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Posts Tagged ‘maine’

Jessica Jenkins, the owner of Daytrip Jr. in Kennebunkport, guest blogs today. If you haven’t already, follow Daytrip on Facebook. Jessica is a wonderful source of ideas for kids and families. We’re so happy to have her here! Take it away Jessica….

In search of a winter activity to cure our cabin fever, the Daytrip Society family packed our hats, coats, and snow pants and headed north toward the Saco Heath Preserve. We spotted some amazing photos of the preserve from the summer and fall, so we took our chances that the trail would be passable in winter.

When we arrived, we were happy to find the parking lot open! We entered the trail and walked along the snow-covered boardwalk which zigzagged about half-mile to where the trail opens up to the Heath (aka a bog). My husband and I were glad for our last minute decision to throw a sled into the car, so our 4-1/2 year old could get a tow whenever she needed it!

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As we tromped along the floating boardwalk, we were surprised by how different this terrain looked and felt from any other we had visited in Maine. Our research told us that the Heath was once two adjacent ponds containing acid that slowed the decay of peat moss. The ponds eventually filled with so much peat, they grew together and formed a single raised bog. We were careful to stay on the trail—parts of the walk were above 20 feet of water and moss! Knowing this added a bit of excitement to our outing.

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Even though the trail is only 1.8 miles long, the extra effort it took to walk through snow made this a good hike. Our family took time to rest on the benches conveniently located mid-way through the bog. We pulled clementines out of our pockets for a sweet snack and gazed at the land surrounded by Atlantic White Cedars.
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We looped around and continued our return hike, already planning to come back to the preserve each season to get a feel for its year-round beauty. A visit to the preserve turned out to be the perfect way to get us out and exploring nature on a cold January afternoon! FMI on the Saco Heath Preserve, visit here.

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During this white and wintery time of year, MP craves color. What a treat it was to discover the Wildflower Soup Etsy shop. Shop owner and Brunswick Mom, Tammy Johnson, makes dolls and colorful quilts that are sure to brighten anyone’s day. Take a look:

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A sweet, cotton patchwork quilt for babies and toddlers.

Heirloom cloth dolls make a thoughtful gift.

Heirloom cloth dolls make a thoughtful gift.

MP loves the colors in this fun rag quilt.

MP loves the colors in this fun rag quilt.

See? Don’t you feel better already?

To learn more about Tammy and her Etsy shop, visit here.

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There’s not a parent in Maine that’s not familiar with the daily winter routine. Every morning, without fail, we’re ushering our children into warm socks, boots, mittens, scarves, snow pants, coats, and hats. Sometimes the routine goes smoothly, and sometimes well, not so much. And who could blame the kids for not wanting to get in full cold weather regalia? No child wants to feel like—what’s hilariously described in A Christmas Story—as a tick that’s about to go pop, right?

That’s why MP turns to great local Etsy shops like BabbidgePatch Hats. Shop owner Cathy Costa made CP#2 a Star Wars hat last season, and he looks forward to wearing it each day. Cathy makes beautiful knit hats adults and kids want to wear.

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We love this retro heart knit.

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If you’re going to dress warmly, you might as well look cute, no? Cathy’s colorful hats make it easy. For more on her shop, visit here or find her on Facebook. Stay cozy, everyone!

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MP would like to welcome our newest sponsor, the Family Ice Center in Falmouth, to Cute Potato! She recently had the pleasure of chatting with Cumberland-based dad, Josh Brainerd, who manages the ice skating arena. Like most parents, Josh recognizes the importance of an affordable, accessible, and clean recreation center. During his two years as manager, he’s worked hard to make the Family Ice Center a fun destination for kids and parents.

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Public skating is available during the week and on weekends. MP loves that little ones up to 5 years old, who are often just learning, can skate for free. For the rest of us, skating is $5 per person. Families can rent skates for just $2 (wow!), or can bring along their own. Skate sharpening is available, too. And once you pay for the day, you can leave and come back during open skate hours. How convenient is that?

