Who needs a vacation alarm clock (set for 3 hours earlier than you desire to wake up), when you have a toddler at the foot of your bed?
I woke up like this. With Grace pinching my toes and yelling, “Hellooooo!”
In an effort to spare the rest of our family the 4:30 wake-up call over the 4th of July weekend, we snuck out for some early morning walks down to the beach. The Cape might be my favorite place on Earth. Except for the place where they make popcorn (I’ve never been to a popcorn factory, but I just know it’s magical).
Not a bad way to start the day.
We covered 3.5 miles on Friday on our own, and 2.5 miles on Saturday with my brother and sister-in-law and their own mini-human alarm clock, my niece.
6 AM pajama parties on the beach are the best.
And with the entire world still sleeping, we had the beach to ourselves and our pick of the prettiest shells.
Any day we are lucky enough to wake up at the Cape (even if it’s at 4 AM), we are lucky enough.
In my world, every Monday is Meatless Monday. Same goes for, like… Tuesdays and Wednesdays, too. In my home, however, the vegetarians no longer outnumber the carnivores. Grace had her first few bites of steak last week, so… this cheese vegetarian stands alone.
But that’s neither here nor there. After a few days of being on vacation (we had a lovely time, but please don’t be too jealous… it’s presently warmer and less rainy in Boston than it was in Fort Lauderdale last week), we’re settling back into our routines but I am continuing to eat like I’m on vacation. I had the best salad at a little beachside restaurant last week and couldn’t wait to make my own version when we got home. Salad first, unpack later.
You can use just about any base for this salad. I used red lentils, but you might consider pearled couscous, quinoa or farro (which was part of the original dish, and although its not gluten free, it contains less gluten than wheat and is easier to digest, at least for this body). As for the dressing, it’s probably worth noting that most green goddess recipes include anchovies or anchovy paste. This one does not. #savethefishes. Just kidding. Kind of.
Also. Let’s be serious. It’s just a salad. A delicious one, yes. But you probably don’t need to measure your ingredients.
Heirloom tomato, lentil and arugula salad with green goddess dressing
1 cup of red lentils, cooked (Quick and easy: Rinse and dry lentils, bring to boil in 2.5 cups of water, turn down for what heat and let simmer for approximately 15 minutes)
4 cups of baby arugula
2 cups of heirloom cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup of feta cheese
Allow lentils to cool slightly, and top with arugula and tomatoes.
Add a bit of feta cheese and drizzle with green goddess dressing.
Yes. This is the most obvious recipe of all time.
Vegetarian green goddess dressing
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup green onions
1/4 cup fresh basil
1/4 cup fresh parsley
1 TSP fresh dill
1 TSP chives, chopped
2 cloves of garlic
Juice from half a lemon (more, if needed)
Salt and pepper, to taste
Add garlic and herbs to your blender or food processor and blend until finely processed.
Add yogurt, sour cream and lemon juice (a little at a time) and blend.
We’ve snuck out of town for some warmer weather. And yes, I know you’re not supposed to tell people you’re away, but let’s be serious:
What happens on vacation ends up on Instagram and I can’t resist sharing a good sunset shot.
All the important and valuable things are coming with me (Because, hello… the important and valuable things aren’t things. They’re people). So, I guess I’m not really worried.
If you’re spending this Monday getting sucked into a Polar Vortex (Do we capitalize that? It nearly froze my eyelashes off last year, so I am guessing something that powerful and terrifying deserves capitalization.), the least I can do is give you a little mental vacation.
A few of my favorite vacation photos
Here are a few of my favorite vacation photos (and memories) I’ve collected over the years.
North Adams, MA
A couple years ago, we spent a long weekend at Porches, visited Mass MoCA (and an old burial ground, because I am a creep) and climbed little mountains with our little dog.
