Friday, August 29, 2014

#iloveyoutoMontaukandback: Collected Days 17-21

Day 17: Montauk

There are a few places that I know of with such generous sky and sweeping beauty as Montauk. Sometimes described as the "un-Hamptons" of the South Fork, there is a raw, uncomplicated feeling to the area (even with the booming summertime tourist industry).

My first blog post on Montauk can be found here. Several weeks ago I had the pleasure of revisiting the area with a dear friend from out of state, and we took a lengthy walk along the beach (which we had to ourselves... :-)

Day 18: The Big Duck

Cultural stalwart and bit of entrpenuerial creativity on the part of 1930's duck farmers, The Big Duck now resides in Flanders off Route 24. A part of the Suffolk County Parks, the Duck has become quintessential location for a Long Island summertime selfie. They even have a gift shop, so you can proudly display your love of this beloved oddity wherever you go.
Check out the bilco doors.

Day 19: Long Island is "For the Birds"

One of the things I dearly love about living here is the great convergence of songbird and shorebird populations. On any given day, I can look out my kitchen window and see cardinals, bluejays, numerous varieties of sparrows and finches, catbirds, cowbirds, mourning doves, warblers, chickadees, wrens, nuthatches and tufted titmice in the yard. A further glance over the pond or a short trip to the beach or river affords the viewing pleasure of egrets, herons, cormorants, kingfishers, osprey, terns and plover. We are by no means professional birders. Here's the thing, though: once you start noticing birds, it's actually really hard to stop. You can't. Noticing these little slips of natural beauty about five years ago became something of the catalyst for us. Since then, we have spent much of our free time dedicated to acknowledging the beauty of our local natural wonders, through road trips and hikes.

Cormorants and seagulls enjoying the sun at Montauk State Park.

I'm almost positive these were the punks who splashed sand on my yoga mat in Nissequogue.

There's a fantastic list of Long Island birds by this website that can help you in the identfication process.
If you're up for a bit of wintery and educational family fun that can make a difference for orinthology research, sign up for the Backyard Bird Count run in part by the Cornell Orinthology Lab.

Day 20: The Wine Stand of Wolffer Estate Vineyard

Braving the informal Montauk Highway offering of Wolffer Estates on a warm weekend is not for the faint of heart. (Valet parking is just the start of it.) Weekdays, on the other hand, are a perfect opportunity to take advantage of their vineyard-side, bucolic tasting environment. Don't skip the 2013 White Table Wine: the beautifully sweet nose deceives an otherwise dry, zesty romp with a meyer lemon.

Day 21: France Hodgson Burnett

One of the stranger discoveries made during my time on Long Island was that the much beloved children's author lived (and is interred) here. If you visit the old Greenvale cemetery on Route 25, both she and her one son are buried there, and there is a statue in effigy of the other son. The other week I came across an old New York Times article that suggests the beauty of the North Shore (where Burnett lived) may have influenced The Secret Garden more than we know. The quote, imposed over a picture of roses from Planting Fields, suggests a worldview that I try my best to blog from. Long Island is our beautiful garden to cultivate, celebrate and love.

Happy summer, Long Island. I hope it's been kind to you, and here's to many beautiful things to come this autumn.

#iloveyoutoMontaukandback update.

Whew! It's been a while, LI! I hope everyone has safe and happy travels wherever your Labor Day weekend adventures take you. While I had every intention of keeping up with the blog posts, I've been fighting some illness and figured that keeping up with my personal 21-day challenge through the Twitter account was the best way to honor everything. Thanks for your patience.

This long weekend I'll be wrapping up #iloveyoutoMontaukandback, posting a restaurant re-review that's sure to provide a delightful (and cheap!) burger quick-fix and sharing some new Coastal Cheap & Chic for back-to-school.

Definitely on the mend now and looking forward to A LOT of other exciting things as the unofficial end of summer wraps up. (Who else loves the sweet spot of September, when the population normalizes but it's still warm enough outside to enjoy all the summertime delights?)

Nissequogue beauty

Monday, August 18, 2014

#iloveyoutoMontaukandback: Collected Days 12-16

Hello, Long Island! I hope you are doing all right in spite of that crazy flood we had last week. It's so sad to hear that the South Shore got clobbered again, after dealing with Sandy. Given a little basement drama and a few other complications last week, I decided to tweet my challenge responses everyday and reserve the next blog post as a collection of several days. (I'll be doing the same thing for Days 17-21).

Keeping the challenge going has been just that ---a challenge--- but it's been very rewarding, too. Writing and reflecting, I feel a deeper appreciation all the time for what I love about our special place!