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In December-February (weather permitting), families can also skate outdoors on the gorgeous Lee Twombly Pond, which was recently named one of the top 10 places to skate in the country by AAA magazine. The pond is an idyllic spot to skate, and there’s a cozy pond house with a fireplace to enjoy before-or after-skating.

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Finally, if you have a kiddo that adores skating with friends, there’s a party room available for birthdays, too.

Sound like fun? Keep your eyes here and on Facebook for events coming up this winter. Happy skating season, everyone!

Family Ice Center
20 Hat Trick Drive (behind Walmart)
Falmouth
207.781.4200

PS: The Family Ice Center is offering a special price for Cute Potato readers! On weekdays, purchase two skating tickets for the price of one to skate the Lee Twombly Pond.  All you need to do is mention Cute Potato. Offer is not valid during school vacation weeks, MLK Jr. day, or weekends. Rental skates are $2.00 per person. Enjoy!

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Wolfe’s Neck Farm, a 626-acre, educational farm set on the Casco Bay, is one of our favorite places to visit any time of year, but in the fall, the golden fields and changing trees make for a stunning setting. We visited for a Pumpkin Hayride, and despite a cloudy Sunday, our team had a blast.

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While we waited for the tractor to return the first wave of pumpkin pickers, MP and the kids explored the barn. The kids loved visiting with the adorable American Guinea Hogs, and exploring the farm’s hay maze. MP, of course, was drawn to the farm stand, which offered fresh eggs, farm-raised chicken, gorgeous greens, and tomatoes. Once CP#1 and #2 discovered where Mom was hiding out, they decided to have fun with the gourds on display.

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When we boarded the hayride, MP chatted with two ladies from Florida, who didn’t seem to mind the cooler weather. Our driver, Julianna, treated us to scenic ride through Recompense Shore Campground, before arriving at the pumpkin fields. The kids couldn’t wait to search for the perfect pie pumpkin. Image

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We left with four beautiful pumpkins and great memories. And best yet, all the proceeds for the hayrides benefit the farm’s educational programs (which we love).

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For more on Wolfe’s Neck Farm’s Pumpkin Hayrides, visit here. Or visit the farm this Saturday for their annual Fall Festival.

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Sara Sullivan is a Yarmouth-based, certified nutritionist, who you may have spotted on Good Day Maine. MP discovered Sara’s healthy, family-friendly recipes on Facebook. She became an instant fan after trying Sara’s Mango Coconut Smoothie (made with 1 cup of spinach) for an afterschool snack. To MP’s delight, CP#2—who is afraid of green vegetables—loved it!

Sara recently launched a beautiful new web site, where you can find everyday healthy tips, and more inspired recipes on her blog. We’re thrilled to have Sara guest blogging for us today, and we can’t wait to try her new take on Apple Crisp! Take it away, Sara….

Autumn’s glory is upon us!

I don’t know about you, but I am loving the cool air, the brilliant colors of the trees, and of course, the seasonal delicacies. I find that going apple picking, drinking fresh cider, and baking crisp apple chips just feels right this time of year.

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With that in mind, my family and I made the short drive to Rocky Ridge Orchard in Bowdoin to handpick our own apples.

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They grow several varieties: McIntosh, Cortland, Honeycrisp, and Red Delicious, just to name a few. Aside from the apple picking, Rocky Ridge has horse and carriage rides, deli sandwiches on homemade bread, cider donuts, pumpkins and a barn swing for the kids. It was a picturesque, relaxing, and fun adventure for the entire family.

