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Camp Weekend

Earlier this month, our team enjoyed a memorable Open House weekend at Camp Bishopswood in Hope. Camp director Mike Douglass invites potential campers and their families to stay and play, so they can get familiar with the grounds, their peers, and what camp is like. So smart!

Bishopswood, which is located on the western shore of Megunticook Lake, is everything you would expect from a Maine camp. A long, dirt road shaded by pines brings you to the entrance. Near the lake, there is a swimming area, dock, and a colorful array of canoes and kayaks. Mike greeted us in the parking lot with a hearty welcome. He directed us to drop off our things in our cabin and then join the rest of the families staying for the weekend in the Great Hall. 

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CP#1, who attended Camp Bishopwood’s 3-day Mini Camp for 6-8 year olds last summer, was thrilled to see some old friends. We walked together to the Great Hall—a beautiful building that overlooks the lake. Inside, Mike set up chairs in a circle next to an impressive fieldstone fireplace. We began with some fun ice breakers to get to know parents, kids, and counselors who were visiting Bishopswood for the first time.

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After our ice breaker, our group headed outside to the campfire for s’mores and camp songs. The cool evening air and the smell of woodsmoke made MP long for her little cabin bed. We had a big day ahead of us, after all! 

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The next morning, we woke to the sounds of a bell, indicating it was time for breakfast. And what a beautiful meal! A long wooden table in the dining hall was arranged with bowls of fresh fruit, yogurt, and granola. Each table was also served generous trays of scrambled eggs and sausage. Not surprisingly, meal time became one of MP’s favorite camp activities. We sat with different families for breakfast, lunch and dinner, swapped stories and listened to our children chatter away. And MP was so impressed by the homemade and healthy offerings we enjoyed all weekend long.

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Our days at camp were full. We played kickball, fished the lake, sang silly campfire songs, kayaked, crafted and built fairy houses. CP#1 even swam, despite the cold! Truth be told, MP felt like a kid again herself. The camp weekend was such a special time to share with CP#1 and #2.

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We closed out the weekend in the same way we started – in a big circle with our new friends. Each of us shared something we loved about camp. What a challenge to pick one thing! MP was so thankful for this weekend. It offered all of us a chance to slow down, enjoy the outdoors and each other. She can’t imagine a better way to kick off summer!

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Do you have a memorable camp experience? We’d love to hear.

PS: Camping in our own backyard.

It’s nearly the end of the school year and there’s not a parent alive who is not busy. There are school events, barbecues and birthday parties, summer schedules to figure out, and so much more. With all of this to juggle, it’s no wonder Father’s Day seems to sneak up on us. It’s a good thing we have so many great resources in Maine to make gift giving a little easier. Here are a few ideas for all of the fantastic fathers out there:

1. Outdoors with Kids: Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont
by Ethan Hipple & Yemaya St. Clair

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Our family loves discovering new hiking trails in New England. The Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) book, “Outdoors with Kids: Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont” features 75 of the best family hiking, camping, and paddling trips in our region. There are some familiar trails highlighted, including favorites like Mackworth Island, Bradbury Mountain, and Gilsland Farm, but there are dozens more—both in coastal and inland Maine—that we have yet to explore. MP also loves that there is a quick, at-a-glance guide that gives parents an idea of what to expect, including trail difficulty, whether or not you can bring dogs, park fees and more handy information.

2. Gifts from Folk

Folk, which is located in Kittery Foreside, is one of MP’s favorite new gift shops. Owner Amelia Davis has a great eye for design. She offers lots of smart suggestions for Father’s Day gifts, but MP especially likes the striped Fog Linen apron (top left) and Maine made leather wallets from Nomad Leatherwork (bottom left).

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Amelia’s other suggestions include: canvas and leather dopp kit bags by Meyelo, “The Meat Hook Meat Book” by Tom Meylon, which offers tips on selecting and cooking locally raised meats, natural scents from Juniper Ridge Wilderness Perfumes and Dude No. 1 from MCMC Fragrances, plus travel notebooks from Rhodia.

 3. Treat him to a day on the town

Last Father’s Day, we visited the East Ender for brunch and played soccer at Bug Light. It was such a fun day out for all of us. DP hasn’t revealed what he’d like to do yet, but MP has a feeling that a visit to Little Tap House in Portland might be in order. The cozy restaurant and bar is hosting a Super Dad Day event from 3-5 p.m. with a special happy hour. They call the event Bring Your Own Baby, but MP is hoping that 7- and 9-year olds can come, too. CP#1 and #2 are still her babies after all!

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Whatever your family has planned, we wish all the great dads, uncles, and grandfathers out there the happiest of Father’s Days! And before we forget, our kind friends at the Appalachian Mountain Club are offering a free copy of “Outdoors with Kids: Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont” to one lucky Cute Potato reader. To enter, comment below and we’ll pick a winner at random. Contest ends Sunday, June 14, 2015 at midnight EST. Good luck!

PS: Some other ideas for Father’s Day here. Plus plan a family trip outdoors using this AMC site.

Now that the kids are in elementary school, the sight of baby clothes makes MP feel nostalgic. Parents have a short grace period when it comes to choosing what their kids wear, which lends itself to the wistful pangs a Mom feels when she walks by the baby and toddler section of a store and realizes how much her kids have grown in a few, short years.

This is exactly the state of mind MP was in when she came across the BAOBAB Organics booth at the Common Ground Fair last year. Textile designer Vero Poblete-Howell makes beautiful kids’ clothes and stuffed toys at her studio in Waldoboro. Her company, which is named after the largest tree on earth, prides itself on using organic, sustainably produced fabrics. There’s no denying the quality, and Vero’s great eye for design.

