Last week was the second annual gathering of my family here in Maine. Here is my scrapbook remembrance of all that we did!
A Family Gathering in Maine
I have written previously about how my intention for our home here was for it to be a gathering spot for family and friends.
A place where people can relax, unwind, and spend time together.
Last year my two sisters, brother-in-law, dad and his friend came for a week long visit. This was the first time my family had vacationed together in years.
Last week they came again.
I am, of course, now assuming this will be an annual thing!
The weather wasn’t the best, but we still had plenty of fun. Before the fog settled in for the last several days, we went on a few outings. We cooked together, did a little shopping, watched some Wimbledon tennis, put a puzzle together, and just hung out.
Here are the details!
Welcome to Maine
I picked my sister Lissa, my dad, and his friend Norma up from the airport in Portland on Monday afternoon.
I wanted them to enjoy the Maine experience immediately upon arrival, so we went for a late lunch at Luke’s Lobster on the Portland Pier in downtown Portland. This is a beautiful big restaurant that has only been open a few years. If it hadn’t been rainy, we would have had a beautiful view of the working waterfront right outside the large windows.
You don’t have to come to Maine to enjoy Luke’s, though! They have classic lobster “shacks” all over the country — Boston, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., San Francisco, New York City, Seattle, Chicago, Miami, and other cities. There are even locations in Japan and Singapore! You might even be lucky enough to get lobster from the small fishing village I live in!
Don’t despair if there is not a shack near you, though. Luke’s ships a variety of live and cooked lobster and lobster roll kits right to your home!
My other sister, Amy, and her husband Steve, along with their dog Lizzie, arrived by car on Tuesday evening.
During the day, in preparation for their arrival, we visited our local fishermen’s cooperative to pick up some crabcakes for dinner. 100% of the fish sold there is from Gulf of Maine fishermen and processed right on site. It doesn’t get any fresher than that and I love to support the local industry!
Keeping with the “eat local” theme, we also went to my favorite farm market to pick up produce for a zucchini risotto to go with the crab cakes. It was a delicious dinner!
And of course it was wonderful to be gathered as a family around the table.
Wednesday morning the “kids” (me, my sisters, and BIL) were up and out the door to catch the ferry to Monhegan island.
10 miles off shore and just one square mile in area, this ruggedly beautiful island is accessible by boat from Port Clyde, New Harbor, and Boothbay Harbor.
We had about an hour ride, with views of spruce-studded Maine islands, ocean vistas, and sea life. The captain was hopeful we would get to see a whale breach, as other ferries had lately. Alas, we were not that lucky. I didn’t even know we had whales in these waters! I had better watch out when I am out in my kayak, haha!
Monhegan is known for its lobster fishing (of course!), art galleries, and hiking trails. There is also a lighthouse, museum of art and history, brewery, hotel, and several restaurants.
We visited the museum, ate some delicious savory crepes from a food truck for lunch, went on what turned out to be a rather treacherous walk along the ocean cliffs (the highest on the Maine coastline!), then stopped for a tasty brew before boarding the ferry home.
For a feel of “real” Maine, Monhegan is definitely worth a visit!
Note: The island is primarily a walking island (there are no car ferries), so sturdy shoes are a must!
You can learn more about Monhegan here!
We finished our very Maine day with dinner at McLoon’s Lobster Shack followed by sunset at Marshall Point Lighthouse.
Read all about McLoon’s in my blog post The Best Little Lobster Shack in Maine.
Cabbage Island Clam Bake
Thursday — another day, another Maine island!
We started our adventure in Boothbay Harbor. 178 of us boarded the Bennie Alice for a narrated cruise of the harbor, before arriving on the shores of tiny Cabbage Island. There, we were greeted by the Moore brothers, who have been hosting Cabbage Island clam bakes since 1989.
We chose a table on the covered porch and then went to check out the outdoor “kitchen”. The menu is that of a traditional downeast clam bake — fish chowder, two (yes TWO!) lobsters, clams, corn on the cob, potato, onion, and an egg. For dessert, a big piece of blueberry cake. The food is cooked in the traditional manner — steamed over wood fires between layers of seaweed, and covered in heavy tarps.
What a feast it was! When we learned that we would each be getting two lobsters, we brought a ziplock bag to carry home leftovers. Of course we had to pick the lobsters for the meat. Not my favorite task!
After lunch there was time to relax and enjoy the island, before boarding the boat to return to Boothbay Harbor.
If you are planning a trip to the Midcoast area, I highly recommend this fun and delicious outing!
You can learn more information and make a reservation on the Cabbage Island Clam Bake website. If they are fully booked, be sure to put your name on the wait-list. We were a party of 6 and we made it off the list.
Foggy and rainy weather made for a couple days to visit some local shops in Rockland and Camden.
I missed an auction on Saturday, but was happy to score a large spongeware bowl at a shop right here on our peninsula. The owner had just gotten it at the auction that morning. So, I kind of felt like I was there! It was still a really good deal too!
