Saturday, May 25, 2013

Telling Our Story

Scrapbooking is one of those hobbies that is just designed for me. I love being crafty and I love taking pictures. It is a no brainer. I started scrapbooking after I graduated college... wow, I feel old just thinking about how long ago that was. I took a bit of a hiatus after a bad break up before Thom and I started dating. About a year ago, I rediscovered my hobby. I wanted to document our story, so I created a scrapbook of our first year together. About a year later, it is finally done. 

The scrapbook has a storybook theme, it begins with "Once upon a time," where I typed up the story of how Thom and I met, and it ends with "and they lived happily ever after," which leads into my current scrapbook about moving to Maine and planning our wedding. In between are pictures and stories of our first year together. It took a fair amount of time, but in the end it was well worth it. Thom and I already enjoy looking at the pictures and reliving our first year together, our engagement, and driving across the country. It will be an actual treasure to our future selves.

The one tiny downside of scrapbooking is that it is never ending. Time goes one, meaning there are always new things to scrapbook. On the bright side, now I am only two and a half years behind. 

Friday, May 24, 2013

Friday's Letters

Dear Rain, please go away. While I will love running in the rain once I'm done C25K, I really do not want to water damage my iPhone. This nonsense of slight mist during the day, while I'm at work, and then down pouring when I get home so that I cannot go running is not cool. NOT COOL!!! Dear Customers, I know it is going to be rainy all weekend long while you are at your expensive summer cottages. Please do not take it out on me, I have no control of the weather. Look at the bright side, if you are at your cottage, it means you are not at work, like this girl. Dear Thom, thank you for being patient with my scrapbooking hobby habit and further for letting me have a girl night last night by watching wedding shows while scrapbooking. You are a keeper. Dear Readers, I hope you all have a wonderful holiday weekend and that the weather cooperates with you.


Thursday, May 23, 2013

I'm back!

I apologize for the brief hiatus in posting, my husband had an unexpected death in his family, and I have been spending extra time with him. In the process I also managed to burn meatballs in the crock pot (who does that?!?) and rediscovered my addiction to scrapbooking. Sadly, mother nature has decided to bless us with downpours that are not supposed to move out of here until Monday, so C25K has been reluctantly put on hold. Unless I start running laps in the apartment, which I am seriously considering.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Liebster Award

I am happy to announce that I have been nominated for a Liebster Award by Jocelyn at After 5ve. I wanted to give a huge shout out and thank you to Jocelyn. I am truly honored.

The Liebster award is given to new bloggers with under 200 followers as a way to welcome them into the blogging community.

I am happy to report that as of right now, I have 18 wonderful followers between Bloglovin', Google Friend Connect, and Facebook. I really appreciate all of your comments and support!

1. Each nominee should answer 11 questions made by the person that nominated them.
2. Choose 11 new blogs to nominate, and link them to your post.
3. Create 11 new questions for your nominees to answer.
4. Go to their page and tell them about their nomination.
5. No tag backs!

Eleven Questions from After 5ve:
1. Which is most important to you? Hair care, Skin care, Body care, Nail care
I am a very holistic minded kind of person, so I would have to say body care. If you take good care of yourself as a whole, everything else will follow. For example, I now have the clearest skin of my life after switching to organic food.

2. If you were stranded on an island, what would be the one thing you'd bring?
I would bring my husband. First and foremost, he is my best friend and would keep my company, but more importantly, he can make up for my weaknesses. I can't light a campfire, he can.

3. What is your favorite cuisine?
I would have to say French. I come from a French family, and it is the food that I grew up with. There is nothing better on a cold winter day than a bowl of beef stew; quiche, omelettes, and crepes are my go-to breakfast foods; and who doesn't enjoy a French pastry or creme brulee for dessert? Thom and I are travelling to Quebec City for our second anniversary, I am not hiding the fact that I going there for a bite to eat.

