Truffles

So the good news is that I didn't have to buy a whole new computer just yet, the bad news is that I've lost all of my data from my old computer. A single tear rolls down my freckled cheek and splashes on the keyboard.


On the bright side, i made truffles for christmas. Sort of lumpy and misshapen and I can confidently say making truffles is perhaps the messiest thing one can do in a kitchen. About 2 minutes into the process, i got a huge smear of melted chocolate on my nose. I was elbow deep in rubber gloved ganache so it just stayed there, taunting me until I had rolled the last one.


I kept 6 for myself and gave the rest away. I'm actually all chocolated out now, so the 6 are patiently waiting to take the 5am train home with me tomorrow morning.



My family isn't doing "christmas" this year. No mad wrapping of presents, no pressure and panic. My big sister is coming home from LA, I'm getting a week off work and we have 6 homemade truffles to split between us on christmas eve. The best christmas eeever.

Typing on borrowed time

My macbook died. D. E. A. D. Dead as a dog. Rest in Peace, little macbook.

I'm typing this out at work, shhhh, don't tell anyone. Today "work" is baking chocolate peppermint cookies at Sarah's house for Saipua's holiday extravaganza this weekend. I'm crushing peppermints with a mortar and pestle. My life is good, yes? It smells so amazing in the kitchen, I wish you were here.

I'm trying to enjoy not having a computer at home. Last night I cleaned my whole house, even the tub. Someone give me a gold star, please. I dug deep into my record collection and pulled out some gems, Chet Atkins, Doc Watson, and duh, Stevie Nicks. I've started reading a good book. (from Amanda!) Is this how life was before the computer? Cause I like it. A lot.

My jacket, my mountain

Humor me while I interrupt the thought-provoking stream of inspiration and genius that is normally featured here on an apple a day to talk about my jacket. It's important that you understand about my jacket.



Rewind your clocks to 1993. I am 9 years old and in the hall of my grandfather's house. I spy this unassuming jacket hanging on a peg. I've recently been forced to wear laura ashley for picture day and hated every moment of it. I dream of what it would be like to have such a normal jacket. A jacket with a wool plaid lining from a sporting goods store. A jacket that boys would think was cool.



Fast forward to 1995. I am 11 and in the same hallway. The jacket is on the same peg. It's been abandoned by my older cousin Andy. Its zipper is broken. Victory is mine.



I've worn this coat, off and on, for 14 years. Its lining makes me quiver. The drawstring confirms in my mind the existence of god. It's from the early 1980s. Me too.



The kicker is that it says Crotched Mountain 5 on the back. It causes sideways glances from people not intimate with the geography of southern New Hampshire, but that's fine with me. When I lay in bed in my favorite room at Elmwood, I can see Crotched Mountain. When my mom was my age, she lived on top of Crotched Mountain. As a baby, my dad carried me up Crotched Mountain. My aunt's ashes are scattered on Crotched Mountain. I love Crotched Mountain, and this jacket.

Candyland

I come from a family that has a strict regime of window candles, sprigs of holly, white lights and all antique chandelier crystals ornaments for Christmas. Come to think of it, that was the only strict thing about my childhood. No colored lights or ornaments on the tree. That my mom had to look at, at least.

Baltimore
My dad would take a pair of clippers to a low lying branch up against the wall and let us hang colored ornaments inside the tree, out of sight. For some reason we always called the little spot candyland. So naturally, as an adult I find myself preoccupied with colorful and insane candyland displays of the christmas spirit.

The more god-awful, the more bewitched I am, like a moth to a neon flickering window candle flame.

Baltimore


Baltimore


Baltimore

We stumbled upon Hampden's funny little block of lights my last night in Maryland. I drank hot chocolate from a styrofoam cup and took a ton of photos.

I love going places with my mom. Every time I take a photo of something, she asks me if I'm going to blog about it. I roll my eyes and say momm. This happens a few times a day when we're together so we've got a routine down. It's really cute.



All aboard

I'm afraid I've reached a new plateau of adultness. It involves permanently cutting out the chinatown bus from my life. I'm not fussy when it comes to travel, I'm fine with sleeping outside if push comes to shove and I don't need a shower or an outlet for my nonexistent hair dryer. I like to camp. I can rough it with the best of them.

