Posts Tagged ‘maine’

Twenty-six-year-old LEGO Master Model Builder, Ian Coffey, was in Portland for the Old Port Festival in early June, sharing his incredible building talents with the masses. MP had the opportunity to chat with Ian, learn how he became a LEGO Master Model Builder, and what it’s like to work at the new LEGOLAND® Discovery Center in Boston.

Ian in Portland during Old Port Fest.

Ian in Portland during Old Port Fest.

MP: When did you first start building with LEGOs?
IC: I started at 3-years old. My older brother played with LEGOs, and I wanted to be just like him. To this day, there’s a very large LEGO city in the basement of my childhood home.

MP: How did you become a LEGO Master Model Builder?
IC: My Dad’s friend saw an ad in the paper for LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Boston, announcing a competition for the chance to become a LEGO Master Model Builder. I didn’t do anything about it then. When a close friend of mine found out, she signed me up anyway. I’m so glad she did!

Ian at the Portland Sea Dogs stadium during Old Port fest.

Ian at the Portland Sea Dogs stadium during Old Port Fest.

MP: What was the competition like?
IC: There were over 100 contestants, and the build-off lasted two days. We could only use certain sizes and shapes for our creations. One of the first challenges was to create a character from a favorite story. I built Woody and Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story. After that, we had to build something from a favorite vacation. I designed the Olympic ski jump from Lake Placid, New York.

MP: And the final challenge?
IC: We had to create a LEGO scene that meant something to us personally.  I made a “painted picture” of my Chocolate Lab at the park.

MP: What did you do before becoming a LEGO Master Model Builder?
IC:  I worked under the secretary of the New York State Senate for nearly every single senator. My days were very long.

MP: What’s a typical day at the Boston LEGOLAND® Discovery Center like?
IC: I build in my office, which is all glass. I call it my fishbowl [laughs] because visitors come and watch me while I work. I also teach school groups fun little facts about LEGOs. And at the LEGO Master Model Builder Academy, we’re designing dragons, which are really cool.


MP: My family has been to the LEGOLAND® Discovery Center in New York and LEGOLAND® in Florida. What’s the Boston Center like?
IC: The mini land features a miniature Boston—you’ll see Fenway Park (my personal favorite) and the Zakim Bridge. The Boston mini land is the biggest of any LEGOLAND® Discovery Center in the world.

Fenway Park -  made entirely of LEGOs.

Fenway Park – made entirely of LEGOs.

MP: What do you do when you’re not working with LEGOs?
IC: I always like to keep busy. In the past, I landscaped a 12-acre estate, and I built a pretty elaborate tree house with a shingled roof in my backyard. It even has cable!

MP: Besides coming to the Old Port Festival earlier this month, what’s your connection to Maine?
IC: I’ve been coming to Mother’s Beach in Kennebunk since I was 6-weeks old. When I visit, I love to build sandcastles on the beach and hang out with my dog. People say I should enter a sandcastle competition, but I like building on my own. Usually some kids will come by and offer ideas. It’s perfect—I’m really a kid at heart.

Thanks so much to Ian for taking the time to chat! And guess what? The kind folks at The LEGOLAND® Discovery Center in Boston are offering a Cute Potato reader a family 4-pack pass (2 adults, 2 children) to the new center! All you need to do is comment below. Contest ends on Monday, June 30 at midnight EST. Good luck LEGO lovers!

FMI on the LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Boston, visit their website or Facebook page.

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Last Sunday, we celebrated Father’s Day with brunch at the East Ender in Portland with good friends. Neither family had ever been to the bustling, two story restaurant, and all of us were excited to try the food. If you go, this is a place to indulge in pre-brunch sweets and savories. Our table of hungry kids and adults sampled crispy trout fritters, a homemade, chocolate and banana pop tart, decadent cheddar swirl buns with prosciutto and pepper jelly (MP’s favorite), and simple hushpuppies with maple sour cream.



Both families were full before the main course was served. And truth be told, the starters and sides are the real standouts at the East Ender. The main courses, which vary between standard eggs and bacon to over-the-top fried chicken and waffles, needed the creativity and flavor the first course offered. Still, we’ll definitely be back for generous cups of coffee and delicious starters.

After stuffing ourselves silly, we decided to explore Bug Light Park in South Portland. The gorgeous, nearly 9-acre park overlooks the Casco Bay. On this windy day, the park was busy with serious kite flyers. We were all amazed by the number of colorful kites.





MP was especially taken with the Bug Light lighthouse. Its Greek-inspired design make it one of the  most beautiful little lighthouses in recent memory. Apparently, it is called Bug Light because of its size, which makes the lighthouse even more endearing.



