25 November 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

Here's hoping your Thanksgiving is a peaceful day full of good food and good visits with family and friends.

I'm missing my oldest today, as he's out west. But thankfully my mom went to see him, and she is cooking dinner for him and some of his grad school friends today.

Do you have a tradition of going around the Thanksgiving table and talking about everything for which you are thankful? We do. It usually starts out with the usual things - that we're thankful for family and friends, home and food, jobs and freedom. Then sometimes we get corny and we talk about being thankful for our favorite foods on table... and thankful that there's not more of our lesser favorites. It's almost like a brainstorming session, because sometimes it takes several minutes before we really get into the nitty gritty and talk about how truly thankful we are for one another, and for the little things that make our relationships so special.

I highly recommend it.

And today I have to say, one of the things I am thankful for this year, as petty as it may seem, is that I was able to sleep in until 10:00 this morning. We locked up the two cats that like to terrorize us at 5:00 a.m., and it was... bliss. When I awakened, I looked at my husband and said, "I haven't slept in this late in years... maybe in decades!"

I'm also thankful that some of the local radio stations are now playing Christmas music. I could listen to it all year.

So now that I've frittered away half the day, it's time to go cook the meal, most of which is already prepared, and get ready for the rest of the day.

Lastly, I am thankful, as always, for living in this beautiful state. Maine is definitely the place to be during the holidays.

Happy Thanksgiving and God Bless!

Copyright © 2010 - Paulla Estes

22 November 2010

Rain Cat

Our orange cat, Jack, fails at being a cat. He's a great dog - golden retriever to be precise - but he's lousy at doing cat-type things. Not that this is a bad thing.

Jack comes when you call him. He rolls on his back when anyone walks into the room. He smiles when you pet him or scratch him under his chin. He isn't good at sharpening his claws and he's terrible at chasing things. He will, however, hold his favorite toy in his mouth and roll around on the floor. Like a dog.

The only cat-like things he does are to jump up and sit on top of the refrigerator (though I swear, he still looks and acts like a dog while up there) and he uses the litter box. Thank God.

We used to have a German Shepherd who was messy when she ate and drank. She slurped her food, and when she drank from her water bowl, she drooled it across the entire kitchen floor. Not fun for those walking through the kitchen wearing only socks on their feet. Jack is like this. In fact, before he drinks, he puts his paw in the water to check the temperature - or something - and then shakes water off his paw before drinking.

The other weird thing he does is that he Talks. All. The. Time. He doesn't always meow, but he sort of mutters to himself, commenting on his route as he walks along. When I wake up in the morning, he walks into our bedroom muttering, and jumps up onto the bed, telling me what's what. As I walk down the stairs to feed him, he shows me the way and gives me a guided tour. When I get the food bag out of the cupboard, he gets a bit frantic and his muttering turns to excited yelling. And so it goes throughout the day.

If you've ever seen the movie, Rainman, you can imagine this cat... "You know I'm not wearing any underwear, I'm definitely not wearing any underwear."

Or if he gets hit by our prissy female cat, Isabel, who hates his dog-like ways, it's... "I'm an excellent cat. Really, I'm an excellent cat. And Isabel sucks."

At meal time it's...

"Four minutes to Wapner, four minutes to Wapner, four minutes to Wapner!"

Maybe I should take him to Vegas?

Copyright © 2010 - Paulla Estes

20 November 2010

Trees with leaves, be warned.

We are halfway done with our annual leaf-raking saga. Can I just say here, once and for all, that I really hate this part of living in Maine. Don't get me wrong, I love trees. I just don't want any in my yard. Or you know, maybe one small one. An evergreen one.

We have a few maple trees, which are nice, but mostly we have oak trees, which are just awful. They shade the flowers, not the house. Their leaves don't turn a pretty vibrant color in the fall; rather, they turn an ugly brown. Also, their leaves are the last to fall, which means we have to WAIT to rake them all up. Sometimes the snow falls before the oak leaves fall. Oh, and did I mention the acorns? Ever tried to rake piles and piles of acorns? No? You haven't lived until you've raked and bagged ACORNS.

