Revisiting the Past at the Ropes Mansion

I’ve had quite a large fascination with history since childhood. I would say it started around the age of six when good old Santa Claus brought me what I thought of as the be-all, end-all of Christmas presents, an American Girl Doll. For those of you who may remember ’90s girlhood, American Girl Dolls were a coveted item for us back then. Each doll represented a different era in history and came complete with outfits designed in the styles of that period, along with chapter books of their stories about living in their specific time.

The doll I got was named Felicity Merriman, and she was supposed to be a girl living in Williamsburg, Virginia in 1774 when the Revolutionary War was brewing. I started playing as if I lived in the 18th century as well, and slowly became fascinated with the other dolls and the whole panorama of American history, from the 1700s to just before modern day. I outgrew the dolls, but never outgrew the zeal for learning about the bygone years of our country. Moving to Salem, Massachusetts was really like heaven on earth for someone like me. There is literally a gorgeous old house around every corner, all with unique stories to tell.

Old (in this case, really old!) houses are everywhere you look in Salem.

Old (in this case, really old!) houses are everywhere you look in Salem.

One home that I’d always been fascinated with, probably because of my original love for the 1700s, was the Ropes Mansion on Essex Street. Again, for other ’90s kids, you probably remember how much we loved the Halloween movie Hocus Pocus, which took place (and was partly filmed) in Salem. Well, remember Alison’s house? Yup, you got it – that is the Ropes Mansion!

The Ropes Mansion stands proudly in its spot at 318 Essex Street in Salem, MA.

The Ropes Mansion stands proudly in its spot at 318 Essex Street in Salem, MA.

Unfortunately for me, shortly after I had moved to Salem for college, a fire at the mansion caused it to be closed for tours for six years. The only way I was ever able to see the mansion was from its beautiful outdoor gardens, where we would often stop when I went on ghost tours. Legend had it that the ghost of one of the Ropes women still haunted the house after dying from burns sustained when her dress caught fire in one of the fireplaces. Tragic, right?

Since my early days in Salem I’d been eager to see the inside of this historic house, and recently my dream finally came true. In May of this year, the Ropes Mansion once again opened its doors to visitors, offering them a blast from the past upon stepping inside. The mansion holds original furnishings and items owned by the Ropes family and lots of informational plaques, as well as knowledgeable guides throughout each room. The other weekend, my sister, her boyfriend and I decided to pay a visit to this renowned estate, but happily didn’t actually have to pay anything, as tours are free! Visitors guide themselves throughout the home, but as mentioned above, docents are available to start your tour out with a history of the family and homestead, and answer any questions you may have along the way.

ropes family history

Sorry about the blurry image…the Ropes family lineage is shown on a wall in the entryway.

It was incredible to actually feel as if I was living in an 18th century home, something I’d been imagining for years since my doll was in my hands. Seeing all the antique furnishings and home goods and learning about all of it was a perfect activity, one that really got us thinking about what life must have been like back then.

The most intriguing aspect, to me, was hearing and reading about the different family members who once dwelled in the home. I was particularly moved by the story of Elizabeth Ropes Orne, who lived in the home with her mother after her father died when she was a baby. Elizabeth herself died in one of the rooms of the mansion at the age of 24 from tuberculosis. We actually stood right in the room where she passed away, and I felt pretty moved by it. There was a painting of her, with brown hair and brown eyes looking back at me. I have brown hair and brown eyes and am 24 years old, and I thought about the sadness of the whole scenario. I couldn’t imagine what she went through at my age, and subsequently, the pain of her mother upon losing her daughter at a young age, and with her husband gone as well.

But, it’s just a fact that old homes that hold generations of family members must experience death within the walls. Not to be macabre, but it’s true. One of the stranger things we discovered about the home, and death in the 18th and 19th centuries, is that relatives of the deceased would often keep locks of hair as a keepsake. On display in one of the rooms were framed lockets that held the braided hair of Abigail Ropes, the women mentioned earlier who died from burns via a fireplace in the house. There was also a necklace worn by one of the Ropes women in later years made of human hair (whose hair, I’m not sure), and a lock of hair from Elizabeth Ropes Orne, cut from her head during her toddler years as an affectionate gesture of her mother. I would have taken photos of these remembrances, but it honestly kind of creeped me out so I didn’t! I was surprised that all the hair looked to be in such mint condition for being hundreds of years old. I’m not very science savvy, so I’m sure there is some kind of explanation behind this.

If you’re looking for spooky, that was definitely the area of the mansion museum for you. If you’re into the paranormal, nope, I have no personal ghostly encounters to report, although my sister did start to feel very uneasy in the room that Elizabeth died in. I was there for the history side of things.

Outside of this, we explored a leisure room where a piano played by Elizabeth with her self-labeled music book sat on display and beautiful antique furniture was set up as it might have been in its hey day.


Isn’t this piano gorgeous?

leisure room

My sister reads an informational board describing what the room she is in was used for…leisurely activities!

We walked into an exquisite side room filled from top to bottom with the family’s ornate china and glassware collections.

china cabinet

We got to touch antique kitchen tools and try to guess what they may have been used for (I was only right on one thing!) and see how the kitchen closet was stocked.

old kitchen tools

We were able to view multiple dining room sets, one set for Christmas dinner as it was in the 1840s and one set with plates each stamped with a rule of etiquette for dining in the 19th century. I definitely would have been thought of as a poor guest, I’m sure! I only ever eat with my elbows on the table, after all.

christmas dining table

One dining room table set for a Christmas feast in 1847.


