Hayley and I pondered, discussed, and researched what we might do for our Festibond date for some time. Nothing seemed worthy of the occasion. I knew she liked art and thought, perhaps, there was something we could do around that. Perhaps a visit to the Portland Museum of Art or the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. But Hayley seems to like doing art more than merely appreciating it. When I was a kid my mom got me private painting lessons and took me to a wood carving class. Of these and other experiences I have fond memories, and thought Hayley and I could do something similar. We should take one of these painting classes that have become so popular and that Kirsten did with a few of her friends from work. Of course! Hayley loved the idea, so we picked a night and I made the reservations.
Friday evening we drove to Portland and parked on the street between Zapoteca, where we had 17:30 dinner reservations, and Muse Paintbar. Perfect. We were seated immediately at a small table in the dining room. I ordered a margarita and a flight of Patron tequilas, which were very tasty. Hayley ordered a mocktail that was too sweet, so she drank water.
We also ordered bacon guacamole, which we’d had on a previous visit but is not on the menu. The kitchen agreed to make it for us, and we were both grateful they did. It’s very tasty. For our entrées Hayley ordered the Sopa Azteca and I got the Carne Asada con Mole Negro. My steak was so good that if I described it you wouldn’t believe me. It, and I know this is so cliché, melted in my mouth. The fat in the meat was cooked so that it added this wonderful buttery flavor. I digress.
Jenna suggested that for our Festibond date this year we go on a drive to somewhere–it didn’t matter–and I could take some pictures. What she really wanted, I think, was a lot of time where we could just talk without distractions. I enjoy my every conversation with Jenna, so was thrilled by her suggestion. We decided to drive west to find a covered bridge or two in New Hampshire.
On Saturday morning we stopped by Fernleaf Bakery in Saco so Jenna could get a pastry. The fresh olive oil and herb bread looked so delicious we purchased one of those, too. We had no plans to stop for lunch, so I figured we could snack on it during our drive. I’m glad we did. It was delicious! We ate three-fourths of the loaf between us on the drive.
After Fernleaf we stopped at Elements in Biddeford to get Jenna an apple cider. Then we were off. Apple Maps took us down the Turnpike before turning us west into rural New Hampshire.
As part of the Festibond tradition, I recently went on a date with my dad. It didn’t take a lot of planning to decide what we want to do. He and I share a love for watching hockey and it’s something we do seasonally. For one of our past Festibond dates, we went to see a Portland Pirates’ game. However, they no longer play in Maine so my dad suggested we go to a Boston Bruins’ game.
We booked a train to the city and tickets to the game. Dad picked me up early from school on Thursday to catch the 14:47 departure. The ride to Boston was mellow, but pleasant. I enjoyed conversing with Dad before napping and completed some homework considering we wouldn’t arrive home until early in the morning.
For our Festibond date this year Skye suggested we watch a hockey game together, something we’ve enjoyed doing in the past. I was thrilled at the suggestion. The Portland Pirates are no longer a team here, so I suggested instead we take the Downeaster Amtrak train to Boston to see the Bruins. I’ve been wanting to see them since we moved to New England back in 2007. I got us two of the last seats available, then booked business class tickets on the train.
The following day, Thursday, Skye got out of her last block a bit early. I picked her up from school and we headed to the train station in Saco. The ride down was uneventful. We both planned to do work so brought our laptops and iPads, but it occurred to me on the train that we would not be able to bring our backpacks into the TD Garden, and because of terrorism we would likely not find public lockers at North Station. Fortunately, a Google search pointed me to a blog that suggested we might be able to leave them at Sullivan’s Tap for a small fee. When we got to Boston we found the dive bar and, sure enough, they let us leave our bags for $10 each.
We were early to the game, which was fine. We found our seats and got some food. Skye got fried chicken tenders and I got a sausage with onions and peppers and a few beers. And shelled peanuts.
