eat! craft! live!

Baking, crafting, mama-ing and taking photos of it all. When I remember.


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No Spend 2019 – March

Well.

Good intentions, AMIRITE?

To be fair, a lot of my spending in March was due to a trip* to Washington, D.C. I took for work and which I’ll mostly be reimbursed for. Also it was tax refund time and while I never go wild when I get an unexpected windfall, I did loosen up the purse strings just a bit last month.

That said… Areas where I was successful:

  • Regular bills – they don’t change much, we’re thrifty with our energy usage.
  • Home & garden maintenance – I purchased some seed starting materials, but that was about it.
  • I also spent way more on my car payment this month, which is the general idea of spending far less in other areas – gotta get that car paid off! Between budgeting and tax refunds, I was able to pay more than 4x the usual car payment…plus the actual car payment. Woo!

And then there were areas I was less successful:

  • Groceries – somehow I ended up spending far more on groceries, despite being out of town for a week?!?
  • Clothing – a series of unfortunate (and fortunate?) events led me to be at Old Navy unexpectedly. *ahem* I went searching for one particular dress I knew was there and in the process picked up a few more items on clearance. So it goes. I also bought new shoes for walking around DC and I’m so glad I did – I walked 10+ miles one day!
  • Eating out – Spent loads in this category last month. Again, due mainly to being out of town…but not entirely.
  • I also picked up a handful of things in DC as souvenirs. A giant pompom (which delights me to no end) and enamel pin from Fibre Space. An enamel pin from the Library of Congress.

There were also some expected, but irregular, expenses, namely:

  • yearly car registration
  • 6-month car insurance policy renewal (I pay in full)
  • dance recital tickets

It wasn’t the greatest month, with regard to the budget, but it wasn’t terrible either! I’ve done some math and I’m hopeful that I will actually be able to meet my goal of paying off my car by the end of the summer. Fingers crossed and belts tightened!

*The trip was to the Digital POWRR Institute and it was amazing. The whole training was fantastic, the weather was perfect, the food was great, the Library of Congress was awe-inspiring, the museums were phenomenal…

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Operation Try New Restaurants: Black Cow

December was a busy month. (Isn’t it always?) E was in the Nutcracker and we had time between shows to grab some dinner. I opted to take her out instead of thriftily packing food, like I usually do. I thought she deserved a treat. We walked around the festively lit-up town, E in her wildly silly-looking bun, and I let her choose where we ate. Happily, she picked a new-to-us-both place – Black Cow!

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Nutcracker-ing makes you hungry.

She chose the grilled cheese and tomato soup, which were both divine. I opted for a cheeseburger and a house made orange cream soda. (I love anything that tastes like an orange creamsicle, after hating that particular flavor combination for years.) The cheeseburger itself was really good – but I was ever so slightly disappointed that they don’t really have any fun flavor combos for burgers, just your standard cheese-pickle-lettuce-etc. I got super spoiled living in Texas where it’s All Meat, All the Time and fun flavor combos to boot. (Pickled jalapeños & Monterey jack on a jalapeño cheddar bun! A fave from back in the day.) Nevertheless, would return! Next time I’m getting fries…

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A Very Serious Soldier.


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Operation Try New Restaurants: November

November came around and I…didn’t really try.

But I did hit up the Farm Stand in South Portland with H one rainy day while E was at an appointment. It’s not a restaurant but we did get food…so… They have an impressive collection of booze – lots of it local – and tons of fresh produce, meat, and other assorted goodies. We got cookies & chocolate & drinks.

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Delicious, post-Halloween sale chocolates.

We also tried out the Kennebunk House of Pizza while at my parents’ timeshare in Kennebunk. It was typical house of pizza fare – we had pizza and some really delicious loaded cheese fries that I’d eat again in a heartbeat. (If my heart wouldn’t stop beating afterward…)

H went to a classmate’s birthday party at 33 Elmwood where I didn’t really eat much (mainly H’s leftover pizza crusts and some birthday cake) but I sure wish I could’ve had some cocktails. If you’re unfamiliar, 33 Elmwood is a bowling alley/restaurant/bar type place. It’s large and spacious and while I can’t say the drinks are good, they sure look good. I mean, I would drink just about all of these with great pleasure. Apple caramel moscow mule? Yes please.

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I want all of these.

The pizza crusts I munched were tasty and the house made birthday cake was actually really good, though the frosting was far too sweet for my liking. This little dude really enjoyed bowling with his friends!

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Patiently waiting his turn.

I’d love to go back when I have cocktail cash, I’m not with a bunch of first-graders, and it’s not 10AM.

Bonus: they have these great IKEA chairs!

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They were so comfy I asked where they were from!


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Operation Try New Restaurants: Shindig

grilled cheese & tomato soup

Amazing grilled cheese. Amazing soup!

While on my nearly-yearly trip to New York for Rhinebeck, we ate at Shindig in Woodstock one evening. It was super cute, and tiny, and I had a grilled cheese and tomato soup that were amazing.

Delightful.

The whole weekend is always a great time. Friends, food, fiber. Last year was no exception.

And now for some photos!

The most amazing buttons!

These button! My heart.

Baaaa!

Sheep. What we’re all here for.

Falling leaves

Falling leaves at the fairgrounds.

YOU ARE

You are here. At Jill Draper’s, to be specific.