A second dining room table, because when you live in a mansion, why not have two?

A second dining room table, because why not?

Upstairs were the bedrooms with plush beds that I think would be a nice cure for my insomnia if I were to have one in those styles!


We also perused the bookshelves with many historic tomes, and I felt a bookworm jealousy at the large collection.

ropes book shelf

This is just one out of several book shelves in the mansion!

Outside, we and other visitors admired the renowned gardens – this is certainly the best time of the year to stroll around them, with flowers of every color imaginable in bloom. It was a breathtaking end to a tour I had been waiting years to take, and one that endlessly satisfied my thirst to learn more about the 18th and 19th centuries and those who lived through them.

black eyed susans

Black-Eyed Susans stand proudly in the Ropes Garden.

If you’re just as engrossed with history as I am, I highly recommend checking out the Ropes Mansion. Visiting is free, and is open to the public Saturdays and Sundays (seasonally) from 12-4 P.M. If you go, let me know about your experience traveling back in time!


The Ropes Mansion – 318 Essex Street, Salem, MA, 01970


An Evening Party at the PEM

Last night, Nick and I had the pleasure of attending our first Peabody Essex Museum event since moving to Salem. On the third Thursday of each month, the PEM stays open late for a PM Evening Party. Not only do all of the galleries and exhibits remain open, but the museum also features a wide variety of activities, entertainment, food, drinks and more that involves the whole community. July’s event was called Taking Back Summer, and certainly provided a lot of fun for many on that evening.

There was already a good-sized crowd when we arrived around 6:30, made up of literally all ages. We saw groups of people clustered around tables working on something, and when we walked up to a table we saw coloring pages and colored pencils. I love coloring (although I’ve never been very good at staying in the lines…like I’ve said before, I stick to writing for a reason!) so we started with this relaxing activity. I started coloring a Parisian scene and Nick did the same.

Don't judge me by my coloring skills!

Don’t judge me by my coloring skills!

I had heard that besides the cash bar, there would also be adult milkshakes served up by Sea Level Oyster Bar. Sure enough, I spotted a table full of them. There were two kinds available: a Key Lime Pie Margarita Shake and a Mocha Beer Shake. I was feeling the citrus and tequila more so than the porter in the mocha shake, so I went with the Key Lime Pie shake. I was happy I did – so delicious. This is certainly a type of drink I would love to make at home for a summer gathering among friends.

adult milkshakes

Because we arrived at the event after work when we normally would have dinner, we couldn’t really focus on anything else before grabbing something to munch on. There was a variety of small meals available, along with snacks like chips, brownies and granola bars. We decided to split a plate of barbecue pork ribs with sides of cornbread, broccoli salad and red beans and rice.


It was hard to find a seat in the museum’s Atrium because there were so many people, but we finally did and were able to eat and enjoy the sounds of The Void Union playing ska and reggae. They were excellent and really got the place grooving.

After eating, we ventured outside to the Asian Garden where there were classic games on a BIG level – a giant Jenga set and Ker-Plunk. In this area, there was also a beer garden with Narragansett brews. Their Del’s Shandy has been my go-to beverage this summer, bringing a lemonade-like flavor to this refreshing beer!

Narragansett Del’s Shandy, on the right, has been my summer favorite this year.

Back inside, we briefly stopped by the Bartlett Gallery for a presentation on one of event goers’ most anticipated aspects of the Take Back Summer evening, a chance to meet hitchBOT. hitchBOT is a very unique robot hailing from Ontario, Canada. hitchBOT hitchhikes across various places around the world thanks to the kindness of strangers willing to take him to new destinations. So far, he has traveled across Canada and Germany and was starting his U.S. journey right here in Salem, Massachusetts! hitchBOT’s goal is to get all the way to San Francisco, with opportunities to see some of our country’s most famous landmarks along the way. I shamefully was unable to take a photo of hitchBOT with the crowd surrounding him when I first spotted him, and then he must have disappeared into the presentation! However, if you’re as curious as I was, you can read all about him and his travels on his website. This is also a great news article that explains the science and idea behind hitchBOT. If you see him on the streets, make sure to give him a ride!

After the hitchBOT sighting, we ventured over to the Create Space. In this section, there were art making activities where participants could craft “summer camp classics” such as tie-dye and gimp pieces. There was also a friendship bracelet making activity being offered by Boston Bead Company. These appeared to be highly popular activities, because the tables were at capacity. Seeing this, we headed into the Maker Lounge instead where a “toy hacking” activity was going on. We were pretty fascinated by this one, which provided people with a variety of tools and toys that they could completely take apart and rebuild into something entirely new.

There were many toys to choose from when gathering ideas!

There were many toys to choose from when gathering ideas.

Many of these participants were kids, and they were coming up with some awesome ideas on new toys. I love to see imaginations at work! Nick and I decided to have some fun with this as well. I am not very mechanically inclined, so my toy was pretty simple – a wind-up creature that walks a stuffed dog on a leash. Nick put together a horse/car contraption with a spotlight on the front to guide its way in the dark. We definitely felt like kids again!

