Over the river and through the woods, to grandmother’s house we go! Isn’t that Little Red Riding Hood? I think so. Well anyways, Pickity Place is the place to go if you want to step into a real life fairy tale. In fact, the cottage that now houses the restaurant was what the Little Golden book illustrator used as a model to illustrate her version of Little Red Riding Hood.
It is indeed a cozy, fairy tale cottage. An enormously old tree full of character towers over the little red cottage. When it is time for your meal to begin (they do 3 seatings a day) the hostess rings a bell by the door. The waitresses hustle and bustle in the relatively cramped space (little cottage after all) to get you all 5 courses in the proper order, explaining each edible herbal addition.
The quality and creativity of the food alone is enough of a draw to go to Pickity Place, never mind the quaint setting. Each month, a new menu is revealed, with 5 new courses to try: A dip appetizer, soup and bread, salad, main entree, and a yummy dessert. There are always 2 entree choices, one of them being a vegetarian option. It’s usually a hard decision, as both entrees are always excellent. All the food is prepared fresh using herbs grown right there at Pickity Place.
Oh, and I can’t forget about the beverage options! They have a few fun options including a lavender lemonade, a strawberry basil tea, an orange tea, and Mocha coffee (complete with cinnamon stick straw). They let you change which drink you try each time you run out, making for a fun variety- I always save the mocha coffee to have with my dessert.
The fun doesn’t stop when the meal is over; then it is time to explore the gardens! I’ve gone at all times of the year, and it is always beautiful. June, of course will be the best month to explore the flower gardens. However, even in the winter, the garden blanketed with snow, the cozy cottage nestled in, and the big tree watching over is still charming. During spring and summer months, stop by their greenhouse to get herbs and flowers for your own garden! Their plants are reasonably priced and I’ve found them to be of high quality.
They book up fast (special days sometimes over a year in advance) so be sure to make a reservation! If you really get hooked on Pickity, they have a frequent diners card; I’ve never been that committed to it, but some people go once a month! I like it for special occasions; it’s a great place to take someone visiting the area. Pickity Place is a quintessential New England experience!
An event I look forward to every summer is the League of New Hampshire Craftman’s annual fair held in Sunapee, New Hampshire. At the foothills of Sunapee’s ski mountain, a number of huge white tents are set up and within is every form of fine art, craft, and beautiful skilled art work you can imagine: Photography, painting, etching, ceramics, pottery, knitting, felting, weaving, jewelry, wood crafts, rock sculpture, and more!
Every summer growing up, my mom would take my sister and I to the Sunapee Craft’s Fair. We were each allowed to pick out one little thing to buy; a tiny carved and painted wooden goose, a stained glass sun-catcher, a pewter stegosaurus, a small raku pot in the “seconds” bin for 20 dollars. I still treasure these things. I’m thankful my mom introduced us to artisan made crafts at such young ages! Though I don’t get up to crafts fair every single year anymore, I still hold such a place of fondness for this fair in my heart. From here forward I will try not to miss it (I even drove up by myself just for the afternoon last August!). There are new things to see every summer! Many of the artisans put on live demonstrations. I personally loved watching Richard Foye’s raku pottery demonstration this past year. The colors he gets on his finished pots are so beautiful!
I’ve also always admired the carved wooden spoons. Two years ago, I finally got one! I am sad to say I cannot remember this artist’s name, but he was kind enough to show me the tools he uses to carve spoons and recommended ones for home carving. Another fun thing to do is take a ride up and down the chair lift to see the beautiful mountain view! You can buy tickets to do this in the lodge. I’ve only done that a couple times, but it is a stunning view – just don’t do it if you’re afraid of heights 🙂
There is a sculpture garden, fairy houses, a trout pond, a children’s tent, lots of yummy food. Really, something for everyone. The dates for this year’s Fair listed on the League of New Hampshire Craftsman’s Website are:
August 3rd to August 11th 2019 from 10 AM to 5 PM daily
As a random aside, I discovered a sweet little farm shop on the way home from the Fair last year ~ the Sweet Beet Market at 11 West Main Street in Bradford, NH. It’s a nice place to stop for a snack for the road or to get your week’s produce. I just thought it was super cute. A perk of driving home on back roads! You never know what you will discover.
