Friday, December 28, 2007

critters in the bed

We just got home yesterday evening only to discover an unfortunate scratching noise coming from our headboard. I heard the scratching earlier on, and Colin thought I was making it up. However, the noise was loud enough to wake us both up this morning around 3 a.m. I was determined that the bed was infested with worms or termites and that they were going to drill into our brains. I told Colin so and stuffed my head under his armpit for protection. The scratching ceased, we fell back into troubled sleep only to be woken yet again a half hour later.

This time Colin was convinced it was some critter behind the bed. So we pulled the whole massive furniture out far enough from the wall so the cats could pounce on whatever it was that was scratching, scratching, scratching. Secretly, I'll admit, at that point I wished the thing was a nasty cockroach or beetle rather than a mouse, since we were releasing hungry kitties on the poor unsuspecting thing.

However, that action proved fruitless, when, after twenty minutes, Au Lait was still scratching at the wall and getting quite violent with the electrical socket. But she was no closer to the intruder and was making noise ten times louder than the other one.

We decided that the noise must be coming from inside the wall. And I'm pretty sure now that it must be a mouse. And I'm okay with that. Au Lait's raucous behavior was enough to silence it for long enough so we could get a little bit more sleep. But I'm feeling a little thick right now. Wonder what'll happen tonight?

Thursday, December 27, 2007

today is thursday

I'm really bummed about it, but my camera died almost as soon as we got down to NYC and I realized that I didn't bring my charger. I did manage to take a couple pictures at the Gershwin. That was on Saturday afternoon. The Gershwin is right around the corner from the Flatiron building. We checked in and then headed down to SoHo to get in some last minute shopping. That was fun. I got a new vest at H&M (the only thing I allowed myself to buy for me--it was only $15). But other than that, I just had fun walking around and checking out all of the crazy people.

Later in the day, we met up with Chip and Susan, and then Spencer (Courtney had already left town for Christmas). We went back to Spence's on St. Mark's Place and had dinner nearby at 3 of Cups. By the time dinner was over, it was already time to go out, so we first stopped by the Library (Spence and Colin's favorite old haunt that has stacks of books you can take out on loan--like a library). There's also a pretty rad jukebox. Colin kept calling it a dive bar. But looking around at the clean bar and the tame croud, I thought to myself, "Geez, I guess he's never been to Jasper's Tavern before." (That's in the Kingdom.) To its credit as a dive, there was one loo there that didn't lock. But I kept falling asleep. So we decided to move on.Next stop was Lit. At first glance, it just looks like a regular place, but downstairs in the basement, they play nothing but old style 50s and 60s rock and roll. There was some boogie woogie, rockabilly and some "do the twist." So we rocked and danced and twisted and turned all night long!

Then we got pizza and I was so hungry from dancing so much that I ate some of Colin's bacon and sausage slice. It makes me oozy now just thinking about it.

Friday, December 21, 2007

finally, shhh

You've probably been wondering where I' ve been. Not far, really. Just not here.

The last two weeks at EatingWell have been frantic prepping and delivering content to partners new and old before the year closes. Not to mention gearing up for a bonus 10 days off. That's right, 10 days. From now till the 1st, our offices are closed. So I'll have lots of time to catch up on blogging, scrabulous, and other fine distractions.

But I'm not quite there yet. First things first: wrap presents, do laundry, pack. Then we're off to NYC in the morning. That's where we'll relax: for a night at the Gershwin Hotel (can't wait to go back!). Then a night in Katonah. Then up to Newport for Christmas in the Kingdom.

My mother is roasting a goose. She's already made the figgy pudding. And our long lost sista is making her way back to the East Coast just in time for a bonfire on New Year's. We'll get some riding in at Jay Peak for sure. We'll get in some fireside lounging too. I'm just so excited for it all, I can't contain myself.

