Summer in New Hampshire...Lobster boils, Coastal towns, and sand in between toes

Every summer weekend in New Hampshire is precious. We have noticed that New Hampshire-ites know how to play hard all summer long.  After coming through last winter, we understand fully this feverish desire to enjoy every minute of these summer months.  With the winter snow and ice a not-so-distant memory, each summer weekend is anticipated and planned for with relish, cherished from sun up to sun down, and adorned with bursts of colorful flowers everywhere.

We have had no trouble falling in step with this concept of playing hard each and every weekend and have joined right into the fun.  Recently, we took off for the little salty town of Portsmouth.  Hanging just below the Maine border, Portsmouth will always hold special memories for us.  It was in this quaint town at Christmas time 2014 that we made so many important decisions about our  future...which included our move here to New Hampshire.  

It was here in December that we delighted in the frosty little lanes of Portsmouth while graceful snow flakes twirled all around us.  We were bundled up in our down coats and capped by our knitted hats  and we feasted on steaming bowls of clam chowder.  The Christmas tree was lit up like a sparkling gift to delight and dazzle all the shoppers as they strolled in and out of the quaint and artsy shops.  The outdoor ice skating rink had just opened and the street scenes were ridiculously post card pretty.

The Dolphin Striker in Portsmouth, NH

It was easy to tell then that this town would probably be adorable in every season in addition to winter.  As quaint as everything was during the holidays, we surely didn't want to miss out on seeing Portsmouth dressed for summer.  And its summer ensemble was just as seasonally appropriate as we expected.  We were not disappointed at all!  Winter boots were traded in for colorful comfortable flip flops and pretty sandals.  Every breed of dog large and small seemed to be proudly attached to an owner as both happily strolled the bustling sidewalks. Flowers were bursting from window boxes and spilling out of the shop fronts.  The mood in town was as equally festive as it was at Christmas time...but filled the harbor, musicians fanned their delightful tunes to listeners on street corners, and delicious-looking ice cream cones dotted the hands of many passersby.

Top Left:  Seafood Paella at the Dolphin Striker
Bottom Right:  Seafood Medley over fresh Fettucini

Thank goodness we love seafood.  We LOVE seafood!  It would be hard indeed to live in the Northeast and not dream of clam bakes, lobster boils, and pots of clam chowder.  We had been recommended to try out a place close to the waterfront shops called The Dolphin Striker.   Set in a historic building at the corner of Ceres and Bow Streets, adjacent to the Portsmouth Harbor, The Dolphin Striker is a restaurant that has the wonderful dark ambiance of an old rustic English pub.   We felt as we were possibly sitting in the hull of a ocean faring sailing ship.  Their menu brings in worldly influences but celebrates the New England love of fresh food from the sea.  

Top Left:  Delicious chocolates and ice cream at Kilwin's Chocolate Shop

We sat in the depths of the mocha colored wooden berths that were made into intimate tables and peered out our little porthole window that looked out onto the harbor across the street.  The shops could wait for now while we fulfilled our cravings for all things seafood. The cheery ruby tugboats churned the waters as they moved in and out of the harbor.  Huge dark beams hung low over our heads easily lending the word cozy  and historic to our surroundings.  We eagerly roamed the menu trying hard to whittle down seafood options.  

Merry Hill Farm Antique Store in Nottingham...
my new absolute favorite spot for wonderful finds!

We easily pointed to the seafood trio to get our first taste of fresh seafood. Jumbo shrimp, lump blue crab and shelled lobster claws were served with drawn butter, house made cocktail sauce, and the restaurant's olde bay aioli.  Delish!  Wet our appetites nicely, but we were starving and wanted more.  

We had spent about 4 hours in Portsmouth with our fabulous window guy, Scott.  He spent all morning with us carefully selecting all manner of options with regards to the window replacements that will happen at the farm soon.  

Did we want "double-hung" or "casements"?  Did we want 4, 6, or 12 "lite" patterns?  Did we want them stained or primed?  

The options went on and on and on.  I don't think I'll ever be able to NOT notice windows nonchalantly ever again.

Les Madeleine cakes...easy, pretty, and delicious

We have our calendars packed full of summer time activities on weekends.  When Monday rolls around, the line of trucks comes up the drive, life resumes its temporary craziness for the work week.  Windows will arrive soon after the 4th of July holiday.  I can't imagine the mess that will ensue.  I am the type of person who unpacks every single box as soon as possible after a move to a new location.  I relish  spending hours finding places to tuck everything away nicely...usually not slowing down until the very last box and packing papers have been carted away.

Living now for 6 months with much of our belongings still in boxes, what isn't in boxes is strung all over furniture since closets are being redone, dust that is swept up from one day's renovation tasks resettles and coats everything by the next day...has made me a bit on edge.  

O.K. Patrick would define it as ALOT a bit on edge lately.

I'm finding that my solution to the chaos is to remember to escape, sit down, no matter what noise is happening around me, or how many people are in various parts of the house...and enjoy sipping a hot cup of coffee and enjoying a delicious snack.  There is a very limited amount of cooking happening in the "Thyme" kitchen at present.  The other day, however, it was fortunately Les Madeleine cakes that came out of the one working appliance...the oven. The oven has been our saving grace...little Les Madeleines cakes, warm out of the oven with their delicate scent of vanilla,  made a wonderful afternoon treat.  

Way on the top of the house, we have a little room in the red capped turret.  A tiny little narrow staircase leads up to a room that has views all across the hillside, river, historic cemetery, and covered bridge below.  We think possibly long ago it was a playroom for children.  Strips of red, white, and blue wall paper can be seen here and there.  

Now, it is filthy dirty  and needs weeks of good scrubbing and repairs.  I love imagining redoing this little turret room one day...just as my own little space.   I'll take my afternoon snack, or gouté as we called it in the south, and hide out there in a comfortable chair wrapped in a warm blanket enjoying a home baked treat.  I'll relish every bit of time there...before reluctantly descending and rejoining this tumultuous world once more.  

I'll dream of it...I'll plan for it...I cannot wait for that someday...

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