Kayaking Adventures in New Hampshire

I am so grateful for this gloriously uneventful pregnancy. We are at 34 weeks this week and thankfully I am still able to take Mizpah for walks, kayak around while Jon fishes, and go to a couple spin classes a week. Now, my walks with Miz have gotten shorter. Jon is still able to run and mountain bike with her so she is still getting plenty of exercise. My kayak adventures are not very strenuous and when I go to spin classes, I am careful not to overdo it with the jumps- the stand up, sit down type stuff.

I have been really enjoying the kayaking a lot. I was a camp counselor in the summer for years and took my campers out to kayak around and find frogs and turtles. It was fun, but it was a part of the job meaning I was watching my campers and it was NOT always relaxing ha. Every year we camp up on Casco Bay in Freeport ME, and I would go out and kayak around which was awesome, but it was a once a year thing. This summer being a little limited in the activity I can do, my husband and I started going out with the kayak for me and the float tube for Jon to fly fish.

We have gone to Lucas Pond in Northwood NH, Stonehouse Pond in Barrington NH, and I paddled around Pawtuckaway Lake in Nottingham NH while Jon ran with Mizpah on the trails. Jon did catch a trout at Stonehouse which was exciting! Its getting a little late in the summer to catch trout in the ponds though, they hide out in the cool depths in the heat. I have seen some loons which was amazing, some herons, ducks, and some beavers. Kayaking has been great to have an upper body workout and get to be outside doing something. Here are some of my favorite pics from paddling out and about!

Lucas Pond

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There are some really cute houses on this pond as well as a summer camp! Cool thing about this pond is only non motorized craft are allowed. We saw lots of kayaks, canoes, paddleboats, and swimmers…..and honestly my favorite little swimmer was the loon that let me get so close! It was great.

Stonehouse Pond

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Top pic is from an evening paddle and the bottom two are from a morning paddle. This was the smallest of the three bodies of water. People kayak, swim, float, and there is a trail that goes around the pond to the top of the stone. There is a serious beaver family living here, like a compound of lodges, but so fun to see them out swimming around!

Pawtuckaway Lake

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Great blue heron!
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Loony for loons!

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Top two pics are from one evening, bottom two are from another! Pawtuckaway Lake is the biggest body of water I kayaked this summer. Actually I only saw half of it, it would have taken me toooo long to get to the other side. This body of water has lots of trails, a campground, a beach which is sadly contaminated with cyanobacteria at the moment, some houses, and this one allows motorized craft. No trout in this lake, just bass, so this is where I kayak when Jon is running the trails with Miz.

Any other paddlers out there? I really wish I could get into standup paddleboarding, maybe in the next couple years! Hope you enjoy my amateur wildlife/nature kayak pics!

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Family history in Kennebunkport, ME

Growing up in New England, you just know that Kennebunkport ME is a magical place. After all, it’s where the Bush family has a home right? So it has to be good! I have great memories of going to a family cookout or two up there, and driving by the beautiful wedding cake house! My mother, grandmother, and aunt all love Kennebunkport too. Day trips to walk around the shops, look out at the boats, get a lobster roll and ice cream…I mean what’s better than that?

My family has always been into genealogy and family history. On my mother’s side, the family history that I grew to be most familiar with was for the Milligans. My great great grandfather was Rev. Herbert Freeman Milligan. He married Effie Robbins in 1898 in MA and had 9 children with Effie over 21 years.  Being a clergyman, the family moved a lot as Rev. Milligan got different appointments in different churches. From 1912 on, their travels took them through various towns in Maine. My great grandmother, Alice, was the third born child in 1902 and she graduated high school when the family was in Waldoboro Maine.  Sometime between the mid 1920s and 1930s, the family moved to Kennebunk. The last son, Jonathan, was born in 1920 and went to Kennebunk’s high school. Effie passed away in 1940, and Rev. Milligan remarried in 1941 believing that a church man ought to be married. His new wife, Florence “Foddie” Weeks and him retired and lived for 19 years on Cat Mousam Road in Kennebunk.

