted with TV shows where a perfectly serviceable kitchen is perceived as some sort of ugly moral failing followed by gleeful smashing it to pieces (instead of salvaging and donating it) to make room for whatever their sponsor/producer/unchecked budget is providing them. Online “influencers” show off their HGTV-worthy homes that are often renovated with a high frequency.  It can be easy to feel like there’s something wrong with good enough if it’s not fashionable.

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The Mysterious Brilliance of Chipmunks

Every sunny day beginning mid-February I’ve been looking outside my kitchen window for a sure sign of spring: a chipmunk on the deck. Our three friends, Claude, Buster and Sunny had not been seen since a couple of days after our wedding in September. The neighborhood chipmunks went underground much earlier last fall than the year prior, when they were out and about until November and reemerged in February/early March. Even at the boatyard a few towns over Wayne reported the same: no more chipmunk sightings by late September and none to date. So instead of going into a burrow for three months, it’s been SIX!

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Maine Maple Sunday at Merrifield Farm

Spring is here! Today is Maine Maple Sunday which means there are about ninety sugar houses throughout Maine that are open to the public. We went to Merrifield Farm in Gorham which is like a maple syrup paradise where we sampled maple syrup over vanilla ice cream and watched maple syrup being processed.

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A Degree of Mischief at University of Vermont

The college admissions scandal has highlighted what some have referred to as “affirmative action for the wealthy.” As I mention on my “about” page, I grew up in subsidized housing but went to an Upper East Side prep school with the aid of a scholarship. My freshman year of college was spent at Bennington College, also via scholarship before transferring to the University of Maine in Orono. It was too painful for me to be the kid from the wrong side of the tracks in places where the vast majority of students came from very wealthy homes. 

Then, once at grad school at UVM I lived in a tiny house in the woods complete with big spiders* (steel-toed Doc Martens are a form of organic pest control) and was fortunate to have been awarded an assistantship for two years which paid my tuition in full and gave me a small stipend. However, that also meant my days began at 5:00 a.m. and I didn’t get home sometimes until 10 at night. Even so, my most valuable life lesson learned wasn’t a part of my curriculum, but in a playground.

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Immersion in the Moment

I love the winter wind like no other. I need to go to the beach at night when the cold air is cool mint with hints of salt. I need to be alone. I wondered if no one else showed up here because it was so real. People were drawn into their TVs and computers. I plugged into something real. I needed to, the way things were going. I felt like the ocean would not give up on me, and I wasn’t at all dissuaded by its indifference, drawing things in and spitting them out years later, bony and white. -Me when I lived across the street from the sea, pre-internet, 1993

One of the things I gave up for Lent is Facebook which has helped me revert back to enjoying “empty” places and moments in time. The void has left room for hearing the quieter thoughts within. One doesn’t have to spend much time on Facebook to obliterate those gems that don’t announce themselves in a feed. As an example, when I’m waiting in line at the grocery or early for an appointment I’m not opening the app on my phone. I’m tuning into more ethereal and earthly things, just like I used to back in the day. I’ve missed it!