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Now that school is back in full swing, MP is feeling ready for a little self-care. She’s been running to soccer, gymnastics, the grocery store, school events, meetings and birthday parties. All good things, of course, but adapting to a new schedule can tire a mama out.

Enter MP’s go-to, Portland-based massage therapist: Ellie Falby. Ellie has helped MP through two pregnancies, running injuries, and back pain. Plus, she is a mother of two energetic girls, so she knows first-hand that parents need some TLC now and then.

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Beginning last year, Ellie added facial massage to her repertoire. MP had the opportunity to try “the classic” massage for herself. The hour-plus session includes a facial, plus a massage and hot towels for hands and feet. The experience is blissful. First, you get to rest in Ellie’s cozy home studio. Gentle music plays in the background while you lie on a warm massage table. The next hour is devoted to total relaxation. Ellie uses botanically based, all natural products to cleanse and soften skin. There are no extractions in this facial—just steaming and a massage with gentle oils and a delicious smelling honey lotion. And before the facial is complete, Ellie massages your scalp, then warms and cleanses your back with another hot towel. 

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Ellie says the facial massage is designed for the health of your skin and is perfect after a summer of sun, swimming, and sunscreen. The hour-long session helps rejuvenate and tone the muscles and skin in the face (as well as your outlook). If there were ever a way to recover from a busy summer and an even busier back-to-school, this experience is it.

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Inside Ellie’s cozy massage studio.

And MP Isn’t the only one raving about Ellie. Susan Fekety, a nurse and regular client, has this to say about the facial massage:

I totally loved the experience, which was deeply relaxing and left me glowing for days. It was great for my skin and the muscles of my face; who knew I held so much tension there?

Other facials I’ve had have annoyed and blotched up my skin; this was different, more nourishing than aggressive. Ellie has taken the time to select lotions that are made of ingredients you could eat if you wanted to. Highly recommend this wonderful technique, either for yourself or as a gift to a loved one. 

Are you ready for a facial massage? Comment below and one lucky parent will win Ellie’s classic facial massage (an $85 value). This giveaway closes on Friday, September 12 at midnight EST. We’ll announce the winner next week. Good luck!

To learn more about Ellie Falby, LMT, visit her web site or contact her here.

Our dear friends were in town for a few days last week. We celebrated their final evening in Maine at the Wolfe’s Neck Farm Family Farm Feast. The Freeport-based, farm-to-table dinner featured local fare from two of our favorite restaurants, Gather and Frontier, plus music from North of Nashville. We loved the idea of a farm dinner devoted to families, and couldn’t wait to see what was in store.

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The farm-to-table event is located just past the entrance to Wolfe’s Necks Woods State Park. There are lush fields of high grass and beautiful views of the sky. North of Nashville played an infectious cover of “Ring of Fire” by Johnny Cash, making it impossible not to sing along. Kids jumped from stacked bales of hay. And under a large tent, to the kids’ delight, we found board games and markers on our paper-covered table.

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For us thirsty parents, there were several choices for libations: wine, Maine Beer Co. Peeper on tap, or specialty cocktails from New England Distilling. MP treated herself to a refreshing summer cooler made with gin, elderflower liquor, club soda, and lime. The kiddos enjoyed ice water and fresh lemonade served in glass dispensers.

The generous dinner menu featured Wolfe’s Neck Farm grilled chicken, veggie kabobs, Farmer’s Gate hot dogs, and a colorful array of salads. CP#1 was thrilled to see thick slices of homemade cornbread on the table. And MP filled her plate with gorgeous sides of marinated cabbage slaw and saltwater boiled new potatoes. Note to the talented chefs: Best. Slaw. Ever. Our friends fawned over the grilled chicken, amazed by its freshness and flavor.

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We would have returned for seconds, had it not been for the desserts, which were plentiful. Yarmouth’s Friday Pie Club served slices of their delicious blueberry pie. The kids bee-lined for the barn when they heard there were popsicles from Portland’s Pure Pops and Wicked Whoopies.

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And if all of those treats weren’t enough, we completed our summer evening of decadence with make your own s’mores and dancing. What a way to celebrate a great four days with good friends. Many thanks to Wolfe’s Neck Farm for hosting such a fun event! 

