Trip to Portland Maine

Eight days. That’s how long Catherine planned to be in Nebraska visiting her folks. Now, eight days may seem remarkably short to some, but to Catherine and I, eight days is a really long time. Naturally, we decided that if we are expected to be apart so long, then we might as well enjoy some quality time together. So, I packed an overnight bag and drove the hour and a half to Portland, Maine with Catherine and we began a search for a decently priced hotel. Now, if you’ve never been to Portland, Maine in the Summer time, then let me tell you- there is absolutely no such thing as a decently priced hotel. None whatsoever.

We stopped first at the Days Inn. This facility certainly wasn’t Hilton owned, so there was no way it should cost us over 100.00, right? Incorrecto mundo. We were quoted 140.00. And the worst part? The “free” continental breakfast they threw in to sweeten the deal didn’t begin until 6:00AM. Unfortunately for Catherine and I, we needed to be at the airport by 4:30AM. This meant no mildly toasted bagels with questionable expiration dates, tepid coffee, or individually packaged frosted flakes for us. We were going to have to make do with whatever facility was open that early in the morning…such as Cumberland Farms at the gas station…eh.

After leaving the Days Inn, we began a futile search around Portland for a “decently” priced hotel. To assist us with this, Catherine searched online which helped us to narrow locations down according to some of the prices and reviews. One motel had multiple reviews that claimed that they had “bed bugs” *shiver*, another claimed that a similar facility in the area was acting as a refuge for people of questionable morals and background- not quite sure what that means, but we were unable to bring ourselves to find out. Finally, we spotted one that was nearby to our location that was slightly cheaper than the Days Inn. The reviews weren’t horrendous so we decided to check it out.

Our first impression…The motel was in a slight state of disrepair. As we pulled into the motel, we noticed weeds growing alongside the building and random, abandoned objects littered around the property. These objects consisted of a shopping cart, tools, unidentified materials, and a mop (not quite sure who decided it would be a great idea to mop the parking lot-but kudos to them for trying!). There was a couple screaming at each other outside one of the rooms and a questionable exchange occurring on the floor beneath them. After circling the building three times (the entrance was unmarked, and honestly, all the doors looked the same to us), we pulled into a random parking spot and gathered our thoughts. It was during this brief moment of heavy silence that Catherine and I both noticed the large red, white, and black sign haphazardly nailed to a post in front of us. The sign warned us not to leave our items in the car and mentioned theft and criminal activity.

Naturally, we mutually decided that 140.00 at the Days Inn was well worth it if it meant we wouldn’t be sleeping on beds littered with bugs, or we wouldn’t be the unfortunate recipients to theft or other nefarious deeds.

After dropping our belongings off in our room (which was quite comfortable and devoid of bugs, thank goodness), we had dinner at Uno. The restaurant boasted a diverse menu that appeals to a variety of people. For example, I enjoyed a mushroom and cheddar flatbread (I’m a vegetarian), and Catherine delved into buffalo chicken mac and cheese. While I sipped a raspberry iced tea, Catherine enjoyed a pomegranate margarita. The service was spot on! Our waitress was friendly and engaging and the atmosphere was perfect. As we chatted about every random and entertaining thought that popped into mind, Catherine grew increasingly giggly. Let me tell you, the woman can toss back shots like a champ, but give her a cocktail and her eyes grow bright, her cheeks become flushed, and you just have to brace yourself for an evening filled with shenanigans.

Now, if you ever find yourself in Portland and are in need of a good book or two, or three, or four *cough*, you have to check out Books-a-Million near the mall ( I write Book Reviews by the Way). After finishing our dinner at Uno, we headed over to Books-a-Million. You see, there is one place that Catherine and I cannot resist…a bookstore. Books are our Achilles’ heal. It’s bad enough that if a strange man pulled up to us on the street in a white van and offered us books instead of candy, I honestly worry that we’ll fall for it. We’ll probably grin like a couple of foolish, overly trusting victims from those horror movies I watch and gleefully leap into the van in order to snatch the book from his deceiving fingertips. Luckily for us, this hasn’t happened yet.