4. Spring, Summer, Autumn, or Winter?
Autumn. The weather is perfect, just cool enough during the day for a sweater, or to light a fire in the evening. There is apple and pumpkin picking, fall baking so the house smells of cinnamon and nutmeg, the colors of the foliage, and county fairs!

5. If you had a million dollars right now, what would you do with it?
Pay off my student loans, buy a house, a new car for me, a truck for Thom, a Harley-Davidson for Thom, a '67 Camaro for me, a hundred grand to my mom, another chunk to charity, and the rest would go into savings.

6. Did you have a nickname when you were young?
Jenny, I have been called Jenny since the day I was born.

7. If you could change one thing in your life, what would it be?
My career. I used to work as a school psychologist, and then the recession happened. Now I'm working at a call center. I love to help people, and there is nothing in my current job that compares to helping a child learn how to read.

8. For travelling: plane, train, or car?
Car. Nothing compares to a good road trip. Sometimes, getting there is half the adventure.

9. Where's the best place you've been whilst traveling?
My favorite place that I have visited is Acadia National Park. It is just so beautiful, there are not words.

10. What's your favorite movie?
The Princess Bride. I walked down the aisle to the theme from the movie "Storybook Love" played on classical guitar.

11. What's your dream/goal in life?
To have a happy and healthy family, with some traveling on the side.

Eleven Questions for my Nominees:
1. What is your passion in life?
2. You are having friends over for dinner, what do you make?
3. If you could go anywhere in the world for an all expenses paid vacation, where would you go?
4. Do you play a musical instrument?
5. Do you have any pets?
6. Why do you blog?
7. What is your favorite social network?
8. What is your favorite kind of music?
9. Have you read any good books lately?
10. If you could have dinner with one person from history, who would it be?
11. What is your favorite color?

My Nominees:
1. Kisses and Croissants
2. The Owl Skull
3. Mad Hatters Nail Party
4. Little Cartographer
5. A Piece of She
6. Color.Paint.Create.
7. Sassy Talkin' Mama
8. Em-provising
9. spark your print
10. Losing my Religion, and Regaining my Faith
11. Mommy A-Z

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Kitchen Wall Decor, a la Pinterest

I hate empty walls. Rooms with empty walls feel institutional, and echo-y. Neither of which are words that I want to describe my home. Most of my rooms seem to decorate themselves, wedding pictures certainly help.   My kitchen was a bit more of a challenge. I'm decorating the room in red, black, and white with a bit of a country feel. At first I looked at retro kitchen metal signs, but I could not find one that I was willing to commit to. My kitchen also turned out to be a bit more country than I had originally expected. While this is a good thing, it further discouraged me from the retro look. This led to quite a conundrum. A kitchen with empty walls.

One day, on a whim, I decided to browse Pinterest. A friend posted a free printable for kitchen art with a blue scheme. I liked the wording, but the blue just would not work. On a whim, I went to the original site. To my surprise, the author designed the printables in red too! Instant kitchen art work, and I was not even trying! I printed them out on white, canvas-textured card stock and framed them in $4 8x10 black wooden frames from Wal-Mart. Voila, wall art for about eight bucks that perfectly matches the look and feel of my kitchen.

The lesson learned through this unexpected find? Pinterest has a plethora of frame-able printables for any room. I'm considering using more printables for a photo collage I have planned for my hallway. We shall see.

A very special thank you to Paper and Pigtails for their Kitchen Art Prints!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Couch-to-5K Week One Day One, And So It Begins

Yesterday I posted that I was going to be doing day one of Couch-to-5k (C25K) today. Well, I lied. Not on purpose, I promise. I bought some running clothing and downloaded the app, and then I just felt so motivated that I had to go. After all, you only get one first day. 

The first day work out appears easy enough, it consists of a 5 minute warm up walk, 20 minutes of alternating between 1 minute jogs and 1.5 minute walks, and a 5 minute cool down. Seems relatively painless, right? My shins were killing me, my ankles were sore, and I was vividly aware that I had not gone running in years. At the end of my workout, I had run 1.35 miles. Not bad for a first day. 

