On Tap for Today

A fun loving, inspired living blog


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Today: Back floats and naps, box jumps and lunges.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]After a quick back float in Boothbay Harbor, I’m back and better than ever probably just my same old self.

Salt water is good for your soul.  So are naps, especially when you have a Frenchie to serve as your alarm clock.

We were only Downeast for 48 hours before returning to the city, but we made sure to get our fill of swimming, lounging, and snacking.

Nick and I had to get back to Boston for our day-long Pre-Cana (marriage prep for Catholics, required if you’re getting married in the church) on Saturday.  And, um, we were also anxious to catch as most of the Crossfit Games as possible.  God before wods, though… obviously.

I am in awe of how strong, fit and focused all of the competing athletes are.  Watching various parts of the Games served as great motivation.  We hit up Crossfit Southie together on Sunday morning and, though I am still scaling my workouts on the easier side, I completely crushed it, finishing in 6:17.  Apparently I have a strong affinity for box jumps and lunges.

[Image source]

They’re almost as much fun as back floats and naps.  Almost.

Also On Tap for Today:

What was the highlight of your weekend?


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Today: What to pack for three days in Maine.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]It’s very simple, really.

Three bathing suits.  Two novels (one should have a lobster on the dust jacket).  One pair of peace moccasins.

Also On Tap for Today:

What are your summer getaway essentials?


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Today: Not now, Atlantic puffin.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]Earlier this year I went on a puffin expedition with every intention of spotting that little clay guy from Elf.  Needless to say, that didn’t happen.  Also needless to say, I need to brush up on wildlife.  While in Maine, Nick and I joined his parents aboard The Pink Lady at Pier 7.  We had cameras, binos (short for binoculars… learned that one from Whale Wars, obvi), sunscreen and snacks.  And a plan to see some puffins.

Not now, arctic puffin!

[Photo source]

Buddy the Elf had Arctic puffins, but it turns out the ones in Boothbay Harbor are Atlantic puffins.  Because, um, one lives in the Arctic and the other in the Atlantic.  Once I realized I knew nothing about (really anything) puffins, it was a lot easier to learn from the naturalist on board The Pink Lady.  It turns out that Eastern Egg Rock, located about 10 miles off the Maine coast, is the first restored puffin colony in the world.  The puffin community there was depleted in the late 1800’s by hunters collecting eggs and feathers (for sassy old lady fashions).  Young puffins were brought from New Foundland to Egg Rock by the Audubon Society.  Naturalists hoped that they could imprint the location in the pufflings memory so that the birds would later return to Egg Rock to breed.

Yes!  Baby puffins are called pufflings!

It took several years, but eventually the puffins returned to Eastern Egg Rock and started having pufflings of their own.  And the rest, as they say, is history.  As we cruised out of the harbor, I wondered if we’d actually see any of these little cuties.  Boothbay itself is full of puffin imagery, but the way the naturalist was talking, real, live sightings weren’t guaranteed.

We must have good puffin karma, however, because as we approached the Egg, the captain spotted a puffin flying across the bow.  And soon there was another.  And another.  And an entire raft of puffins on the port side!  (While I looked for an actual raft, covered with puffins, everyone else took photos of a group of puffins, floating on the ocean’s surface.)   In addition to two new vocab words (puffling and raft), I learned that puffins are quite small.  And that a zoom lens would have helped quite a bit.

Live and learn.  And take a puffin tour.

Also On Tap for Today:

Learned anything new lately?


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Today: The books I wish I had written.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]After returning from Boothbay Harbor, one of the first things I did was rave to my mother about J. Courtney Sullivan‘s second novel, Maine.  Already a New York Times best seller,  “It’s the kind of book you read and think… I wish I wrote this book,” I told my mom.  It was evocative, and equally as heartbreaking as uplifting– I only wished it was waterproof, so I could take it out on the float with me.

I started thinking about other books I wish I had written.  Unfortunately people like Charles Dickens are always beating me to the punch.  Pests.  Since I just gave away the first author (I was distracted, trying to invent some reason to type What the Dickens?!), I suppose that’s a reasonable place to start.

A Tale of Two Cities

Charles Dickens, clearly, I am not.  The last piece of fiction I wrote was my resume.  Totally kidding.  It was an adaptation of Robin Hood, inspired by an illuminated manuscript from the medieval period.  And if you have not already died of boredom, I will elaborate.  It was written in French and (shock!) entirely awful.  And it is now either taking up space in a landfill (sorry, Al Gore) or hanging in my professor’s office, a testament to all that is wrong with American co-eds.

