Elegantly Eleven

Five of Heart’s turned eleven yesterday, but chose to celebrate her birthday today. This year she decided she wanted to get dressed up and visit one of the many wonderful restaurants in Portland. The first part of her birthday present came earlier last week when we paid a special visit to our local thrift store to search through the eclectic collection of clothes, shoes, and accessories for a fabulous new outfit. She ended up leaving the store with enough clothes for several outfits (thrift store prices are the best!) plus one extra fancy ensemble for her special day.

Five of Hearts then spent several hours doing research online to select the perfect birthday restaurant. With so many vegan friendly restaurants in the area it was a daunting task (they all sound so good). However, after reading hundreds of reviews and perusing several menus Five of Hearts selected KaTi Portland.

It turns out that all that research paid off big time as we had a fabulous lunch at KaTi Portland. The atmosphere was perfect and the food was amazing. Five of Hearts ordered her first curry and handled the spicy flavor like a champ.

After enjoying some of the best Thai food that we have had in years we headed to the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) to check out the Gingerbread Adventures exhibit. Like seasoned food judges we had a blast viewing the five gigantic gingerbread sculptures with a critical eye and then voting on our favorite.

After a delicious outing it was time to return home for our turn at making food magic. We watched Vegan Cupcake Wars and then made vegan coconut raspberry cupcakes with coconut whipped frosting. Five of Hearts paired the cupcakes with one of her favorite movies, Trolls, and we ended the day dancing and feeling like “the world is all cupcakes and rainbows”.

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Enchanted Rose City

Over the past few weeks we’ve enjoyed several outings into Portland, but last night was our first night out in the Rose City. What better way to spend a family night out than seeing Beauty and the Beast downtown? We were thrilled last week to hear we had won tickets through our membership at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, and it was definitely hard waiting for the big night to finally arrive.

After taking in the impressive interior of the Newmark Theater, our outing started in earnest with an incredible backstage tour led by the show’s producer and director Greg Tamblyn. We had a chance to learn some of the show’s secrets firsthand (sorry, we’re sworn to secrecy) as well as meet some of the talented actors and crew.  The tour was a wonderful glimpse into all the hard work it takes to put on a performance of this magnitude, and it really gave us a better appreciation of everything we saw on stage when the curtains finally went up.

Beauty and the Beast was truly a treat and kept us swept up in the story from start to finish. The acting and singing were first rate, the special effects impressive, and the scenery magnificent. Stepping outside after the show felt like waking up from a dream, but as we walked back to catch our train we were pleased to find there was still plenty of magic in the air.

Narrow Gauges and Comic Pages: A Day in Portland, Maine

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Every day for the past few weeks has started the same for us; over breakfast, High Five has asked us if we were going to ride a train today.  We were all pleased to answer him with a big “Yes!” this morning as we set out to ride the rails at the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum. We loved the hands-on feel of the museum, and soon we were in costume conducting trains, punching tickets, and perfecting our Morse Code. Of course, the real highlight came when we boarded the train to take a short ride along the Portland waterfront. While most of us on the train winced and covered our ears every time the steam whistle bellowed, High Five just laughed and clapped for more.

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After the ride ended, we took a short walk along the Eastern Promenade pedestrian/bike trail to check out the Maine Comic Arts Festival at the Maine State Pier. Although it was quite crowded, we slowly made away around to the different vendors to check out the latest in comics, artwork, and graphic novels. This also gave us an opportunity to meet the authors and artists themselves. We spent a lot of time admiring the work of Joe Quinones, an artist for Marvel Comics who displayed some awesome prints of Star Wars characters. As tempted as we were to buy our favorite prints we stayed strong knowing that the Mazda5 is very short on space. However, we did buy a few educational zines from artist Gynn Stella of Dandelion Studios, who we had the pleasure to meet on the train ride just an hour before.

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There is so much we will miss about Maine as we head out later this week for our summer in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. It is comforting to know, however, that as we eventually make our way out West to continue our pattern of short-term rentals and full-time travel, we will have a head start on getting to know the locals.

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Long Island Anniversary: A Post by Five Ball and Five of Hearts

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Note: Five Spice and Five String celebrated their anniversary yesterday by renting a golf cart and exploring Long Island (Maine), just off the coast from Portland. Five Ball and Five of Hearts share below their thoughts about the day.

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Riding on the back of the golf cart was really fun. It was a new experience and we’re really glad that we tried it.

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High Five was pretty crazy and funny driving the car. He loves to drive cars and did really well on the golf cart if he could pretend to drive while we were at the different places.

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We were playing “Throw the Hermit Crabs Back into the Ocean”. It was a lot of fun when Mom chased us around and we chased her. It was a great way to play on the beach. We had seen hermit crabs on another day on the beach with our grandmother.

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It was a lot of fun climbing the rocks. There were some really flat rocks and lots of seaweed. I have always loved climbing rocks and caving.

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Mom and Dad were excited for their anniversary and to rent a golf cart out on an island. Dad insisted that I take this picture on the rock for their anniversary picture.

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Mom had looked up at the sky and saw clouds called mares’ tails. The next time I looked up the clouds were very puffy. But then they changed quickly and it was really cloudy.

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The boys were asleep on Mom. I needed something to do, so Dad decided we would go off and explore. He Turkey Trotted me across the beach. On the way back we saw a path into the sand dunes and followed it. He finally found a tree and put me up in the tree. When we came back we told Mom all about it and showed her the picture.

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Our Mom found this pretty red house on the next island over (Cliff Island).

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We were looking out over the ocean.

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My dad was excited for this license plate because on the last island we went to (Peaks Island) we had found the last license plate we needed for our license plate bingo (Montana). This plate is a bonus one not found on our bingo board. We couldn’t believe we found it on another island!

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Before we had to return our golf cart, we decided to explore a conversation trail we had passed earlier. Mom had scouted ahead, and discovered a pond. We did not expect to find so much nature off of this one trail.

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We tried to feed this frog sticks and grass, and he liked it. We thought it might eat grass, but according to Mom they like flies. It still is a mystery to us whether they would eat the grass or would like flies instead.

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We saw how the beavers chewed wood with their teeth and made it into a home.

Mackworth Island

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On a frosty fall morning, we set off to explore an accessible island just outside of Portland, Maine. Located at the mouth of the Presumpscot River, the 100 acre Mackworth Island was once used by the Wabanaki people for both its abundant natural resources and its prime location along a major trade route. After the arrival of Europeans, the island eventually became the property of the Baxter family of Maine governors. Today it is public land and the home of the Baxter School for the Deaf.

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It took a while for the sun to warm things up, so we stayed bundled up as we started the level, 1.5 mile trail around the island. We were excited to find many swinging benches thoughtfully placed at scenic vistas, and we took advantage of the first one we found for a picnic lunch.

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With the sun fully out and our stomachs full, we took the next long staircase we found down to the water. We explored the tide pools left at low tide and identified some familiar places across the water, including Peaks Island. Wandering along we soon came to a massive pier, which was used during the Civil War when the island hosted Camp Berry.

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The best surprise of all came farther down the trial where we noticed countless, small structures in an open part of the forest. We had entered the Mackworth Island Community Village, a place for visitors to build fairy homes. Being no strangers to fairy homes ourselves, we were eager to do our part to help the village grow.

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From there the path looped back to the parking lot, and it was time for us to go. Driving home, we could still feel a little bit of the fairy dust remain from our outing on Mackworth Island.

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