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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Woodbury, CT and Martha's Vineyard (Part I)

Where do I begin?...

Whoa! I think I'm getting way ahead of myself here.
(I'll save my story of meeting Susan Branch for later.)

To start off, I apologize that it's taken me a couple of weeks to share my trip with you. When I got back, things were flying at me in every direction of my life- I could barely even keep up with matching my socks! My time on Martha's Vineyard slowed me down... way down... it allowed me to throw everything on the back burner and finally enjoy myself. So when I came home, to say I was "overwhelmed" is an understatement. And I would have made a post over the weekend, but I was kind of in the 19th century, and we don't have computers there, or electricity, or even bathrooms for that matter.

What? Don't believe me? See for yourself:

Yep, that's me and Jacob, alright!
We had our tintype done on an antique lens.

In case some of you were unaware, Jacob and I are Civil War reenactors! And this weekend, we set off to Woodbury, Connecticut- an absolutely gorgeous town, I might add- for a weekend of campfires, musket fire, and hoop skirts (in my case). Life in the 1860s isn't easy, but I try to make it as comfortable  and as homely as possible- Just look at our tent:
Pretty cozy, huh?

I also made it a point to take some pictures of Woodbury because I just knew that all of you would think it was lovely. Woodbury, for those unfamiliar, is a picturesque old town in northwestern Connecticut. It's fairly rural and very quiet. Historic homes greet passerbys on the road, interspersed with dairy farms and glimpses of mountain peaks beyond. It's also considered Connecticut's "antique capital" based on how many antique shops they have. I loved it there, and spent a large portion of the trip trying to convince Jake that an hour-and-a-half commute to the city everyday isn't SO bad (hint hint: let's move here, honey!)...

* excuse the whacky angles of some of these photos: we were driving!

Woodbury is also home to the oldest inn in Connecticut: The Curtis House Inn

This is a very reasonably priced inn, has a popular restaurant, and just looks so absolutely charming I instantly became intrigued. In fact, Jacob and I decided that we are most likely going to stay here during our second year anniversary in December. Stay tuned for more details on that!

Now, what about Martha's Vineyard?!
(I bet you were thinking that).
How can I sum up a trip that meant so much to me in so many ways? It's pretty hard. The act of going to Martha's Vineyard, my most beloved place in the world, to not only see with my very own eyes such fabulous events like Illumination Night, but to meet my favorite author and inspiration in life, Susan Branch, was more than spell bounding. But above all, to share these dream-come-true experiences with the person that I love, well, no words could adequately describe how special that felt too.

Jake and I set off before the crack of dawn with a basket of mini blueberry muffins to energize us, although let's face it: my adrenaline was so high, I really didn't need them. But I gobbled them up anyway.

Mini Blueberry Muffins

• 2 cups flour
• ½ cup sugar
• ½ tsp salt
• 4 tsp baking powder
• 1 egg
• 4 Tbsp butter
• ¾ cup milk
• 1 cup blueberries

 1.     Lightly toss the blueberries (even still frozen) with ¼ cup of flour.
 2.     Mix the remaining flour with the salt and the baking powder.
 3.     Cream the butter and the sugar.
 4.     Add the egg and beat it well.
 5.     Add the flour mixture alternately with the milk and mix until it forms a smooth batter.
 6.     Gently fold the berries into the batter.
 7.     Spoon the batter into lined muffin tins (or tins that have been lightly greased). You can use mini or regular-sized muffin tins.
 8.     Bake the mini muffins for 5-7 minutes and the regular-sized muffins for 15-20 minutes, at 350 degrees, until they are starting to turn a light golden and the tops spring back to the touch.
A toothpick should come out clean.
We got to the ferry around 10- just in time to catch the 11:00 to Oak Blluffs!

Before we knew it, we were off! And what do you know? Land ho!
Martha's Vineyard, hello ♥

So we let out a stretch, gathered our belongings, and off we were to find the Tivoli Inn...

Along the way, we stopped to window gaze at little shops along Circuit avenue. Some of the merchandise made us giggle a lot, like this t-shirt: "I Vacationed with Obama" (Barack Obama and his family were, in fact, vacationing on the Vineyard at the same time we were there. And no, we didn't see them.)

After a few minutes walk, we found our cute little inn.

Let's go inside!

We checked ourselves in, and walked up to our room...

... We'll take it!

After we dropped our belongings down, and settled in a bit, we realized: Hey! We're famished. Lisa, our innkeeper, recommended a place near the ferry terminal, so we took a walk back from where we came, and got a bite to eat, passing the iconic Flying Horses Carousel along the way (the oldest carousel in America) and getting a whiff of buttery popcorn and an earful of children laughing over the ride's cheerful music that has been playing for over a hundred years...

The Lookout Tavern, Oak Bluffs

I didn't get anything terribly interesting (grilled chicken panini), but Jake ordered the Salmon BLT which he thought was very good, and sounded pretty unique to me (although I don't eat pork).

As the day progressed, we walked around the town, acquainting ourselves with the area, browsing through some of the shops, and taking little breaks to just BE, and soak in the sights.

Before we knew it, it was 5 o'clock and- no, I should tell you the truth instead of embellishing it. After walking around for a few hours, Jake and I were exhausted, so we thought taking a one hour nap at the inn would be nice. So we did just that. Except one hour turned into two, and then three, and then OH-MY-GOD-IT'S-AFTER-FIVE! And we had dinner reservations at the Offshore Ale Company at five. Thankfully it all worked out, and we were only a half-hour late, but they didn't seem to mind, and we were hungry!

