Craft Fair Season

One of MP’s favorite things about this time of year is the abundance of craft shows and holiday fairs throughout the state. Fortunately, CP#1 is always game to shop. She and MP will spend a Saturday morning visiting a few beloved fairs, as well as shows that are new to us.

And before you think, there is no way I’m bringing my little one to a craft show, consider that many feature live music, crafting tables for kids, homemade lunches, cookie walks, and garage sale finds (we’ve often scored on gently used books + games).

MP loves shopping neighborhood craft fairs because there has never been a time she hasn’t discovered a talented local maker. Here are few highlights from over the years, and links to the shows where she originally found their work:

Sheabella Tutus

sheabellaNorth Yarmouth Academy Craft Fair (Yarmouth, Dec. 5)

Yarn & Cloth Clothiers Madras Bowties


SEA Holiday Sale (Portland, Dec. 4-6)

Worthy Goods Trapper Hats


Picnic (Portland, Dec. 13)

To find a full list of holiday fairs throughout the state, visit here and here. Happy shopping!

PS: We’re going to visit the Casco Bay High School Craft Fair in Portland for the first time this year. How about you? We’d love to know some of your favorites.

Moran’s Terrariums

MP has always had a thing for terrariums — glass containers that hold a miniature garden. Much like a fairy house, there is something magical about a terrarium. So you can imagine her delight when she came across this D.I.Y. Terrarium Kit from landscaper Kyle Moran. Each kit comes with marble chips, organic soil, dehydrated moss, wood pieces and a miniature animal figurine (in our case, a small otter).

Illustrator Hannah Rosengren designed the labels for the jars.

Illustrator Hannah Rosengren designed the labels for the jars.

When a friend spotted the terrarium kit on our dining room table she laughed and asked, “Is that for you or the kids?” As luck would have it, the kids were just as excited as MP to create our own terrarium. MP set out all of the supplies on the dining room table along with Kyle’s simple, 6-step instructions.


This is the kind of straightforward, D.I.Y project parents love. There is not much mess (the bags Kyle selected are sturdy and easy to pour into the jar). And it’s a great project when multiple siblings are involved, as each step adds another interesting layer to the landscape.



We finished our terrarium in less than 30 minutes. Kyle’s care instructions recommend placing the terrarium in a space with filtered sunlight, so we found just the right spot in our living room. When it needs water, all you have to do is lightly mist the moss with a spray bottle. And if the tiny landscape looks like it’s getting too misty, you lift the lid and let the jar air dry.

A peek inside our new terrarium!

A peek inside our new terrarium!

The kids are looking forward to finding some more woodland creatures to place in the terrarium. Something tells MP it’s going to be a turkey!

You can find Moran’s Terrarium Kits on Kyle’s web site, at Pinecone + Chickadee in Portland or at O’Donals Nursery in Gorham.

It always amazes MP how much there is to discover in her own backyard. Some of her running friends introduced her to the newly expanded nature trails in the Cumberland Town Forest. The dense, 100 acres of land, which was donated to Cumberland in 1891, is an ideal place for a quiet walk with kids. The trailhead is easy to find — simply park at the town offices and the entrance is next to the police station.



The well-marked dirt paths through the woods are cleared and flat, making it easy to bike or bring a stroller here. And even in late fall, there is so much vibrant color to enjoy. MP, DP and CP#2 decided on an easy, one mile Sunday walk. Plus, MP wanted a chance to try out her new kicks provided by the generous folks at Ridgemont Outfitters.


The weather was a little gray, but that made all the colors and details of the forest pop. We walked on leaf-covered paths lined by majestic pines, and discovered shaded groves carpeted in pine needles. The soft light in the woods looked like something out of a fairytale or film.




All the while, MP was remarking how comfortable her Ridgemont Outback boots were. MP liked the fit and feel — the waterproof shoes are the ideal combination of a high top sneaker and sturdy hiking boot. Plus there’s no denying the style. The waxed full grain leather and waxed cotton canvas makes for a cool pairing. She will wear her Ridgemonts hiking certainly, but also around town.

New shoes and a new hike can do wonders for your mood! We left the park feeling happy, accomplished, and ready for lunch! Just look at the smile on this kid’s face.


You don’t have to live in or around Cumberland County to find great trails. There are so many to choose from throughout our state. To locate trails near you, visit this handy Maine Trail Finder. It’s such a great resource!

And speaking of great things, our friends at Ridgemont are offering one Cute Potato reader a free pair of hikers! All you need to do is comment below and we will pick a winner at random. Contest ends Sunday, November 8, 2015 at midnight EST. Good luck!


Every October, our dear friends host a pumpkin carving party at their house. It’s a simple celebration, but one we always look forward to during Halloween week. Each family brings their own pumpkin and an appetizer or a special dessert. Our friends make homemade pizzas and mulled cider. Of course, everyone dresses up.




