Wednesday, April 30, 2008

but what if I don't want to spend it?

Am I the only one who thinks the stimulus package is kind of surreal? I keep thinking it's all one big joke on us. I guess I'll believe it when I see it in my bank account, which—according to the IRS—will be no later than May 9.

Here's a nifty Economic Stimulus Payment Calculator that estimates how much you're going to get. Thanks for the tip, Kev!

As for me, it's $600 all the way baby! But let's not bet too excited. I'm going to do what I'm not supposed to do and keep it right where it belongs: in the bank. So long as I'm not spending it on gas, then I guess it's a good thing.

Do you know what you're going to do with the "free" money?

it's snowing right now

Yup. Snowing.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

just another tuesday night

I'm sitting here on my couch waiting for Col to call for a ride. He's car-less this week thanks to another bit of bad luck. Couple months ago it was a snow plow that rammed into it smashing the entire passenger side frame. This time, it was a—BB gun? Apparently, according to the police who arrived at the scene, someone's been driving around town shooting at random cars and windows. Luck of lucks, Col's car was one of the three or so cars that were shot on South Union Street on Friday night. I always park in the driveway behind the house, because I'm paranoid, and Col always made fun of me for it. But not any more! We spent a good amount of time sweeping up broken glass on Saturday afternoon. I digress...

It's been a lovely evening. I went out to dinner with a coupla gals at work. We went to Three Tomatoes and all ordered entree salads. Mine had lots of roasted red peppers and portobellos and, not to be gross or anything, but it was kind of slimy and yuck. Next time I'll just stick with the pizza. The wine was good though. And the service.

After dinner we went to a pre-event at the 1/2 Lounge for the 2008 Clothes Exchange which benefits The Hicks Foundation. I donated a bumble-bee yellow Mexican sun dress and a tweed blazer. I had to save some of my other goods for another clothing swap I have next week. Tis the season!

Then Nicci and Michelle accompanied me to Brooks (it's Rite-Aid now, but I still call it Brooks) to buy fake tanner for a wedding I'm in this weekend. Still haven't put it on yet. Emi says I need to exfoliate first.

Anywho. Here I'm sitting with dish pan hands waiting for Col to call. La ti dah...

Friday, April 25, 2008

around the house, it's spring

Here's some more proof—not that we need it—that spring is here:

A beautiful spring sunset

Dinner al fresco on the porch (with Col!)

Apple blossoms


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

better to be right—or happy?

Colin's been working a lot of late—I mean late—nights these days. So much so, that this afternoon when he told me he wouldn't make it home for dinner again and he probably wouldn't be home before I went to bed, I completely lost my cool. I told him this had to stop—if not for his sanity, then at least for his health. I told him he had to figure it out once and for all. Talk to his boss. Talk to HR. Just figure it out. I mean, this isn't Wall Street, for crying out loud, this is Burlington, Vermont. After a few more terse remarks, we both decided that conversation was not appropriate for the phone—or the workplace—and hung up feeling shitty and down.

"I need a run," I thought to myself. "I need to come up with a plan so that we can figure this out once and for all." I drove home from work completely distracted. Fuming that Col was so willing to come up with reasons (excuses in my mind) why this time was so important. Why this week is so busy. Next week will be different.

During my run, I almost completely missed the beautiful sunset—and the beautiful evening—because I was so worked up on working things out. But finally towards the end of my run, I started feeling better. I knew I was right and I was going to show him. In my mind, I had come up with a punch list of all the items that were wrong with our situation and all the ways he was going to fix them.

I ran up the stairs and into our apartment loaded with ammo, but feeling a sudden knot of recognition in my stomach. "We've been here before," I thought. "If this approach didn't work then, why would it work now?"

And then I wondered: Why was I so angry? Was it because he really let me down? Or was it simply because I wasn't in control? I had to admit, I think it was the latter. After all, all I really wanted was to have dinner with him. And if that was all, then I had a very simple solution.

I picked up the phone and dialed Col's work. He answered right away.


