Boars, Bucks and Hoppin’ John!!

January 3, 2013 - 3 Responses

Hope your holiday season was like mine…fairly peaceful, lots of good food and wine, family, laughs, interspersed with, ummm…disagreements, about what would and would NOT fit into a car as we headed south . I may have mentioned before that I travel in the non-light fashion. I carry my house with me…it’s sad, I know, but there are things I just NEED for Christmas!

And the seat in the picture is the front passenger seat….the rest of the car: fully packed. What’s in the white bakery box?

Yep…even a buche de noel made it down. And it arrived, miraculously, in one chocolatey, yummy piece.  It is the season of miracles after all.

See? This was from Sugarbaker’s in Catonsville…it was soooo good…..chocolate and raspberry….

Let’s face it….things that go pop and have people wearing funny hats at dinner, is just plain old fun.

Found a great furniture store in Ashville(such a cool town)…called Dwellings.

I could literally have spent all day here..happily.

Fell in love with a vintage dresser there….the orange is adorable!

NO, this did not come home with me…it wouldn’t fit in the car. Alas.

Also really loved this lamp….very tall. No, it’s still at the store too! I think)….

But this little guy did come home with me…Jonathon Seagull!

Love this little guy…..

I must have liked this a lot…took a picture of it…..

And this…..snap. Can one have too many mirrors?

Saw this handsome fellow outside an antique shop in Cashiers, NC….great little town with some amazing shops!

I realized that, once again, I packed badly when it came to my own clothing…these I found at a shop in Highlands NC…they saved the day, and my ears!

My fav ornament this year…Harry the hedgehog. Isn’t he a cutie?

I could see the Christmas tree from my bedroom window…. it was a nice feeling.

Hung out at a coffee shop in Cashiers called Buck’s Coffee…actually I could move in there and be pretty doggone happy.

Never get tired of a mountain view like that….

Made a killer batch of pimiento cheese(and by killer, I don’t mean people got sick after they ate it!)….

And this was a new recipe I tried…Hoppin’John Risotto with greens, sausage and Parm… was truly….amazing.

I want some right now!  And how was your holiday??

Oh the fob of it all….

December 19, 2012 - Leave a Response


My keys, after being overnighted from NC….don’t they look happy to be home?

I was down in North Carolina this past weekend, a place I love to visit…and on my way back home as the Southwest pilot announces we are getting ready to land, I start packing up and checking where my keys are. Not in my handbag. My keys…the only working fob set to my Toyota…is in…that’s right, North Carolina. Ouch.

That meant renting a car at the airport to get home…chi-ching…leaving the car at the airport..chi-ching…but the real cash register sound came the next day, when the very nice lady at Toyota gave me the news that the smart fob that opens the doors to and starts my car…will cost $500 smackeroos to replace…CHI-CHING!  Um, no thanks.

But she also advise me to try inserting the non-working fob…that you never can tell, they might communicate. So we drive to the airport, turn in the rental, fully prepared to one-car it for a day or two until the keys can be sent to us…find the car, open it with the laser key in the side of the fob, stick it in the (fob hole?), say a little prayer and it starts. Who says there aren’t little miracles?

But like the rest of you, my heart has been heavy with the horror in Connecticut. In North Carolina Saturday morning, I got up and made some tea, and then thought…this morning those parents woke up…if they slept at all…and the horrible reality came crashing back that sleep relieves for a little while. That it really did happen. That their child, or sister, or mother…was gone, for good. It was real.

There are no words to capture the terrible nature of that day…we in the news business have struggled with that all least I have. There are no words. So we just try to pass along the information we have in the most tasteful way we know…but know, it breaks our hearts too. We are also parents who send children to school, assuming we will see them at the day’s end. I only hope that something good can come from the heartbreak….surely something will. Won’t it? Otherwise how can anyone bear it?

I’m off work next week like many of you to celebrate Christmas…I wish for all of you a safe family around you, some good food, some laughs, and a nice present or two. And lots of love…hold them close. I think we will all hold our families closer this Christmas.