I am really happy I stuck through it. Once I caught my breath, I experienced a sudden burst of energy that lasted throughout the evening. I slept better than usual too. C25K recommends 3 work outs a week. I'm taking tomorrow and Saturday off, and will resume with week one, day two on Sunday. 

A new chapter in my life has begun. I am a runner. I got this.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Couch to 5K, Holding Myself Accountable

I played field hockey when I was in high school. I was never really good at it, but it was a sport, it kept me active, and I had fun doing it. In the grand scope of things, that is really all that matters. I remember pre-season, we would start practicing about two weeks before the school year started, right around my birthday. We would meet on the field for 2-3 hours of drills, scrimmages, and running. Lots of running. Most practices ended with a three mile run; through the neighborhoods around school, the cross-country trails through the woods, sometimes even right down Main Street to the neighboring town. Those runs were my favorite, the whole team would stop at Dairy Queen on the way back, but that is a different story for a different time. The point is, I could run. I was not the fastest, but I certainly had the endurance down. I could run three miles in about twenty minutes. I miss those days. When pre-season first started, my shins would scream and I would spend the remainder of the day discovering muscles in my legs I never realized I had. About a week to ten days in, I found my grove. I got to the point where my body would hit auto-pilot and I could just keep running for what seemed like forever.

Life went on, high school ended and field hockey ended with it. I tried to keep in shape in college and went for walks for miles at a time. I even went running a couple of times. Unfortunately, as a full time college student, my priority shifted from running to staying up late with friends and school work. All motivation to keep running went to the wayside. Then came my twenties, an abusive marriage, and a severe depression to go with it. My weight spiraled out of control. I wanted to take up running again, but I had no idea how to get back into it.

Fast forward to now. I am in my thirties and happily married to my soul mate. Together, we have made the decision to get healthy. The first step was changing our diet, and exercising more. I have already noticed that I have significantly more energy than I did before, just with these first little changes. I have even started jogging with our dog, Dakota. I have noticed on Facebook that several of my friends have competed in 5k races, and I must admit that I am a tad bit jealous. Well, I decided it is time to do something about it. I posted on Facebook that I wanted to compete in a 5k, and multiple friends recommend the Couch to 5k program. It is a combination of walking and jogging that eases you into running a 5k in about two months. Today happens to be payday, so I will be treating myself to some new running clothes.

Tomorrow is the day I start running.

To up the ante, Color Me Rad is coming up to my neck of the woods in August. If I can commit to Couch to 5k for two weeks, I am going to register for Color Me Rad as motivation to finish the next 6 weeks, and beyond. It is posted to my blog now, so no looking back. I am going to do this, and it is going to be awesome.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A Different Perspective on Mother's Day, Trying to Stay Positive

My someday-hopefully-soon Mother's Day carnation from church
In March, Thom and I celebrated our first positive pregnancy test. My hormone levels were low, and I was having blood work done every other day to monitor things. The levels increased, our doctor told us that we were nearly out of the woods, we started to get excited. Two days later, the levels dropped. I had a miscarriage. I was six weeks along. Thom and I have managed to stay positive throughout the entire ordeal. The funny thing about infertility treatment is that doctors, nurses, and phlebotomists have seen everything. Thom and I are young compared to the majority of their patients. Our doctor has treated women for nearly a decade without ever getting a positive. Our nurse reminded us that now it is no longer an "if," but a "when."

Thom and I have decided to shift our plans around a little. After nearly two years of infertility treatment, I need a break. We are not giving up, just letting nature take it's course for a little bit so we can focus on each other. We started eating healthier, exercising, and going back to church. We made plans for travel, furnished our apartment, and straightened out our finances. Everything was okay.

Then Mother's Day came.

I think shopping for a card for my mom was when everything hit. They had mom-to-be cards. That should have been me this year. I can definitely say that Mother's Day is an entirely different day once you have experienced a miscarriage.

Fortunately, by the time Mother's Day came around, I was able to find peace within my heart and enjoy the day with my mom. I too will join the ranks of moms someday, once the time is right. It is no longer an "if", it is a "when."

