Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Goodness, Gracious...Great Falls and Fire

Um...OK.  Sorry about that.  But this post is so random, I couldn't come up with a title.  So, there you have it.  Tara's Pun of the Day.

First, to get caught up a little.  Above, that really is Great Falls.  We went there with our friends from Texas, the Bentleys, when they came to visit before our trip.  We had a great time hanging out with them.  Always good to see friends from home.

Besides going to Great Falls, the kids did some pre-July 4th fireworks:

And my cool friend Anne brought us this awesome Texas cutting board:

I LOVE IT!!!!!

That thing on the cutting board is a Dragon Fruit.  We bought it for the Summer of New Things, and we were going to put it in a smoothie.  But it went bad before we could work it into the meal plan.  Not to worry, we'll get another one.

The night after the Bentleys left, Kev and I went to Wolf Trap to see the GREAT Pink Martini.  What an awesome show.  The tickets were a Mother's Day gift from Kev, and it was worth the wait.  Pink Martini asked that no one take pictures during the show, so here is just the stage.  We were just about the youngest people in the crowd.  Not sure how so many old people know about Pink Martini.  Lucky for them, though.  Everyone should go see Pink Martini. 

On our way up to Maine, we stopped in New York to attend the Holt Family 4th of July picnic at the lake place.  It was fun.

There were hot dogs, ice cream, and fireworks - all the required elements for a proper Independence Day.  There were also row-boat rides and canoe rides, and the sailboat debacle of 2013, in which Kev got the Sunfish caught in the seaweed and had to be rescued by his mom.  For the record, it wasn't his fault.  The boat was in great disrepair and not at all sea-worthy.  But it was still funny.

Daph's first canoe trip:

My successful knitting project in Maine inspired me to get back in the groove.  A Maine yarn shop lady taught me how to use a swift and ball-winder, so when we got back, I clamped mine on the table and got to winding.  It is a very soothing activity.

There was a minor knitting setback when I went with my cool friend Jill to a knitting event at a local winery and failed at the two projects I brought to work on.  No big deal...we had a great time anyway.  Lots of nice people with interesting stories at a beautiful venue.  A nice way to spend a Friday afternoon.

On Saturday night, Kev and I went out to dinner at La Lou - LOBSTER RAVIOLI!!!

And then we went to the Tally Ho to see the Woodshedders, which was really fun.  These guys are so talented.  There were actually real HIPSTERS there.  You almost never see hipsters in Leesburg.  It was kind of like being in Dallas for a night. 

The Tally Ho used to be a movie theater, but it was kind of old and yucky.  Last year, they gutted it and turned it into a music venue, and it's really pretty great.  It gets funny bands, like LA Guns and Gene Loves Jezebel and and The Marshall Tucker Band.  I always look forward to new show announcements.

Sunday, we went to see Despicable Me 2 with G-Ma and G-Pa.  It was not quite as good as the first one, but still good.  Might have been more fun if we had seen it in 3D.

Yesterday, we saw this moth stuck to the side of a car while I was waiting for a new battery at the Subaru dealership.  My phone doesn't take the best pictures.  The moth was very yellow, and HUGE.  Like the size of my hand.  The Subaru salesman wasn't too happy to see it on one of his Brand New Cars, so he flicked it away after I took the picture.

Today,  Daphne went to a clay sculpting class and made a dragon.  She had a blast.  It will get fired in the kiln and glazed and fired again, and she will get it back in three weeks.  This is the same place where I made my owl.  We both can't wait to go back.

While Daphne was sculpting, I was knitting.  I finally (after about 7 re-starts) got the second sleeve of my Owl sweater going, and now I'm almost done with it.  Woo hoo!  Sleeve attachment is next, and then I start on the actual owls.  I am going to get this sweater done in time for fall.

If anyone has been wondering, I have 94 birds on my Life List.

I have been keeping myself very busy and distracted because I found out my parents and Jeff and Chief and Scout are moving to Indiana.  This is pretty devastating, so I'm trying not to think about it.  Some people don't mind living away from their families, and some people even prefer it.  But I am not one of those people.  Anyway, I'm not really going to blog too much about it because it sucks, and I don't like talking about it, and this blog is a happy place, but I thought I should mention it because it's kind of a big deal and it's what's happening, so there you go.

I will probably be knitting a lot of sweaters in the future.

