The Old Pine Tree
Day 1 of 30 
The most surprising thing about tasting a green smoothie for the first time is how good it is. It doesn’t look good. It looks weird. But then you try it and it is like a freshness explosion in your mouth. If you’ve never dared try them they taste like a regular smoothie, but more fresh. This is because all that green goodness (the smoothie above contains almost two cups of spinach) is balanced out by fruit (above: pineapple and banana). Green smoothies are like a blast of nutrients to your body.
April is a good time to get fresh. I decided to take part in a 30-day green smoothie challenge. Today is day one and I’m already loving life. What appealed to me about this particular challenge is that you don’t have to starve yourself like so many ‘cleanses’ out there. Any juice or smoothie cleanse where you can’t eat regular food for more than a day or two spells trouble for me. I have a high metabolism and I run a lot, so I can’t get by on a liquid diet. For the next 30 days I can eat regularly, I just need to add in one of these green suckers. 
Feel free to share any of your favorite combos, and I’ll let you know how all of this goes. 
Here’s to spring and rejuvenation!

Day 1 of 30 

The most surprising thing about tasting a green smoothie for the first time is how good it is. It doesn’t look good. It looks weird. But then you try it and it is like a freshness explosion in your mouth. If you’ve never dared try them they taste like a regular smoothie, but more fresh. This is because all that green goodness (the smoothie above contains almost two cups of spinach) is balanced out by fruit (above: pineapple and banana). Green smoothies are like a blast of nutrients to your body.

April is a good time to get fresh. I decided to take part in a 30-day green smoothie challenge. Today is day one and I’m already loving life. What appealed to me about this particular challenge is that you don’t have to starve yourself like so many ‘cleanses’ out there. Any juice or smoothie cleanse where you can’t eat regular food for more than a day or two spells trouble for me. I have a high metabolism and I run a lot, so I can’t get by on a liquid diet. For the next 30 days I can eat regularly, I just need to add in one of these green suckers. 

Feel free to share any of your favorite combos, and I’ll let you know how all of this goes. 

Here’s to spring and rejuvenation!

Almost the coldest March on record

In case you guys thought I was just whining about the cold last month, turns out it was 6.6 degrees below average, “Temperature-wise the month was very close to a typical February rather than March.” (The Maine Forecast).

So basically we had two Februarys in a row. Lucky us. 

Lots of 40 degree days in the forecast ahead, so it looks like we’re on the up. 

The Artists’ Gypsy Wagon

There is one word that best describes Emily Dodge: passionate. She is a fearless advocate for animals and the natural world. A few years ago she started a t-shirt company (which is how I first met her - she took the photo of me you see on header of The Old Pine Tree), and she plants a tree for every tee she sells (second word that describes Emily? Dedicated). She also writes Your Daily Breeze, and is about to start a new venture.

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Flamingo shirt at Sustee.com

Recently, Emily got honest with herself about what was important to her. Emily is first and foremost and artist, and she found that:

working for other people’s projects, like serving horrible-ingredient food to people or selling them toxic things, or in general, not doing anything that benefited…more than the local and oversea economy, and certainly not the environment (which we all depend on to live) or the Earth (which we all stand on every second). These thoughts ate away at me each time I was forced (financially) to accept a regular job and put aside my sensitivity toward natural things and beings. It was making me miserable and bitter!

She said “If I was going to be hungry with normal jobs and a normal house, why not be hungry doing my ideal job in my ideal house?!" And so she began a campaign to paint herself into her dream studio where she could create her art and live sustainably at the same time. She hoped her idea for a small, sustainable, mobile studio would:

  • provide her with food so she wouldn’t always have to go into town
  • be small and mobile so that her needs do not get in the way of her obligations
  • make money (art) instead of use money (heating large spaces, electric, water usage, etc.)

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Sebago Lake by Emily Dodge

This is no ordinary studio Emily has dreamed up. It includes mahogany windows from a nice lady cleaning out her barn, reclaimed doors, and a gorgeous sink from the Craigslist’s free section. The studio will also feature a passive solar design overall, donated wooden windows, sheeps wool insulation (which is fire resistant, resists mold and is non-toxic!), a wool mattress in the loft, side-of-house bike storage, a compost chute from the counter to an outside removable bin, a solar water heater, a living wall in the kitchen(!!), and a living roof with cover, among other completely awesome features. She and her partner Nic have a second tier of even cooler Earth friendly features they would like to add someday. 

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Studio Design 

Emily went to the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), which speaks to her artistic talent. While the studio will sit on their land most of the year, for part of the year it will move to inspiring places.

"It will be brought out to MDI and downeast Maine during family visits and special stormy occasions or unique painting or promotional opportunities. My ideal places to paint are Schoodic Penninsula, MDI, and the surprise view that sometimes rewards aimless driving around. My goal is to find a spot and study it until dusk stops me from seeing the paper and paint before me, basically hang out and paint with as small of a footprint as possible with as little overhead as possible.