Happy Friday Everyone!!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

all songs considered

Yesterday on my drive home from work, I heard a piece on NPR's All Things Considered about new trends in music that the station has discovered since posting a poll that asked for listeners' favorite albums of 2007. (Go vote for your favorite now. I voted for 23 by Blonde Redhead. And here Jeff McCord picks his top 10 songs of the year.) The top three trends? "More bands from Canada, more bands from Sweden and an obsession with animals." If you're intrigued like I was, you can listen to the entire piece including music clips on their site. I was particularly impressed by the clip they played of the Swedish band Loney, Dear.

When I got home, I decided to finally check out NPR's new music website (been meaning to do it for a while now) and was delightfully surprised. There's so much there! Go there to browse artists, listen to concerts and live streams, and read reviews and interviews.

My favorite section is called "Discover Music." There you can listen to the Song of the Day featuring a new artist and song every day. The feature gives a short summary of the artist or band and then a little description of what you'll be listening too. It's definitely the best way to discover new great music for people who don't have a lot of free time to surf the web.

Another feature is that you can add songs and concerts to your NPR playlist and cookies allow you to go back and listen to them even after you quit your browser (without the hassle of setting up a username and password). The service is free; all you have to do is watch a quick ad at the beginning of the song.

Go listen to some new music now!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

more holiday crafts

After the pomander ball, some of us gals got together last night to work on holiday crafts. Once we got underway, I looked around and noticed that most everyone was sewing—and quite well I might add! Who knew there was so much hidden talent and resourcefulness among us? I must say I think Emma's mini clothespin doll ornaments stole the show. She made one for each of us ladies (they even look like us!) and had time after that to whip up one of Kevin, their dog Cooper, a Jewish snowman for our friend Brett, and a Hawaiian hula lady to go with the Christmas song, Mele Kalikimaka, that kept playing over and over on our holiday playlist. I'm thinking this might be a special calling she never knew about til now. What do you think, Em?

As for me, it took me the entire evening to make just one ornament—a star stitched from the silk of an old nightgown with buttons and ribbons from various sources. The star along with my mini clothespin lady are now on the tree.


Monday, December 10, 2007


This time of year, we bring oranges to the table and the smell alone is enough to evoke Christmas memories and remind us of the traditions we once loved dear.

In our house growing up, oranges were a holiday treat. We'd shave the zest into Mummy's English shortbread. We'd flavor the brandy butter for the figgy pudding with orange liquor. Every year we'd receive a large box of fresh Florida oranges from Mama Sonia and Papa Roger—each fruit individually wrapped in white and gold tissue paper. When Santa came he'd always leave an orange in the toe of our stocking. (That's how we knew we were at the bottom!)

We'd make pomander balls by poking a plump orange with fragrant whole cloves and hanging it to dry. As a child this was one of my favorite Christmas activities—and it still is! Moreso than gift-giving, carol-singing, Christmas-shopping and cookie baking. Now, whenever I smell orange and clove, I think, "Christmas, special, family, shortbread, happy, cozy, pomander ball!"

I love the idea of relegating the orange—such a special fruit—to holiday enjoyment. These days, when we're able to get any kind of food or fruit any time of the year, I yearn for the simplicity of yesteryears' traditions. When having certain things at certain times made those things special (oranges in December, strawberries in June). We find nourishment in that simplicity and we pass it on so that others may also know that feeling and grow from it. So here, I pass on our beloved pomander balls to be enjoyed during the holidays:

How to Make Pomander Balls

You'll need: 1 orange, ribbon and whole cloves.

Wrap the ribbon around the orange once, then twist and wrap the other way like a present. Tie the ends into a bow. Insert the cloves into the skin of the orange until the surface is evenly covered. If the fruit is juicy, you can roll the pomander ball in ground cinnamon to absorb the liquid. Then hang the fruit to dry in an airy place. Retie the ribbon every couple of days as the fruit dries and shrinks. Eventually, after a few weeks the fruit will harden and become completely dry. At that point, you can tie off the ends of the ribbon into a knot and hang as an ornament on the tree!