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To learn more about Wolfe’s Neck Farm’s farm-to-table dinners, visit here. Proceeds for this event went to the farm’s Teen Ag program, which teaches young people the benefits of farming, while also supplying local food pantries with their harvest. 

 

 

 

MP recently met with Leah Deragon, the director of Birth Roots—a Portland-based program designed to assist parents before and after their child’s birth. Leah and her team offer supportive classes, facilitated discussion, and more valuable resources to moms and dads in their cozy space on State Street.

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Leah and a staffer discuss plans for the day.

Birth Roots is designed to be all-inclusive, meaning no matter the parenting style, everyone is welcome to participate in peer discussions. “There is a diversity of parenting philosophies,” Leah says, “and facilitated discussion helps moms and dads find what’s right for their own unique parenting experience.”

Most parents attend Birth Roots to prepare for the birth of their child. According to Leah, many come in having expectations of what their birth experience will be like, only to realize the end result can be wildly different. Sharing ideas about their expectations, and taking prenatal classes, can help put it all in perspective.

"The deeper the roots, the higher the reach."

“The deeper the roots, the higher the reach.”

And post-birth, most of us are surprised by all of the changes a new baby brings. The forum at Birth Roots creates a comfortable environment where new moms or dads can discuss anything that is on their minds. Leah calls it Community Supported Parenting®. She says young parents from Sanford, Portland, Brownfield, and Damariscotta come regularly to help each other through the early months of parenting.

Helpful books and journals for new parents.

Helpful books and journals for new parents.

Birth Roots also provides parents with the opportunity to connect with a doula, a person who works with families before, during, and after birth. And for those in need of financial support, Leah says Birth Roots can connect newly trained doulas with families (a new doula is required to do 3 free births after training).

Of course, a great non-profit like Birth Roots needs public support. In September, Leah and her team host one of our favorite family events—Sandsations—a sand-sculpting contest at Pine Point Beach in Scarborough that’s designed to raise money for the program. To help, you can form your own team and fundraise or take part in the People’s Choice award, which costs just $1 per vote.

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A sand sculpture from the 2011 Sandsations event.

The event is free and features a fun kids craft tent, a kid-powered Mermaid Bridgade, and yoga on the beach. This year, Crusher—the mascot from the Maine Red Claws—will also be there.

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CP#1 with a crown she made in the kids crafting tent.

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Two sweet girls join in the Mermaid Brigade.

Sandsations takes place on September 6, 2014 from noon-3 p.m. Trust us, this is a wonderful event you and your family will return to year after year!

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For more on Birth Roots, visit here. And to sign up or learn more about Sandsations, check out this site.

Birth Roots
101 State Street
Portland, Maine
772-4784

Last summer, MP purchased a Krups Ice Cream Maker for the kids. Our family loves ice cream and the idea of making it at home together made La Glaciere worth the splurge. We’ve experimented with different variations of vanilla, adding fresh strawberries or mint dark chocolate pieces. It wasn’t until we came across this simple recipe for Lemon Sherbet in Yankee Magazine that we were inspired to try a new frozen treat.

Store-bought sherbet is usually a frozen mixture of sweetened fruit juice and water, but this recipe takes sherbet to another level with the addition of farm fresh heavy cream. You’ll need:

  • Juice of 2 large lemons
  • 1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1-1/2 cups milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream

If you have an ice cream maker, freeze the base for at least a day before in your freezer. We try to keep our base in the freezer all the time, so it’s ready whenever the mood to make ice cream strikes!

For those without an ice cream maker, you can still make this recipe following the same steps.*

First, slice the lemons in half and juice them.

IMG_2258 IMG_2265Pour the lemon juice into a medium bowl and add sugar. Using a wire whisk, mix the lemon and sugar together until the sugar is mostly dissolved. Next, add the milk and whisk until sugar is fully dissolved.

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Pour the cream into a separate bowl, and whip the cream until it forms medium peaks (we used a Kitchen Aid mixer for ease). Gently fold the cream into the lemon mixture and transfer to an ice cream maker. Let the ice cream maker run for 20-30 minutes until the mixture thickens. *Note: If you don’t have an ice cream maker, store the mixture in an airtight, freezer-safe container for two hours.
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The finished product is smooth, delicious, and wonderfully creamy. We doled out spoons and ate the sherbet straight out of our ice cream maker. This is decadent summer treat we’ll definitely be making again.
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 Yields 1 quart or 8 servings.

