A Visit to one of America’s Oldest and Largest Used Book Shops

A Visit to one of America’s Oldest and Largest Used Book Shops

brattle-book-shop-entranceOn a narrow, unassuming road within the bustling, chaotic streets of Boston, the Brattle Book Shop stood quietly and welcoming. As I leapt from the warm interior of our cab, I raced through the rain and stepped through the book shop’s doors. The second I took in the perfectly lined shelves stacked high with books, and the winding staircase that led to the two stories above me- also filled with books- I couldn’t contain my excitement. In fact, I’m certain I positively glowed as I gazed gleefully around me. I remember feeling this way when stepping into a brightly-lit candy shop as a child and inhaling the temptingly sweet aroma of all the colorful candies and chocolate. Only this time I was inhaling a scent much richer and tempting- that of old and well-loved novels. I trailed my fingertips along the worn and colorful spines as I winded my way down each aisle, my mind racing as I imagined all the wonderful stories being played out within those covers. I knew I wouldn’t be leaving empty-handed, but I needed to pick the one. But how to choose in a book shop this big?

I slowly made my way to the top floor of Brattle’s where the rare and antiquarian books were located. I froze at the top of the staircase- my gaze falling upon novels and tomes that have clearly been around a lot longer than I have. I took in the faded leather bindings and pages browned with age and inhaled the euphoric scent of antiquated novels. Oh yeah. I was in bookworm heaven! To say I lost myself in enjoyment and pleasure as I gently and reverently picked up novels in every genre imaginable, from centuries long-past, would be an understatement. I just knew the one I was looking for was located on this floor…and it took me quite a while to find it.

I found “the one” while ambling past the section labeled “Civil War”. A small, unassuming brown novel with the faded words “The Female Spy” on its spine was tucked away in the looming shadows of much larger novels. I can’t exactly say what made me pause and pick it up. Maybe it was the interesting title? Or the soft brown fabric with the unique floral design? I still honestly don’t know. I flipped the cover open and saw that it was printed in 1864 in Boston and was written by S. Emma E. Edmonds. The full title was “The Female Spy of the Union Army. The Thrilling Adventures, Experiences, and Escapes of a Woman, as Nurse, Spy, and Scout, In Hospitals, Camps, and Battle-Fields.” It was quite the title- and my interest was instantly piqued. I found it intriguing that the publisher basically apologized for some of the alarming and unnatural content- such as the descriptions of the female author having to dress as a man! (how risqué!). They went on to say that the author’s morals should not be questioned as everything was done for patriotism and for a good cause. My how the times have changed! It made me chuckle to think of all the warnings that would need to be placed in modern literature. Can you picture this 19th century publisher reading Fifty Shades of Grey? I envision the Foreword reading something like:

The content of this novel does not reflect the beliefs, opinions, and morals of this publishing house. Some of the content (most of it actually) may be disturbing to readers. If you do not wish for your delicate sensibilities and own moral fortitude to be otherwise discomposed, we ask that you heed this warning- this novel depicts a young woman placed in a somewhat binding and disturbing relationship with a more mature, though sadly spiritually conflicted, man of a much higher standing in society. Should you be offended by any of the following, we ask that you do not proceed beyond the Foreword. These topics of debauchery will be thoroughly addressed and demonstrated: the loss of virginity outside of matrimony, a contract of a darkly sexual manner, and the use of devices to stimulate a physical response from its recipient.

I then proceeded to read the first chapter and was instantly hooked! Though the price tag on the novel made me shudder a bit- I knew I had found a lovely little gem that would keep me entertained. Learning that it was a first edition was equally thrilling. After stepping out of Brattle Book Shop with my bag clutched happily in my hands, I found myself missing the shop’s comforting interior. It truly is one of the best places to visit in Boston if you find joy in books the way I do.

Stay tuned for my review of The Female Spy!

Lake St. George Brewing Company Review

Lake St. George Brewing Company Review

Lake St. George Brewing Company — Liberty, Maine

 

Lake St. George Brewing Company is a family-owned brewery located in Liberty, Maine. To say my visit to this locale was a pleasant one would be an understatement. In fact, I can easily say that it will be “the place” to go when I’m looking for a cozy atmosphere and a delicious craft brew. The building itself is reminiscent of a large, renovated barn- which I find particularly appealing. Inside are high vaulted ceilings and wooden beams. A scattering of both low and high-top tables and chairs provide ample seating room for those wishing to relax, sip brews, and chat with friends and family. There is also a cozy loft with both tables and chairs, as well as cushioned lounge chairs.