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A Day for Mom

Of the handful of people that have been there for me through everything, my mom has certainly been there the longest. I am not going to pretend I was a perfect child; I caused trouble, I had a rocky adolescence, and I was downright stupid in my early 20's. At the end of the day, my mom is always there to give me a hug, listen to my side of the story, and just make everything a little better. When it comes to moms, I have the best.

Accordingly, like millions of others this past Sunday, I spent the day with my mom. I brought her a bouquet of tulips, and we reminisced about the bouquet of daffodils I picked her when I was a little girl at my grandmother's farm. In lieu of facing the crowds at restaurants, Thom and I prepared a three course lunch consisting of crackers with hummus, chicken souvlaki salad with tzatziki sauce, and custard pie with strawberries for dessert. Mom and I also enjoyed strawberry lemonade wine spritzers throughout the afternoon. My step-father commented that everything looked like something from a restaurant. Lunch, and the entire day, was amazing to say the least.

I hope that everyone else had a wonderful Mother's Day, spent with your mom's, or your kids, or perhaps both. I may not be a mom yet, but from my own childhood, I can understand that being a mom is no easy task. Happy belated Mother's Day, you all deserve it.

My mom, walking me down the aisle to my soul mate

Friday, May 10, 2013

Lemon Brownies (Blondies)

I am a huge fan of the taste of lemon, especially in the spring time. My sister and I can eat lemons like oranges, and there is no such thing as lemonade with not enough sugar. When I saw this recipe floating around on Pinterest and Facebook, I had to try it. A baked good with lemon, that is topped with more lemon? It has to be a winner. 

The finished product is very good. A nice light and tart dessert that is not too sweet. I will definitely be making them again. I just have a couple of critiques. First of all, the name is misleading. Brownies imply that chocolate is involved, blondies are the non-chocolate cousin of brownies. Technically, these should be referred to as lemon blondies, not lemon brownies. Name issue aside, the original recipe recommends serving after the second application of glaze. The glaze never sets hard, but I would still recommend giving it an hour or two to set up. This is definitely a dessert that requires a fork, but it is slightly less messy once the glaze sets. Anyways, without further ado: 

What you need: 
3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp lemon zest

Lemon Glaze
1 cup powdered sugar
4 tbsp lemon juice
8 tsp lemon zest

What you do: 
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 8x8 inch baking pan with non-stick cooking spray. 
2. Cream together flour, sugar, salt, and butter. 
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, 2 tbsp lemon juice, and 2 tbsp lemon zest. 
4. Pour egg mixture into flour mixture, beat with an electric mixer for about two minutes, until batter is smooth and creamy. 
5. Pour batter into baking dish and back for 23-25 minutes until edges are golden brown, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
6. Allow the blondies to cool completely before making the glaze, combine powdered sugar, 4 tbsp lemon juice, and 8 tsp lemon zest. Pour half of the glaze over the blondies, allow to set for about half an hour.
7. Pour remaining glaze over the blondies, they are now ready to serve. For bet results, allow to set for an hour or two. Slice into bars and serve.
Based off a recipe found on Ziplist, which can be found here

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Going International, Plotting

Quebec City, Canada
Thom and I are in the process of getting our passports. I have never had one. I have also never been off of North America. This year, our plan is rather simple, we are going to spend our second anniversary in Quebec City, Canada. I am 3/4 French Canadian, and Quebec is the majority of my family's ancestral home. I have been to Quebec City multiple times, but this is going to be Thom's first visit. I am so excited to show him the sites and take him around to some of my favorite restaurants. The paperwork for our passports is complete, we just need to find a place to have our pictures taken. We have also found a hotel and secured vacation time from work. September is going to be awesome.

Our next goal is to finally get me off of North America. Originally, our plan was to travel internationally on odd years and travel within the US on even years. Our first overseas trip was going to be to London in 2015. Then we visited a travel agent to get more information about how to plan a vacation overseas. She gave us a travel catalog of various cities and vacation packages throughout Europe. If there is such a thing as reverse sticker shock, Thom and I now know what it feels like. We had no idea that travelling to Europe is about the same price as travelling domestically.