A southern Christmas, a little bit early…

December 13, 2012 - Leave a Response


A picture I love of my sisters and me, from when Mom was alive.

Thanksgiving found me once again in Alabama with my sisters…I’m so sorry we did not do this while my Mom was alive…but it would have been difficult. And I know she would love the fact that we’re all together. And this year, we celebrated Christmas early, while we would all be together! We cut down a tree by the side of the road…

All the decorations(sans lights) had to be found on the property…

You know you’re almost there when you see this….

I love, love, love all these property signs…and wow have they grown over the years!

My daughter and Tommy…she loves being with her cousins. And the pets aren’t bad either!

My sister’s Thanksgiving table…again, mostly things from the property!

For game day(Auburn-Alabama game)…we made a big pot of gumbo…omg it was so good. Lots of chicken and sausage..added shrimp right at the end. Made for great leftovers too…

The pre-game spread…lots of Gulf shrimp my sis brought from Gulf Shores…my bro-in-law is in charge of those…he’s quite particular about how they’re cooked!

We did a pool so the game would be at least somewhat interesting. (Bama beat Auburn 49-0….ouch)….I won nothing of course.

The multi colored eggs my niece brought from her very own chickens at home….Martha Stewart would be so proud!!

Went shopping in Cullman one day…thought it was amusing this particular store was NOT open. Hey, we tried.

My Grand-niece Piper…how cute is she??!!

We played a mean game of Take-away Santa….I ended up with the Kapoosh knife holder…which Cowboy found quite cozy for a post game nap….

Last but not least: No trip to the south is complete without a stop at Krystal. Just can’t be done.














I’m back!!

November 21, 2012 - 6 Responses

Sorry I’ve been a bad, bad blogger….technical issues…plain ole busy…you know the drill. So we have a little catching up to do, do we not?  In no particular order, let’s go. Ever see bookshelves made out of books? SO cute!

Saw these at Women’s Industrial Exchange downtown…

This is how the actual shelf looks…books cover the bracket.

The same artisan made this lampshade out of pages from a book.
An amazing idea…

Seriously, the Exchange has some wonderful gift ideas…

And speaking of gifts, I found these for my son who is a big Ravens fan…and Natty Boh too. I think he’s gonna love these…got them at Charm City Clothing….super cute, and they come in lots of colors(orange for O’s fans)…

Whoops, left out Buddy’s pic!!

This cute little kitty,  my daughter and I have been feeding a block from the station. Buddy(that’s what we call him) is such a sweetie, but needed a home really bad…wasn’t neutered and was living on the street. He and Tom… an old red cat(who is about 16, almost toothless, and so tattered, but sweet as pie) now are in homes, thanks to a young woman named Dani who scooped them up, took them to the vet, and placed them in homes. And who says angels don’t exist. This winter, both of them will be safe…and warm. Makes me happy.

As does this, in the morning….

Hot green tea, morning sunshine, and almond butter and banana on
toast…my fav way to start the day.

A recent Sunday night dinner….I love, love, love roast chicken!

Green beans, and cauliflower with cheese….yummers!

And roasting a chicken is so dead easy. SO. Dead. Easy. I know, I know…it’s no turkey.

Doesn’t that look delish?

And before I leave you to your Thanksgiving weekend…a question for all of you!

And I got my flu shot…did you get yours? It’s not too late!

“Roughing it” in the NC mountains….

September 6, 2012 - 2 Responses

Canyon Kitchen in Cashiers NC….wait ’til you
see the rest….

Most of you know I’m not really a girl who roughs it when she travels. Give me a good Ritz Carlton, some scented candles, a fireplace , a nice view and I’m all good. Oh…and great food. While on a recent holiday…I had everything but the Ritz Carlton. But the house where we stayed  could compete…definitely.

From the dock in front of our house…no
motor boats or jet skis allowed…shhhhh!

House…VRBO, of course. Angler’s Point-here(everyone in the Cashiers area seems to name their house…don’t know why but there it is)….is a great house….beautifully furnished, right on a pretty lake(great view,check), great fireplace(check)….it was blissful.

