A Simple Beach Picnic

This past weekend some best friends and I celebrated a milestone in our lives together: 20 years of friendship with each other. We went back and forth trying to decide on what special thing we would do together. We agreed that a picnic dinner on the beach on Plum Island, Massachusetts was just the thing.

When we arrived on Plum Island, we turned right to enter the Sandy Point State Reservation, paid $5.00 for our car to enter the gated nature preserve, and drove all the way to the very tip of the island, admiring the coastal marsh scenery along the way. We chose our beach spot, spread the picnic blankets, and laid out our feast.
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For a simple (but filling) beach picnic, here’s what to bring: 

Logistics~ blankets that can get sandy, an insulated bag or cooler, a picnic basket, flatware & plates (use the real thing! single-use plastic is the worst thing ever invented), a bag to put the dirty dishes in when you are done, a cutting board, sharper knife (to cut the bread and cheese), and if you want to get real fancy, cloth napkins (cloth napkins are also advantageous because they won’t blow away in the wind). For drinks, we each brought our own refillable water bottles. Wine would have been nice, but I forgot it and the glasses.

Food~ we basically just cut up a baguette and made our own crostini concoctions with the following delicious treats: marinated mixed olives, artichoke hearts, roasted garlic cloves, brie cheese, cranberry-fig encrusted goat cheese, blackberries, mixed veggie slaw, and dill smoked salmon. Were I to do this again (which I surely will) I would include some meat too- prosciutto and salami – and also some hard cheeses – parmesan and manchego – to be exact. But we ate our fill and had fun making different yummy combinations.

Practical~ make sure to bring sunglasses even at sunset, so you can safely watch the sun go down. A sweater is nice too because it’s windy on the beach and always colder than you think it will be by the water. Flip flops, because even though I don’t consider September to be a flip-flop month, I regretted wearing my Tom’s shoes to the beach. I feel they will forever be filled with sand now.

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I hope we have a few more warm weeks this season to enjoy another beach picnic. This outing served to remind me that even just a couple hours on the beach is worth it, the simplest meals are the tastiest, and friendship -for any amount of years- is worth celebrating.

Classics Aren’t So Bad After All

Do you want to know why I am a really bad librarian? Well, other than the fact that I quit my library job… I have always been a bad librarian because I said for years that I “hated classics.” *everyone gasps* Yup. I said it. But now, in my older, wiser (ha!) years, I have decided to turn over a new leaf and give the classic literature another go. Perhaps it’s because I am at a different phase in life, or perhaps it’s because I am not forced to read these books in ridiculously large page amounts per night as an assignment, or perhaps because I am not tediously picking apart every passage to write a paper…I will say that classics are not so bad at all. I don’t think I hate them anymore. Rather, I think I love them. And I think I have been missing out all these years. img_2127Maybe we just started with a really good one? I say “we” because at the beginning of August, one of my best friends inspired me to start reading the classics. Because she is a good librarian (really, she is), she has been reading and enjoying classic books all along. I saw her reading Great Expectations one day, and I thought, “really, I ought to be reading that too” and thus the idea was planted in my mind that we should read the classics together to make it more fun for me. We decided to start with Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca, because my good librarian friend was already in the midst of it and enjoying it. I picked it up from the library, dove right in, and thoroughly enjoyed it too! To my great surprise, it was a page-turner! I really liked it! I finished it quickly and it got me hungry for more classics. So I read through Anne Bronte’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. While not as enthralling as Rebecca in my opinion, it was still a very good read and kept me interested. I will admit, I did have a little hiccup last week with Wuthering Heights. Sorry Emily Bronte… but I just couldn’t finish it. The characters were so unpleasant I truly wanted them out of my mind. I should finish it eventually but I needed a break. So my friend and I settled on Persuasion, my first time reading Jane Austen ever. I’m finding it a bit more difficult to get into then the other three classics I’ve read so far, but I’m only on the 3rd chapter. I’m feeling positive about it though. I log my reading materials on goodreads which is an easy and fun way to keep track of what I’ve read and still want to read. I also love giving books ratings from 1-5 stars. Rebecca was 5 stars. The tea party we had to watch the Hitchcock movie version of the story was also 5 stars 🙂 Classics Aren't So Bad After AllAnd if a movie producer happens to come across my blog (ha!) please, make another version of Rebecca. It would be such an awesome movie. Not that I didn’t like the Hitchcock version, but one in color with awesome music and a beautiful setting would be so amazing. Come on movie producers…

Antiques & Castle Hill

Recently, my mother in law and I have instituted Adventure Days- and I highly recommend  them. When both of us happen to have a free day at the same time, we fill up the gas tank, chose a direction, and set off to explore the area fully. Because it doesn’t happen very often, I think long and hard about our itinerary to make sure we see as much as we can and don’t miss anything special in the areas that we drive to. Our most recent jaunt took us to North-Central Massachusetts where we planned to spend our day checking out various antique stores we could find, having lunch in the historic town of Groton, and hiking to the ruins of a Castle on Gibbet Hill in Groton. We did just that, and it was splendid.