U.S. and British Virgin Islands
And now I want to go on our Honeymoon again. Like, real bad. We stayed on St. John, but took a few sailing and day trips to places like Virgin Gorda. We snorkeled in caves, spied on sea turtles and drank Old English ciders (because gluten allergies do not take vacations no matter how badly one craves a cold beer). I took 9,000 photos. And did lots of floating.
Boothbay Harbor, Maine
This is why Maine is called Vacationland.
Aaaaand… a bonus photo of Clark.
The dude knows how to do vacations.
Also On Tap for Today:
Working on some festive posts and giveaways (which I shall draft on the back of a cocktail napkin — attempting to unplug whilst on vacation!)
We made a quick trip to Maine this weekend to see Nick’s parents, and made it back to the city in time for our niece’s birthday party. By the time Sunday evening rolled around, I was ready to face plant into bed… but forced myself to do laundry first. You know, so I would have something to wear come Monday morning.
Oh, and before we dig into my own Instagram feed, I came across something worth sharing this morning: Brendon and Danielle are hosting a fantastic yoga challenge (starting today) that focuses on modifications. I love that there is room for everyone to practice in yoga, and this challenge reflects that.
Okay. Let’s look at pictures of my trunk. And the harbor. And my dog.
This is what “packing light” looks like these days. After visiting my parents on the Cape over the 4th, we had a pretty good sense of what was necessary and what we could leave home. I am not sure why I packed 100 diapers for a 36 hour trip, but hey. In addition to the obvious (ye olde Pack ‘N Play), we have a couple baby items that have been great for travel: this Skip Hop outdoor blanket which folds up beautifully and easily wipes clean (bonus points for for detachable insulated bag – we used this for Grace’s rash guard and swim diaper last weekend) and the Puj Flyte infant bath, which also folds up (sensing a theme?) and fits in most sinks. I was afraid Grace had outgrown the Flyte (we used it for her first few baths at home), but it actually works even better now that she’s, welp… sturdier.
I will never tire of this view. Dusk in Boothbay Harbor is just incredible. I remember one of my art history professors in college talking about how the light in Maine is magic. I thought he was high. Now I think he was just telling the truth (also, he could have been high).
Other magical things in Maine: This aptly named “Little House” nestled just along the harbor. When I’m old I want to live in a little house (specifically: a tiny house).
I’ve been sharing pages from my sketchbook lately on Instagram. I’ve always loved to draw, but I’m finding it especially productive as a way to quiet my brain a bit at the end of the day. I’m the first to admit that I’m tightly wound and the last few months? On another level. I’ve been breaking out some paper, a pen and a set of watercolors most nights after Grace goes to sleep (and, inevitably, before she wakes up again). There were a few Audubon field guides at the cottage (plus, like… real birds outside…), hence the, um... birdoodles.
An old, old wooden ship.
Clark loves heading North. He also loves pretending to play guard dog behind decorative screen doors.
How I close out the weekend: brewing a pitcher of peppermint tea to sip cold throughout the week. Super refreshing. The Yogi Tea quotes help.
New animal obsession: hedgehogs. I picked up this set of notecards at Target (no surprise there). More hedgehog cuteness: Biddy the Hedgehog’s Instagram account. He fits in the palm of your hand, he visits National Parks, he is magnificent.
Aaaaaaand a tiny OOTD: Grace’s party dress for her cousin’s birthday. Wouldn’t be a party without a bow.
After several days of rain (which I spent wrapped up in a quilt on the porch swing) I was so happy to be able to get my float on in that icy Maine water before heading back to Boston. Pure bliss.
While I was pretending to be a mermaid, Clark wound down his final minutes of vacation like the fancy dog he is: legs crossed, sunning on the deck. The second we got home, he went straight into the tub. That little guy really made the most of his time in the woods, pawing through mud, eating various insects, and splashing in streams. In other words: he smelled like a dead squirrel.
The mysteries of life: Why does it take me six days to unpack from a five day trip? That American flag scarf, by the way, is from Hazel & Olive. I ordered it just before Memorial Day, when all proceeds benefited the Wounded Warrior Project. #winwin
I like Clark’s July face. I should probably start compiling photos for The Clark Chronicles 2014… Can’t get enough of the little muffin? He’s on Facebookaaaand now Instagram.
