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Posts Tagged ‘maine’

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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Since it’s strawberry season and the weather is suddenly cool, the team decided the time was right to try making buttermilk biscuits for shortcake. If MP had known how easy it is to make biscuits—or how much the kids enjoyed creating them—she would have attempted this recipe long ago. We had warm, flaky biscuits in less than an hour. Such a treat!

You’ll need:

2-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold, unsalted butter
1-1/4 cups buttermilk
2 TBL. unsalted butter, melted

Note: A biscuit cutter (we found ours at Leroux Kitchen in Portland) helps with this recipe, but the mouth of a wide glass will work just as well.

1. To start, preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Lightly grease a baking sheet with cooking spray.

2. Stir together the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt) in a large bowl. Next, cut the cold butter into small pieces and add to the flour mixture. Using a pastry cutter or fork, continue to cut the butter until it looks like course crumbs (CP#1 especially enjoyed this job).

CP#1 uses a pastry cutter to cut the butter into the flour mixture.

CP#1 uses a pastry cutter to cut the butter into the flour mixture.

Note the flour on her face. Love it!

Note the flour on her face. Love it!

3. Pour in the buttermilk (we like Kate’s Homemade from Old Orchard Beach), and stir to combine. Flour your work surface. The more flour the better. This keeps the dough from getting too sticky. Next, gently knead the dough until it comes together to form a ball. Pat the dough into a rectangle about 3/4-inch thick. Use a 2 1/2-inch biscuit cutter to cut the dough into biscuits (MP also found it helpful to flour the cutter before cutting the dough). Set the finished biscuits on a greased baking sheet. Reform any extra dough to make remaining biscuits. For us, this recipe yielded 10 biscuits.

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Flour mixture with added buttermilk.

4. Bake the biscuits for 13 minutes or until golden. Remove them from the oven and brush the tops with melted butter using a pastry brush.

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Et voila! The perfect biscuit.

These biscuits are amazing right out of the oven, but something tells MP they’ll reheat nicely, too. We plan on bringing biscuits, strawberries, and cream to a friend’s house tomorrow for dessert. Can’t wait to share these lovelies!

Recipe adapted from The Animal Farm Buttermilk Cookbook by Diane St. Clair.

PS: Congrats goes to lucky #2 – Sara Yates! Sara has won a pair of earrings from Leetie Lovendale. Thanks to all who entered!

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Bright colors. Pretty accessories. Twirly skirts. These are a few of the Cute Potato girls favorite things about summer dressing. While visiting the In Bloom Market in Cumberland a few weeks ago, MP discovered the work of Kendra Haskell. The Scarborough designer has an eye for summer style. Her clothing line, aptly named Whimsy, offers colorful cotton skirts for women and girls in bold prints.

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Whimsy skirts for girls are available in sizes 3-8.

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Many of Kendra’s skirts feature her signature pom pom trim.

In addition to skirts, Kendra also designs limited edition, kids’ peace sign tees and sweet headbands for girls.

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Like what you see? Kendra is generously offering Cute Potato readers 10% off on Whimsy items (use the code ‘cutepotato’ at check out). If that weren’t enough, In Bloom market founder, Heather DeSimone, is giving away super cute earrings from her Leetie Lovendale shop. MP just loves these Mod Daisy Button Earrings. In fact, she bought a pair for herself at the market .

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To enter, comment on this post below. Contest ends Wednesday, June 26 at midnight EST. We’ll announce a winner on Thursday, June 27. Stay cool, everyone!

FMI: Shop Whimsy clothing here or find them on Facebook.

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The first thing that drew MP to Love for Lemons Co. cleaning products was the beautiful packaging. Owner Kate Perrin is thoughtful about every aspect of her brand and it shows in the details. Kate creates handmade, chemical free cleaning supplies out of her home in Bath. After checking out Kate’s natural products at the Yarmouth Farmers’ Market, MP was certain Cute Potato’s readers would enjoy Love for Lemons Co. Kate was kind enough to lend MP some of her products to try.

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There’s so much to choose from in the Love for Lemons line—from simple household cleaners, like a sweet orange scented all-purpose spray, to soy candles and laundry soap. These are not bowl you over citrus scents, but rather gentle, clean smelling products that work well in the kitchen or bathroom. If you have to clean your house, you might as well use products you can feel good about.

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MP likes all of Kate’s products, but she’s partial to the Eucalyptus Bathroom Cleaner. Hopefully this isn’t too much information, but MP likes to clean the shower while she’s in it (multi-tasking, people), and using a natural, eco-friendly cleaner makes her feel okay with that. According to Kate, eucalyptus inhibits mold and mildew. MP’s shower has never looked so clean!

Similarly, the Eucalyptus Carpet and Upholstery Deodorizing Powder works wonders. MP recently purchased a love seat from Craig’s List, and after a little vacuum with the powder, the love seat looked (and smelled) like new.