Nick working on his rebuilt toy

Nick working on the beginning stages of his rebuilt toy

After messing around with toy creations, we headed out to Armory Park across the street where The Massacre, a Boston-based Quidditch league for adults, showed people moves that Harry Potter would be proud of. They allowed others to learn how to play this fictional game, which seems to actually be a reality now, albeit without broomsticks!


Players get into the Hogwarts spirit with a game of Quidditch

Our last stop of this eventful Take Back Summer evening was at the Salem Public Library’s mobile library. Two librarians had a table full of books and CDs that could be rented right there. As a lifelong reading fanatic, it made my night when I found out that I could sign up for a library card on the spot with verification of  my new address. Now I can finally check out anything my heart desires. I totally bookwormed out about this, and to say I’m excited would be an understatement!

mobile library

After an extremely enjoyable night (and free for Salem residents!), Nick and I walked out into the cool night air. It felt like a fall night, which are generally my favorites. Don’t get me wrong though! I’m not ready in the slightest for beach days, barbecues and boating weekends to be over. Summer has really just gotten started for me, and the PEM’s Take Back Summer event was the perfect way to celebrate this season among my fellow community members. We are very lucky to have a renowned museum in our city that still feels like such a part of the local scene. It just won Northshore Magazine’s Best Museum and Boston Magazine’s Best Museum North of Boston, in fact!

The next PEM/PM Evening Party takes place on Thursday, August 20th from 6:00-9:00 p.m. with the theme “’30s on Film”. Admission is free for members and Salem residents, and $10 for non-members. Check out the event’s Facebook page for more details, and I’ll see you there!

Featured: The Peabody Essex Museum, East India Square (161 Essex Street), Salem, MA, 978.745.9500


An Unforgettable Weekend at the Salem Arts Festival


What a fun-filled whirlwind of a week it has been, and it all started with the Salem Arts Festival! I was in Salem, Massachusetts for the three-day long festival, an annual June event that brings together artists of all forms and the Salem community for a weekend of beautiful and eclectic art, exciting live music and theater, activities for families and so much more. Thousands attend each year, and I could certainly see why! I was happy to be one of the many enjoying everything the festival had to offer for all three days.

Day 1: The Salem Arts Festival kicked off Friday evening with a reception and juried gallery in Old Town Hall. When I arrived around 7:30, the doors were open, letting live music from the Squeezebox Stompers filter through the space and add to the lively mood.


I stopped by the Salem Main Streets table as I walked in. Salem Main Streets is the main organization involved with planning and putting on the Salem Arts Festival. They are a non-profit who serves to promote and invigorate Salem’s downtown and support the city’s local businesses and individuals doing awesome things. I paused to admire the stickers and pins featuring their brand new logo designed by Elissa Von Letkemann Art & Design. Afterwards, I headed towards the wine table where, to my joy and surprise, I found out it was FREE as I went to pull out some cash. To me, there’s not a better way to celebrate a Friday night than with free wine and an art gallery in a historic setting.


I strolled around the space, taking in each and every work of art – so many different mediums, so much talent.

fri collage

As I stepped back outside, the evening was the perfect temperature and the sight of a large crowd of happy people enjoying the music warmed my heart. There was a lot of dancing going on; couples dancing with each other, parents dancing with children, kids dancing with other kids. Good vibes filled the atmosphere and everyone appeared ready for all the excitement yet to be had that weekend.

Day 2: Saturday marked the start of the Street Fair as artists filled Front Street and Derby Square with tents and tables featuring the fruits of their creativity. People filtered in and out of the Artists’ Row buildings, admiring and purchasing the unique pieces available inside. Items for sale ran the gamut from fine art to photography, handcrafted jewelry, candles, ceramics, cards, kids’ toys and, well, the list is pretty endless.

I was repping the wonderful Creative Salem organization at the festival, speaking with different artists about their work and why this event was important to them as creatives within the Salem community. It was clear to me, speaking with a variety of people on this second day, that the Salem Arts Festival is of such larger significance than just something for people to do on a nice day. This festival links the entire city. Salem is a creative hotbed, and this festival brings artists of every style together, allows them to connect as a vital community and aspect of the city’s economy, introduces them to one another and hopefully paves the way for some incredible collaborations…exactly what Creative Salem is all about.

Just some of the many people who took time to speak with me about their festival experiences! From left: Sabin and Pamela of Double Exposure, Heather Reid-Barratt of Heather Reid Studios, Jamie of Roost, and Laura Henkin of LnK Designs.

Besides connecting artists with one another, the Salem Arts Festival links these artists with the greater community at hand, those who may not be artists themselves but seek out the beauty of the work, and events that allow them to support and participate in the creative scene. This is also part of the mission of Creative Salem. The festival helps to generate customers for the small businesses and restaurants that surround the festival space, and brings attendees into what may just become their new favorite cafe, store or lunch spot. I did not see a single frown on a face throughout that Saturday, and I saw lots of faces. This sense of community is what I missed in my few years living away from Salem, and I am happy to say that on Saturday Nick and I found out that we have been accepted into an apartment there!

