Friday, January 29, 2010

Talk to Me

Just finished reading an article in AARP about the 'lost art' of conversation. I stand guilty as charged. I find myself ignoring those around me to 'talk' to people I've never even met in person, just online.

And it's around us everywhere. Next time you are in a restaurant waiting for your table, take a look around. How many other diners are waiting? How are they engaged? Are they talking to each other, reading the menu and getting excited about what to order, or are they each in their own little 'electronic world'?

Who is more important to you than the person you chose to spend your life with? Who is more important to you than your children? Who is more important to you than the people who will physically stand by you when you need them?

For everyone who says, 'I have to take this call, it's important,' take a moment to realize what you just said to the person sitting across from you. 'You are not as important to me as this phone call is.'

Really? Is that what you really want to say to your spouse, to your mother or father, to your child (think "Cat's in the Cradle" if you want)?

For everyone who sputters at this point saying, 'But this call IS important!' ask yourself 'why?' Why is this call more important than talking with your loved ones? Will someone die if you don't take the call? Will the free world cease to exist as we know it?

I'm definitely dating myself here, but I'm from an era without cellphones. I went to school (uphill, both ways, in the driving snow) without a cellphone (grade school, high school, college). I got married without updating my Facebook page from the altar. I can go for days without watching TV or listening to the radio.

And still I am guilty of ignoring the people around me when I'm on the internet.

The gist of this whole soapbox rant is, I guess, a plea to you (and a promise from me) to spend more time really connecting with the people right around us. A plea and a promise to stop worrying that some 'really important' email or phone call came in while we were 'roaming,' that something really important happened elsewhere rather than right in front of us.

Funny thing is, if you think about it, if we're all online and in touch with complete strangers and we're having a wonderful time with them, THEY are also having a wonderful time with the person we're ignoring who is right in front of us. SOMEONE out in cyberspace thinks our very own loved one is funny, charming, witty, a great person and they're wishing they could be us and spend more time with the person we're ignoring.

Really makes you think, doesn't it? So, if you've read this far, please promise yourself you'll spend more real time with the people you love and less time with the people you're just infatuated with. You might even consider going on vacation and leaving the gadgets home (to have their own vacation). Can't handle a disconnected vacation? Next time you go out to dinner leave the iPod, the Blackberry, the iPhone, the iPad, the Nintendo DS, the plain vanilla cellphone at home.

Create an air of mystery around yourself. 'We couldn't reach you! Your voicemail came on immediately! Where were you, what were you doing?' Heck, every teenage girl knows that not being 'available' makes her more desirous!

Rock & I went on a 10 day honeymoon to Ireland. Most of you know we have 3 kids between us. (And 3 parents as well.) No cellphone. No email. No contact with any of them for 10 days. Did they all survive? Yes. Did they miss us? Probably not that much. Would having been in contact with all of them for those 10 days made our honeymoon a better experience? Definitely NOT! We spent that time together. Devoted to each other.

Try it sometime.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The contenders...

This was where we were this morning. 4 different colors of paint and none of them really making me happy. But, it's down to the wire now, so a decision needed to made. Tune in tomorrow to see the winner!

In case you're wondering, yes, it is hard to paint around the sprinkler heads!

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Year in Numbers

And other fun facts!

I was thinking this morning that we had some interesting facts about guests and the inn that I should share with you. So, here's a short list of weird and wonderful facts about White Cedar Inn last year:

  • Number of times the most frequent sleepers slept here last year: 17. Yes, that's one couple! And that's 17 different reservations!
  • Number of nights for the longest continuous stay: 8. Followed closely by 6 guests each staying 7 nights.
  • How far away did guests come from? The farthest was Hong Kong. The nearest was Freeport.
  • Number of different languages spoken? 11
  • What were they? Portuguese, French (both Canada and France), German, Cantonese, Italian, Spanish, Swedish, British (yes, it is different!), Bengali, Arabic, Hebrew.
  • Number of different languages at ONE breakfast: 4
  • New ways to say and write 'lobster:' 3 (Arabic, Hebrew, Bengali)
  • Youngest guest: 6 months
  • Oldest guest: 91 (we didn't ask, she told us!)
  • Most guests in the house at one time: 17
  • Fewest guests in the house at one time: 1 (you get our FULL attention that way!)
  • Number of days in a row with guests in the house: 79 (c'mon, we can do better than that this year!)
  • Number of eggs cracked: 789 (give or take)
  • Number of 'frequent sleepers:' 30% (Thank you!)
OK, back to painting...hope you enjoyed that little bit of fun and trivia!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

And Now for the Dismount

So, today being the glorious winter day that it is here in Maine (by that I mean sunshine, feet of snow and fairly warm-35 degrees), we ventured out to Wolfe Neck Woods to go snowshoeing.