Prague, Czech Republic Source
Needless to say, our travel plans have now changed. We are still going to visit Quebec City for our second anniversary. In summer of 2014, we are going to Europe for a 10 day vacation to Prague, Vienna, and Budapest. I have always wanted to visit Prague, Thom has always wanted to visit Budapest, and Vienna is in the middle and the center of classical music, a favorite of both of us.

So, in short, here I am, living in a beautiful two bedroom apartment with the love of my life. I spend my spare time exploring the State of Maine and relaxing by the ocean, and we are on the verge of becoming world travelers. I can summarize everything in one sentence.

I love my life.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

My Solar Dryer

Thom and I have a rule that we follow in terms of making changes that benefit the environment, if it saves us money or provides some other benefit, we go for it. I am not saying that we are particularly wasteful or that we have no interest in saving the environment, we just find the added benefits tend to be highly reinforcing. For example, we switched every light bulb in the apartment over to CFLs, and saved about $20/month on our electric bill. We recycle everything, because it is free to fill the recycling bin but garbage bags cost $1 a piece. We return all of our returnable containers, even if we purchase a drink at work we bring the bottle home to get the nickel, it adds up. We open the curtains in the winter to maximize on sun exposure to reduce heat costs, and we keep our curtains closed in the summer to reduce cooling costs. The list goes on and on.

Our latest project is the result of a year and a half quest. I enjoy drying my clothes on a clothesline. I like how clothes smell after drying in the sunlight, and the slight stiffness makes folding a snap. My problem was that I did not want a clothesline that was always hanging, I wanted one that I could easily take down so that we could enjoy the deck for other uses. I knew exactly what I needed: a retractable clothesline. The problem was I could not find one anywhere I looked. I finally decided to check the locally owned hardware store just down the street, bingo. I found it! That, along with some hooks and a package of clothespins, and I now have a clothesline. Well, three lines if you want to get technical. Once my clothes are dry, I just unhook the end of the line and everything tucks neatly away. I absolutely love it. Laundry has become a relaxing chore, rather than babysitting a washing machine and a dryer, I just grab everything after a spin cycle, hang, and forget about it. I am saving money too, it may only be a couple of dollars per month, but it will adds up. Since our apartment building uses a gas dryer, I am also reducing our carbon footprint, so the Earth is happy too. A win-win situation all around.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

After Work Adventures- Mackworth Island

After seeing some of the pictures of our adventures around Portland, and friend from work recommended that Thom and I should visit Mackworth Island. This past Sunday we decided to give it a try and ventured on over. Mackworth Island is a small island just off the coast of Falmouth, which is the next town north of Portland. The island is home to the Governor Baxter School for the Deaf, which is private, but the parameter is public lands maintained by the Maine Department of Parks and Recreation which contains a 1.25 mile trail with views of Casco Bay, pathways down to the shore, and a fairy village.

The island scenery is absolutely beautiful. We visited on a clear day, and had views of Fort Gorges and Portland Headlight. We also followed a path down to a pebble beach with views of Portland. Our only complaint was the wind coming right off the ocean made the trail rather chilly, we really should have brought jackets. On the other hand, we plan on visiting again on a hot summer evening. Natural air conditioning at it's best.

The scenery on the island was equally beautiful. Old growth forest with various shrubs and wild flowers. We had a strong nor'easter blow through a few years ago, and the island is definitely still recovering. You still see trees toppled over with lace-like networks of roots. There is also a community fairy village, where visitors are encouraged to build fairy houses out of sticks and pinecones found on the island.

The trail is a very easy 1.25 miles. It is mostly level, and paved with gravel. We spent an hour going around the island and taking in the scenery and did not feel tired at all. The trails going down to the shore can be a little steep, but at one point there are a set of steps make access easier.