Charcuterie plate at Madison’s in the Old Edwards Inn.
What a great restaurant….and they make their own

Heirloom tomato starter also at Madison’s…too cute to eat!
But I ate it anyway….

Ok , there was a lot about food this trip(great food, check)….and I went to a restaurant I had been reading about for a while.

Patio area of Canyon Kitchen, where drinks are served…

I first met Chef John Fleer when he was the head chef at Blackberry Farm-here outside of Knoxville. Blackberry(such a fabulous place) and her both became justifiably famous for their food and service. A couple of years ago, John started Canyon Kitchen…wow.

Exterior of Canyon Kitchen….and the inside is just
as kicking….

Dramatic, no? And all the doors open up so that when the weather
is nice(most of summer and fall) you’re kind of dining al fresco.

Canyon Kitchen garden….gorgeous…

Not everything was so hi-falutin’…we bought some great
boiled peanuts from this nice man at a road stand…peanut
pot behind him!

Discovered Tabasco mayo on this trip. this stuff is the bomb!



Little girls in cute southern dresses play with the llamas
at High Hampton Inn…pretty classic place…

High Hampton-here by the way, is an amazing family mountain resort….a shoot there for TLC’s Great Country Inns years ago is what first led me to this beautiful area.And there are lots of cute shops in Cashiers and Highlands…where I saw the prettiest hanging baskets ever…

Loaded with nasturtiums, and lots of other things
I don’t know the names of….

I have a thing lately for owls….even mossy ones.

Ended a couple of nights by the fire(at 4000ft. altitude it gets quite cool at night!) with s’mores made with “stacker” marshmallows, and dark and milk chocolate…your choice. Or both. And we discovered something that makes s’mores even more fab…use Reece’s Cups. A. Maz. Ing.

The good life. No doubt….












Sake 101….

August 28, 2012 - Leave a Response

It was a stormy afternoon outside Pabu at Harbor East,
but inside, it was all smooth sake….

Yeah, what I know about sake would fill a thimble. Seriously. So the idea of going to sake school(Sake 101 they call it) at Pabu at the Four Seasons at Harbor East, to learn how sake is made, how to tell good sake from bad(oh there is bad my friend), how it’s (properly)served, the history of the beverage was interesting enough. But when you get to taste sake throughout the class? I’m all in.

These are the sakes we tried….no I cannot
read the labels. But so pretty…I wanted the center one for a vase!

Lesson number one: Sake is not hot battery acid you drink at 3AM  with bad sushi. This was quite a revelation to most of us, as that’s exactly what we’ve done in the past.

Lesson #2: Sake is not rice wine. It’s also not a beer or a spirit. What?? Sake is unique unto itself…(however it is brewed like beer soooo…..just sayin’).

Here is your sake professor..a.k.a. The Sake Lady….she know all!

Ok, I love edamame, but this fire roasted soy coated thingies
were just AMAZING….I want some right now.

No we did not just drink…we also ate. Delectable goodies like fire roasted edamame, and squid salad….really yummy stuff….

Beautiful, no? And we got to devour it!

I wish I could tell you that I am now a sake expert, and can order with aplomb from the extensive sake menu at Pabu….but that’s not be true. But no matter….I know tons more about sake now than I did before, which brings us to Lesson #3: Sake is served cold. COLD!

Oh, and there are two more Sake 101 classes(9-08 & 10-13) at Pabu, about which you can read details here. For only $25…it’s fun hour…and you learn something too. Win-win in my book. Here’s sake in your eye….

Sista-hood..and making the gumbo….

August 14, 2012 - 2 Responses

This was the 3 sistas in Uganda this spring….we look a little tired, and I think we were!

When my sisters and I get together…even if we haven’t seen each other for months…it’s like we were together yesterday. I know those who don’t get along with their sisters…it’s more like they’re competitors, who just happen to have grown up together and share the same parents. I can never understand that, just because I are so close, and we always have been really. I can’t even remember being in a real argument with them…maybe a little tiff when we were younger, but today…never.