A little weekend reading courtesy of WodTalk magazine – lots of great information for fellow CrossFitters.
Nick mentioned something about an NFL fantasy draft, and I immediately felt the urge to bake. When football is on (which it isn’t, and won’t be for a while thank goodness), I can likely be found making a mess in the kitchen. I answered the urge with a batch of gluten free blueberry and cinnamon muffins. I loosely followed a basic blueberry muffin recipe, substituting almond meal for flour and coconut milk for regular ol’ milk and overdoing it a bit on the cinnamon. Also, I think I ate an entire pint of blueberries while waiting for the over to pre-heat.
Speaking of berries, all I want to eat during the summer is fruit. The hot pink-er, the better. I love raspberries.
New hulu+ obsession: A Day in the Life, a series of half hour documentaries from Morgan Spurlock (of Supersize Me fame). We watched episodes following ?uestlove (his new book is next on my summer reading list) and Braddock, PA mayor John Fetterman. Both were fascinating. I highly recommend checking out the series. I find that since we ditched cable, not only do we watch less television (via our cute little Roku, which streams hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc.), but we watch better, more interesting television.
Started the weekend floating; ended the weekend floating. Nick and I enjoyed a little pool time with my parents, and my newlywed sister and brother-in-law (happy almost two month anniversary) on Sunday. Noodles rule. Poodles drool.
[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]Remember that 90’s jam, “Back to life, back to reality?” I feel like the singer with the serious shoulder pads has been whispering the lyrics into my ear all week long. I’m back in the city, and back to the grind, but certainly feeling more relaxed and rested (and freckled) after our Maine vacation. Boothbay Harbor is only half a tank of gas from Boston, but feels like it could be on another planet. Mostly because my office and laundry pile aren’t there.
Mini ship in a mini bottle.
If you’re looking for a quick getaway from your own pile of laundry, I highly recommend a trip to the Boothbay area. The drive from Boston takes about 3.5 hours (though I make it under 3 once last year…), and is really scenic. Towards the end of the trip, you pass through adorable towns like Wiscasset, where everything is cute and old and you sort of want to take pictures of random people walking their dogs. Or maybe you didn’t get enough sleep because the night before you go on vacation feels like Christmas Eve.
Regardless, a few tips if you’re thinking about heading north. Or south. Or however you get there from where you are.
Where to stay
My fish eye lens is one of my favorite little gadgets-- it was super inexpensive and really fun to use.
Last year, Nick’s mother found the most adorable cottage, located right on Linekin Bay, on Home Away. The house was built in the 1920’s and is the perfect place to spend a week on the water. I was so excited when she rented the same house again this year. If I wasn’t floating in the bay, I was curled up on the glider on the porch with a book. Nick and his brother fished from the dock, while we chatted with the family staying next door. It really feels like a home away from home. If you’d prefer to stay in a hotel or inn, there are a number of great options right downtown, as well as the Linekin Bay Resort, located right on the water with numerous amenities.
Time to get crackin'. (And yes, that is a vacation beard.)
If you’re into seafood (specifically, lobsters), Boothbay Harbor is where it’s at. If you’re a vegetarian, and you like when your boyfriend is happy (after consuming 9 lobsters over the course of a single week), Boothbay Harbor is most definitely where it’s at. There are several places downtown that sell lobsters wholesale (~$6/lb.) for cooking and eating at home. We had two lobster dinners at the cottage, out on the deck overlooking the water. I wore yoga pants. And no shoes. Those were probably my favorite meals of the week. While everyone else went to town on their lobsters and clams, I enjoyed corn on the cob, salad, tomatoes, potatoes, pasta and ice cream sundaes the size of my Ford Focus.
We also enjoyed some great meals in town. I would recommend a visit to any of these restaurants and cafes.