But after 8 years, I can't handle the chinatown bus anymore. Vomit, beer, freshly chewed spearmint gum, residual pot smoke. All things I got on my person last bus ride home. None of which were mine. VOMIT, people. Another human's VOMIT. Don't ask how. You don't want to know.



Enter the new love of my life. The train. Sure it's 3 times more expensive, but I ask, can you put a price on vomit-free travel? I took the train to Baltimore over thanksgiving and was blown away by the insane snippets of nature along the ride. Things you could never see in a car. Things far better than the Jersey Turnpike.

I've spent the past hour looking on Amtrak's website and dreaming of all of the places I can go on the train. So far, my trip's looking like Erie, Chicago, Bismark, Helena, Spokane, Portland, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Santa Fe, Austin, New Orleans, Memphis, Louisville, Baltimore and home. An Apple a Day whistlestop tour, coming 2010.

The Wagner

Ever been to the Wagner Institute in philadelphia? You need to go right now. Step away from the computer. Grab your coat and get on a bus. I will be doing the same and will meet you there tomorrow afternoon at 1pm. (I'll be dressed like a crazy lady from the forties, so you should't have a hard time finding me.)

the wagner free institute
The Wagner is a natural history museum of sorts, dating back to 1855. The displays have remained virtually untouched. Hand written labels. Bugs, moths, mammals, minerals. I died.

the wagner free institute
No photos allowed inside, so i poached these from the Wagner's flickr. A hearty thanks to my dear Haylie for recommending. And to Sarah for getting me out of town. And to Nicolette for driving. It takes a village.


More from the family vault

Pardon me while I indulge in christmas morning reveries from 1984. I was 5 months old and my mom was looking extra rosy, happy and perfect. My dad was wearing his knit hat and red suspenders (which he still wears christmas morning, 25 years later). I was wearing my first ever tutu with striped socks. Life was good.






Just look at my parents. They're so perfectly suited for each other in appearance, temperament and interests, it's mind boggling.

To this day, while he searches for horn handled knives in the antique store, she hunts for old bits of lace. He goes crazy for bonsais at the botanic garden while she's giddy over the ferns and moss. She plays the bowed psaltery while he's on the recorder. He's baking the bread while she's manning the omelet pan.

This fall my dad has started driving my mom to work in the mornings. Last week he was so excited because he bought them matching his and hers travel mugs so they could drink coffee side by side for their hour long commute. Painfully adorable.

Pa Merrick


Before this weekend I hadn't really seen childhood photos of my dad. He just never let on that he had any. On saturday he cracked open a hitherto unknown photo album and out they came, in all of their boyish Staten Island in the 50s glory.



My dad has always been a brilliant mountain-man type, so to see it manifest in a "suspenders, toy shotgun, cabin, jug o' moonshine, crooked smile" little boy version of himself is really really amazing.

Makes me want to pinch his 7 year old cheek, which i'm sure he would have hated. Which naturally makes me want to do it all the more.

To-do's

Walks to the bay- check.


Dog patting- check.


Antique malling, cold turkey gorging, attic rifling- check check check.

Also noteworthy- consumption of 4 pies for 3 people in 4 days. If you do the math that comes out to be 1.333 pies per person. Taking in to account the fact that my mom eats like a bird, my dad and I shouldered more of the burden than the above figure represents out of the goodness of our hearts. Because we're nice like that.

Over the river and through the woods...


Since tomorrow is thanksgiving, I should be writing a very impressive post about making some insane appley, cinnamony, brown sugary, buttery, nutty, flaky, crumbly, yummy thing because I'm a real life domestic goddess. But then I wake up and remember I'm not. Instead, I'm curled up under my quilt at home in Brooklyn, delightfully alone.











My train home leaves at 5am tomorrow morning and I'll be puttering around my folk's house till sunday or monday. Activities include long walks to the bay, dog patting, antique malling and standing in front of the fridge, hovering over a cold turkey carcass. I have a lot of things to be thankful for, no?

Happy thanksgiving, friends. If I could share a piece of pie with you, I would.


