Sunday, March 29, 2009

weekend in peru

On Friday after work, we drove down to Peru, Vermont to stay with our Auntie Lucy and Uncle John. Southern Vermont is our old stomping grounds, where we grew up as small children and later, when we had moved away, where we went to visit Mama Sonia and Papa Roger every summer.

We got there late. Mummy and Papa were there too. Had a lovely picnic dinner and some yummy rum punch. (Some of us had Dubonnet.) Then it was off to bed for one of the best night's sleep in a long time.

The next day, Col, Kevin and I went to Stratton for an awesome day of spring riding/skiing. The sun was shining bright, it was warm, the snow was soft. It was my best day of riding all season. Yay!

We got home just in time for the Dubie Club (Lucy & I had rum punch) and a lovely Spanish dinner that Lucy made. While we were at the mountain, Sapphie (or should I say Emi) had suffered a MAJOR blow-out at one of the nicest restaurants in Manchester Village. She was in high spirits, but everyone else seemed tired out bump from such an eventful day.

We woke up this morning and were like, "What? Sunday already?" Isn't that just the way? It was gray and drizzling out, so we decided to go shopping. First to the Vermont Country Store (where Colin had the time of his life in the candy section), then on to Manchester. A little more shopping, a lovely lunch where little Sapphire did some irresistible posing for the camera. What a little pistachio button! (She also started sucking her thumb and I couldn't help including a photo of her caught wet-fisted.)

All in all, it was a fabulous weekend. Enjoy the pics!

P.S. We never made it to Mother Myricks, but I hear you can mail-order the Lulu Lemon cakes, so maybe we'll do that instead.


Thursday, March 26, 2009

state of things

It's been an interesting week so far in the Wall/Alger household.

Burton had budget cuts yesterday. That means that some people—some friends—were let go. And other people—the ones who survived—were given pay cuts, including Col. We were reading the story last night on Transworld. Burton made a lot of smaller cuts to save jobs. Jake and Donna even gave up their salaries for the rest of the year to drive home that point.

Despite the fact that Col still has a job, we felt sad and sick to our stomach at the news. You escape something like that, while others don't, and you can't help but feel a sense of guilt. You feel like it's your job to do something, to try and make things better. But you can't. It's no sense thinking, "What if it had have been me?" but that's where your mind goes and then it's a downward spiral.

Still, we're so thankful right now.

Today, Transworld ran another story on Burton. This time, it was a little more uplifting. Guess who the article's about? That's right, my boy Col. Check it out: BEHIND THE LINES: Burton Men’s Outerwear. They had interviewed him about the upcoming collections a while back and just released the story. Weird timing, huh?

Any-who. I hope the weekend's more mellow. We're going down to Peru, Vermont to visit our Auntie Lucy and Uncle John. Maybe take a few last runs of the season at Stratton. Maybe visit old stomping grounds like the Vermont Country Store and Mother Myricks. Mmm. Sounds nice.


Sunday, March 22, 2009

pasties & cyder

It was just about a year ago that we took our unforgettable trip to England to visit family. One of the best times we had during the stay was a day trip we took to the tiny village of Worth Matravers on the Dorset Coast. Uncle Richard recommended an ancient local pub, the Square & Compass, for the best cider and Cornish pasties around. So we went there for lunch and then took an epic walk along the coastal cliffs.

During the walk, we happened upon some strange caves, which Uncle Richard later informed us were used during the war as hide-outs for the military. Butter Boots, our sassy English superhero, was also born in the wheel wells of a big old tractor. The whole day was a succession of amazing discoveries and good feeling, so we decided to try and recreate part of it for the one-year anniversary. Namely: the pasties and cider.

Traditional Cornish pasties (the 'a' pronounced as in 'cat') are a very simple free-form type of meat pie filled with chunks of beef, potatoes, onion, and turnip. With just a little salt, pepper and parsley for seasoning. Nothing more. My mother says:

A true Cornish pasty is as simple as can be, chunks of meat, rather than ground, and potatoes, onions and turnips, inside a crisp pastry overcoat. There's a legend at home that tells of the Devil refusing to cross the Tamar River into Cornwall because he had heard that the Cornish people were putting just about anything in their pasties!"

Oh dear. We used some hot sausage from Kevin's piggie and shredded rutabega instead of turnip. Let me just say, pasties are much harder to make than they look! (Maybe it's because I used organic shortening and whole wheat flour for the crust, instead of lard and white flour.)

The Devil did not approve. My pastry kept breaking and the first one I made looked like a total blow-out, Colin said. By the last one, I was starting to get the hang of it. Maybe next year, they'll actually look like the real deal. Surprisingly, they actually tasted quite delicious!

We also found a lovely local organic Vermont cider from Flag Hill Farm. They offer a fizzy and a still version. Both are wonderful and quite close to what we were drinking at the pubs over in England. Highly recommend.