I bet this guy catches some pretty big fish.
Mama D’s: Lots to look at, including a fairy village built inside one of the bay windows. Breakfast was consistently good there.
Ebb Tide: Skip the bowl of berries (too sweet, possibly frozen) and go straight for the cinnamon roll. Trust me on this.
Lobster Dock: Grab a picnic table right next to the water for incredible views of ships coming in and out of the harbor. And be sure to take a peek in the tank for “Lucky,” the rare yellow lobster.
McSeagulls: Gigantic menu (including several vegetarian and gluten free options), and really great service.
Boothbay Lobster Wharf: Beware the seagulls at this casual restaurant. Though there is indoor seating, you won’t want to miss the view. Grab a seat at one of the picnic tables on the dock.
Coastal Maine Popcorn Company: We stopped into this cute storefront twice last week. First round: 1 small bag of garlic parmesan, and 1 small bag of white cheddar. And then we went back for round 2: dill pickle (amazing) and something chocolatey for Nick. I was too busy inhaling my bag to take note of the actual flavor. Check out the website for their popcorn of the month club, and a full list of varieties.
What to do
Maine in the rain.
The weather is incredible (even when it’s raining, which only happened once), the views are breathtaking, and your phone likely won’t get reception (which is both awesome and terrifying… hello, how do you call 911?). Boothbay Harbor is the perfect place to do nothing. Once you’re done doing nothing, I recommend renting kayaks. And searching for pufflings.
If the sticker's facing you, you're holding the paddle correctly.
Cruise: There are a number of companies located right in the harbor that will take you on half- or full-day excursions. From puffin tours (amazing!) and whale watching, to mackerel fishing and an adventure to Monhegan Island, there’s likely something for everyone. Except the people that hate boats. Obvi.
Rent a kayak or two: Nick’s parents rented two kayaks for us to play with for the week. Someone from Tidal Transit dropped up the boats, did a safety demonstration (which I ignored) and gave us some tips on which coves to explore. Nick and I went on a few explorations– it was really fun to “see Maine from sea level.” Until I almost got capsized by a lobster boat.
What is this? A center for ants?!
Make a fairy house: Fairy houses are a coastal Maine tradition. The house I built last year using an acorn cap, some moss and a few twigs, didn’t survive the winter but our next door neighbors made sure no fairies were left out in the cold. They were on to something with those shells.
What a bad photo of something really good. Whoops.
Do a bit of shopping: Boothbay Harbor has lots of great little shops and galleries. We browsed at a few antique shops, where I fell in love with a set of small pilgrim dishes and pair of clip-on “Ike” earrings from President Eisenhower’s campaign (don’t worry, I didn’t buy either). I picked up a two of Dana Heacock‘s gorgeous prints of beach stones and a little surprise for my parents at Abacus Gallery. We also picked up a toy for Clark at a really great place called The Creative Turtle and a few goodies from Sherman’s Books and Stationary. Oh, actually… I got a few things there for you!
Because it wouldn’t be a vacation if I didn’t bring home a souvenir or three, I’d love to give* one of you a braided sailor’s bracelet, your very own “No Puffin'” sticker, and a sail-inspired journal.
Fun fact: We have painted concrete floors. And sadly, no puffins.
To enter, all you have to do is:
Leave a comment below
Not mind that I have a matching bracelet, journal and sticker and will probably claim that a. we planned it and b. we’re BFFLs
For an extra entry, feel free to tweet (please include this link: http://wp.me/pySBS-182 and @ElizabethEv, so that I catch it)
[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]Today is Day 3 of my vacation, and Day 1 of me wearing something other than a small bikini and a very large hat. We ventured into town this morning for a few necessities: Coastal Maine popcorn, rope to tie my pretzel float to the dock, details for Wednesday’s puffin cruise and blueberry pancakes.
This is the life.
Also On Tap for Today:
Happy birthday to my not-so-little little brother! I love you, buddy!