Although my main goal was to speak to different artists, I obviously couldn’t help doing a little artistic shopping myself! Between a lot of new handcrafted jewelry and beautiful painting prints, collages and nature photography, I’ve definitely built quite the little collection. My plan is to decorate our new apartment in this one-of-a-kind local art.

other art

Day 3: If possible, Sunday appeared to have even more people out for the festival than the day before! The variety of live music by the Salem and North Shore-based bands kept everything upbeat, and there were some awesome street performances, theater productions and fun activities for kids. I continued my mission for Creative Salem of speaking with different artists to learn what the Salem Arts Festival meant to them, and I continued to receive nothing but absolutely positive answers and thankfulness that an event like this exists to connect the community.

I, myself, am thankful that Creative Salem provided me the opportunity to share the message of these talented artists and get to know them on a deeper level. On this third day, I spent more time inside the Artists’ Row buildings meeting those who set up shop there for the season and admiring all that they had to offer. As the City of Salem’s website explains, “Artists’ Row is a seasonal program that provides rent-free space for artisans interested in building their audience through daily engagement with residents and visitors to Salem.”

I was able to speak with Nikky Bergman, who creates very artistic jewelry thanks to her background in both Fine Arts and Metals. She shares a building with Liz Frazier who makes all-natural soy candles for her business, Witch City Wicks, and Bridget Alexander of The Pack Paper Co. who sells beautifully designed paper products, such as wedding invitations. I told Nikky how much of a cute boutique style shop they had going there in Artists’ Row and she agreed. It seems like fate that they were all accepted into the same space, as their products go so well together. As Nikky stated, if you’re a bride, it’s basically one stop shopping – custom rings, invitations and wedding party favors all in one place!

artists row collage

After chatting with Nikky, I made my way into the building across the street to meet and talk with Sibel Alpaslan, an artist who creates gorgeous ceramic pieces in earthy tones, many with a splash of turquoise color which is my favorite. I learned that Sibel is from Turkey, and got her beginnings in ceramics while attending art school in Istanbul. She explained how at her school in Turkey, students would take a test to determine which medium the school believed best suited them individually. She thought she would be a painter, but they placed her in ceramics and it seems like they had the right idea! Her pieces that I saw were functional yet intricate, with what her husband called “whimsical” designs, and I agree.

In the same building was Karen Scalia from Salem Food Tours, holding spice tastings at her table and getting people acquainted with her tour business. I loved speaking with her and literally cannot wait to sign up for one of her food tours. These tours take guests on a journey through Salem’s diverse culinary scene while combining modern day foods with the history of the spice trade, a prominent piece of Salem’s past.

While talking with Karen, a fellow foodie approached with a sample of chocolate chip cookies from her business, Good Chemistry Foods out of Exeter, NH. Her products are all gluten-free as well as dairy-free. While I am not either of those, I can never resist a treat. I could not tell the difference in her cookies! I ate three of them right away…oops. They tasted exactly like the chocolate chip cookies I’ve known and loved my whole life.

My last stop and purchase on Sunday was at Deanna Jacome’s tent, my fellow Creative Salem member and an extremely talented artist who recently graduated from Montserrat. Deanna’s art is of many varieties, but she was selling her Turkish marbled pieces at the Salem Arts Festival. Turkish marbling makes for incredibly eye-popping patterns and designs that you can’t look away from!

Deanna’s first sighting of this art form was in the flyleaf of a book at the Harvard library. After much research, she taught her self the traditional process of how to create it. Now she is marbling everything from book covers to frames, t-shirts to bookmarks and much more using her own twist on the style. Through Deanna, I made my first purchase for my new kitchen, a marbled wooden spoon and fork set. Deanna was also making and selling pretty floral crowns at the festival, and I spotted many a person (women, men and children!) wearing them while walking around. Right next to Deanna, another of Creative Salem’s own, Joey Phoenix of Salem Pet Photo and Joey Phoenix Photography, had an adorable pet photo booth set up. I popped by to see how the pictures of furry friends were coming out.


By Sunday’s end, I was sad that the Salem Arts Festival was all over until next year. I had an unforgettable time getting to connect with the talented, dedicated and incredibly welcoming artists of this community. As a creative professional, moving to Salem is so significant because of how cared for and supported those like me are here, thanks to the wonderful organizations like Creative Salem that give us an outlet to be uniquely ourselves, sharing our work with each other and inviting the greater public in to be a part of it all. Although the Salem Arts Festival may have wrapped up, there is so much more on the city’s schedule for the summer. I’m thinking my next stop will be the fabulous Salem Farmer’s Market that just opened for the season! For more information on all the creative goings-on in Salem, visit the Creative Salem website.

Special thanks, in no order, go out to John Andrews, Joey Phoenix, Deanna Jacome, Mayor Driscoll, Kylie Sullivan, Catherine Bertrand, Jamie (of Roost), Theresa Wall Duggan, Laura Henkin, Bill Laforme, Morgan C. Leshinsky, Heather Reid-Barratt, Sabin and Pamela, Nikky Bergman, Sibel Alpaslan and Karen Scalia for all taking precious time to speak with me for my Creative Salem piece and this blog, and letting me into your background and thoughts. I appreciate each one of you. 

An Outstanding Lunch at Sea Level Oyster Bar

outside restaurant

The other weekend, Nick and I were finally able to experience Salem’s newest and very rave-reviewed restaurant, Sea Level Oyster Bar. I had been seeing so many social media posts from friends and other businesses in the Salem area featuring their amazing drinks and meals from Sea Level, and I could not wait to try it out. It certainly lived up to all the hype!

