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.
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.
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.
Hayley and I had our Festibond date planned for several weeks. She and I were going to make a gingerbread house together. She was very excited about it. We also planned on going to a movie afterward. The day before our date, we went shopping for candy. It was fun to plan our our house ahead of time, and then find the plethora of candy necessary to achieve our creation. We found a good gingerbread recipe and used stencils I’d printed out from a website.
We baked the gingerbread pieces the day before our date as well, because I learned that it would make the gingerbread more dried-out and sturdy. Skye kindly volunteered to take pictures, so most of the photos I give credit to her. Thank you, Skye!
It took Skye a while to decide what she wanted to do for our Festibond date together. Early last week she said, “Let’s get manicures.” I thought that was a great idea. I usually keep my fingernails really short because they annoy me when I’m typing. Fortunately I hadn’t gotten around to cutting them for a while, so they would look better with polish.
We started out our date last Friday the 27th driving to Portland with music blasting while we loudly and enthusiastically sang along. It’s a tradition of ours when we ride in the car together, and great fun. Our first stop was Miss Portland Diner for breakfast. We’ve been there several times, so we knew the food was pretty good. Skye had her usual eggs, bacon, hash browns and toast, as well as a hot chocolate. I ordered the Greek omelette, which was really good. Spinach, mushrooms, and feta cheese make almost anything better. It was really nice sitting with Skye and talking about various things going on in her life. Continue reading Festibond 2013: My Date with Skye→
Jenna loves the arts and especially enjoys attending the theater to watch plays. When I asked her if she’d like to see a play for our Festibond date together this year, she quickly said yes. I originally wanted to take her to see Annie playing at the Lyric Music Theater in South Portland. I’d met a couple of great people at TEDxDirigo last month who were both performing in it. Unfortunately by the time I tried to purchase tickets, it was sold out. I searched other theater, ballet, and music venues, and Jenna decided on The Snow Queen playing at Portland Stage. Continue reading Festibond 2013: My Date with Jenna→
Normally Kirsten and I take each of the girls out on a date for Festibond, but we don’t go on one together. This year I proposed that she and I go on a Festibond date, too, to which enthusiastically she agreed.
Kirsten had wanted to see the film “Les Miserables,” which was fine with me. I knew she has liked the story for a long time, and would enjoy the movie.
Kirsten made reservations to one of our favorite Portland restaurants, Grace. The building is a gorgeous repurposed church, which is far more useful than teaching innocent children to fear an angry deity. I digress.