A surprise snow, a photo shoot, a little reading and some tv, a yummy cake, colorful candles, and pops of orange all brighten a winter week in Maine.
Hello from Maine!
I want to start today by thanking you for your response to last week’s post Let’s Get This New Year Started! I loved hearing about your exercise goals, your grandchildren and great grandchildren, plans for 2023, and how you get through this quiet winter season. Each one of your comments brightened my day!
How was your second week of 2023?! Mine started out super busy but calmed down towards the end.
Join me for a little recap of this past week, which was a wonderful mix of the ordinary and extraordinary!
A Surprise Snow
I have settled into a weekly routine of working on my blog post on Thursday and Friday, then “publishing” it on Saturday morning. As I was starting to finish things up last Friday afternoon, it started to snow. I snapped a few pics as the snow fell, which I included in last week’s post.
It continued to snow through Friday evening and into the night. I woke up on Saturday morning with anticipation, sat up in bed to look out the window, and was greeted by a winter wonderland! People think we get a lot of snow here in Maine. I actually thought that before I moved here. And it is true for some parts of the state. But here on the coast, and particularly on this peninsula, we have our own microclimate. Water surrounds us on three sides and that really affects the weather. In the winter when the ocean is “warm” (mid 30’s to mid 40’s), we have warmer temps. In the summer, when the ocean is cooler than the air, we are correspondingly cooler. Spring is cold because the ocean has not yet warmed up. Conversely, fall is warmer because the ocean has not cooled.
All this is to say that I am always thrilled when it snows here! And Friday’s snow was a particularly beautiful one. A mantle of white covered trees, bushes, and the ground. I jumped out of bed on Saturday morning, pulled on my boots and a jacket, and headed out with Maddie and Cisco to take it all in and snap a few pics. It was absolutely glorious, but within an hour the snow had melted off the trees and the skies had turned gray. I am so glad I didn’t miss it!
Better Homes and Gardens Photo Shoot
As I shared last week, Better Homes and Gardens came on Tuesday to shoot my holiday decor for next season’s Cottage Style Christmas magazine. I worked all weekend and Monday, tweaking decor, cleaning, washing slipcovers and bedding, ironing, baking, and wrapping fake presents, so that everything would be photo-ready on Tuesday. Monday night I was so tired I could barely walk upstairs to bed! And then I was was up before dawn on Tuesday to shower and take care of final prep.
For a photo shoot like this, the editor will put together a “photo instructions” document that lists all the different shots with sample pictures pulled from my Instagram feed. This was helpful for me, because I knew which spaces to get ready. There were 8 areas on the list, some requiring multiple shots, plus two extra “if time allows”. For example, they wanted an overall picture of the tree, then a closeup of the ornaments and a detail of the wrapped packages.
Dealing with the sun
The photographer and stylist were pros! It was a beautiful sunny day, but surprisingly not good for a shoot like this one. The poor photographer spent the day battling with shadows, bright patches of sunshine, and windy conditions. He pulled out an arsenal of tools — large light filtering “silks” and black shades to block light and dim reflections. It was fun to see my home through professionals’ eyes!
What an experience!
Because Cottage Style Christmas focuses specifically on holiday decor, there will be no water views, but both Maddie and Cisco might be featured. And me too, which was totally awkward. I definitely won’t be stepping out from behind the camera for a career in modeling!
All-in-all it was an amazing experience! You will be able to purchase the magazine in November. I am ready now to move forward with 2023!
My New Favorite Accent Color
Moving forward means that it is time to put away the Christmas decor. Time to untie all those little blue velvet bows on my pinecone tree. Time to replace the basket, greenery, and pinecones on the living room mantel with a new winter display. I can’t wait to share that with you soon! Stockings, garlands, and small trees will go.
But some things will stay, transitioning smoothly to winter. I am still enjoying the addition of green in the living room. And the pops of orange in the dining room aren’t going anywhere. In fact, I am calling orange my new favorite accent color! It felt festive for the holidays and now continues to brighten and warm the home on these short winter days.
So I will be keeping the bowls of oranges. The blue and orange blockprint tablecloth from Etsy will continue to grace the table into February. I will share more about the fun orange taper candles when I take you on a little outing later in this post!