Roses

I'm back, albeit begrudgingly. Does anyone else bore of the endless blogger/twitter/flickr cycle? Don't you want to just, oh I don't know, chuck the macbook out the window and take a walk around the block?


My exciting news is that I'm now working at Saipua full-time, arranging flowers and coordinating with brides-to-be. I'm in the love business, as Ginny would say. It's been 2 weeks already and I'm thrilled beyond all understanding. Best job ever.




It's bittersweet, though, because I had to leave my dear job at Moon River. I love that store and those people to bits. They threw me a surprise goodbye dinner party, complete with pretty dresses and a puppet show in 3 acts. A PUPPET SHOW.



I was at the botanic garden snapping photos when I realized I did basically this same rotting november roses post one year ago. Funny what a difference a year and a splurge-y camera make, even if the idea is the same.


This past year has been a total whirlwind, it feels like practically everything has changed. I'm now a live alone workaholic, with more jobs and less money. More readers but less to time to write. More pressure and less energy to cope. It's all terribly exciting and nerve-wracking.

Let's continue this tangent come next november's dying roses post, okay? I'm boring myself to tears with all of this existential dribble.

Busy bee

I owe you a real post but I'm finishing up last minute projects for the book, so you won't see more of me till, oh whenever I collapse in a big pile of done-ness. You know when friends start calling and saying "oh I was worried about you, you're not blogging anymore..... " that you've let it go on for too long.

Friends and loved ones- I am semi okay and I will not be returning any of your phone calls till the dust settles.

dried lacecap hydrangea



But I do have a bit of exciting news that will have to wait till I can do it justice.

Quilt change

Now that it's freezing and we are staring down the dawning of winter, I swapped out my summer quilts for my equally ineffectual but more woolly and plaid versions. All away for the next oh, 8 months. Except for the pinky, that one's for Francesca.

summer quilts

Last Saturday my apartment was shot for the design*sponge book. Including a 9am wet hair, no makeup, no bra portrait of yours truly because I lack foresight and acceptable "girl" sensibilities.... Buy the book next year and you'll see. Brutal honesty.

The funny thing about having photos taken of your house (or at least my house) is how clean but chaotic it leaves things. Random stuff gets shoved into very funny hiding places. My oven mitts got stashed inside the oven, which I promptly forgot about and I baked them for 20 minutes while preheating to cook dinner. Burnt and stunk. Life is such a comedy.

Dear folks,

You guys have been so unbelievably sweet and sincere and charming about my accident that I'm at a complete loss as to how to respond to such kindness.

craspedia

I had wanted to write a post where I was able to thoughtfully express how I'm really not brave at all and how touching your comments were. But I couldn't find words eloquent enough. So instead I'm forced to just give you a big old fashioned thank you.

yours sincerely,

me

My anniversary

So there’s something I haven’t mentioned in my two years of writing An Apple a Day. Not because it’s a big deal or I’m embarrassed or anything, it just hasn’t come up and I didn’t really think it worthy of telling. But I figure if you’ve taken the time to read this stream of silliness, maybe you’d like to know a little bit more about me.


Four years ago today, the first of November, I was in a motorcycle accident. While pulling away from a stoplight at 20mph, we got run over by an SUV. I was wearing a full face helmet, a proper jacket and padded gloves. The good news is that everyone made it out alive. The bad news (which seems minor and totally inconsequential compared with the aforementioned good news) is that, technically, I didn’t make it out in one piece.


I was pinned down by the bumper of the SUV and my hand got stuck in the spinning chain and sprocket of the bike. While I was conscious, two and a half fingers on my left hand were ripped off. I’ll spare you the gory details here, but if we ever end up sharing a bottle of wine across the kitchen table (and I hope we do), we’ll get to the good stuff then. Like the bizarre and almost comical things I said while waiting for an ambulance, the Frankenstein moment of taking off the bandage for the first time, the life changing shock of not being able to count on one's fingers for basic arithmetic problems and what phantom pain actually feels like; the stuff people want to know about but are generally too respectful and timid to ask.