I've told my husband I want to clear out a huge majority of our trees. And for you bleeding heart tree lovers out there, get over it - Maine is chock full of trees. The woods around our house are chock full of trees, so even if we cleared our yard, we'd STILL have leaves. But maybe it would be a do-able job. You know, maybe just a one or two day job. Not every weekend from Halloween through Thanksgiving.

I raked for a good part of the day yesterday, and the wind tried to thwart my efforts. This, after we worked out there all day last weekend. Yesterday afternoon just before it got dark (you know, at like 3:00 p.m.) we started loading leaves into the back of our pick-up truck. On top of those, we put the bags of leaves we'd filled last weekend. This morning, we took it all to our local dump, and then came back and got the rest. So yay, the front yard is nearly done. But the back yard... I want to cry when I realize we STILL have leaves to rake. They never end.

So, let it be known, if I ever have some extra money lying around, I'm going to have those oak trees cut down. Oh yes, I will. And just think of all the firewood we'll have?

And speaking of firewood, last night we were sitting in our living room watching an NCIS re-run, and I realized that I felt really, really relaxed for the first time in weeks. I couldn't really say why - my comfy flannel pants and sweatshirt? A clean house? Dinner over, dishes done, glass of wine in hand? Maybe - but here's what I think it really was... the house was WARM. Yesterday was the first day we lit a fire in our woodstove.

Each year as the weather gets cooler, we begin using our kerosene monitor heater in the basement, but as temperatures dip below freezing, the monitor just doesn't cut it. The woodstove is the only thing that will really take off the chill. It was nice to finally get into bed and not shiver violently, waiting for the down comforter to start doing its thing.

Of course, when January arrives, with its sub-zero temps, we'll be cranking the electric space heaters and choosing warmth over food.

Ok, not really, but that's me, always looking on the bright side.

Copyright © 2010 - Paulla Estes

09 November 2010

Sunset/Fall Back

My husband took this photo on Saturday, the night before we set our clocks back for winter. It feels like this will be the last sunset we see until, like, April... or whenever it is we set our clocks back forward, which is a whole 'nuther nightmare.

No, this isn't Iceland and we DO still have sunsets, but ever since we set back the clocks on Sunday, it feels like the days got exponentially shorter. We only lost an hour, but it SEEMED like it was still staying light until around 6:30 or 7:00. Now it's dark at 4:00. Ok, that might be because it's been cloudy and raining for two days, but it still feels not only like we lost a couple of hours, but that we lost a couple of hours of LIGHT.

Maybe I need to try harder to notice it on the other end of the day - that ragged end where we're just trying to get going and life is all about chaos.

Actually, for about a month I've been commenting about how nice it will be when we set the clocks back, because then I can get up and go running again at 6:00 and not have to take a flashlight. Guess how many times I've done that so far this week? Well, it HAS been raining and I HAVE been sick. So, yeah.

I really have no good or peppy way of ending this, so I'll just say - come around about 4:00 tomorrow and we'll watch for the sunset. If this damned rain ever stops.

Copyright © 2010 - Paulla Estes

04 November 2010

It's All a Conspiracy

Well, most of the leaves have fallen, Halloween has come and gone, the wood is stacked, the shed and garage are clean, the heater is on, and the windows are shut tight. Some of the storm windows have even been put on.

All traces of summer are gone, even our tans. There's really not much to tell around here in the wintertime, so I guess I'll just sign off until next April or May. Have a nice winter!

Oh, I kid.

To whom would I complain about ALL THE SNOW if not to you, dear internet?

No snow for us yet here near the coast, though there was a rumor it was snowing in Bangor a couple of days ago. We did get a ton of rain today and lost power just long enough to get all the candles lit and change our plans for the evening. Then it came back on and we had to reset everything. Sometimes I think there's a guy somewhere in our town with a big lever-like switch, and sometimes I think he knocks out the power just to mess with us.

I also believe there are little green men living in the woods, but that my memory of them has been erased by the Men in Black. Oh wait, that's my son's non-memory, not mine.

I won't sign off for winter, but I do think I should sign off for the night before this cold-medicine-induced insanity/paranoia makes me say something weird.

Good night!

Copyright © 2010 - Paulla Estes

02 November 2010

Food Wars: Maine Lobster Rolls

True confessions here. I had never eaten (or heard of) a lobster roll before I came to Maine. In my limited experience, lobsters were only eaten right out of the shell. As a child, I was traumatized by watching my dad toss them, live, into a pot of boiling water on the stove while I cringed.

