Tuesday, October 28, 2008

almost as good as the real thing

Okay, so not all of us are blessed with a working fireplace. Colin and I happen to have three fireplaces, none of which we can actually use. But this time of year, when it's chilly and wet outside and everyone's predicting snow (yay!), you kinda want to have the crackling noise in the background to comfort and warm the soul. So, here's our solution: one hi-def T.V. placed strategically in front of an empty fireplace, plus one ambient fireplace DVD from the Netherlands equals something so close to the real thing, it does everything a real fireplace does—it looks like a fire, it crackles like a fire—everything except emanate real heat. But it's got your other senses so fooled, you almost feel like it's warming you up. And with no messy clean-up, I'm thinking this is the way to go. Heck, maybe we'll even save on heat this winter. Just maybe.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

sunday styles

Can I just tell you how much I love the voice of Bill Cunningham? He's the gentleman who narrates and photographs the "On the Street" audio slide shows for the New York Times. His voice is the essence of old New York glamour and he has such a joie de vivre. It's hard not to smile when, in a recent show, he talks about how much money the French spend on baby fashion. And I was delighted to hear/see that sapphire blue and fuchsia (or any bright color), with an accent of black, is the freshest look for fall. We all need a little break from real news, right? Why not check out some street fashion today? (Make sure your volume is turned up!)

Watch it now: On the Street | Joie de Vivre

Here's today's slide show with pictures of fall fashion in New York City: On the Street | Windward

Saturday, October 25, 2008

winter farmers' market

Today was the last Farmers' Market. Kinda sad. I went down there with Emi and Kev. There weren't as many vendors as usual and the seasonal produce offerings were not as varied as they are at the height of the season in August and September. Still, I stocked up on root vegetables, onions, potatoes and squash. I can't wait to try some of the root vegetable recipes that my friend Carolyn developed at EatingWell for the November issue, like this root vegetable gratin. It was so good when we tried it in the test kitchen. The first time I ever tried rutabaga! It's so good. Well, I bought a bag of rutabaga and I tried to find parsnips, but the guy at the Lewis Creek stand said they only just started harvesting them and they wouldn't have them till the winter market.

Winter market! That's right, how could I forget? The Burlington Farmers' Market is going through the winter this year. Yippee! Now I can get my parnsip soup on.

The market will be held in Memorial Auditorium, 10am-2pm on the third Saturday of each month from December through April:

November 22 (just in time for Thanksgiving!)
December 20 (get your last-minute Christmas prezzies!)
January 17
February 21
March 21
April 18

Here's more info on what kind of food and art will be available.

shallots and garlic:


ugh, why do I get so nervous?

I just got home from the tech jam. It was very well-attended! So much more than I expected—I got very nervous at all the people staring at me—and did I mention they taped it for public access TV—and forgot half the stuff I was going to talk about. How do you forget what you do every day? It should be second nature. Well I forgot. And I got shaky. And half-way through I completely lost my train of thought and there was complete silence for about 30 seconds. How mortifying! Maybe no one even noticed...

While chaos was my inner monologue, the panel discussion actually went quite well—I think I was lucid enough to hand out a couple useful tips. And I met 3 really cool people:

Cathy Resmer, the online editor for Seven Days, seemed so happy to meet me and interested in what I do. Her enthusiasm calmed my nerves for a little bit. Turns out, our jobs are quite similar.

Steve Benen, a political blogger for The Washington Monthly—he writes every day for 9 hours straight!

And Marybeth Redmond from St. Mike's has such a contagious energy. I would love to take her course on converging journalism.

Too bad by the end I was so spooked, I booked it out of there so fast and completely forgot to say goodbye to Steve and Marybeth. So, if you're reading this, it was really nice to meet you!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

what I do at work

Ever wonder what I do all day at work? Sometimes I wish I could get a glimpse into the day and life of some of my friends. Seriously, the only times we hang out are around food or a drink or Project Runway—who wants to talk about work outside of work? Well, I do, for one. Now's your chance to hear all about me (and other web writers) and what we do behind the curtain on a daily basis. You know you want to know...

This Saturday, I'm going to be a panelist for the Vermont 3.0 Creative/Tech Career Jam at Champlain College in Burlington. I'll be speaking on the "So, You Wanna Write for the Web" panel discussion, with Washington Monthly blogger Steve Benen and St. Mike's Journalism Professor Marybeth Redmond. Seven Days' Cathy Resmer will be the moderator.

We'll be there to talk about what we do, answer questions and share tips with people who are interested in pursuing our line of work.