Sunday, December 09, 2007

first day on snow

Finally got out on snow yesterday. It was my first day out of the season. We went to Stowe and had a blast. My favorite part: hitting a jump and landing 2 out of 3 times. Mark Taylor said my form was perfect on the last one. And then he said, "Penelope, you're officially a snowboarder." Yay!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

at park plaza

The next day, Mama Sonia wasn't feeling well enough to visit Papa Roger's grave, so we went with Uncle Jerry and then had lunch.

On the way home, Emi and I were feeling thoughtful and so we decided to try the other side of the street and get drinks and dessert at Park Plaza Gardens on Park Avenue. No dogs in sight this time! We each got some wine and shared a key lime cheesecake that came out to us in such an elegant presentation, I just had to take a picture. I said, "this is cheesecake?" It was delicious too.

We spent a while there sipping and chatting. This is when we came to the conclusions Emma wrote about this week on Eat Peas.

Next day, we left. That morning, before our flight, we finally did manage to eat the massive papaya and avocado sitting on the counter. And we tried some sweet boiled plantain as well. It was tangy sweet. So good! We also went to Bravo to stock up on some Puerto Rican food. It would have been a fun adventure, it was wasn't for the flat tire...


Saturday, December 01, 2007

doggy bag anyone?

Something's happened to the town of Winterpark. I like to call it the Paris Hilton syndrome. The dogs are everywhere—and I mean everywhere. They have cute little sweaters. They get special treatment in the fancy boutiques. They ride in strollers. They're Lassies who lunch. Yes, lunch.

Yesterday Emi and I were strolling around Park Avenue and decided to grab a bite to eat at 310. We sat outside for some fresh air and immediately found ourselves in the midst of some kind of surreal dog kennel. The two ladies sitting at the table behind us had three dogs with them. Two of the dogs had massive Christmas wreaths hanging around their necks. Looking around it became clear that there were dogs at most of tables (at a restaurant that sells Conundrum by the glass).

The dogs sitting at our resto seemed to have some kind of barking comepetition with the dogs who were lunching across the street at Park Plaza Gardens. When people walked by with their dogs, the commotion increased tenfold. (Some relaxing lunch!)

Suddenly, I spotted the hound behind us lay out his runny business all over the sidewalk next to our table. We were so appalled and distressed that we took a picture of the stain (to come). The ladies wearing Tiffany earrings and silk pashminas were saying, "it happens!" whilst throwing their arms up in the air. Yes, it happens, but not on Park Avenue while we're trying to enjoy our glass of La Crema. And I'm sure the pups would agree (the hound, by the way, seemed unimpressed by the situation, but he was chained to the table and so had no choice.)

As soon as the woman tried feeding him water out of the sugar bowl, I knew it was the last straw. The waitress came over and told her they had special bowls for dogs and took away the sugar pot with a sweep of her large white napkin. She refused to service the table from that point forward.

We did enjoy our lunch and the entertainment with it. I just feel bad for the dogs.

papaya wishes

I hear it's been pretty cold up in Vermont today. Did I mention I'm in Florida for a long weekend? Em and I flew down last night; Au Lait did not want me to go. She sat on my suitcase while I was getting ready. Now we're in Winterpark at Mama Sonia's place (that's my grandmother).

Today we helped Mama Sonia set up all of her Christmas decorations. We made orange sugar cookies with frosting. And we listened to Bing Crosby singing Christmas carols.

Mama Sonia looks well. She always looks so put together. Even when she's feeling crummy and wearing her nightgown. What a lady.

Last time I was here was for Papa Roger's funeral in March. Not much has changed. His glasses are still sitting on his desk. There's still mail for him on the dining room table. But how can you be sad when it's so warm and sunny out and the avocados and papayas are ripe and fresh on your counter?

We made a salad today with tangerines and avocado. The avocado was so buttery and delightful! They just don't taste that lovely in Vermont and why should they?

We'll have to have papaya too, in memory of Papa Roger.

That's all for now. More later...

Thursday, November 29, 2007

top 10, plus 100 notable books of the year (per nytimes)

Feeling ambitious? Check out the books the New York Times rates as the most notable books of the year. I thought I was doing pretty well with my book-reading over the past year, but the only one I've read from this list is What is the What and I couldn't even finish because it was making me cry so much. (No, I haven't read the last Harry Potter book yet--I'm waiting until I can get it from the library.)