As if there wasn’t enough to look forward to this summer 🙂
Guess what’s coming up soon! One of my most favorite times of the year: Brimfield! What is Brimfield you say? Well, only just the treasure-hunter’s, antique-lover’s, junk-picker’s paradise! 14 acres chock full of weird and wonderful stuff! Brimfield Antiques Fair is held three times a year in Brimfield, Massachusetts, and it is always worth a trip. You literally never know what you will find there! Some years I’ve gone all three times, and some years just once, but I don’t think I’ve skipped a summer since finding out about it in 2012. While a bit more crowded (and a bit more pricey!) than it used to be, it is still very fun to poke around, even if you go just to look.
Back when I was newly married, and first setting up house, I used to buy lots of things at Brimfield, to fill in the gaps for things we needed, and replace “boring” things with antique or prettier versions, such as intricate silverware or fun little juice glasses. Then I went on a bit of a Marie Kondo-inspired minimalism/tiny house/wanting to live in a yurt kick and went a couple years without buying ANYTHING at Brimfield- just going to look around (which was still wicked fun!) And now, this year, some of the practical little things I purchased for our home back in 2012 need replacing – our cloth napkins are stained, our dish cloths ragged, our juice glasses and all but 1 of our water glasses have broken. So I will once again be shopping for practical things at Brimfield. I love holding out for the treasure hunt. I will gladly wait a year until I find the perfect, old antique thing before I drive out to a box store or order something online. Finding the perfect little thing for your home at Brimfield is just so fun! And it feels better to re-use something and give it a new life, especially knowing that it was made during a time period where quality was prized over quantity and profit.
It can be overwhelming the amount of stuff there is. I find if you LOVE something and it is totally unique and a cheap price – just buy it then and there. If you hesitate at all, take a photo of it (ask the dealer first! sometimes they get mad about photos) and then at lunch, scroll through the photos of things and see which things you forgot about already and which you are still thinking about. The things you forgot about should probably not go home with you.
In terms of practicality, there are a few things to consider. Brimfield is HUGE. There is no way to see it all in one day (believe me I’ve tried, as I’m sure my mother and friends will attest!) If you try to see it all in one day, it is exhausting and I think you end up seeing less in a weird way, cause you are only just skimming the surface. The tents line both sides of Route 20 in Massachusetts. The traffic from Highway 90 is AWFUL. If you can go any other route (such as coming in from the North on route 19/Warren Road – do it! I’ve sat in traffic on 20 for 2 hours before). I’ve tried all manner of parking arrangements- park in the beginning, drive to the very end and park, park in the middle- either way, it does not matter- you will never be able to see it all in one day. Just make sure you wear very comfortable shoes! If you go in July or September, it can be very hot! May is my favorite time to go- what a way to kick off the summer time! No matter what month you go, the earlier you arrive, the better and the more you will get to see.
If you end up buying a really big, bulky piece, the dealer will generally be kind enough to hold it for you until the end of the day (most dealers pack up between 4 and 6 pm) at which point, you can somehow navigate your car through the maze to get to them and pack up your find! If you plan to buy a lot of little things, carry a tote bag, or even better, a backpack to keep yourself hands free. Bring snacks and water with you – believe me, you will not want to walk all the way back to your car. I’ve even stashed my lunch by a tree somewhere so I didn’t have to walk all the way back to my car, but I’m not going to “officially” recommend that – hehe it was a good idea though. Of course, there is food to purchase in the middle of it all, but it is expensive and there are not too many healthy options (although that changes every year!) – think “Fair Food”.