When it comes time to carve, our friends line their dining room table with newspaper, hand out carving supplies to the adults and older kids, and have a big bucket at the center of the table for what the kids like to call, pumpkin guts.





After we’ve all carved our pumpkins, we line them up in a row and shut off the lights. We all ooh and ahh over our creations glowing bright in the dining room — it’s a tradition that all of us savor.


What are you and your family planning for Halloween? Whatever it is, we hope you have a blast!

Our friends and sponsors at Daytrip Jr. are generously offering a Cute Potato reader the chance to win a Classic Walker Wagon from Radio Flyer. This little wagon is a sentimental favorite in our family. CP#1 and #2 used it in the backyard when they were first beginning to walk. The two have pushed stuffed animals, dolls, and even cousins in the wagon.


MP loved the Radio Flyer so much she saved it and passed it down to her 3-year old nephew, Little J. She’s hoping we can keep in the family for years to come. Who knows? Maybe someday her grandkids will be pushing this wagon in the backyard!

Want to enter for a chance to win? Simply comment below. Contest ends tonight, Friday, October 23, 2015  at midnight EST. We will pick one winner at random. Good luck!

Parent Getaways

Welcome to our newest travel series, designed for moms and dads who need to get their parenting mojo back!

September and October are tough transition months, not only for kids, but for adults as well. There are new school, sports and work schedules to follow, longer grocery lists, more wash and more paperwork. MP feels like she is playing catch up from the start of school until Christmas.

To save everyone in the household from a grumpy mama, MP arranged an overnight trip to Oxbow Brewing Company in Newcastle. In June, the brewery opened its farmhouse—which was originally home to brewery co-owners, Geoff and Dash Masland—on Airbnb. Located next to the tasting room and nestled between 18 acres of woods and logging trails, a farmhouse visit seemed ideal for an overnight getaway.

When DP and MP arrived at Oxbow, a couple and their one-year-old son were seated at picnic tables in front of the tasting room. The father looked at DP and said, “Where do I know you from?” As it turns out, DP and this man realized they were childhood friends. Once the connection was established, we agreed to get a few beers and join them back outside.


Inside the warm, wood-paneled tasting room, we met Celeste Parke Merrill, a sweet, thirty-something who would be our bartender and farmhouse tour guide. When we told Celeste about our chance meeting with old friends, she said, “I love when that happens!” She encouraged us to take our time and enjoy. We could bring our bags to the farmhouse a little later.


There were 5 different beers on tap that night ranging from Oxbow’s flagship Farmhouse Pale Ale to a seasonal, Oxtoberfest—a strong pale ale with a smoky flavor. MP had never tasted a smoked beer before, so she opted for a tasting of 3 varieties, including a blonde farmhouse ale with a subtle smokiness called Bowie.


Back outside, we rejoined our new/old friends. MP sipped her first beer and listened as DP and his friend, Jeff, reminisced and brought each other up to date. Jeff’s wife Maeve was keeping an eye on her blonde-haired, one-year old, who had begun walking only a few weeks before. MP watched as he busied himself putting pebbles in a water bowl placed outside the tasting room.


As the sky began to grow dark and the temperature dropped, DP and MP decided they should check back in with Celeste. Jeff and Maeve, who were driving to Portland from their home in St. George, bid us adieu and hoped we could all reconnect in the near future.

Back at the bar, Celeste told us she needed to drive to New York that night, so the three of us walked up to the farmhouse. MP had seen photos of the house online, but in person, the space is even better than expected. Celeste said the house was built in the seventies by a local man named Leon Garnett. He created the wood frame home using timber from the property and milling it by hand. From the outside, the house has a simultaneously rustic and modern feel. MP admired the wide wrap-around porch that offers views of the tasting room, brewery, and forest.



Inside, Garnett used salvaged materials in thoughtful ways. MP loved the wide-paned windows that added a soft glow to the kitchen and living space. There are also wide, pine floors and rough hewn beams on the ceilings and around the door frames to the bedrooms, each adding to its farmhouse feel. While we planned to go out to dinner that evening, the well-stocked kitchen made MP wish we brought provisions to make a special meal of our own. The kitchen is spacious and bright with honey-hued cabinetry and plenty of counter space for meal prep.

Photo courtesy of Andrew Foster Photography.

Photo courtesy of Andrew Foster Photography.


Photo courtesy of Andrew Foster Photography

The decor at the Oxbow Farmhouse is eclectic and fun. There are nods to the brewery with framed photos of handprinted beer labels, a few bottles displayed on windowsills, and vintage books on the shelves including “Beer Can Collectors Bible.” MP got a kick out of the VHS collection, which included eighties classics like “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”


MP also had her eye on some painted wooden pieces displayed on the walls. She later learned the artwork is by Oxbow Art Director, Will Sears. The oil enameled painting on wood assemblage comes in a variety of shapes, and in many ways, the art reflects the rustic style of the farmhouse.

Photo courtesy of Andrew Foster Photography.

Photo courtesy of Andrew Foster Photography.