Jonathan Milligan is where my family’s continued link to the area and some fun history lies. He married his high school sweetheart, Liz Perkins, in 1940. If you know the area at all, the name Perkins should sound familiar- yes, Perkins as in Perkins Cove! Liz’s father, Silas Henry Perkins, is the namesake of a park in Kennebunk as well. He was a great poet known for a poem about Kennebunkport. Jon and Liz were very active in the goings on in the Kennebunkport area. The couple bought the Sagamore Inn at Gooch’s Beach and ran it as the Sea Spray Motor Inn, which was sadly torn down in the 80s to become a private home. They had many business and real estate ventures together, including the Lands End Cottage community.

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Postcard for Sea Spray Motor Inn
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Other side of the Sea Spray Inn post card- hotel decor has come a long way huh?
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One side of post card for the Lands End Cottages- can’t find the other side 😦
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Map of the Kennebunk Region with stamps for “Jon Milligan Company Kennebunk Maine” and “Lands End Cottages on Cape Porpoise Harbor in Kennebunkport, Maine for your Family Vacation”

Jon and Liz started to develop this community on Lands End Road, which goes out to Cape Porpoise Harbor, in the 1950s, in the wake of the devastating fire of 1947.  The community began as vacation cottages for rent, and now is a lovely residential neighborhood. In the 80s, plots of land were offered to the family- the price range was $15K to $25k. Some members of the family jumped on the opportunity, my parents did not 😦 They were just starting out then and didn’t want to risk the investment- can’t blame them there. Now of course, houses in that  neighborhood are listed for $450K and up!!

Liz Milligan passed away on Valentine’s Day this past year at the age of 96!! Two of her daughters, Judy and Debbie are currently realtors for Andrews Milligan Real Estate Company.  My mother was in town for my baby shower this past weekend and we spent a day visiting with one of my fabulous great aunts up at her house in the Lands End neighborhood. It is beautiful there- always a nice breeze from the ocean. They started with a cabin on their lot and have built it into a beautiful 3 bedroom home with an outdoor shower and a great screened in porch. She has watched Kennebunkport evolve over the years into really what some might call the Nantucket of the north. From Lands End, you can take a right down to the village of Cape Porpoise, which really just consists of Bradbury’s, Cape Porpoise Kitchen, a church, and a fire dept. You can keep driving to get to the pier on Bickford Island which is the home of Cape Pier Chowder House, Cape Porpoise Lobster Co., and Pier 77 Restaurant/The Ramp Bar & Grill. There are beautiful views of the harbor and you can see the light house on Goat Island from there too!

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Buoys! Stairs are part of the Pier 77/Ramp Restaurant/Bar complex
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30 Weeks Pregnant!! 10 to go!
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Fishing/Lobster Boats in Cape Porpoise Harbor
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Lobster operation, most likely for Cape Porpoise Lobster Co. right off the pier!
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Goat Island Lighthouse!
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A little nautical art in the parking area- good use of old boats right?

The Kennebunkport area has been flooded lately with social media influencers. I have seen bloggers/instagrammers working with Cape Arundel Inn, the Cabot Cove Cottages, Hidden Pond Cottages, Kennebunkport Inn, The Tides Beach Club, and most recently the new glamp sites at the Sandy Pines Campground. Now, when this subject came up with my great aunt, Tim Harrington’s name came up. I didn’t know this, but all of the accommodations listed above besides the campground are a part of his resort collection, and the locals joke that every time a piece of land in the area goes up for sale, Tim can’t be far. See more about the Kennebunkport Resort Collection and Tim Harrington here. Abby Capalbo has a nice travel guide on her blog with reviews of many of KRC lodging and dining locations as well as others here.  Also following Jackie Greaney and PJ Havel will give you many images of the area to drool over 🙂

Anyways, I apologize, this post got a wee bit long. There are so many coastal vacation spots in New England, but definitely Kennebunkport is close to my heart. I hope that you all had a great weekend! Where are your family vacation spots?? Let me know in the comments!

Edit/Correction: While Sandy Pines is not listed on the KRC website as of now, it is actually a Tim Harrington property along with Debra Lennon!

