Brimfield Antique Fair – Tips for First-Timers

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I have had the Brimfield Antique Fair earmarked on my list of things to do for years and this past spring I finally went! It was both huge and amazing, and I definitely plan to go again. Being so big, I found the fair intimidating when I read about it.

Since round two of the famous fair starts this week (July 12-17, 2016), I thought I’d share my top tips for Brimfield first-timers:


1. Go early. 
My friend Eva and I drove there on a sunny Saturday around 10am… when everyone else in the world was going. It took us 1.5 hours to go the last 3 miles. If you can’t make a midweek trip work, plan to go early and save yourself the headache! (Parking was easy. We parked directly next to the fair in a church lot for $10 all day.)

2. Bring water and a large tote bag. Like most festivals, the food prices are marked up. Bring your own water bottle and a granola bar. Also bring a large tote for carrying your goodies across the grounds. Should you happen across a glorious find that is large/heavy you can hire someone to help bring it back to your car.

3. Get the app. Download the app Flea Finders on your phone and you’ll have a map of the entire fair at your fingertips. This is handy if you need to find a specific vendor, food, or need a bathroom!

4. Determine your shopping strategy. If you’re on the hunt for specific items it would be best to plan ahead. The app lets you search vendors by topic (ex: “vintage posters”) so you can pin down a shopping route if needed. Brimfield has everything you can imagine, so if you are on a mission versus browsing, plan ahead! We went to explore and aimlessly enjoy, which was also fun!

5. For Moms with babies: the Brimfield website says they are stroller-friendly. And they are, sort of. Some shopping areas are gravel, so the wheels can get stuck. (Using a rugged stroller like a BOB would be better. Using a regular umbrella stroller with small wheels may prove to be painful in certain areas.) Most booths can accommodate a stroller, but some can’t. And nobody wants you knocking your stroller into their valuable antique goods! But, bringing a stroller means not having to haul around your loot in a bag (score!). As for diaper changing and nursing, I didn’t see any good areas to stop at for this. I snuck behind the tents and sat down in the vendor parking lot to take care of my little one. The vendors all loved having a baby around though, so you’ll make lots of friends!

6. Ask around! Vendors might know where to look if you are shopping for something specific. If you see another shopper with something you love, ask where they got it! After I saw two people with some awesome Maine Blueberry pickers boxes, I asked where one had got them and it turned out the vendor had brought a whole stash of them so I was able to snag one too! People were very friendly.

And, as always when thrifting, bring cash (small bills – no one wants to make change for you after negotiating down a price) and keep your money in a safe place. Check out the tips for first-timers on the Brimfield Fair site as well.

Happy Hunting!!

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Babymooning on Prince Edward Island

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Prince Edward Island – the land of mussels and that Anne girl.

While we considered a few different options for a babymoon destination, Price Edward Island (PEI) quickly rose to the top of the list. We figured once we had a baby in tow we may never have the guts to make the 13 hour drive. (Now that we have a little one, I can certainly say that we were right.) Plus, was there ever a little girl who read the Anne of Green Gables series and then didn’t dream of exploring that beautiful place?

I mean, just look at these views:

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PEI was naturally beautiful, quiet (so quiet! even in the height of their tourism season!), relaxing, and laid-back. The beaches were gorgeous, the seafood delicious, and the people friendly. Unfortunately, we arrived with some foggy weather that just wouldn’t go away and squashed our dreams of bathing in the sun!

What to Do on PEI:

We spent most of our time on the northern coast between North Rustico and Dalvay by the Sea in Prince Edward Island National Park. The beaches are gorgeous. There are great bike sidewalks along the beaches too – flat and easy – keep in mind I was 30 weeks pregnant! You’ll need a Parks Canada pass to get into the park. You can purchase them on-site, or maybe your lodgings will lend them out to customers for free (ours did!).

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You simply can’t be on PEI and ignore the presence of Anne of Green Gables. It’s everywhere. Head to the Anne of Green Gables Museum – this is a 110 acre estate with a family home that inspired L.M. Montgomery to create Green Gables. The “real” Lake of Shining Waters is here as well. If you are feeling particularly cheesy you can even take one of “Matthew’s Carriage Rides” around the lake. 🙂

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Anne of Green Gables Museum

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Anne of Green Gables Museum

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The “real” Lake of Shining Waters

The other main Anne-site is the Green Gables Heritage Place – another family home that L.M. Montgomery spent time at that inspired Green Gables. Here you can explore the wood that inspired the “Haunted Wood”, although it’s now next to the Green Gables Golf Course, so not exactly the secluded forest you find in the book!

