How To Make Real Maine Whoopie Pies

How To Make Real Maine Whoopie Pies

Rita and Barbara in July 2009

While I was in Maine I spent one rainy afternoon making whoopie pies with my Grammy Elliott and my cousin’s grandmother, Rita. Watching them bicker and laugh while sipping some cold Pinot Grigio while Judge Judy blared in the background was a hoot. Rita called herself the, Whoopie Pie Queen and frankly after tasting her creations I can’t deny that claim. Store bought whoopie pies are just too thick and have way too much filling. More is not necessarily better when it comes to whoopies.

Maybe I should back up and explain what a whoopie pie is for those not from Maine. Two devil food cakes are sandwiched between a filling made of egg whites, confectionery sugar, fluff, and basically Crisco. Whoopie pies as far as I know are a Maine thing. You’ll spot whoopies wrapped in cellophane at gas stations, sub shops, and gourmet stores all over Maine. Some claim to be the best but honestly nothing compares to homemade. Above and below photos from a fun afternoon.

Rita has passed away since I posted this blog in 2009. I found it in my archive and wanted to share again. She was so special to us and our family. I hope she sees this and smiles.

Below the recipe both grandmother’s having been making for years adapted from Marjorie Standish book, “Cooking Down East,” (1968).

Ingredients for Cakes:

1/2 cup shortening

1 cup sugar

2 egg yolks

5 tablespoons of cocoa (Rita uses 4)

2 cups sifted flour

1 teaspoon each: baking powder, baking soda, salt

1 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

The sugar and shortening are creamed together, the beaten egg yolks added. The dry ingredients are sifted together, and added alternatively with the milk and vanilla. Drop the batter in equal spoonfulls onto a greased cookie sheet, leaving room for them to spread. Bake in a pre-heated 375 degrees oven for 7-10 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool. When completly cool, mix filling (recipe below), spreading half the cakes with this mixture. Put them together like a sandwich.

ARCHIVED POST: ORIGINALLY POSTED JULY 2009

Filling: With an electric mixer, combine 1/2 cups shortening, 2 cups confectioners sugar, 2 egg whites, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 2 tablespoons fluff.

P.S. I’ve come across recipes that cook the egg whites. The grandmothers never have and nobody has ever gotten sick.

ARCHIVED POST: ORIGINALLY POSTED JULY 2009


You can find the recipe for Whoopie Pies and more in this book.



A Maine Bedroom With The Lightest Touches of Yellow to Make it Sing

A Maine Bedroom With The Lightest Touches of Yellow to Make it Sing

I think my love for color combination yellow and blue started in this room. Greg and I stayed at The Marston House Wiscasset in 2011. It was pre-kids and we would spend weekends away exploring and sleeping in late. At the time Paul and Sharon Mrozinski owned the Marston House antique shop and Bed & Breakfast in Wiscasset, Maine. In June 2017, they sold the Wiscasset property to a client.

Sharon wrote to me in a recent e-mail, “We sold it all including the yellow sheets and towels and striped sheets too”. Paul and Sharon currently live in France and have six properties you can rent. I stayed in Bonnieux in 2012 for my honeymoon and it was magical.

In the summer Paul and Sharon now reside on the island of Vinalhaven in the summer and winter in France. Sharon told me, “We fell in love with the summer community and art culture on the island.” They renovated a building downsizing from Wiscasset. On the first floor is their shop and the upstairs was gutted and converted into living space, “now we have our bedroom on the water and our shop on Main Street.” They plan to return to Maine and open the store on Vinalhaven for the Summer 2021 season.

When you meet Paul and Sharon you immediately fall in love with them. They are warm, inviting and humble. They are gracious in sharing their design knowledge but also cooking tips. Design is their life and where their hands have touched each moment is delicately curated. Their interiors are warm and friendly offering a sense of lived in nostalgia but nothing is every over done. A sense of thoughtfulness and functionality can be observed in every decision. But you can feel they took that idea and drew back till the only thing that was left was what was needed. They always seem to find the right balance of utilitarianism and beauty.

Exterior of the carriage house converted to storage and two bedrooms that are rented
In Maine , you need many layers of blankets because you never know how cold it could get even in the middle of summer. I have a similar window pane duvet from L.L. Bean that I love. I have had it for many years and still looks brand new and crisp.

Classic bedroom staples: Stripe sheets, chest and ceramic table lamp. I remember I tried to buy this chest off Sharon and I was given a big, No. Sharon explained they looked for a long time for a piece to fit there and the found that chest. She couldn’t part with it. The ceramic lamps are plain but work so well with the linen window shade seen below. I am still on a the hunt for chest just like this.

Yellow sheets layered with a blue and white duvet

These yellow sheets with the blue and white duvet completely won me over. This photo is over 10 years old and feels just as fresh today as it did then. It’s classic. You can’t go wrong with stripes and yellow is a great pop. Land’s End and The Company Store both have sheets in great yellows. L.L. Bean has great classic blue and white duvets. I have this one and washes up great and the white is super crispy and summery.