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Coastal Adventures with Mizpah

This past week was my April vacation, one of the many joys of being a teacher! I tend to go visit my parents in Florida during the February vacation, and then April vacation I usually look forward to for fun day trips with my pup, Mizpah. The weather wasn’t amazing this past week as we definitely had some of those April showers, but we made the best of the days that had good weather.

The two coastal areas I took Mizpah too this past week were Good Harbor Beach in Gloucester MA and Narragansett/Newport RI. I had wanted to do a little Kennebunkport ME on Friday but it was rainy in the AM! Good Harbor Beach is off leash on the even days until April 30, Wingaersheek is the dog beach on the odd days. I looooove the way Gloucester runs these two beaches in the offseason. The clear rules allow everyone to be happy- the dog people and the not so much dog people. After the beach, we hit up Woodman’s for the lobster roll special- $15 on Mondays during the offseason.

Both beaches in Gloucester have views of lighthouses. From Wingaersheek you can see the Annisquam Lighthouse, and from Good Harbor you can see the Thacher Island Twin Lighthouses. Here is a great post from a terrific website about the lighthouses. Mizpah had a blast running around the beach and playing in the water.

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View looking out toward Rockport, you can just see those twin lighthouses on Thacher Island in the distance!
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Happiest dog
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My friend Alex with her German short haired pointer puppy who is just 7 weeks old and her chocolate lab who is having some joint issues so could only walk, no running 😦
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In LOVE with my Tucker Blair needlepoint flip flops! Find them here! They are a little pricey at $74, but if you follow them on Instagram, you can see when they have sales!
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We would like to move into that house for the summer please!
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My first born, can’t believe she is going to be 7 in May and a big sister in October!

Our other coastal adventure was down in RI. We met friends at the Narragansett Town Beach which allows dogs on leash until May 15th. Now….interesting situation. Dogs are supposed to be on leash, but as you reach a concrete wall on the beach, the dog officer told us he can’t patrol past there because its private property……sooo can your dog be off leash? I let Mizpah off for a bit to run around, but this particular beach has stairs off the beach to the Dunes Club, hotels, and homes….and Mizpah’s explorer personality made it hard for her to resist heading up to those private properties. Its the off season so no one is at these properties for the most part, but still, I don’t want to be an irresponsible dog owner that disrespects property owners’s wishes.

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The weather wasn’t as nice for our RI beach day, a little foggy and overcast!
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Mizpah with my friend’s dog Koby!
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Mizpah posing with the dunes in the background

From the beach, we headed to Iggy’s for lunch and then off to Newport to walk around. As I have said in previous posts, Mizpah really benefits from not only playing off leash out in nature, but also socializing on leash in busier town centers and such. To be her best dog self, she needs to be good at both. I want her to greet people with the same respect off leash on a trail in the White Mountains and she would on leash on Thames St. in Newport.

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We would also happily live here in this adorable home off Thames St for the summer, thanks.
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Bannister’s Wharf
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Walking by the historic Clarke Cooke House. The beautiful daffodils seen throughout Newport were part of the Newport Daffodil Days Festival.

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I do love a tall ship weathervane 🙂
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Chocolate chip ice cream from Kilwins is so good, think more like chocolate chunks!

In the offseason, parking at the metered spots on Thames is free so we nabbed a spot near Kilwins with the plan in mind that ice cream would be procured at the end of the day. If we hadn’t eaten lunch already, I probably would have gone to O’Brien’s Pub because they have an outdoor seating area that is dog friendly. It was a long day with the drives back and forth. From NH to RI, the drive was around two and a half hours each way. As we walked around Bowen’s Wharf, I looked around for spots where the KJP store could be opening and I did happen to see a nice space next to the Alex and Ani that was being renovated…..we shall see! Hope you have enjoyed our adventures!

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Spring Weekend at the Mount Washington Hotel & An Announcement!!

Well hello there!! I apologize for my absence the past couple weeks. Things have been busy here as spring is gearing up and now that the sprint to April vacation has ended, I can relax a little and catch up! If you follow me on instagram, you might have seen my post  announcing that I am pregnant!! My husband and I are expecting a baby boy October 1, which puts me right around 17 weeks right now. I have been feeling great, still able to exercise, so far so good! I did stop riding around 10 weeks, so I have definitely been missing the barn and Chandraki, and we decided this month to take a break from my beloved 4000 footers in NH. The actual act of hiking is fine, its more the length of time and the multiple bathroom breaks that are rough! We are so excited for this addition to our family, I can’t believe how fast the first four months have gone by.