I’ve gone in rain or shine, and though I prefer shine, rain isn’t so bad. All the dealers are under tents, and it is less crowded in the rain. Just make sure you wear the right jacket and footwear for moisture or you will be miserable. The fairs run from Tuesdays to Sundays, although some dealers (and entire fields!) do not open until Wednesday, and some do not stay all the way until Sunday. I’ve generally gone on a Friday. It’s not too picked over at that point, and it’s close enough to the end of the week where you can sometimes haggle a deal. Most dealers don’t mind you making a reasonably lower offer (especially if you are buying multiple things from them or a bigger piece). Some dealers are not super friendly- just telling the truth. You will quickly figure out their attitude 🙂
Taken from the official Brimfield Antiques Show Website, the dates for the 2019 shows are: May 14th through 19th, July 9th through 14th, and September 3rd through 8th. Mark your calendar for the dates now, so you can plan on getting there. Have fun!!!
Perhaps the most special of all the New Hampshire small towns is Harrisville. Situated in the Monadnock Region of the state (which is special in general), it is a lovely old mill town right on a lake. It has a yarn shop which is quite fancy and esteemed, and a general store that makes some of the best food ever. Seriously. Most of the old mill buildings are converted to artist’s studios (sometimes they are open to the public). Harrisville doesn’t have to be a little place you stop to on the way to somewhere- you can make it a destination. Bring a kayak for the lake, take a poke around the yarn store (there’s a lot more in there besides yarn) and have an excellent meal at the store. Just a little stroll around town admiring the quaint houses is fun too.
I like going to Harrisville in any season and (of course) my favorite thing is having lunch at the store. I mean, look at this food! They always have a variety of fresh creative salads available, their decaf iced coffee is the tastiest ever, and the desserts just scrumptious (I will be forever craving that strawberry rhubarb pie!)
Kayaking in Harrisville Pond is delightful. The Public Library is that little brick building right on the edge of the water! If you look closely, you might see a beaver swim on by 🙂
I love going to Harrisville. Any season or time, it is always a joy to go there.
There is a little gem of a museum in historic Old Lyme, Connecticut. It’s called the Florence Griswold Museum and it’s home to artwork new and old, gorgeous gardens, and a lovely river view.
The Museum centers on the home of Miss Florence Griswold, who opened her big colonial home up as a boarding house to members of the Lyme Art Colony in the early 1900s. As you stroll through the lovely old house there is art work everywhere. Not only traditionally hung paintings, but also fun and unexpected little paintings on the walls and door panels. The artists would have competitions with each other to each paint in a certain style, say impressionism. They would have to paint the same subject on either side of the door panel. The result are whimsical paintings done in a free style on most of the houses’ doors.
Across the flower gardens, the more modern Krieble gallery houses newer works of art. The day we went happened to be their Art in Bloom day- that was such an awesome surprise! The flower arrangements to match the works of art were some of the best I’ve seen. They really captured their assigned paintings.
After being thoroughly inspired from the various art and flora which fills the premises, definitely take a stroll down to the Lieutenant River. They have Adirondack chairs set up just waiting to be sat in.
There is also a beautiful little art studio in a cedar shake cottage right by the parking lot. Be sure to poke your head in there.
I felt thoroughly inspired and refreshed after my visit to the Florence Griswold Museum. How serendipitous to be there for art in bloom as well! You can find the museum off of Highway 95 in Old Lyme Connecticut. Enjoy your visit!
We set off for The Grand Connecticut Adventure Day at five in the morning because we live so far from Connecticut. I never mind waking up early for adventure, it’s almost easier, and I’m so excited that I can’t sleep anyways. Connecticut has been in the works for quite some time. I’ve been eyeing up various destinations on my Pinterest board. When a day off from work arose, I mapped out a route which was somewhat coherent. Good thing I have a very game mother-in-law who’s willing to drive three hours there, and then one hour between destinations, and then sit in traffic for five hours on the way home. It was a great day. As usual, I’ll let the photos tell most of the story~
Thanks to good conversation and surprisingly traffic-free highways, the drive down went quickly. We intended to start off at the Florence Griswold Museum, but as we arrived an hour before they opened for the day, we had to kill some time (not difficult when you’re exploring). We asked a local for a recommendation and said to check out the town of Essex- what a great suggestion! Set right on the water, it’s a quaint New England town whose Main Street is lined with old houses and dead ends at the ocean. An hour passed quickly and we made our way back to the Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme. I did a separate post about that lovely place which you can find here.