I love the Offshore Ale Co. I went here the last time I was on the Vineyard, and I loved it then too. Great casual atmosphere, refreshing drinks (they brew their own beer!), and delicious, reasonably priced food. Oh! And they have a big barrel of peanuts in which you're encouraged to eat and toss the shells on the floor, so that's pretty cool too.

My dinner date wasn't too shabby either.

I had their Lobster Roll (very good), and Jake had the Swordfish, I believe.

After dinner, we took a walk around the famous Ocean Park in Oak Bluffs...
Evidently many others had the same idea. I have to say, despite these visitors dressed in modern garb, I could easily look upon this field and picture happy couples in Victorian attire, women holding parasols and men donning shiny pocket watches, strolling gracefully before the ocean backdrop.

Maybe these grand houses that lined the park had something to do with my imagination!

After our walk, we went over to the Town Beach to wet our feet a little bit  and comb for some authentic Martha's Vineyard seashells before we headed on over to the much anticipated, Illumination Night...

Hey! Look at the sky! The sun is beginning to set... that means only one thing:
Illumination Night is about to begin!

Stay tuned...


  1. What a great Blog - I can almost smell the sea and taste the lobster! Martha's Vineeyard is on my list of places i just HAVE to visit! And I have loved SB for about 23 years now! A wonderful friend of mine over here in the UK went to MV the same time as you and also met SB at her Book signing - and got ME a signed copy too! Isn't that sweet and so kind of her? I shall treasure it. It is such a great book - I shall read it again and again.
    Cannot wait to see your next Blog - but just had to tell you all of this - in anticipation!! x

    1. I think I heard your friend at the signing! Someone behind me was speaking with an English accent :-) Small world! xo

  2. What?! That's you and Jake?! Hard to believe is right. What fun! Except, if it's hot at all I don't think I would fare well in all that clothing.

    I enjoyed seeing your photos of Oak Bluffs and remembering my own time there, only it was in September so we missed the Illumination. We saw the sunrise there, though. It looked very much like your sunset picture.

    I will have to see Woodbury for myself when we are in CT next June for the Gladys Taber Reunion/Susan Branch talk. Sounds quintessentially New England!

    1. I hope to be at the reunion too! So see ya there ;-)

  3. We have made one trip to Martha's Vineyard almost three years ago, and your post has renewed my longing to return! I'd love to be there for Illumination Night!

    You must enjoy participating in Civil War enactments. There are enactments here at times. I've never attended any of the activities, though. I must say, the tent looks quite cozy!

  4. i know what you were up to when you disappeared for so long! civil war re-enacting!!!! wow...that came out of nowhere! have you two gone to gettysburg yet? you will love it there. they take their re-enacting very very seriously! plus the town is to die for! what a great trip the two of you had. i can't wait to see more!

    1. Yes, I have been to Gettysburg :-) Was just there for the 150th anniversary in June. Fascinating town with such an incredible past!

  5. Wow Erin, it all looks fab to me! We go to Cape Cod in just over a week and cant wait. Tony and I have already decided we want to go to Martha's Vineyard so this post was especially interesting to me. I am so envious you met Susan Branch, who thanks to you and your blog I have discovered and am now following. I hope to buy some of her books while we are over there.Cant wait to read more!

  6. Part 1 of the anticipated Martha's Vineyard trip was not a disappointment! First, I LOVE the pictures of Woodbury! You and Jake look perfect in your reenactment garb! I adore the tent you made for yourselves! Perfect. And the stone wall on the first house picture is a dream! I would LOVE a stone wall like that somewhere in my yard. On to Martha's Vineyard....anyone's dream but so glad that your ultimate dream has come true for you! Quaint little B&B that you stayed in. And the food pictures....I am hungry just looking at them! Jake is a little cutie-patootie, for sure! Standing by for Part 2! xo

  7. Yay, I've been looking forward to you posting about your trip! And gotta say your reenacting time in Connecticut looks like fun! What an amazing trip you had, I'm sure! Cant wait to hear about your meeting with Susan.
    But the vineyard looks so breath-taking and special. What a lovely trip in itself! Cant wait for part II!

  8. Oh, Erin, what a wonderful post! I love the "antique" photo of you and Jacob. And the darling tent! I find it so interesting that you are both civil war reenactors!
    What fun to travel along with you to Martha's Vineyard to take in some of the sights. I will be looking forward to part 2 and illumination night! xoxo

  9. Erin, I am SO JEALOUS!!! You got to meet Susan, our beloved, dear, sweet, inspirational, optimistic and fabulous Susan Branch? ohhhhhhhhh, Lucky girl!!!!!

    And that "lobstah" roll? Fabulous. I have to go find one tomorrow. Yum.

    Thanks for all the fabulous photos. Loved, them. Susan

  10. Wonderful post, Erin...felt like I was right there on the dear Vineyard with you both! Love your tent & 'old' photo, too...I'm very interested in the Civil war period, too, even though I'm English! Fascinating. Can't wait for Part 2 & to see your meeting with darling SB xx

  11. That "antique" photo is fantastic! It looks so real.
    The start of you MV trip looks wonderful. Can't wait to read about the rest. It looks like such a beautiful place.

  12. How wonderful! Looks like such a great trip...I can't wait to see what's next! :)

  13. Oh yes, Martha's Vineyard, my absolute favorite place! I missed Illumination Night this year but did one of my own instead. Hoping a Fall trip to the Vineyard will work out.

    Looks like you really toured Oak Bluffs well. Love that carousel and the park. Well there's not much I don't love about MV!

  14. About that nap, LOL! It looks like you had a fantastic vacation. I love seeing all your photos from around the vineyard it's just beautiful. Reenacting huh, that sounds pretty interesting!


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