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And since the trip concluded with a 25 lb. bag of fruit, I promptly returned home to pull together some delicious recipes making use of our apples. Here’s a family favorite:

Raw Apple Crisp
I am always on the look out for kid-friendly desserts that do not contain refined white sugar and flour. So when I stumbled across this raw apple crisp recipe at www.food.com, I knew I had to give it a try. It was instantly gobbled up and thoroughly enjoyed. Although you do not get the comfort of a warm dessert, you do get the comfort of knowing your kids are eating healthy!
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8 apples, peeled and chopped

1 cup raisins, soaked and drained

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 cups walnuts

1 cup pitted dates

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon salt

To make filling, in a food processor, place 2 apples with raisins, cinnamon and nutmeg, process until smooth. In a bowl place remaining chopped apples and toss with lemon juice. Pour pureed filling mixture over top, mix well. Spoon apple mixture into a medium-sized lasagna pan and set aside. For crumble, in a food processor, pulse walnuts, dates, cinnamon and salt until coarsely ground. Do not over mix. Crumble the mixture over the apples with your hands and press lightly. Serve immediately or let marinate for a few hours for extra flavor.

Go on and visit! ROCKY RIDGE ORCHARD~ 38 Rocky Ridge Lane (Route 201), Bowdoin. Or find them on Facebook.

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While shopping the Craft & Art Show at the Yarmouth Clam Festival this summer, the team discovered The Merry Crown Society. Shop owner, Bonnie, who hails from Fryeburg, designs whimsical crowns, wands, swords, and masks using felt made from recycled plastic bottles. CP#2 was completely smitten with Bonnie’s booth. If MP allowed it, he would spent hours trying out cool disguises.

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CP#1 loved shopping The Merry Crown Society, too. She had her eye on a first birthday crown for her cousin, Little J.

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The only way MP could get the CP kids to leave this fun shop, was to buy a few disguises of our own (and promise a lime rickey). MP finds it hard to say no to these two characters. Wouldn’t you?

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And everything Bonnie makes is so darn cute. What fun the masks and swords will be in our dress-up box!

FMI on The Merry Crown Society, visit their Etsy shop or Facebook page.

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Summer is fleeting. MP wishes the family could have more time to enjoy the season before school, schedules, and big projects, like moving into a new house, became the focus of our days. But a girl can pretend, right? With that idea in mind, we visited Dot’s Ice Cream Shop in Bath.

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Dot’s, which took over the space of a pharmacy/soda fountain, looks like it could be at home on a film set. The window boxes and bright striped awnings make the shop instantly inviting. On the day we arrived, the staff just finished making waffle cones, which created the most heavenly scent. Chalkboards behind the counter display a menu of ice cream and frozen desserts, from traditional hot fudge sundaes to Hawaiian shaved ice. And hurrah! We loved Dot’s focus on local companies, including Shain’s of Maine ice cream, gelato from Maple’s Organics, and Capt’n Eli’s sodas.

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Us girls, who can’t resist the smell of baked goods, opted for waffle cones. MP adores Maple’s creamy Cardamom Ginger gelato, and the zippy chunks of ginger were the perfect complement to the homemade cone. The boys ordered Abominable Snow Cones: a scoop of ice cream topped with shaved ice and a splash of sweet cream. CP#2′s cherry ice over chocolate ice cream was a refreshing combination of flavors and textures, much like an ice cream soda.

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CP #2′ s chocolate-covered cherry Abominable Snow Cone.

Summer may be almost over, but this sweet shop lets you savor the season just a little longer.

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Dot’s Ice Cream Shop
160 Front Street
Bath

FMI: Visit Dot’s on Facebook

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MP has heard the term geocaching many times over the years, but chose to ignore it. The word implied a level of technological ability that MP didn’t believe she had. If someone had promoted free treasure hunts throughout the state, she might have paid closer attention.

Thanks to the encouragement of a friend, MP learned that all geocaching requires is a cell phone and a sense of adventure.  What is a geocache?  It’s found treasure that comes in several sizes. You and your family get to decide how challenging you want your hunt to be.  The smaller the geocache, the more challenging the search!