Customers use this handy paper to order their oysters.

We went on Memorial Day, so it was busy as expected but there was plenty of room because there is an upstairs and a downstairs. We chose to sit downstairs and were led to a table by a window overlooking the beautiful Derby Wharf and the majestic historic ship, The Friendship. Although our area wasn’t directly open to the outdoors, the upstairs of the restaurant and certain areas of the downstairs are, and the whole space was very open and inviting. I wish I’d gotten more interior shots, but I was so focused on the mouthwatering food surrounding me as you will see…

Even on cloudy days, the view is pretty.

The view is pretty even on cloudy days.

Our table was covered by a large white paper cloth, and our waitress wrote her name on it when she introduced herself which I thought was a great idea. Nick started with a bowl of the New England Clam Chowder and he was an instant fan, saying it was some of the best chowder he ever had. When he got up from the table for a minute, he even told me to make sure the last bites left in the bowl weren’t taken away by the waitress!

I started out with a drink recommended to me by Joe Keefe, the General Manager of Sea Level Oyster Bar. The drink is called the Strawberry and Basil Shrub, and it was honestly one of the most unique tasting drinks I have ever had – I loved it! I wasn’t sure how I was going to like the basil aspect, but it really added a refreshing and tastebud-enticing flavor to the cocktail. This drink is definitely a must on a hot summer day while you relax overlooking the great views offered at Sea Level.


Sea Level Oyster Bar offers many more options than seafood for those like me who are allergic to shellfish. For my meal, I ordered the Grilled Cheese, but this was no ordinary Grilled Cheese. This version came with Red Dragon and cheddar cheese, ale mustard, apples, and bacon on grilled Texas toast. The texture of the apples, bacon, and cheese were a wonderful combination. The ale mustard really took the sandwich to another level. I’m not even a mustard gal, but I would like to purchase a bottle of this stuff!

A much more grown-up grilled cheese, with a side of house made chips!

A much more grown-up grilled cheese, with a side of house made chips!

Nick ordered the So Cal Chicken Sandwich, which features grilled chicken, bacon, cheddar, avocado, lettuce, and tomato on grilled Texas toast. He was very satisfied with his choice, and I had a bite as well. You can never go wrong with grilled chicken, avocado and bacon!

Because we wanted the full experience, we decided to take a look at the dessert menu. In an act I’d never seen at a restaurant before, the waitress came over and stamped the dessert menu onto our paper tablecloth. What a unique idea!

We chose the Salted Caramel Cookie Pie with vanilla ice cream on top – so decadent, so delicious. A group at the table near us even ordered the same dessert because they looked over and saw us eating ours in delight. Salty and sweet is one of my favorite flavor combos.

At the end of our meal, our bellies were more than full and our spirits were up. Eating food clearly made with care and detail and having the tastiest of drinks while overlooking the gorgeous views of Salem, Massachusetts is an experience I highly recommend. Sea Level Oyster Bar absolutely deserves all the praise it has been getting since its opening. Here’s to many more successful years of business!

Sea Level Oyster Bar – 94 Wharf Street, Salem, MA, 978.741.0555

Save the Date for the Salem Arts Festival

salem arts fest logo

For the past six years, thousands have gathered in Salem, Massachusetts during three days in June for the renowned Salem Arts Festival downtown. 2015 will be lucky year number seven! Whether you are an artist, a performer, or someone who just appreciates and is intrigued by the local art scene, there is much to excite all the senses at the Salem Arts Festival. From painting, photography, music, dance, writing, film, sculpture and so much more, this festival welcomes and encourages art of all mediums to be showcased and appreciated by the community. The Salem Arts Festival is free and great for families, offering activities for children as well.

The 2015 festival will be held Friday, June 5 through Sunday, June 7 and will offer many ways for participants to get their art fix, from galleries to indoor and outdoor performances, a street fair, interactive events and more. Each year, the festival is planned and put on by the wonderful Salem Main Streets, along with a host of awesome volunteers. The goal of Salem Main Streets, a non-profit organization, is “the revitalization of downtown Salem as a vibrant year-round, retail, dining and cultural destination through business recruitment, retention and the promotion of the downtown district”.

Are you a local artist, or know of one? The call for gallery artists for the festival is still out! Don’t miss your chance to submit your work as part of this awesome event. It’s a great way to build exposure within the local arts scene and connect with the community. Visit this page on the Creative Salem site for more information on how to get your work featured. All mediums are accepted! Not an artist, but would like to be more involved in the event? Volunteers are still needed as well! Click here for more information about volunteering.

I wouldn’t miss the Salem Arts Festival for the world, and neither should you! There’s a reason it drew over 5,000 people to Salem last year. It’s truly a feast for the eyes, ears, mind, body and soul for all ages and all members of the community, whether your work is featured in it or whether you’re like me and just love to view art and watch it in action! I’ll see you there 🙂

For more information, visit the Salem Arts Festival website.

A Leisurely Lunch at the Portsmouth Brewery

Tugboats fill the waters of Portsmouth this past Saturday.

Tugboats filled the waters of Portsmouth this past Saturday.

We had some more gorgeous weather this past weekend, and when that occurs, I generally refuse to be anywhere but a city or town with seaside charm. On Saturday, Nick, our friend Anthony and I packed into my car and headed to Portsmouth. I knew it would be colder by the coast, but once we arrived I realized it was a bit more chilly than I had even thought it would be! Luckily I had brought a jacket, and we enjoyed our time walking around.