And it's not just web writers either. There will be a whole slew of different companys and creative/tech careers represented. Here's a full list of panels and times. Ours is the first one of the day at 10 a.m. Cool!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

first snow of the season

It's a blustery one out today, and, yes, we've seen our first snow of the season. Just a few specks here and there whipping in the wind, but enough to get us excited for more to come. And I'm wearing tights and a scarf. And I have my car back with a fresh new window. And we're moving on...

As my dad would say in his hippy voice, "Peace, love and happiness all over this world." Amen.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

busted, and trying to forget it

My car got smashed last night. They smashed the window and took nothing. Not even the $3 in change that was in the console. The invader got scared and ran away—Hannah saw him when she was coming into the house. He was running fast down King Street. She just thought he was some crazy kid. It was around dinner time. I was in the house writing on my blog, suspecting nothing.

So it wasn't until this morning, when I went to leave for work that I found my poor little car smashed, wide open and glass-strewn in the pouring rain. I called the police. They came, but there wasn't much they could do, especially in the rain. So Col and I cleaned up the glass and I drove to the service shop with cold, wet wind beating on my face. (It was the driver's window that they smashed.)

Now, $260 later (insurance didn't cover it), I have nothing to show for it. And neither does he. Was it really worth it? Well, I say I have nothing to show for it, but that's not true. My optimism has been scarred for the time being. I'm afraid to go out to my parking lot by myself now. I'll have to ask Col to walk with me to the garbage bin. Wonder what I'll do when he's away?

Monday, October 20, 2008

my favorite fall weekend

When you spend weeks looking forward to something, when you put all of your extra energy in total anticipation of the thing—be it holiday, party, wedding or whatever—if you do it right, you can sometimes let the momentum of that much-anticipated event carry you through another few days, even after all the people are gone and the candles are out.

You can live on the leftovers of smoked salmon and capers; finish half-empty bottles of fine wine; nibble on sweets from the fridge. It's as though the party lives on in spirit, glowing with fresh memories, reluctant to burn out. It isn't until you pour that last glass of wine and the last sticky drop drips into your cup, when your kitchen returns to normalcy and the linens are all washed, that you realize the party really is over. It could be a very sad thing indeed if you let your guard down.

Without exaggeration I can say that this past weekend was one of those moments; it was one of the most-anticipated and most amazing weekends I've had in a long time. As I sip on the very last glass from the very last bottle of wine, I would like to spend the next few moments remembering and sharing, instead of feeling blue that it's all over.

As I mentioned before, my sister Hannah flew in on Thursday night last week. She got in pretty late, but we had some catching up to do and a party to plan—a baby shower for our sister Emma—so we didn't waste much time sleeping. Isaac came over to hang out and we made to-do lists.

Finally, we did sleep and when we woke up, we got right to work (I took the day off work). We had to get all our shopping in before we met my parents for lunch at Leunig's. Friday was a blur. We mixed, baked, cooked, ate... went to Emi & Kev's for dinner. Auntie Lucy and Uncle John were there. And then it was Saturday—the day of the party.

The shower really was a great success. My mom made some beautiful arrangements for the apartment. The weather was beautiful. The food was good. All the guests were in great spirits. There were 17 in all, I think. And the guest of honor—our sister Emma—was thoroughly spoiled with gifts and attention. Some people lingered late into the afternoon. Then they were gone and Hannah, Mummy and I had to pat ourselves on the back for a job well done. I was especially proud of the carrot cake and the make-your-own tea station (that was the party favor). Emi got lots of nice prezzies. I gave her a set of Peter Rabbit books. My dad made a bookshelf to put them in. My mom made woolly socks, pants and sweater for the baby. Hannah made a stuffed dog out of one of Papa Roger's old shirts.

We practically fell into bed for a long nap.

Later in the evening, we had a family dinner at the Bearded Frog in Shelburne. The food was amazing. I think the highlight was when Kevin ordered the County Fair for dessert—caramel apples, fried dough and maple cotton candy all served up on a plate.

Hannah and I kept on going: we met up with some friends down at 1/2 bar. It was so fun! We danced a lot. Steve was there and he gave me a copy of his new album as a thank you for dealing with annoying Isaac for the cover shoot. It's really, really good.

Sunday was just as fabulous as the two prior days. Those of us ambitious folks got up very early and went to church. Not me or Hannah though—we needed sleep! Then we all met for brunch at Shelburne farms and then apple picking at Shelburne orchards. The weekend came to a close with a lovely dinner with family and a few friends at our place once again. (This time Hannah cooked—she made yummy pizzas out of all the leftover food! Mummy made an apple crumble.)

