Showing posts with label Maine. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Maine. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 8, 2014


Blessed are they who see beautiful things in humble places where others see nothing. ~Camille Pissarro
Our state is gorgeous. Get outside, enjoy summer, and take advantage of everything Maine has to offer.
These pictures were taken by my talented other half on Scopan Lake.

North Woods Garden Pests

Between the cat crapping in it, the chickens taking dust baths and snack breaks in it, and the soil being less than ideal, I thought for sure my first garden was doomed. I begged my husband to put some kind of fence around it to keep the animals out. After he did, it seemed to have solved the problem. Then a few days after I left the woods, this picture was sent to my phone.
Apparently the 2 foot tall wire fence didn't deter the moose from pissing in my garden. I don't think it hurt anything because there's lots of green popping up. My only problem? When I planted the garden I stuck popsicle sticks at the end of each row, marking what was planted where. The chickens, children, dogs, or cat threw the sticks every which way. I know where the beets and basil and lettuce are for sure...everything else? I guess we'll have to figure it out as we go along.
To my green thumb friends...other than building a much larger fence and a scarecrow, are there any secrets to keeping the moose out? Does the soap trick work?
Wish me luck. I think I need it!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

The littlest fisherman in the North Woods

A couple of days ago, Jackson and his Dad packed up the canoe for his first fishing outing at Clayton Lake. He was pretty successful in catching 4 brook trout all cast and reeled by himself!


He doesn't only love to catch the fish, he and his little brother love to eat them. There are probably only a handful of three year olds in this world who can say they've caught their own dinner.

Fishing is the topic of the month and probably will be for years to come. His favorite show right now is Animal Planet's River Monsters, and it has only accentuated typical fisherman story telling.

When outside, he can be found in the same spot turning over mounds of grass that the plow ripped up this winter, searching for worms. I never know what is going to be brought to me when he comes to the door. A handful of worms, a slug, a big chicken, a baby chicken, a dead woodcock, or small carcasses that he's found left over from winter. Those are a few of the pleasant surprises I've had this month. :)

I'm so thankful that he is content to be here. We are learning new things together. The names of different flowers, birds, fish, plants, and how to recognize the sound of a woodcock, grackle, gorby, bittern, and woodpecker.
10403097_789655857714251_1028108936272053242_n "....A northern Maine summer is really something to look forward to. We had in our front dooryard what thousands of city people would give a great deal to enjoy--a spot of woods that only a few sportsmen could have access to."
Helen Hamlin said it perfectly in Nine Mile Bridge. We are excited and thankful to be able to experience our first summer at Clayton Lake.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Fish and Forage: Fiddlehead risotto and pan fried brook trout

After a couple of 80 degree days a week or two ago, we have not seen much of the sun. So far, there are no signs of black flies and wishful thinking has me hoping that maybe they won't show this year! Foolish, I know. We've been taking full advantage of the warmer weather and getting outside every chance we get.

I love to fish but don't get to do it often with two wild ones to look after. I caught my first North Woods fish a couple of days ago at the Umsaskis thoroughfare. I was being critiqued by my husband for not using proper technique with the open face spinning reel, when BAM, all of a sudden I had a bite. The beautiful 13 inch brook trout hadn't seemed to mind my technique. :P

10382466_10101679878172529_1979175646774132898_n 10365760_10101679877488899_4215782533472668749_n


After fishing, we started our fiddlehead exhibition. I've been tempted all week by beautiful photos of fiddlehead recipes on foodgawker. When I waitressed at Helen's Restaurant in Machias, tourists would ask for a description of the local vegetable. I always said they remind of something you might see in the swamp scene from Star Wars. The shape and detail of the coil like a vine that could release at a moment's notice and recoil around any of your limbs. They are one of the coolest vegetables, and I find it very exciting to be able to search for your vegetable in the woods!