A tea table and two chairs

Every morning a basket was set at our door with coffee and biscuits and jam. The small tea table was the perfect size to enjoy breakfast by the fire.

This room has a fireplace which warmed the room on this October morning

I believe this fireplace and mantel were built new but they feel like they could have been here for the last hundred years. Bricks are left unmortared which I am really attracted too. They feel less severe and softer. The mantel is left white and unfussy. A basic for kindling and paper adds further texture.

A soft linen shade gives privacy but still allows the sun through

A linen shade is classic. I often times overthink window treatments. I look to prints and florals and kinda disregard solid linen shades. Here the offer texture. Even though they lack an actual print the folds of the shade and the sun shining through the textiles offers it’s one natural pattern.

A yellow accented floor cloth in the bathroom feels chic

Floor Cloths are so useful in wet messy places. They wipe up easy and never get damp. You can design your own making them modern or more historic with stencil patterns. I am a big fan and have plans to make a few of my own this summer.

A toilet brush in a terra cotta pot

A toilet brush is a necessary evil. You can stash them away in a closet or under a sink but then you have to worry about contaminating those spaces. Using a terra cotta pot with saucer works in this space and somehow it becomes chic and feels clever. And I think if your a gardener this is just an easy thing to love. Very sweet in an 1/2 bath off your garden too.

Shaker peg rail in bathroom with a mix of yellow, blue and white towels

Shaker peg railing is simple. It’s a catch all for anything that could end up on a pile on or on a chair in a bedroom. I use them all over my house. Here it’s used for towels and robes. The pegs are painted the same color as the walls keep the lines in the rooms clean and the yellow accents of the linens take on a design element. The Company Store had a two sets of yellow tiles. One that is more marigold and one a paler lemon. Both are perfect.

A yellow terry cloth robe is absolutely brilliant on. I have an adorable photo of Greg wearing it but he refuses to let me post on the internet. I found one that is equally as awesome here. The marigold yellow is so striking and chic.

For more information information about the property and the Bed & Breakfast visit: marstonhousewiscasset.com.


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Why It’s Completely O.K. To Have Painted Plywood Floors In A Bedroom

Why It’s Completely O.K. To Have Painted Plywood Floors In A Bedroom
When we bought our house one of the first things we did is rip out the old gray wall to wall carpeting on our third floor. It was old and smelled of cat pee. Underneath was plywood floors (sub floor) painted brown in one room and blue the other.
I covered the floors with sisal rugs and left it that way for years. We always had plans to do a complete gut job of the space and knew the floor would probably get covered with new wood flooring or carpet.
In the meantime life happened. The older you get the more expensive life gets. I decided to stop waiting and just spruce the floors up with some paint.
In this photo I am reinstalling the beds and touching up any places I missed.

What I learned in the process is that plywood floors are perfectly O.K. They are wood and once you paint them and put down a rug you will literally not notice it’s plywood.
I painted the kids room floor in Benjamin Moore’s Floor and Patio paint. The color is a color match to Farrow & Ball’s Babouche. The difference in price is about $54 a galloon vs. $137 for the Farrow & Ball. I know the Farrow & Ball color is probably a bit more outstanding and multi dimensional but I was unsure about the color and couldn’t commit. In hindsight I wish I would have just gone for the Farrow & Ball but this looks great too.

I prepped the floor by doing two coats of primer. I did not sand. After the primer had dried overnight I rolled on the yellow. Be warned: yellow is a hard paint color. It takes 4-5 thin layers to get the paint to completely cover. I did this using a small roller but also filled in spots with a brush.

Floor Paint by Benjamin Moore

I ran into a little trouble when I pulled up a the rug that was under the kids beds. It had a large worn spot from an office chair. I decided I needed to sand it.

I sanded it just enough to take off the top where the wood was hanging. I did not sand it to a full hand smooth finish. If I would have kept going I think I would have ended up down a road of me sanding the entire floor. The floor is dented and dinged but overall it’s smooth. I then mixed a cup of epoxy and poured over the damaged spot and spread with a roller. I added an added an additional coat about an hour later. I let dry overnight. The epoxy is like glue sticking everything together and down. I can still see divots but none of the wood is pulling up. The next day I primed and painted.


The floors have a beach house vibe and since plywood is laid in large sheets it’s a sea of flat color with very few seams. It looks cohesive. The amount of money I saved from not laying new hardwood and painting would probably be thousands. I feel like this is a compromise I can live with and does not have me thinking I am waiting to gut it. I think unpainted plywood could be really slick too with a poly to seal. I think plywood is totally overlooked and can be seen as low brow. But it has so many brilliant uses that feel modern and smart.



How To Block Print Your Walls

How To Block Print Your Walls

Block printing your walls is a fairly easy technique. The materials you will need are paint, a carved block and a sponge. 

I painted my walls a Benjamin Moore match to in Farrow & Ball’s Setting Plaster in Regal Select Matte finish. The walls paint are matte which I think is more forgiving to bumpy old walls and the finish looks more like real wallpaper. 