We love it there. There are easy peasy trails, moderate trails and, if you go out early enough, you can blaze your own trails. My one pet peeve is I really do wish the trails were marked up high so you could see where to go in the winter. We generally end up wandering aimlessly for part of the time and then retrace our own trail when we get tired.

After an hour of following trails, blazing our own and generally enjoying the piney woods and the salt air, we headed back to the car. Bre had a great time, never once stopping to pull snow out from between her toes, even tho she was up to her belly in some places. (She WILL have to be in front trail-blazing!)

There is a tiny, probably 3', bank of snow from the snowplow pushed up in the parking lot at the end of the trail we were on. I walked to the top and jumped. Have I ever mentioned my athletic training? My Olympic trials? No? Well, there's a reason for that. I have no athletic training or ability for that matter.

What made me think jumping off a three foot pile of snow onto an icy parking lot while wearing snowshoes was going to end well? Possibly watching my nephews snowboard down the hill outside and get air off the 5' pile of snow in my own driveway. Really, three feet? Flat landing? Barely moving when I jumped?

You know where this is going, right? I fell. Forward on both knees. Then I rolled over and hit my head on the parking lot. Rock was right behind me so I asked if he could avoid falling on me when he jumped. Of course, HE has grace and athletic ability so he just walked down the slope and over to the car telling Bre to, 'Get the Mommy. Go on, get the Mommy.'

He did come back and take my snowshoes off for me as I held my feet in the air. And, luckily, the other folks in the parking lot were on the other side of my car so they didn't see me trying to stand up.

So, I didn't stick the landing. The dismount has always been my weak point. Ask sometime about my first time on the parallel uneven bars in gym class.

And if you're like me, don't assume you absorb grace and agility by watching kids who are 40 years younger than you are do things you couldn't do when you WERE their age, much less now!

Back out tomorrow! Will avoid the 'treacherous mountains' of snow.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Year Of Me

Pemaquid Point, Maine
The title of this may have thrown you. The 'Year of Me' sounds so positively decadent! However, that wasn't the essential meaning.

This is the time of year everyone looks back and looks ahead and attempts to change those things they don't like, either about themselves, their surroundings or the greater world. My point in the Year of Me is to celebrate yourself. You're pretty fantastic just the way you are!

So, you might want to change a little, or big, something here or there, but you are essentially a good person. So, let's celebrate that!

Here's how...

  • Take the 'good' towels, linens, silverware, crystal, dishes out of the closet and use them. Yes, you. You use them for yourself. Everyday. Because YOU are the special occasion those things are being saved for.
  • Cash in those gift certificates you got for Christmas, your birthday, your anniversary. They are not worth more the longer you wait! Some may even expire while you are waiting. (If you think you have a gift certificate here and you can't find it, just call us!)
  • Cash in those frequent flier miles before they're gone. Take the trip. Maybe you can't take your fantasy trip, but you can go somewhere really nice. Go.
  • Do something nice for you. Take a walk. Read a book. Stare out the window and let the phone ring.
  • Everyday be thankful for one good thing that happened. Even if all you can think of is, 'Whew, thank goodness the cat didn't leave another hairball this morning!'
  • Smile at strangers. Depending on where you are, they'll smile back or avoid you like the plague. But you will make yourself happy and that's what matters!

That's what the Year of Me is about. Celebrating the wonderfulness of you.

Herbie, the largest American Elm in New England

Herbie the Elm TreePhoto by John Patriquin
What an infinitely sad story in today's paper about the last day of Herbie, the largest American Elm in New England.

Herbie stood on his small corner of Maine until Tuesday, January 20 when, due to an attack of Dutch Elm disease that couldn't be held off any longer, the tree was taken down. Onlookers from as far away as Connecticut stood on the snowy corner in Yarmouth for over 4 hours while the tree and the surrounding area were prepared.

Early ring counting indicated Herbie was at least 212 years old. The state's tree warden thinks 235 is more like it and will know more when a section is taken to the lab for a closer inspection.

Onlookers marveled that the tree may have witnessed historical Maine figures passing on what was once the main route through the eastern part of the state. Herbie would have been a mere sapling during the Revolution and the founding of Maine as a state. A stately 75 during the Civil War, where he may have stood witness to the travels of Joshua Chamberlain and other members of the 20th Maine. Telephone and electrical wiring running through and around his branches would still be a long way off when he was 100!

It would be a great project to show a cross section taken from the tree with a time line of all that happened in this country while Herbie stood watch on his corner.