"Hey Luv," I said. "How ya doing?"

"Okay." He sounded tired.

"I'm sorry about earlier." I said.

"Me too."

"Are you hungry? Have you eaten today?"

"I'm starving. All I've had to eat all day is chips from the vending machine."

"Can I bring you dinner? I can make you a sandwich. And salad. How's that sound?"

"Would you really?? That would be so awesome."

That horrible weight, that horrible knot—it immediately melted away. And after we hung up, I whipped up the best brown bag dinner ever:
  • 2 salami cheddar sandwiches on honey bread
  • Romaine salad with blue cheese, tamari almonds and homemade Buttermilk Ranch Dressing
  • Pretzel sticks with my homemade Boursin cheese dip (Col's favorite!)
  • An entire sleeve of Girl Scout thin mints (his other favorite!)
  • And a Corona

I drove to Burton and presented my peace offering to Col with great pride. He was so excited to see me and tell me what he was working on. We set up his little picnic at one of the work tables, and there—admidst papers and charts and fabric samples—we had dinner together, while the cleaning ladies vacuumed around our feet.

Yes, it was a proud moment. Relationships teach you a lot about yourself. Tonight I learned that your faults—no matter how deeply ingrained—are easily remedied if you take the time to pause and consider your options. In the same moment that I realized I'm a control-freak, I learned to tame the "control" urge and use it for good: by taking control in a fragile situation. Not by pushing, but by leading. And that is a good feeling.

Phew! Another crisis diverted!


Monday, April 21, 2008

photo of the day: dusk

Last night from our porch:


more eatingwell fun

I think it's about time to start touting some of the fabulous stuff we've been working on at EatingWell.

The EatingWell Menu Planner

With this new interactive online tool, you can create daily or weekly menus with your favorite recipes from (or your own favorite recipes and foods) and print convenient shopping lists based on your selections. You can also use the tool to calculate your calorie intake, track your weight, write daily journal entries and follow your progress toward reaching your personal health goals. All you need is a My EatingWell account.

Green & Sustainable Channel

Just in time for Earth Day! We've compiled all of our "green" content in one convenient place—buyer's guides, health facts, articles on green living, sustainable food choices, and more. Check it out!

Blogging on Shine from Yahoo!

Can't remember if I've mentioned this yet, but Yahoo!'s new blog-based website, Shine, is featuring an EatingWell blog in their food channel. Our editors have been working really hard to write some fabulous entries—and there's a new one every day. The 5 quick and healthy weeknight meals in the picture is one of our posts, written by the recipe makeover maven, Jessie Price.

"The Slideshow"

For those of us intimately involved, we call it "The Slideshow." But it's not really a slideshow; it's more like a call-out for out top content of the week. (Some people call it a switcher.) There are five categories: Fresh Foods, Food News, Diet & Nutrition Tips, Healthy Recipes, and Recipe Makeovers. We added it to the EatingWell homepage as a way to elevate our awesome content, which might otherwise be buried. It's something that yours truly spends at least four hours a week producing. But I love it. And this week, we're featuring one of my favorite slides to date: Sweet Tart—all about rhubarb.


Wednesday, April 16, 2008


Over at EatingWell headquarters, we've got a little inter-office competition going on: who can grow the best Chiapet? The champion (Chiapet) will have the glory of being photographed for an upcoming issue of EatingWell. There's a pet in every department, and wouldn't you know it, the interactive team (that's us) got stuck with the dog with the gimp leg. Er, make that missing leg.

Now, if you know anything about Chiapets, you know this is a problem. You see, Chiapets are hollow and you're supposed to fill the things to keep them watered from the inside out. With a broken leg, the water just pours out the bottom.

Paula & Paul, my co-workers tried to make a prosthesis using a sandwich bag. That didn't work. Now the dog's just sitting in a bowl soaking up the water from his feet. That means he's getting more water on the bottom half. So I imagine, after all's said and done, he'll end up looking more like one of those show-dogs with short hair on top and long hair on the bottom. Maybe that's too creepy for a photo shoot?