My husband and I celebrated our first year of marriage a little while back with a much needed weekend up at the Mt. Washington Hotel! This history and location of this hotel make it so special to me, and its just beautiful. We stayed at the hotel for a weekend back in early July when it was warm and green, but this time around, the landscape was very different. There was still quite a bit of snow up there, it even snowed while we were driving up! This time around we did dinner in the main dining room, and the food was just amazing. My husband got a duck special, and I got the chicken pot pie arancini. Their dessert menu looked great but I was craving just simple chocolate, so we went to Morsels downstairs for some candy and a chocolate chip brownie! I wholeheartedly recommend the breakfast buffet in the morning. It was delicious and there were so many choices, there was no way not to leave satisfied. Here are some pictures of the beautiful Mt. Washington Hotel 🙂

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Great Hall/Lobby of the hotel. The pillars, and the chandeliers, and the carpets, oh man, its so beautiful and just transports you to a different, more elegant time.
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Fireplace in the conservatory, arguably my favorite room
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Beautiful details of the ceiling in the conservatory
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Entrance into the main dining room.
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Looking out at Mt. Jefferson and Mt. Washington from the veranda
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Panorama of the beautiful Presidential Range
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Red, white, and blue 🙂
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There is an indoor pool and hot tub and as well as the outdoor pool, heated for these colder months.

When we are at the Mount Washington, we tend to just walk around the hotel a lot, exploring and enjoying the hotel and the property. Its so beautiful and there’s so much to do in the area as far as outdoor activities. Quite a few families were up there for spring skiing at Bretton Woods.

Here is my last post from this past summer at the Mount Washington, has more of the awesome history in it!

The Grand Mt. Washington Hotel

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Girls Weekend at the Portland Regency Hotel & Spa

Spring has finally begun! There might still be a half foot of snow on the ground, but according the calendar, it is spring! This past weekend a few girlfriends and I spent a night at the Portland Regency Hotel & Spa right in the heart of the Old Port in Portland ME. We had such a great time catching up and spending time together.

I was the first to get there Saturday, so I walked around for a while to enjoy the daylight. I have been to Portland many times with friends & family, but I had never really had an opportunity to just wander around alone.

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This is where the Casco Bay Island Ferry is! A cruise around Casco Bay is definitely on my list for a summer visit!

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Quiet in the off season!
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The old US Custom House on Fore St., built between 1867-1872
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Loved the light blue and white on the Proctor Building
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Living in these apartments would be rough in the winter, but it must be nice in the summer!

I popped into a few stores and just wandered through aisles. I wanted to get a snack and a drink so after all my wandering, so I walked into The Holy Donut. It was late afternoon so there were very few donuts, just got a hot chocolate. The hot chocolate was AMAZING!! Thick, rich, chocolatey, creamy….all the good words. Their donuts….are made….with Maine mashed potatoes. I got a maple donut the next morning, so amazing. The dark chocolate donut with coconut was so good too….lets be honest, they are probably all fantastic.

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I headed back to the hotel and my friends arrived! We had a fruit/cheese/cracker plate and champagne at the hotel and caught up. Maybe we watched School of Rock, maybe that happened too, the final scene at the battle of the bands? Loved it haha. Then we headed out to dinner at Five Fifty-Five on Congress St. The building was really unique. The second floor where we were seated was completely open in the middle looking down on the first floor. Top recommendation would be the truffle mac and cheese with lobster. It was amazing, a little pricey, but the cheese/truffle sauce was delicious, and of course, Maine lobster meat is the best. I also got the side of roasted brussel sprouts, and we got chicken liver pate for the table. For dessert, we got the chocolate parfait, key lime pie, and creamsicle. The desserts were a little…artistic (read not a slice of key lime pie but a plate with 3 blobs of key lime filling on graham cracker crumbs with three little piles of whipped cream arranged around it), but they tasted great.

