Friday, June 25, 2010


Yesterday the girls and I trekked up to Dole's Orchard for some of whatever might be in season there.  They do a pretty big berry and apple-picking business, but we were lucky enough to pick some of these beautiful, super-tart cherries.  We brought them home with a bunch of rhubarb and strawberries.  We ate just a few of the cherries before cooking the rest into jam.  Best right out of the pot, it's like eating cherry pie without the crust.  Next:  Cherry pie (with the crust).

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Father's Day, 2010

We LOVE the Riverhouse in Portsmouth.  It's the second time in a week that we drove an hour to go out to dinner at the place.  Joe and I (left, in case you don't know) had only been out to dinner twice all year prior to last week.      

Next up, beach day with the girls.  Joe is an incredible dad.  I don't tell him enough.

And finally, we took the girls to their first real movie at a real movie theater.  We saw Toy Story, which was all it was said to be (decent).  We were that family.  You know- the ones making all the noise, switching seats left and right, kids getting up to use the potty every other scene.  It was perfect.  No photo of all that, sorry.  Happy Father's Day.

Monday, June 21, 2010


When I learned that for many local farmers strawberries would be 2 or 3 weeks earlier than usual this year, I had to make plans to go picking.  I know I'll be psyched when the best local berries are ready-- Anderson Farms, of course-- but until I see 'em, I'm relying on Lavigne's.  Sorry-- no web site.  Just big signs all over southern Maine marking where to turn in order to get there.  It's a relatively large operation not too far from here, and while I had been there years ago, I didn't remember their fields being so ridiculously plentiful.  We ended up with about 30 pounds in less than an hour, and we had 5 girls under 5 by our sides.  All of them had to pee throughout, not-a-one at the same time, and either Holly or I (mostly I) had to constantly quit picking in order to re-explain how eating parts of strawberries, then throwing them in our containers, was not ok.  Still, we had a great time, as usual, especially since it was all followed up by a fabulous ice cream lunch at Shaw's Ridge.  Thank you very much, Mocha Chip.

                                                                  Good effort, Olivia!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Strawberries I

We bought, yes bought, local strawberries a couple days ago so I could get going on the jam-making.  I'm waiting not-so-patiently for the arrival of strawberries at Anderson Farms, but clearly I can not control myself since I have plans to bring three preschoolers picking today in what is likely to be rain.  Oh, and we're meeting friends, including two more kids under the age of 5.  I'm pretty sure I have a diagnosable condition when it comes to my desire to make jam.  OJD?  Yes, most likely.  Besides all that, it's just fun to go picking with friends.  Off to Lavigne's today.  

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Maine Wildlife Park

When I'd had enough of kicking around the farm with the girls this week, I spontaneously decided to surprise them with a trip to the Maine Wildlife Park in Gray.  Now, if you don't appreciate local wildlife up and close, then it's just that you don't remember at the age of 3 or 4 how incredibly cool it would be to not only see a baby deer, but to actually feed it.  Then right around the corner a white porcupine and his neighbor the scary fisher cat  waddle over to visit you.  Not to mention the enormous black bears, moose, mountain lions, and bald eagles who live in the park.  This place is a thrill for our kids every time we go, and it's a cheap one at that, since it is free for children under 4, and just a few bucks for everyone else.  Oh, and you really feel like you're supporting something good, as most of the animals in the park are there because they were orphaned, injured, or suffered some other personal tragedy.  The park provides safety, recuperation, and space for them to live. 

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Ploughman's Lunch

Check out the deck this summer at The Run of the Mill in Saco for good food, terrific beer (brewed on site), and wonderful service, if I may say so.  Also note that if you order the Ploughman's Lunch, you'll get to try out my Bread and Butter Pickles, along with some other pub favorites.  Yippee! 


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Pie Boxes

I was on Craigslist over the weekend looking for a small wall cabinet in which to keep jars of jam to display for sale at a local restaurant.  I didn't want to spend tons of money on it, but it needed to be sturdy enough and rustic looking to fit the place.  I found what I was looking for about an hour away in NH and picked it up on Saturday.  I'm psyched to get it cleaned up and (hopefully) on the wall of the restaurant.  Either that or it'll make a good farm stand display.

                                                      Consider this a "before" photo.

But even more exciting was the this find in Westbrook, Maine, not too far from here.  A guy was selling two antique Table Talk pie boxes.  Yep, pie boxes.  They were literally used to carry several pies, 16 each to be exact, from the Table Talk operation to places where the pies would be sold.  The guy had acquired them through a friend who thought he could figure out something to do with them, but he couldn't find an appropriate purpose.  They don't fit sheets of paper well, so office use was not right, and the actual shelves do not come out, so putting anything taller than, well, a pie, wouldn't do.  He was psyched to learn that I might actually use these to carry pies, or at least to keep pie plates in.  When he saw the glean in my eye when I finally saw the boxes, he said, "Wow, you must really like to bake pies."  Now, I do like to bake pie, and I do intend to (try to) sell some over the summer, but 16 pies, or 32 pies?  That's a lot of pie.  We'll see.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Dollar Tree

The girls each earned a dollar for watching Grammie's cat Martha while she was away some time ago.  We had a morning of pretend shopping in our house with items I literally dumped out of our junk drawer in the kitchen.  They each had three fake dollars, and each item cost a dollar, so, in case you're math-challenged, they could each buy three things.  This was great fun for a while (no fighting), and the girls did a pretty good job choosing their goods, so we went to town so they could each spend their real money at a real store.  The Dollar Tree was the perfect place to try this out, since there really was no math involved-- it was all just about picking out one thing.  Check out the fake fingernails that came with the jewels Addie chose.  We taped them around her fingers and she wore them most of the day.  Then she realized she could do damage if she poked her sisters with them, so they had to go. 

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Food Art

I didn't plan for the rain, so I winged it (as a part of my usual routine) and grabbed a bunch of paper and stuff from the pantry that I either didn't want anymore, or that I really didn't want the girls to eat, and we made art.  Check out the difference between the art of 3-year-olds and the art of a 4-year-old. 

                                   Charlie calls this, "The Ballet."

Ruby calls this, "Food Parade."


And Addie's art is entitled, "Me as an Acrobat."  I guess no one can say these girls aren't original.  And by the way, I did let them each have a pixie stick after they were done, just for fun.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Pickle Lady

I became instantly jealous when I read this article my mother gave me about another local woman starting a business making and selling pickles.  Who am I to actually feel jealous?  It is so awesome to see and hear that so many people are starting local specialty food businesses.  I remember having one of the Vlasic kids in a school where I used to work, and his folks would send all the teachers who had him in their classes a case of special pickles for the holidays.  Aside from the bribery-via-pickle, I remember the pickles being a super-cool and original gift, despite them being from a massive corporate giant, now owned by Pinnacle Foods.  It's still great to receive anything for which the maker has personal ownership.  After all, Vlasic didn't start out corporate.  They started out as a family creamery business.  Anyway, back to the massive corporate giant comment-- I admit I shop at Wal-mart and other local giants, so I can't use any kind of valid judgment when it comes to shopping choices.  Still, I think we'd all probably rather shop at locally-owned and operated businesses.  It's all about money and time, but I think we're moving in the right direction.  Congratulations to this pickle-lady at Victory Canning out of Portland, Maine.

 In the meantime, I'm sending off my own batch of new stuff to be "deemed safe" by the State of Maine.  Look forward to Zucchini Relish, Bread and Butter Pickles, Gingered-Rhubarb Preserve, and Rhubarb Pie Preserve.  You should see how this stuff has to be packaged in order to guarantee (never possible) that it arrives safely in Orono!