Stuff I’ve noticed since moving to Maine – DOGS!!

In just over a month, my family and I will be celebrating TWO WHOLE YEARS in MAINE!!  HOORAY!  To mark this momentous occasion, I’m starting a new semi-regular column here on The Daily Dish.  Dedicated to whatever seems different from where I used to live (Philly) or whatever I notice that just sticks out, STUFF I’VE NOTICED SINCE MOVING TO MAINE will be a way for all of you to visit, without me having to clean the house.  So without further ado, today let’s talk about.. DOGS!

My family & I went to my daughters school on Saturday for Winterfest!  Winterfest! is an annual celebration with games, food, raffles, contests, crafts, singing and more.  It draws a BIG crowd and when we entered the gym the first thing that caught my eye wasn’t the enormous moon bounce or the line for hamburgers.  No!  It was a woman walking towards me with a dog in her arms.  It wasn’t injured.  It wasn’t a helper dog.  As far as anyone was concerned, this lap pooch was just one more merrymaker at Winterfest!  WHY?  Because Mainers are CRAZY ABOUT DOGS!!!!

They are everywhere here and I mean EVERYWHERE.  We have one laying across our floor, outside there are two barking from the back, 4 barking from the side, there’re a couple peeing at the end of the driveway, another one’s approaching looking keen, and a huge one just drove by mostly hanging out the car window.  It’s doggone NUTS!

In Philly a lot of people had cats.  I think cats are cool, but Portland is a dog town.  Maybe it’s because Maine is so white?  Not to stereotype, but white people seem to like dogs more than minorities.  Personally I like minorities more, but I also love dogs.  Dogs just seem to gibe with Maine.  They’re laid back.  Chilllll.  Portland’s baseball team is even called the Sea Dogs!  Which I think is technically a seal?  Or something?  Seriously, I don’t even know what a Sea Dog is, but here’s Slugger the Sea DOG w/ my daughters. 

The Sea DOGS even have a Bring Your Dog to the Game DAY!  WHY??  Because Mainers take their dogs EVERYWHERE.  They don’t like leaving them at home.  Every single parking lot you pull into, every other car has a dog waiting for its owner to return.  Here in Portland there are dog parks and even the regular parks all have “off leash” laws: as long as your dog is under voice command, roping them is unnecessary.  And because beaches are also open to dogs it’s common to find them year round romping in the surf, chasing balls and taking dumps right there in the sand as nature intended.

Mainers are so generous with their dogs, they not only take them everywhere, they often let them drive.  Not alone, mind you.  I mean they let their dogs sit on THEIR laps in the driver seat.  No offense, Sir or Madam, but what the hell are you gonna do when Fido smashes your face into the steering wheel and you lose control of the vehicle?  Or when Happy becomes incontinent and lets fly in your lap?  Surely your first impulse will be to SCREAM AND CAREEN OFF THE ROAD.  I know mine would be.  YAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!  I’m not saying you have to harness Hoover, or invest in one of those gated cage areas in the trunk, but for all our sakes could you at least put the dog in the back seat?  It’s illegal in the state of Maine for children under 13 to ride up front.  Maybe elderly dogs can ride in the passenger seat, but otherwise – back seat buddy.  PS: In Philly I had to worry about people driving around with infants in their laps.  Here it’s dogs.  Is that better??

This is my dog Max.

Max passed away on Halloween.  But before he died, he told me how much he loved Maine.  Not just for all of the reasons outlined above, but b/c here in Maine, Max was ACCEPTED.  Back in Philly strangers would cross the street when I walked Max.  Here, no way.  Everyone would welcome him like an old friend.  (To be strictly honest, some of the little yippy dogs would stand there and bark & bark till they looked like they were going to drop dead, but they do that everywhere.)

Dogs are SO POPULAR here in Maine, I have noticed other things.

  • The prevalence of dog-themed bumper stickers.

  • Or simply dog FRIENDLY stores.

And I’m not talking pet stores either.  I mean “normal” ones, like Marshall’s.  Just before Christmas, I was shopping with my older daughter.  We turned a corner and there’s a woman perusing housewares w/ her dog.  Again, this wasn’t a helper or seeing eye dog, he was a fluffy lap dog, riding shotgun in her cart.  I notice this all the time and I can’t help but think how tolerant people are here.  In Philly, if some woman showed up at Marshall’s totting her dog, they’d escort her out of the store faster than you could spell N-O_EFFING_W-A-Y.  Personally I think they might do this to me too, if I showed up at Marshall’s with our new puppy, Roxy the Rottweiler


versus a 5 lb. Foofie

but.. still.  Maybe I will try it and see.  After all, Mainers LOVE their dogs.