We arrived in time for a late lunch, and I suggested the Portsmouth Brewery where I had been a couple times before with my family. After checking out the menu posted to the outside window, Nick and Anthony agreed and we went inside to give a name for a table. There was a wait but we were in no rush. The hostess told us we could go down the basement level for the time being where there was a bar and full menu if we preferred to stay down there to eat. A great aspect of the Portsmouth Brewery is that if you choose to wait in the downstairs, they will send you a text when your table is ready and you can let them know if you will be back up or not. Convenient!

The basement level of the Brewery, called the Jimmy LaPanza Lounge, offered a full bar, billiards, TVs, a shuffleboard table and various seating areas including tables, stools and couches. Rock music in the background kept the vibe. It wasn’t a huge space, but just right for hanging out with a few friends if you didn’t want to deal with the busy upstairs. I wish I had thought to take some pictures!

We ordered beers while in the Lounge, as the bartender/waiter there told us he could bring them upstairs when our table was ready. I taste-tested the Hefeweizen and the Dirty Blonde, settling on the Blonde which was light and refreshing, exactly my style. Anthony ordered the Lolo IPA, which he was very satisfied with, and Nick decided on an outside brewed beer, the Allagash Curieux – with 10% alcohol content, it made him feel pretty good! (Truth be told, I had to call the Brewery to remember the name of this one). I had a sip and while the beer itself wasn’t warm, it seemed to warm me up inside as it went down, proof of its strength (and probably the hints of bourbon from the barrel brewing).

My "Blonde" beer - perfect!

My “Blonde” beer – perfect!

We were called (or rather, texted) up to our table right after ordering our beers, so they were brought upstairs and were were seated in a side room off the main area of the restaurant that was open and bright.

An eye-catching piece of decor graced the wall above our table.

An eye-catching piece of decor graced the wall above our table.

There were many tasty sounding items on the menu, but I was in Portsmouth to have some seafood. I ordered the Fried Fish Sandwich, with a beer battered Gulf of Maine white fish fillet. It came with tartar sauce and a chipotle mustard. I added both to the sandwich and the chipotle mustard provided a very nice kick. The fillet was fresh and filling. I ordered rice and beans as a side to stay a little healthier since the fish was fried.


Nick had the Southwestern Chorizo Burger, a massive burger that looked fit for a king. Our waiter recommend he get a fried egg on top, as that’s the way employees of the Brewery like it best. Nick followed the suggestion and really enjoyed the addition to the burger.


Anthony went with an appetizer, the nachos, which came fully loaded. I was a bit jealous, as nachos are my guilty pleasure! We all ate and chatted, enjoying our delicious beers, food, and the company of friends.


After finishing our lunch we started to head out of the Brewery, but not before checking out their awesome store. The store was full of cool Portsmouth Brewery and beer lover items like shirts, coasters, magnets, bottle openers, glasses and more. There is also an online version of the store, for those who are interested!


We browsed quickly and then headed back out into the sunny day. We spent the rest of our time walking around the bustling city and checking out the waterfront, feeling full and happy from our relaxing lunch. Each time I’ve visited the Portsmouth Brewery, I’ve always had a great experience and am happy I was able to introduce it to Nick and Anthony as a fun Saturday activity. Next time, we will have to stay for a tour!

The Portsmouth Brewery – 56 Market Street, Portsmouth, NH, 603.431.1115

Our Friday Plans: Creative Salem 3×5 Gallery

Calling all art enthusiasts! Looking for something different to do this weekend? Head to Salem, MA this Friday, April 24th at 8:30pm for a truly unique event, presented by Creative Salem – a 3×5 pop up gallery reception! As you may be able to guess, featured art will be 3×5 in length, but anything goes as far as a medium. How awesome is that? You never know what mini masterpieces you will find. 🙂 I’ll be there covering the event on New England State of Mind and can’t wait! If you see a piece you like, make sure you snatch it up – $15 per 3×5. Funds benefit the amazing Creative Salem organization and the mission of non-profit Salem Main Streets, which I interned for in college. Be there or be square (and 3×5 is what you’d want to be this weekend)!

Find out all the details on the 3×5 event page on the Creative Salem site.

We’ll see you there! 

Tasting and Touring at 603 Brewery

Tasting samples and delicious spiced popcorn at 603 Brewery!

Tasting samples and delicious spiced popcorn at 603 Brewery!

This past weekend after Nick got a haircut in Derry, we needed to kill some time in the area before going to my grandma’s house for dinner. We actually started arguing because we couldn’t agree on anything, and Nick felt like he was just driving aimlessly. Suddenly, we passed a sign on the side of the road in Londonderry that said 603 Brewery was having tours and tastings and an arrow pointed us in the right direction. Perfect activity for a Saturday afternoon. We were all smiles again as we headed that way. Even with all the social media and internet advertising these days, simple roadside signs can still work!

