baking week & gift guides

Hope your holiday preparations are bringing you some festive fun! The last week before Christmas completely snuck up on me this year – so at the moment I am descending into flour-in-hair batter everywhere mode. It’s baking time in our itty bitty cozy kitchen.

So instead of posting photos of the disaster zone where the cookies & biscuits & jams & breads will magically appear from, here are some last-minute gift ideas:

Yes, I’m a fanatic. But really – The Art of Simple Food is a wonderful cookbook filled with basic tried-and-true recipes and makes a lovely gift.

I don’t know what the local spot is for you, but around here there’s nothing better than Scratch by Willard Beach. Use some sneaky detective skills to discover where your lucky loved one likes to grab their coffee/baked goods and pick up a gift card.

If you have a little DIY energy left in you, a photo craft is always appreciated. You can find this and other handmade ideas “for him” here. Thanks, Martha.

Love the screen printed glassware from Vital, a Colorado-based Etsy shop. You can discover more sweet Etsy finds through their gift guides.

Found these cozy mittens (always a nice warm standby) through Cup of Jo and her gift guide archives, thanks Joanna!

As my grandmother says, “You can never have too many books.” This one is from Barefoot Books, a publishing company I absolutely adore.

A non-material gift is always a fun way to go, lots of ideas (like a yoga class) can be found here. Thanks Em and Huffington Post.

If you like to give handmade presents but can’t craft for another second, Martha has plenty of edible gift ideas here. Buuuuut if you’re running low on holiday energy, I highly recommend finding a local baking company or store to support – your friends & family will be happier with your well-rested good company than with a frazzled red-eyed version of yourself surrounded by a mess of handmade holiday-ness.

(Can you tell who’s scaling down on handmade gifts this year? No more knitting through till 7am on Christmas for this girl)

Happy Holidays!

christmas shopping: local indie craft fair

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After a glorious syrup-filled waffle brunch, a few of our friends braved the rainy (hopefully soon-to-be snowy) weather with us, and arrived at the Maine Irish Heritage Center where Picnic was raging on! This craft fair/music festival/yeti sighting location (a yeti – seriously, check out their website) was swarming with damp, rosy-cheeked, and chatty shoppers. It was a joyous scene to be a part of – meeting local craftspeople, listening to their stories and to the festive music, and sipping on some fresh coffee. One of the vendors, Merchants Row, sold these striking puzzles and paintings – he had designed and then printed images on regionally-sourced and hand-carved wood in the shape of the counties in Maine and a sailor out at sea. Loads of special holiday gifts and pleasant company. Hope you enjoyed a (rainy or otherwise) lovely weekend as well!

they’re not kittens

I think we actually adopted two fierce little skunk bears.

We had to lock them in the bedroom in order to eat these: (recipe from Alice Waters’ Art of Simple Food)

Knitting hasn’t been happening lately for two fuzzy reasons, but they do love to snuggle up by the computer – after they tire themselves out by pouncing on the keyboard.

Wishing you a nice week – getting ready for Thanksgiving!

there’s a used bookstore down the street

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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So I picked up these two books last week and absolutely devoured them – slowing down to savor the last few pages of Prodigal Summer. I finished the last lines and then immediately flipped back to the first page and started again, I’ve never done that before. I have a new favorite novel!

A pumpkin pie (Alice Waters style) is cooling off in the kitchen, the kittens are napping on a quilt by the window, and I’m stretching my legs out after a weekend of mellow hiking in the crisp November air. Wishing you a lovely week.

 

japanese maples

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The Japanese Maples have been leaving their mark on the backyard this weekend – shedding their now deeply red leaves in preparation for the winter. I’ve been reflecting on this seasonal shift and contemplating the effect I’ve had on my various chosen environments – with the decisions I make in my relationships, my current employment, even the books I’ve been reading. The quarter life crisis rumbles on.

pine cones

This weekend Graham and I drove a little ways up north to check out the foliage and hike away our colds. We also stumbled upon the wonderful place pictured above, The Barn on 26. The old Shaker-built barn, housing wall-to-wall antique furniture, books, pottery, and of course a barn cat named Elizabeth, managed to be cozy and welcoming despite its soaring wood roof. Upon entering through the large red doors, we were greeted with a bowl of fresh-picked apples and a sign encouraging us to help ourselves. The owner, Alice, slipped in a little while later and we enjoyed chatting with her about the antiques, her horses, and winters in New England. We didn’t leave with the bookshelf we’ve been hunting for, but we did take home a bag of pine cones…

… which we put into our canning jar lamp. The end table the lamp is sitting on is a barrel that Graham’s brother gave us from the Portland Architectural Salvage. Alice told us that some of the young girls who board with her and tend to the horses had volunteered to gather up the pine cones. They were all piled into cute little brown bags, tucked behind arm chairs and next to hutches throughout both floors of the lofted barn. I thought it was such a sweet thing to do – and so nice that these girls have this special place.

Hope you’re in the midst of a cozy fall and having a pleasant time gearing up for winter!

autumnal appreciation

Pictured above is my Mom, a pumpkin creation by Dad, and myself at about age four in the backyard at home in Connecticut. That Japanese Maple in the background was a well-loved and oft-climbed favorite of the neighborhood. And below is a photograph Graham snapped with his phone yesterday at the Portland Farmers Market. I am pictured clutching a pumpkin destined for great things (soon-to-be carved artwork by Graham followed by a slow-bake into delicious pie) as well as a gorgeous cluster of beets peaking out of the bag. We also re-stocked our apple cider supply, an autumnal staple in our new home.

I love fall. Really. Love. Fall. I didn’t fully understand just how completely the seasons had soaked into my being until I was away from the east coast during the fall for a few years. One autumn in particular comes to mind – I was in India about 4 years ago (from July – December, effectively skipping autumn) and come October I looked into my rucksack to discover that every single piece of clothing I had purchased – kurtas, dupattas, pashminas – was a shade of red, yellow, orange or brown. I had subconsciously created the changing leaves through my Indian wardrobe. So this year I’m just soaking it in – beyond thrilled to be back near my family and the shifting of the seasons. Happy Autumn!

PS My lovely friend Brodie passed this website on to me and I’ve had fun digging through the archives, hope you do too :)