Bresca was MP’s favorite restaurant in Portland—the creative menu, the wine selection, Krista Desjarlais’ incredible desserts, and the cozy bistro atmosphere made it MP and DP’s go to place for an adult night out.

When Desjarlais decided to close Bresca in May 2013, MP’s disappointment was buoyed when she learned the chef had decided to renovate a snack shack at Outlet Beach on Sabbathday Lake in New Gloucester. While there would be no more quiet wine dinners at the Portland location, now our whole family could enjoy Desjarlais’ delicious food, and a day at the lake.

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We decided to visit the snack shack, Bresca and the Honey Bee, on Opening Day 2014. Gray skies and thickening clouds didn’t deter us. Unfortunately when we arrived, Desjarlais decided to postpone the opening. The young woman working at the window said the staff was testing a few dishes, but only ice cream was available for purchase.

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Despite the threat of rain, we decided ice cream for lunch sounded like a great idea. It was Memorial Day weekend after all – why not splurge? We decided on 3 flavors—root beer, sea salt caramel, and dark chocolate. The ice cream was served in paper cups, and each generous scoop was topped with a pizzelle cookie (a crispy, Italian waffle cookie made from flour, eggs, sugar, and butter).

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At the former Bresca, Desjarlais offered desserts like chocolate soup and MP remembers saying to DP, “I’m equal parts intrigued and concerned. Will it taste like eating Hershey’s syrup?” The rich, dark chocolate soup was served over scoop of vanilla gelato, and ended up being one of the best desserts in recent memory… until MP tried Desjarlais’ ice cream.

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This is an ice cream you’ll be dreaming about long after you leave. Each flavor was creamy, delicious, and not overly sweet. MP is a dark chocolate fan (as evidenced by the aforementioned soup), but she and DP both agreed the root beer was our favorite— mainly because the flavor tasted just like a root beer float in ice cream form. As for CP#2? He scraped his bowl of caramel sea salt ice cream clean.

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Much like the original Bresca, the new location has the same beautiful, personal touches. There are gorgeous potted flowers all around and Sabbathday Lake is stunning, no matter what the weather. We’ve returned again in July with family. We rented big, colorful tubes for the day, and spent time swimming and relaxing. Of course, we all enjoyed more ice cream!

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Photo courtesy Bresca and the Honey Bee

Photo courtesy Bresca and the Honey Bee

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To learn more about this great family beach and snack shack, visit Bresca and the Honey Bee’s web site or find them on Facebook.  Writer Melissa Coleman’s review in the Portland Press Herald highlights the wonderful food (MP is a big fan of the grilled carrot salad and goat cheese).

Bresca and the Honey Bee
106 Outlet Road
New Gloucester, ME
(207) 926-3388

 

MP would travel anywhere in Maine for good bread. This Saturday, the Maine Grain Alliance is hosting its annual bread fair with over 60 food vendors from across New England. Even though Skowhegan is an hour-plus drive, the promise of skilled bakers offering wood-fired pizza, decadent pastries, and crusty baguettes is enough for MP to get the family in the car and go.

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If the promise of delicious breads and pastries weren’t enough, then all of the other fun events are certainly enticing. The talented folks at King Arthur Flour will be on hand to discuss their best baking tips. You’ll also find a children’s area, live music, and all the supplies home bakers love.

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To celebrate the upcoming fair, Maine Grains in Skowhegan is offering a 5 lb. bag of their flour—made from locally grown, stoneground grains—to one lucky Cute Potato reader. All you need to do is tell us: where does your family go for good bread? We’ll choose a winner at random. Contest ends Friday, July 25. 2014 at noon EST. Good luck bakers!

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PS: Check out two of our favorite bakeries: here and here, plus this delicious, thin crust pizza recipe from Maine Grain Alliance presenter and Cook’s Illustrated associate editor, Andrew Janjigian.

Maine Grain Alliance Bread Fair
Saturday, July 26, 2014
9 a.m.-3 p.m.
Skowhegan State Fairgrounds
Admission is free, and parking is $2.00.

FMI on the fair, visit their web site.

 *All photos courtesy of Amber Lambke

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