Two people were missing from the table: Hannah and Brian. We missed you. Next year maybe? We'll save the Butter Boots reunion for when we're all together again.



Cornigan Pasties

1/2 pound lard
1 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup water, or more

1 pound beef chuck, cut into chunks
2 large onions, sliced
2 large potatoes, cut into quarters and sliced thin
Grated turnip
Salt and pepper
Chopped parsley

1. Mix the lard, flour and salt, and add water slowly, using just enough water to form a dough that is slightly moist.
2. Roll the dough into 4 balls.
3. Roll out each pastry ball to the size of a dinner plate.
4. For each pastry, on the part of the crust furthest from you, layer a quarter of the potato, meat, onion, turnip and parsley. Add salt and pepper to taste.
5. Lift the front half of the crust over the filling.
6. Lift the other half to meet the front and press the edges together.
7. Crimp the edges tightly to seal in the filling.
8. Brush the pastry with milk or beaten egg.
9. Cut a slit at the top, near the crimped edge, to allow steam to escape.
10. Bake at 350 degrees F for one hour.

Friday, March 20, 2009

sick day

I stayed home from work today. I had the worst headache ever and was so paranoid that my brain was going to explode that I went to the doctor. She couldn't do anything about the pain (surprise) but did a bunch of tests like make me walk in a straight line and touch my nose with my eyes closed to ensure that my neurological functions were, well, functioning.

Everything was a-okay. She said it was probably viral or stress-related (great). So she said to take a bunch of Advil and GET SOME REST. So I went home, took and 3-er and got in bed.

Only, it wasn't that easy to just fall asleep. Every time I was on the verge, I would remember something that I had to do: PAY BILLS, FILE TAXES, CALL SO-AND-SO, PICK UP DRY CLEANING... So every time this happened, I forced myself to get up and write the thing down so that I could hopefully, eventually stop worrying and fall asleep. It was an exercise in de-cluttering my brain. One by one, filing my thoughts on paper, nice and orderly and in plain view. I didn't realize I kept so much noise up there unsupervised (maybe all this clutter was the real cause of the headache?). I just go and go and go, 100 miles a minute without ever really stopping, without really taking control...

Well, after an hour or so, the exorcism finally worked and I slept for the rest of the day.

I just got up a little while ago and am feeling strangely serene. The afternoon sun is coming in the west windows, casting a warmth on top of the bed spread. Au Lait is curled up at my side; she's been there all day. (I think she secretly loves it when I stay home, though she'd never admit it herself.). I think my headache's almost gone. But I still don't want to get out of bed. So I guess I'll wait here a while. Maybe till Col gets home.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

serving as a reminder

I always feel nostalgic when the seasons charge. Don't you? The slight shifts in light, in temperature, in style stir the inner spirit and remind us of the last time we felt this way. Might've been last year. Might've been 10 years ago.

Colin comes home today after a 3-week work trip in Canada and Asia. I'm so thrilled! Last night, I was thinking about him coming home and I was feeling nostalgic about our relationship. It's been over four years since we started dating, almost four since we starting dating for real. And a lot has changed since then. I was looking at pictures...can people really change that much in just four years? Our skin looks different, our eyes, our demeanor. In the pictures from that time, everything looks fresh and exciting and new. That may not be the case so much today. Afterall, things age with time. But I would never in a million years wish to go back. I want to be here in this moment.

I went through pictures from a couple years ago when Suki was a little kitten. We lived in our old place with the big porch and lake view. I miss that place. I miss a lot of things. But I would never in a million years wish to go back.

I want to be here in this moment.

Nostalgia is such an incredible conflict of emotions and desires. You feel comforted by the memories, but also saddened by them a little bit. Because something gained is something lost.

Our relationship is so much deeper and stronger and happier than it was. I guess that means what we've lost is a certain amount of predictability and fearlessness. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? I feel conflicted.

What I do know is that we would both like to be more spontaneous. And that's a good thing! We shan't fall prey to nostalgia. Rather, let is serve as a reminder of the things we cherish.

I'm so excited the boy's coming home. Now, what shall I make for dinner??

Friday, March 13, 2009

i must get it from my mother

During the last couple of days, I've been having this major urge to do something drastic to my hair. It's getting long and drab and plain and it's all I can do to keep myself from going into the bathroom and chopping it all off into the sink.

Mummy, remember when Shelby used to yell at you for butchering your hair between cuttings? I must get these urges from you...

I'm looking at photos from a couple of years ago and the shortness was so cute and fresh. But sister Hannah, my maid of honor, has forbidden me to cut it until after the wedding. (She's in charge of the hairdo.) That's so far away! Can I at least do some bangs? I think I might, I think I might...