OK.  I'll end with this.  The other day, Daphne suddenly dressed up like a ghost.  "I wanted to freak you out, Mom."  She's a funny little kid.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Bubbles and Birds

A couple more bird-related items, because I am excited to report that I get to officially add a new bird to my list.  This is a view of Jordan Pond and "The Bubbles" at Acadia National Park last week. We saw this guy while we were walking along a little nature trail there:

A little research tells me (and I am about 98% sure) that this is a song sparrow.  Not the most exciting find, but new nonetheless.  I will update my life list and give you a count tomorrow, because I know you are all on the edges of your seats wanting to know how many different kinds of birds Tara Holt has spotted.

By the way, THIS is what the view of the Bubbles was like on a less foggy day 10 years ago when we went to Maine the FIRST time:

So so pretty.

And it was also there, at Jordan Pond ten years ago, with the Bubbles in the background, that I had my first taste of lobster.  And cried from the Lobster Guilt. 

It was AUGUST!  And I was FREEZING!  I love Maine.

I still have that crazy hat.

One more thing - here is someone's YouTube video so you can hear the Eastern Towhee singing "Drink your TEA."  Now, you will know who it is next time you hear it, and you can impress your friends!  Birdwatching is fun!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

All Kinds of Birds and Things!

One thing I miss is bird watching.  Anyone who used to read this blog way back in the day will remember my obsession with adding new birds to my list. It hardly ever happens now.


Our Maine trip presented both the TIME and the OPPORTUNITY for some quality bird watching, and I took advantage.  Right on our balcony, the owners of the house were nice enough to put a bird feeder for me to keep an eye on as I was knitting.  Our first visitor was this guy, below.  An Eastern Towhee, which I had heard before, but never seen.  Hello, Mister Towhee! 

His song is easy to distinguish - he says "Drink your TEA" over and over.

We were also visited often by American Goldfinches.  So pretty, especially the male (below), who is a lot brighter in color than the female.  

Downy woodpeckers frequented the feeder, sometimes trying to peck holes in the posts.  The daddy bird is the one with the red spot on his head.

This is Alvin.  He was very crafty, and would leap onto the feeder, hang upside down, and steal the bird seed.  There was also a Simon, who did the same thing.  I didn't see a Theodore.  But he may have been in the back yard eating blueberries.  Much easier than all that leaping and hanging and stealing.

Here is a nice chickadee in the tree by the house.  I like chickadees so I took his picture.  There were a couple of hummingbirds, too, but they were too quick for my shutter-finger.

In Acadia, we heard Hermit Thrushes, but didn't see any.  We knew it from its song, only because Daphne has a stuffed hermit thrush that sings the exact same song.  I could take a picture of it (the toy) and add it here, but that is sort of cheating.  We also heard barred owls outside our windows one night.  "Who Cooks for YOUUUUUU?" 

We saw a variety of water birds on the trip.  Ducks and gulls and things.  A possible merganser, but we were too far away to know for sure.  This is a cormorant drying his wings. Or practicing his Karate Kid moves.  You decide.

AND HERE IS A LOON!!!!!!!!!  I love loons.  They are crazy.  My absolute favorite non-owl bird.

Birds (and chipmunks) were not the only critters we saw on the trip.  When we were sailing, we saw porpoises and these harbor seals:

And driving around town, we saw Belted Galloway cows.  They all look like this, with white stripes around their middles.  Cows are awesome.

Wildlife was not limited to Maine.  We saw a fox in New York, and this toad, who lives on Kev's parents' back porch.

And in Massachusetts, we saw a pair of pileated woodpeckers.

At some point, we saw a turkey, but I can't remember where we were.  So much wildlife! I can't keep track!

Finally, there was THIS guy:

Um...yeah.  He was part of the decor in our vacation house.  Creepy, huh?  Not a fan of taxidermy. 

I really should get back to paying attention to birds.  I think I will get some seeds and fill our feeders when it stops being too hot to leave the house.

I should mention that while Kev and I were off enjoying the Mid-Coast of Maine, Daphne was having the time of her life with her aunt, uncle, and cousins in Massachusetts.  She got to do ALL kinds of cool stuff.  Every day when I called, she said it was the Best Day Ever.  I'm pretty sure she didn't miss us at all.  We missed her, though, and by the time it was time to go pick her up, I couldn't get there fast enough.

Special thanks to D, P, R, and K for showing her an awesome time and letting us get a little much-needed break.  Daphne had a blast.  We are happy to return the favor any time. 

That about sums up the trip, I guess.  It was pretty amazing.  Great food, great activities, birds, knitting, and quality Kev-time.  Can't ask for much more than that.  I hope it isn't another whole 10 years before we can do it again.