[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false] We’ve come to the end of the road, girls and Boyz II Men. This marks the final vacation post from our awesome week at sea, in Haiti, and in Mexico. When I left you last, we were exploring Mayan ruins and my unparalleled nerdiness. In comparison (and in reality), this post’s a day at the beach.
Don't adjust your monitors, people. That color is the real deal.
The rainstorms at the ruins passed and the sun broke through just in time for a Mexican buffet on the beach. I said, “si, por favor” to guacamole, rice, beans and hot sauce. The food was amazing, but I was anxious to change into my bathing suit and begin an afternoon of Cool Stuff Explorations. Nick and I walked down to the waves when our first cool thing nearly stabbed us in the leg (that might be a slight exaggeration).
Ray, that’s what I named him, looked a lot like a stealth fighter jet. Prior to seeing him, I had every intention of going swimming. After seeing him? No way did I want to be Steve Irwined. Besides, there was so much to see along the shoreline.
We collected a lot of shells and coral. I tried not to collect fleas from the pack of wild dogs, but they were just so cute (and clearly, as you can tell from the photo above, we were missing Clark). Earlier in the day, however, I collected the coolest thing of all: an authentic luchador mask. It’s perfect for napping.
Scary, aren’t I? This is what I look like when you disturb my slumber (be thankful I am wearing a mask). Please be aware that my hair is soaking wet. I have not, in fact, taken to bathing in canola oil. Just figured I’d clarify. After a blissful day combing the beach and exploring the Mayan ruins, we watched the sun set and toasted to a beautiful, relaxing, exhilarating vacation.
[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false] Let’s begin by acknowledging what a gigantic nerdball I am. Good. And I will continue by promising I am almost done rambling about my vacation. We just have to talk about Tulum and another day of Cool Stuff Explorations and then you can stop wanting to poke me in the eye. Let’s roll.
The day we spent amongst the Mayan ruins at Tulum nearly blew my tiny mind. I was like,
“Whoa! Look at that! Whoooaaaa! Look at that! How did they doooo that? Whoa! Look at that!”
And our tour guide was like,
“Whoa! Pipe down, ya freak! You’re single-handedly ruining my tour of the ruins. By the way, we offered you all umbrellas for a reason. You look like a drown poodle. Take this poncho as a sign of my annoyance with you.”
I saw someone run up those stairs, Rocky-style. I simultaneously wanted to join him and citizens arrest him.
Looks like someone had the brains to take a complimentary umbrella. More importantly, how beautiful is this place?!
Talk about a view. (Please ignore the water blob/paranormal activity thing... it really could be either.)
I literally walked around the park with my mouth wide open, taking photographs in the pouring rain (with Nick protecting my camera), looking like the most nerd-mazing tourist on the planet, trying to soak it all in. I wish it hadn’t been pouring, but we were in the jungle, so I suppose that’s to be expected. Plus, the rain made everything seem even more mysterious. Here are a few of the things I learned:
Tulum is Mayan for “wall.” In other words (i.e., in my imagination), someone probably pointed in the general vicinity of the ruins of the walled city and was like, “What is this?” And someone answered, “A wall… obviously.” And then the first person was like, “I just discovered Tulum. Please. Shower me with praise.” Tulum may have actually been named Zama, meaning city of dawn.
The city is pre-Columbian (and therefore pre-Pinta, pre-Nina, and pre-Santa Maria) and reached its height between the 1000 and 1600 A.D. The city was inhabited by the Mayas for approximately 80 years after the arrival of European colonists. It is speculated that because the Mayas worshiped a god who looked like a white man, they did not immediately feel threatened by the Spanish. Who knows? (Probably someone, obvi.)
Only 500 people lived within the walls of the city. The city was a noble city, and only the ruling and priest classes were allowed to live within the walls. Everyone else lived outside the walls. The only time all people were welcomed into the city (for reasons other than work) were on feast days– on these days, our tour guide told us, everyone wore white robes. I bet that would be incredible to see. At feasts there would be dancing, competitions, performances and sacrifices (some human, some not human).
