Thursday, December 15, 2011

Holiday Tipping

Today is trash day in Kennebunkport and it is entirely possible that some of you all are totally on top of your holiday tipping, making this message a few hours too late. But for those of you more like me - those that still struggle with how exactly you tip a garbageman who arrives after you leave for work, without actually leaving his tip IN the garbage - you might be interested in this bit of guidance.

According to an announcement on the town site, residents are advised to not give any booze to the Oceanside Rubbish employees. Apparently it is illegal for the drivers to have it in their vehicles, even if unopened.

No word on if this rule also applies to our Rural Route Carriers... but I always steer away from giving alcohol to near-strangers anyway. What if they're sober?

So I'm thinking, maybe an Alisson's gift card?

Tell me, what do you all give to your mail lady, yard boy, trash men, etc.? Follow up question, with no snow to date... do I still tip my plow guy? A preemptive thank you?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


When it came time to buy this year's Christmas wreath - also known as the saving grace to the increasingly unkempt outside appearance of my barn - I skipped my usual trip to Home Depot and decided to buy local. After several compliments on the 36-incher I found Patten's Berry Farm, I headed back down to the small shop for my tree. And once that tree was in place and almost entirely decorated, I headed back downtown to shop locally for a tree-topper.

In all my years of living outside my family's home, and buying my own Christmas tree, I have never had a real tree-topper. When I lived in Vermont, my roommate Erin usually folded an overly large crane, and stuck that up near the top. When I moved back to Maine, I simply skipped it altogether. A lot of Christmas decorations are pretty hokey and I've just never found a tree-topper that I liked.

Until this year I remembered that I had seen buckets of starfish at everyone's favorite downtown gift shop, The Best of Everything. And what better way to nod to the tradition of a tree-top star, while also celebrating living on the ocean?

I fought the Christmas Prelude crowds, grabbed a starfish for a whopping $1, and using some floral wire leftover from my Pippi Longstocking Halloween costume, I did it up barn style.

Oh heee-ey! Check it ouuuuutttt!

(Please ignore the falling ceiling behind the Christmas tree.)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Baby, I'm a firework!

Dear Kennebunkport,

The Board of Selectmen will be hosting a Public Forum this Thursday Dec. 8, 7 PM at the Village Fire Station to discuss possible town regulation and ordinance as it pertains to the legalization of sale and use of consumer fireworks here in the state of Maine.

If you are strongly in favor of adding some pyrotechnics to next summer's parties, you may want to be there. If you are opposed to your crazy neighbors doing just that, you also may want to be there.

And please feel free to fill me in on what happens! I'll be heading up to Portland to teach a dance class and unable to attend.

Remember, this meeting is merely a place to voice opinions. The town has not proposed any restrictions or prohibition at this time.

Official notice of the Public Forum can be found here.



Tuesday, December 6, 2011


Ever since moving to Kennebunkport full time, I have faced a bit of trouble getting people to visit. It's a problem I have a hard time understanding, considering that I am offering free lodging in a premier vacation location, but hey. My high school friends are city kids. And Kennebunkport is no city.

So I decided to try a different tactic, skipping the usual 'come lie on the beach with me' summer invite, to instead invite them to this year’s Christmas Prelude, the annual celebration that earned Kennebunkport the title of #2 Christmas town in America by HGTV.

(Don't ask me who #1 is. We don't speak of that here.)

The result? My absolute favorite of my 16 Christmas Preludes to date. And so, following in my mother's tradition of making detailed notes after each party/gathering, I am sharing some tips to make Prelude Weekend #2, next year's Prelude, and all of your future Preludes, just as successful.

Don’t be afraid to skip the tree lighting on Weekend #1. My friends arrived in town just a few minutes too late to head downtown, which was fine with me as I was still baiting barn mice and in no mood to fight Dock Square traffic. Instead, I plan to attend the tree lighting for Prelude Weekend #2. Anticlimactic? Sure. Probably less crowded? I’m going to go with yes. Also, this year the Prelude Weekend #2 kickoff will include fireworks by New Hampshire’s Atlas Pyrotechnics to celebrate the event’s 30th anniversary. Atlas are the same guys that do the Phil Matthews Lobster Bake every year, so I can say from my own experience that they put on an amazing display. Watch from the bridge, behind Alisson’s, or on the Best of Everything lawn.

A lot of the chowder in this town is comparable. Actually, to be totally truthful, a lot of the chowder in this town comes from the same food distributor. Rather than buying a bowl at 'sit down' price, I picked up bulk containers at Port Lobster early in the day and prepared it on my own stove at home later for my guests. The ladies at Port Lobster are super friendly, and also incredibly generous with oyster crackers.

