Tag Archives: new england

Weekending in Portsmouth, NH


I’m not sure how I’ve managed to live in New England for ten years and not spent much time in our neighboring state, but for the very first time I spent a weekend in New Hampshire this summer. In Portsmouth, to be specific.

Portsmouth is a historic port on the seacoast of New Hampshire (they call it specifically the “seacoast”, not just the coast). Once one of America’s busiest port cities, it’s now a quiet tourist destination for shopping, architectural admiring, and meandering.

Market Square is the popular destination to visit for dining, walking, and shopping.

The historical North Church reminds me very much of Boston’s Park Street church and also the chapel at my alma mater.

My sister-in-law would be the perfect person to run a store like Gus & Ruby Letterpress – it was chock-full of adorable notecards, party accessories and calendars.

Portsmouth is also, like many of my favorite New England towns, is a collection of art galleries. We met Don Gorvett – a local printmaker whose art I had seen in an exhibit in college. His work is fantastic and he is quite friendly. (I plan on writing another post highlighting his work – amazing!)

Right next door to his shop was our favorite shop – whose name is escaping me! It’s a small nautical home decor store and I was in heaven! The store owner here was also helpful and chatty. And people say New Englanders are unfriendly. Wrong. We just don’t like small talk.

The state of Maine is (literally) just across this river.

Good Eats in Portsmouth

Don’t miss Breaking New Grounds for a cuppa and the perfect spot for people watching in Market Square. The place was constantly buzzing and morning, day and night.

If you’ve never experienced The Friendly Toast, you should. We’ve been to the one in Cambridge, and the Portsmouth location was equally busy and quirky.

It’s not cheap and there’s usually a wait, but where else can you get gingerbread french toast served to you by a hipster waiter with a tattoo sleeve and a Kentucky Fried Chicken bucket hanging over your head as a lampshade? The answer to that questions is nowhere, and that’s exactly why The Friendly Toast is a worthy destination.

We were told that Portsmouth has the most restaurants per capita in New Hampshire, and I’d believe it. There was a restaurant around every corner. For dinner we picked the well-known Portsmouth Brewery. My overall review was “meh”. I’m pretty easy to please, but my experience was lack-luster. Maybe stick to the burgers.

Where to Stay in Portsmouth

We stayed at the Sheraton Portsmouth – it’s a great hotel right on the harbor that separates New Hampshire from Maine. It’s $15 to park overnight, but everything in town is within walking distance and you’d be hard-pressed to find better, less expensive parking in-town.

Other Things to Do in Portsmouth

If window shopping isn’t your thing, there’s plenty of other things to do in the area.

  1. One popular destination in the USS Albacore Museum & Park – a museum featuring the USS Albacore, a decommissioned U.S. Navy submarine open for tours.
  2. Strawbery Banke Museum is a very cool historical neighborhood settlement that is fun to visit too. We never made it there! Maybe for next time.
  3. And of course there’s always the Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse.

We spent the next afternoon in our one of our favorite Massachusetts’ towns – Newburyport – which I’ll post on later!

Have you been to Portsmouth before? What’s your favorite coastal town?

Scenes from a Boston Blizzard

Boston Blizzard

Every morning I drive to work past this pond right by our home.

The last month or two, every morning I spy a few crazies out there on the ice.

They are ice fishing!

It looks pretty miserable to me, but whatever floats your boat… or… whatever you use for ice fishing.

Whatever warms your Longjohns?

Okay, this analogy is dying a swift death.

DesignLively - Boston Blizzard

On Friday afternoon the blizzard that took New England by storm (*pun intended) arrived.

As soon as I woke up the next morning I peered out our bedroom window, and saw our cars buried beneath a thick, white blanket of snow.

DesignLively - Boston Blizzard

Fortunately we kept our power throughout the storm, and didn’t lose any tree branches! We haven’t had the best of luck in that area.

Before the storm we lined our driveway with these orange poles, so we would know where our driveway ended and the yard started – very important if you are plowing your driveway.

DesignLively - Boston Blizzard

Thankfully I’m married to Mister Prepared, and we had all the tools for a proper snow jailbreak.

Can you see our big marshmallow cars in the driveway?

DesignLively - Boston Blizzard

My favorite part about blizzards is hunkering down with some warm food and pajamas.