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Green Gables Heritage Place

You can also visit L.M. Montgomery’s birthplace, her Cavendish home, or the Avonlea Village (new modern shops designed to look like Avonlea town – they also moved L.M. Montgomery’s original church building to the premises). Another fun place to stop is the Dalvay by the Sea Hotel (as seen in Anne of Avonlea, when Anne’s papers fly everywhere on the beach and she meets the handsome Morgan).

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Dalvay by the Sea – they also offer a delicious looking brunch!

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Avonlea Village

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While I am a huge fan of the novels and the movie, I wasn’t too interested in visiting any of the sites inside. We drove by all of these things, sometimes popping out to walk the grounds, and that was enough to make this Anne-fan satisfied. The PEI Anne-tourism is a little kitschy, so I’d recommend getting out there are enjoying the beautiful red roads and sand beaches, quiet countryside, and windy bluffs that are the true inspiration of the setting behind the books.

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Where to Eat on PEI:

Every New Year’s Eve we answer a few questions, and one of them is always “what is the best meal we ate in the last year?” The answer for both of us this last year was The Blue Mussel Cafe in North Rustico, PEI! The Blue Mussel is a laid back cafe with a gorgeous view and seasonal seafood dishes. We ended up eating here multiple times! PEI is well-known in the culinary world for both their mussels and their potatoes. Memorable highlights were the steamed mussels, the potato salad, the chocolate potato cake, and the carrot cake.

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Lobster Suppers are a “thing” on PEI and we went to Fisherman’s Wharf to experience one. I ordered the Lobster Supper and it was SO much food – Lobster, Steamed Mussels, Potato Salad, chowder, rolls, dessert… it never ended! And our waitress happily brought over more baskets of mussels and bowls of chowder. While the food was fresh and bountiful, the ambiance left something to be desired. Ditch the tour bus crowds by skipping the Lobster Supper Dining Room and opt for the family restaurant next store – it’s much more intimate. Overall, I’m not sure I get the draw of the Lobster Supper, but it could be because we are from New England and there’s no novelty factor for us.

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The Prince Edward Island Preserves Company was a cute spot to grab lunch as well as taste-test a lot of jam!

Island Chocolates is another great spot to tuck away for a rainy afternoon.

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What we missed – we were hoping to eat at The Pearl Eatery but couldn’t get a reservation time that worked. We stopped by and it looked beautiful though. If we are ever back we will definitely return! We also never made it to the famous COWS Ice Creamery. How did that happen!?

Where to Stay on PEI:

I whole-heartedly recommend the North Rustico Cottages and B&B.

Dwight and his family were so kind. We booked our trip very last minute and, because we were trying to visit during their busiest season, all the cottages everywhere were booked! (Apparently cottages are a big thing there. Cottage options were much more prevalent than hotels – and it was super fun!) Dwight allowed us to come and move to whichever cabin was empty that night so we could stay! When we ended up cutting our trip a day short due to the bad weather, he even offered to refund us our money for the night. He was also very helpful with local recommendations and tips for parks, restaurants, and walking trails.

The cabins and the grounds were simple, but clean. Most cottages offered a kitchenette and a deck with a small grill.

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Unfortunately, we spent the majority of our time in PEI with some rainy, foggy, dreary weather which put a damper on a lot of our plans. If you’ve followed any of our other trips you will know we like to pack a lot in and this trip was very scaled back for us. We did have quite a bit more planned out, but weren’t able to get to it all due to the weather. The Cavendish golf courses and beaches are supposed to be lovely, but there was no swimming that week for us. We walked the beaches whenever we had a spot of good weather. Charlottetown is the city on the island, and looked very cool! We had plans to explore and try some awesome looking restaurants, but sadly some very rainy weather kept us away. We ended up cutting our trip short and heading home two days early, as the Boston beaches were getting beautiful weather and we were ready for some sunshine and wanted to spend some of our previous vacation time at the beach!