Watch out for Prelude. Beer, that is. Each year around this time Shipyard releases its popular seasonal brew, Prelude. And each year unsuspecting visitors drink without realizing the punch that it packs. From what I remember, last year’s Prelude ABV hovered around 6.8%. This year the Prelude on tap at our local brewpub, Federal Jacks, clocks in at 7.1%. You might want to cab-it home.

Speaking of cabs, don’t forget that our town only has one. And please also remember that if you live anywhere outside a two-mile radius of the bar, you will be heckled for monopolizing said cab. (To which I say, if you live inside a two-mile radius of the bar, WALK!)

Don’t be ashamed to check out the craft fairs. Does it sound like something your grandma would do? Yes. Is it actually something that all the cool kids are doing? Yes. It’s hip to support your local artisans, and also the organizations hosting them. Which brings me to my next point.

Buy local! While I didn’t do much holiday shopping this year, I did opt to skip Home Depot and instead pick up my barn door wreath at Patten’s Berry Farm. Prelude may be a Christmas celebration at the surface, but it is also a way to extend our tourism season and thank our local merchants with one last hurrah before many shut down or switch to shortened hours for the winter. Help them pay their heating bills with some local support.

Check out the historic trolley ride at the Seashore Trolley Museum. While much of Prelude centers around Dock Square and Lower Village, the Trolley Museum is just a short drive up Log Cabin Road. It is far enough out of the way that there is no crowd and lots of available parking, but what it lacks in people it makes up for in holiday spirit. The trolleys are decorated with fresh wreaths and there is plenty of hot chocolate (with both marshmallows and whipped cream!). Plus, if you're lucky enough to get the same museum volunteer that we did, you will be treated to a rendition of the Christmas story involving Kennebunkport history, trolley trivia, and some (humorous?) nods to modern travel regulation.

Visit the Cape Porpoise pier. Goat Island Lightstation is literally my favorite place in the entire world and to be perfectly honest, I did spend a good chunk of my Prelude out on the island. The lighthouse is currently undergoing a restoration to the 1950’s era, with much of the exterior work now complete. In keeping with the retro theme, the island is currently decorated with large, colored Christmas lights, easily visible from Cape Porpoise. Drive down after 6 PM for the full display.

Speaking of which, drive slowly. Is it frustrating that after three months of relative freedom the port is again packed with confused out of state drivers? Sure. But try not to rush around a curve so fast you slam into the back of Rockin' Horse Stables' horse drawn wagon. Remember, Prelude brings a whole slew of road obstacles, including my ever favorite noncommittal pedestrians who just can't decide if they want to cross that crosswalk.

If you visit the Franciscan Monastery for the annual carol sing, definitely accept the chestnuts you are offered on the way in - if only to say that you once literally ate chestnuts roasting on an open fire while singing Christmas carols. Also, they're delicious. And BYO-votive, and glass. After 12 years of dealing with wind blowing out our standard-issue candles, my family finally got smart.

Carols too tame for you? Don't worry. Karaoke prevails for the Prelude night crowd. Weekend #1 highlight was definitely a Saturday night trip to the all out sing along that is Christmas karaoke at Alisson's. I loved walking into a bar where everyone present had a red solo cup in hand and was belting out "Sweet Caroline". Boston North? Yeah, that's us.

Cap off your weekend with an all you can eat brunch back at Federal Jack's. Maybe it is because my friends and I always make it on the early side, but I honestly have no idea why there is never a longer wait for this brunch. For $10 you can get full access to a hot food bar including eggs, bacon, sausage, biscuits and gravy, homefries, hash, waffles, pancakes, crepes, and pastries. Plus there is an omelete / benedict station, weekly special, and coffee is included. Pay a visit to the friendly bartender to buy your Allen's seperately. And please tip him well. He's my baby brother.

The result of the above formula? My high school friends had so much fun that they are already planning their next trip back. Even with all the barn mice.

See you all out in the Port this weekend?

zombie blogging!

I realize that, at least as far as statistics go, this blog could now be considered dead. And unfortunately my only excuse for not writing more regularly is that I totally sold out. That is to say, part of my twice monthly paycheck now depends on me blogging (and developing other social media content) for a business. The unfortunate side effect of which is that when I get home, I'm less likely to blog for myself. Just living the corporate dream, kids.

In any case, a challenge from twitter has convinced me to undead this blog. Enjoy.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Thank you, Kennebunkport!

