Friday, December 30, 2011

happy new year!

Happy New Year, friends!!

How will you be celebrating? We will be with friends at the Ice Ball, at the recently - and beautifully - renovated Statler Towers in Buffalo. 

I will be the one having fun in a rather garish outfit of big glitzy vintage earrings ....

channeling Jackie O by way of necklace ...

wearing lace shoes

and a bright red dress.

See more of my thoughts on New Year's Eve here, and have a safe and fantastic New Year's Eve - see you in 2012!

xoxo, Amanda

{top photo found on Etsy}

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

October in Maine

{ So mad at myself that this post has been sitting in draft form for at least two months! I could have forgiven myself if I had at least posted it in the same season that I started it in, but seeing how we now appear to be officially in the throws of winter here in Buffalo (still, only a dusting of powder from the last "weather advisory"), I am having a hard time pretending this is in any way a timely, relevant post. So I won't. But I'd still like to share it. :) }

Our Coastal Rt. 1 road trip in October! We so rarely indulge in this meandering, slow but beautiful route from point A to point B, but it being fall, and the traffic being not so terrible as summertime, we embraced it, and I am so glad we did. 

"Are we there yet?"

Foggy and cool on top of Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor, Maine. 

Evan's mom picking tomatoes and other veggies from her garden. 

Old Bucksport Bridge.

This was the first time we'd been back for a Fall Maine visit in several years. The first half of the trip was cool and drizzly - and I loved every minute of it. 

As the passenger I could take in all of the things I may have taken for granted growing up in Maine, but deeply appreciate in a heart-aching kind of way now - things I could not demand that we stop to take pictures of, because we only had a week and not months....

Lush, foggy green hills that were just starting to show hints of orange. 
Countless old, white homes with cedar shingle barns straight out of a tourist postcard. 
Steep, steep hills with covered bridges at the bottom. 
Expansive, rolling, delightfully purposeless fields. 
Maple trees. 
Stone walls aplenty - some neatly stacked, some like heaps of tumbling rock. 
The smell of wet pine, covered in cold drizzle. 
Willow trees.
Chippy white picket fences. 
Windy creeks running along the road and into the woods. 
Small brick elementary schools. 
Gingerbread trim. 
Old, old graveyards with crooked, humble tombstones. 
Public squares fenced in with split rail fences. 
Road signs warning you that an area is "thickly settled." (a favorite)
White steepled congregational churches. 
Old, slanting houses. 
Skinny birches and aspens. 
Victorian farm houses with front porches and deep front yards and serious acreage. 
Alpaca farms, bails of hay and rolling pastures. 
Railroad tracks through the woods - the kind I used to cross country ski with my mom on. 
Tall, skinny, pointy pine trees peeking out of colorful oaks and maples. 
Gorgeous marshland on both sides of the road, cattails everywhere. 
Horses in a field with apple trees.
Gigantic felled trees covered in moss, surrounded by ferns. 
Red leaves against bright green lichen. 
Sumac trees.
Boulder fields with sheep that make you think you are in Scotland. 
Cedar shingled homes with porches with blue ceilings.

Someday, if and when bigger budgets allow, I'd like to take a lazy, unrushed, meandering trip along Route One to check out all of the numerous antique stores, thrift stores, hooked rug studios, craft co-ops, the Swans Island blanket shop in Northport and the Windsor chairmakers in Lincolnville. But the memories and gift of taking in all these sights that I once took for granted is still better than any blanket, rug, chair or trinket that I could bring home.

But I won't lie, I was psyched to have found this bittersweet wreath being sold along side the road to bring home with me, and these few trinkets from Bar Harbor

A disclaimer: Lest you be from Maine, and find yourself thinking that I have sugarcoated my observations, or turned a blind eye to all that is less than beautiful - I assure you I did not, and could never. But I will admit to only including those images leaving positive and/or nostalgic impressions. Edited out: dozens of prefab modular homes, tarpaper shacks, aggressive pick up trucks spray painted camouflage ... among other "less pretty" things. I feel compelled to bring it up as I find myself reading - with increasing squeamishness - blog after blog touting Maine's magic and hipness, knowing that there is a lot left out of the picture: generations of poverty, hard, hard living, and plenty of ugliness - just like anywhere else. My roots touching down to some of the harsher realities of Maine living, I struggle with the over-romanticism sometimes. 

Ah, Maine. You're complicated, but that's why I love you. 

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas feasting


We stayed put this year for Christmas, meaning we did not go back to New England to spend the holiday with family. We kept things very low key with just the two of us. This kind of Christmas is always lovely in its own way, but staying here and not spending the holiday with family always leaves me feeling restless and longing for new traditions. I think it's also part of getting older and realizing that Christmas will never have the same kind of magic as when we were kids - until you have your own kids and can live it vicariously. So for those of us too old to feel the magic and who do not have kids, I guess you have to create your own kind of Christmas magic.

This year I had lots of time on my hands and decided to plan a bunch of new recipes to try for Christmas day. Meal planning is one of the things I do for fun - nerd alert! I also really enjoy all the Christmas programming on NPR, so I had myself a grand old time, spending hours in the kitchen, listening to the programs and working on the new recipes (double nerd alert!). 

This was the first Christmas away from family that I felt very content and fulfilled (despite missing everyone back in New England tremendously). I think I finally found a new Christmas tradition worth holding onto.

Some of the fruits of my labor - from top to bottom: Aperol and Prosecco cocktails; beautiful brine for the chicken (from here); quick preserved lemons (from here); cheddar and canadian bacon strata (not my favorite, but satisfying - from here); sticky toffee pudding (from here - fantastically good!); preparing for Christmas dinner; seasonings for pan-fried butterflied whole chicken (for instructions, see here); roasted carrots with lavender honey; Voila - Christmas dinner. 

Also consumed, but not pictured: Lindemans Frambois Lambic; Rose Cava cocktails; hot mulled cranberry cider with rum; Mom's egg nog cookies and Chex Mix; Evan's Mom's sweet pickles; Jen's toffee candy; fingerling potatoes with shallot butter (again, not my favorite, but was really good once I turned it into smashed potatoes by adding lots of cream and butter! - from here). 

And yet, still no need for Tums (though definitely a need for a trip to the gym). :)

Merry Christmas, and happy feasting to you!