View Larger Map

Monday, May 6, 2013

CSA Update

Earlier this year, Thom and I invested in a local farm by joining a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. We chose a small farm in Freeport that grows a variety of vegetables as well as cut-your-own flowers. This is our first year participating in a CSA, so we are not really sure what to expect. An unseasonably cold April combined with minimal rain for the last couple of weeks can be more than a little concerning with a small investment on the line. I could not imagine basing my entire livelihood on something so sensitive to the weather.

I was very happy to receive an email update from the owners of the farm this week. They have spent the last three weeks planting lettuce, fennel, chard, kale, collards, celery, celeriac, parsley, scallions, leeks, onions, broccoli raab, broccoli, cabbage, mesclun, cilantro, arugula, spinach, beets, carrots, and peas. They have also started tomatoes, peppers, and basil in the greenhouses. Everything outside is planted under plastic tents to keep nice and warm, and they have irrigated the fields to keep all the plants perfectly watered. It sounds like everything is coming along nicely. Our first vegetable pick-up should be sometime in early June, we are definitely looking forward to getting a return for our investment!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Pasta and Vegetable Salad with Homemade Italian Dressing

Spring is here, the snow is gone, the weather is warm, and our grill is in full use. Thom and I had been discussing different marinades to use for meats on the grill. This brought us to the topic of how chicken marinaded in Italian dressing is pretty much love on the grill (seriously, go try it); from here we digressed to memories of making Italian dressing at home by opening up the seasoning packet and mixing in vinegar and olive oil. I am not sure if they still make the product or not, but I am sure that it is full of preservatives and junk that we really should not be eating.

On a whim, I searched the internet for a recipe for Italian dressing mix, and to my surprise, I found one that makes multiple batches of Italian dressing. The first round was used on chicken breasts for the grill (surprised?). The finished dressing turned out so awesome that I decided to experiment with it further. When I was a kid, my mom used to make a simple pasta salad with rotini primavera and Italian dressing as a summer side dish. It was simple, yet tasty. This pasta salad is based off that simple recipe, with some added veggies because, well, veggie are cool.

What you need:
1 16oz box of shaped pasta, I used wagon wheels
2 cups of veggies, I used cauliflower, sugar snap peas, and Brussels sprouts, but any combo would work
1 finished batch of Italian dressing (recipe below)

What you do:
1. Boil the pasta until tender, if your veggies require cooking, toss them in with the pasta.
2. Drain your pasta/veggies in a colander, rinse with cold water.
3. Place pasta and veggies in a serving bowl, pour Italian dressing on top and toss.

Italian Dressing Mix, based off recipe that can be found here.
What you need:
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp dried oregano
1 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried basil
1 tbsp dried parsley
2 tbsp salt

What you do:
1. Mix all dry ingredients in a container with a tight fitting lid, recipe makes approximately 1/2 cup of mix
2. To make dressing, combine 1/4 cup white vinegar, 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, 2 tbsp water, and 2 tbsp mix.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Asian Noodle Soup

I love perusing Pinterest for recipes and this one caught my eye a few months ago. The blogger that posted the recipe calls it Homemade Ramen, and I guess in a way it is like ramen noodles in that it is very easy and quick to make. At the same time, the soup has a wonderful broth, not the salt packet seasoning packet that comes along with ramen. It is also possible to pronounce all the ingredients in this soup, which is always a plus. Thom and I love this recipe and use it as our go to recipe on days we are feeling under the weather or just too lazy to cook anything.

The original recipe was posted on Frugal by Choice, Cheap by Necessity and can be found here. Thom and I are not onion eaters, so we omitted the green onion and made a couple other small changes.