A very belated thank you to all who came to Town Meeting and helped us to approve the budget needed to continue to fight the Goose Rocks lawsuit.

But to everyone between the ages of 18 and 35 - all of you who did not attend (and that is all of you) - seriously? I really don't ask that much.

Now that we can celebrate another summer of public access, let's all watch some fireworks!

The annual Kennebunk Beach fireworks display will be held Monday July 4 at dusk, with Tuesday as the rain date. I happened to be in York Beach last night for some freshly made taffy and skee ball (what? who am I?) and saw that their fireworks are on Sunday July 3. So if you'd like to make it a one-two punch weekend, give me a call.

Also worth noting is that this morning, everyone's favorite Governor Paul Lepage signed legislation that will allow sale and use of fireworks in the state of Maine as of January 1, 2012. This is one decision you would likely assume I would get behind but I have to ask... where is the fun in that? Isn't part of the thrill of fireworks that you have to drive to Hampton Beach to buy them, and sneak them back across the border in the trunk of your car?

If you kids are going to have it that easy with the explosives, you could at least come out and use your vote. I mean, seriously.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Save Goose Rocks Beach!

There is a Kennebunkport Town Meeting tomorrow and you kids better remember to set your alarms cause it's gonna be a biggin.

In case you are from out of town, or in case you live in town... but under a rock, last year a group of waterfront homeowners at Kennebunkport's Goose Rocks Beach brought a lawsuit against the town seeking to privatize the beach. If the suit wins, the homeowners (who claim their land ownership extends to the water line) would prevent public access to all but 6% of the 3 mile strand.

That means that my parents, who own a home at Goose Rocks, but not on the water, could not go sit on the beach. That means that little ol' me, who pays my taxes and lives a mere three miles from shore, could not go sit on the beach. That means that all those residents who live off renting their houses out for the summer would have to add a caveat to their real estate ads letting visitors know that the beach across the street can be looked at... but never touched.

Crazy, right?

I might feel differently about the situation if Goose Rocks was a constant party. But the beach is so tame that we boycotted it as teenagers. After all, when you're sixteen years old, tame means lame, and guess what, you have a license and can go to the beach five miles away where the cute local surfer boys hang.

With the beach's current level of activity and already limited access (i.e. parking), I maintain that the suit is crazy.

By now you may have noticed the signs all over Kennebunkport asking you to help Save Goose Rocks. If you saw one in front of a barn, well hello! You now know where I live.

The signs are out to advertise tomorrow's Town Meeting where we will vote to approve additional tax dollars to be spent fighting this suit. Because the craziest part of all is that these stubborn waterfront homeowners seem to have endless funds.

If you think you can afford an extra... fourteen? I think? Dollars per $100,000 of your property value per year to help save this beach, please come to the meeting. Better yet, if you rent, come use your resident vote at no cost to yourself! Golden.

But if you do come, come informed. Here are some resources for you to check out.
(If you find a resource from the other side, I'd love to see it!)

A grassroots group called Save Our Beaches emerged after the initial suit.

The town itself has also started a website called Preserve Goose Rocks Beach.

Official notice of this year's Town Meeting can be viewed here.

Last year over 600 people attended the Town Meeting concerning the Goose Rocks issue, with cars parked a good quarter mile in each direction. If you're like me, you know there is nothing quite like the adrenaline rush of knowing your vote counted. And the great thing about a Town Meeting is that, unlike with an anonymous ballot, you can literally see your vote get counted.

So like I said, set your alarms.

The meeting starts at 9 at Consolidated and you're gonna want a good seat.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Oh, those small communities...

I love living in a small town. I love that every trip to the grocery store is a social neighborhood gathering. I love that people know who I'm dating before I do. I even love that half the town not only notices, but feels the need to remind me each time I am behind in mowing my lawn.

But most of all I love our small town politics.

Which is why I've decided to rededicate a good portion of this blog space to the political going ons of Kennebunk, Kennebunkport, and Arundel.

While this decision was partially driven by my constant desire to nerd-out to community television broadcasts of planning board meetings, it was also largely decided by two recent, embarrassing, political faux-pas.

The first happened during this past year's Maine gubernatorial election. For weeks I kept reminding myself to read up on the candidates. And for weeks... I did not. Then, Election Day arrived, I didn't know anything, and rather than abstaining from the vote, I essentially tossed a coin between the Democrat and the Independent, a decision that still gives me a stomach ache.