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Operation Try New Restaurants: Roots Cafe

I’d been watching the construction of the Roots building with interest – I didn’t know what it was going to be until it was nearly done, but it’s right down the street from us, so I was hoping for something good. I can almost see if it from my house. (I could, if it wasn’t for all those other pesky buildings in the way.)

First of all, Roots is very…slick. The building is new, the furniture is rustically chic, there’s wood and metal and glass. They have a fancy website. (Which, I know, isn’t an indicator of anything really, but in this day and age so many places still have horrible-looking, uninformative websites.)

Second, Roots is church-backed, though you wouldn’t know it by the website. And you may not even notice when you go, if you’re not paying attention. As someone who went to a religious college as a non-religious person and ended up around a lot of aggressively religious people? I noticed. Like, a lot. There’s a small book shop area when you come in that carries religious reading material. And the people…well, they’re perfectly nice. Very nice. Like in a really “Hey, I’m being nice to you!” kind of way. Ugh, I feel horrible for complaining about people being too nice? I mean, seriously. Who does that? Bear with me. It’s my baggage. I just can’t with the overly-nice “Christian” attitude because I’ve known it to be so disingenuous at times. I’d rather have someone be less “nice” and more honest, if that makes sense. (I know, “not all Christians!” but this is my experience, so bugger off.)

Anyway! Religious qualms aside, I wanted to try the place soon after they opened, but at the time they closed mid-afternoon and weren’t open on Sundays. (They’re now open later, though still closed on Sundays.) So one Saturday morning in September, I dragged the kids up the street and we got some breakfast. The kids got a smoothie to share and some muffin tops. I didn’t try them but they disappeared quickly, so apparently they passed muster with the elementary aged crowd. I got an iced latte (as I do) which was good – pretty standard latte. And. And. They had biscuits! and! gravy! Which I love. Love. And you rarely see biscuits and gravy on the menu up here. (Know where I can get some? Please let me know!) I ordered them with great anticipation, but…they were only OK. Meh.

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They did have really cute salt & pepper shakers all over tho…

I haven’t been back despite it being so close to home, because the atmosphere really threw me. I keep meaning to try it again but when Quill is only a little further away? I know where I’ll go.


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Operation Try New Restaurants: LOBSTER!

Ok, y’all, I know lobster isn’t a restaurant. But I’m claiming it for August because it’s notable. I’m a Mainer. I grew up here. I’ve lived here again for the past almost-ten years. I love seafood. But? I have never had a lobster. I’ve eaten lobster – in mac ‘n’ cheese, lobster rolls, ravioli… But never a whole lobster.

Do I lose my Mainer badge?

My First Lobster

(It was delicious.)

And the occasion? My BFF got married and I was one of the privileged few to be there. So much love!

Amy & Patrick

sunflowers at the wedding

always and forever


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Operation Try New Restaurants: June

I went all out in June. (Partly on the company dime. Thanks for coming, visiting researcher!)

In no particular order:

Firstly, Woodford F&B – this was the one I was lucky enough to have paid for. We went out for lunch as a farewell to a researcher who’d been with us for a bit. We each had a different type of Fancy Lemonade!

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So fancy!

I can’t even remember what was happening in my life at this point, but I do remembering a pressing need to eat vegetables, so I opted for a Cobb salad, which was delicious.

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Fancy vegetables.

And I took full advantage and ordered dessert too – something seasonal – a crisp involving rhubarb and perhaps other fruit with a honey ice cream that was to die for.

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Fancy crisp with fancy ice cream.

Next, we discovered a new restaurant just down the street from us – Blazes Burgers. It was new at the time and within walking distance of our house and across from the park/playground and they have burgers! And fries! And tots! And they’re attached to an ice cream shop too! So basically we ate here a lot over the summer. It’s decent, inexpensive, and a kid-pleaser. Thumbs up.

I took the kids to Flea Bites in Congress Square for some delicious eats. We met my mother there and took turns wrangling children in a busy downtown spot while trying to order food from various different food trucks. My main meal-like food item was this amazing sandwich from Nom Bai. Yes. Yes.

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We also got an assortment of donuts from Eighty 8 Donuts. I opted for a variety with CBD, and offered to share with my mom but she mis-heard me saying “CBD” and thought I said there was “seaweed” in them?

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H opted for a flavor coated in fruity pebbles and could not have been happier. I tried to talk him out of it. It did not work.

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That’s a monkey around his neck.

And the last food-I’ve-eaten-with-my-mom-in-June location was Empire Chinese Kitchen, which we went to at her request. She’d been trying to get me to go for ages – I just wasn’t sure how the kids would like it. Turns out I was mostly right to be wary. I loved it. They? Not so much.

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H dares to eat some bacon fried rice. Fried rice! With bacon! And corn! What’s not to love?

We got a variety of small dishes including: char siu bao (BBQ pork stuffed buns), bacon fried rice (the kids’ fave), honey walnut shrimp (my mom’s fave), szechuan cold cucumbers (which only I ate…and loved), and I think some Chinatown roast pork? It was all good. My problem with small plates places is I always want to try everything and then I end up with a stuffed belly and a decidedly un-stuffed wallet. I try to remember that I can just come back and try something else, but in reality the chances of me actually going back are pretty slim, given how much I get out. (I know. I went out a lot in June. It’s unusual.)

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These don’t even look like shrimp.

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Like pickles. Only not quite. Delicious nonetheless.

And that wraps up my adventures in New Food from last June! I swear I’ll finish this up before the summer.