Understand that I grew up in Colorado. The only lobsters we saw were the ones my dad brought back to us from Maine and Massachusetts when he went on business trips. The lobsters were shipped on ice, just as they are today, and we’d watch them crawl around our kitchen floor before their tragic deaths. I shudder, remembering…

Dare I confess that to this day, I have never cooked a lobster? Maybe it was the deep scars from my childhood, or maybe I’m just not much of a cook anyway (no comments from my family, thank you). I will, say, however, that after coming to Maine all those years ago, I discovered the heaven-on-earth that is lobster rolls. Yes, you read that right. HEAVEN. ON. EARTH.

A Maine lobster roll is a mouth-watering delicacy made of succulent chunks of lobster meat mixed with mayo and packed into a New England style hot dog bun. And yes, a New England style hot dog bun is different from the rest of the buns across America. In a word, they’re better.

If you’ve never had a lobster roll, then you need to get yourself to Maine and find out what you’ve been missing all your life. If you’re already in Maine and you’re looking to find out who has the BEST lobster roll around, then you’re in luck.

Tomorrow evening on The Travel Channel, Food Wars will be featuring two local Maine restaurants whose specialties are none other than – lobster rolls. In each episode of Food Wars, host Camille Ford visits a different city across America and profiles two local establishments that compete to make the best signature dish of the area. To settle these deep-seeded local rivalries once and for all, Camille organizes a final showdown taste test to determine who has the “best dish in town”.

In this week’s episode of Food Wars, Camille and the crew are in our own Kennebunkport, Maine. The episode will feature two local Maine eateries famous for their lobster rolls : Alisson’s Restaurant and The Clam Shack.

Alisson’s is a family-owned Maine restaurant that has been making delicious lobster rolls since 1973. Take top quality seafood served in a casual, relaxed atmosphere, add legendary service and a dedication to each and every guest and you have Alisson's recipe for success.

The Clam Shack, the oldest continually-operated fish market in Maine, has put a twist on the lobster roll by creating the Maine Lobster Roll Kit. This kit consists of 1 lb. of fresh-picked lobster meat, 6 traditional Maine rolls, 3 oz. of Clam Shack Mayo, and a recipe card.

Located just 500 feet apart, these two establishments have formed a rivalry among Kennebunkport locals. Joined by two food experts--Brian Duff (Veteran Food Critic of the Portland Phoenix) and Kathleen Fleury (Culinary Writer for Maine’s Premier Down East Magazine)--Camille will declare once and for all who makes the best lobster roll in Maine.

Sound tasty? Check out this clip previewing the episode...

Is that lobster meat decadent looking, or what?

The show airs tomorrow night, Wednesday, November 3, at 10pm Eastern. Check your local listings to make sure you don't miss it.

And if watching the show isn’t enough, you can follow the Food Wars crew on Twitter @Food_Wars and Facebook at www.facebook.com/foodwars.

Bon Appetit!

Copyright © 2010 - Paulla Estes

I Voted

At this time of the year, I often have to remind myself to be THANKFUL for all the annoying signs and phone calls.

They are evidence that we live in a free nation where we are free to run for office and to choose who will lead us.

I went to the polling place right after work and immediately saw a neighbor, a friend, an acquaintance, and a wonderful older man from our church.

I know two of the ladies who are running against each other for state rep (opposite parties) and I really like them both. Both live less than a mile from me.

I just love living in a small town like this. I wish you all could come live here and experience it with me.

Ok, well maybe not. Find your own small town. :P

Seriously, though - I voted.

Did you?

Copyright © 2010 - Paulla Estes

01 November 2010

Two Weeks Behind

Ok, so as you know, my grandma died and I flew out west for a week. Then when I came back, I was swamped with the business of buying a new washing machine, setting up a guy to put a new roof on our house, and all the other stuff that goes with getting a house back in order after jetting off without warning.

All that to say - my photos are two weeks behind. These were taken on October 16, when the foliage in our area was at peak color.

And in this last one, those aren't smiles you see - we were grimacing from the cold...

Copyright © 2010 - Paulla Estes