More recently, I stopped by the North Street Fire station on the way home from work to give my approval for the new school budget. It wasn't until I was there, however, that I remembered the day's vote also included the district's recently proposed new cost sharing strategy. The cost sharing strategy I had covered extensively for the Kennebunk Post before securing my new (non-journalism related) job.

Guess who hadn't read up on the proposed final strategy?

I figured that making no decision at all was slightly less offensive than making an uninformed one. And so I left that particular vote blank. (And likely turned a deep shade of red as I slid the obviously incomplete ballot into the return machine).

The especially embarrassing part of each faux-pas is that in my previous life, I was extremely politically motivated. I worked for a campaign! I marched on Washington! I met Cindy Sheehan and Howard Zinn! I even went into debt to produce a politically-motivated compilation CD!

But now... I can't read up on who is running for governor? Pathetic.

I plan to use this space to keep me involved, and hopefully get you all involved. It's easy at my age to dismiss certain votes, and I know that my friends do the same. After all, why should we care what the cost sharing strategy is, anyway? We don't have kids in the district!

But the fact is... we will someday. And the advantage of following politics in such a small town is not limited to the inherent entertainment value. There's also the fact that you can truly feel like your vote counted.

While I'm still a liberal girl at heart, I do want to assure you that me writing about politics will not be left-wing ranting and propaganda. If you makes you feel any better, I was recently confused for a Republican at the bar due to my position on unemployment.

I just laughed. While the nineteen year old girl inside of me cried.

I really just want to make what happens in our town more accessible to my friends.

And maybe, some of you?

Check back soon. There's a Town Meeting this Saturday and you all need to be there.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Family Dinner Series Week Sixteen

Remember when I planned that whole homemade Italian feast for Family Dinner Series Week Fifteen, only to suddenly remember it was Mardi Gras?

Well, I certainly wasn't going to waste all of my planning efforts!

Instead, I moved the project to Family Dinner Series Week Sixteen, wherein my house, clothes, and hair, all smelled of onion and garlic for a week and a half.

Preparation for the Tuesday night feast started Monday evening around 5:20 when I hit Hannaford on my way home from the office. One of the harder parts of Family Dinner is that before its existence, Uncle Bud and I didn't cook. Like... at all. That means that each week, not only do I have to shop for the meal's main ingredients, but also the supplementary ingredients that most households keep on stock in their cupboards. Things like sage, and thyme, and even tomato paste!

I really can't wait for the day that all this early investment pays off and I find myself with a full spice rack. Because according to everyone's favorite budget watch at, the Hannaford "slice" is overpowering my "pie."

By the time Uncle Bud rolled in I had ingredients spread over the better part of the kitchen counter AND table. I even had my rubber gloves in place, ready to tackle the ever-intimidating ground meat. With an RSVP list of six, I had bought two packages, not realizing that the amount would yield me approximately 745 turkey meatballs.

"When I'm done, do you want to grab a drink at the Restaurant?" I asked Bud. He agreed, before shuffling off into his room for a post-work nap.


And despite the absurd hour, and the delicious aroma of simmering sauce, I really needed to get out of the kitchen. I woke Bud up from his "nap", and downtown we went. Where I provided the few lingering Restaurant go-ers with wafts of Italian cooking, seeping out of my every pore.

Luckily the hard work paid off, and the next night's meal was a success, despite the few stems cooked into the meatballs.

Hey! I never learned how to chop fresh spices!

Our guests were all good friends making repeat visits to the meal, and very forgiving of my red-rimmed tired eyes. Adam and Frazz arrived with a bottle of wine, and Fitzy brought his new lady friend, and a German chocolate cake, which spurred a lively discussion of combating pasteries.

And there were enough extra meatballs for both leftovers... and frozen leftovers.

Conclusion? When new to the kitchen, ignore both the "prep time" and "number served" in any recipe. Instead, round up. To the nearest 10.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Graduate

Greg Johnson, a 1973 graduate of Kennebunk High School and successful film producer, recently sat down to talk with me about his latest release, "The Music Never Stopped".

Ok, so we didn't actually sit down together. After all, Greg works in Southern Connecticut, and I work in Southern Maine. And we both work! A lot, it would seem. Every time one of us had a free moment for a phone conversation, the other was busy.

But two weeks of emails eventually lead to a call, which lead to an interview, and finally, an article in our favorite Coast Star.

Kennebunk grad takes on film industry - 3/31/11

Who wants to join me at the movies?

Monday, April 4, 2011

Family Dinner Series Week Fifteen

It wasn't until I had already planned a complete menu of pasta, turkey meatballs, and homemade marinara sauce that I realized Family Dinner Series Week Fifteen was set to fall on Mardi Gras. Never one to turn down a theme, I scrapped the Italian and logged online in search of some Cajun inspiration.