This crew is familiar with seafood, but not cracking crabs, Maryland

So when the sisters, my niece and her daughter came for a visit, it was a whole houseload of female…plus my daughter came over to spend a couple of nights with us too….yeah…girls. Lots. We had an amazing crab feast on the back patio, with corn, wine(no beer, sorry)…a lovely, …girlie evening.

I did a pretty good job on these but we had 6 leftover crabs.
They were not wasted…

And some of the leftover crabs came in handy….But that leads me to a cookbook my sister brought me…

Crazy Sista Cooking….great gumbo recipe inside!!

My older sister Audrey(she hates it when I call her that…older sister) brought me Lucy Buffett’s new book…Lulu, as she is known, is the sister of the famous Margaritaville singer/songwriter Jimmy Buffet…she has a well-known seafood restaurant in Gulf Shores. First stop at the stove: gumbo!!

Lucy’s Summer Gumbo…

Lulu says it takes courage to take the roux to the color of mahogany, and yet not burn it(’cause if you do you just have to start over)….no likee.

Just keep stirring until your arm falls off….

Honestly I didn’t get there. I chickened out right at the end, and figured  it was dark enough, at least a light mahogany.

Add the chopped onions(and later the green and red peppers) and
saute in the roux. MORE stirring.

The recipe doesn’t call for chicken…but gumbo is what you make of it…

these are chopped chicken pieces….

And to me, it’s not gumbo without some sausage…andouille or kielbasa…

Note the queen made vegetables underneath the sausage!

Fat and Juicy…good stuff….

One does need some refreshment during the day long process of gumbo…Lulu suggest bloodies…I concur. And Fat and Juicy-here…is amazing…smokey, horseradish…yum.

Getting ready to add the chicken and sausage….the shrimp
right at the end….And

And…the finished product.

Sorry this isn’t my picture, but I forgot! (bloody Mary’s??)

Just in case you want to make this amazing gumbo for yourself…here’s the recipe from Alabama food. Really, I think it was the best gumbo I’ve ever made…and that’s saying something. Piece of advice…get a couple of sous chefs(husbands, daughters, friends) to help do the chopping and sauteeing…makes it so much easier.

Fifty Shades of Gray…..and more.

August 1, 2012 - 3 Responses

Here it is before…Chinese red…with dove grey fixtures….

OK, I have a small powder room on the first floor of my house(I say small, it’s actually tiny-there is only room for one person at a time in there, but then when are there ever 2 people in a powder room, right?)….and years ago I painted it a Chinese red. And while I’ve loved the red, it really needed  repainting and I decided to shake it up a little and use a shade of gray. I’m kind of obsessed with gray.

Holy Gray cow….that’s a lot of choices(and there were many, many more)

But I quickly realized at Lowe’s how many shades of gray there are….many more than fifty, ok? Stone Harbor, Coastal Fog, Silver Fox, Smoke Embers….all so…evocative…so gray. But I knew I wanted something on the lighter side….and many grays are have quite a bit of blue in them. Coastal Fog was the final choice.

Thrifty, no??

At first I thought….hey, why not take all the sample cans I paid a dear $5.99 for when I was picking a gray for the kitchen, and mix them all togetherand voila, free paint! But after I painstakingly mixed them …and they were pretty…..

Truly a customized shade of gray….that could never be recreated.

I decided to save that gray for a smaller, specialized project…maybe a piece of furniture… or something. And I grabbed a gallon of Coastal Fog.  Enter Mr Lawson, my painter, who I’ve discovered is….wait for it…. 87 years old.  I know. I flt so guilty hiring someone who is 87 years old!!!!!! I said,”Are you sure you want to do this? Please don’t feel like you have to.”  He assured me he did still do small jobs like this one(tiny bathroom, remember?). But I’ve got to get that man’s youth potion. You’d swear he was …maybe 65?

Anyway, he did a lovely job, as always…and here is the finished result…

Tah-dah!!! I love it.