From dinner, we went to Bull Feeney’s to listen to live music and hang out, and then The Armory Lounge at the hotel for a nightcap before heading upstairs to bed. I had been to both these bars in the summer, and man what a huge difference in the off season! Both of these bars this past weekend were very relaxed, not empty, but quieter and relaxed. Seats were available, bartenders were attentive, and while the atmosphere was not as lively as in the summer, it wasn’t dead either.

Next day my friend and I headed to The Holy Donut to get fresh donuts. It was so busy! The two of us are the ones who need to eat first thing after we wake up. Thankfully we have each other so we don’t have to wake our other friends that prefer to sleep in a bit! Then we all went to brunch around 11 at the hotel restaurant, Twenty Milk Street Restaurant. We packed up our room, checked out, and went downstairs to the spa! I got a facial and my friends got massages. I love getting facials because with my pale complexion, I worry about environmental damage from the sun in the summer, and the wind/complete lack of moisture in the winter. It was such a nice way to end the weekend and we are definitely planning to go back this summer and see the area in full swing!

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Some Florida snaps during Blizzard Stella….

A couple weeks ago was the school vacation week in New Hampshire, so I took some time to run away to Florida and see my lovely parents. They are a bit outside of Tampa, living the retired life! Now I am sitting in my living room watching the blizzard through the windows definitely missing the sunshine and warmth! Besides spending some time in Tampa and at my parents’s house, we also spent some time in Tarpon Springs and Clearwater.

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One of my favorite things to do at my parents’s house is just walk around or go for runs to enjoy the nice weather. The birds are so pretty down there, and so are all the flowers and plants. My parents have a couple palm trees and beautiful hibiscus flowers in their yard. Their backyard is actually the golf course, and it makes for some fun people watching from the lanai.

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I wore this outfit for a luncheon with my mother and some of her friends. Lilly Pulitzer shirt is sold out but this one is similar. White jeans here from Vineyard Vines and sandals are here from Palm Beach Sandals!

Tarpon Springs is a coastal city on the Gulf of Mexico northeast of Tampa. It is an important location for harvesting natural sponges and the historic sponge dock area has fun shopping and Greek restaurants. Tarpons Springs has the highest percentage of Greek Americans of any city in the US.

It was so nice to be near the water and all the sponge boats. My past few visits to the water had been pretty cold compared to this one 🙂 Walking around Tarpon Springs, there are lots of decorated bikes. My favorite was the one above decorated in sponges. They started appearing in the spring of 2015, and they are truly art. Warren Gregory is the artist behind the bikes. He was inspired by many years living in Amsterdam. From Tarpon Springs, we headed south to Clearwater for some beach.

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The Clearwater Beach sand is very fine, so soft on your feet. I love all the palm trees and the dunes here.
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Clear water indeed!
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The hotels along Clearwater Beach are so colorful
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Dress from Mahi Gold// Hat from Vineyard Vines// Sandals from Jack Rogers// Bracelet from Kiel James Patrick

Watching the snow fly and blow around outside, its hard to believe I was ever in warm Florida. I have gone down every February since my parents moved down there, and it really is such a nice winter getaway. Hopefully anyone else affected by this winter weather is staying safe and warm and maybe, just maybe, my pics will help get you through!

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The Oxford Exchange in Tampa

I have been following Carly Heitlinger’s The College Prepster for years. She is from the Tampa area and I have seen many pics from her trips down there, including some posts about a spot in Tampa, The Oxford Exchange. My parents live in that area of Florida so when I went to visit this past week, we checked it out! According to my parents, it’s in an older part of Tampa, far from the big shopping malls and airport which are the parts I am most familiar with. It actually is only open til 5:30 which I thought was interesting! Not sure if maybe that area just doesn’t have a nightlife or what?

The exterior of the place is crisp white brick with black accents. The store front really pops among all the others. I love the Spanish terra cotta style roof styles.

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When you walk in, there are sunglasses/glasses displayed for sale to the right, and books for sale to the left. This part sort of reminded me of an upscale Urban Outfitters without clothing. They don’t have every book, but its a good collection of books. I loved the white and black floor in this part too!