The Love for Lemons Laundry Soda is another household favorite. It’s perfect for CP#1’s sensitive skin, and the whole family loves the light lemon-rosemary scent. One tablespoon will wash a whole load of laundry, so the 32 oz. container lasts awhile!

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MP also likes that Kate uses recyclable containers for her product line. For example, Love for Lemons Co. bottles are biodegradable and the durable nozzles can be used over and over before being recycled into something new.

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Tell us some of your favorite quick cleaning tips (like cleaning while you shower), and you’ll be entered to win a 32-oz, stainless steel tin of Laundry Soda and an 8 oz. Love for Lemons Sulfate-Free Hand Soap with Lemon Oil. Contest ends Friday, May 31 at midnight EST. One winner will be chosen at random. Good luck!

To learn more about Love for Lemons Co, visit their online shop or find them on Facebook.

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Whenever MP is asked what she’d like for a special occasion, the answer, without fail, is jewelry from Shoreside Chic. Portland-based jewelry designer, Kate Clark, makes simple but beautiful pieces inspired by vintage and nautical designs. You’ll find everything from bold statement necklaces to classic earrings and bracelets you can wear everyday.

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Kate’s Haberdashery Collection features this vintage, lucite link necklace. Love.

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A vintage, hammered cuff from Kate’s Portland collection.

Like what you see? Visit Kate’s web site and tell us which piece you like best by commenting below. You’ll be entered to win the item of your choosing… just in time for Mother’s Day. We’ll pick a winner at random by Friday, May 3, midnight EST. Good luck!

FMI: Visit Shoreside Chic’s online shop here or find Kate on Facebook.

PS: Kate will be traveling to fairs throughout New England this summer. She’s restoring a super cute vintage trailer to sell her jewelry on the road. Help support Kate and contribute to her Kickstarter campaign today.

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Last year, MP was flipping through the pages of the Pottery Barn Kids catalog and a sweet Easter tree caught her eye. Inspired, MP decided to try creating a similar tree with the kids.

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This springtime project couldn’t be simpler. You’ll need:

• A sturdy tree branch
• Garden clippers (for parents)
• Play dough or clay
• Small clay pot
• River stones
• Burlap and twine (optional/available at hardware stores)
• Your choice of decorations

MP discovered a strong branch with many offshoots that would be ideal for hanging eggs. While scouring the garage for a terra cotta pot, she found a pretty yellow-glazed vessel (purchased at a local garden center). If you prefer, you can mimic the Pottery Barn tree using a basic flowerpot wrapped with burlap.

The kids had a mixed bag of play dough in their craft cabinet. We used a handful of the dough and pressed it into the base of the pot. Then CP#1 carefully placed the base of the branch into the dough. The branch started to tilt, so MP clipped a few offshoots to get our tree to balance. CP#2 filled the rest of the pot with river stones he found in the yard. Image

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Once the branch was in place, we were ready to decorate our tree. MP found some felt eggs at a nearby crafts store and threaded them for hanging. Gift shops like Folly 101 in Portland—where MP spotted tiny carrot ornaments—and Nest in Brunswick are also great places to find decorations for your tree.

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Our finished tree.

Our finished tree.

The best part of this project? With careful storage, you can reuse your tree year after year. Plus, it’s fun to come up with new ideas for ornaments.

Enjoy and Happy Spring to all! xo, MP

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MP celebrated her birthday yesterday, and one of the stops on her wish included Sweet Marguerites in South Portland. The sophisticated artisanal chocolate shop and café is owned by Marguerite (Meg) Swoboda. The accomplished chocolatier sells her delicious treats to customers across the United States. Isaac Mizrahi, Real Simple magazine, and American Idol are among her growing list of clients.

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MP visited for Sweet Marguerites European-inspired hot chocolate. Marguerite’s daughter, Anna Swoboda, used a ganache made of whole milk, milk chocolate, and bittersweet chocolate for this creamy, indulgent drink. The made to order hot chocolate is warmed using an Espresso machine, making for a frothy and delicious birthday treat!

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Opt for traditional hot cocoa, pictured here, or salted caramel hot chocolate.

MP also shopped for the kids’ Easter gifts. Sweet Marguerites offers solid chocolate bunnies, chicks, and lambs. You’ll also find Anna’s beautiful, handmade Ukrainian eggs for purchase.Image

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MP selected Fig & Port, Force Noir, and Strawberry Balsamic chocolates, to name a few.

It’s hard to leave Sweet Marguerites without a bag full of goodies. MP decided on colorful chocolate eggs filled with dark chocolate for the CP kids, and a box of chocolates to share with the family… or at least that’s what she told herself as she nibbled on a cashew square on the way home!

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Pretty, chocolate filled eggs

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Linzer tarts from Sugar Hill Baking.

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FMI: Check out Sweet Marguerites web site or Facebook page.

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