Portrait of a Small Town: Harrisville

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.

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The Lake, Yarn from Harrisville Designs, and a fresh cider donut from the General Store: All in a day’s visit to Harrisville!

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!)

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The mill building in front of a sunrise; the village cozy under snow

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 🙂

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I love going to Harrisville. Any season or time, it is always a joy to go there.

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Florence Griswold Museum

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.img_9207

img_9203The 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.img_9139img_9149img_9176

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img_9147Across 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.img_9121

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.

img_9197img_9195There 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.

img_9219I 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!

 

 

Off Season in Maine

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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.fullsizeoutput_2965

fullsizeoutput_28a5The 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.

fullsizeoutput_289cfullsizeoutput_2892We 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.

fullsizeoutput_2898fullsizeoutput_289eA 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.

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fullsizeoutput_28f3Sunday 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.

 

fullsizeoutput_296bAfter 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 🙂fullsizeoutput_28f5fullsizeoutput_28fffullsizeoutput_28fdThere 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.fullsizeoutput_2902fullsizeoutput_28f2fullsizeoutput_2913We 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.fullsizeoutput_2912IMG_2893We 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.fullsizeoutput_296dfullsizeoutput_2916So, 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.fullsizeoutput_2944

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New Hampshire in Mid-Winter

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. fullsizeoutput_2cfa

fullsizeoutput_2cfcWe 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.fullsizeoutput_2cf6After 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.

fullsizeoutput_2cfdAfter 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. fullsizeoutput_2d66

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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. fullsizeoutput_2d67fullsizeoutput_2d65Well 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…

Hancock Through the Seasons

Here are some photographs of Hancock, a gorgeous little New England Village tucked away in Southwestern New Hampshire. I was fortunate enough to work as the Children’s Librarian there for one year, so I enjoyed Hancock through each season.

Spring:

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Flowers sprouting up around town. Budding trees in front of the Hancock Inn. Apple trees with new leaves in the orchard on Norway Hill. Irises on Main Street. Trees in bloom in front of the Hancock Town Library.  Lilac bushes in front of a colonial house.

Summer: img_6197

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Processed with Snapseed.old dublin roadElliot's GardenMy most favorite view off of Old Dublin Road. Flowers at the farmer’s market in the old circular stables. A place of sanctuary at the Harris Center. Giant bubbles from a performance I planned at the end of summer reading.  Scenes from the Tour Hancock Gardens summer garden tour. A walk down the dirt sidewalks of Main Street. Storm clouds approaching Nubanusit Lake. Walking Old Dublin Road. The Elliot’s amazing private garden.

Autumn: img_4153

hancock main streethancock autumnwillard pondHancockInnnorway hillGolden trees on Main Street. Ivy growing up an old colonial house. Norway Pond stillness. Main Street littered with leaves. A walk on an old dirt road. Kayaking on Willard Pond close to sunset. The historic Hancock Inn. The fall colors starting to appear at the apple orchard on Norway Hill.

Winter: 

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hancock winterA snow storm in February blankets an old colonial home. Lilies brighten up the winter day inside Fiddleheads Cafe. The huge tree outside of the library covered in snow. The Hancock Inn and it’s Fox tavern is a cozy place for a winter’s evening meal. Frost patterns inside the library’s windows.

No matter what season you visit Hancock, it is always going to be beautiful.

Lake Towns: Meredith & Center Harbor

The biggest lake in New Hampshire, Lake Winnipesaukee has always held a special place in my heart. My grandfather has owned cabins on the lake for decades so my family have taken summer trips up to Center Harbor for many years. Center Harbor is a special little town full of unique spots, and nearby Meredith is bustling with arts and antiques. Both towns have awesome little shops and food options. And both towns are right on beautiful Lake Winnipesaukee, are right down the road from one another, and are definitely worth a visit. The photos are not in any real order, and my descriptions of places will provide links when available if you’d like to know more particulars. img_8293