The pyramids and other structures were rebuilt every 52 years. Unbelievable, right? Meanwhile it’s taking me 52 years to pick a shade of gray paint for our walls.
Speaking of paint, the buildings were painted a vibrant red and blue, using paprika and indigo which were acquired on trade routes. Tulum was a major trade port for the Mayan empire and could be easily accessed by land or water. The Mayas traded cacao, salt, jade and obsidian at Tulum.
We learned a lot about the Mayan calendar, mathematical system and religion, too. Because the Mayas understood that the universe was logical and predictable, they were obsessed with time. By predicting cycles, they were able to set their own cycles for farming and so on. Their calendar system was used to dictate everything from behavior to when religious ceremonies would be held. I am sort of not at all equipped to explain this stuff. But trust me– it’s incredible. The Mayas also developed an extremely sophisticated writing system.
We ordered a personalized Mayan calendar while we were there (and I scored my very own luchador mask, but I am saving that gem for later). We needed to provide a significant date, and all I could think of was Clark’s birthday (weird, I know). It turns out Clark‘s animal spirit is a dog. The accuracy is chilling.
Nick and I met the Saturday Friday (please see the comments section hahahaha) after St. Patrick’s Day a hundred years ago, but truth be told, I can’t remember the actual date. We could have just used one of our birthdays for the calendar, but I wanted both of our names to be on it (you know, in case we ever need to prove our whereabouts… these are the things I worry about), if only so I could see how Nick’s last name would be misspelled (this seems to happen all the time). Somehow, only Nick’s first name was spelled wrong. Touche, souvenir seller, touche. I don’t know why I am telling you this.
Okay. More pictures.
This temple, overlooking the Caribbean, had small portals in the upper levels. The sun would shine through specific portals during the Solstice and other important days.
5 points if you can spot the bird.
I may be a professional nerd, but clearly I am an amateur historian– so, please forgive me if a. none of this makes sense or b. some of this turns out to not be true. And do let me know if you’ve got some facts to share. I paid as much attention as I could, while still yelling “Whooaaaa!” and pointing at things. I am sure you understand. It’s a lot to fathom.
Also On Tap for Today:
Testing out paint samples (this could go one of two ways– one of them is horribly wrong)
[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false] Really. I have never seen a place so extraordinary. I hated to leave. But if I stayed, who would take care of Clark? Besides, I only had one pair of underoos with me. But if we could have stayed a while longer, we would have. You might be wondering… isn’t it a bit not okay to go cut loose and have fun somewhere where so many people are suffering? To run away from everyday life in a place where there is so much work to be done? It’s okay to wonder that. The answer? I’m not sure.
But like Oprah, there are a few thingsI know for sure. Unfortunately, unlike Oprah, I can’t give you a bunch of awesome free things. And I don’t have a bestie named Gail. And I don’t have a magazine or television show. But I totally should. Um. Back to the important stuff.
This is what I know for sure.
I know that if someone welcomes you to their island, then that is exactly where you’re supposed to be.
I know that my heart soared when I caught my first glimpse of Haiti’s lush hills, turquoise waters, rambling paths, and beautiful-beautiful-beautiful faces.
I know that I was happy to see that our ship– like others docking each week in Haiti– was carrying relief supplies.
And I know, sadly, that the conditions in Haiti continue to worsen. And I know that something needs to be done. And I know that we can help. And I know my words cannot do the situation justice, but I hope my pictures will help you to fall as in love with Haiti as I did. And I hope that love will compel you to find some way, big or small, to help.
Normally I’d make a joke about knotty trees… but I’m not really in the mood. You see, I am a bit of a wreck.
Someone, please. Stop me.
I know that sometimes you need a break. And that taking a break– no matter where it is– can help you to be a more effective helper. I’ve returned with a clearer mind, a rested body, a grateful spirit, and an open heart.