Sunday, August 23, 2015

Our Summer + Guest Bedroom in Castine, Maine

Hello, and welcome back ~

Hope you've had a relaxing and fun summer. Didn't this season fly by? There is still plenty of good weather ahead, so let's not bid summer farewell just yet.

I plan on enjoying a few garden walks in DC - Dumbarton Oaks and Hillwood are two favorites. In addition, I've got a ton of catching up to do in our garden. Ridiculous how fast weeds can take over when one is away!

Tom and I were fortunate to spend much of July and August in Castine, Maine. Loved every minute of our time there.....well, almost. We did watch a rare microburst hurl a giant horse chestnut tree from across the street into our backyard, bringing down a section of the power lines. Scary! The tree crushed many of the ferns but, miraculously, missed the house, car and other trees all by inches. Thankfully, no one was hurt.
After the tree cleanup, we readied the house for my family. Three sisters, two brothers-in-law, and two nieces visited and stayed with us. None of them had been to Castine or Maine before, so it was exciting to show them around town as well as the surrounding areas. Here are highlights:
We woke up before the peak of dawn to catch the sunrise over the town dock in Castine. Looks like someone was up even earlier than us - do you see the person rowing out to the harbor (above)?
Stunning, is it not?
BELOW: Another day, another stunning sunrise! This one over at the swimming pool across from Wadsworth Cove. The pool is actually a shallow swimming pond that is tidally fed, and the water is slightly warmer than in the ocean.
My nieces, Monica and Tiffany (cousins), stopping for a photo moment during our walk around Jordan Pond in Acadia National Park. They both just graduated from college - so proud of them! Love you girls!!
With crystal-clear water, framed views of the Bubbles (two mountains), and graveled paths meandering through lush woodlands, this leisurely 3.5 mile hike is highly enjoyable. We didn't make it around the full loop, as it was time to have lunch at the Jordan Pond House Restaurant. The restaurant is famous for their mouthwatering popovers - a light, hollow roll made from egg batter.
On top of the world at Cadillac Mountain! 
Not far from Acadia is the enchanting Thuya Garden with its lovely English-style borders interspersed with plantings of native Maine floras. 
No visit to Downeast Maine is complete without a cruise around the Penobscot Bay to watch the locals go out to sea, check their lobster traps, etc.
 Over at Buck's Harbor in Brooksville, we all wanted to downsize to this teeny-tiny house complete with solar panels on the roof :)
The rocky coastline of Maine is dotted with many historic lighthouses, and seeing them from the sea is exhilarating - just don't get too close to those rocks!

Top left: Spring Point Ledge, South Portland
Top right: Curtis Island, Camden
Bottom left: Grindel Point, Islesboro
Bottom right: Pumpkin Island

 After sightseeing each day, we'd come home to rest for a couple of hours before my sisters would cook up a storm in the kitchen. I, sadly, didn't inherit the family cooking skills, so while they made dinner, I spiffed up the house. 

Here is one of the guest bedrooms finished just in time for my nieces. With five bedrooms, our house is rather big, and rarely are all five used at once. I kept that in mind while furnishing this room located on the third floor. Everything found was budget friendly.
Let's start with the Ikea finds. Twin beds were chosen for flexibility. Selected these Duken beds for their simple, clean lines and low headboards - great for the lower ceiling up there. Plus, the white-painted steel frames and mesh panels are easy to wipe clean. Having less than 30 inches between the beds, I picked the 18" Hemnes nightstand with drawer and shelf. The mattresses and boxsprings also came from Ikea. As did the summery bedding with blue-and-white ticking.
Next up are the accessories from HomeGoods. Remember nothing pricey or precious! Scored these mirrors with rope handles accented with brass anchors - purrrrrfect for seaside Castine! So is the seascape painting. To ground the light palette, I chose a wooden lamp to go between the beds, and a glass lamp with jute webbing for texture (shown below). 
As mentioned, this is located on the third floor (which was once the attic prior to being enlarged during the Victorian period). There are two pitched walls with charming dormer windows flooding the room with light. To keep it cool and private, Tom installed vinyl (gasp!) roller shades for practicality.
It's always a good idea to have a desk or table for guests to work on their laptops, etc. This corner called for something round, so I went with the Odyssey table from CB2. It brings a modern touch to our 211-year old home. Casbah outdoor wicker chair came from Pier 1.
Doesn't this lamp remind you of the old glass fishing floats?
One last accessory: a fun outdoor pillow from Crate and Barrel's clearance bin. 
The girls told us their room was very comfortable. And they were relieved that we had Wi-Fi  :)
 After dinner each night, we'd head over to the Backshore Beach at Wadsworth Cove to catch the spectacular sunsets, which occasionally included a bit of horsing around. That's Monica trying to drop her aunt My (My is my sister) into the frigid water. Monica didn't succeed, how unfortunate! 
 Until next time!
Cheers,
Loi