Nick and I had gotten our first taste of the amazing craft beer brewed by 603 when we visited Biederman’s Deli and Pub in Plymouth, NH this past fall. We loved each sample that we had tried in our flight, and had planned on checking out the brewery one day. I’m very glad the sign reminded us to! When we entered the brewery, it was quite packed. There were no tables or counter spaces left, so we had to start our tasting at the checkout counter. However, we got our own table not too long after. $10 gets you a nice big 603 beer glass and all your tasting samples. The tasting starts with five 603 beers (in order from light to dark, which you should follow when tasting): 18 Mile Ale, Winni Ale, White Peaks, Cogway IPA and 9th State (although a Stout, I believe, was substituted for 9th State the day we were there). The flight comes on a mat that tells tasters a bit about each beer and 603 Brewery, as well as a few fun facts about NH beer consumption.


My favorite beer was the very first sample, the 18 Mile Ale. I am definitely a fan of the lighter, more crisp and refreshing beers. However, I didn’t hate the darkest stout. Nick was sure that I would dislike it, yet I finished that one just like the others! Nick was loving the Winni Ale the most.

Nick enjoying his sample of Winni Ale!

Nick enjoying the tasting! And his fresh haircut!

Nick and I were also able to taste samples of the Waterville Wheat and Summatime seasonal brew. It certainly got me in the mood for beach days and barbecues, that’s for sure. Along with our tasting samples, we also got some popcorn seasoned with spices which was actually pretty amazing in itself!

We were having a grand old time sipping on some of the best craft beers in the Live Free or Die state, talking and laughing as the spring sun poured in through the windows, but we were excited when the tour embarked. Our tour guide took us around the brewery, showing us the various machines and equipment used in the brewing process and telling us exactly how the beer we now held in our hands ready to drink actually came to be.


I had never been on a brewery tour before, and it was so interesting to learn about the process behind the beverage. We got to see a garage/warehouse type area where they keep the cans – towers and towers of cans stacked to the high ceilings were a sight to see! I didn’t take a picture, so you will be surprised when you go and see for yourself 🙂

Where all the brewing magic happens!

Where the brewing magic happens!

After the tour, Nick and I finished our last sample and had to get going for dinner. I was actually sad, as I really enjoyed being in the brewery atmosphere. It’s clear that the 603 crew truly has a passion and a love for what they do, and you can taste it in each beer they create. I’m now going to constantly be on the lookout for 603 beers wherever I am in New Hampshire! You can also purchase 22 oz. bottles, cans, growlers and a variety of awesome 603 Brewery gear (think glasses, keychains, bottle openers, hats, shirts, etc.) right at the brewery itself.


If you’re looking for a new weekend activity, love beer, learning new things and supporting your local craft breweries, stop by 603 Brewery in Londonderry, right off of exit 5 on I-93!

603 Brewery – 12 Liberty Drive, Unit 7, Londonderry, NH, 603.630.7745
Tasting hours: 1-5 PM Saturdays, 4-7 PM Thurs-Fri


A Day at the PEM


Observing the beautiful paintings of historic ships in my favorite part of the Peabody Essex, the East India Marine Hall

You don’t have to leave New England to take a trip through history around the world. You don’t even have to venture into Boston. All you have to do is spend a day at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts and you will feel like you just spent time abroad! On Saturday, Nick and I were in Salem and decided to pay a visit to PEM. I had been there during my days as a Salem State student, but wanted to refresh my memory and see what new exhibitionss they have nowadays.

We arrived and purchased our tickets, $18 each for adults. Student tickets (with I.D.) are $10 each, $15 for seniors, and children 16 or under are free. If you know a high schooler (or are one!), this is actually an awesome educational activity to take advantage of for no cost. I took my younger sister here when she was a teenager and she really enjoyed it. If you’re lucky enough to be a Salem resident, you also have free admission with I.D.

There is a lot to cover at PEM, so we hit the ground floor running. Well, not really running…more like walking quietly. We observed the American Art, Maritime Art and Asian Export Art rooms first. These rooms were Nick’s favorite, as they featured a great deal of model ships and seascape paintings. I love all things nautical, so I enjoyed this area as well. I also liked looking at the paintings of historic figures and reading the descriptions to learn who they were. It was interesting to see the ornate antique furniture and imagine the pieces standing regally in homes of old.


A perfect miniature replica of a ship sits proudly in its case

After thoroughly walking around these exhibits, we headed upstairs. The stairs surround a beautiful cafe called the Atrium Café with a variety of foods, snacks and drinks, and tables under enormous skylights that the beautiful late winter sun come sparkling in. PEM also has its own restaurant called the Garden Restaurant with a seasonally-changing menu. We had just come from lunch at the Hawthorne Hotel, so we weren’t hungry but if we were there would have been plenty of options!


The Atrium Cafe provides the most beautiful lighting as you eat!

Arriving upstairs, there were more galleries focusing on American and Asian/Indian art, as well as Native American art. We were fascinated by it all. We walked around the special exhibition gallery “Someone Else’s Country”, featuring photos by Jo Ractliffe. These photos, taken of the effects of the lengthy Civil War in Angola , were truly moving.

We went back downstairs to the Art and Nature Center and headed into a unique and engaging exhibit called “Branching Out: Trees as Art”. I have also loved learning about and looking at the beauty of trees, and how they differ from place to place. Even driving an hour away, you will encounter trees that were not found in Point A of your destination. On display were various works of art made with a multitude of trees as a medium. There were also interactive areas, which are my favorite parts of any museum. I like to be involved! There were a bunch of small logs tied together, and using some drumstick-like objects, we were able to bang around on the wood and hear the beautiful, tribal sounding music it made. There was a game featuring a board with a tree layout and cute movable characters made of wood. One player reads questions about trees, and if the other answers correctly, they get to move their character to the corresponding color. I won!