My own Mardi Gras experiences have all been set in Burlington, Vermont... where Church Street takes the place of the famous French Quarter, and authentic Louisiana cuisine is replaced with company sponsored Jell-O shots. Luckily I was able to find a jambalaya recipe that I could handle. Luckier still, I already had the most delicious white bean salad recipe on hand, and according to Google, white beans are part of Mardi Gras!

Our guests for the evening were two of Uncle Bud and Gilbert Hoss's buddies home from college for Spring break. Spring break! That brought the median age of our event down to about 22.

With those two contributing "holiday" factors, you would think the evening would have been a little more wild.

"I've got the food, you bring the bourbon," I had told the boys. Instead they brought beers, and waited until I retreated to our town's Trivia Night to have their real fun.

Luckily, we did have beads.

And... as previously mentioned, the best white bean salad ever!

1 can white beans
1 avocado, chunked
red onion, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
fresh basil, chopped

Dressing: 2 parts lemon juice, 1 part olive oil seasoned with salt and pepper

You may need to double the recipe, or even triple it depending on the number of strapping young men you are feeding, and the amount of spice you need to counteract in your main dish jambalaya.

Especially if you are Irish, and not really accustomed to spicing jambalaya.

Conclusion? Sometimes a little spice is nice, but not every Mardi has to party.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Tinker Times

When my editor contacted me to let me know she wanted me to do a story that involved interviewing an Irish playwright, I could not help but get excited. After all, my name is Bridget. I am Irish Step Dancing instructor. And I love Irish storylines, with their extreme sense of both family and celebration.

Bring a play to life: Maine Playwright Series to be staged at Rivertree Arts - 3/17/11

While the article does not actually center entirely around that one playwright, it did ironically run on Saint Patrick's Day! Check it out!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Family Dinner Series Week Fourteen

After taking several weeks off from Family Dinner, Uncle Bud, Gilbert Hoss and I were more than ready to get back in the game. We decided to invite Dalton, a favorite restaurant coworker of the boys. Since everyone at the Restaurant is well aware of Family Dinner, we figured Dalton would be honored at the invite. And so I decided to ask him myself.

The next time Uncle Bud and I found ourselves at the Restaurant, Dalton found me in a booth, dancing to Ke$ha.

"Hey! Do you want to come to Family Dinner sometime?" I asked between his eye rolls and my own dramatic dance moves.

"Not if you're going to play THIS music!" He said, and promptly walked away.

Apparently he didn't realize I was serious.

Luckily, Kennebunkport is a small town, and word of my post-Ke$ha sulk-fest soon reached Dalton. The next week at the Restaurant he approached my booth with a changed tune.

"Bridget, can you ask me to Family Dinner again?" he asked.

"Dalton, it would make me and Uncle Bud so happy if you, your wife, and your lovely son would join us for Family Dinner," I told him.

"Well now that you've included my family, how can I refuse?"

And so we had three people, including our third Family Dinner guest under the age of four.

Of course we all know that the best Family Dinners usually border on having too many guests. So, we figured one more couldn't hurt. I had been meaning to invite my friend Sean over for the event for a while, and a night as epic as Week Fourteen seemed as good a time as any. Plus, he and Dalton are already friends. He's even referred to as "Uncle Sean" at the Dalton household.

So with a full guest list, I set to preparing.

I had the day off from work, which should have meant I started cooking early, but instead meant I had extra time to try and polish the barn. The meal got started on the late side as usual, but luckily, Gilbert Hoss had made a garlicky spinach artichoke dip to tide us all over.

Dalton had mentioned that his wife does not eat red meat but was quick to assure that she would be happy eating side dishes. I was quick to jump in that my favorite task is to serve Bud and Hoss meals they love that are red-meat free, and as a former vegetarian, I was more than up for the task. I prepared chicken baked with stuffing, roasted asparagus, and a cheesy corn casserole, with some chicken nuggets and carrot sticks for our table's junior member.

As for our guests, when Sean had asked what he and Dalton's family could contribute to the meal, I texted back, "Beer or wine would be great!"

"Who does she think I am, Nappi Distributors?" Dalton asked Sean.

Well, Dalton. I didn't before... but now I do.

Dalton showed up with his wife, son, a twelve pack of Bud Light, a bottle of wine, and a goody bag selection of five different 24 ounce beers. Sean also brought a bottle of wine. And I got trigger happy and of course opened both bottles, despite the plethora of beer, causing all the wine to eventually turn to vinegar before my little ol' self could finish it.