In the bookstore, Catherine and I decided to 1. Buy some books, 2. Browse every section you can think of, and 3. Purchase a dirty magazine to chuckle over when back in our hotel room. As we surveyed the store, our eyes immediately honed in on the bargain section. Thirty minutes later, an employee of the store noticed me teetering under the mountain of books I balanced in my arms and kindly offered to grab me a cart. Yes. I am one of those people that needs a freaking “cart” when shopping for books. Between Catherine and I, our cart filled rather rapidly. Did we receive astonished gazes from other fellow book readers as we proudly strolled around with our bounty? Yes. Did we care? Absolutely not.

Now on to the fun part. The dirty magazine. What struck me as amusing was the placement of the magazines. Standing in the aisle, the National Geographic and Travel magazines were to the left of us, and the risqué reading material for men and women were to the right. At the time, there were no other patrons in the aisle with us which gave Catherine and I plenty of time to peruse the selection. Interestingly enough, all the reading material were geared towards male viewers. Now, you would think with this being the 21st Century, and post Magic Mike and Fifty Shades of Grey, more people would be comfortable with the idea of creating dirty magazines geared towards female viewers, but that is clearly not the case. Very disappointing. It was during this last thought that Catherine and I noticed two men step into the aisle. The second they noticed us standing in front of the “male” magazines, they quickly spun on their heels and casually picked up the nearest magazines, their backs to us. Now, it’s possible that they had every intention of coming to this aisle in hopes of picking up the latest copy of Better Homes and Gardens, but it is even more likely that Catherine and I were currently occupying the spot they wished to be in.

To test my theory, I encouraged Catherine to move away to the next aisle to admire an impressive display of cat-themed calendars. We waited a moment, and then peeked around the corner. As I predicted, the gentlemen set down their copies of Better Homes and Gardens and began perusing magazines that featured an entirely different form of “hedges” *cough*.

Snagging a nearby Cosmopolitan, Catherine and I left Book-a-Million with our bounty and headed for Chili’s which was conveniently located next to our hotel. You can imagine our server’s surprise when instead of ordering dinner, we ordered a large skillet cookie topped with vanilla ice cream and a couple of “girly” tropical cocktails. Let me tell you, that coconut-blended beverage was a gift to my tastebuds, a delightful taste of vacation in a chilled glass. Catherine and I sucked those bevvies down like a couple of thirsty college girls on Spring Break in Cancun. And that skillet cookie? Oh lordy. That chocolate gooey delight will be something I dream about in the years to come. I highly recommend it if you’re looking for a sugar rush and two minutes of pure, sinful heaven.

A few degrees warmer, definitely fuller, and a whole lot more giddier, Catherine and I made our way back to our hotel room. Luckily, it was a short jaunt across the parking lot. Once inside, we leaped onto our double beds and preceded to chatter about everything that popped into our minds. I’m not quite sure how it happened (though I highly suspect it was the consumption of a few cocktails), but Catherine decided to demonstrate a few of her favorite yoga poses. I learned new ways in which to contort myself like an oddly-shaped pretzel. I will not, however, fall into the “happy baby” pose with as much enthusiasm and glee that Catherine has for the pose. She’ll make a man a very “happy” man one day *wink*.

Our night ended with our causal perusal of our Cosmopolitan magazine. This was where Catherine and I learned about a new trend among women called a “yoni egg”. Interestingly enough, a yoni egg looks exactly what you think it would look like….an egg. Except it’s smooth and polished stone of some sort and is meant to be used for sexual wellness and healing. Ladies, if you don’t know what a yoni egg is, look it up. All I can say is that it’s placed somewhere the sun doesn’t shine *wink*.

The next morning, tired and hangry, I dropped Catherine off at the airport. It’s never easy saying goodbye to your best friend. Especially when you’ve gotten used to seeing them every day. Eight days may seem short to some, but to us, it may as well be a lifetime.

Check in soon for our next adventure!

Check out Catherine’s Wedding Photography business –  and newborn and child photography – Little Owls Photography

April and Catherine

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!

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.