Scenes from our quick stop in NY and our visitors from Texas coming soon.  They brought us the coolest-shaped gift ever, so stay tuned for that. 

Maine Dish

I used to say that you could get the best food in the country in New Orleans, but after this trip, I think Maine is making it a pretty close race.  IF you like lobster, that is.  Last time I was in Maine, ten years ago, I had never had lobster.  I tried it while I was there, but the experience was marred by Lobster Guilt.  It was hard for me then to get over the cruel cruel ending to a lobster's life.  Traps, boiling water...just too much sadness for me.  It made me cry.

Guess what.  I got over it.  Mind over matter.

During our seven days in Maine, I had lobster six times.  And loved every single bite.  With nary a tear or sniffle.

Behold, the Lobster Roll!

This was my first and best meal in Maine.  You cannot improve upon a simple toasted hot dog bun filled up with fresh lobster meat with some butter for dipping (or pouring on).  Truly the best lunch I have ever had.  I got this at the Kennebunk Inn, by the way.  In Kennebunk.  Go there if you can.

Maine is also famous for blueberries.  The owners of our vacation house left us some bread and blueberry jam, so that is what I had for breakfast most mornings.  For some reason, they left us blueberry jam from France (?!).  But it still tasted great.  On our last day, we discovered that the back yard behind the house was covered with wild blueberries.  We picked as many as we could, and brought them home.  I had some on my cereal today.  Maine is still with me.  That makes me happy.

My second lobster dinner was this Lobster Mac and Cheese at Cappy's in Camden.  It tasted just as good as it looks.  Holy Cow.  I sadly couldn't finish it.

On the third day, we went to a lobster shack on a little beach in Lincolnville.  Kev got a lobster roll, but I tried the stew.  Which was really just some lobster meat in a cream broth.  It was good, not the best ever.  But sitting with Kev on the beach in Maine, on a foggy drizzly day, eating lobster stew from a shack is an experience I will never forget.

I  was wearing a jacket!  Because I was cold!  In July!  I love Maine.

On Day Four, we drove up to Acadia National Park for a hike up the Beehive.  When we finished, we went into Bar Harbor for lunch, and got Lobster Biscuits (above) and Lobster Bisque (below).  Yum.

And just for fun, we threw in some crab stuffed mushrooms (below), which were delicious.  Gotta give the other sea creatures a chance too, you know.

Day five - dinner back in Camden at the Waterfront.  I had sauteed lobster served on ciabatta bread with arugula and boursin cheese.  Again, yum.  You wouldn't think lobster and cheese could work, but it DOES.  I didn't finish this either.  Because I wanted to save room for blueberry cobbler.  There is no picture of the cobbler.  But trust me, it was good.

Day six, and I needed a little break from lobster.  So I had shrimp bisque.  Good stuff.  And the corn bread was good too.  It had black pepper on top, which was unexpected and interesting.  Also from a little shack, this one in Rockland.  Kev had a lobster sandwich and loved it.  The mom and dad work in the shack, and the son is a lobster man.  So this stuff is about as fresh as you can get.

On our last night in Maine, we went for a sail around Camden, and then for dinner at Atlantica, right on the harbor.  We sat on the deck and watched the boats while eating this food:

Mine was lobster and gnocchi in a lobstery sauce. It was so good that I even ate the peas.  I hate peas! Kev's was just a simple buttery lobster on a plate. I tried it.  It was amazing.  And then there was more cobbler.  A great way to end our trip.

Yesterday at Wegmans, I stopped by to look longingly at the live lobsters in the tank there. Daphne really wants to try it.  Perhaps we can have Maine Day sometime soon.  I might even make cobbler!

Monday, July 15, 2013


Maine is a happy place in the summer time.  The tourists are happy because they are on vacation, relaxing, eating great food,  and in general probably not as hot as they'd be at home, wherever that is.  The Maine people are just happy because it isn't winter.

Kev and I are very lucky because we got to spend last week in Maine to celebrate our tenth anniversary.  We ate a lot of lobster, which deserves its own post.

There were tons of birds and wildlife, which also deserves its own post.

 We played music.  We played cribbage.  We read books.  A knitting project was started.

We saw lots and lots of boats.

We climbed a mountain in the fog.

We saw lighthouses.

A knitting project was finished!

Wild blueberries were picked.

And we sailed off into the sunset.

Food and wildlife coming soon, and some general catching up.  I hope your summer is good. 

Reality calls. And by that I mean the dryer is buzzing.  Wish I was on that sailboat right now...