We started the day off right with a big, hot breakfast.

Including my Granna’s recipe for homemade scones and coffee!

DesignLively - Boston Blizzard

Anything to fuel the manpower to unearth our vehicles…

DesignLively - Boston Blizzard

I brought our yardstick downstairs to measure the snow.

We had a whopping 28″ in the front walkway!

DesignLively - Boston Blizzard

Everybody needs a good blizzard every once in a while!

I hope my New England friends are staying warm and dry!

Spend an Afternoon in Concord, Massachusetts

Spend an Afternoon in Concord, Massachusetts - DesignLively

One of my favorite things about living in Massachusetts is that you aren’t more than a stone’s throw away from a historical location. When my parents came to visit a few weekends ago, we decided to introduce them to Concord, MA – as in the battle of Lexington and Concord, the opening battle of the Revolutionary war, and birthplace of the Concord Grape.

Spend an Afternoon in Concord, Massachusetts - DesignLively

It was the perfect New England town to visit on a gorgeous autumn day.

We started the day with a trip to Walden Pond.

Spend an Afternoon in Concord, Massachusetts - DesignLively

The pond is open for swimmers in the summer, and freezes over in the winter (I have twirled and swirled all over the iced-over pond once upon a winter).

There is a 2-3 mile hike around the pond. And, thanks to man-made fencing, is extremely narrow. This is not hiking, this is “hiking”. But it is a pretty trail nonetheless.

There were a lot of people out while we were there – many people perched upon the edge of the pond reading and writing. The place inspires intellect.

Spend an Afternoon in Concord, Massachusetts - DesignLivelyLicenseCopyright All rights reserved by Flickr user Maxine2

The pond was made famous by existentialist and philosopher Henry David Thoreau. Thoreau lived in a small cabin (and I mean SMALL) near the pond and made the small pond famous.

Nearly makes me want to sell all my belongings and live in a hut.

Concord is a literary hotspot – home to Ralph Waldo Emerson, Louisa May Alcott, and Nathaniel Hawthorne, in addition to Thoreau. All writers are buried in the infamous Sleepy Hollow cemetery.

All the writer’s homes are in town and a short drive away from each other.

Spend an Afternoon in Concord, Massachusetts - DesignLively

We stopped at Louisa May Alcott’s home, which, being a lover of Little Women, I like to refer to as “Orchard House” – the home of Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy. Directly next to Alcott’s home was the “Concord School of Philosophy”.

Next we moved on to Old North Bridge and the grounds of the Battle of Lexington and Concord.

Spend an Afternoon in Concord, Massachusetts - DesignLively

It’s a sombering sight, visiting a battlefield.

Spend an Afternoon in Concord, Massachusetts - DesignLively

We spent the remainder of the afternoon visiting the small, picturesque village of Concord.

Spend an Afternoon in Concord, Massachusetts - DesignLively

It’s stores are small and expensive stores, but the streets are lovely to wander around.

Spend an Afternoon in Concord, Massachusetts - DesignLively

Only 20 miles west of Boston, Concord is a must-see New England town.

Just be sure to bring your philosophy book so you fit in. ; )

Autumn in New England

Autumn in New England - DesignLively

I love the fall.

Autumn in New England - DesignLively

Crisp air in my lungs. Crunchy leaves underfoot. Boots and wool socks reappear.

I love New England. Especially in the fall.

Autumn in New England - DesignLively

I feel like I’m living in the opening song of Gilmore Girls.

Autumn in New England - DesignLively

Every road is a delight. Explosive fiery foliage at every turn.

Autumn in New England - DesignLively

And the beaches are empty. Perfect for long walks.

Only the roaring waves to fill your ears.

Or the quiet lull of the tide.

Autumn in New England - DesignLively

Apple pie! Apple crisp! Apple cider! Caramel apples! Applesauce!

I could go on. But I’m too busy looking up apple recipes!

Autumn in New England - DesignLively

And our favorite fall activity, the Topsfield Fair – America’s oldest agricultural fair.

Where else can you see the world’s largest pumpkin, prize-winning zucchini, racing pigs and baby farm animals?

Autumn in New England - DesignLively

Fall, please stay here forever?

Autumn in New England - DesignLively

Or at least until Summer gets here, of course.