I think it's unusual for so many great people to be all in the same place at once, all in the same frame of mind, all wanting to love and be loved, to enjoy life and give joy to others. Yes, we had a lot of good food and good parties, but in the end—and I know I'm going to sound cliche for saying this—it's the people who made it absolutely fabulous.

Here are a bunch more photos from the weekend.

Oh, and I promised I would post links to recipes from the weekend. Here are some of the best:

Sweet Potato Ravioli
Tomato-Basil Skewers
EatingWell's Carrot Cake
Vegetable Satay


Thursday, October 16, 2008

a big weekend planned

I'm just waiting for my sister Hannah to fly in to town. She's staying with us for a long weekend and on Saturday we're hosting a baby shower for our other sister Emi-Lou. We've never been aunties before... this is a BIG DEAL.

We've got a lot planned for the next few days. I took tomorrow off to spend time with Hannah and get ready for the party.

We're going to dinner at the Bearded Frog, Sunday brunch at Shelburne Farms and apple picking at the orchard afterwards. I hear it's gonna get cold round these parts. Real cold. Bring on the cold, I'm ready!

I will try and take lots of pictures. xoxo

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blog Action Day: Nourishment doesn't have to cost a lot

It’s Blog Action Day today. That means that thousands of bloggers around the world will discuss a single issue to use the power of the web to “raise awareness, initiate action and to shake the web.” This year’s topic is: poverty.

I think about poverty a lot. Growing up, our family didn’t have a lot of money. But my parents found ways to make the situation seem less dire. We always had a big garden, so we had plenty to eat in the summer months. And it was so exciting as a little girl to watch those cucumbers grow before my very eyes into something that was nourishing and tasted good. We didn’t always have the latest fad toys our friends had, but we did have soaring imaginations and so instead of playing with dolls, we built forts and moss fairy houses in the woods. One luxury we did have was the wide-open landscape of Vermont and Coastal Maine. So much exploring to do! Another luxury we had was our parents' unwavering love. We always ate dinner together, no matter what was on the table. That's a luxury I will never take for granted.

Now that I work in the foodie world, I think a lot about nourishment and how it relates to money. The fact is, good food costs a lot of money. But I don't think lack of money should ever be an excuse for living a life without nourishment. Here I'll tell you why. I found this piece that I wrote last year. I like it because though we didn’t have much growing up, it never felt like we were ever in need of nourishment. With a little imagination and resourcefulness, we were the richest and best-fed kids around:

What does real nourishment taste like?

Does it taste like an expensive meal? Does it taste of discovery or love or nutrients? Does it taste like a childhood story?

There was a crucial moment a few years back when I learned that nourishment has many manifestations. Nourishment for the body, for instance, tastes and satisfies in a very different way than nourishment for the soul. A meal that fills the tummy can in other ways leave you feeling very empty.

During that particular time in my life, I was eating very, very well. I was in good company. I was in a constant mode of discovery. But emotionally speaking, I did not feel nourished. And for that reason, my stomach was in constant turmoil.

Nourishment for the soul and nourishment for the body go hand in hand.

Nourishment does not necessarily mean an expensive full-course meal at a nice restaurant. On the contrary, the best and most memorable meals are the ones you scrape together with what you already have in your fridge and your garden (if you’re lucky). Perhaps because there’s an even greater summit to reach, the taste is that much sweeter.

Growing up, we never had much money, so we had to be very resourceful. If I wanted cookies or cake, I would make them from scratch. That’s how I learned to bake. It’s also how I learned to be experimental in the kitchen—mixing unusual flavors and ingredients to make something tasty.
I’ll never forget running out to the garden patch and plucking a cucumber from the vine. We would eat them skin and all—still warm from the sun—dipped in vinegar and salt. A poor man’s salad to be sure. But nourishing to the core.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

le mistral

In Provence, there is a wind so fierce and cold and persistent. It barrels down from the North of France, through the Alps and down to the Rhone Valley, whipping up everything into a scene of chaos. Le Mistral blows for days under a clear and sunny sky. When you live there, you learn to tie things down. The spices at the market are covered up. Colorfully painted shutters enclose you indoors. If you go out, you learn to wear your hair tied back. You learn to wear your coat, even though looking through the window the sky appears sunny and warm.