A Tale of Two Cities showed me that a book could be so much more than a book, even if it was assigned reading.  A carefully drawn plot could become a treasure map of sorts.  When Mme. Defarge started knitting in deathly code, I was hooked.

Charlotte’s Web

Each year, a certain teacher at our grammar school would be reduce to tears, all because of an itsy, bitsy spider.  She would barely finish reading the first chapter aloud before dissolving into a crying fit, but– because she loved Charlotte’s Web so– she would pick it up again, day after day, until finally her students would know the ending.  In second grade, I was in the classroom next door.  We listened to a lot of music that year, likely to drown out all the sobbing.

Someone gave me a hard cover copy of the book (I remember it being a First Communion present… that can’t be right, can it?), and I read it on my own that summer.  It was the first book to break my heart.  Had I actually understood The Velveteen Rabbit at such a tender age, surely it would have taken the prize.  That story is brutal.  Regardless, Charlotte’s Web taught me about sacrifice and love and friendship in terms I could understand.  Plus, it made me wonder about farms.

There Are No Children Here

I discovered Alex Kotlowitz after re-reading four of Jonathan Kozol’s books in as many days.  It was the summer after I graduated from Boston College.  I was awaiting acceptance into several volunteer programs, and feeling rather adrift in the world.  If Charlotte’s Web broke my eight-year-old heart, There Are No Children Here ripped my twenty-two-year-old heart to shreds.  I coveted Kotlowitz’s ability to engage, with a seemingly endless reservoir of compassion, while still respecting the professional tenets of journalism.  I couldn’t imagine how I was laughing at the little anecdotes he shared, given the devastation surrounding these stories.  And no sooner had I finished laughing, I was crying like that second grade teacher.  It was all just so human.

A few month later, I would go on to start a career in youth development.  I don’t think this is a coincidence.

I Was Told There’d Be Cake

If I was funny enough, rich enough, and patient enough to be a comedian, I would want to be Sloane Crosley.  And if I couldn’t be her, I’d at least want to steal all of her material.  I thought people who laughed out loud while reading on planes were manner-less goobers, until I became one of those people (we all know my manners are impeccable).  Crosley’s essays are all at once poignant and hilarious.

Packed and ready to make peace.

I’ve started writing a few books in my head, including one called Frenchie Kisses for Everyone (a working title, mind you).  The story follows me and Clark, as we circumnavigate the globe and (as the title indicates), he kisses everyone we meet.  In the face of such overwhelming cuteness, rebel forces lay down their arms, corporate standoffs grind to a halt, and you know… other stuff.

Maybe I could start by writing one of those “choose your own adventure” books.  That way, I wouldn’t really have to commit to an ending, and my overactive imagination could be of benefit.  For once.

Also On Tap for Today:

Which book(s) do you wish you had written?


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Today: Must do in Boothbay Harbor and {a giveaway}.

[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.

What and where to eat

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.

Breakfast

  • 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.

Lunch

  • 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.

Dinner

  • 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.

Snacks and Sweets

I'm a get-get-get it popping.

  • Ice Cream Factory: This video pretty much sums it up.  Also, I ate so much ice cream this weekend, it’s a miracle I didn’t sink my pretzel float.
  • 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)

I will choose a random winner on Sunday.  *No need for disclaimer, I paid straight cash, homey.

Congratulations, Michelle!  Please send me an email (ontapfortoday@gmail[dot]com), and I will send your goodies out right away!

Also On Tap for Today:

Where do you go to getaway?  And what’s your favorite thing to do when you get there?


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Today: Signs of a great vacation.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]Nick and I are back in Boston, after a relaxing week in Boothbay Harbor.  I read two whole books while we were away.  I am officially the last person ever to read The Help, after absolutely devouring Maine.  These were two of the best books I’ve read in a long time.  Maine follows three generations of an Irish Catholic family from Boston– I felt like it could have been written about my family (the good, wholesome characters of course).  Apparently we were not the first ones to play “first one to see the bridge gets a quarter” as kids.  I didn’t want either book to end.  But then again, I would have never made it to dinner otherwise.

Great company, good food, a view of the ocean and a few top notch books– could you ask for more?  A few more signs that I had a great week up north:

I saw the sign.  And I followed it to a good time.

Also On Tap for Today:

  • Picking up Clark from his week at goat camp 🙂
  • Laundry, food shopping and returning to reality
  • Planning for marathon training!
What are your ingredients for a perfect vacation?


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Today: When in Maine.

[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!
  • Kayaking near Cabbage Island
  • Floating, floating, and more floating
What are you reading this summer?