I also picked up this Sea Bags lighthouse bucket bag at their store in Camden. It perfectly fits two spare rolls of toilet paper. I have it in the downstairs bathroom. You might remember that I included a Sea Bags bag in my post Mother’s Day Gift Ideas With Coast Maine Style. Sea Bags are made right here in Maine from recycled sails. They have a huge selection of shapes, sizes, and designs! You can shop online!
A Birthday Dinner Out
My dad will be turning 90 this October, so Saturday night we went out for an early birthday dinner. We dined at a favorite local spot, the The Causeway Restaurant in Spruce Head.
Another great place for a celebratory meal is Primo in Rockland.
Reservations made well in advance are highly advised for Primo. They do take walk-ins, but the wait can be long . The Causeway is easier to get into, but I would still recommend a reservation, just to secure a table.
A Quiet Day at Home
Sunday was a mix of fog and rain, so we spent a quiet day at home.
In the morning we watched the Wimbledon men’s finals tennis match. What an exciting duel that was!
The afternoon was puzzle time, followed by a home cooked meal.
Skowhegan and Colby College
Monday was my family’s last full day here, so we hit the road to do some more exploring.
This time we headed inland. While it was once again foggy at home, it was sunny and warm when we got away from the coast.
Our first destination was the town of Skowhegan.
Among other things, Skowhegan is home to Maine Grains, a small business that produces freshly milled, organic and heritage grains sourced from local farmers. They use a traditional stone milling process which preserves the grain’s natural flavor and nutrition.
I had ordered from Maine Grains online and purchased their products in local stores, but had never visited the mill in Skowhegan.
Tours of the mill are available on certain dates. You can sign up online.
We did not do a tour. Instead we had lunch in their cafe, The Miller’s Table. After the terrible weather we have had, it was such a delight to sit outside under their pergola and enjoy a delicious Asian Salad!
After lunch we made a quick visit next door to the Crooked Face Creamery, where Maine native Amy Rowbottom sells her award-winning small-batch fresh cheeses. We selected a garlic scape pressed ricotta to go with bread we had picked up at Maine Grains for happy hour that evening!
Before getting in the car, we walked across the street to get a look at the famous 62-foot Bernard Langlais wooden Indian sculpture. Langlais was an artist known for his oversized folk art sculptures made from scrap wood and found objects.
There are 20 other Langlais sculptures on display in Skowhegan, part of the Langlais Art Trail throughout Maine.
The largest collections of Langlais sculpture can be found at the Langlais Sculpture Preserve in Cushing, and the Colby College Art Museum.
Speaking of which, Colby College was our next stop.
Two of our children graduated from Colby, and it is where I first fell in love with Maine.
Located in the town of Waterville, it is a classic New England small liberal arts college.
The Colby Museum of Art was significantly expanded in 2013, making it the largest in the state of Maine. It is free and open to all!
Unfortunately, I had not checked their schedule and they are closed Sunday-Tuesday in July.
We still drove around the campus, so my family could take in the quintessential New England beauty of this college on Mayflower hill.
My mother instilled in me and my sisters a love for cooking and appreciation for a home-cooked meal.
We ate out a few times, but mostly we cooked together.
Here is what we made!
Note: I have mentioned before that I get a lot of my recipes from New York Times Cooking. Some recipes are available for free, but without a paid subscription, you won’t be able to see all the recipes I share. Sorry!
Polenta or Grits with Beans and Chard — we used Maine Grains polenta, cannellini beans, and fresh tomatoes
Ziti with Carrots, Ricotta, and Ricotta Salata — We used about three times as many carrots and topped with parmesan instead of ricotta salata.
Classic Rhubarb Crisp Recipe — We added some Maine wild blueberries!
We took a basic risotto recipe such as this and added zucchini sauteed with some garlic, fresh basil, and lemon zest. I make my risotto with veggie broth or water and veggie Better Than Bouillon.
Everything was delicious, and I have plenty of leftovers to keep enjoying!
This Week Into Next
I spent this week after my family left pulling the house back together — laundry, cleaning, a big trip to the transfer station.
And I finally had some pros come to help clean up the garden. Between the weather and being busy with visitors, things had really gotten out of control! It took two days of weeding, mulching, cutting overgrown plants back, and planting a few new ones. Things look so much better! Now when I pull in the driveway or walk out the front door I am greeted by tidy beds and beautiful blooms. My eyes are happy!
Maddie and Cisco are looking much better now too. Today they went for a long-overdue grooming. Their coats had also gotten way out of control!
It is nice to have things tidied up as I head into a busy three weeks.
I am headed down to the Boston area next Tuesday-Thursday to spend a few days with my daughter Leah and grandson Jamie! Leah works for a summer educational program there, and her husband will be traveling. So Mim will be on duty!
When I return, I will have just a couple days before my other daughter, Zoë, arrives with sweet little Poppy for a two-week stay. I haven’t seen Poppy since she was a newborn, and she has grown and developed so much since then. I can’t wait!
That’s it for this week! I hope you enjoyed your virtual vacation in Maine!
Be well, friends!