After a good couple hours’ wander around the art museum and grounds, we hit the road again for Terrain, a garden shop extravaganza which was quite the place. I hesitate to rave about it too much, as I felt it was very pricey and also I am not sure of their business ethics (I just haven’t looked into where and how their products are made). Located in Westport, on a busy street of shops and commercial sprawl, it was a surprisingly beautiful and expansive shop.
After a quick and yummy vegan lunch (and the best iced coffee I’ve ever had- seriously) at Green & Tonic, we headed over to our last stop, just an hour before their closing time of 4 PM, to Weir Farm National Historic Site in Wilton, CT. Operated by the National Parks Service, this gorgeous farm property is the only one of two National Historic Sites dedicated to the arts (the other one being Saint Gauden’s National Historic site in Cornish, New Hampshire). It was free to enter, and you could stroll anywhere on the large property. The old gardens, stone walls, and surrounding woods were so beautiful. We arrived too late to tour the house, but we did get to poke into the two art studios – inspiring!
At that point, it was time to head for home. In hindsight, it may have been wise to get dinner in Westport or another nearby town and head for I-84 once most traffic had passed (or maybe make a weekend trip out of it and stay somewhere overnight- there certainly is a lot to do in the area- we just scratched the surface!) Alas, that wasn’t to be, for tiredness took over. So we headed onto I-84 and dealt with the traffic. Good conversation and snacks kept us going, and before we knew it we were home. Another successful adventure day for the books. It truly was a perfect day off- one of those days you just can’t get out of your mind. I keep thinking and thinking about it 🙂
We took a trip to Maine this past November for our 5 year anniversary. We shared a wonderful cottage on a cove in Phippsburg, Maine with 3 other couples, our dear friends, who also were celebrating their 5th. While November is definitely not thought of as a prime time to visit the craggy seashore of rural Maine, and we had one day that was very cold, and another that was rainy and windy, it still was a beautiful trip.
The fun started before we even made it to the cottage. We drove a little north of Phippsburg to Boothbay Harbor, a place I have fond memories of going to as a child. We stopped off for lunch at the Tugboat Inn, which did indeed have a tug boat as part of the restaurant. It was a perfect Maine meal: fresh lobster rolls while looking out over the shining water dotted with pine trees perched atop rocky little islands.
We made sure to do a bit of antiquing and poked into the shops of Wiscassett, a quaint and historic little Main street community that was a joy to wander around in (even though the wind was whipping and cold!) We’re glad we took the back way down to Phippsburg, because we stumbled upon an old mansion perched on top of a hill. The sun setting behind it made for quite a sight. For those wanting to see it, it’s actually called Castle Tucker, it’s found on Lee Street in Wiscassett, and it is sometimes open for tours.
A highlight for me was waking up early on both mornings to take solitary walks. It’s always so easy for me to roll over and keep sleeping, but I’ve never regretted taking an early morning walk: it is so centering, calming, and makes the day feel accomplished before it even starts.
On Saturday morning I was graced with the sun streaming onto the white curtains, lovely and golden. I slipped outside and took a walk down to the point. The weather was sunny and brisk. Down on the docks there were fishermen getting their boats and lobster traps ready for a day on the water.
Sunday morning’s weather was opposite: the sun was replaced by heavy rain and winds lashing against the house. All the same, I donned my rain coat and wellies and took my early morning walk. What a joy it was even in that weather! Exhilarating really. The waves were coming in fast and strong, but it was on the warmer side so I wasn’t uncomfortable with my face in the rain-filled wind. I stumbled upon some deer tracks, very fresh, leading right down to the water’s edge in the cove. I looked all around for the deer but must have just missed it.
