Sunday, October 5, 2008


I apologize for the long time between posts! Life has been super busy lately, but I wanted to share the fun Hubby and I had in Portland, ME.
A couple of weekends ago, Hubby and I traveled to Portland, Maine via Amtrak. We headed up to meet Sharona and her beau.

It was a rainy, rainy weekend, thanks to Hurricane Kyle. We can't seem to escape rain this year! Anyway, despite the rain, we all had a great time. Sharona drove down all the way from New Brunswick! We didn't realize how far they drove -- it was only a two-hour trip for us. We stayed at the La Quinta Inn. It's not a bad place if you don't want to spend too much. You help yourself to breakfast, but you can make waffles or have pastries, cereal, yogurt, hard-boiled eggs, coffee, juice, etc. Not bad at all.

We did not have a car (the hotel provided transportation to and from the train station), so Sharona and her beau came to pick us up for dinner once we got into Portland. Due to some oddities with the streets in Portland, we drove around a bit (in a few circles) looking for the Italian restaurant, Espo's Trattoria, that Sharona picked out. It was really funny once we found out that they had already been to the restaurant before they came to pick us up! The restaurant had a warm, homey atmosphere and the waitress was very nice. We ended the night early, but I had plenty of work to do at the hotel. I schlepped my pattern drafting homework up there so I could get it done during the downtime.

Saturday, we hit the shops of downtown Portland. Hubby and I did some damage at one of my favorites, Stonewall Kitchen. They have awesome dried soups, relishes, sauces and kitchen utensils. They also have a sweet little kitchen inside the store. I wanted to take a picture, but the staff didn't allow it. Well! The boys went to Starbuck's while the girls visited a bookstore, Books, Etc.. I bought two books: Asian Art and Sew and Stow. We also stopped in a boutique, Bliss, which is one of my Portland favorites. It's on the pricey side, but I did see a fabulous coat and dress that I would have liked to take home. Another shop I like to visit in Portland is Simply Scandinavian. It's a nice shop if you're looking for typical Scandinavian crafts, especially Christmas ornaments. Simply Scandinavian also sells clothing, jewerly, toys and books. Of course, they have a few Marimekko items: aprons, notecards and even fabric.

The biggest surprise was Portland's Whole Foods. Sharona hadn't been there before. She looked it up online and wanted to check it out. Little did we know, Portland's Whole Foods is a city within a store. There are a few Whole Foods stores in Boston, but they all pale in comparison to the Portland store. It is cavernous. It has all the things you'd expect: fruits and veggies with a large selection of organic offerings, cheeses, meats, grains, nuts. This one has a restaurant inside and a sushi bar. I could spend an entire day in that store. I met an older couple who was offering free samples of ice cream, called Sherbetter. I tried the lemon flavor and the rainbow. They were both delicious. As it turns out, Jack and Helen were helping their son, Jim, launch his product. Jack and Helen live in Boston, so it was fun meeting them in Portland. I will look for Sherbetter the next time I'm in Whole Foods here at home. If you're ever in Portland, be sure to visit Whole Foods.

Lest I forget, there was one fabric store that we could find in Portland: Z Fabrics. The owner, Mary, said she opened the shop out of sheer frustration, because there were no good places for fabric in Portland! The shop is tiny, but is stocked with colorful, large scale prints. I bought some for my Halloween costume, that I will of course share later. I am encouraged to see an up and comer in the fabric world. I hope she does well.

Just down a couple of blocks and across the street from Z Fabrics is Angela Adams. I visited her store years ago in Portland before she had all the press and before her rugs were featured on The Apprentice! I own two bags from her store. I was eager to go back to see what she had in store. Unfortunately, there were no bags! She now sells a few laptop bags, small housewards and journals. There were also a few simple garments made with fabric she designed. If you are in the market for a modern wool or cotton rugs, however, it is the place to be. There is an amazing undersea rug behind the counter, similar to the photo above. Of course, seeing it online doesn't do it justice. The rug is huge -- at least 8'x10', and it's full of vibrant colors and texture. (Note: There are some bags are on her website, but nothing like the leather ones I have!)

We worked up an appetite after all that shopping! We dined at a Greek restaurant that Sharona found, Greek Corner. Sharona is a vegan, so we didn't mind her doing the restaurant searches. Of course, she did well. The food was delicious and so fresh. Greek is one of my favoirtes (sans the feta). As it turns out, the restaurant is within walking distance of where we started at Stonewall Kitchen! There is also an Indian restaurant next door, that I'm looking forward to trying.

After dinner, we said goodbye to our Canadian friends, but not before Sharona gave me two issues of Clin d'oeil, a Quebecois fashion magazine. As you know, the language of fashion knows no boundaries! Sharona and I met a year ago, thanks to Martha's sewing show. Now that our respective significant others have met, we plan to meet up a few more places together. Montreal and Bar Harbor are the next spots on our list.

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