Intuitive Paint Night at The Belfast Breeze Inn

Intuitive Paint Night at The Belfast Breeze Inn

paintnight

Paint Night painting by April Hughes

 

October is the month of All Hallows Eve, and as such, I like to honor the spookiest month of the year by trying unique and spooky experiences. On October 4th I attended an Intuitive Paint Night with psychic Angie Butler Welch at the picturesque Belfast Breeze Inn. The Belfast Breeze Inn is located in the coastal town of Belfast, Maine. The Inn, boasting lodge rooms, a lounge, and restaurant has a warm and welcoming atmosphere. Upon entering the Inn’s foyer, I was kindly greeted and ushered to a moderately sized kitchen in the back where paint night guests were situated on each side of a long kitchen table. Prior to entering the kitchen, I noted the Victorian-like atmosphere of the common rooms, presumably the lounge. I found the clean, Victorian-era décor rather appropriate for an intuitive paint night led by a locally known psychic.

We were served gnocchi with a tomato sauce and a side of garlic bread, a dish of beets, and pesto to garnish our bread with. Glasses of ice water were also distributed. I was offered wine and I gladly accepted. The white wine was crisp, cold, and refreshing which paired nicely with the dish. The conversation was lively and I found that almost everyone was interested in learning how their paintings will reflect their lives, passions, and inner turmoil. Dinner concluded with an assortment of cheesecakes to choose from. I went with the classic plain cheesecake. Delicious!

Dinner was served from 5:30 to 6:00. At 6:00 we were kindly ushered to the restaurant part of the Inn where small, round tables were either pushed side-by-side to allow two tabletop easels, or left in a row for single easels. I quickly nabbed a spot located in the back where the window offered the best view of the ocean. My best friend, Catherine, quickly took the spot next to me and immediately launched into her skepticism of her personal skills with painting. You see, Catherine is a talented photographer, she has a way of capturing images with such clear, obvious mastery, however, tossing paint onto a blank canvas in not included in her arsenal of talents. I was quick to agree, both on her behalf and mine. If we were going to botch the image of a raven sitting on a branch in moonlight, we were going to do it together.


After taking a steadying sip of wine (which I pushed far from my easel as I have, in the past, nearly swirled my paintbrush in my wine thinking it was the water cup), I swirled my paintbrush into the black and white acrylic paint to produce a dove gray. Angie, the paint instructor and psychic, assured us in the beginning that her painting example did not have to be followed closely. We were encouraged to use the colors we wished to use as these will help her gauge what we are spiritually receiving from within ourselves and beyond. As I gazed around me, I noticed people throwing bright reds and oranges around their moons, even some greens, blues, and purples. Within this kaleidoscope of color, I looked down at my own palette. I had the ominous tons of white, gray, black, and dark brown.

Gazing at my blank canvas, I slowly set my paintbrush against its stark surface and began creating my night sky. The moon was a light gray, so light that it was nearly white, but as I moved my brush towards the edges it quickly darkened from a sooty gray to a compelling ebony. To my right, Catherine shot questions off to the instructor, her desire to create the image as instructed was evident, her anxiety at possibly failing was also clear. However, as I gazed at her painting, I couldn’t help but admire the bold tones of yellow and purple. Her painting was as bold and stark as her personality. I loved it.

In the end, my painting was dark and mysterious. I had added a single red-toned leaf on the branch my black raven perched upon. Angie sauntered over and gazed closely at my painting. While I saw an Edgar Allen Poe-ish feel picture, Angie saw something different. According to Angie the single red leaf was a reminder to hold on to my passions, and the colors were protections. My raven represented a need to have time for myself and to focus on my own needs. This I could understand. It can be trying at times being a mother to two young children, a wife, a friend, and try to maintain a full-time job and attend classes (I’m currently in a Master’s program), as well as maintain my household. Finding time to myself can be difficult.

At the end of the evening we stood as a group to take a photo, which Angie has displayed on her Facebook page. As I stared at that photo I was interested how a group of people could interpret a single photo in a myriad of different ways. It just goes to show how unique everyone is, and how different their lives are. We all have different passions, trials, and tribulations. We’re all fighting our own battles, finding ways around our own hurdles, and celebrating our own successes and victories.

The Intuitive Paint Night with Angie Butler Welch was an experience success. It was decently priced at 35.00 which included the paint night, reading, and dinner and dessert (wine was additional). If you’re looking for a unique experience in a warm and welcoming locale with a wicked good price, I highly suggest checking out the Belfast Breeze Inn website and Facebook page today and make an Intuitive Paint Night reservation!

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