Lake St. George Brewing Company “The Beer”

Now for the best part- the beer. Lake St. George Brewing Company offers a generous selection of their signature craft brews. You have the Diver Pale Ale which is smooth and just slightly hoppy (a personal favorite of mine), Danny’s Oatmeal Stout which is a darker and heartier craft beer, and Pinnacle Double IPA which is hoppy and bold! In addition to these delicious brews, there’s the Kerplunk! Blueberry Sour-a tart and slightly sweet beer that will appeal to those that like more unique, fruity beers- and the Davistown Brown. My taste buds also had the privilege of acquainting themselves with the brew titled “One Off 2.0 Cran-apple”- Delicious!

Lake St. George Brewing Company Events

Not only can you seat yourself comfortably in this establishment and enjoy a tasty beverage, but you can also do so while listening to live local bands and playing a game or two of trivia during their Trivia Nights. What better way to do all of this than with a fresh slice of pizza? Mmm.

Overall

I would say my only “complaint” is this…I wish they were open just a wee bit longer than 8:00PM. As this establishment is still new, there is always the possibility that this may change. Fingers-crossed!

So, if you find yourself searching for a new, trendy brewery to enjoy a delicious craft brew, make sure to look for the loon logo of Lake St. George Brewing Company on Route 3 in Liberty, Maine!

Lake St George Brewing Company

Lake St George Brewing Company

Also, Check out my review of Two Gramps Brewing located in Gardiner, Maine!

 

Two Gramps Brewing Review

Two Gramps Brewing Review

Two Gramps Brewing Gardiner, Maine

Two Gramps Brewing
Gardiner, Maine

Two Gramps Brewing – Gardiner, Maine

Two Gramps Brewing is a microbrewery located in Gardiner, ME that features eight of their brews on tap. The craft brews range from double IPA’s, German pilsners, and Scottish ales to pale ales and cider-like ales. For those looking for a dark, smoky brew- Two Gramps’s “Beam Me Up Scotty” is perfect. For those like myself who prefer a light, somewhat fruity brew- Two Gramps’s “Beane’s Tonic” apple ale is the beverage to try. The more dense and hoppy brews would be the 104 Stars (a double IPA) and Even Steven. These will routinely be switched out with new brews so that a new selection can be trialed at different visits. If you happen to find a brew you enjoy, you have the option of purchasing it in a growler or the smaller growlette so that you may enjoy it from the comfort of your home.

Craft brews aren’t the only items to indulge in while at Two Gramps Brewing. Their food menu is another delightful treasure that your mouth and stomach will thank you for. The Tater Tot Poutine and Spinach and Artichoke Dip with Rosemary Focaccia were positively bursting with flavor. For the main course, I tried their deluxe veggie burger and my family sampled the rest of their hamburgers. I can honestly say it was one of the best veggie burgers I have ever tried. And I will also say this- everything at the microbrewery is perfectly priced! In addition to great tasting food, satisfying and refreshing brews, a homey and trendy locale, and warm and inviting atmosphere- the staff were amazing as well! A restaurant, pub, brewery, or organization can offer a fantastic product, but without a welcoming and friendly team then it doesn’t appeal to me.

Luckily for Two Gramps Brewing they have all that and more! I look forward to seeing how this new, trendy microbrewery does in downtown Gardiner. I suspect it will last for many years to come as it is the perfect addition to a lively and growing community.

Stop by Two Gramps Brewing and try their refreshing home brews and satisfying burgers today!

 

Also, Check out my review of Lake St. George Brewing Company in Liberty, Maine!

This Maine Town is Infamous for its Haunted History PLUS Local Event

This Maine Town is Infamous for its Haunted History PLUS Local Event

Ghostport

Haunted Maine Town

By: April Hughes

 

Ghostport is an annual event that takes place in October in the town of Bucksport, Maine. Bucksport is notorious in the state for its rich history and legend involving its founder, Colonel Jonathan Buck. According to the legend, in 1852- a little over 50 years after Colonel Buck’s death- a monument was erected in his memory by his grandchildren. While this is not unusual, what was considered peculiar is the distinct marking of a woman’s leg and foot that appeared soon after it was built. This legend concluded that the markings were placed there due to a curse bequeathed upon Jonathan Buck by a witch he had sentenced to death by burning. Before the witch was engulfed by flames, she spat out a curse and stated that her sign would be left upon his tombstone. Her leg then falls out of the fire where her deformed son then picks it up and runs off into the woods with it. This story is a popular tale and has many variations to it. Unfortunately, the validity of the legend cannot be verified, though it’s fun to speculate.