The kids and Dad Potato played soccer, while MP snapped pictures of summer beauty all around. What a gorgeous Father’s Day!




East Ender
47 Middle Street

Bug Light Park
South Portland Greenbelt Parkway
South Portland


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A friend recently invited us to Camp Ketcha, a non-profit in Scarborough that fosters environmental education, for their annual Fairy House Festival. The spacious campground is an ideal place for kids to roam and play. We brought along our own Fairy House Kit from from fairy house expert and writer Liza Gardner Walsh. The wooden kit contains everything a kid needs to build a house: feathers, sea glass, soft moss, and of course, glittery fairy dust! The wonderful staff at Camp Ketcha also had supplies on hand like Forsythia branches and pinecones. The CP kids were in fairy house heaven!







We had a wonderful time at the festival. CP#1 and #2 used every last shell, pinecone, and feather in their kit. And the best part? The kids get to fill the box again with their favorite finds from our walks on the beach and in the woods. 

You can find Liza’s fairy house kits online, as well as in some of our favorite places to shop: Daytrip Jr., Sherman’s Books & Stationery, the Portland Museum of Art museum store, the Belfast Co-op, and Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens store (to name a few).

Or, if your heart desires, you could enter our giveaway to win one of Liza’s fabulous fairy house making kits. All you need to do is tell us your family’s favorite place to build fairy houses. We’ll select a winner at random early next week. Contest ends Sunday, June 1 at midnight EST. 

And speaking of contests, we have a winner to announce for last week’s delicious giveaway from Watcharee Thai Sauces. Congrats to Sheila Bornstein! Hope you enjoy! 


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Here’s a sampling of what CP#1 has requested for her lunch: goat cheese wrapped in salami; mozzarella, tomato and basil on skewers; and rice and beans with lime. MP is all for healthy, creative lunches, but when CP#1 asked for fresh spring rolls, she wondered, how will I pull this off?

She enlisted the help of her friend, Watcharee Limanon, a mother of twin boys and experienced Thai chef. A Bangkok native, Watcharee has explored Thai street food and the finest Thai restaurants. She’s also studied at a number of professional cooking schools, including Le Cordon Bleu in Bangkok.


Watcharee lives on Cousins Island on a gorgeous peninsula called Potato Point, so it seemed fitting that our team join her there. “Cute Potato comes to Potato Point!” she said, laughing at the coincidence.



To our delight, Grandma Patty Potato was in town, so she joined us for the lesson. We gathered in Watcharee’s home kitchen and were met with a beautiful array of food. There was a colorful tray of vegetables, including shredded carrots, cilantro, Thai basil, and cabbage. Another tray offered shredded chicken, shrimp, and fried tofu (made healthier with an Air Fryer oven).


To start, Watcharee gave us each a Vietnamese Spring Roll wrapper. Note: you can find these on Amazon or at a local Asian Market, like Veranda in Portland. The spring roll wrappers feel like plastic when you take them out of the package, but Watcharee’s son August showed us how to dip them in water, making the wrappers soft and pliable.



Working with the wrappers takes some getting used to, but the good news is, you really can’t mess them up. We placed ours on wooden cutting boards and spread any unwieldy edges out with our hands so the wrappers lay flat. If the spring roll wrappers curled up, we placed them back in the tray of water and tried again.


The next steps are fairly simple:

  1. Place your veggies at the center of the wrapper, pushing them together to make a thick rectangle. You can add tofu or chicken next to the veggies to add bulk.
  2. Next, create a “pocket” around your veggies. Fold the base of your wrapper over them, keeping the veggies tucked inside. Then fold the edges of your wrapper over the base. The wrappers are sticky, so you can use a little water on your fingers to keep a tight fold.
  3. If you like, add a layer of shrimp or chicken at the edge of the fold. Gently fold the veggie pocket over the second layer. Then fold the top of your wrapper over your layers. Use your thumbs to tuck the wrapper tight.



Creating the perfect roll took some practice, but we all got the hang of it after a few tries. The end result? A huge tray of fresh spring rolls for all of us to enjoy for lunch! Better yet, Watcharee let us sample her new Thai peanut sauce, sprinkling it with ground peanuts for added flavor. MP finds it incredible that something so delicious can come out of a jar!


We loved preparing spring rolls with Watcharee at her home studio, and we can’t wait to make more this summer with friends! With a little preparation, fresh spring rolls are really easy to make. What a great way to clear out leftover veggies from the fridge!