A hundred books is a lot. Maybe this list, dubbed as "The 10 Best Books of 2007" by the Times is a little more manageable. Although I must admit that the titles seem a bit daunting. And depressing! Whatever happened to funny books? Or books that stir the imagination? Is it that they don't have a lesson to offer? I just finished The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath and I'm looking for a upper? Any suggestions?


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

stealth veggies

This is a term we kick around a lot at EatingWell. Our readers are often looking for favorite family meals made healthier, so we developed a bunch of tasty, healthy recipes that have extra veggies hidden inside! It's great for lowering fat and sneaking veggies into kids' meals—sometimes you can't even tell the difference!

The idea of "stealth veggies" is a little funny. I mean, the whole idea of learning to eating healthier is learning to appreciate and crave those ingredients that are good for you—and learning to mistrust those ingredients or foods that are detrimental. It's definitely a learning process. If kids think they're just eating mac & cheese, rather than mac & cheese with spinach, then left to their own devices, they'll probably just eat plain old mac & cheese. Cause they just don't know any better.

Still there's something so satisfying about eating a meal that tastes naughty—but really isn't! And though I don't have any kids, I'm often trying to get Colin to eat healthier foods. Recently, I made Southwestern Cheese Paninis (glorified grilled cheeses) for him and some of his chicken-wings-eating friends and none of them could believe they were actually healthful and made up of mostly veggies. They loved them! Healthful or not, it's one of my favorite quick dinner recipes. I always double the amount of carrots and zucchini, because I love them. And the trick is finding a good bread that stands up to the moisture. (I like honey oat.)

So, if you like to play this game of hide the spinach under the cheese, here are some other "stealth veggies" recipes to try:


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

tons of photos from the weekend

We took lots of photos over the weekend—in Katonah for Thanksgiving and then in New York. Here are some of my faves. If you're feeling ambitious, you can see the full lot here.


Sunday, November 25, 2007

visiting spencer & courtney

It's always so much fun visiting our friends Courtney and Spencer in New York. They like to show us a good time. And they like to do the same kinds of things we like to do when we have the day off—like eating yummy meals at nice restaurants, walking around and going into shops, and having dance parties in the living room.

We took the train in yesterday from Katonah, dropped our bags off at their place on St. Mark's Place in the East Village and went to grab lunch at Jane. I got an arugula salad with dried cranberries, roasted pumpkin seeds and blue cheese and a glass of viognier. It was the perfect Saturday afternoon lunch. They have really good french fries at that restaurant—they cook them with rosemary, just like my mom's roasted potatoes.

After lunch we walked around, went into shops, waited in the bathroom line for 25 minutes at Starbucks. Yeah, that's right, 25 minutes. Checked out some more shops and then stopped in for a drink at Lolita—a chill bar with some pretty snazzy light fixtures and a good soundtrack. They were playing Arcade Fire the whole time we were there. We were totally into it.

We came home for a while. Had some drinks. Courtney told us about her new exciting job. Spencer and Colin played music. We danced a little. And then went out. We sort of forgot about dinner. So before bed we got pizza slices at Strombolis. It was the perfect New York night.

This morning Colin and I got up and walked to the Porto Rico coffee shop a couple blocks away. It's very small. Only a couple of people can fit in there at the same time, because the whole back of the shop is taken up by big burlap bags full of coffee beans. The place has got charm. Last time we were there it was pouring buckets and buckets. But today the skies were bright blue and clear, so we sat on the bench outside the shop, drank our coffee, and watched the styley people walk by.

One guy carried a boom box that was blasting rap music. It seemed a little early for that. Col said, "I bet he pressed play right when he woke up." (The guy was totally jamming.) I said, "Maybe he never turned it off from last night."