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Fore River Sanctuary Samosas with Mango Dipping Sauce

I don’t typically cross-post across my two blogs, preferring to compartmentalize my life (hah) but I’ve been so busy recreating this recipe I didn’t get round to writing anything else.  So indulge me.

Portland Trails is holding a “Trail Gourmet” Recipe Contest and I won’t beat around the bush.  I’d like to win.  I thought long & hard about which of my recipes to enter, and while walking the Fore River Sanctuary this week it came to me.  SAMOSAS.  I’d created a fantastic low sodium recipe for samosas four years ago, shortly after launching The Daily Dish.  While a little time intensive to make, these samosas freeze beautifully and would showcase one of Maine’s premier agricultural crops: Potatoes!  Samosas are perfect hiking fare.  Small and portable, yet hearty and filling.  They’re a healthy meal in an incredible, edible wrapper.  And they’re DELICIOUS – especially with the tangy subtle sweetness of the mango dipping sauce, which is easily toted in any lightweight lidded container. Double dipping a MUST!  So if you’re craving something extraordinary the next time you head out on the trail, look no further than Fore River Sanctuary Samosas with Mango Dipping Sauce.  Gourmet vegetarian snacks that pack a healthy, meal-like punch – NO SILVERWARE NECESSARY!

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The Pool Rule

On Saturday we went swimming.  And by ‘we’  I really mean my husband & our daughters.  I just sat on the bleachers and watched.  It’s not that I don’t like to swim; even with my wacky ear, I do.  And our community pool is nice.  The reason I skipped swimming is because of a certain pool policy.  What I call The Pool Rule.  The Pool Rule states that everyone w/ chin-length hair or longer MUST WEAR A SWIM CAP.

This woman likes her swim cap. I do not like mine.

When I first learned of The Pool Rule, I tried to be a good sport.  Swim caps help prevent hair from clogging the pool’s filter, keeping the pool working and limiting nastiness for the unfortunate soul having to clean.  I didn’t argue.  Even though my only option at the time was to borrow a swim cap from the Lost & Found, and the only one that fit was plastic and had ear flaps.  Getting it on nearly pulled half the hair from my head.  I put on that cap!  My kids wanted to swim with their momma and I wasn’t going to disappoint my husband.  But I vowed that next time  – if there were a next time – I’d bring $$ to buy my own.

The next visit, I remembered my swim cap money.  YOU KNOW I DID.  I bought a stretchy spandex number from the pool office, in black to match my swimsuit.  I put it on, got in the water and it promptly fell off.  I put it back on, dove underwater and it came off again.  I put it back on again.  And again.  I spent half the swim session retrieving my cap from the pool floor.  But I didn’t give up!  Even though the swim cap wouldn’t stay on, I wore it the next time, and the next.  Until finally one Saturday I’d had enough.  I was done dealing with the indignity of that useless cap and said NO MORE.  So now I sit & watch.

The Pool Rule may make sense in theory, but when I spend half my time in the pool retrieving a swim cap and replacing it what exactly is it accomplishing?  I’m losing far more hair in the pool doing the ON-OFF-ON-OFF routine than I ever would going without.  And if the ultimate goal is to minimize hair in the filter, why stop at swim caps?  Wouldn’t swim SHIRTS be applicable too?

Swim shirt not optional

Until then I will be on the bleachers.

Dear Trader Joe,

HEY BUDDY!!  How are you?!  Yep, we’re all good.  I was thinking about you this morning & realized it’s been almost a Y-E-A-R since I last saw you.  I KNOW!  You still wearing that same crazy shirt?  Yeah, me too.  So. Listen bud.  I wrote a few months ago, and I realize how busy you are – but seriously.  The time has come.  WHEN ARE YOU COMING TO MAINE???!!!  B/c I am out of stuff.

Peppermint castile soap.  Salt free tomatoes. No salt tuna and sockeye salmon.  Dried mango. Knockoff cereal. chocolate chips. Emergen-C.  Bargain priced stonyfield farm yogurt.  Joe, I will be blunt.  Portland is stupendous, but it simply won’t be paradise until you’re here too.