We were surprised to find what seemed to be an overabundance along the shore of Umsaskis. After picking about three cups, we headed home. I posted a picture on Facebook to double check with a few fiddlehead experts before I started to clean and cook them. When someone mentioned that the stem should have a groove in it like on a piece of celery, we knew we had been mistaken.
After a little help from some folks who know these woods better than we do, we were pointed to a spot nearby where fiddleheads have been known to sprout. A little while later, my prince charming walked through the door with a hat full of gorgeous ostrich ferns.

IMG_0149 IMG_0148

After a quick shake in a pillow case, rinse in the sink, and blanch session, they were ready to be added to the creamy risotto.

I didn't get a picture of the brook trout because the boys scarfed it down as an appetizer. :)

So thankful for the bounties the woods has to offer. Happy Friday, friends!
I use the risotto recipe that's in the Joy of Cooking cookbook!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

It's 10 O'Clock...Do you know where your milk is?

We have done pretty well with keeping our groceries stocked so far, keeping whatever we can't fit in the house, outside in a cooler. I would say that milk is our biggest issue. We just don't have enough space to keep it inside in the small propane fridge and with the freezers filled with moose and deer meat. With temperatures heating up during the day, we knew we needed to figure out something to keep the cooler consistently cold.

I thought it sounded like a good idea when my husband decided to bury it under the snow on the deck. That is, until I was the one to have to dig it out this morning for a thirsty toddler.

I walked outside and assumed that the shovel marked the exact spot where the cooler was. We still have a LOT of snow on our deck! The daily temperatures have softened the snow and then re-frozen
them at night, giving the top layer a lovely hard crust.

photo 1 (1)After digging for a few minutes...I finally saw the cooler! When I cleared enough away to open it....I grabbed the shovel again to clear out the inside.

photo 2

People have suggested that we stock up on dry and condensed milk. I'm not going there....and have come to the conclusion that we should probably get a goat.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Drip Drop: Winter is breaking in the North Woods

The woods came alive today with sun and warmth. Birds were noisier than they've been in months and their songs paired perfectly with the steady drips of melting snow.

With temperatures in the low 60's, I grabbed my lawn chair and sat in shorts and a t-shirt and soaked up every ounce of sunshine that I could. The dirty dishes, piles of laundry, and dog hair would have to wait.

IMG_9319 IMG_9324 IMG_9327 IMG_9340 IMG_9351

Both boys played hard in the wet snow while Trigger laid down to cool off.

We came back to the woods yesterday after a visit Downeast. The Realty Road looked nothing like it did the day I left. For some reason I've never been mudding. That is, before yesterday. The boys giggled in the back seat, loving the pulling of the mud and the giant puddles that jumped up on their windows. It was pretty smooth riding once we reached Pratt Lake, where all other vehicle tracks ended and ours were the only ones going in the rest of the way.

Maybe winter is really on it's way out? A sign at the beginning of the Realty Road yesterday said it will now be closed from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Logging trucks will run primarily at night, taking advantage of every bit of hard road left.

I've had lots of people tell me that I should take the boys and stay Downeast for the spring thaw, because it will be much harder to get out once everything is melted, running, and flooding. I can't help but keep going back to the stubborn part of my brain that reminds me that not many people have been able to or ever will see a spring thaw at Clayton Lake. I will stay, simply because I can!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

North Woods Plow "Truck"

I remember it well. The thrill that surged through me every time I heard the plow hit hard ground at the end of the driveway. Grinding and scraping, disturbing the neat layer of crushed rock as it pushed the snow.
Standing by the window with my little brother, we would watch and wait to see how tall those snow banks would grow. All the while, categorizing and placing them in neat columns for fort building, sliding, and jumping.
 As a kid, the scraping of that plow meant the possibility of so many things. The snooze button…time on the snowmobile…comfort food….naps…lounging….reading….and later, the gathering of friends. In my family, more times than not, snow storms mean parties with lots of good food, card games, and plenty of NOISE. When my husband married into the family he struggled with the whole idea. With people off the roads, power lines down, and visibility at it’s worst…this is the time that my family gets the urge to get out and socialize. Call us crazy…I’m not really sure why that is? It just is. :)
Up here in the North Woods, giant loaders come and clear our yard and  graders clear the road. It doesn’t get much more exciting for little boys. Plow, carry, lift, dump, and repeat. I am thankful for the opportunity for them to observe…it serves as a great babysitter while it lasts!