A gorgeous French couple ducked into the coffee shop. I always get a funny feeling in my tummy when I hear people speak French. The woman had a great outfit on. A guy in rollerblades skidded to a stop right in front of us and dashed in to get a pastry for breakfast. (I'm liking this coffee shop more and more). Rollerblade man dashed out as quickly as he dashed in and almost got hit by a car as he rolled into the street. A woman was buying a bagfull of chocolate-covered espresso beans for her daughter who was going off to school. There were more people, but I'm too tired to write about it.

We got brunch with Spencer and Courtney and then we went into a second-floor toy shop called Toy Tokyo. Colin bought four more metal robots to add to his collection. We'll need another shelf to hold them all now.

We're back at the apartment. Courtney's reading in the bedroom. Colin and Spencer are watching Return of the Jedi. And I'm at my computer. We're eating skittles to take the edge off breakfast. And that's that for now. Maybe I'll just take a little nap...


Friday, November 23, 2007

lazy day

When you're going and going and going all of the time, it's hard to take a day for yourself and do nothing—without any guilt. Afterall, there's always something you should be doing. If it's not work, it's laundry. If it's not laundry, it's stitching sweaters or polishing shoes or returning phone calls.

That's the beauty of going away for a few days. When you're away from home, those chores simply don't exist.

Today I had rice pudding and coffee for lunch at the local diner in town. It was heavenly. (No guilt!) And then I spent the rest of the afternoon dorking out on my computer and looking at old pictures from my blog. I put a Flickr slideshow on my homepage. Check it out.


Thursday, November 22, 2007

planes, trains, automobiles

Well, we're here. After one flight to JFK, an air-train to the subway, subway to another subway, subway to the train station, train station to the car, car to the house, we arrived at Colin's parents' house in Katonah last night shortly after midnight. I did the math in my head. We left our house at 5. We would've arrived two hours sooner if we had have just taken the car. But then, we wouldn't have any stories to tell, would we?

This morning we woke up to a balmy 57 degrees. And foliage. And then smell of turkey in the oven. Now there's the Macy's parade on T.V., twirling ladies, shrimp cocktail and Colin's famous Bloody Mary's. He's a genius. Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

now, get your l'Occitane right here in burlngton

Local product junkies will be pleased to know that our favorite make-up Mecca, Mirror Mirror, now carries a comprehensive line of l'Occitane en Provence lotions and potions. Till now I was forced to stock up in New York City or some other far destination. Now we Vermonters can get our fill any day we want. I especially recommend the verbena soap and body lotion. It's divine.


toast and typing

Today I'm thankful for working from home (once-in-a-while). And toast with butter. I'm just wrapping up loose ends before we take off for the long week-end. Col & I are going to spend a couple days with his family in Katonah, NY. Then off to the city for a night. The kitties will stay home. I'll miss them terribly I think. They know something's up; but they'll be in good hands with our neighbor's son.

I'm now completely outfitted for the snow season. Colin came home from work last night with a sweet pair of boots for me. Supreme Heat. They're totally hot—in more ways than one. And they're gonna look even hotter in my sleek houndstooth bindings. These are all things that I'm grateful for...



Monday, November 19, 2007

are you living a sustainable life?

Play this Consumer Consequences game from America Public Media to find out how many Earths it would take to sustain humankind if everyone lived like you.

I just played and was appalled to discover it would take 2.9 earths if everyone lived like I do, but then I compared myself to Kai Ryssdal from Marketplace and didn't feel so badly. Much room for improvement...


I'm grateful...

...that I didn't hit the two deer that leaped right in front of my car on the drive home from work tonight. I'm thankful for Suki kneading my belly and Au Lait warming my feet. For the birds on the feeder and the entertaining squirrels. I'm thankful for all the creatures in this world that live beside us nourishing us quietly and perfectly in their own way.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

die fledermaus

That's German for: "The Bat," a cheeky little puppet opera Em and I attended last night at the Flynn Space, put on by the Viva La Voce Puppet Opera. I say "little," which it was in many aspects, quite especially in size, but in others it was large and grandiose.