I still have so much to learn.

Dinner was full of home cooked goodness and fun conversation peppered by the certain wisdom only a three year old can bring. Uncle Bud shared his rule of no hats, no cell phones, and no bum shaking, and Dalton's son obliged by merely showing his bum, but not shaking it, in true rebel fashion.

When our pint-sized guest got frustrated a little later on in the meal, Dalton asked him if there was a problem.

"No problem!" he said. "No problems, no nothings!"

Then, after sucking down a quick dessert of chocolate milk, Dalton's kid was ready to hit the road. And the rest of us? Well, the abundant food and beverage left us without any room for dessert. Which was probably a good thing, as my sweet-avoiding self did not prepare one. As per usual.

Conclusion? No matter how many guests, only open one bottle of wine at a time.

Conclusion #2? Sometimes you can sneak some Ke$ha onto your Family Dinner mix CD and not only will Dalton not leave, he won't even notice.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Uncle Bud on German Chocolate Cake

"What makes it German?"

"This cake comes with a warning. Do not store next to crepes!"

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Family Dinner Series Week Thirteen

Family Dinner Series Week Thirteen happened so many weeks ago that I'm honestly having a hard time remembering it. The thing is, mine and Uncle Bud's sister had another baby girl. And as awesome and amazing as this newest little addition is, her birth and the resulting scheduling conflicts pretty much put family dinners at a stand still.

Until this past Tuesday. But... that's a whole other story.

Back when our weekly dinners were still regularly scheduled programming, our friend Fitzy presented us with a ham. A ham from a pig he raised himself. A pig that was raised on slop from buckets left in the kitchen of the restaurant where Uncle Bud, Gilbert Hoss, and Fitzy all work together. Slop likely produced from meals all four of us have enjoyed while sitting at the wooden bar of said restaurant.

When I prepared Fitzy's ham, with a little OJ and a little brown sugar, and we all sat down to eat it together, we finally realized the full circle that brought that ham to our table. And we all took a minute to glow in the wonder of our sustainable meal.

Just that one minute though. Think on that food cycle too hard and you can easily get grossed out by the many meals we somehow re-consumed.

I also served scalloped potatoes which were neither local, nor sustainable, but delicious just the same in all of their chain super market glory.

And of course we had salad. Also not local. But you know, it's Maine. In the winter. Locally grown salad supplies are hard to come by.

The gathering was pretty small and the meal was full of comfort food. The perfect note on which to start our month-plus break from family dinner time.

Which may be why we went oh-so-hard when we finally came back to play...

Conclusion? Thank you, residents of the Kennebunks, for all y'alls slop.

Friday, February 25, 2011

On the rocks

I am already excited for Maine Restaurant Week, so when my editor called to ask if I could write a sort of preview to the week's "Signature Event", I was immediately on board.

Blue Sky bartender Paul Russell to stir things up at statewide competition - 2/23/11

Drinks? Dessert? Let's go, kids!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Uncle Bud on teaching Elementary School

As a kick off to February vacation, Uncle Bud's class got treated to some screen time.

"OK, what do you think of these movies for school today? Hook, Newsies, Full Metal Jacket."

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Adventures in Car Shopping Vol. 7

Me: And now, first gear has stopped working completely, and if I come to a complete stop and forget to put the car in second before I slow down, it won't go into any gear. So I have to turn the car off, put it in gear, then turn it back on. Everyone thinks I'm flashing my brights at them!

Greg: Bridget. It's time.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Book Report

There was a time in the last year when I was dumped and feeling very sorry for myself. A friend, in a well-intentioned effort to make me feel better, said, "It's OK, Bridget. He reads books! Do you honestly want to date somebody who reads books?"

Um. Yes.

I mean, seriously, do you know me? I am a writer. That inherently makes me a reader. I grew up in a family that was read aloud to at the dinner table. I fall in a crowd of friends that spends one day of four-day ski weekends skiing, and three days curled up in front of the fire with a book. I am the new girl, at the new job, who doesn't make friends during lunch because I relish my full hour to curl up in the corner of the cafeteria and, you guessed it, read.

I am a (proud) book nerd.

Which is why it was so distressing to me to learn that bookstore chain Borders recently filed for Chapter 11.

I know, I know, I shouldn't be crying over the potential demise of a big box store. I mean, I've seen You've Got Mail and all. But there was a point in my life when I was working as a nanny in Burlington, Vermont and Borders was an almost daily stop for me.