What you need:
2 cups chicken broth, I use bouillon
1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp soy sauce
Buckwheat noodles (found in the Asian section of the supermarket, they come in three bundles of noodles, I use a bundle of noodles of a batch of soup)
3/4 cup broccoli
1 chicken breast
olive oil
ground or freshly grated ginger
garlic powder or diced garlic

What you do:
1. Bring your chicken broth to boil, add the sesame oil, soy sauce, broccoli, and noodles. Boil for about 4 minutes until the noodles are cooked through. I like my broccoli to still be a little crunchy, if you like yours softer, boil the broccoli for a few minutes before adding the noodles.
2. While the soup is cooking, coat the bottom of a skillet with olive oil, add a small amount of ginger and garlic to season the oil. Sautee the chicken breast until cooked through. Slice thinly.
3. Fill your bowl with soup, I find it is easiest to divide the noodles first with a pasta fork, and then pour the broth on top with a ladle. Top with sliced chicken.

That's it! The above recipe is good for two lunch or appetizer sized servings. I have been known to double or triple the recipe for a dinner sized meal. You can also get creative and swap around the veggie and the meat, another good combination is sugar snap peas and shrimp.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Maine State Parks- Two Lights State Park

After spending Saturday hiking around Bradbury Mountain, we decided that a day of relaxing was in order on Sunday. It was another beautiful spring day, so we packed a picnic basket and headed out to Two Lights State Park. Two Lights is located in Cape Elizabeth, not too far from the famed Portland Headlight. To my disappointment, there are no lighthouses visible from Two Lights State Park, apparently the park commemorates the first set of twin lighthouses on the coast of Maine. Both towers are still standing, one is someone's personal home, the other is 17 miles out to sea. Regardless of the lack of lighthouses, Two Lights State Park has plenty of rocky ledges to climb on, and the panoramic views of the ocean are hypnotizing.

Thom and I found a picnic table with a gorgeous view, but then opted for a better view and set up our picnic area right on one of the ledges. A quick view of the tide table revealed that we had arrived approximately half an hour after high tide, so we relaxed, had lunch, and enjoyed the sunshine without concern of being stranded by the tide. We could have spent hours on the ledge, but our dog was uncomfortable with the ocean waves. She can be such a baby sometimes.

Once we climbed off of the rocks, we explored the rest of the park.

Thom found a staircase through the bushes that led to a cluster of picnic areas, complete with barbeque grills. Each spot is nice and secluded with a view of the ocean. As we explored the park, we found other trails with picnic spots. It would make the perfect place for a family picnic. Another walkway goes right along the coast, with more beautiful views and benches to take everything in.

Two Lights really struck a cord with me. It is absolutely beautiful, and I can only imagine how the park looks in the summer when the ocean roses are in bloom. I also love how close it is to our home, only about a 20 minute drive. We will definitely be going back this summer with friends for a cookout. The entire park just screams lazy summer afternoon.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Maine State Parks- Bradbury Mountain

Thom and I purchased a Maine State Park pass at the beginning of the year and we have been impatiently waiting for nice weather so that we can get out and use it. This past weekend fit the bill, temperatures in the 60's with no chance of rain. We took full advantage of my three day weekend from work to do some exploring. 

On Saturday, we visited Bradbury Mountain State Park. The park is on the way to my mother's house, so we have driven past it numerous times. I
had visited the park several times before, but Thom had never visited. The use of the term "mountain" is a bit of a misnomer, it might be a mountain by geological definition, but it is really more of a big hill. Thom and I went up the South Ridge Trail, and it only took us about 45 minutes to reach the summit. That time includes a break at an overlook. We went down the mountain on the Summit Trail, which is essentially a straight drop from the summit to the parking lot, the descent took us about 10 minutes.

Upon arrival at the park, we were informed by the ranger that there was a bird demonstration going on throughout the park. At the summit there were a number of telescopes set up for bird watching, we opted not to participate. Once down the mountain, there was a live bird demonstration by a local bird rehabilitation group. We sat at a picnic table, enjoyed the sunshine, and listened to the stories of the various birds. I also got to meet this little red tailed hawk named Sabre.

Despite the brief hike, the views from the top of Bradbury Mountain are gorgeous. There is also a large picnic area, playground, and campground at the base of the mountain. We plan to go back to Bradbury Mountain throughout the year to keep up with the seasons. It will be nice to see the landscape with the green leaves of summer, and the fall foliage later on.

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