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Catherine J. Gross Photography

I decided to attend Ghostport this year in hopes of checking out Jonathan Buck’s infamous tombstone, and the activities taking place near the waterfront. As I crossed over the bridge into Bucksport from Verona Island, I could instantly spot the hordes of people decked out in their costumes as they explored the river’s shoreline, and the many quaint shops along the main street. It was surprisingly easy to find a place to park considering how busy the event was for such a small town. With my family in tow, I followed the distant sound of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” blasting from speakers and the tantalizing aroma of buttery pretzels and sweet cotton-candy. Once we arrived at Bucksport’s marina, we headed straight towards the pretzel vendor- there was no way I was walking past them after having smelled their deliciousness.

 

Moonsyer Candles

As we snacked on our buttery treat, we slowly explored the rest of the vendors. There was a booth occupied by ghost hunters who relayed stories about their spookier adventures. They are a Maine-based group who travels around to haunted locations throughout our history-rich state. After all, there is a reason Stephen King bases many of his novels out of Maine. We then spent some time in a tent occupied by Moonsyer Candles, a local Maine candlemaker. Moonsyer Candles uses hand-poured, all-natural palm wax candles in their homemade creations. The candle names and some of the scents were unique enough to remark upon- such as, Maine Made Moose Poop, Bunny Burps, Monkey Farts (which smelled of bananas, of course), Snowman Balls, and one you probably would never think to purchase in candle-form- high octane gasoline. We ended up walking away with a bag filled with wax melts. I currently have their Maple Bourbon Brioche melting away on my wax burner-delicious!

We finished the rest of our pretzel bites while watching people launch pumpkins into the river with a man-made, wooden catapult. There was a small, floating platform marked by two balloons that were an apparent target for people to aim for. It was an interesting site watching all those pumpkins bobbing forgotten in the water. I imagine they will provide a nice treat for Maine’s wildlife.

 

Author Deborah J. Hughes Meet and Greet

After watching the pumpkin launch, we headed over to a Halloween-decorated tent occupied by Deborah J. Hughes, a Maine author who created the Tess Schafer-Medium series, as well as a few standalone novels. This tent drew hordes of people, all clambering to get their hands on Deborah J. Hughes’s spooky novels. Being an avid reader, I never turn down a chance to pick up a new novel, especially when I have a chance to talk with the author themselves. Did I have a total fan-girl moment when the author kindly signed the inside cover of her novel No Matter What for me? Why yes, I did. Am I ashamed of it? Why no I’m not. I have been a fan of this author since I was barely old enough to recite my ABC’s. She is, after all, the person who got me hooked on ghost stories and romance (have I mentioned she’s my Mom?). Now, If I had almost half the talent of that woman…sigh. See my review of Deborah J. Hughes’s Be Still My Love here. And also check out my other book reviews here.

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Catherine J. Gross Photography

Bucks Tomb

As I clutched No Matter What in my hands (which I will be posting a review about soon- so stay tuned!), we made our way over to the infamous Colonel Jonathan Buck’s tombstone. As I stood on my side of the wrought-iron fence and gazed at the tombstone, I half anticipated something eerie to happen. After all, I was standing in front of an infamous cursed stone. Disappointingly, I did not experience the presence of the supernatural. However, it was still exciting to witness a piece of history and speculate on the possibility of a true witch’s curse.

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Catherine J. Gross Photography

At the end of the day, I have a new book to read, some new candles to burn, and I had the chance to witness a legend!

 

Like the Photography included in this post? Checkout her photography businesses at Maine Wedding Photographer and Newborn Photography Maine!

 

Morse’s Sauerkraut and European Deli – Waldoboro Maine

Morse’s Sauerkraut and European Deli – Waldoboro Maine

Morse’s Sauerkraut and European Deli

By: April Hughes

 

Morse’s Sauerkraut and European Deli is both a specialty store and restaurant that offers a variety of European dishes and imported goods. The Kraut Haus restaurant at Morse’s has been our favorite place to enjoy a Sunday brunch for the past couple of years. From Marzipan Stollen French Toast and Reuben Omelets, to Schnitzel dishes and Spaetzle, the Kraut Haus has a lot to offer. The restaurant also makes their pickles and sauerkraut in-house. I tried the garlic-herb pickles and they were phenomenal. The sauerkraut is served either hot or cold, and unlike canned mushy sauerkraut, this kind provides the perfect amount of crunch and tartness. The freshness and quality of the food is spot-on and the service is both warm and welcoming. As for the environment, you can enjoy your hearty German fare while seated in a booth that offers a great deal of privacy due to the high-backs. The space is illuminated by antique lanterns which perfectly accentuate the green-toned booths and brick walls. An assortment of condiments, including a few different varieties of German mustard are available to adorn your dishes.