Interested in trying Watcharee’s delicious line of Thai sauces? She’s generously offered a trio—Thai Peanut, Massaman Curry, and  Green Curry—to one fortunate reader. All you need to do is comment below. Giveaway ends Saturday, 5/24 at 9 a.m. EST. We will announce the winner next week. Good luck!Image

To learn more about Watcharee and where you can find her sauces, check out her website or Facebook page. For cooking classes, visit Thai Culinary Arts Studio.

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One of the things we love best about our new home is its close proximity to some incredible farms and orchards. The team recently stopped by Sunflower Farm & Creamery in Cumberland to visit with their newest baby goats. Owners Hope and Chris Hall regularly open the farm to visitors, so children and adults can enjoy spending time with the babies. And boy, did we ever. 



Clearly, the Cute Potato kids were smitten. They asked MP and DP multiple times if we could bring one home. MP suggested we visit the farm more often! 





After leaving the baby goats behind, we visited the farm yard and the grown-up goats. They were just as sweet as the kids, and lots of fun to watch. 



After such a great visit, we’re all looking forward to Saturday, May 17 — the day the farm opens its creamery for the season. MP is already dreaming of fresh chevre, feta, and decadent cajeta (caramelized goat milk). And if you’re interested in learning how to make your own cheese, Sunflower Farm offers classes in July, August and November. Check their event calendar for listings. 

Sunflower Farm & Creamery
12 Harmon Way
Find them on Facebook

PS: Have you visited another great goat farm or creamery in Maine? Tell us! We’d love to include the locations here. 


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MP found this letterpress Easter greeting while shopping at Royal River Books in Yarmouth. When she turned the card around, she learned it was made in Swans Island by a company called Saturn Press.


Some investigating revealed that the card company, which began in 1986, is owned by designer Jane Goodrich and printer Jim van Pernis. The two create vintage-inspired greeting cards using their collection of turn-of-the-century images for inspiration. Van Pernis uses four antique printing presses to develop the quality prints you see here.



The team at Saturn Press has an old-fashioned approach to everything they do. The small company doesn’t have a web site or a computer in their small, Swans Island shop and studio. The popularity of their product comes from word of mouth. It seems when your work is a labor of love, people notice. In article in American Way magazine, Goodrich says of Saturn Press’ designs, “There’s extreme satisfaction in knowing that you’re bringing something beautiful that has your fingerprints on it back into the world.”


MP is so impressed by this small Maine company, and will definitely be seeking out their gorgeous cards and book plates for years to come.

To shop for Saturn Press cards, visit Luxe Paperie online, or stop by great local shops like Daytrip Society in Kennebunkport. And before we forget, happy spring to everyone! We are so glad it’s finally here.



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If there is one dessert that MP can’t pass up, it’s cookies. Decadent chocolate chip cookies are her weakness, followed by crisp butter cookies and just about anything made with dark chocolate. So you can imagine her delight when she discovered Slice & Bake Cookies by Camden-based cookbook author Elinor Klivans. The cookbook features make-ahead cookie dough you can refrigerate or freeze for later use.


Photo courtesy The Kitchn

MP and CP#1 tested Grandmother Sophie’s Butter cookies, and we loved the results. The dough was easy to prepare and the resulting cookie was delicious. We topped the cookies with dark chocolate chips.


Photo courtesy Chicago Tribune


1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups flour
Chocolate chips or pecan halves (optional)

With an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter and salt in a bowl just until blended. Beat in sugar until blended smooth. Scrape down sides of bowl. Mix in yolks and extracts until blended. Reduce speed to low. Add flour, mixing just until incorporated.

Divide dough in half. Put each on a large piece of plastic wrap. Form into logs 7 inches long and 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Roll back and forth to smooth. Wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 3 hours or overnight, until firm. Or overwrap with aluminum foil and freeze up to two months. Note: Frozen dough needs defrosting in the refrigerator 3 hours before baking.

To bake, set rack in middle of oven. Preheat to 350 F.

Cut cold logs into slices, about 1/3-inch thick. Place cookies 11/2 inches apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. Press a chocolate chip (flat side up) or pecan half into each slice. Bake one sheet at a time until cookies are lightly browned, 15-20 minutes. Cool cookies on baking sheet 10 minutes; transfer to wire rack. Cool completely. Makes 42 cookies.

SOURCE: Adapted from Slice & Bake Cookies, by Elinor Klivans

In addition to dessert cookies, Klivan’s book also features savory cookies. MP can’t wait to try her recipe for Black Pepper & Parmesan Crisps (a future post, promise).

Want a copy of Slice & Bake Cookies to call your own? Tell us the foods you can’t resist. We’ll choose a winner at random and announce early next week. Contest ends Sunday, March 23.

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