Three weeks of vacation, and I am back. Oh, how I missed you. I don't really know where to start, but it's time for me to fill you in and post some oh-so-cute pics. OK - so, before I left, I made this...and although it was so in the past, I have to pass it on cause it was easy and delicious. I think I made it the night before we left - I needed a simple something to nosh on with minimal clean up. I toasted up some slices of baguette in the oven, then spread them with quince jam (fig would be delicious as well), topped them with thin slices of drunken goat cheese (but of course, almost any cheese would do, I think), and popped them back under the broiler until they melted. Then, the best part...I drizzled the bread with just a bit of honey and cracked black pepper on top of that. The salad is torn red leaf lettuce with dried cherries, toasted walnuts, and slices of granny smith apple with a simple balsamic vinagerette and black pepper. Yum!
So, where did we go, you ask? We started off driving from Indiana to North Topsail Beach in North Carolina to meet up with my mother-in-law and sister-in-law. This is what we did there:
Yeah. It was nice. The weather was beautiful, the beach was beautiful, the water was beautiful, and the view was beautiful. So, after a full week of beach-reading, wave-crashing, shell-collecting, surf-walking, and sun-tanning...we were off. We drove to Chapel Hill, and kicked off the week by attending the wedding of our friends Chris and Alison. It was a beautiful, fun, personal wedding that Chris and I really enjoyed. It was a very classy affair, which this picture absolutely does not display:For the remainder of the week, we stayed at my parents' house. They are moving (sniff, sniff) - just across town...but still, the house has to be packed up, and I had to say goodbye. I spent the week going through dusty attic boxes of art projects, school papers, and letters, trying to make a dent for my parents in the pile of stuff they had to go through (a.k.a. get rid of). I did get a *tad* emotional when I actually had to say goodbye to their super-peaceful, wooded home for the last time, but there are only good things in the future for them, so it was all good, all around.
Then, we packed up again and hopped a flight to New Hampshire with my parents and sister for a BIG family reunion for my Dad's side of the family. I think New Hampshire is my new favorite state. Not only do they have the whole "Live Free or Die" thing going for them, it is BEAUTIFUL. I'm kind of sad, because my pictures simply do not do it justice, but I will share a sampling anyways. The reunion was held at the Mt. Washington Resort, which was built in 1902 and is a National Historic Landmark, surrounded by National Forest:
While we were there, we hiked, saw waterfalls, and visited with lots of family. It was great. After a jam-packed weekend there, we hopped in the rental minivan and trekked east into Maine. On the way, we briefly stopped at my aunt's house to eat some Thai food and and I finally got to meet my most photogenic cousin, Ellis:We had a lot of fun playing trains and puzzles and pulling up little Ellis's cargo pants that kept falling past his diaper. Cutie-pie. Then we ate a lemony delicious tofu pad thai...generally I like my pad thai with a ripe slice of orange, but the lemon really worked well. After that, we headed north to my Nana's cabin, where we spent the next week maxin' and relaxin' on the dock, basically. It's always a joy to be up there - I think breathing the air alone is like therapy. We canoed, looked at lily pads, and I ganked my family out of 26 billz in a hardcore game of blackjack (I only started with 2 dollars!). At Nana's house, if you are going to play cards, you have to gamble. I think my favorite day in Maine was Chris's 26th birthday, when we took a ferry out to the island of Monhegan. It's a tiny little island, an hour off the coast, with a small and super-cute community of island folk. There are a few cute shops and teensy grocery stores, and tons of hiking trails. There were some golf carts and a couple of old pick-up trucks, but I think the people that live there just walk around the island. We hiked on a trail called Cathedral Woods, which was basically like walking through a fairy tale (again, the picture does NOT do it justice). The ground was mossy and soft, but not muddy, and the trees were tall and dark with beams of light shining through. The path was narrow and curvy, and led you in and out of thick groupings of trees, so that you couldn't always see what was up ahead. The best part was that people built "Fairy Houses" all through the path, tucked under tree roots or on hillsides. They were all made out of natural materials - sticks, tiny pine cones, shells, stones, etc. This one was not my favorite, but you get the idea: The path led us out to the ocean, and this view: Then, we took a break for some ice cream, and hiked to the southern point of the island which led us to Lobster Cove, where we climbed on the rocks and explored a ton of really incredible tide pools. When we returned, we enjoyed this 1-2-3-4 Lemon Cake for Chris's birthday, served with locally-made blackberry ice cream. My Nana was really hesitant to let me bake in her kitchen - the cabin is only 800 square feet, and with 7 of us staying there, there isn't room to make a mess. But, after she tasted the moist and lemon-curdy goodness, I think I moved up in her love rankings. If you get a chance to make this cake, do it. No, my cake didn't look quite as pretty as the one on Martha Stewart's website (does it ever?) And although I think they linked the wrong lemon curd recipe to the cake recipe (I ended up with much less lemon curd than is pictured even though I doubled the recipe like it says to), it didn't matter. It tasted incredible. And yes, those blueberries are wild Maine blueberries - teeny pea-sized gems of sweet summertime. You could drink them. Oh, I miss Maine already. Although this post is already longer than it should be, I will leave you now with one of my favorite memories from the trip - a raucous birthday game of Pin the Tail on the Donkey.