Based on the operetta Die Fledermaus by Johann Strauss II, the puppet show, according to the show's program, tells the story of the wealthy Gabriel von Eisenstein, a gentleman of leisure.
In 1873, the Viennese Stock Exchange collapsed on a day called 'Black Friday.' What was urgently needed was a brilliant new operetta to cheer up the Viennese bourgeoisie and console them from their depleted bank accounts. The result was Die Fledermaus, first staged in Vienna, 1874.

Also known as The Revenge of the Bat, Die Fledermaus tells the story of the wealthy Gabriel von Eisenstein, now the object of exquisite revenge after he played a prank on the respected Dr. Falke (when Falke was dressed as a bat). A forthcoming party at the eccentric Prince Orlofsky's offers the opportunity Falke has been waiting for..."

I've never been to a puppet opera before, and so I didn't know what to expect. Opera? Puppets? Well, yes and yes!

It really was an opera: the show's producer, Roxanne Vought—who I recognized from Spielpalast Cabaret, local Vermont soprano Beth Thompson, and other singers carried us through a complicated little love affair half in German half in English and sometimes in French and Italian. And even though I don't speak the language, the story and emotion were quite clear in their every sound and movement.

But for me, what really stole the show were the puppets, reigning over a brightly lit puppet stand center stage. Costume couturier extraordinaire Kathleen DeSimone really outdid herself this time. The intricate detail and fabrication was exquisite. From the expressive dresses and suits right down to the top hats, masquerade masks, and lady fans—and right back up again to the people-proportioned costumes to match their mini-alter-egos.

The show was fun, light-hearted, and witty—a satire of wealth, love, deceit, and power. It offered us both plenty of chuckles throughout the night and culminated in the fourth act with all the drunk little puppets dancing and singing in the city's prison, all the whilst downing champagne and resolving to blame it all on the bubbly. And rightly so!


Friday, November 16, 2007

better than hot water bottles

So much for the snow. We got nothing here in Burlington last night. But for the cold.

Our apartment gets heated by those old-school radiators, and they can take forever to warm up. When I get home from work, it's like a chiller in here. And yet I just can't bring myself to turn up the heat.

This time of day, I sit on the couch still wearing my winter coat, waiting for the cats to finish their dinner so they can come sit on my belly and warm me up. It's better than a hot water bottle, I'm telling you. Warm full kitty bellies purring on top of me.


Thursday, November 15, 2007

what comes after rain?

It's been raining all day. The cold, thick kind of rain that sticks to your windshield like gooey gelatin. The kind of rain that hangs heavy over the landscape, bringing pink sound-proof skies at night. You look up at those clouds, you close your eyes and feel the wet chill on your nose, hear the quiet dampness, and think, "I know what comes next."


Colin's going to hike Stowe on Saturday with some buddies. Meanwhile, I am just so antsy to demo my new snowboard! It will come soon enough. Soon enough.

* * * * *

While we're waiting for our first winter storm of the season (supposedly landing tonight!) back at EatingWell, we're wrapping up our Jan/Feb issue, and in the kitchen they've even started testing recipes for spring! Such is the nature of the beast I suppose.

Today was the last photo shoot for the upcoming issue and I got to pose for a picture that will be featured in a special report on our relationships with food (that is, if the picture turns out okay). That's all I'll say for now, but just think Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and the cake that says, "Eat me!"

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

sweet potato quesadillas

When I was a student at Middlebury College, I worked for Dolci, a student-run restaurant in the basement of a French-style chateau on campus. The head chefs (a weekly rotating job) and all of the other student cooks had the run of a restaurant-scale kitchen and dining room. We would build the menu, prepare a shopping list, come to prep on Wednesday, and on Fridays serve a beautiful multi-course meal to a group of 90 lucky people, typically comprised of students, faculty and guests.

This quesadilla recipe was—and still is—one of my favorites from the Dolci repertoire. I rediscovered it this week when I was trying to find a way to use up some sweet potatoes. The sweet potatoes and the cumin are a flavorful combo. Cut into triangles, they make a great appetizer. Or serve a bigger portion with side salad for brunch or dinner. Bonus: They're quick, nutritious and low in fat (if you use reduced-fat dairy) and they keep and reheat well for lunch the next day!