There's another wind that blows less frequently. It is a softer, warmer, Southern wind that blows off the Mediterranean Sea, bringing with it a shower of African dust from the Saharan Dessert. It is called the Sirocco wind. It sifts a fine layer of sand over the landscape. It leaves an orange film on the cars. It collects in ochre swirls on the sidewalk. It leaves a pleasant grittiness in your eyes.

It was something like the Provencal wind that blew today in Charlotte, Vermont. It whipped across the autumn foliage, bending trees sideways. Beating the doors in rhythm. Yet the sun shone clear and brightly and serenely high above all the mayhem. Something about the ochre colors reminded me of the Sirocco wind from Northern Africa. But everything else about it was Le Mistral.

It blew for only a few hours. Then it subsided almost as suddenly as it began. And then, there was rain.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Great pumpkin Charlie Brown!

We snapped this photo at the gas station today:

d.i.y. dining room chairs

We finally took the plunge and reupholstered our dining room chairs, which were Emi's before they were ours, and I think big Kevin's before that. We splurged on some beautiful tweed fabric from Rags & Riches, but were able to save money and time by reusing the old cushions underneath. (Who knew? At $29 a yard, foam cushioning is more expensive than the fabric itself. Ick.) So instead of buying new foam, we just padded the old ones with a new layer of batting for a little more bounce. Then we stapled on the new fabric—it's just like stretching a canvas really—while listening to This American Life's episode about the financial crisis.

To be honest, reuphostering chairs was a lot easier to maneuver than the report we were listening to (I had to listen to it twice to really understand it). But at least we feel a little smarter, more enabled, and we have a beautiful dining room set to show for it! So here are the pics.

And if you want to hear more about the moving parts behind the financial crisis, listen to This American Life's first collaborative report with NPR: The Giant Pool of Money. It's eye-opening.



Saturday, October 11, 2008

what's up, saturday morn

I hope Au Lait doesn't hate us forever. We had to bring the cats in for their check-ups this morning. She hates the vet. It was pretty much a disaster. She lashed out at the doctor so badly he had to go disinfect his wound and put quick-stop on it to stop the bleeding. The vet couldn't do the examination and told us not to bring her in again unless she gets sick or needs a shot. And if that happens, they'll have to put her under anesthesia to do an examination. It was that bad. But he was really nice about. "Occupational hazard," he said.

Suki was a doll. She watch the whole disaster take place without blinking an eye. And when it was her turn, she sat through the entire examination without moving or making a sound—even when they stuck the thermometer up her bum. Still, I think I'm traumatized now as much as Au Lait is and I'm glad we don't have to go back for a while.

This has to be one of the most gorgeous weekends we've had in a long time. The to-do list is long, but right now, we're just sitting around, drinking coffee, watching people walk by.

Hannah's coming this week. We're hosting a baby shower for our sis. The count-down has begun. Yay!

Monday, October 06, 2008

buffalo shuffle

Did I mention we went to Buffalo? That's where I've been the last several days. It was Mindy and Bobby's wedding and so we decided to take a long weekend and explore.

We headed out on Thursday morning early—Em, Kev, Col and I. Met up with Brett and Elisa before hitting the road. They had lil Zo Zo too. Stopped over in Utica at Brett's parents' house for an amazing Mediterranean lunch. Finally arrived in downtown Buffalo around 6 p.m. Most of the hotel rooms had hot tubs right in the middle of the room with a waterfall and everything. We were so busy, we didn't use it much though.

The next day, the boys had golf and the gals had plans, so I spent the morning walking around downtown Buffalo. I'd never been to Buffalo before. I was surprised to find a lot of beautiful architecture on my walk—new modern construction punctuated by decrepit brick buildings, industrial spaces, old stone churches on every block and beautiful Victorian mansions. Evidence of a golden age—a once thriving city, then falling asleep slowly, now redefining itself. Here's one of the modern buildings I saw:

The next day, we went to Niagra Falls. I don't have much to say about Niagra Falls. Even with no expectations, I didn't expect what we saw. The falls themselves were breathtaking, but I could barely see them beyond the crowds of people, tacky tourist traps and wacky black squirrels. It was like a theme park gone bad! And on the way back, we almost didn't make it across the border. But Kevin warned the officer at customs that we had to get back for a wedding. In the end, all turned out well and I'm glad we went. Now we can say we did it.

Finally, it was time for the wedding. It was a gorgeous thing. Mindy looked absolutely beautiful in her beaded Cinderella ballgown. Bobby looked absolutely smitten. The music was great; the party was a blast. Here are a bunch more pictures of downtown buffalo, tacky tourist traps, squishy babies and party snapshots. And here's Bindy:

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