But in all sincerity, I am so lucky that nothing worse happened. People have endured things a hundred times more painful and heartbreaking than loosing three dispensable fingers and I know my experience ranks remarkably low on the tragedy scale. I’m right handed and still have my pointer and thumb, which makes a world of difference. I’ve adapted so that I still knit sweaters, carry stupidly heavy pieces of furniture, french braid my hair, sew my own clothes, speak sign language with my mom, hang a chandelier and do a handstand. My right handed, 7-fingered guitar skills leave something to be desired, however.


After the accident, it took a lot of effort to keep positive and motivated. I remember my dad talking about the fine line between grieving a loss and feeling unduly sorry for one’s self. I panicked thinking “oh shit. this could turn me into a bitter, resentful old lady if I don’t start to come to terms with it.” I went back for my final semester of college at the start of the new year and continued to pattern, draw and sew my senior collection one handedly. That’s not to say I wasn’t insanely weepy about it. I didn’t leave bed for nearly 5 weeks after the accident (I had some other injuries that prevented me from, oh, walking, bathing, feeding myself and otherwise acting like a grownup) so I had a lot of time on my hands to mope. Luckily, I’ve since snapped out of it.


Even though I’d consider myself well adjusted on the whole, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that writing this was very hard. Tears were shed. Taking these photos was surreal; I hardly even notice my hand anymore that so seeing it as others do was sort of a jolt. But I love my hand and can honestly say I wouldn't change it back if I could. It’s quirky and goofy and me.


So now you know about my checkered past involving Italian motorcycles. We're closer already, don't you think?

Pocket knife

This week, it's been a year since my grandfather died. I'm still in a bizarre state of denial over it. I was there his last week, I saw him and I know he's gone, but for some reason I don't feel like he's gone. Every time I see a manila envelope in the mailbox, my pulse sorta quickens.


My mom and I were recently remembering the consistent stream of letters he would write. I've been truly horrible at keeping up correspondence in the past few months and have been bent over the old typewriter as of late, trying to start up again. Make my grandpa proud.

I think this photo of the Emerson gang was taken in the late 1930s. 1939? Grandpa Bill is in the front next to his mother, Helen, who looks stunning.




My most cherished grandpa thing is his old pocket knife. It still has some antique crumbs of cheese from a long ago picnic inside. Sort of charming in a way, but I must resist the urge to become sentimental about other folk's dirt.

In classic Emerson fashion, he dremeled his address into the handle and carried it in his pocket as he trekked across the Sahara, went on archeological digs in Crete and hiked up our beloved Mt. Monadnock. It's so freakin dull I'm in constant danger of killing myself every time I try to use it. In the realm of knife fixing uping, I am a total novice. Any advice?


Cambridge fieldtrip

On our blink and you'll miss it visit to Cambridge last week, the design*sponge ladies and myself stopped into a wonky antiques mall. 5 stories of odd and random expensiveness, but I came out with a tiny lab glass beaker, so whatever, it was worth it.


It's heavy but still feels delicate and it's really small, like 2 1/2".


Boston is so funny. It damn near blizzarded, snow, sleet- all kinds of miserable. But I ate a lovely and too short early morning breakfast with Kate, got a ton of divine wallpaper (yes more!), toured two amazing old houses and memorized all the lyrics to every Lady Gaga song there is.

Um yeah, that last bit wasn't my idea. The girls in the front seat controlled the cds and now I've been schooled in what "the kids are listening to these days". That poker face song and the other one about a shorty fire burning on the dance floor. Charming. Absolutely charming.

Jefferson's apples

Not a big shock by now, but I am really pretty obsessed with fruit. After all, please note the silly and mildly embarrassing name of this blog, chosen two years ago when I had no idea what a blog even was.

them apples
Last week I became the proud owner of this set of prints, given to me by a friend who knows what's what. I love birthday presents, especially 4 months after the fact.

them apples
The watercolors are from 1820 and document Thomas Jefferson's collection of fruit varieties grown in the orchards of Monticello. Kind of perfect. I mean, an apple called sheep's nose? Did your heart not just melt?

them apples

them apples

them apples
In the spirit of honesty, I feel compelled to tell you I've had a crush on Thomas Jefferson since my middle school took a trip to Monticello. Brilliant, detached and built himself an awesome house? All I could want and more.

Laugh if you must, but have you watched HBO's John Adams? Watch and ye shall see.