We do have one advantage: our office has a green house on one side and it's been sunny and warm the last few days. So that's where Chia sits for the time being. Here's what he looks like so far:


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

8 ways to spring up

  1. Bring your Christmas tree to the compost.
  2. Get rid of old clothes in your closet; Host a clothing swap.
  3. Plant seeds in your window box.
  4. Buy yourself some fake tanner.
  5. Make a brunch date with someone special.
  6. Bake Queen Elizabeth's favorite quiche.
  7. Don a springtime bonnet.
  8. Smile at the sunshine.


Monday, April 14, 2008

april showers, cakes and flowers

The shower season has officially begun. And no, I don't mean rain! Bridal showers, baby showers, weddings and the like pepper—or should I say "sugar"—the weekends on my calendar through October! If you're not careful, and don't write everything down, it can be a daunting view of the summer ahead. But once you've got it down, this is really a special time. When else do you get the excuse to dress up, travel, party with your friends, hang out with the fam, and give presents to people you adore?

Showers are a celebration of love. They are a symbolic demonstration of that love. Shower them with your love (or presents). That's the whole idea, right? Nourish them as a whole, so that they can carry on a wholesome and healthy life on their own, as a couple and as a family.

I had two showers this weekend—one for a bride and one for a baby. I could only make it to one or the other, so I chose the bride-to-be, Colin's sister Jill. It was a lovely luncheon, with lots of ladies!

Afterwards, Jill, Colin's mom and I went to a cake tasting for the wedding cake at Anjou, a sweet little French patisserie in Mount Kisco. The chef, Patrick, brought us about 12 different mousses to try and two different cakes. We mixed and matched flavors and finally decided on two mousses—raspberry and pear—with vanilla sponge cake. Yum!


Tuesday, April 08, 2008

wash me trousers & the birth of butter boots

I probably shouldn't be telling you any of this. I should keep it locked up forever in the memories of those select few who were there. To keep it safe and untouched by the outside world. To keep the pub and the field and the memory just as they were. But to lock it up would also risk losing the story forever. For, what happens to unspoken memories? They fade.

So I've decided to tell—to share this sacred memory—if only for the sole purpose of keeping the story vibrant and living.

It all began with a woman, a pub and a tub of butter. Well, not real butter—the spread kind that's made from oil. She would never rub real butter on her Ferragamo boots... lest it become rancid and spoil the fine leather...

But it really started here: at the Square & Compass, a fine English pub situated on a hillside by the sea in the Dorset village of Wash Me Trousers (not its real name). We ventured there one sunny spring day during our visit to Uncle Richard's et al in search of their infamous meat pasties (prounouced pas-tē—I'm ashamed to say we were pronouncing the word incorrectly that day) and cider. The real-deal cider.

The pasties and cider were out of this world. They quite made our heads spin. And by the end of lunch, the whole lot of us were giddy as kids. So we decided to walk it off on a public footpath by the sea.

So we started our refreshing afternoon outing. The boys walked on ahead, while we three sisters hung back. We were enthralled in a conversation about my boots and how nice they looked. (I had polished them with butter that morning, upon the suggestion from my sister Emma, when there was no wax to be found in the cottage where we were staying.) The three of us concurred: tub butter, in a pinch, makes a very nice shoe polish.

All of a sudden...

And Butter Boots, our great Super Hero, was born. And she grew. And we made up more and more stories for her. She had super powers. She had back-up dancers. She had pink rubber gloves. She would save the world from evil criminals and even hemorrhoids. But that was then.

If you're wondering where she is now, I haven't a clue. The thing is, well, she can only come to life when the three Wall sisters are reunited again. I'm not sure if she'll ever grace Vermont or California with her presence (Butter Boots and her ladies are distinctly English). But I'm sure we'll find her one day, back in Wash Me Trousers. In the field with the cow pats and sheep. In the wheel well. With a jug of cider from the Square & Compass and Cornish pasty in hand. That's where the magic is. So, we'll be back to find her one day. Ahoy, Butter Boots!