1 1/2 cups finely chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 cups grated sweet potato (approximately 3 potatoes, I like to leave the peel on)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 generous pinch of cayenne powder
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup grated Cheddar cheese
8 (8-10) tortillas
Mexican-style tomato salsa
Sour cream

To make:
Saute onions and garlic in the oil until the onions become translucent. Add grated sweet potatoes, oregano, chili powder, cumin, and cayenne. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent sticking. When sweet potato is tender, add salt and pepper to taste and remove from heat.

Fill each tortilla with 1/8 of the mixture and 2 tablespoons of the cheese. Roll or fold tortillas closed. Over moderately high heat, toast the filled tortillas on a slightly oiled or non-stick skillet, seam side down, until golden brown. Then flip and brown the other side.

Serve while hot. Top with salsa and sour cream.


this day

Another inspiring message from my Mum today, sent to my two sisters and me:
Good Morning to my darling girls! What a beautiful day we've been given... blue skies, not completely cloudless, but we can handle a few clouds. So, what are you going to do with today? I was thinking, wouldn't it be great if we girls decided, just for today, to make a commitment to make this day the very best day of our lives. What if, instead of finding fault, (so easy to do!), just for today, we lent a helping hand? What if, just for today, we'd go out and look for beauty, and forgive the ugly? What if, just for today, we decided not to take to heart the unkind word, and try to understand the reason for it, instead, and give an encouraging one back? What if, again, just for the day, we gave, instead of took? What if our thoughts were filled with praise, love, and kindness, even if faced with criticism and hatred? What if, in the midst of anger, we felt in our hearts a peace that beggars description? What if...? I love you guys, and want to thank all of you for bringing such joy into my life. Have a great day!
Lots of love, Mummy xxx


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

it's that foodie time of year

We've been eating well these days. I guess it's just the season that whets the appetite with rich and interesting flavors. Plus, from November to January, it's all about the food, right?

This past weekend, I was listening to The Splendid Table on VPR and found myself watering at the bit when Lynn Kasper cooked up her Tagliatelle with Caramelized Oranges & Almonds with violinist Joshua Bell. The unusual combination of sugar, orange, cinnamon and almonds with pasta was so intriguing, I just had to try it that night. But when I found the recipe and saw how much butter and sugar the recipe called for, I just couldn't bring myself to do it.

So instead, I used the recipe as a starting point of inspiration. I cut the sugar and fat way down (just a couple tablespoons of each, and substituted olive oil for the butter). I also steamed some asparagus and threw that in. I served with a simple green salad with orange vinaigrette (orange juice, mustard, cider vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper). What a wonderful winter meal to surprise the palate! Colin and I enjoyed it while we watched The Valet (a fun French romantic comedy) on T.V.

* * * * *

Oh and here's something kind of neat: Remember the bit I wrote about a Smokejacks reservation gone awry? Well, Suzanne Podhaizer from Seven Days picked it up in her Crumbs column. Someone from Smokejacks must have noticed, because when I got to work yesterday, I found a personal letter of apology from Bridget, the Dining Room Manager sitting on my desk.
We had intended to open that night for dinner and accepted a few reservations," she said. "Unfortunately, a few hours before service we discovered that our ovens weren't working properly. As a result, we were forced to postpone our opening to the following night. I personally contacted everyone (or so I thought!) who had made a reservation. Regretfully we did not get in touch with you due to some mistake or lack of communication on our part. I apologize for the inconvenience caused by this and hope that you will give us another chance!"

Included with the letter was a complimentary gift certificate to the restaurant. Now, here's an instance where a little customer service goes a long way. Of course we'll give Smokejacks another chance! We didn't need a gift certificate to get us back. In fact, even before I received the letter, Colin and I went for a romantic date last Wednesday night and had a lovely meal featuring lots of lovely local ingredients. It's not that we'd give up on one of our favorite restaurants because of one small unfortunate experience, but Bridget's letter reaffirmed my feelings that it's a great place to support. So we will continue to do so. Thank you Bridget. Smokejacks, we love you. And there you have it. (Don't worry, Em & Kev, we'll share the GC with you. Brunch soon?)