How to Get to PEI:

We drove from Boston to PEI. There is now an 8 mile bridge that connects PEI with New Brunswick, so no need to worry about dealing with a ferry! The drive from Boston took about 13 hours. On our way up we stopped in Maine for a night. I had intended on exploring the Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick for a day on our way back down the coast, but we ended up skipping it all and driving back in one day due to, yep, you guessed it – that darn rain!

I’d love to return to PEI for another trip someday. PEI feels relatively untouched by tourism, with the exception of a few areas of Cavendish. We drove around about half of the island, and it was dreamily peaceful.

For those of you considering a babymoon road trip:

I was 30 weeks pregnant when we took our babymoon. I discussed the trip with my doctor and there were no concerns about heading up to PEI. The drive was long – 13 hours. We broke up the drive by stopping in Bar Harbor, Maine on our way up, and we made frequent stops along the way so I wasn’t cramped or sitting for too long. I brought along a coccyx pillow to sit on, as well as a pillow to stuff behind my back/side/wherever I needed it to get myself comfortable. While there were certainly uncomfortable moments, I really don’t think it was much worse than the discomfort I feel while sitting in the car for long periods of time while not pregnant. And a babymoon road trip might be easier than flying somewhere – I was able to bring along all my creature comforts (like the 5 different pillows I needed to sleep comfortably!). (Tip: I researched  locations and contact information for several local hospitals just in case!)

PEI – I feel like we didn’t do you justice, but we will be back someday!

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Eating our Way Through Portland, Maine

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If Virginia is for lovers, Portland, Maine is for foodies. A while back we headed up to Maine for a weekend away. Being
my first time to Portland, the industrial coastal city was larger than I had anticipated and surprisingly chock full of culinary goodness. When I started researching for things to do in Portland, it immediately became apparent this was going to be a food-centric trip.
Where to Eat in Portland?
Portland, Maine, the Holy Donut, Potato Donut
The Holy Donut
These donuts are pretty darn good. (Yes, even compared to my recent enlightenment discovery of Union Square Donuts). The interesting twist with The Holy Donut is that all the donuts are made from mashed potatoes (!!) and use local Maine ingredients. We ran off with a half dozen and enjoyed them throughout the weekend. Favorites (who are we kidding – they were all favorites) include the dark chocolate sea salt donut, followed by the sweet potato donut with a ginger glaze. Although you couldn’t go wrong with the maple, cinnamon sugar, pomegranate, or cannoli versions either. There are two locations in Portland and donuts are sold on a first come-first serve basis, so don’t dawdle!
Portland, Maine
Duckfat
Duckfat is a local hot spot. Chef Rob Evans started this casual sandwich shop, known for their belgian fries fried in duck fat, just down the street from his well-known former restaurant, Hugo’s. This place was hoppin. And fantastic. They don’t take reservations, so be prepared to wait. We tried in vain to get a table at 1pm, but there was a 90 min wait. We came back at 4pm and had a 30 minute wait (which is probably the best you can do there on a Saturday). Quarters are tight, but the menu is simple and delectable. We split the meatloaf panini, the large poutine (belgian fries with gravy and cheese curd) and the salted caramel milkshake (yes, also made with duck fat). Six months later, we still talk about that milkshake.
Micucci Grocery
Known for their slab of Sicilian pizza, this Italian imports market was loaded with goodies and had me yearning to back back on a plane to Italia. While the internet foodies say the original pizza chef has recently left and started his own place, SLAB, Micucci’s still offers a good piece of pizza. It was $5 for one slab and large enough to split. Although delicious, given all the other amazing places to eat in Portland, I wouldn’t make this a destination.
Street & Co

After being shut out of reservations at the popular Fore Street, we managed to snag one of the last dinner reservations at Street & Co, a rustic American seafood restaurant in Old Port. (Note: call ahead for reservations when visiting Portland!) We tried the two of the pan seafood dishes – sole francaise and the scallops in pernod and cream. And, my-oh-my, if I’m returning to Portland for anything it’s for this meal again. Simple, fresh and local. These are dishes aren’t trying too hard and not so decadent that you leave with a brick in your stomach.

Restaurants for next time? I’ve already got them picked out: breakfast at Hot Suppa, oysters at Eventide, and dinner at Fore Street.

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What to do in Portland?