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Windy Day at Acadia by Emily Dodge

I admire Emily’s passion and dedication. It is easy to walk the walk when it comes to things we care about, but Emily always has an eye toward living her convictions. 

If you would like to read more about Emily and Nic’s travelling studio, or are interested in supporting these artists’ dream, please visit her campaign and show this young lady some love. 

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Bernard, Maine by Emily Dodge

The smell of Saturday morning

The smell of Saturday morning

A breath of spring

Running in the rain is soulful. Tonight the new season was all around me as I pounded out six miles, in steady rhythm to the drip drip on the hood of my rain jacket. The smell of moisture in the dirt again, humidity in the air (I could feel my skin just soaking it up, trying to inhale the sweet wet dew), a bit of the ocean woven in, and the mustiness of trees blinking back to life. It will be a while before the world turns green again, but this present, the dampness that can only be spring, is resurrecting a kind of peace inside of me.

Tonight, the light rain coming down on me, on the shore, swirling down steep paved hills, I took a deep breath and I felt my heart flutter.

Grateful Friday

The smell of spring (moisture in the ground)

8.5 hours of sleep last night (the kind of sleep that you can’t remember having, no waking up in the middle of the night, no tossing and turning, just blacking out for hours).

The prospect of a warm saturday, even if it will be followed by a cold, rainy sunday

Great, consistent friendships that withstand the toll of time and distance

The cupboard of hot sauces in my apartment

Fridays at work that fly by so fast I actually wouldn’t mind an extra hour

The security of family

The landlord offering some help for the new garden

Planning to watch the movie Happy with a glass of wine

The local co-op and the fresh, healthy, actually delicious quick food options

The ocean

What are you grateful for today?


Blossom

Don’t even ask me what’s going on outside.

Morse’s Sauerkraut and European Deli

I’ve known about Morse’s for most of my life. I come from a long line of sauerkraut makers and my family has always had an appreciation for Morse’s kraut and pickles (their sour mustard pickles are out of this world). Luckily it’s fairly easy to come by around here.

Last Saturday I went to Morse’s for the first time. I decided it was a good place to take someone for their birthday, as a surprise. I was taking a chance because I’d never been there before, but I had a hunch it would be worth the trip to Waldoboro.

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Boy, was I right. Morse’s is tucked in the country among lines of old maples, fields for farming (I’ve heard that in the summer Morse’s fields are full of cabbages), and valleys that tease you with views of a lake. Walking through the door at Morse’s is like stepping through a portal. It’s like you’ve not just driven country roads but instead have stepped off of old European cobbled streets through a tiny storefront to find yourself in a European market. There’s a small German restaurant tucked into the side and a friendly waiter takes your name and hands you a menu. A glance at the menu and you’re sure you have in fact been transported over the pond.

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I expected Morse’s to be all sauerkraut and pickles but it was so much more. It is a complete deli, with samples of food around every corner to hold you over until you’re seated. There are mustards and pretzels for tasting, sliced pickles, spreads, baklava, and so on (yes, I definitely sampled them all).

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A waitress took our order before we were seated, so it was ten minutes or less before we were served once we’d been seated. On the tables, next to the various mustards and salt and pepper were small crocks of sliced pickles. You can snack to your hearts content. I had my fair share.

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We ordered too much food and we ate most of it. It was all equally good, and it was all very good. I think it is pretty special to get a meal where everything is equally good. I had pierogies filled with sauerkraut, mushrooms, and onions. They were cooked perfectly (I’m picky about them ever since I lived in Pittsburgh), topped with onions, and sitting on an oily plate. I devoured them.

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I also had spaetzle that had a really nice, rich cheddar shredded over it. Additionally we tried the pickled beets which were light and had a spice that we couldn’t identify but liked, and the mac and cheese, which we ended up taking home and enjoying the next day (it was very good and just how I want mac and cheese - dense and not runny!).

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For the past few days I’ve been telling everyone I know about Morse’s. I feel like I need to spread the gospel. If you’re ever headed up Route 1 to Rockland, Camden, or Acadia take the time to veer off course for ten minutes and check out this great place. Expect a wait if you’re going to sit and eat and enjoy the market in the meantime. Believe me, it’s worth the trip.

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Winter running and decisions

I have a lot of respect for people who train for marathons in the winter in New England, especially up here in Northern New England. I have done it before, and I did not enjoy it. I train for and run marathons because I enjoy running; it is that simple. I enjoy pushing my body, seeing what it can do and wondering how much farther/faster/harder it can go. I enjoy being in shape, the way it feels, and I enjoy being able to indulge more, knowing that the next day I will be hard at work again.

