Twelve ways I pledge to support my local community this year.

I put my Christmas decorations away last week. I love decorating for the holidays but come January I’m ready to box things up and reclaim my house. It feels cathartic. It’s how I mark the start of the new year. This year it felt especially important. A symbolic wrapping up of a rough year and the hope that the new one will be better although it’s off to a rough start.

While I don’t really do New Year’s resolutions, I do pick a word each year on which to focus. I’ve blogged about it before in my post: One Little Word® Memory Keeping Project. This year my word is Breathe. It seems appropriate coming out of 2020 as while things are more hopeful there is still a lot we will all likely need to continue to navigate in the coming months.

This was especially apparent to me when I headed into Portland to pick up a gift for a local business gift exchange. The exchange was organized by Portland Buy Local along with the Knack Factory, Black Owned Maine, and Portland Downtown as a way to support the many businesses impacted by COVID-19. While I already knew that the financial impact on businesses has been devastating, walking downtown and seeing so many closed shops was still disheartening.

Part of the One Little Word project involves setting goals around our word for the upcoming year. For this blog post, I wanted to focus specifically on my goals around helping my local community. Many businesses are on life support. But together I believe we can breathe new life into them.

~ One ~


Order Take Out or Food Delivery. We participated in the Maine Brewers’ Guild virtual Maine Beer Night over the summer. It was my first exposure to CarHop who managed the delivery of the local beers for the event. We don’t live in an easy delivery location but CarHop has opened up new options for us during the pandemic. We quarantined the two weeks leading up to Christmas so that we could safely spend time with family. Towards the end of quarantine we got a little antsy so we ordered take out through CarHop from one of our favorite restaurants. CarHop offers zero contact delivery which worked great. While I am not comfortable with indoor dining during the pandemic, we’ll continue to get food delivered as well as order curbside pickup and other takeout. My goal is to support local restaurants by ordering take out, curbside pickup, or delivery at least once a week.

~ Two ~


Donate to Impactful Non-Profits. Maine Needs is a new non-profit directly supporting Mainers in need during this unique time. The number of Mainers struggling has grown significantly with COVID-19. There are many great non-profits that do amazing work in the state. I like the variety of giving options and direct impact that Maine Needs is having. My favorite donation request is for various kits including: cleaning & toiletry, Covid care, a minute for mom, art therapy, and the mini warmth kit . I love the idea of putting together kits. It would let me purchase items from local sellers to be donated to people in the community. My goal is to create and donate at least twenty five kits to Maine Needs.

~ Three ~


Sign Up for Virtual Classes. A cooking class has been on my bucket list for many years but with all the pandemic restrictions and, prior to that, my persistent procrastination it hasn’t worked out yet. Fortunately, many restaurants and farms offering cooking classes have pivoted and are now offering virtual options. While most of the classes from Salt Water Farm are during the day, which doesn’t work for my schedule, they are hosting a benefit class for Finding Our Voices on a Friday evening in February. Bravo Maine also offers a variety of in person and virtual cooking classes. It looks like 2021 will be my year to finally check this one off my bucket list. My goal is to sign up for at least six virtual classes or online offerings from local businesses.

~ Four ~


Subscribe to my Local Paper. I’ve been thinking about this one a lot. After watching The Social Dilemma on Netflix, the messaging around how our information silos are formed and the AI algorithms that continue to divide and push us further away from one another, really stayed with me. Finding accurate, unbiased information and doing the due diligence to really understand all sides to a story are so critical. We need journalism to grow and thrive. My goal is to purchase a digital subscription to my local paper and read it weekly.

~ Five ~


Support Local Music and Theater. I am happy that the Save our Stages Act was included in the latest COVID-19 relief bill but worry that it is not enough to save some of the smaller music and performance venues. We’ve already lost Port City Music Hall where I saw JoJo and Bruce in the USA . For #GivingTuesday, I donated to the Maine Music Alliance and I want to continue to find ways to support our local stages. My goal is to attend at least four shows this year either virtually or in person and to purchase merchandise from local venues.

~ Six ~


Support Local Farms. As restaurants have closed or seen their sales plummet, the farmers who supply them have been impacted as well. We’ve done a farm share for a few years now and plan to sign up for this year’s share as soon as they become available. If you’re looking for a CSA, I highly recommend Bumbleroot Organic Farm. They’re fantastic. There are also ongoing farmers markets and farm stores where you can buy local food directly. My goal is to renew our CSA shares for both food and flowers as well as purchase food locally whenever possible.

~ Seven ~


Support New Endeavors. Many businesses have come up with new business models, changed how they get product to consumers and generally been creative in staying afloat. We participated in a Virtual Wine Dinner early in the pandemic. Our amazing craft brewers were offering curb side pickup almost as soon as COVID-19 hit and we’ve utilized it many times during the pandemic. Restaurants such as The Lost Kitchen started offering a local online market or selling groceries from their eateries. The chef/owner of the Lost Kitchen also has her memoir coming out in April: Finding Freedom. I’ve already pre-ordered it! My goal is to purchase at least six new products offered by local businesses.