When we weren’t eating (which admittedly wasn’t often) we spent some time in the touristy section of Old Port and the Pearl District. The Old Port neighborhood is a neat, historic area to walk around and shop in stores filled with pottery, artwork, and the usual smatterings of touristy shopping areas. One gorgeous store, K. Collette, is a must to visit for any decorating freaks like myself. My only disappointment is that the port is quite industrial and the town lacks a great waterfront area. (Unless we missed something – if any locals are reading please point me in the right direction for our next trip!)

Portland, Maine

Going hand-in-hand with the food scene in Portland, the area is also well known for their breweries. There are a number of organized brewery tours, including the popular Allagash and Shipyard breweries. For something a little more unique, consider going to a Fermentory to try cider and kombucha tasting.
Portland, Maine Urban Farm Fermentory Kombucha Tasting
Portland, Maine
Urban Farm Fermentory
We visited Urban Farm Fermentory. We tried their ciders (very dry, not sweet like most ciders), mead, and kombucha in flavors like coffee, sweet green, blueberry, and ginger. Kombucha is fermented tea and it was my first time trying it. I’ve read quite a bit about kombucha on many of the health blogs I read, so I was interested to try it. They were a bit understaffed for the crowds so there was a wait, but friendly and excited to share their passion and knowledge about their products.
Randomly, outside of Urban Farm Fermentory I saw a car with a bumper sticker featuring a logo I designed many years ago!! It’s always a fun surprise to see my work out in the world when I least expected it. In fact, it’s been so many years I had totally lost track of how it was going and had totally forgotten it was in Maine. Matt’s Coffee is organic wood-roasted coffee beans and delicious! (In fact, I’m going to see if I can order some more, it’s been a long time!) *Enter my DOH moment*. Matt, of Matt’s Coffee has opened up a Coffee Shop in Portland, The Speckled Ax. Unfortunately I only learned this after we got home and I was looking up buying some beans. But the reviews look great and next time I’m definitely going!
Portland, Maine
Lighthouse Tours
New England is famous for their lighthouses, and Portland doesn’t disappoint – there are six in Portland alone! Ditch the bus/trolley tours and drive it yourself (see directions here). Head on over to Fort Williams park (preferably with your leftover donuts, a hot cocoa, and a windbreaker).
Portland, Maine, the Holy Donut, Potato Donut
Portland, Maine
Walk the brief trail over to the famous Portland Head Light. With it’s classic red roof, and waterfront location, It’s one of the more magnificent lighthouses I’ve ever seen. The rocky Maine coastline is gorgeous (or “mean-looking” as a nearby tourist commented) and has me inspired to take a trip up to Acadia National Park again soon. On our way back to Boston we also stopped at the Cape Neddick lighthouse in York, Maine, about an hour south of Portland.
Portland, Maine
L.L. Bean and the Outlets
About 20 minutes north of Portland is the town of Freeport, mainely known (pun intended) for their shopping outlets and the flagship L.L. Bean store. I’ve been here before, but it’s usually a fun side-trip. The L.L. Bean flagship store is actually a campus of stores – different buildings for clothing, hunting and fishing, home, bikes and boats, and outlets, etc. Obviously, the L.L. Bean Home store is always a favorite for me. The staff always have something going on – whether it’s sampling apple cinnamon pancakes, fly fishing lessons on the lawn, or learning about trout in one of their indoor ponds. There’s also loads of taxidermy on display (best to avoid the hunting building if that freaks you out), but make sure to see the famous and rare “Locked Moose” display. I don’t particularly like taxidermy, but to see such large and beautiful wild animals up close is truly an amazing sight.
Where to Stay in Portland?
We stayed at the Downtown Portland Westin in the Pearl District. The hotel recently underwent a $6.5 million renovation and it’s beautiful. We were on the twelfth floor and had great harbor views, and could even see Mount Washington from our window. We had breakfast in the hotel restaurant – I’d recommend finding something around town instead.
Portland is a quick two hours from Boston, and it’s a shame how few times I’ve been up to Maine! If you have a long weekend to spend, you’ll drive right by Portsmouth and Newburyport on your way up. (A recipe for success if you ask me!)

Have you been to Portland? Which amazing foodie experience did I miss?

SOWA Saturdays in Boston’s South End

The South End in Boston

To me, the South End is classic Boston. Gorgeous brick homes with elaborate bannisters and tree and streetlamp lined streets. Forget the fact that finding a non-resident parking spot is nearly impossible – once you overlook that small fact, the South End is perfection.