I emailed you weeks ago.  Requesting a new location….and… and…Nothing.  DUDE – I miss you!  Baaad.  The stickers and balloons.  Those wild shirts.  From your 2 Buck Chuck to your chocolate covered almonds.  From your french milled goodness to your uncured hot dogs  – to the tofu, Joe.  I need you.

Portland *(maine) needs you.

Love,

your favorite MAINE-UH (really from away)

Dishy.

PS: And Please hurry, b/c my recyclable shopping bags have all sprung holes & I’m in need of some colorful new ones.  But – only yours. xo

The Norwegian Spirit

Good morning everyone!  I know you’re all anxious to see the inside of the house.  But since it’s the weekend I wanted to do something FUN. And what could be more fun that taking a CRUISE?

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There she is.  The most beautiful and beloved of all cruise ships (to me).  The Norwegian Spirit.  She was HERE in Portland this week – on Thursday!  So of course we went to the Old Port to visit.

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My kids weren’t exactly thrilled to be pulled from the car and made to pose in front of a chain link fence, but I needed to relive the memories. LOOK! She’s so happy to see us too, she’s even smiling.

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OOoohhh how I love that ship!  It made me all goosebumpy just to be standing near.  I watched the happy cruisers w/ a mixture of envy & admiration, making their way through town, shopping and eating, enjoying themselves.  Even on a gray day, you can’t help but feel giddy.  Such an amazing vacation.  Sigh…

Hard to believe it’s been two years since my family & I climbed aboard the Spirit.  Our first cruise was one of the most exhilarating, eye-opening experiences of our lives.  I spend hours just dreaming of the next.

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CLICK HERE for more photos from our trip.  The Norwegian Spirit Halloween Cruise, New England to Canada.  October 2007.  Happy Cruising!

My quest for the perfect winter coat. SUCCESS!!

After days spent searching, my quest has finally come to an end.  And though it might sound like an endorsement of polygamy – which it is NOT.  I am here to announce my perfect coat is not actually ONE coat, But Two.

Meet Coat No. 1.  The Spyder Glacier Jacket by Spyder Active Sports.

spyder glacier jacket

Facts:

1) This jacket is the MOST BAD ASS COAT EVER.  It makes me feel like a million bucks.  Which – given its MSRP of $600 FREAKING DOLLARS, I guess isn’t too far from the truth.  Fortunately I got mine at the super ski-tastic sale going on right now @ T.J. Maxx in South Portland.  And since you get the max for the minimum at T.J. Maxx, you know I did not pay full price.

2) As you can see from the photo below, my arms are indeed long.  Yet this jacket does not leave inches of flesh exposed to the elements.

tah-Dahhhh

LISTEN UP, L.L.BEAN!  Tall women w/ long arms are people too.  In this case, people w/ cash.  And though I did pay a good deal more for this Spyder jacket than I would have at your most beloved of Maine institutions, it was worth every penny.  My advice?  Next season, branch out.

3) Speaking of sleeve length.  When I found this coat – in T.J.MAXX of South Portland w/ its super ski-tastic sale going on right now – I nearly swooned.  It was IT.  Hood – check.  Front zipper – check.  Roomy pockets – check & check.  ADEQUATE SLEEVE LENGTH? With room to SPARE.  But there’s more.  The cuffs have adjustable velcro closures to keep out all the cold.

closures

AND – the Best part ever?  There are spandex half gloves – BUILT RIGHT IN!!!!!  So no breeze will ever billow up my sleeve, my sleeve will never come loose from my glove, and every day will be better than the day before.

spidey half glove

4) While I am discussing the superb features of this coat.  I would like to compliment the genius designer who came up w/ this lil beauty.  B/c it ROCKS.  We have something here along the southern coast of Maine.  Both a blessing & a curse, it is called coastal air.  In the summer, the ocean breezes are a DREAM.  But as the weather gets colder, and then colder still, this body numbing blustery wind has a unique effect on the bones.  I liken it to death.  So when I saw that this coat not only had a hood, but a hood w/ all sorts of hidden toggles, to cinch in my heat from that fearful icy wind, I thought to myself.  BLOODY GENIUS.

hood is good

PS: When I discovered two days ago that said hood also features a built-in VISOR.  I nearly cried.