A Yummy Cake
I love to cook and I love a theme, so when I saw this Blood Orange Rosemary Olive Oil Cake in the February issue of Bon Appétit magazine, I knew I had to make it! I thought it would be perfect for styling in the photo shoot! That it was, but it also tasted fabulous! The cake itself was not too sweet with its savory hints of rosemary and olive oil. The oranges on top added a fresh tang. But it was the orange caramel sauce drizzled over the cake that really brought it all together. So good! Our store had no blood oranges, so I substituted Caracara oranges, as the recipe suggested. The cake was quite a bit of work, but it was delicious and would make a great presentation for a special event!
What I’m Reading and Watching
On the Kindle
I have gotten in the habit of reading in bed every night before I turn out the lights. Sometimes I stay up too late reading, and sometimes I can barely keep my eyes open to get through a page. But it settles me before I go to sleep. I received a Kindle as a gift for Christmas. I do love a real book, but we have limited access to book stores here and Amazon can take a week to deliver. Sometimes I want a new read right away!
The first book I downloaded was The Guest Book by Sarah Blake. It is the story of three generations of a powerful American family. I am about 1/4 of the way through and am enjoying it. It has love, conflict, secrets, and tragedy. But I have to say the parts I am loving most are the descriptions of the summer home the family owns on an island in Maine. The author perfectly captures the magic and beauty of this special place I now call home.
I can spend a fair amount of time in the car. The grocery store is a 25-minute drive. Portland is almost two hours. Sometimes it is nice to have an audio book to listen to. Right now I am enjoying Michelle Obama’s latest book, The Light We Carry: Overcoming in Uncertain Times. I like the audio version of books like this, because the author is the narrator. So it feels like Michelle Obama is speaking directly to me. In this book she offers strategies and tools for finding balance and hope in a world in which both of these are often elusive.
I find Michelle Obama down-to-earth and relatable. I think we can all take something away from the practical and thoughtful advice she offers in this book. So far, the idea that has left the greatest impression on me is that of greeting others and even ourselves with joy. Michelle tells the story of a friend of hers who each morning looks at himself in the mirror and says out loud with warmth and enthusiasm “Hey, buddy!” What a great way to start the day! She also shares the statistic that if school children are greeted individually by their teacher each morning they are 20% more invested in learning and less likely to act out in class. I am certainly trying to greet others and myself with more joy!
Most nights I settle into our cozy den for some tv time. Maddie, Cisco, and our boy kitty Tuck join me on the couch. This week I have been watching the third season of The Lost Kitchen. I watch it on Discovery Plus, but there are other viewing options, depending on what subscriptions you have.
For those who don’t know, The Lost Kitchen is a restaurant owned and operated by Erin French in the tiny town of Freedom, Maine. It has become world famous and virtually impossible to get a reservation at. The restaurant is only open seasonally and each spring there is a lottery drawing for reservations. You must send in a postcard to enter. Good luck being one chosen out of the over 20,000 cards they receive! I have never eaten there, but a friend and I did stop and snap a couple picks when we happened to drive by last March.
Erin’s personal story is one of triumph over adversity through hard work, perseverance, and family. You can read it in her book Finding Freedom: A Cook’s Story; Remaking a Life from Scratch. (I listened to this on audiobook too.) Each episode of the tv series follows the planning and preparation for a night at the restaurant. As someone who loves to cook, I enjoy this peek behind the scenes. But again, what I love most about the series is how it captures the feel of life here in Maine through the seasons. Erin is all about local and seasonal ingredients. It is fun to go along with her as she visits local farms, markets, and small businesses. I highly recommend!
You can learn more about The Lost Kitchen on their website.
In fact, the Lost Kitchen tv series inspired me to make an outing this week to a unique local business! I have been asked a few times about the source for the colorful taper candles I use. They are actually made by Danica Design Candles nearby in Rockport, Maine. Their candles are hand-dipped using old world techniques and come in a rainbow of around 40 colors! I picked up my orange tapers when I was there this week, but you can order online here!
Phew! That was a lot for just one week!
I have plans to go to an antiques show on Sunday. And Monday there is a special fundraiser for the local food pantry I am involved with. I would love to share those two events with you next week! I will also have my winter mantel and a cozy Stonewall Kitchen soup dinner ready to share with you soon!
Until then, take care!
Thank you for stopping by! If I were actually seeing you in person, I would look you in the eye, give you a big smile, and say “Hey, buddy!”.