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...

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