I’ll start with one of Center Harbor’s best restaurant, Lavinia’s. Though I’ve only eaten take out there once (and it was great food!) everyone who has dined there that I know has always thoroughly enjoyed it. My sister told me that you can eat in the very top cupola section, which has an amazing view out over the lake. I’m not sure if they still offer that, but if they do, I’d recommend a reservation. Two of my favorite shops in Center Harbor are the yarn shop, Patternworks and the book shop, Bayswater Books. Both are fun places just to browse. The book shop has lots of beautiful little trinkets and gifts which are fun to look at as well. Sandwiched between the yarn and the books is Keepsake Quilting, a large quilting shop with tons of fabric choices. This was my favorite shop to go in when I was younger, before I realized how much time quilting takes and how difficult it is. I would also pick out my fabric with high hopes, but I never did get around to finishing a quilt. Hopefully I will someday. Now I don’t even go in the quilt shop because I don’t want to be tempted into another hobby, but I hope to have the time to do quilting eventually 😉

img_8291Another classic Center Harbor spot is the Yikes Craft Gallery which features work from various local artists and craftspeople. If you’re looking for a unique gift to give someone, I bet you could find them something in Yikes. And my favorite place in Center Harbor is Dewey’s Ice Cream Parlor! They have my favorite ice cream flavor in all the world: Phantom Berry! It’s black raspberry ice cream with chunks of brownie and swirls of brownie batter. YUM. I made sure to get a cone of that good stuff every day we were there 🙂 For a summery eating experience, try Red Hill Dari for all your classic summer food, ordered at a pick-up window and eaten outside.

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Moving on to Meredith, the Main street winds up and around uphill, and is filled with antique shops, art galleries, and a really yummy coffee shop with a book store inside and a cozy fireplace. There’s a shop that sells homemade soap, a kitchen gadget shop, and a cool health food shop. All of my photos from Meredith are places that can be found just by wandering along the Main street. When going between Meredith and Center Harbor on Route 25, be sure to stop at Moulton Farm. It’s a huge farm store filled with gorgeous produce and other products. I think they even have a corn maze in the fall.img_8231

img_8237 img_8331And no trip to Center Harbor or Meredith is complete without walking down to the docks and just gazing out at the water. If you can catch a sunset, that’s even better. Though these local spots highlighted in the post are fun to visit, my favorite part of being there is to wake up very early and kayak across the glassy water, and hear loon calls echo from one end of the lake to the other. I’m thankful to be so familiar with these fun New Hampshire towns. I hope you will be able to visit them too 🙂

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Andres Art Trails

Tucked away in Brookline, NH is a very cool place which combines two of my very favorite things: walking in nature and art. This place is called Andres Art Institute and is a network of trails throughout the woods. Interspersed along the trail, seemingly around every corner, there are sculptures which make turning each corner especially exciting.fullsizeoutput_1cad

img_7310There are trails for various ability levels, though I thought even the trails marked easy or moderate were still somewhat steep in parts. Absolutely no problem if you walk in the woods or hike a lot, but if you don’t, just prepare to get a little bit sweaty and winded. But in a good way 🙂 I have wanted to visit the art trails for a very long time, and finally got there with some friends on a Sunday afternoon. We did two trails, and saw a lot of art, but I feel we hardly scratched the surface of the place and I am eager to go back again. I’m not going to post photos of every sculpture we saw- I want them to be a surprise for you if you go- cause that really is the fun of it: anticipating what the next sculpture around the corner will be.fullsizeoutput_1c85 fullsizeoutput_1c8cfullsizeoutput_1c8eSome of the sculptures are very apparent, others, like the one pictured above blend right in to the woods. This is a great place if you want to get some fresh air, exercise, and feel cultured at the same time! haha. It really is a cool idea and I’m glad there are places like this so close to home. Also, it’s free to get in! They do accept donations of course.

fullsizeoutput_1c73fullsizeoutput_1c72I love the little snail who made his home in my favorite sculpture! So if you want a fun and different outing this summer, give this place a try! Getting there: Andres Institute of Art 106 Route 13, Brookline NH 03033. And on an unrelated note, but just around the corner from Andres is a Chinese Restaurant called New Kun Garden, and they make ice cream rolls! We were sure to get some of those 🙂 img_7309