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Archive for August, 2010

I live in a pretty picturesque place.   And we’re at peak picturesque season, as far as I’m concerned. 

The Portland Head Light. Just like in the postcards....

A more interesting angle?

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yum...fried food

This weekend one of my bestest (sic) friends visited for the weekend.  We met as freshmen in college, were inseparable for four years and now we live pretty much as far away from each other as physically possible within the lower 48.  The good news is that in the 7.5 years since we graduated, we’ve remained close friends, been in each other’s weddings, and we even lived in the greater NYC area (her in the City, me close by in CT) for a couple years which was super convenient.

Anyway, I promised my bud and her husband, who had never been to Maine, the quintessential Maine experience.  But as a scowling local, I didn’t want to deal with the craziness of the normal stuff people do here, like eat at DiMillo’s the *floating* restaurant that is crazy expensive and the food stinks.  Instead, one of Drew’s co-workers suggested a lobster shack 45 minutes out of town that I hadn’t even heard of. 

It was perfect.  Away from tourists, and so very Maine.  We ate lobster rolls and crab cakes and onion rings on picnic tables overlooking a remote bay.  Why had I never been here before?  My mother-in-law is coming to visit in a few weeks so we’ll make sure to go again (she lived here for 10 years and also hasn’t heard of it!).

Five Island Lobster Co., near Georgetown, Maine

The perfect Maine lobster roll

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CSA Update

Drew and I have been participating in a CSA this summer through a local farm, Laughing Stock Farm.  Each week we go to a local pick-up spot (someone’s house), and get our veggies for the week.  Now that it’s the end of August, and the farms are just bursting with goodness, our weekly take is huge.

For example, last night I got: cucumbers (unlimted, I took two since we have so many at home), 1.75 lb. heirloom tomatoes, 1 lb. green beans, 1 head garlic, 1 lb. potatoes, 1 pint cherry tomatoes, and 1 bunch baby carrots.  Since we have visitors coming this weekend, I also purchased some hot sausage and 2 lb of ground lamb (both from local farms) so we can cook up a storm.  We did not buy beef since our friends live on an amazing ranch in Southern California where they grow their own, thankyouverymuch!

Dealing with the onslaught of veggies each week is no small task, as I’ve learned.  These goods are straight from the ground with all the stems and peels and all those other good things that you can avoid completely if you like buying packaged shredded carrot instead of the real deal.  To manage this, we’ve invested in a salad spinner (so necessary for the lettuces, which have tons of little baby dirt) and lots of large freezer bags.  Once we clean, cut and peel the veg, we can store them in bags with a paper towel (to wic away any excess moisture).  We reuse the bags, too, since we go through a lot.  Man, I’m becoming my mom.

Here are some pics from yesterday. 

The starting line...

In progress

Bagged and ready for the fridge!

the carnage

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visitors

Today, my best bud from college and her husband are visiting!  You may recall my posts back in March about our visit out to her family’s ranch in California.  I love visiting her and hanging out with the animals.  This will be their first visit to Maine and we’ve promised them a “monumental” visit – I’m still not sure why I used this word in an email to her, because it likely left her expectations sky-high, but there you go!

I think we’ll go to a couple favorite restaurants, do a drive around the major tourist sights, and maybe even do a schooner ride or go to a nearby island.   In August in Maine, everything sounds good to a person “from away,” so Drew and I will do our best to show them a good time.  I’ll share pictures next week!

Our friends on their ranch...just a LITTLE different here!

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High School Grad #5!

Today my baby sister leaves for college.  As I write this, she and my parents are in the family Suburban, loaded down with clothes, milk crates (do people still take these?), posters, photos of family and friends, and maybe one or two school supplies.  In our family, we were all encouraged to attend whatever school sparked our interest, and over the years, my sisters have pushed the unsaid boundaries, moving farther and farther away.  Alice is going to Elon University in North Carolina, a twelve hour drive from home. 

I’m so excited for her – my freshman year of college was perhaps the best year of my life.  I loved the independence and the new friends and living on my own and staying up as late as I wanted and making most of my own decisions.  I also remember a tearful goodbye as my parents left me on the quad to make their five hour trip home (I was the oldest so there were tears all around…I know the other kids didn’t have that kind of trauma).  I know that Alice is full of nerves but also excited and it’s an interesting perspective that she doesn’t know what to expect but I know exactly what to expect and how amazing her time at Elon will be. 

I’m just thinking about her a lot today, and am also a little worried for my parents.  When they wave good-bye they will officially be empty-nesters, a title my mom is proud to wear but an inevitability that my dad really dreads.  I’m sure they will be fine and will hopefully come visit the rest of their kids more with all their unscheduled free time.

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More on Guidebooks

A couple weekends back, Drew and I had the idea to go to the bookstore to do some additional location research for our trip.  This adventure was to be followed by a trip to the nearby beach to sit in the sand and eat ice cream.  We had already read all the relevant books in the library on our locations of interest, and the single downside to library travel books is they are frequently out of date (well, all travel books are out of date somewhat, but you get my drift). 

After sitting and reading for an hour, we decided to actually purchase a few, thinking that our sand-sitting and ice cream-eating would be more exciting with a handful of new books.  Many travelers are loyal to one or two travel book brands and the most popular and widely available brands are (off the top of my head) – Lonely Planet, Fodor’s, Frommers, DK Eyewitness, and Rick Steves.  I tend to like the small city books over larger country books, because the information is typically more specific.  Plus I like the city maps and subway schemas that are included.

Drew and I realized, as we sifted through our respective piles of favorites that we were left with one book from each major brand.  This was definitely not planned.  But kinda funny.  We decided to just buy them all (what’s an extra five pounds in the ole’ backpack, right?) because that’s what we do.  We are still looking for a book on Kuala Lumpur and we have yet to find one…there are plenty on Malaysia but it seems silly to buy a book on the entire country when we’ll just be in one tiny place. 

I'm loving this Singapore book, actually. Might be my all around favorite!

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Visa for Travel

Do you know how difficult it is for people (from certain countries) to visit the United States?  For citizens of Canada, it’s really no big deal and those folks can get the visa application process almost completely waived.  However, for many other citizens of the world, visiting the U.S. is a huge hassle and an expensive proposition. 

I checked out the Visitor Visa requirements online (just for tourists).  Here’s the short version:

1. Schedule an appointment for an interview at the local embassy or consulate (located only in major or capital cities).

2. Complete visa application; submit passport and extra passport photos.

3. Pay the $140.00 application fee.

4. Depending on the country of citizenship, an individual may be subject to supplying additional information about the purpose of their trip and evidence of travel arrangements.

For U.S. citizens, it’s normally pretty simple to travel abroad (exceptions exists, of course, and visas can be expensive to obtain for countries like China, Brazil, Bolivia and Russia).  For our trip, we’re avoiding most countries with strict visa requirements because we’re not staying in any location long enough to warrant a $100 visa.  However, we do need two: Vietnam and Cambodia.  There are options to obtain both visa either at the border or prior to crossing the border.  However, in order to save time and hopefully some hassle, we’re going to apply ahead of time. 

Check one more item off the list...

First step: extra passport photos.  (We also need at least one to enter Angkor Wat.)  If you need a lot of extras, you can actually make them yourself, using guidelines you can find online…since we only needed like 6 each, we went and got some made.  This is no cheap endeavor it turns out – I might have priced out some options if I knew that ahead of time.  For both of us, extra photos cost about $50 total. 

No more smiling in passport photos. This is serious, people!

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