My body is sensitive to the cold. The difference between kind of cold (35 degrees) and very cold (25 or less) (we won’t even talk about frigid, which we have had all too much of this year) is noticeable. When it’s kind of cold I’m out and about, running more, eating lighter, feeling more energized. When it’s very cold I don’t really want to exercise, I want to eat a lot, and I want to sleep. A few mild days I run more, eat well, and lose a few pounds. Once the temp drops I’m cranky and hungry until I put those two pounds back on. I’m not joking, my body is that sensitive and that little change really does make a difference. I’m only willing to be uncomfortable for so long. I want to look forward to running (especially long runs!), and when it’s very cold every day I don’t want to subject myself to that discomfort over and over.

Whatever. Maybe I’m weak. If I lived in a more temperate climate you better believe I would be at fairly high mileage all year long, but I live in a windy coastal town in Maine and so I’ve got an intimate relationship with my YMCA membership.

This is a long way to say 1) if you train all winter in single to negative digit temps, snow, ice, sleet, and general blah, I envy your willpower 2) I am really looking forward to getting into the 40s soon, because the 40s bring airplane arms and happy running for me. And lastly, I have decided to go with the 10k for the trail race in May. It is not because I could not be ready for the 25k, but because it is going to be a cold spring and I don’t want to hate it anymore than I already do. I want to enjoy running and look forward to the race. I don’t want to worry that if we have a snowstorm on April 20th I will miss an important long run. I want to go into that race feeling positive.

Plus, I’m hoping to run my next marathon spring of 2015, which means slogging all through next winter. I like to think that next winter will be as warm as this year was cold. Who’s with me?!

Spring tulips

Faking it for a while until the snow melts away and the real deal pops up. Springtime brings simple pleasures.

Spring tulips

Faking it for a while until the snow melts away and the real deal pops up. Springtime brings simple pleasures.

Maybe rain on the first day of spring is a good thing

Today, as I look out my window at work, I see that it is honestly raining. The water has puddled up around the trunk of a leafless tree. There is six inches of water with kaleidoscoping circles on the surface where the drops of rain incessantly drop. Below the surface is milk-white snow and ice next to the rust red and brown of last season’s leaves and dirt from months of sanding sidewalks.

Rain can be depressing when it’s early August and it’s all you’ve had for weeks on end. Believe me, I’ve been there. But on the first day of spring it is a reminder that change, no matter how seemingly impossible, will come. The temperatures don’t bite quite so hard. The snow recedes just a little from the edges of lawns. City streets are cleaned of their salty winter whitewash. The new daylight is at just the right angle to awaken nostalgic memories of a time when it wasn’t winter, but the light was similar. Spring is damp; a morning of rain must mean that something is changing.

I can’t stop starring at that puddle and those circles on the surface. They are a welcomed reminder.

So, you say it’s Spring?

Spring is due to arrive this afternoon, March 20, at 12:57 p.m., though it is barely evident this year, save for the yellow crocus that came up last week beside the Camden Public Library, and the little snowdrops near a Rockport Village home. But, spring it will be, and astronomers are reassuring us that the vernal equinox is under way. 

I, for one, haven’t seen any crocuses yet, but the thought that there is one out there somewhere is reassuring nonetheless. This is a nice article about spring and the coming* warmer months.

*supposedly. 

Asian slaw
Told you I’ve been drawn to cabbage slaws/salads lately.

Asian slaw

Told you I’ve been drawn to cabbage slaws/salads lately.

Cocoa powder 
I like to put cocoa powder in my post-run recovery smoothies. This stuff is great for your health, and makes everything taste chocolaty. It supplies you with healthy minerals like iron, manganese, magnesium, and zinc. Flavonoids reduce inflammation (which is great when you’re hard on your muscles). Additionally, it has been found to possibly be an antidepressant and help regulate mood. It may also boost endorphins and serotonin (which is great for you ladies, when you’re PMSing and feeling blue).
This stuff is not sweet, despite how it looks and smells, so I always add bananas (among other things) to help sweeten it up. They of course have their own health benefits, and they eliminate the need to add sweeteners. 

Cocoa powder 

I like to put cocoa powder in my post-run recovery smoothies. This stuff is great for your health, and makes everything taste chocolaty. It supplies you with healthy minerals like iron, manganese, magnesium, and zinc. Flavonoids reduce inflammation (which is great when you’re hard on your muscles). Additionally, it has been found to possibly be an antidepressant and help regulate mood. It may also boost endorphins and serotonin (which is great for you ladies, when you’re PMSing and feeling blue).

This stuff is not sweet, despite how it looks and smells, so I always add bananas (among other things) to help sweeten it up. They of course have their own health benefits, and they eliminate the need to add sweeteners. 

neurotic-rob said: You wrote the other day about being close to 30. When you think about the future what thoughts cross your mind when planning financially?

I’ve always been pretty good with money and I think it is because my parents were really good role models. They also made me put part of my paycheck in the bank when I started working part time in high school which was super annoying but practical. I try to set reasonable goals and always live within my means. I budget and save for any trips or fun stuff I want to buy, and I don’t take on too much at once. Looking into the future I’d like to continue to budget well and work towards financial goals in a reasonable way.