5) We have a running joke in our family about how much spiders love me.  Wherever I go, Poof! there they are.  As a child, I used to find them crawling on me in the night.  Two months ago, a spider literally FELL FROM THE SKY right on top of my head.  So imagine the jokes when I found this perfect coat, made by Spyder.  With a spider logo right there on the chest.  Calling all my minions to rally round and/or jump right onto me.  It was fate.

me & the spyder

But – I hear you asking – if this coat is so darn perfect (which everyone knows it is) then why Coat No. 2??

Like most stories about mothers and daughters and winter coats, this one isn’t simple.  B.c it gets cold here in Portland.  Really cold.  Like, right now – even though it’s only mid-October, it’s 41 degrees.  Sure, that’s warm in Alaska.  But compared to HOTLANTA? nothing doing.  My mommy is checking those weather forecasts every morning in the AJC.  She already knows there’s a 40% chance of snow tomorrow in Portland.  And being too far away to wind a scarf round my head, she wants to make 250% sure that I am warm.  Like all good Mommies, nothing is ever good enough for her baby.  Even when it’s a $600 FREAKING DOLLAR TOP OF THE LINE SKI JACKET MADE FOR PROFESSIONAL ATHLETES CASCADING DOWN MOUNTAINTOPS AT HYPER VELOCITY IN THE DEAD OF WINTER.  It’s just a coat.  A coat which doesn’t cover her baby’s tushy.  THAT’S RIGHT!  Even when baby is 3 decades out of diapers, momma still wants to dress you.  SO/to recap.  Not even the BEST is good enough for me.  My beloved Spyder Glacier Jacket only comes to my waist.  Leaving my derriere and nether regions exposed & vulnerable.  I’ve got a brand new unbelievably pricy Spyder jacket now hanging (next to my forlorn former coat) in the closet, and I was STILL getting suggestions from my mom about long puffy parkas from The North Face.  I felt like a newlywed, whose mother continues forwarding links to eligible bachelors on Match.com.  Knowing this would not end until we were both satisfied, I soldiered on.  It was essential to find yet another perfect coat.  One which would cover my sensitive butt-ular regions, my chicken thighs, and perhaps – if I was lucky – even my two underinsulated kneecaps.  And so I went.  Back to that blessed Maine institution with the two first initials & the heavenly last name spelling out the very best of good fortune.  NO, NOT L.L.BEAN!!  I am talking about T.J. Maxx of South Portland.  And as fate would have it.  I scored once again.  High five.

Meet Coat No. 2.  Black Rivet brand 3/4 length parka.

black rivet

Facts:

1) I love the fit of this coat.  After trying on countless iterations of the same theme and being horrified by the marshmallow staring back at me from the mirror, I was genuinely pleased w/ this style.  It is lengthy and provides the warmth I need, without the look of an overstuffed sausage.  It manages to be both lightweight, yet well insulated.  Wearing it, I look more like a sleek female seal than a male walrus, and for this I am grateful.

2) This coat has good features.  For instance, the zipper.  It works.  Don’t laugh.  If you had tried on as many coats w/ crap zippers as I have, you would know it’s no joke.  Easy on & off, zero hassle.  Check.  A built-in hood, both roomy & warm – NO FUR TRIM – and without so much hang it renders me blind.  Check.  Only downside: I truly wish it had cinching toggles each side, but not every hood is perfect.  I will wear this one w/ a hat.

roomy hood

Fortunately, this coat makes up for it in a very high neck.  I like these types of collars.  They are practical, providing excellent wind protection, plus they are attractive.  The two zippered pockets are lined and roomy enough for my (very large) hands.  Check & check.

3) The sleeves are long enough. HINT HINT L.L.BEAN.

sleeve length - check

sleeve length - check twice

4) Despite all the pluses. I am not big on the shiny factor of this coat. Although some may think it pretty and satin sheen seems quite the rage this season, this would not have been my first choice.  Nor my second, nor frankly my 15th.  The last time I owned a satin coat I was in late elementary school.  Something about the shininess makes me feel like a little kid wearing brand new patent leather shoes, terrified of getting them scuffed.  It also reminds me of Morticia Adams and/or the inside liner of a coffin.  But I liked everything else so much, I am pretending i like the satin sheen too.  Yes i am one of the satin ladies.  Bling-bling.  That’s no supernova – it’s just me in my new coat.  Yay.

5) This coat, unlike my beloved Spyder, cost less than a casino outing.  And at $49.99 a little sheen never hurt.