Day 12: Sweetbriar Nature Center

Sweetbriar Nature Center is very special little space tucked off a quiet road in Smithtown. In addition to their extensive wild animal rehabilitation services and educational programs to area schools, the Center boasts a miraculous Butterfly House. You can read more about Sweetbriar and the Butterfly House at one of my blog posts from last summer by clicking here.

Many a time has this wonderful vessel saved us the trouble of driving through the city (most especially, the Bronx) on our journeys northward. While it's a little pricey, I hope you'll agree that for the gas, tolls, wear-and-tear on the vehicle (and yourself) it's ultimately worth it if you live further out east. It's a very pleasant 75-minute ride across the Sound. Our strategy is to tag-team it: one of us immediately gets on line, while the other finds choice seats with a view. Advance reservations are easily done, strongly recommended, and bring a lot of peace of mind.

Day 14: Long Island Growers Market

Scattered throughout Long Island and representing just about every day of the week are the Long Island Growers Markets, a collection of farmers markets that serve our various communities. The produce and products available, from kale to soap to sea robin, are all purveyed by our local farmers, artisans and fish mongers. To find a Growers Market in your neighborhood, visit their website. (They also have a nifty search feature where you can look up markets by the days of the week that they are offered.) Recently I picked up some beautiful purple peppers at Mays' Farm booth. They made a wonderful, antioxidant-rich contribution to Mr. Cardinal's recent Spinach, Feta and Vermouth Turkey Sausage dish.

Day 15: Walt Whitman. This is an #iloveyoutoMontaukandback x Coastal Freebie, featuring the immortal words of poet and Long Islander Walt Whitman. 

Day 16: Port Jefferson Village

Port Jefferson is a picturesque, hopping little town, and a place that has an "all things to all people" vibe. You'll see couples having a romantic evening out, travellers taking advantage of the Ferry, a vibrant biker subculture, foodies reveling in the fine dining, wine, cheese and cigar tastings, and families indulging at the Frigate or watching the Ferry dock.

Plenty of shops, restaurants, bars and quaint architecture.
The hold grail of sweet indulgences, the Frigate.
A pretty town park open to the public. It's located between the ferry lot and Danforth's. You can admire the boats in the harbor or watch the ferry come in as you relish your ice cream cone.

Monday, August 11, 2014

#iloveyoutoMontaukandback, Day 11. St. James General Store

Did you know that Long Island is home to the oldest continually operating general store in the country? If you find yourself in the area and scratching for an old fashioned candy or soft drink, pop on by and step back into a different era. If Long Island history is up your alley, the St. James General Store also boasts a large selection of books on the subject. There are plenty of good holiday gifts here--- toys for kids, home decor, and of course, a wide selection of treats for the sweet tooth in your life!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

#iloveyoutoMontaukandback, day 10. thera farms ❤️

If you find yourself cruising along Motor Parkway in Ronkonkoma, you might not realize that the residences lined so neatly next to one another possess extremely deep lots, and that one of these homes in particular boasts an extensive organic hydroponic lettuce facility, as well as zucchini and tomato gardens (and a busy little chicken coop). It's Thera Farms, run by the Bolkas family. We discovered them by accident at the Nesconset Farmer's Market (where they distinguished themselves with salad greens which were enormous, fresh and immaculate). Since then, we've been popping by the farm periodically to pick up those beautiful lettuces. Check them out, Long Island!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

#iloveyoutoMontaukandback, day 9. parrish the thought.

I hope that you all are enjoying this beautiful weekend, Long Island! While we certainly could use some rain, the pleasant temperature and regular sunshine are a treat after this past winter. (Yes, I'm still going there. Suffice to say freezing cold weather and Nor-Easters will NOT make #iloveyoutoMontaukandback post. That being said...)

It's no secret that I'm a big fan of the Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill, having devoted two blog posts (1, 2) to it in the past. If you haven't been since they moved to the new facility, I wholeheartedly encourage you to go! (When my best friend comes to visit Long Island in a few weeks, you can bet it will be a part of the grand tour. :-)

Any tourist-y suggestions of where else I should take her? (In addition to the beach, I am thinking the Duck, some wineries that I have in mind for her preferred flavor profile, and at least one pictureqsue town on both the North and the South shores, so she can get a taste of each).

Friday, August 8, 2014

#iloveyoutoMontaukandback x coastal freebies: Day 8, theodore roosevelt.

In honor of the 26th President of the United States, New Yorker and Long Islander Theodore Roosevelt, I came up with this free printable.

If you haven't visited the Roosevelt home, Sagamore Hill, I highly recommend it!