After the walks, I settled in to the cozy cottage and waited for my friends still sleeping peacefully to wake, one by one. A little trick that made the morning extra easy and enjoyable was pre-cooking oatcakes at home the day before we left for the trip. That way, when I got back from walking, I could just heat up the oatcake on the skillet really quickly, top it off with berries and fresh maple syrup, and call it done! I will definitely do that again when taking a weekend trip. It’s so much easier cooking in your own kitchen at home and not having to deal with making batter and a mess was awesome. And people could heat up their own pancakes as they woke up. Just a little tip 🙂There are many activities to enjoy around the Phippsburg area. One that my husband remembered fondly from childhood was Popham beach and the fort at one end of it. I loved beach combing there, I found little driftwood nuggets as we took to calling them. I took a few pocketfuls back home.We also took a little hike in the woods to an overlook and drove down a side road to discover little coves tucked away. Both of these were off of West Point Road in Phippsburg. There was a sign marking it with a parking area, but it’s best to drive all the way down because there is another parking area right by the cove. Unless you want to take a stroll of course. I’m sorry I forget what the cove was called, but it is on West Point in Phippsburg.We made a couple of stops on the journey home. Freeport Maine is home to the L.L. Bean Factory store, which is really like a sprawling campus of stores and lucky for us they had reindeers in the outside barn area. Real reindeers! That was neat, and very unexpected. Our last stop was the Portsmouth Brewery, always a classic place to eat in that quaint Port town.So, in other words, a nice trip to Maine doesn’t need to be taken during peak season and you don’t have to pay a premium. If you split the cost of a rental with friends, bring food from home, and entertain yourself with free of charge hikes and beach walks, it really is a quite reasonable excursion. And there is little else more inspiring and beautiful than the craggy shore of Maine.
It’s been an icy, icy world out there lately. December and January seemed especially brutal with days on end of sub-zero temperatures, wind, and a couple of ice storms. On New Years Day, with just 2 degrees on the thermometer, Ethan and I set out for a northern adventure. We just had to get out of the house! And we wanted to see the snowy mountains. We bundled up and hit the road, temperature plummeting the more Northward we drove.
We meandered through small towns, such as Grafton and Warren. We tried to take smaller, back roads as we went. Route 118 from Warren to North Woodstock was particularly scenic. From there, we jumped on highway 93 North so we could go through the Notch. The Notch was socked in with fog it was so cold, but the glimpses we got of the mountains were beautiful.After a quick stop at the Garnet Hill Outlet in Franconia, we made our way to Sugar Hill for a late lunch at Polly’s Pancake Parlor. Situated on a hill overlooking a gorgeous mountain view, Polly’s has quite the spot. If only the food lived up to the location. I hate doling out bad reviews, but the food just wasn’t that great. But the options were many, so perhaps we just made some bad choices (I had the quiche of the day and Ethan had a reuben as per usual). Their peppermint cappuccino on the other hand- yum, yum.
After our lunch, we went over to Sunset Hill in Sugar Hill to take in the view above. Still a little foggy, but lovely none the less. We were starting to lose light, so we meandered towards home from there, though we were far from it. We went through some little New Hampshire towns that I had never seen before. Most interestingly, we stumbled upon The Brick Store in Bath which is on the National Register of Historic Places as the oldest general store in the country- how cool! It had loads of old character, we had to go in and have a look around. Thankfully, we caught them just before they closed for the day. My favorite thing was the wide front porch with all the rocking chairs. Too bad it was below zero out, it would be fun to sit there and enjoy a treat from the store.
Other towns of note were Haverhill and Etna. Both new to me, and both very colonial and charming. The moon was rising when we were in Haverhill, so by the time we drove through Etna, it was too dark for photos. Haverhill is along Route 10 in New Hampshire, and Etna is situated atop a hill off a side road- you’ll have to use your GPS to find it, but it’s worth finding- well, hopefully, I did only see it in the dark. Well that was our little mid-winter, sub-zero, just-have-to-get-out-of-the-house adventure! Hopefully we can repeat it in warmer temperatures. There’s a certain rocking chair in Bath calling out to me…
Nestled below Mount Monadnock there is a very special town; a creative community bursting at the seams with arts, culture, good food, and cute shops. The place I describe is none other than Peterborough, New Hampshire. Peterborough, self described as “a good town to live in” or simply, “our town”, is one of New Hampshire’s best gems (perhaps even one of the country’s best gems as far as small towns go). Consider this post a miniature tour of downtown Peterborough wherein I describe my favorite places to go and things to do in this special place. While certainly not all-encompassing, these are some the highlights.