To help defray the cost of the removal, and so locals and others can have a remembrance of Herbie, the tree will be cut into large and small pieces and used to create mementos and pieces of art that will be available for purchase within a few weeks.

For the entire story with photos and videos and to purchase a piece of American history, please use this link to the Yarmouth town pages.

Sad update- Herbie's long time caretaker died this week. Frank Knight was 103.

White Cedar Inn Bed and Breakfast 178 Main St Freeport, Maine 04032

Friday, January 15, 2010

Pickles and Ice Cream

That's the name of our new Babymoon package! I don't know about you, but I never craved pickles & ice cream. All I wanted was clams. Fried clams, clam chowdah, clams, clams, clams. What does THAT mean, I wonder?

Because I'm pretty sure that's a personal aberration (ha, ha) we're calling the special for expectant parents 'Pickles & Ice Cream.' The whole idea of 'Clams & Ice Cream' just doesn't cut it!

We think it's a fun package with lots of neat elements...a 'diaper cupcake' from EmmaLuLu Creations, the eponymous 'pickles and ice cream,' a gift from Pretty Pushers (limited time) and more for the happy couple to do and see.

It's the perfect package to enjoy some time alone. Remember, the next time you get a break is the day you drop Junior off at college!

Check out all the details online!

Come enjoy your Babymoon Pickles and Ice Cream getaway!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Potato Leek Soup- January '10 Recipe of the Month

Or, as we call it around here 'Leeky Potato Soup.' I just got a Cuisinart Immersion Blender (thanks Mom!) and tried it out on this recipe. Holy cow! The soup was thick, creamy and smooth. It sure beats pouring hot soup into a blender and then pouring it back into the pot. I even read the directions so I didn't spray myself with hot soup, cut my fingers off or electrocute myself. Whew!

Sometime I will remember to take photos of the finished product. But, this one's on the short list for winter soups, so next time.

Here we go (there is also a 'lite' or vegan version below):

2 tbsps butter
1 large onion, chopped (hint- start cutting at the stem, not the root to avoid crying)
2 (or more) large leeks, chopped (rinse well! I use up to where the first 'leaves' cross)
2 tbsp flour
4 cups chicken stock (low salt, low fat)
3 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, cubed (I leave the peel on) Yukon Gold is the best flavor potato for this recipe, but other potatoes also work.
salt & pepper to taste
1 cup half & half
several chopped garlic cloves, if you like garlic (don't use garlic powder or garlic from a jar)

Melt butter in deep saucepan. Add onions & leeks (and garlic, if desired) and saute until soft, low to medium heat. Stir in flour, brown slightly. Gradually stir in chicken stock. Add potatoes, bring to a boil, simmer until potatoes are soft, about 30 minutes.

Remove from heat, add half & half, salt & pepper. Now for the fun part! Fire up the immersion blender! Put business end of stick under the surface of the soup, then turn on. (That's important! Don't turn the blender on while you're waving it around over the soup. Oy, what a mess that will be!) I found it was a bit hard to move the stick up and down as per the directions, but just moving it around the pot in a circular motion did the trick. I think it depends on the depth of the pot.

Ladle soup into bowl. Enjoy. Makes about 4-6 servings depending on whether this is your meal or a starter.

Lite/vegan version:

Replace butter with olive oil. Replace chicken stock with water. Replace half & half with firm tofu. Follow directions as above with substitutions. Sorry, once you have the version with the half & half and butter, it's hard to go back. But this is a good vegan version and it is tasty.

Let the Demo Begin!

After my usual bout of sniffly, sneezy winter cold, we started the wallpaper stripping today! In just over one hour, Rock had almost all of the wallpaper down- Thank You Phil! That just goes to show what proper prep work will do for you in the future! It'll take some care to go around the sprinkler system heads, but having the big swaths of paper come down so easily was great!

Some pieces were so perfect, they could just have been put right back up again with a little wallpaper paste!

I was hurrying ahead getting the artwork and face plates down but Rock was tearing (no pun intended) right along.

Time to go pick a paint color!

Here are some action shots:

down comes the wallpaper
Look how easily that piece is coming down. Perfect prep work when the paper was installed.

Rock in action. I asked him to turn around as I had enough shots of the top of his head!

After an hour, and he started in the corner behind me!

So, here's why we don't do lots of projects when you're all here staying with's, what? Jan 21 and we're still not done. Pretty much 3 weeks into it and the wallpaper is still down, but the only paint that's gone up is on the baseboard radiators and the trim. (And not all of that, either!) We still haven't bought the paint!

It didn't help that we now have over a foot of soft, fluffy snow out there! Snowshoeing here we come. Hopefully, some of you are coming up in Feb and can enjoy this time of year!