~ Eight ~


Shout Out on Social Media. This is something I have always tried to do, but I am definitely upping my game. I like to share posts about products, restaurants and other local businesses that I love on social media. This Christmas I focused on buying local and small as much as possible and found so many great local artisans. I also posted reviews for local businesses on Facebook. My goal is to post on social media at least once a week about a local business or product that I love.

~ Nine ~


Buy Local. When I need a book, video game or other media, I always check out Bull Moose or Print: A Bookstore first. Before I click buy on amazon or other large online retailers, I do research first around whether it’s something I can get locally instead. I’m often surprised to learned what local options are available. For example, I want to send print birthday cards to my friends and family this year. It’s always fun to get mail and I think we could all use a smile after the last year. After some research, I discovered that there are some great local card companies such as Borealis Press and other local artists who have cards available too such as Gray Day Studio. My goal is to purchase at least twenty birthday cards that are made locally.

~ Ten ~


Try Something New. While I’ve been trying to support the local businesses I know and love, there are so many I don’t know about that are struggling too. I’m thinking of reaching out for recommendations on Nextdoor or my neighborhood Facebook group to get suggestions for favorite local businesses and products. I’ve also been listening to the Makers of Maine podcast and have already discovered some new artisans creating some fun things. Learning about new Maine based businesses is one of my favorite things. My goal is to find at least ten new local businesses to purchase from this year.

~ Eleven ~


Buy Gift Cards. I bought a few gift cards at the beginning of the pandemic but haven’t purchased any recently. I’m not a huge Gift Card person although I know this comes up all the time as a way to help local businesses. I’ve just never warmed up to the idea. I think it is because I really enjoy picking out gifts for friends and family. The Gift Card route seems impersonal. It’s time to change that up. I can buy gifts cards for my family that we can use later, as well as pick up a few to send to friends as a surprise. If it helps local businesses, I can get past my bias. My goal is to buy at least six gift cards this year.

~ Twelve ~


Triple the Impact. Cooking for Community is another new organization that came about to fill a need during the pandemic. This one is a triple win. It helps struggling restaurants who prepare healthy meals using as much locally sourced food as possible to donate to people in need. We donated to similar causes early during the pandemic such as Feeding America and Feeding the Frontline but I really love how Cooking for Community is helping multiple Maine communities in need with one wonderful idea. My goal is to support endeavors like Cooking for Community through donations or volunteering my time.

Of course there are many other ways to support our local communities during this pandemic. I know that not everyone is in a position to be able to give money right now. So many of our neighbors are struggling. So far, my family is doing okay and I want to do more to help our community. It’s time to start taking action on these goals.

Here’s to supporting local in 2021 and always.

Do you have a unique way that you’ve supporting your local community during the pandemic? Please share! I’d love to learn more ways I can help.

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Winter in Maine

Ten activities to get me out of the house this winter.

A few weekends ago we were surprised with unseasonably warm temperatures. We jumped on the opportunity to enjoy dinner alfresco with friends. It was beautiful and all the sweeter because we know those days are numbered.

Winter is coming and with the pandemic’s second wave in full force, it’s inevitable that there will be less opportunity to go out. The problem is that I live in Maine. When winter arrives it will bring snow, ice and incredibly cold temperatures.

Where does that leave us during a pandemic?

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Three Days Exploring the Moosehead Lake Region of Maine

While we were supposed to be in Scotland in September, COVID had other ideas and instead we planned a last minute staycation. It does help to live in Vacationland during a pandemic.

For this trip we decided to head to central Maine and spend a few days near Moosehead Lake before heading towards Mt. Katahdin and Baxter State Park. It’s an area we don’t explore as often as the coast since it’s further away for us but our revamped vacation plans meant it was the perfect time to explore the North Woods of Maine.

Day 1

We arrived in Greenville Maine on an atypically cool August day with strong winds dropping the temps even lower. We had taken our time driving up and stopped often along the way including a visit to Turning Page Farm Brewery in Monson . My husband and I enjoyed a summer session and brown ale respectively while relaxing at one of the picnic tables in their beer garden. We  enjoyed watching their playful herd of goats while eating a couple of bratwursts along with our craft beers.

We arrived in downtown Greenville in the late afternoon and checked into our suite at the Dockside Inn and Tavern. The accommodations were gorgeous with plenty of space to spread out and relax. Since the weather wasn’t cooperating, we opted to get take out from the nearby restaurant, Flatlanders,  bringing the fried chicken and fresh cut friends back to our suite.  We enjoyed a relaxing evening watching movies in the cozy living room and resting up for our more adventurous plans for the next day.