First let’s talk food. Cause when it comes to good eats, Peterborough is where it’s at. It’s hard to chose a favorite but if I was forced to, Twelve Pine would win. Gourmet market-meets amazingly deli-meets awesome coffee shop-meets excellent restaurant is how I would describe Twelve Pine. Oh, and they sell flowers and homemade gelato too. All under one roof! In a casual, yet somewhat refined atmosphere. I have probably spent thousands there collectively over the years (joking, but probably pretty close- some do refer to it as “twelve dollar pine”-worth it!) and yet, I consider it well spent.
There are some new places to eat in town that are definitely worth a shout out as well. My new favorite spot (especially for lunch) is the Thai Cafe, located in the same building as chocolate maker and sweet shop Ava Marie’s (which has the best iced coffee in town- their secret: coffee ice cubes and swirls of homemade caramel sauce). The food at the Thai Cafe is made to order, fresh, and so delicious! Oh, and they have amazing iced coffee too (we are spoiled on break around here!) Other Asian restaurants are down the road, there’s Kogetsu – great for sushi- and Pearl – a more upscale Asian-fusion dinner place that specializes in Oysters on the half shell. And then, if you want a good ole’ pub environment there are two great options: Harlow’s Pub and Cooper’s Hill Public House. The former is a Peterborough landmark, it’s been downtown for years and is a funky place to relax and listen to live music. Cooper’s Hill is new, and is great because it’s open late (something Peterborough lacks) and you can sit in armchairs and talk for hours (if you can hear yourselves above the music that is) I would highly recommend the Irish Nachos at Cooper’s Hill, instead of corn chips they use thinly sliced potatoes, topped with cheddar cheese, bacon, sour cream and scallions – yum!
When it comes to treasure hunting in antique shops and cute little stores, Peterborough’s got it covered. Some of my favorite antique stores ever are in town, but it is hard to pick an absolute favorite. It’s a tie between Bowerbird and Friends and Grove & Main. Both are meticulously curated and styled, and both are filled with beautiful and interesting things to look at (generally I just look, cause both stores are a bit pricey). Bowerbird even has a little terrarium building room overlooking the river in the back of the store. Another good one is Laurel & Grove down the street. Smaller than the other ones, they have good sales and a lovely selection of potted plants. For more eclectic, international gifts try out Joseph’s Coat. For unique clothing and jewelry, there is Alice Blue. Depot Square is home to many little shops, too many to list. I am not including everything here- you have to go to Peterborough and see for yourself 🙂
Yes, I’m sure you’ll spend more on stationary and office supplies at Steele’s Stationers than you would at Staples or Wal-mart, but the fact that Steele’s is still in business since the 1800s and you can go into a cute little mainstreet store like that makes me so happy. I wish big box stores didn’t exist so all downtowns could be as thriving as Peterborough. Peterborough also has a very large and well stocked book shop called Toadstool which includes new and used books. If buying books isn’t for you, check out the oldest free public Library in the country- the Peterborough Town Library.
Peterborough is a very walkable town. There is a path along the river (next to the big parking lot by Toadstool’s Bookshop) which is lined with flowers in the summer. There is a small outdoor stone seating area where you can overlook the water. There is also a pathway of birch trees you can meander up from Depot Square to Grove street. Off of Grove street there is a bridge over which you will find another nice park to roam around in. Peterborough really is a paradise for the pedestrian- I wish all small towns were still that way. Whether you come in warm weather or cold, or visit when the fall colors are out, or when the flowers start blooming, I am confident you will enjoy your visit to Peterborough. Please comment below if you need any further clarification on the places listed, or if you would like more detailed directions or information. Happy adventuring!