Mad About Portland

A week of vacation in April is a throw of the dice. Some years it’s 75 and sunny. And then there are years like this, when the mornings resemble November and hot baths and woodfires are the only thing to do to fight the chill of rainy 40 degree days.

By week’s end we were all a bit grumpy and in need of a change of scene. We loaded up the car, bid farewell to cat and chickens, and made a beeline for the coast—where the forecast was a few degrees warmer and we figured that the sound of seagulls, scent of saltwater, and sight of sparkly Casco Bay would do us good.

Portland, Maine, is still a little new to us and we are more than a little smitten. This trip firmed up our affections with some repeat visits and new discoveries.

First order of business is always a trip to Standard Baking Company for Asiago Fougasses, pain au chocolat, and gingerbread. We made three trips to Standard Baking Company within 24 hours. (And considered a fourth visit, because this bakery is unrivaled outside of Paris.) No seating, just baskets brimming with artisinal loaves and a bounty of pastries to make you feel very indecisive while the line grows behind you. Across the street we always take our goodies to benches looking out at Casco Bay and not-so-distant Peak’s Island.

Sparkling sea and crumbs in my lap.

Big smile on my face.

Wandering the narrow cobbled streets of the old port I was drawn to the many variations of brick and stone used to craft this early American city. Many of these brick buildings are cloaked in painted murals or adorned in enormous letters proclaiming shipping companies, textile manufacturers or the fine qualities of Guinness.

We made a destination of Madhouse, the brainchild shop of upcycle designer and resident Madgirl Meredith Alex. Meredith adorns shoes and clothes with all manner of ruffles and fabric bits and dots. A large selection of artfully arranged shoes are patterned with dots of paint and embellished with silk flowers and other finds. Her upcycled clothing designs are truly one of a kind, though she also creates special clothes by commission. The shop also features retro household goods, a curated music selection, jewelry and quirky screenprinted shirts.

Madhouse, Meredith Alex' shop of delights

Meredith was busy making great things in the studio at the back of the shop. We talked about the joy of making things and the ups and downs of creative businesses. Meredith deemed me a madgirl and I liked the title. I introduced her to the 9 year old—a madgirl in the making. Two newly crowned madgirls left the shop with groovy mad sunglasses and Ryan came away with a screenprinted tractor tee—perfect as we head full speed into a new spring on the farmette (lambs and pigs to join the chickens within the month).

Other Portland delights:
· Lunch at DuckFat, seated beneath the gaze of a tattooed lady painting while making sensical and nonsensical phrases with magnetic words on the wall
· Ogling the wares and testing a Linus bike at Portland Velocipede
· Identifying five of the outlying islands from the park at the tip of the old port
· Thai dinner at Boda
· Minor league baseball at Hadlock Field: Portland Seadogs vs. New Britain—chilly, chilly, chilly!

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. atomsofthought
    Apr 25, 2011 @ 21:10:37

    I’ve been to Portland only once, in March. It was cold and windy, but it was also beautiful. I would love to return. Thanks for the great post!


  2. vtbee
    Apr 25, 2011 @ 21:17:29

    only one thing to do – take all the madgirls (myself included) on a trip to portland!



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