Ashland Adventures

We decided to venture out the other day. It's been about three weeks since the boys and I have left the house. Ashland has become a place where we can go for a change in scenery. A place where we can see other human faces and get some fresh social interaction. 

It isn't very often that I get to be a passenger on the Realty road and I took full advantage. My camera was out and ready in case any creatures decided to show themselves, but I'd say that they're still pretty well hunkered down. We saw a couple of deer when we crossed the Aroostook river in Ashland.
Now I know that the Ashland One Stop doesn't look like much....but I am in love with their pizza. I don't know, maybe it's the fact that it's the closest place I can go for someone else to make my family and myself dinner...but I don't think that's it. I would openly call myself somewhat of a food snob...I can be quite particular. The crust is nice and crunchy and topped with the perfect proportions of cheese and sauce. It's one of the reasons that I look forward to our trips to Ashland!
A package was waiting at the post office for the boys sent from Florida, filled with shark gummies, stuffed gators, plastic gators and other little trinkets. We stopped at IF&W headquarters to visit with our Warden friends. It's always an exciting stop for the boys...they know they will get treats and attention from someone other than mom and dad. Jackson loves the badges and pins and lollipops and gadgets...and Andrew always runs strait for the lynx display.

 The most exciting part of the trip other than the pizza? There are a few bare spots of road where the dirt is not covered with any white stuff. I never though dirt could look so lovely!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Cusk Chowdah

After around 15 fresh inches, the snow started tapering off yesterday afternoon. The sun made a strong attempt to peak out from behind the clouds, but didn't succeed until right around sunset, leaving the edge of the horizon painted in pinks and purples. We took full advantage of what might be our last big storm by cooking, eating, and lounging around.


Chowdah....the classic Maine comfort food. Potatoes, onions, butter, heavy cream, and salt and pepper, and did I say, BUTTER? When I see that much butter floating in top of a dish...I can't help but smile. It's a beautiful thing!

1978858_10101542392729459_1466844046_nThe cusk was caught at neighboring Ross Lake. It was our first time trying the white fish and we were pleasantly surprised at how much it reminded us of haddock.


Similar in texture and with the same mild taste, exactly what I'm used to in chowder. Jackson was particularly excited when he got a sneak peak inside at the fish's stomach contents.


It will be interesting to see what the rest of the month brings us, but until the snow starts to melt, we will lay low and enjoy the stillness of winter and all the comfort food we can get our hands on.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Winter Blues: More snow coming?....this squirrel has had enough!

photo 4

So, last night I made myself a piña colada with fresh pineapple juice, coconut milk, and vanilla vodka....I HATE my drinks not frozen and I didn't have enough ice so I put the blender outside. I left it there thinking I could just have it tonight after it was good and icy. Just walked over by the door and well....it's clear that someone has a problem. This naughty creature took the top piece off the blender. It's 5 o'clock somewhere I guess.....

No squirrels were harmed here.....hope he made you smile!
Happy Monday! :)

Friday, February 28, 2014

Oh, Food: A few old and new favorite Maine eateries

Well friends, it's been a while! I returned to the woods a couple of days ago after a refreshing stay with family and friends. I was happy to be able to visit the Old Port for the first time in three years...it had been too long!