I choose a large block to print on my wall. In my trials the smaller detailed blocks lost their detail. This block is about to 5 inches in length.

I would suggest only printing on walls with wall board. You need some give to get full contact of the block to the wall. When you print on fabric block printers print on a padded surface. When I tested the block on my plaster walls the print barely showed up. Hard surface to hard surface does not work. Molly Mahon suggested for my plaster walls I look at potato stamping.

I used old matte latex paint to print because this project because it started as a trial and I used what I had lying around the house. Sometimes the scrappy method can yield the best results. I assume traditional block printing inks would work too.

Step 1 Paint your walls the base color (mine is similar to Farrow & Ball’s Setting Plaster)

Step 2 Pour your block color into a shallow painting tray and moisten a kitchen sponge. Wring out any excess water.  ( I used Farrow & Ball’s James White)

Step 3 Dab paint onto block using the moistened sponge. 

Step 4 Press block firmly to the wall. Spend your time experiencing with how hard you need to push. I pushed till I felt the give of the wall board behind the block.

Step 5 Decide on a repeat. I spaced mine by doing two rows at once. The first print starts one column. The second column dropped one full print staggering the image all the way down the column. Repeat across entire wall. 

I found working left to right was the easiest way to set up the pattern. Once you have a few rows printed you will start to see how things should line up. Make sure to line up the print vertically and horizontally. It won’t be a perfect repeat and mistakes are bound to happen but that’s part of the charm. 

Tips for loading paint onto blocks I put more paint then I thought was necessary to get a full print. Sometimes when I printed a pattern the paint looked too thick. But after drying it looked beautiful. If it’s really horrible you can go back with your base color and paint over and try again. But try not to fuss to much. Your eyes will naturally gravitate towards the full design. 

I printed up both sides of my stairwell and hallway. I did the project over a few day period but one wall came together rather quickly.  I am super happy with the results and I think it’s just as beautiful as wallpaper.

Here a few of my picks from the same shop I ordered from off Etsy. I found the blocks to be really nice quality and affordable. Shipping was quick and everything came well packaged.

Hand carved wood textile india block stamp 30, $5, etsy.com
Wood Block Stamp Flower 190, $10, etsy.com
Hand carved wood stamp 296, $15, etsy.com.
Carved Wood Stamp 124, $7, etsy.com.



From Sweatpants To Spring Dresses

From Sweatpants To Spring Dresses

A colorful patterned dress makes me feel amazing

Have you tried putting on a pair of jeans after months of being in sweats and yoga pants? ROUGH. I might suggest forgetting pants this Spring and moving straight to airy floral dresses. I love the ease of dress. You can throw it on put your hair in a ponytail and you look instantly put together. Jeans never have that magic. ABSOLUTELY NEVER.

Women’s Floral Print Flutter Sleeve Dress, WHO WHAT WEAR, $37, target.com.

On a warm day this week I wore my new Target dress with my J.Crew trench to a doctor’s appointment. It seemed like a good reason to take a shower and take off the yoga pants. When I showed up at my daughter’s pick-up; friends literally didn’t recognize me. That is the power of a dress.

I rounded up a a few dresses I am eyeing and adding to my cart. They all have the block print feel like I am loving in home interior textiles too. I always gravitate towards prints and florals. And if it can be just as pretty as a curtain; I will probably be smitten.

FLOWERS COTTON DRESS, $80, Mango.com. I picked up a Mango dress over the winter and it’s quickly become a favorite. This dress is so perfect in it’s coloring and style. I HAVE TO HAVE IT!
WOMEN’S FLORAL PRINT FLUTTER SHORT SLEEVE A-LINE, $37, Target.com. The color pops and instantly makes you feel brighter. The dress runs true to size. I own it and love it.
Cotton Block Print Dress, $46, etsy.com. A friend recommended this Etsy shop to me. She got a few dresses from them last summer. It takes a bit longer to get because it’s coming from India but I can’t wait to wear. I am going to pair mine with a woven belt (like this) I picked up at Todd Farm Flea market a few years ago. Here I am on rainy day wearing it with my J.Crew trench.
CANDICE DRESS XIII, $80, zojora.com. I love all her things. She has a stunning collection of dresses and home goods. Be warned they sell out quick!
Jasmit Dress, $159, daughtersofindia.net. I have not bought anything from this brand yet but I just love this dress. The lavender looks so flattering and the style looks like something I would reach to over and over.
Maeve dress in Mughal Flower, £195.00, daydress.co.uk. A wish list item. I just love their dresses. They are beautiful and romantic.
SMOCKED FLORAL-PRINT DRESS, $40, Oldnavy.com. I’m a huge fan of Old Navy dresses. I find the sizes to run a little big compared to brands like J.Crew.
Molly Dress, $88, shadeamour.com. I have a few of their shirts and got a cotton robe for Christmas. The colors and prints are always super pretty. This dress looks so easy to wear over a swimsuit or pair with a denim jacket for the Spring.

Photos at the beach were taken by Frances Williams, age 8.