Our romantic dinner chez Smokejacks:


Monday, November 12, 2007

pregnancy, plums, peas, and a painting

I wrote a poem about plums once—I had a bowl of perfectly ripe plums ready to burst. Seeing the plums and holding them in my hand reminded me of a pregnant woman's belly. So I wrote about it. I wrote about what it must feel like to lose control of your own body. To have to displace a piece of your body to make room for a new one. It might get messy at times, but the ultimate joy it elicits has no match. But there's also an element of fear there. Fear of the unknown, for, truth be told, I don't really know what it's like being pregnant. My friend Elisa does though. She wrote this week's posting for Eat Peas Weekly.

Pregnancy is in us all I suppose—well, us women at least—whether we've experienced it or not. Whether we like it or not. Even if we never get pregnant. The idea of pregnancy is ingrained subconsciously in our biological and psychological make-up. But I didn't always think this, or think about it. Yet the feelings and the shapes would always surface unexpectedly in my creative output.

I remember during my final senior art show as a student at Middlebury College, a woman from the campus newspaper came to interview me and review the show—a culmination of 4 years of intense work and exploration. She mentioned an apparent pregnancy theme in all of my female figures. I think I returned her comment with a blank stare. If it was indeed there, it was purely unintentional and I told her so. But looking now, I'm in awe that I—the creator of it—could not see such an obvious statement in plain view. It's there, is it not? The pregnant woman in the painting, flying through the air (jumping or falling?) gracefully full speed ahead. How could I be so blind to it? Or so dismissive?


Sunday, November 11, 2007

nylon thinks burlington is cool

If you Burlingtonians haven't checked out the November issue of Nylon magazine yet, you should. There's a story on Burlington with some familiar faces printed therein! The article itself is kind of cutesie and patronizing: "Northern Exposure: On a roadtrip to Burlington, Vermont, we discover cool shops, a burgeoning Indie music scene, no shortage of stylish denizens...and not a single cow in sight." But they mention the Possibility Shop as "thrift-hunter's heaven" which leads me to believe that an insider's hand is involved. I hope they don't ruin it forever...

Other mentions include our friend Sarah's Made Boutique, Maven, Green Closet, Steez, etc.... And for music Marie Claire, James Kochalka, The Cush, and The Smittens with a photo of the one and only David Zacharis. And more!


baby mackenize

We finally got to meet Rob & Nicole's new baby Mackenzie this weekend. She's a right spiffy tyke—and nothing but smiles! She also likes to squeeze the kitties and tear up useless magazines.


Saturday, November 10, 2007

snowboard art

Col and I stopped by the new exhibit at the Firehouse Gallery today. Decked Out features the work of 8 artists, both in their original form and as screen-printed designs on snowboards. All of the snowboards featured are Burton snowboards and our friend Todd helped pull together the pieces for the show from the company's archive. So we've been wanting to check it out...

The show itself is pretty cool. I think the main concept is to blur the lines between art and commerce—and promote the company's new line of boards and bags featuring artwork by Andy Warhol. In the back there's even a t.v. monitor displaying on one side the snowboards being made in the Burton factory, and on the other side Andy Warhol in his studio “The Factory.”

In most cases, I found the original artwork much more compelling than the screen-printed versions. They were more organic and textural than the shellacked surface of the boards. But there were also instances where the artwork duplicated on the board added a new layer of meaning to the original work. One artist played with the irony of stitching pieces of card stock together (rather than fabric). Then printed on the board, the stitches and paper become even stiffer and more resilient to the elements to snow and water (Colin said they're printing that design on surf boards now too). Another piece of skull and cross-bone was drawn with non-archival ball-point pens. The ink will fade. And so the act of duplication is an act of preservation.

We enjoyed the show. I was psyched to see my new board was on display (although for some reason I neglected to take a pic) and turns out one of my favorites was designed by a friend (Marin). Here are some pictures below. You can see the rest here.


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