This year was our tenth Festibond. Although we lost Kirsten, we had a good holiday and our traditions remain unfaltering. In preparation, we went to Freeport to get matching clothes–something that Kirsten would have done when my sisters and I were a lot younger. Our holiday was on New Years’ Eve, so we attempted to stay up until midnight (we didn’t succeed).
In the morning, we drove to Portland for breakfast. Although it was a long drive for just a meal, the meal was plenty satisfactory. It was a good decision.
Once again, our annual family holiday tradition of Festibond was outstanding. This year we celebrated on December 27. For those who are unfamiliar with this tradition we started several years ago, its purpose is to create and strengthen our family bonds, both individually and as a unit. Festibond actually encompasses a month or so beforehand with our writing meaningful and thoughtful letters to each other. Then about a week prior to Festibond Brent and I separately taking each of the girls out on one-on-one dates, and the girls and I bake sweets. On the day of Festibond we go out to breakfast, come home and read our letters to each other, spend time together playing games and doing other activities, and snack throughout the day on a light buffet and baked goods the girls and I previously prepared. We’ve changed and added a few things over the years, but our dates and the letters to each other are the primary focus. Continue reading Festibond 2014: Kirsten→
Jenna has been asking me all summer to take a family camping trip. It seemed that there was always someone who was busy (with work or other summer activity). Realizing school would start in only a couple of weeks, I decided I needed to plan something very soon, so I began preparing for a camping trip to Bradbury Mountain State Park for the 3rd weekend in August.
Together the girls and I decided on the menu and purchased all the necessary ingredients. I searched for foil dinner and breakfast ideas, and found a couple winners. I prepared the individual foil dinners ahead of time, but because I was working the two nights prior to our departure, I didn’t have the time I needed to get everything done that I wanted to. As it turned out, I did forget a few things, but we made do. The girls and I drove up to Bradbury Mountain State Park (only about a 45-minute drive north) Friday afternoon after I slept a few hours. My car was packed full, and the girls were good sports about the small amount of room they had. Fortunately my new Subaru Crosstrek has a bit more space than my old little VW Jetta! Brent planned on meeting us there that evening after he got off work. After the girls and I secured our spot and set up camp, Brent arrived…with the firewood and some newspaper. He got a nice fire going. He’s a regular boy scout. ;-)
My Festibond date with Skye was good, but not a lot different than the many occasions when we hang out together at my office or a small coffee shop. For us, it’s all about the conversation.
I had taken Skye to Grace recently for one of their tiny juicy bar burgers, after which she decided she did like hamburgers, which she had theretofore disliked. In order to satiate her newfound craving for a delicious burger, she asked if we could go to Five Guys for our date. I thought it an odd request, as Five Guys isn’t exactly a nice place to enjoy conversation while being well cared for by an attentive wait staff. I tried to talk her into several other restaurants, but she wasn’t persuadable. At least I didn’t have to make a reservation. Continue reading Festibond 2013 – My Date with Skye→
Jenna had warned me that she doesn’t like fancy restaurants, but I figured I knew best. She’s a princess who dreams of opulence and refinement. She also said she wanted to eat at an Italian restaurant for our date, so I tapped my social media network for recommendations. Suggestions poured in for quaint little restaurants in the Old Port, many of which I was not already familiar. I called them all, only to be told they would be closed on Christmas Eve, the evening we had planned for our date. Frustrated, we rescheduled to December 27 and I made a reservation for two at Piccolo on Middle Street.
After much thought and searching for fun things to do, we decided to go bowling at Bayside Bowl in Portland. They would open at 16:00, and I was pretty sure few people would be there as the weather was supposed to be snowy. I left work early and drove down to Saco to get Jenna for our date. The roads in town were treacherous, with wet snow falling heavily and piling up quickly. Fortunately, road crews had done a good job of clearing I-95N, so our drive north wasn’t bad. When we got to the city, though, things were different. Conditions were slippery and visibility was poor. The silver lining, of course, is that we would have the bowling alley to ourselves. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The place was packed! Every lane was busy with both large and small groups, and they all had nearly an hour left on their lanes.