Monday, June 28, 2010

Book Review: Stern Men

A few years ago, everyone I knew seemed to be reading "Eat, Pray, Love"- I somehow missed the boat on it. I had heard great things about both the book and the author, Elizabeth Gilbert, but it just happened to come across my radar when we were in the midst of moving and some other significant life events, so it slipped by the wayside. It wasn't until I was in a local shop that I happened to notice (and immdeately pick up) Stern Men, Gilbert's first novel published originally before the phenomenon of "Eat, Pray, Love" took off.

Upon reading the synopsis on the back cover, I was immdeately hooked: Ruth Thomas, a snarky, smart-mouthed girl from the fictitious Maine island of Fort Niles returns to the island at the ripe age of 18  in the 1970s after being sent away to a boarding school in Delaware. SOLD. The book had me at Maine- I fully admit to being a sucker for books written about my homestate. The story itself is witty- written in a very dry-humor style, apropriate for the genre. Her father refuses to take her on as a stern men on his own boat, and not being able to find work on any other boats, Ruth spends her summer roaming the island and generally "stirring the turd". She is forced to visit her mother in Concord and deal with their strained relationship, she take solace the the beautiful (and fertile) Mrs. Pommeroy for days on end, assists in Senator Addam's quest for an elusive elephant tusk buried in the island's mud bog, and becomes mesmerized by the preacher's nephew and his quiet, shy strength.
Interwoven in Ruth's own story is a telling of the island's own history, and the ever evolving lobster wars fought between it's own fishermen and those of the neighboring island Corne Haven. It is a near perfect adaptation of what so many fishing communities go through along the coast of Maine, but told in such a captivating way, that it is difficult to put down. The way Gilbert tosses in pieces of vital, occasionally shocking twists in the narrative left me turning pages late into the night. Her portrait of this rural island community is spot on, witty- you can see all the characters loud and clear. The engaging matter of the book makes for a quick, satisfying read- one that I am already sad to have finished!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Container Garden Update!

I have been meaning for some time to post an update on my container garden experiment for some time now, but as per usual, the kickoff of summer has had me running all over the New England coast! Not to say that I’m not having a blast doing it, but it has certainly kept me busy! So far the results have been predominantly successful, and Kyle and I have been able to enjoy some wonderful fresh herbs in a lot of our cooking (see Toasted Almond Pesto over on The Humble Table). My arugula didn’t fare as well as hoped (it may have been over exposed to sun & over crowded in the pot) and I had to restart my sugar snap peas (same problem w/ over crowding- I have a tendency to do that!), but all in all I’ve been very happy with my results!

Since the first post on the garden experiment back in April, I have also added tomatoes to the windowsill and they are just starting to give off signs of fruiting. I couldn’t believe how quickly they shot up, and I just staked them on Sunday, so they should start producing any day now! I planted four heirloom cherry tomatoes (in one very large pot) that have beautiful curling new leaves with a vibrant green hue. I also planted four heirloom Lemon Boy yellow tomato plants, and I can’t wait to start enjoying these beauties- the stalks are already so tall!

I think I may also pick up a small pepper plant (a little too late to start from seedling @ this point) over the weekend to take the place of the arugula pot, as I really enjoy fresh hot peppers in all sorts of applications. Hopefully I’ll be better with updating in the future, and I can’t wait to work with my homegrown produce in the kitchen!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Two Years Ago Today...

Two years ago today, I was sitting on the floor in the sun room of my family’s summer house opening gifts and cards with my newly minted husband, getting ready for a three hour sunset cruise to celebrate with friends and family. Just 24 hours before that, I married the love of my life, and looking back today, I couldn’t be more in love with him now.

The first two years of our marriage haven’t been the easiest- we’ve experienced job loss, two moves, financial stress, the loss of friends, and the start of a new life together. Looking back at the tough times, I realize that there is no one else that I would want to have my back through all of it. Through all of the less then celebratory moments, the brighter times have far outweighed the difficult, and we have grown together (and independently), strengthening our relationship and looking towards the uncharted territory with bright eyes.

It seems like it was just last summer when I met the Argo captain who was fresh out of college and full of swagger. I was just a bartender in a coastal town, and he was exactly what I never knew I was looking for. Who else could have convinced me one month into dating that I should move with him to the Virgin Islands??? And who would have predicted that it would only take those six months in the tropics to show me that this was the man I was going to spend the rest of my life with.

(One of the first photos taken of us, celebrating our six month anniversary in the VI)

It goes without saying that our wedding (and the following celebration) was one of the most incredible and joyous moments of my life to date. The stars seemed to align- the weather was beautiful (early June on the coast of Maine can be touch & go), the venue was perfect and the celebration put on by friends and family was epic. I don’t think we could have hoped for a better day that was just so perfectly “us”!

Five years later- after many points on the chart, one adopted cat, a boat sold, one huge blow out wedding celebration, numerous jobs and great ideas, we’re still going strong. Kyle is my favorite person to laugh with, my shoulder to cry on, my safe harbor, and my favorite person to just do nothing with. We challenge each other to be better people, and never stop learning something new.

I feel so fortunate to call him my husband, and believe that he feels the same for me being his wife. For whatever the future holds for us- bring it on, because we can’t wait for the next adventure!