Continue walking and you will come to a cafe counter with great lounge/work area with chairs and places to sit. There are stairs with fabulous portraits but I didn’t venture upstairs. Continue on and there is a very cool gift shop….think Anthropologie meets Williams & Sonoma? There’s also Aesop skincare in that area too which I believe is a newer addition.

From there to the right is the hostess area for the restaurant. There is a dining room that is nice, but I was pretty excited that we were seated in the other room which has the white brick walls, a fountain, palm trees, and feels a bit more like a courtyard or atrium.

The food is amazing, all made from scratch. I wanted the club but with grilled chicken instead of turkey- done. My dad did the burger, and my mother did the chopped salad. We also got the maple bacon brussel sprouts side, which is amazing. We loved everything! They have an extensive list of teas and coffee drinks as well as fresh squeezed juices and wine. The sandwich I got might be the best sandwich I have ever had- thin sandwich appropriate grilled chicken, avocado, bacon, lettuce, tomato, garlic aioli all on buttered toasted white bread…just thinking about it, I want another one!

It was a great spot, definitely one that we will continue to visit over the years! Next time I want to go for brunch…. 🙂

Here is the main post from Carly on Oxford Exchange, although really most of her Tampa posts involve pics from trips to the OE!

Oxford Exchange (a must see in Tampa)

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Hampton Beach with Mizpah

Yesterday was quite the day for my pup Mizpah. We did off leash fun at a park with awesome trails near us and then made the short trip to Hampton Beach. Massachusetts and Maine both have beaches with more lenient rules for dogs in the offseason. Maine beaches and some of the beaches on the cape actually allow dogs during the summer before a certain time and after a certain time…usually before 9 and after 5. I moved to New Hampshire, the land of live free or die, and our short coast line here is made up of state parks and there is a hard and fast rule that there are no dogs allowed. Even the short sections of beach that are considered “town beach” can’t be accessed without going through state beaches.

We went expecting to just walk along the boardwalk- not as good as walking on the beach, but still nice views. When we got there though, sure enough there were lots of people walking their dogs on the beach! They were all on leash. It seems like the rule is in effect, but just not enforced because the rangers aren’t around patrolling.

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Pretty unbelievable that all the snow melted in much of the trails! My outfit was perfect for the weather. The needlepoint hat from Smathers & Branson, my Barbour Argon jacket (sold out but similar here) , LLBean scarf (sold out), and my LLBean boots held up nicely on this cool day. 
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One end of Hampton Beach, past here its mostly rocks up against the wall
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Mizpah loves the feeling of sand between her paws
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Running around the beach with Mizpah
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Down at the other end of the beach, a very brave surfer heading into the water

It was strange to be at Hampton with all the stores and restaurants boarded up, but it was also so nice and quiet! Hampton Beach is…..lively in the summer. The first time I went to Hampton was in 6th grade with two friends and I was totally overwhelmed in a good way I guess. The beach, arcade, and all the food. I had only ever been to Wingaersheek, Crane, and Good Harbor on the North Shore in MA where we brought our food in a cooler and just ran around the beach. The best deal on the boardwalk was at Sal’s Pizza- $5 for a huge slice of pizza and a can of soda. There’s the Candy Corner, the numerous trashy tshirt companies, and leaving the beach, we always had to stop for ice cream at Hodgie’s Too. Hampton is certainly not the most classy or picturesque beach, but it is definitely fun. Ok, time to stop procrastinating and pack for Florida!

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Warm winter afternoon at Crane Beach

So from pretty much the day after snow polo to the end of this past week, I have had the worst cold!! Coughing, sneezing, watering eyes, fatigue, all of it. Thankfully I started to feel better this past week just in time for the unseasonable heat wave here in New England.

For my first “finally feeling better afternoon out”, I headed to Ipswich MA to visit a friend who just moved there just down the street from Crane Beach. It felt so good to get out of the house for more than just work, hang out with friends, and of course be at the beach!!! Crane Beach allows horseback riding and off leash dogs from October 1 to March 31, so we brought her chocolate lab Wellie with us. I totally felt like I was cheating on Mizpah, she will come next time. We both ride horses so of course are both dreaming of trail riding there as well.