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img_1977Seriously, this castle ruin is amazing (Castle History and Map to Ruins Here).  All that is left now is the field stone shell, which is slowly being gloriously taken over by creeping ivy leaves (yes!). This place would be a perfect backdrop for any kind of photography session, especially an engagement shoot, you know, the romantic creeping ivy and all. Besides the beauty of the castle, there is also the hilltop setting to take in. The quick ten minute hike to get up there lends itself to a beautiful view of Groton’s countryside.

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Beautiful huh? You really need to go there to take in this view. Here’s how you get up there- From the town of Groton’s lovely center, take Route 40 (Lowell Road). Less than a mile up that road you will see Gibbet Hill Grill restaurant on the left. Soon after that, you will start seeing small dirt pull-offs on the left hand side of the road. Park in any one of these and the path to the castle runs parallel to Lowell Road and then eventually deviates uphill to the castle. Depending on where you park, it is only a 5 to 10 minute walk up to the castle, with gorgeous country views the entire way.

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We enjoyed lunch in Groton center at Salt & Light Cafe Bistro (159 Main Street, Groton MA) which served fresh and healthy food creatively- my favorite style. It was a well-decorated (look at that couch!), clean place with friendly service and a fairly large menu that we thoroughly enjoyed. Scattered throughout the day we visited a few of the area’s antique shops. The first shop was Hobart Village (445 Main St, West Townsend MA), a sprawling, 2 story, mixed-dealer shop filled to the brim with antiques. Also in West Townsend is my personal favorite shop that I’ve found so far, My Husband & I Antiques (443 Main Street West Townsend MA). Unfortunately when we visited the owner was in the middle of a messy re-decoration of the shop, so my mother in law didn’t get to have the full experience. But usually the shop is styled so well- a mixture of curated antiques (many from France) and natural objects. I love when shops take the time to chose and style their items. The other shops we visited, all of which were fun and worth a visit if you like antiquing, were  The Spaulding Cooperage (1 South St, Townsend MA), Jeffrey’s Antiques (62 Chase Road, Lunenburg MA), and Upton House Antiques (275 King Street, Littleton MA). Go to Upton House if you like primitives!

What a nice time we had, and not very far from home! If you know of any other great antique shops (especially in Massachusetts) please let me know in the comments. I’m always looking to poke around in new ones. Thanks for stopping by the blog today. I will finish up with my favorite photo of the day ~ Until next time, Callista.

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An Autumn Fun To-Do List

It could be because my husband and I lived in a warm climate during this past winter making this my 8th straight month of warm weather, or it could be because we have had the hottest, driest summer on record, or it could be just because I love the changing seasons; but I am really excited for fall. The foliage is already starting to change, and though people are saying we won’t have the same brilliant color display we had last autumn, fall in New England is still such a special time of year.
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As I was contemplating the delightful change of season the other day it occurred to me that I ought to make an “Autumn Fun” to-do list. Because doesn’t Autumn just seem like the most fleeting season? Hopefully a to-do list will allow me to make the most of fall before it slips right by me. So without further ado, here is my…

Autumn Fun To-Do List:

  1. Go apple picking! That also entails the subsequent Apple related cooking and baking. This year I hope to make a lot of apple butter and apple sauce, and have someone show me (again) how to can it safely so I can enjoy those treats year round.
  2. A corn maze would be fun. I know there is a huge maze in Sterling, Massachusetts. I also did a really fun one in Lee, New Hampshire many years ago. There is a small one at Washburn’s Windy Hill Orchard in Greenville, New Hampshire that is also a lot of fun. I’m not sure why wandering around lost for an hour in a field is so enjoyable, but alas it is. Especially at night when it is creepy.
  3. Enjoy a pumpkin spice latte. Preferably on a rainy day so I can take a walk after, admiring the colors while wearing wellies and using an umbrella. Yes I know this is rather specific, and with the current weather trend we may never get rain again. However, now that it is on the list, it is more likely to happen. That is just how it goes with to-do lists. Even if the rain doesn’t come (which I sincerely hope it does and not just for reason of providing an atmospheric setting to enjoy a fall beverage), I will still get the pumpkin latte. One cannot resist the fall flavors.
  4. Go to a fair or festival. At least one. I’m very bummed to be missing the Common Ground Fair in Maine this weekend (for the third year in a row! something always comes up!) but I am hoping to get to the Vermont Sheep and Wool Festival. You can be sure I will post about it if I get there.
  5. Take a hike, or maybe a few hikes. The crisp fall air is perfect for a hike, and the foliage just adds to the already stunning views. I especially would like to climb Mount Monadnock. My one and only hiking experience with this beloved mountain was not a positive one. I was separated from my group and spent an hour wandering down, not sure if I was on a trail or not, fearing I was lost for good, envisioning headlines declaring my death by bear attack or exposure. Yes, yes, I survived, and perhaps I am being a tad dramatic. Anyways, I would like to give the mountain another go.
  6. Plant bulbs. It never fails that the fall goes by, winter passes, and the spring flowers start emerging. And there I am kicking myself again that I forgot to plant bulbs in the fall. That’s not going to happen again! This spring, I will have daffodils and tulips coming up, I assure you. I also must remember to plant garlic, lots of it! I want braids and braids of it come spring time.

So, there you have it. This is what I hope to be doing in my time off this autumn. What is on your autumn fun to-do list?