Day 2

After a quick breakfast in the room, we headed out to Lily Bay State Park for our first hike. Their shoreline trail which goes between the beach and the campground is about 2 miles each way. It’s a relatively flat and easy path getting a little more root infested as you approach the campground but still manageable. The trail hugs the Moosehead Lake shoreline although inland a little so in most parts you’re only getting small glimpses. There were plenty of opportunities to get closer to the water’s edge by following the various offshoot paths from the trail.

After our successful morning hike, we headed to lunch at Stress Free Moose Pub & Cafe located on Pritham Ave just a short distance from our hotel. The wind had finally died down a bit and the weather warmer, so we were able to  enjoy a delicious lunch on their upper outside deck. I started with a cup of their clam chowder. It was a thin style chowder which I actually prefer. It was delicious. Knowing we’d be doing more active pursuits later in the day, I went with something lighter for my meal and enjoyed their spinach, walnut, strawberry, mozzarella and chicken salad. My husband got the smoked trout plate. Both meals were excellent.

We had a few hours before our Moose Safari which we had booked the previous day at Northwoods Outfitters Moosehead Lake so my husband napped while I did a little more shopping in downtown Greenville. After our brief break, we regrouped and grabbed an ice cream from The Dairy Bar and headed to Northwoods Outfitters to meet our guide.

Our Guide, Steve, introduced himself and gave us the rundown on the plan for the trip. Because of COVID, all  tours were private so it was just the three of us. We masked up and headed into the van. Steve drove up Lilly Bay Road crossing onto gravel roads when we hit paper company territory. The tour started at 3:30 pm which is a little early to spot moose as they typically don’t come out to eat until dusk but Steve expertly navigated the unmarked roads checking out various known Moose spots.

Having no luck on our initial pass, we headed to a remote pond and a waiting canoe. My husband and our guide were the paddlers while I sat in the middle, camera in hand. We explored the beautiful, wild lake as we waited for the sun to set. After circle around on of the islands, in a small, shallow cove my husband spotted our first moose. She was snacking along the shoreline and the guide was able to quietly navigate us in for a closer look. She was mildly interested in us but for the most part wrote us off as no threat and continued to eat her dinner. We watched her for a while before paddling back to the launch spot and returning to our vehicle for the ride home.

The sun was setting so as we headed out, and passed the spots we had visited earlier, we had more luck seeing additional moose grazing by the forests edge. First another female, then a mother daughter pair and lastly a small young buck snacking on the salt left behind from the winter snow plows. 

In the end it was a successful moose safari and a wonderful opportunity to really take in Maine in all her remote beauty. 

That night, a friend had posted on Facebook that a Moose ran across the road in front of her as she was driving home. You don’t necessarily need to search out moose in Maine but it’s certainly nice to see them relaxing by the side of the pond rather then jumping in front of your moving vehicle.

We made it back to the hotel just before 8 and ordered takeout from the Dockside Inn and Restaurant which we enjoyed back in the room. Exhausted but happy.

Day 3

Before heading to our next stop near Baxter State Park, we had one final day in the Moosehead lake area. We grabbed lunch at Kelly’s Landing on their outside deck overlooking the lake. It was a beautiful spot with delicious food. I especially enjoyed my chicken Alfredo flatbread. It was a brief stop though as we had tickets for the 12:30 pm Katahdin Cruise on Moosehead Lake.

Fortunately, it was a quick drive to the dock and we arrived at the departure location in plenty of time. With COVID, boarding was more structured. They called us onto the boat by passenger groups one at a time allowing ample space between everyone. Seating was outside and we got a spot along the side of the upper deck. It was breezy but beautiful and we enjoyed the leisurely three hour cruise with incredible views of the lake and surrounding landscape.

While sad that we didn’t get to go to Scotland this year, it was a lot of fun to explore some of the more remote regions of Maine. It really is a stunningly beautiful area and it gave us an opportunity to reconnect with nature.

Next stop, Baxter State Park and the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument. But, that’s a post for another day.

Have you taken any staycations this year?

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So close and yet so far, only two stops left on the Maine Beer Trail.

We were in the home stretch almost ready to claim our prize and revel in our bragging rights. Our tattered, well-worn beer trail map held together with generous amounts of packaging tape, has only TWO blank spaces left. We planned to finish our visits in the spring but then the world paused.

No stamps from Penobscot Bay Brewery or Sheepscot Valley Brewing Company to add an air of finality to our three year adventure. Both breweries are in the mid-coast. Both are just out of reach for now.

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Virtual dinners from Wine Wise provide a way to connect from a distance.

The current measures to fight COVID-19 are devastating for many local businesses. But I am also amazed at the creativity I have seen come from these stressful times.

Local businesses have shown impressive adaptability. Many businesses have found ways to pivot, seemingly instantaneously, from textile artisans who have transitioned to making masks or the rapid move to curb side pickup at some of my favorite breweries and restaurants. I know these changes can’t make up fully for the economic stress businesses are experiencing but it is impressive.

Recently, we took advantage of one such reinvention.

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