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Irresistible, right? And we’re so proud to have such an environmentally responsible children’s wear company in Maine. In fact, Down East Magazine awarded BAOBAB “Best Green Children’s Garb” in 2014.

Just for Cute Potato readers, BAOBAB is offering 15% off your purchase of $30 or more in their Etsy shop. All you need to do is enter the code: CUTEPOTATO15 at checkout. Offer ends June 17, 2015.

Happy shopping, and enjoy your little ones! xo, MP

FMI: Visit their web site here.

Last weekend, we visited the East Point Sanctuary in Biddeford Pool. The sanctuary, which was donated to the Maine Audubon in the late seventies, is tucked away, but once we spotted cars parked on the road, we knew our destination couldn’t be far. Our team followed a short, woodland trail that parallels the Abenakee golf course. The trail opens to green pasture with sweeping ocean views. Wood Island Lighthouse also dots the skyline. IMG_5279 IMG_5285 IMG_5295 IMG_5311 The kids were taken with all of the little discoveries along the way — snails resting in tide pools, stones etched by the ocean floor, and curious seabirds cuddled close on the rocks. IMG_5332 IMG_5314 IMG_5335 (1)The sanctuary is also perfect for kite flying. In the field above the ocean, there is plenty of open space for running with a kite so that it catches the sea breeze.

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IMG_5340 All of us were content to linger here for awhile. What a way to celebrate the unofficial start to summer!

FMI about the East Point Sanctuary in Biddeford Pool, visit here.

PS: Two more favorite places to explore in Cape Elizabeth and Wells.

Memorial Day weekend. Huzzah! It’s finally here. As always, we have lots of fun plans in mind. Here are a few on our weekend wish list:

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Listen
We’re hoping the weather will be kind to us tonight, so we can check out Cassidy Holden and the Orleans Kids at Congress Square Park in Portland. The event is part of the Portland Swing Project, which showcases music and dance from the 1920s-40s through live music, dances and performances. CP#1 and #2 love all kinds of music, and we can’t wait for them to experience live jazz.

Explore
CP#1 broke her foot while running in heels (true story), and after six weeks, she finally has a clean bill of health! We are looking forward to getting outside and exploring some new trails. Our family is curious to check out East Point Sanctuary Biddeford Pool with its promises of rocky shores and open fields.

If we can get on the road early one morning, we may also take a road trip to the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens. This weekend, entry to the gardens is free for all Maine residents with a valid drivers license.

Treats
We’ve been saving our special treats for weekends these days. MP has heard good things about Boulangerie bakery in Kennebunk. A friend who lives nearby says their crusty baguettes are served warm in the morning, and perfect for picnic sandwiches. We’ve also had our eye on The Scoop Deck in Wells for ice cream. Their flavor board is one of the most expansive we’ve seen.

Garden
Our seedlings are coming along nicely on the deck, but we always buy our tomato plants and lettuces at Wealden Farm in Freeport. The roadside stand not only features flowers and plants, but you can also find locally made baked goods, meats, cheeses, honey and maple syrup.

Celebrate
On Monday, MP is running this road race for the first time in four years! Afterwards we’re all planning to check out the Cumberland Memorial Day parade.

Wherever your family adventures take you, we hope you have a fun, 3-day weekend!

PS: The unforgettable place we visited last Memorial Day.

Ever since reading this cookbook, our family has worked hard to eat whole foods as often as possible. We’ve also given up weeknight desserts, and sip homemade smoothies or enjoy big bowls of fruit with fresh cream instead. Our new favorite treat is this easy frozen yogurt that you can make in a food processor. And all you need is four simple ingredients: the frozen fruit of your choice, whole milk yogurt, honey and lemon juice. That’s it!

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Serves 2-3

2 cups of frozen strawberries, mango, or the fruit of your choice
1/4 cup of whole milk yogurt
1-1/2 Tablespoons of honey (we’re partial to Swan’s)
1/2 Tablespoon of lemon juice

Place your strawberries in the food processor, followed by the yogurt, honey, and lemon juice. Turn the food processor on high and let mix for 2-3 minutes until the mixture becomes creamy. If you prefer a sweeter yogurt, add honey, or as a special treat, add a handful of semi-sweet chocolate chips.

Enjoy!

Leftovers can be stored in the freezer in an airtight container. MP uses a lidded, glass Pyrex bowl.

A tart, creamy frozen yogurt

A tart, creamy frozen yogurt

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PS: What’s your favorite healthy treat?

Mother’s Day is MP’s favorite holiday. What’s not to like about a day devoted to moms and all they do? She has a few items on her wish list this year—all from some of her favorite shops and craftspeople in Maine:

MP has admired this necklace from Turtle Love Co. for years now. Their mom and baby necklaces are pretty darn cute, too.

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Wyler’s in Brunswick is one of MP’s favorite gift shops. She spotted these sweet succulent plants on their Facebook page. The colorful pots would look great in the kitchen.

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MP has been running for over a year now, thanks to this little guy. A Run ME T-Shirt would definitely be an appropriate gift, considering all the local roads she’s explored.

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And speaking of running, this handmade Luxurious Body Salve from Herbal Grace Creations in Yarmouth is perfect for feet that have been pounding the pavement. MP uses it at bedtime and it’s made such a difference! She’ll be using it in the summer after gardening, too.

il_570xN.662625185_qrixFinally, there is nothing better than a homemade card from the kids, but a letterpress card from Morris & Essex is also special.

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As a special treat for Mother’s Day, our friends at LiveME and Herbal Grace Creations are offering 15% off any order to Cute Potato readers for the month of May! Simply write in ‘cutepotato’ at check out.

Happy Mother’s Day! xo, MP

PS: Last minute ideas for homemade Mother’s Day gifts.

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