Monday, April 07, 2008

spring riding

I would like to interrupt regularly scheduled programming (on "my English vacation" and other adventures) to show you what my friend Amanda and I were up to yesterday at Stowe:

Can you believe the blue sky and marshmallow clouds? It was so warm and we practically had the hill to ourselves! (I think most people were tailgating by the time we got to the mountain.) Lucky, lucky girls!


Friday, April 04, 2008

in the details, nature

I found much inspiration in the English country side. The endless combinations of textures and colors drew my attention as much to close surfaces as it did to the broad landscapes. Once I got all my photos off my camera, I noticed that I had taken many close-up pictures of interesting compositions. I did it somewhat without realizing it, but looking at them now, I find myself drawn to them again and again.

I keep discovering new things about them. Like, for one, a recurring church theme. Also, most of them seem to portray something human or manmade deteriorating—over-run by nature. By age or weather. I love the vibrant green algae on the wooden fences and clapboard siding. It's from, I imagine, the damp weather there. We don't get that kind of wear and tear in Vermont. It's too cold. Or too dry. So for me, it's beautiful. For others, it might be a nuisance.

Here are some of my favorite detail images. I like to think of them as "vignettes." They're evocative. They tell a story. I'll give a little clue. You can make up the rest...

Wheels, in a church yard in Dorchester, Dorset.

Exposed brick from what's left of a building in the deserted village of Tyneham, which was evacuated during World War II.

Lichen on a gravestone in the Tyneham church cemetery, Dorset.

Slate walk-way in a Dorchester church yard.

A window railing in Dorchester.

Beautiful poisonous berries in a hedgerow.

On a public foot path in Whitecombe, Dorset.

Garden shed behind Uncle Richard and Aunt Carrie's house.

A tiled floor at the Sherborne Abbey in Sherborne, Dorset.

Wooden doors at the church in Marston Magna, Somerset, where Mummy was born and where Gaffa and Granny now rest in peace together.


Tuesday, April 01, 2008

best of london? international cuisine

My favorite part about London was—can you guess?—the food. We were there for the first three days of our trip, and while we didn't get much British food on our plate (we saved that for the country) we did taste some delicious Italian, Indian and French cuisine. Actually, take away the food and there wasn't much left of our London vacation!

The first day, went to PJ's Bar & Grill right near our hotel. What we assumed was a cheap pub from the outside ended up being a posh restaurant with silver settings and huge soup spoons, white tablecloths and beautiful people at every turn. But we weren't disappointed. Instead of grabbing a quick lunch, we ended up staying for hours eating yummy food, drinking wine at the bar, and dropping a pretty penny when the check came. No worries.

That night for dinner, we were waiting for Hannah & Brian to arrive, so we stayed near our hotel again, this time at Carluccio's near South Kensington station. There was a nice open atmosphere with large, cafeteria style dining and a yummy Italian menu. My favorite was what Colin ordered for dessert: a glass of vanilla ice cream with a shot of espresso on the side to pour on top. What a great idea for a dinner party! Dinner ended up being cheaper than our lunch at PJs and we enjoyed the meal so much, we went back with Hannah & Brian for Easter Brunch.

Saturday brunch was at La Brasserie, a Parisian-style bistro on Brompton Road. The buckets and buckets of toast were no match for us—we enjoyed it with all the little jars of jam and honey on the table. The waiter picked up on this, and he wrapped some up for Hannah to take home with a pretty lily garnishing the package.

Saturday night, I had my first real taste of India at Vama. Oh the fantastic combinations of spices and sauces were out of this world. Even Kevin liked the meal! I have to say though, my favorite part of the meal was the drink: Vamamama. A delightful cocktail of apricot brandy, fresh mango and champagne. Totally worth the $14 pricetag (the American dollar doesn't go very far these days).

I should also mention that though we were trying to "get away" we did find a lovely little American-style bakery that we found, called Hummingbird, where we gorged ourselves on these delightful cupcakes:


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