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.


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.

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.




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.