Here are some pics I snapped. With the blue sky and the setting sun, the water looked an iridescent blue. It was perfection for my first adventure out in the world post-sickness!

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Still a little bit of snow on the dunes. Check out our super long winter shadows!

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Sun setting on a beautiful day. To the right of the sun, you can just make out the roof/chimney line of Crane Estate.

My friend got her resident beach sticker recently, which I think will make for some really fun day trips this coming summer! Crane Beach is usually pretty busy in the summer, the normal parking rate can be pricey at $25 but they do have nice bathroom/shower facilities and a snack shack type place with food and novelty ice cream. Where I am in NH now, while I of course have way closer access to the NH beaches, I am more excited about being closer to the North Shore beaches in MA that I grew up loving. Alrighty, hope everyone enjoys their weekends! I am on vacation next week so I will be heading to Florida to dust off the Palm Beach sandals again!

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The Lighthouses of Portsmouth Harbor

The Piscataqua River is a tidal river that separates NH from ME, forms Portsmouth Harbor, and empties into the Gulf of Maine. Recently I ventured out into New Castle, NH, which is an island. Driving around the island I found a nice spot to see the Portsmouth Harbor Light and was so happy to see that from the same park, you can see the Whaleback Light just over the border in Kittery ME. Another site worth checking out in New Castle is Wentworth by the Sea, but I made the decision that visiting that historic beauty would need more time than I had…probably a nicer outfit too.

Portsmouth Harbor Light is actually at Fort Constitution. You can drive toward the Coast Guard Base and then follow the signs for the Fort Constitution Historic Site. From May to mid-October they actually do tours of the lighthouse! I am definitely going this coming summer. You can actually climb all the way up to the lantern room! Fort Constitution was originally Fort William and Mary. In 1791, NH gave the site to the US, and the fort was renovated and renamed something a little more American : )

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Coastline of New Castle NH from Great Island Commons
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Coastline of New Castle NH from Great Island Commons. The seagulls are so cute right now, all puffed up with their winter down.

I viewed the light houses from Great Island Commons, which is a pay to enter park in the summer, but is free right now! I also got a closer look at the Portsmouth Harbor Light from the end of Ocean St…..like I was one step away from trespassing on US Government property haha. The original wooden lighthouse was built in 1771. It was rebuilt in 1804, shortened in 1851, and then rebuilt again in 1878 lined with cast-iron bricks. There is an oil house built in 1903 and a keeper’s house from 1872 that is being used as US Coast Guard offices.

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Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse

The Portsmouth Harbor Light is a fixed green beacon that can be seen 12 nautical miles out. Part of the reason for the steady fixed beacon and for the shortening of the light house was the construction of Whaleback Light, a little farther out in the harbor. Whaleback Light is actually just over the border in Kittery Maine off the coast of Wood Island. The original Whaleback was built in 1820, rebuilt in 1872 after a bad storm caused cracks to the foundation. The lighthouse is made of granite blocks and sits on a rocky outcrop in the harbor. There is a keeper’s living area and a storage area within the house. Whaleback has a bright white LED light (new in 2009) every 10 seconds. It originally had a fog bell, but at some point it was changed to a horn. The light was automated in 1963, so the last keeper to live there was James Pope, USCG in the early 1960s.

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Wood Island Life Saving Station & Whaleback Lighthouse

Wood Island is home to the Wood Island Life Saving Station. It was built in 1907 in Kittery, and before the USCG was around, this station had rowboats for the US Life Saving Service to help mariners in distress. The station is actually in the midst of a restoration to be used as a maritime museum! See the progress and more history of the station here.

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Whaleback Light- love the solitary gull there on the rock

There is something about exploring the coastal areas of New England during the off season. Great Island Commons is probably packed in the summer with walkers, families, picnic-ers, and so on. I bet there are days when the parking lot gets full and they have to turn people away! It is definitely cold, but for me its rejuvenating! Getting out of the car to this beautiful scenery and that raw wind blowing in your face- talk about all the shivers! In the winter, these coastal areas are so quiet, and still.

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