A fellow museum-goer saw us playing the tree game and thought it was the perfect photo opportunity of us

In a connecting room, there was an area dedicated to learning about different birds and creatures. There was a spot for “air plants”, which seemingly grow off a base straight into the air, and observers could try drawing these plants in a variety of different ways. Nick and I tried to draw them using the technique in which you look only at the object and not down at your paper. We didn’t do too bad – the plants themselves looked like discombobulated fireworks anyway!


What do these Air Plants look like to you? Fireworks? Octopus?

After working on our drawing skills, I wanted to go back upstairs to what had been (and still is!) my favorite part of the PEM, the East India Marine Hall. According to the website, the hall was built in 1825 by the founders of the museum, the East India Marine Society. You can see portraits of these founders displayed on one of the walls in the hall.


The ornate windows of the East India Marine Hall. Can I live here?

It is an absolutely gorgeous space with high ceilings, large windows letting the natural light in on each side, hardwood stairs and a grand staircase. Besides paintings of the founders, it holds items from the room’s beginnings, and some astounding figureheads from historic ships. When I’m in this hall, I can imagine living in the time of its founding, when ships roamed the world and elaborate parties would have taken place in that very space. You can actually still rent out the East India Marine Hall for nighttime events.


Imagine being in a time when ships pulled into port with these prominent figureheads standing to attention

After spending time in my favorite hall, we ventured onward to “Storyteller: The Photographs of Duane Michaels”, an exhibition running until June. I will be honest in that I don’t know much about photographers, but I was engrossed by Michaels’ works. I was inspired by the fact that he often wrote poetic captions to go along with each picture. Since I am a writer, I appreciate a story-photo combination. His work with the use of varying exposures, especially in representation of a spirit or energy, really drew me in. The photos from later in his life show Michaels trying to come to terms with mortality, and along with the captions, will surely make you ponder.

In the gallery on a table there was a book called “The House I Once Called Home”, a series of his photographs and stories of each, depicting the house he lived in as a child and what had become of it. Next to this book was another from the museum, asking us to write on an index card what we would photograph if we were to return to our old homes. After writing it down, we were to place it in the holders on each page of the book, making it a collective tale of memories from hundreds of people. It was fascinating to read such intimate details of a stranger’s home, yet feel the love they had for this place. I wrote that I would have photographed the massive tree in the yard of my childhood home that dropped pine cones as I sat under it, and the lilac bushes in the backyard.


Books of memories – what would you photograph from your childhood home?

Although we could have continued to enjoy all that the museum had to offer for hours more, we had dinner and drink plans and had to be on our way. We will certainly be back to the Peabody Essex Museum, as it’s ever-evolving with new exhibits regularly and awesome events for the community and beyond. Next time, I am definitely going to purchase a ticket to visit the part of the museum called the Yin Yu Tang, a 200-year-old Chinese house astoundingly shipped to the U.S. and built back up at PEM. Knowing that there is a world-class museum right in Salem, Massachusetts is just another wonderful aspect of New England to mark on the list!

The Peabody Essex Museum – East India Square, 161 Essex Street, Salem, MA, 978-745-9500
Open Tues-Sun, 10am-5pm, and the third Thurs. of each month, 10am-9pm. Closed Mondays (except for certain holidays).

Becoming a Boston Tastemaker

Check out the Tastemade app today!

Check out the Tastemade app today!

Recently, I’ve been very involved in a project that I’m really excited to share with you guys today! I scored the opportunity to become a Tastemaker for Tastemade, an incredible app which allows food lovers around the country to create their own videos (called “appisodes”) showcasing their favorite restaurants.

Tastemade’s motto is “Raves Not Reviews”, which means that featured restaurants are verified amazing in every facet by whoever films them. The app allows you to edit your clips and choose from a variety of fun music and pretty intro fonts for each video, so even if you’re an amateur at creating videos, you can learn to use Tastemade with ease!

Tastemade is now launching in cities around the U.S. and around the world, and I’ve been involved in the Boston launch. For the past couple of weeks, I’ve visited some of the top restaurants in Boston and raved about them through my Tastemade appisodes. It’s been an incredible experience to make super fun videos and promote great local restaurants, all while enjoying the most delicious food around the area. I really have to give a shout out to Nick, who’s accompanied me to all the spots I’ve hit thus far. He’s been such a good sport about constantly being asked to eat food on camera through multiple takes, of which there have been many!

While Tastemade is an app, they also have a website where you can check out all the videos and restaurants featured in the Boston area. If you happen to live in another part of the country, you can check out your specific area as well.

To see all of my Tastemade appisodes, you can check out my personal Tastemade page for the low down on restaurants like Boston Beer Works, Big Daddy’s Pizza and Sub Shop, Crema Cafe, Strega Waterfront and more, directly from me to you!

The Tastemade takeover in Boston is just beginning. To all my readers in the city, you can become a Tastemaker too! Just download Tastemade and join in the fun along with us! All you need to have is a passion for local food and a phone, and let the possibilities of awesome appisodes unleash. I look forward to seeing you on Tastemade, and make sure to follow me there at @Lindsey_Paige because there will be many more appisodes to come!