Friday, July 24, 2015

Hermione in Castine, Maine

It was an overcast, cool morning in Castine; typical Maine weather. But this was no typical morning at all. There was a buzz brewing beneath the calm throughout our seaside town. Welcome banners and festive flags lined the streets, punctuating this gray morning with pops of color. And down at the dock - which had been strung with brilliant lights - tents of all sizes were popping up everywhere. Something big was coming!

Our historic town was preparing for the arrival of l'Hermione - a replica ship of General Lafayette's 18th-century frigate that aided the Americans against the British in the Revolutionary War. Like the first Hermione, this one had sailed from France to America, and she was coming to Castine just as the 18th-century ship had done. Actually, Castine would be her last port of call in the U.S. - a 'grand tour finale' after stops in Alexandria, Baltimore, New York, Boston, etc. 


Adding to the excitement, it was Bastille Day, France's national holiday celebrating independence. Castine was occupied by France more than once, and is named after French Baron Jean-Vincent de St. Castin. 

To welcome the Hermione, a parade of ships would escort her into the harbor. Tom and I, along with our friends, Bill and Rosie decided to partake in this meet-and-greet at sea. We ventured out with about 100 other boats. Here's our little adventure. Click on photos to enlarge. 
Leaving the dock, we noticed boats, ships and vessels of all kinds headed out to the rendezvous point. We also noticed the weather turning dramatically. Dense fog quickly engulfed everything in sight; one by one, vessels disappeared... We found ourselves alone and, quite honestly, a bit disoriented. Then signals from foghorns started flaring from every direction, creating more confusion. Occasionally something big would creep into and out of visibility, and we would wonder.....
 .....is that the Hermione? Nope.
Wait, something HUGE with a very loud foghorn was in the distance. Other vessels started approaching. Finally, there she was under sail: L'Hermione!!
The fog started lifting, but not knowing what would happen weather-wise, we headed home. I turned around to this sight (below) of the Hermione leading the fleet - pretty unforgettable!
We made it back just in time to catch the Hermine sailing into Castine Harbor. Thank you, Kevin and Roxanne - that was awesome watching the arriving flotilla from your place!
And look what we have: blue sky and sunshine. The harbor glistened with sailboats, powerboats, rowboats, kayaks, dinghies, etc. 
Castine had the distinguished honor of hosting l'Hermione on Bastille Day. Thousands came to join in the festivities. I chatted with a French Canadian from Quebec, and learned the following:

From the moment that I heard the name of America, I loved her. From the moment I learned of her struggles for liberty, I was inflamed with the desire to shed my blood for her!   
~ General Lafayette
I mistakenly called those ropes, and was swiftly corrected. Those are lines!
ABOVE: The hand carved lion figurehead at the beak of the bow. 
BELOW: The stern with a bay of cabin windows. Note the "Betsy Ross" flag featuring the thirteen colonies, which would have been flown during the American Revolution.
Tom and I had the opportunity to tour l'Hermione, which was an incredible experience. The sheer number of lines was dizzying. The masts towered over everything. And those cannons!
B O N J O U R !
Check out this papier-mache replica of the replica. With the guidance of artist and gallery owner, Goody-B Wiseman, children and adults created this impressive model that greeted the Hermione. 
A festive gathering of characters, personalities and pooches of all sizes :)

Many thanks to the organizers, supporters, volunteers, and all who made this historic event such a huge success. A very special thanks to the Castine Historical Society! Castine truly is a special place with an overwhelming sense of community.

Cheers,
Loi