They were within walking distance! Their bathrooms easily fit strollers! They had a children's section! And a wide variety of cheesy chick lit that I could read aloud to Baby in a sing song voice, him none the wiser!

Plus, the fall of such a giant makes me worried for our smaller independent stores. Which is why I am so grateful that my community's novice bookstore is hanging on, with the expertise of seasoned booksellers and the resources of its determined owner.

Community bookends: Bookstore keeps people connected - 2/17/11

Read all about it!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Uncle Bud on Working Two Jobs

"Work Monday day, work Monday night, sleep three hours. Work Tuesday day, work Tuesday night, sleep three hours. Work Wednesday day. Die."

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Adventures in Car Shopping Vol. 6

Dan: Bridget. Haven't you been driving this Volkswagen for about ten years now? I mean, I'm pretty sure I remember getting rides in this car when I was sixteen.

Me: Yeah, that sounds about right.

Dan: What I'm saying is, I think you've gotten your money's worth.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Family Dinner Series Week Twelve

Family Dinner Series Week Twelve was another epic night with multiple guests.

I mean, sure, Gilbert Hoss boycotted the event for reasons not worth discussing. And sure, I did have to leave him a voicemail explaining that messages left with Uncle Bud never make it to me, and if he plans to boycott again, please call me directly. Preferably before I pick up the "Family Size" package of chicken.

But even without him, our table was full.

My friend Jesse joined us again... again bringing a new wine to try. Also in attendance were Dan, Katherine, and lovely baby girl Hailey, for one last visit as a family of three before becoming a family of four.

Apparently I've only ever made eleven dinners successfully in my life because by Family Dinner Series Week Twelve I was completely out of ideas. So I did what anyone would do. I went to and I looked up "chicken".

Yeah. That results in about a million recipes. But I managed to choose one.

For appetizers we had hot pepper and cream cheese dip with crackers. For dinner, I made honey mustard chicken with bacon, roasted vegetables, and more clearance priced Stovetop stuffing.

The meal was a success. And Jesse bonded up right with Dan's adorable little family.

But with no one "Hoss-ing" me from across the table, something was missing.

Conclusion? Gilbert Hoss's absence may not have left a real hole in our menu, but it did leave a real hole in our Family Dinner shaped hearts.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Adventures in Car Shopping Vol. 5

Me: I actually want the 4-door model in manual transmission.

Salesman: And do you want a pink unicorn in the backseat?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Year of the Rabbit

When my editor contacted me last Friday afternoon and asked if I could complete a story on the Chinese New Year for Monday morning, I knew I was taking on a challenge. Weekends are tough. Language barriers are harder. And when time constraints force interviews to happen over the phone, or worse - email, my stories definitely lose something.

Family-style celebration: Today starts the Chinese New Year, Year of the Rabbit - 2/3/11

Thankfully, some of that New Year luck was in my corner, and a 400-word story quickly grew to 1000. Happy New Year, kids! Let's hope it is prosperous and healthy for all.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Monday, January 24, 2011

Adventures in Car Shopping Vol. 4

Salesman: What do you think of this color?

Me: The red?

Salesman: Yes.

Me: Oh, no. I have a red house. I can't have a red car.

Salesman: ......

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Adventures in Car Shopping Vol. 3

Greg: Hello?

Me: I'm calling you as I drive out of the Hyundai dealership!

Greg: Sweet! What are you driving?

Me: Oh, um. My Volkswagen.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Monday, January 17, 2011

Adventures in Car Shopping Vol. 2

Salesman: So, what do you currently drive?

Me: A 1998 Volkswagen Golf.

Salesman: Oh, great car, great car!

Me: Um.... OK.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Family Dinner Series Week Eleven

For Family Dinner Series Week Eleven, Uncle Bud and Gilbert Hoss invited one of their favorite coworkers, Fitzy, over for a feast. Though we all know Fitzy is a great guy, he still surprised us when he arrived with a ham steak as a hostess gift, the most important detail being that the ham steak came from one of his own pigs.

Kids, pay attention. THIS is how you get invited back to a second Family Dinner.

Uncle Bud had decided that he wanted to cook for the evening, a chicken recipe he learned from our older sister while paying a visit to her house. The rest of us watched in wonder as Bud expertly laid the chicken in the dish and coated it in catalina dressing and cranberry sauce.

But then things derailed when we realized no one had told Bud he was supposed to preheat the oven. How was he supposed to know? He had never used the oven before! Just the grill.

Luckily Family Dinner is anything but strict with a schedule.