Photo courtesy of Andrew Foster Photography.

Photo courtesy of Andrew Foster Photography.

We had three bedrooms to choose from in the house. While they were all inviting and spacious, MP settled on a room with a little red chair, wooden desk, and a queen size bed with a quilted duvet and woven red throw. Like so much of the farmhouse, she loved the white walls and the simplicity of the space. For a parent, there’s something to be said about sleeping in a room that’s uncluttered and clean (unlike our own that’s filled with laundry, paperwork, and toys and books the kids leave behind). 


Photo courtesy of Andrew Foster Photography.

Once we were settled, we went outside to explore the grounds. In the backyard, we found raised garden beds and still ripe red raspberries growing on vines. Oxbow’s cat, Dizzy, closely followed us as we walked, until we ran into a few guinea hens walking in the grassy field beyond the gardens.






The tasting room at Oxbow closes at 7:00 p.m., so we decided to return for one last round before dinner. MP was happy to learn pretzels and cheeses are available to purchase. Even though her first samples came in modest 5 oz. glasses, she knew another beer had to come with food. DP selected a bag of pretzels, ordered beers at the bar and brought them over to an oak barrel table where we played Tic Tac Toe under twinkling lights.



While we were there, we also chatted with a retired couple from Wiscasset, who visit the tasting room nearly every Friday night. They came prepared with their own snacks, and said sometimes they bring pizza — a BYO in reverse! The sweet couple gushed over Oxbow’s beers and said they loved the events at the brewery, especially the upcoming Goods from the Woods celebration. The late afternoon event, which happens on October 24 this year, features goodies from local food trucks, music, and because of the event’s nearness to Halloween, some guests arrive in costume. Such fun!


We finished our beers and told the bartender, an outgoing 27-year-old named Emily Meader, we were looking for a casual, moderately priced place for dinner in Damariscotta. She suggested we try King Eider’s Pub, which is known for local oysters, but when we arrived, the restaurant was packed. Our only option would be to sit outside, which didn’t seem appealing on a 40º night. We decided to drive twenty minutes to Monstweag Roadhouse in Woolwich — a restaurant we’ve passed on Route One and have been curious about. The pub was also packed, but learning from our first experience, we called ahead to secure a table.

As is often the case when we try a new pub, we kept to safe, tavern-fare. Dad Potato picked the BBB burger, which arrived blackeed with blue cheese, applewood smoked bacon, and barbecue sauce. MP, whose stomach can’t handle a big burger, decided on a Roadhouse taco with grilled haddock, avocado, cilantro mayonnaise and salsa Fresca. Our meals were served quickly, and each dish was flavorful and satisfying. 

On the way back to the farmhouse, we picked up tea and cookies at the local grocery store. We couldn’t wait to settle in for the night with dessert, a warm drink and books in hand. Ah yes, this is what a getaway is all about. What a treat to have an evening to ourselves!

DP and MP could have easily stayed at the farmhouse another night, but CP#2 had a Saturday morning football game we couldn’t miss. As we packed our bags and took in the morning sun shining through the windows, we decided we would revisit the Oxbow Farmhouse with friends and family. The place is great to visit without kids, but filling the rooms with laughter, exploring the logging trails behind the house, and sharing meals (and great beer) with friends, seems even better.


Photo courtesy of Andrew Foster Photography.

Thanks so much to Katie, Celeste, Emily and the generous staff at Oxbow for hosting us!

FMI about the Oxbow Farmhouse rental, visit Airbnb.

Oxbow Farmhouse & Tasting Room
274 Jones Wood Road
Newcastle, Maine

PS: Have an idea for a parent getaway? Write us.

There are family events we look forward to each fall, and despite how much our children have grown, the Apple Day celebration at Maine Audubon in Falmouth remains a favorite. CP#1 and #2 delight in making their own cider, listening to live music, and exploring the rolling trails along the marsh.

This year promises to be one of the best celebrations yet, as our Audubon friends have added a special event — the launch of a new board book called, “A Little Brown Bat Story” written by Melissa Kim and illustrated by Jada Fitch. The book, which teaches preschoolers about brown bat behavior and habitat, is the second in the Wildlife on the Move series from Islandport Press and Maine Audubon. What we love most: 10% of the proceeds from the book help fund Maine Audubon’s outreach programs for underserved preschools!


CP#1 using the cider press at Apple Day 2010.

While visiting, little ones can listen to the story, meet the author and illustrator, and have their books signed. How special is that? Afterwards, families are invited to follow a story walk on the trails that highlights the little brown bat’s adventures.


In addition to the signing, there will be comfort food from the Wicked Good Food Truck plus all kinds of activities, including a scavenger hunt, face painting and of course, an apple toss. Hope to see you there!

28th Annual Apple Day
Gilsland Farm Maine Audubon
20 Gilsland Farm Road
10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
For event details and ticket prices, visit here.

PS: A memorable trip to Maine Audubon in Biddeford Pool.


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