I am not a girl who likes to shop. Take me to a mall or a Walmart, and I immediately become overwhelmed and uneasy. Overload! There is a reason why I shop at Machias Hardware and Hannaford in my hometown before coming back to Clayton Lake. I know where everything is and I know the names and faces of people who work there. I like to keep it as simple and familiar as possible. As far as clothes shopping goes, if I'm being honest, there's no reason why I need to go shopping until I leave Clayton lake because my daily outfits consist of flannel pajamas, my husband's socks, and a baggy t-shirt or comfy sweatshirt. Isn't that what we all wear when we stay at camp?? Sorry, husband. :)
Oh the bread....and butter....
I AM a girl who LOVES to eat. When I think of Portland, I do not think shopping. I think FOOD. Fore Street is one of my favorites, and is a must for me when in Southern Maine. An old brick building with an open kitchen, wood burning ovens, and dim lighting gives off an old fashioned tavern vibe like no other. When walking on the cobblestone streets of the Old Port, you know you're getting close when the heavenly combination of wood, fire, food, and ocean fills your senses. Local, fresh, and delicious food...every single time!

1902052_10101518380061039_814164754_nI've been following the Holy Donut on Facebook for weeks now. Not sure why I do that to myself when they post mouth watering picturesevery day. I'm not exactly a stone's throw away to be able to go grab a couple of their donuts! When you walk in and see the simple mouthwatering display of fresh donuts.....it's a little hard to choose just one. The bacon cheddar stuffed donut....oh goodness. Salty, creamy, and a hint of sweetness. And they are made with a bit of Maine....Maine potato in every bite!1926669_10101518380295569_2060678848_n
1920375_10101517860237769_42528111_nVisited Local 188 for the first time and it was delicious! Loved the atmosphere and the local, fresh food. Pickled quail eggs, strawberry margarita with jalapeno infused tequila, parsnip cream risotto, delicious hummus with fresh pita bread....noms.
I couldn't go back to the woods without stopping (several times) at my favorite diner in my hometown. Homemade éclairs, thin shaved Pastrami, crispy haddock burger...just a few of my favorites at Helen's Restaurant in Machias. 1962712_10101524599726779_1976735469_nMy only regret was that my strawberries were not slathered in the same rich chocolate that coats the éclair.

So.....I know this is a little different than most of my posts, but most likely, it will not be the last time you hear me rant about food. Happy eating, friends!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Clock on the Wall

One of our visitors last month

Slow living. To live without a schedule, without an agenda, without appointments, without a calendar.....I consider it a luxury, my friends.

We have a clock on the wall in our kitchen. It is a pretty clock. It serves no real purpose. It's a thing. An item that hangs there looking pretty. The batteries have been dead since we moved in 5 months ago. It is bizarre to live life and not feel a need to know the placement of the hands on the clock or even the day of the week.

Five months. A short amount of time and yet, it has had such a significant impact on our little family. Moving here, we knew that we would be one of the privileged few who have had the opportunity to live this life. It sounds so silly but we feel such a possessive attachment of the experience.
You may say that it isn't healthy to live this way....that structure is needed. We have structure. The structure is built with stable materials. We laugh a lot, we drive each other a little crazy, we talk, we cook and we eat, and we play. We are making memories. Honestly, I can't even type this without tears coming to my eyes because I know that it will not be like this forever. I struggle with trying to figure out a plan for our future...a way that we can somehow hold on to this slow way of living.

Evan and I recently had a conversation about what life is going to be like when we move back into the "real world". This conversation took place somewhere around mile 43 on the Realty Road. It didn't end up being much of a conversation because I can't talk about it without crying. I know that our time here is limited, and that when we go back, reality is going to hit us like a ton of bricks. You know that feeling that you get to camp....when you've left everything behind. You're able to relax and lounge and feel completely stress free? That is the life we are living here...every. single. day.

Why is life here so stress free? Because we have such LIMITED options. The biggest decision we make when we drive out of the driveway is whether to go right or left. There is no one waiting for us. We aren't in any time crunch. There is NO schedule!