As the oven preheated, and the chicken baked, I threw together some Stove Top stuffing and a side salad. Then we all snacked on Gilbert Hoss' most excellent focaccia with garlicky olive oil dip, while Fitzy regaled us with stories of raising livestock and shoeing horses.

How appropriate that we were already in a barn!

After dinner, we finally got around to doing our stocking gift exchange, which included puzzles, a fishing knife, and a bottle of pinot grigio. The best gift, however, was the one the boys bought for Kathy Lee, our feline in residence.

She played with it for the rest of the night.

Conclusion? Invite more people who raise livestock to acquire more meat.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Adventures in Car Shopping Vol. 1

Me: Ooooh, how great would it be if I got heated seats?

Coworker: Bridget. You want heated seats and crank windows? You may have to make some sacrifices.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Uncle Bud on Beer

"You really want me to buy you Bud Heavy? Why don't I get you some real beer?"

"What do you mean, real beer? Bud Heavy is the realest beer there is!"

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Taxes and Psychology

Sometimes I go away to remote ski condos and realize, wow, I am off the grid. How am I going to talk to the person I need to interview for this article?

Luckily, some people are so excited to be in the paper that they are more than understanding and flexible with their own schedules and against all odds, I turn in the article ahead of deadline.

Such was the case with local psychologist Amy Wood. I only wish I didn't work a half hour outside of town. Because her upcoming lunch series sounds like something I could really get into.

Kennebunk psychologist, author, offers fresh approach to success - 1/6/11

Some other times my car breaks down and I realize that somehow I am going to have to get to that school board meeting I agreed to cover three weeks ago, and the next thing I know, I am curled up in one of the town hall's comfy chairs, snacking on a bagel and reading a book for the hour and a half before the meeting starts because that's when my ride could get me there.

Luckily I'm reading a really good book.

Lucky also that I am genuinely interested in learning more about all of the upcoming RSU 21 related votes. I like being an informed taxpayer. And I like shooting the evil eye at the cynics in the crowd who scoff at upcoming expenses. FYI: don't sit next to me if you're going to "pffft!" every time someone talks numbers.

RSU 21 chairman urges towns to stay in district - 1/6/11

Of course, I am speaking as the daughter of two public school educators.

Cynic, your taxes have paid for my whole life. What do you have to say now?

Monday, January 10, 2011

Family Dinner Series Week Ten

Family Dinner Series Week Ten got off to an interesting start when Uncle Bud sent me a text message ten minutes before the end of my work day that read, "Call me ASAP".


Text messages like that make my heart race. Since I had just started my new job, I didn't really feel that I could excuse myself to call him right near closing time. I waited at my computer in a cold sweat until the clock struck 5, and then raced outside to find out if Bud had burned down the barn.

"What's up? What's going on?" I asked, panicked.

"Oh, Hoss and I are getting some french onion soup going," Bud said. "Are any of these pots OK to use?"


With the anxiety attack safely behind me, I drove home to get dinner started. While I had wanted to make bowtie pasta with sweet peas, salmon, and cream sauce, I knew the salmon wouldn't fly. Gilbert Hoss doesn't like seafood, Uncle Bud periodically chooses different fish to cop attitude about, and I didn't want to risk missing the protein mark with my new friend Jesse, our guest for the evening.

So I nixed the salmon and picked up some sausage.

The cream sauce was a little... stickier than I intended... but the boys convinced me to use it without additional doctoring (that's where I get in trouble) and sure enough, the dish panned out.

Thank you, Three Tomatoes restaurant of Burlington, Vermont for the recipe inspiration. Thank you, Gilbert Hoss, for again raising the appetizer bar with the aforementioned french onion soup. And thank you, Jesse, for furthering our wine education with the addition of Root: 1.

One of these days we'll get Uncle Bud to turn in his root beer for a wine glass.

Conclusion? If you can't get your boys to eat their vegetables, glue them to sausage with a cheesy cream sauce. Works like a charm.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Year of the Fish

One of the things I love about living in a small town is when I interview someone for the newspaper, and in the process discover about seventeen different ways that we are connected to each other. Conflict of interest is such a relative term.

I had a great time getting to know Holly C. Ross, the artist behind Fish House Designs. Her bright and cheerful paintings perfectly capture everything quaint that I so love about Kennebunkport.

Fish House Designs artist releases 2011 calendar - 12/30/10

And someday, she said, she would love to paint my barn!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Uncle Bud on Car Shopping

"I really like the shape of the Prius."


"Yeah, I mean, it doesn't really look like a sedan."

"You're right. It doesn't look like a sedan. It looks like a turd."