DP downloaded a $10 geocaching app on iTunes. There are many free options, but DP chose Geocaching by Groundspeak based on user ratings (he’s the technology guy at our house). As it turns out, there are hundreds of geocaches all around us. Our team decided to find a medium sized cache in Twin Brooks Park in Cumberland. The kids brought backpacks, flashlights, and garden trowels, plus a few small treasures to leave behind. The rule of geocaching is: once you find your treasure, you leave something for the next person.

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The kids wore wellies and lots of bug spray for this adventure!

We followed the instructions, and found ourselves walking down a path into the woods. Our clues were to look for a small footbridge and a felled tree. As you can imagine, there were several trees that lined the woodland floor, but within minutes, the kids were shrieking, “We found it!” Sure enough, there was a metal box with a geocaching sticker on it. Inside, the kids discovered a logbook of families that had found the cache before, along with treasures like super balls, action figures, and stickers.

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Our treasure is hidden in the woods.

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CP#1 and #2 found great joy in discovering their cache, but it was equally fun for them to sign the log and leave their own treasures behind.

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A dilemma: which Power Ranger to pick?

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How about you and your family? Ever been geocaching? Tell us some of your favorite places to go!

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The Cute Potato team took a much-needed break from our busy summer and traveled to Lovell, Maine. The small town is home to Kezar Lake, a sparkling, 9-mile long body of water surrounded by the western Maine hills and views of the White Mountains.

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We joined cousins, uncles, aunts, Grandma Cookie and Grandpa Nick for a weeklong reunion in a rented house near Kezar Lake Marina, where visitors can rent boats and paddle boards. The location we chose was perfect for our large troupe. The kids played soccer in the open field in the front yard, while the adults sipped coffee or read books on the front porch. Behind the house, a path shaded by pines lead to a town beach, where all of us gathered most every day.

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MP’s sweet nephew, G, cools off in the lake.

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MP fell in love with Lovell. There is so much beauty all around. She regrets not taking her camera along for an evening walk past a nearby farm, whose quirky livestock reminded her of the movie, Babe. There were sheep grazing in the field, a few donkeys, and a lone Alpaca keeping watch at the top of a hill. She and Grandma Cookie chuckled at a gargantuan pig hanging out by a motorcycle, while a dozen geese marched up and down the fields.

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CP#1 and #2 most enjoyed exploring the lake by canoe. We watched box turtles climb a long tree limb and loons dive deep for fish. One homeowner along the lake built a fairy house castle from Birch bark, along with a pint-size sailing ship that floated on the shore.

We paddled to a second town beach, near to an inn called Pleasant Point. The sandy beach here is ideal for families. The water is clear, cool, and shallow for little ones. CP#1 practiced paddle boarding from the boat launch. CP#2 and his cousin enjoyed jumping canon ball style from the nearest dock. While the kids played, Grandma Cookie snuck away for an ice cream treat at the inn’s take out window (smart lady).

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CP#2 and his favorite diving companion, cousin C.

Our family celebrated two birthdays and a wedding anniversary during our stay. Most of our merrymaking took place at Ebenezer’s Pub. The cozy pub is one of the best beer destinations in the world (according to Beer Advocate Magazine). Ebenezer’s relaxed vibe and comfort food menu make it a great place for families. We all loved the outdoor picnic area next to the town golf course, and dining inside the cozy screened-in porch. MP and DP especially adored the incredible selection of Belgian brews. Such a treat!

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DP, CP#2, and Uncle J inside Ebenezer’s Pub.

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Aunt C. celebrates a birthday.

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The kids and their grandmother invent a game of Uno table golf.

In the evenings, we would return from our daily adventures and regroup around the campfire or look up at the incredible array of stars. We couldn’t of asked for a better place to be for summer vacation. MP hopes a trip to Kezar Lake will become a family tradition—what a special place.

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PS: Speaking of special things, we have a winner for our Blueberries for Sal book giveaway! Congrats goes to lucky #12, Meredith Wood-Masteka. Thanks to everyone who entered.

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