Poopy, please don't be mad.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

playing hooky

I took the day off work today to hang out with my sis and baby Sapphie. We had no plans, no agenda. We walked into town. We got coffee. We got lunch. We did a little shopping. It was perfect. Sapphie was wearing her new sweater that Mummy knit for her. She looked so cute! Here are some gratuitous pics of my niece (and one of Em too):

Sunday, March 08, 2009

sunday, sunday

I always thought that song by The Mamas & The Papas should be "Sunday, Sunday" instead. I've never had problems with Mondays. But Sunday... can't trust that day...

Forgive me if I'm feeling a little blue. I'm missing my boy today. Just 6 more days till he's back and I'm back in his arms...

I actually have had a very nice morning thus far. I went to breakfast at Magnolia with Emi, Kev and baby Sapphie. I got delicious lemon ricotta pancakes. Mmmmm...

I recounted to them all about Amanda & Ryan's fabulous wedding the night before. Yes, it was fun! Mandy looked stunning (of course). I cried all off my make-up off as she walked down the aisle with her mom and dad on either side. I needn't have worried that I was alone; I hung out with some old high school friends the whole night. It was very lovely. Then I met up with Lauren for a drink at Leunig's—our new favorite bar on a Saturday night!

After breakfast, the Kouri clan and I hung out for a while on Church Street. Did a little shopping. I got a new spring outfit for work (work's been trying lately, so I need a little inspiration). Emi got some awesome new shoes at Stella that are totally hot, but still functional enough that she can be a mother in them too. What an amazing gal.

It was just what I needed. A little family time to snap out of it.

Now I'm home with the kitties and I'm feeling like a home-body. And what shall I do to snap out of it even more? I'm going to light a gazillion candles, put on Bon Iver and organize my closet (clothing swap anyone??).

Lots of love to you all.

Friday, March 06, 2009

gray friday, gay saturday

It actually feels like spring today. The clouds are hanging low and dark. It feels like it's going to drizzle. It's an England kind of sky. I welcome it, I suppose. As much as I love the snow. Sometimes a little change of scenery is good for the soul.

This weather makes me want to eat Cadbury mini eggs.

My childhood friend Mandy is getting married this weekend. She goes by Amanda now. Colin was supposed to go with me. But then he had to travel for work. They've rented a bus so that all the guests can go skiing/riding at the mountain together before the wedding.

Going to weddings by yourself is very strange. I've done it a few times. You feel like the odd one out. Or like everyone is watching you. (Which is the furthest thing from the truth—everyone's watching the bride.) If I had a group of friends to go with, it would be different. But I don't even know who will be there besides her family. Her family is great. Her dad used to be my doctor. It shall be a great party though. I'm sure of it.

I love Amanda. She used to be my best friend in high school. Then we went our separate ways to college and thereafter. And she and I are both terrible about staying in touch. But I still love her like an old friend. Friends for over 15 years. You know that song by Simon and Garfunkel: "Old friends. Old friends. Sit on the park bench like book ends." That's how I feel about Amanda.

Can't wait to see her in all her glory. As much as she hates that!

(P.S. Does anyone actually remember that "gay" means jovial? I like this word. It's my aunt's name. Tomorrow shall be gay!)

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

a new website for an old friend

I finally have something to show for the website I created for my friend Madeleine Vedel. She was the angel that lured me over to Arles, France in the first place right after college. This updated website is for her business, which offers French cuisine cooking classes and personal guided tours of Provence.

(I highly recommend a December visit right before the holidays—you'll enjoy a veritable feast for the gourmand, with all the truffles, duck confit and Ch√Ęteauneuf-du-Pape you can imagine. Oh, and did I mention King Cake? Plus trips to the chocolate maker, the bee keeper, the goat cheese maker, the baker and potter... ah, the list goes on. And they offer a lovely and affordable B&B in Arles where you can stay for a very good price at just a stone's throw away from the Arena.)

The site is a work in progress at this point. She and I are still ironing out some kinks. And Internet Explorer is treating me cruelly. But here's a screenshot of the new homepage. And here's the website.

I do hope you like it; I've been spending all my free minutes after midnight on this project!

Sunday, March 01, 2009

sunday night, feeling good

Well, I finally heard from Col on Friday right before he was leaving Baldface for Taiwan. Sounds like he had an amazing time—riding the snowcat into the most amazing snowy landscape. Then snowboarding his way down. Then living the life of luxury for a couple of days at the lodge. I'm glad he was able to do it before his trip to Asia. I just spoke with him again tonight (gotta love video chat!)—he's getting ready for his first day of work in Taipei. He seems to be in good sprits.

I am too. I had a lovely weekend.

We (Emi, Kev, Sapphie and I) went up to Newport to stay with my parents for the weekend. It was pretty chill. We barely even left the house, which is exactly what we all needed I think. And I had a really nice bonding moment with my little niece. This is her, with my mummy:

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