Bringing Vacation Home : Starfish Cottage, ME

We have been wanting to visit Acadia National Park for several summers now. We finally got to it this year and beat the crowds by booking our stay the first week of September. Tip: it's always less expensive that way, too. Aside from a downpour on our first full day, the weather was absolutely perfect, and finally: not too hot!

Our backyard stairway to the rocky coast: 


Maine, to me, is one of the most beautiful, refreshing places to visit in driving distance to us. And, Acadia really delivered in that regard. We had the most beautiful hikes, walks and bike rides. Even our dog Lucy, who is 11, was pulling us up a rocky mountain side to see what was at the top!

Our reward for a pretty tough hike:


There's no shortage of house and cottage rentals in the area, ranging from in-town to ocean front to lakeside. We found a fitting, well-appointed seaside cottage listing online, and while it doesn't seem so from the outside, it ended up being quite spacious for the three of us.









Everything was appropriately suited for a cottage in the woods by the sea, without letting the sea and nautical theme get too out of control and campy.



01 / Toss magazines or store towels in a wire basket inspired by farm potato baskets. From Rejuvination.com
02 / Abstract the wire basket idea with this canvas hamper by Pehr, available at Hudson.
03 / I'll never tire of the look of a lit Moravian star. The materials on this mimic wire and glass nautical lanterns, but not so literally that it becomes too "themed". Plus, the star reminds me of a compass rose.
04 / I like this sea urchin-inspired update on the Moroccan garden stool, available at Kohl's.
05 / Quirky octopus hook pillow available at Hudson.
06 / Where the forest meets the sea. Acacia serveware brings the woods inside and mirrors that amazing kitchen backdrop at the cottage.
07 / Loved the china blue plates against the aqua wall. If you don't have a collection to display yet, these melamine plates by Thomas Paul are fun, nautical alternatives. Available at Lekker.
08 / Vacation homes are the perfect place for that reclaimed wood table you always admired. You can even have one custom made at Vermont Farm Table.

{ For more of my ideas on how I'd outfit my own seaside cottage, check out my Getaway Houses: Beach board on Pinterest.}


My ongoing lament is that with mass production and information globalization, you can't find anything native or unique when you travel (unless you really go to rural places or the far reaches). So it's always my goal to hunt down small, independent shops when we travel. Luckily, the combination of consumer's growing demand for more unique things and support for small, local businesses has made them a little easier to find lately. Here are some favorites from this trip:

BAR HARBOR
Steer clear of the tourist-y haunts (just how many town-labeled sweatshirts do we all really need?) and you can find some really great shops in Bar Harbor. One beautifully curated, but totally unpretentious shop I visited was Salt. I saw this very unique, elegant line of barnacle pottery by Anna Woolf of Wild Card Pottery, an Ellsworth, Maine artist. Isn't this just the coolest thing?



(images from Wild Card Pottery's Etsy page)

Window Panes is also a very nice shop. Best for kitchen gadgets, special home accessories, and more "known" national brand names such as Thymes. I spent a good amount of time inhaling the Frasier Fir line they had on display. It smells like Maine and the holidays.


DEER ISLE + STONINGTON
We took a detour trip to Deer Isle on our way home. We stopped in the little town of Stonington to stretch our legs, eat Maine blueberry ice cream and visit some local shops.


First we visited a tiny, fisherman's shack-like shop, Dockside Books and Gifts at 62 West Main St. It's propped on the harbor shore and you can easily miss if it wasn't for the sign on the roadside, so keep an eye out for it. They had a very good variety of locally made Maine goods and books all in one spot. I picked up these Maine treats there:


 { Clockwise from top left: }
Paine's Balsam Fir Incense is the next best thing to packing up a tree to take home. And that retro-looking packaging is just too perfect.
Maine Jams and Jellies: Go blueberry or go home. You don't want to miss blueberry anything from Maine.
Art of the Sailor hand-tied hanging trivet. They also make coasters, round trivet mats, bookmarks, bracelets and more. So pretty!

Before we hit the road back home we had dinner at The Factory Tavern (Yelp listing, here) where I had the lobster chowder with applewood bacon and the most incredible fish and chips I've ever had. Eat there. It is so good—super fresh, modern, yet comfy, casual and so neighborly. I think we were the only people there that didn't know everyone else in the restaurant!

We heard about The Factory Tavern directly from its owner, a wine hobbyist, at the Seasons of Stonington wine and gift shop, that he also owns. He told us about little Isle au Haut, where the chocolate I was buying is made by hand at Black Dinah Chocolatiers.


Unfortunately we didn't get over to the island, so I think I'm going to order their sipping chocolate for winter that, according to their site, says "each batch is made carefully by hand and subtly spiced with cinnamon, Ancho chile, and cardamommmmmmm." (Well, I added the mmm part.)

So, until next time, Maine. Your pine smell, big skies and fresh air stay with us.