While I feel sad about the day we will have to leave, I also look forward to a life that is a little more convenient, a life closer to my family. It is annoying to feel so conflicted! The experience has set a precedent for us, and we will do everything in our power to mirror this stress free life. If anything, it has made us realize the importance of slowing doooowwwwnnnnn. And for that, I will be forever grateful.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

PLAY: What we can do to encourage an appreciation for the great Maine outdoors

photo IMG_7813 IMG_8486
I hear people say all the time that kids don't know how to enjoy a simple day of fun outside anymore. Here's a well known fact....kids follow by example.

If he was allowed to do so, Jackson would probably sit on the couch with an Ipad and the television on for hours. He loves Cabela's Deer Hunter and Angry Birds. Currently, his favorite show is "Yardens" (better known as North Woods Law) and the movie of the month is Brother Bear. It bothers me to see little kids sitting motionless in front of any device for an extended period of time. And yes, we are all guilty of this. Myself very much included!

Some of my fondest memories as a kid are of family sledding nights. My mom and dad would take old milk jugs, cut a hole in the back, and place votive candles inside. Both sides of our driveway were then lined with homemade luminaries. The weight of the snow and ice made the birch trees bow down, forming a perfect arch that extended the entire length of the driveway. That little bit of light turned a cold dark night into a winter wonderland. We would race each other and often times take a minute at the end to lay down and look up at the stars. Our fun was always followed with hot cocoa or warm tomato soup and grilled cheeses on homemade bread from Helen's Restaurant. Talk about a magical memory!!! My little brother and I were very blessed to grow up with fun parents.

It's so easy to say, "Go outside and play! Why can't you be content with being outside? Where is your imagination?"


Show them!!! Lead by example. A snow angel, a snowman, ice cream making, fort building, sledding, snowshoeing, ice skating, snow flake observing, skiing, snowmobiling, ice fishing, hiking...the list could go on! Show them fun things to do outside and use YOUR imagination. Seeing your excitement and your imagination will give them a push to be passionate about the moment, simply because YOU are. Excitement is so contagious, especially to children!

Trust me, I need this reminder just as much as the next person. Winter to me encourages lots of lounging around, eating delicious things, reading on the couch and just not wanting to move. It has been three weeks today since we last visited civilization...so it is VERY necessary to at least leave the house to play and get some fresh air.
Realty Road


Monday, December 23, 2013


Ice. So inconvenient, yet so beautiful.

Usually the Machias River sings a solo of snaps, crackles, and pops of ice moving out with the changing tide, but every sliver of grass, every rose bush, and every alder has joined in this week since being encased in a layer of thick ice.
Maine's weather is obnoxious, it's fascinating, and it's everyone's favorite topic. The Ice Storm of 98' left me with some pretty great memories. Friends and family came to our house almost every night to make dinner out of everyone's quickly thawing food. We read books during the day, played board games by candlelight at night, and stayed connected to the outside world with a battery operated radio tuned in to the local channel, WVOM. There were no cell phones, no television, and no internet. Maniacs were unplugged.

Did we survive? Yes, we did.

Scrolling down my newsfeed on facebook, I couldn't help but notice that most of the comments (mine included) were about the weather, the power outages, and the overall stress that this storm has caused. Just days before Christmas. Everyone wanted a white Christmas but no one wanted an ice Christmas.
I am right there with everyone else. Power outages are a little exciting at first but the rush wears off real quick. Everyone enjoys a hot shower and all the amenities they're used to. We are creatures of habit and do not enjoy anything that screws with our daily routines.

As much as I sympathize with the annoyances and inconveniences, I do not enjoy the hyper-negativity that comes with the power outages and the storms. It is Christmas Eve day and we are alive. We are alive to hear the ice crack from the slightest nudge of the wind. We are alive to see the beauty in all the shades of gray. We are alive to celebrate the holiday with loved ones. There are so many who are not able to say as much.

Go outside, take a deep breath of that fresh Maine air, and step back from all the negativity that the storm has brought....simply because you can.

River3 River4  river6  river8