I was meeting a friend to explore the famous SoWA (South of Washington) Open Market. On my long, long walk from my parking spot to SoWA, I couldn’t help but snap some photos along the way there, only to find they do have some limited parking on-site. Oh well.

The South End in Boston

The South End in Boston
The South End in Boston
The South End in Boston
The South End in Boston

The South End community garden:
The South End in Boston

So what exactly is SoWA?

Well, according to their website,” SoWa today is known for its dozens of galleries, destination-worthy restaurants, marketing agencies, graphic- and interior-design studios, modern residential lofts, and unique shops selling everything from vintage clothing to exotic imports. Unlike many neighborhoods in Boston, the artists have been encouraged to stay in SoWa, and give back to the neighborhood in countless ways.”

SoWA breaks down into a few areas of fun:

1. The Open Food/Drink Market and Food Trucks

The food market is your basic farmers market, with a few extras. You’ll find fantastic fresh produce straight from the farm, in addition to other locally made food items. I brought home a bar of raspberry chocolate (made in Somerville), a bottle of mango hot sauce (made in New Hampshire), and split one of the tempting maple-bacon donuts from Union Square Donuts.

SOWA Market in Boston
SOWA Market in Boston
SOWA Market in Boston
SOWA Market in Boston

2. The Artisan and Sellers Tents

The second area of SoWA is an open craft market of goods – ranging from local artists, to vintage clothes, to handmade signs and jewelry, to used books, and the list goes on and on.

SOWA Market in Boston
SOWA Market in Boston

3. The Vintage Market and other shops

The third area of the market is all indoors. In addition to the numerous shops nearby is the indoor vintage market. The vintage market was pretty amazing – purses and furs, pyrex dishes, bar sets – they had more than I could imagine possible! It’s the type of place you really need to hunt through, and it was super crowded. I could have easily spent a few hours hunting through the vintage market alone.

SoWA is an impressive gathering of local artisans and curators all within a small area. For all lovers of art and vintage goods, as well as those who love a good hunt, it’s a must-see.

The only downside of SoWA is its own popularity. We were there on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, and the place was packed to the brim with people. I also felt, particularly on the vintage items, that prices were on the higher side. Perhaps that comes from being in the city, and I would imagine sellers have to pay a higher price to be a participant in SoWA due to the large draw it has. Other places, such as Oddee’s in Newburyport, the Crompton Collective in Worcester, or other places I love to hunt through in Essex and Gloucester seemed to have better deals and equally alluring items (although not as expansive). That being said, I’ll definitely be returning! (Although, maybe on a day when the weather is a bit more gloomy to avoid the crowds. I like to take my time!)

PLEASE NOTE! As I mentioned in my “I’m Back” post, I am finally publishing some older posts. This is one of them! Since I wrote this post, SOWA has moved locations beginning in the 2016 season. You can find more information here on the SOWA website. Enjoy! I can’t wait to check out their new space!

Hello, It’s Me. (Yes! For Real!)

As the old addage goes, everything comes back if you wait long enough.

Full House, bellbottoms, Birkenstocks. And me!

I stopped blogging about 1.5 years ago. I was busy with work, life, and we had house projects galore. There was too much to do and not enough time, and blogging was the first thing to cut out.

Then I got pregnant and became a Mom to the coolest little girl on the planet.

But, especially over the last year I’ve really missed blogging. I didn’t realize how often I myself referenced my own posts about places we ate while out of town, paint colors, or random recipes or party details and was bummed that I hadn’t posted on certain things for my own personal use.

All that is to say I’ll be back here posting again! Probably not regularly (I do have a 7 month old), but I’d like to try to post every week.

They say blogging has gone the way of the dinosaurs, and maybe that’s true. But I’ve always enjoyed it and I think that’s all that matters.

I have a back-log of old posts that I never ended up publishing, that I will probably share soon. And I’ll post some updated house projects too. Honestly, keeping up with our pace of projects never worked well anyways so none of my posts will be in “real time”. I do have a number of things I’d like to share though, both in terms of DIY and travel, so stay tuned!

 

(And I’m feeling very commitment-phobic to pressing the PUBLISH button right now. But I’m just going to do it!!)