After finishing the meal, we cash out at the register located in the store. Whoever designed the restaurant was a genius. I mean, you can’t just walk past the marzipan, stroopwafels, European biscuits, rare herbs and spices, imported candies and drinks, and not want to buy anything. I stepped maybe one foot into the store and my gaze fell upon the Kinder candies with overzealous glee. I was immediately taken back to my years of living in Germany and Italy and how these treats were a favorite part of my childhood. Naturally, I had to purchase a few (Note: remember that these treats are imported. This means that they are going to cost a wee bit more than they would in a normal store. But it’s totally worth it!). The back of the store boasts an excellent selection on European meats and cheeses. The deli serves Speck and Schinken hams from Germany, Bavarian sausages, aged Dutch Goudas, and many others!

Check out Morse’s Sauerkraut and European Deli in North Waldoboro, Maine if you’re looking for delicious German fare and something uniquely European to bring home. I highly recommend this location for your holiday shopping!

 

Treworgy Family Orchards – Levant, Maine – October 2017

Treworgy Family Orchards – Levant, Maine – October 2017

Treworgy Family Orchards

Treworgy Family Orchards

Treworgy Family Orchards

It has been a tradition in our family to visit Treworgy Family Orchards in Levant, Maine every October. This is a family event that we look forward to every fall, and for a variety of reasons. From the unique corn maze designs and orchards, to the hayrides and pumpkin patch, there is a little of everything for people to enjoy. Personally? I truly enjoy the corn maze. This isn’t your typical randomly designed maze that you have to run around until you find the way out. Treworgy comes up with a new design every year.

Here’s a little review of their maze designs in the past five years:

2013: Richard the Lion

2014: The Lost Locomotive

2015: Edwin the Elephant’s Exciting Escapade

2016: Dragon and Knight

2017: Paul Bunyan Legendary Lumberjack

It does cost money to access the maze. This year, for four of us (3 adults and 2 kids under 10) it cost us $38.00. I will say, considering the size of the maze, the time and effort that went into creating it, the unique riddle posts (which I will explain later), and the ice cream included at the end, for five people that isn’t a bad price.

Now, once you have a map of your maze, you will notice numbers, typically 1-6, pinpointed in different locations throughout the maze. What you’re intended to do is follow your map to those locations. Once you get to a number, you’ll notice a post with a riddle or question displayed (see picture). After answering the question, you will mark the answer on your map. Once you have made it to all number stations and have answered all the questions, you will locate the answer key displayed next to the large “You Did It!” sign at the maze’s exit. Right or wrong, you can chuckle over your maze adventure at the main farmhouse where you will turn your answer key in for a FREE ice cream.



While you enjoy your ice cream, you can amble around the farm stands to check out the produce, or visit the goats that are inclined to loiter around the 25 cent machines filled with goat food. Smart goats. There is also a small sandbox for the little ones to enjoy and a randomly placed bird cage housing pigeons (the cage is by no means “small”. Au contraire, the cage appeared large enough to fit five or six people comfortably). Near the sandbox and pigeon cage is the hayride pick-up/drop-off location. After finishing our ice cream, my family and I tend to catch a ride on the tractor-pulled hay wagon where we comfortably situate ourselves on a hay bale. This provides us an excellent opportunity to check out the rest of the wide-expanse of farm and orchards. The hayride was free! However, if you want to ride on the horse-drawn hay wagon, then there is a 5.00 fee.

 

We then complete our day by using one of the provided wagons and then heading over to the pumpkin patch. To make pumpkin searching a bit easier on visitors, the farm places orange flags near the “best” pumpkins. My family tends to get a bit more adventurous and spends their time in the patch avidly avoiding the orange flags. Some people just enjoy the hunt.



After loading our pumpkins into the wagons, we head towards the large tent near the back entrance to the Treworgy where we have our pumpkins weighed. Pumpkin prices can range from $5.00-$20.00. Near the registers, you have the option to purchase apple cider made right there on the farm from their apple trees, or other seasonal produce. We rarely ever leave without picking up a pint of apple cider (it is absolutely DELICIOUS!).

So, if you’re looking for an affordable and fun place to take your family this fall, then Treworgy Family Orchards in Levant, Maine is the place to go!

Treworgy Family Orchards

Treworgy Family Orchards

 

Check out my other adventures in the New England area Here.

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