The room is definitely brighter, and I love the monochromatic look of the gray walls and fixtures. Only Baby Girl is unimpressed by all the hubbub…

Baby Girl hates change….loves life just the way it is. All about her.

High tea sendoff for the Phelps family

July 24, 2012 - Leave a Response

Really, what better way to bring a little bit of London to Baltimore, and send the Phelps family off London in style,  than to have high tea, Four Seasons style? I mean, if they can’t handle it, who can??

There’s a lot of hand talkin’ going on here, but I’m pretty sure
it wasn’t as serious as it looks. Debbie Phelps on the left…in
case you didn’t know!

Momma Debbie Phelps, who let’s just say it, is always precious….was so excited…I mean, of course she is!  Trip to London, her baby boy Michael’s last Olympics…as he makes another run at the history books. I asked how she gets herself together on a trip …given the fact that she KNOWS all cameras will be on her when her son is in the pool. She admits she is super organized about clothing…all outfits are planned in advance and packed accordingly with lists, etc., so that nothing is forgotten. I like it. I want to be more like that.

Hilary Phelps…in a royal blue dress. She’s funny, smart,
and has a killer smile….

Her daughter Hilary(who has the skin of a two-year old I swear) is also psyched about the trip. Funny story…I got to know Hilary on Twitter, because she likes the same things I do, yoga…healthy eating…and she has a great website called Genuine Joy….you know. Who wouldn’t follow such a cool girl? And then Kate Amara told me that Hilary Phelps was going to the Olympics and would be doing some stories for us. I looked at her, with what have been a confused expression, and I asked her, “So, she is a big Olympics fan? Why is she doing stories for us?” Kate replied, “She’s Michael Phelps sister.” Light dawns on yonder rock. I truly had no idea they were related. Hey, she still invited me to tea….it’s all good.

Hello lover….steamed puddings a la Four Seasons…

And while most people were talking, and not in my opinion paying nearly enough attention to the food…I made time for it. Incredible shortbread, a concord grape macaroon that was seriously one of the best things I’ve ever eaten, and these crazy little steamed puddings that were, just….just…I wanted to grab all of them and stuff them in my bag, ok? But I did not. 

Green tea with pineapple? I’m all in…

Add really interesting teas and coffees from Lamill Coffee Shop …the tea served in beautiful stoneware cups. It was one of those days I was glad to be me, you know?

Sputnik, Clafoutis, and watermelon salad….that’s what been happening in my world!

July 16, 2012 - 2 Responses

Softshell crabs Linwoods style on creamed corn bed, with béarnaise sauce….

Ok,….I ate this weekend at a restaurant I haven’t been to in several years. Not for any particular reason, but Linwoods just isn’t on my beaten path…and I just haven’t thought about it. How sad for me…had the most amazing meal there Saturday evening…my first soft shell crabs of the year, served on a creamed corn puddle, with pickled green beans.

Watermelon salad…love the composition of it, hated to mess it
up, but I did!!

And a watermelon salad with feta cheese and little scoops of cucumber sorbet on the top. So pretty…so delicious.

It’s a French classic….for a reason.

But you can’t always eat out, and I had a big bowl of fresh cherries from Whole Foods at half price that needed a home….so I made a cherry clafoutis(pronounced kla-foo-tee’). The recipe I use is from an old French cookbook I’ve had for probably 25 years, but there are plenty of other versions around….one of which I will provide below. But it’s a delicious eggy dessert that can accommodate almost any fruit…I added blueberries to the one above. And dead easy. This recipe from Williams-Sonoma is pretty close to mine…

Saved from the trash….now to be recycled. Sigh.

OK, I know some consider me a recycling freak…and maybe that’s true, because I spend part of my time here at work saving bottles and cans from the trash bins, and walking them over to the recycling bins. You know who you are, people.

I know, I know…what was I thinking???

And this Sputnik looking light fixture I won at an auction two years ago at Center Stage…it’s been sitting in their development office ever since. I went down last week, to finally take it home(and do what with it I still don’t know)….but I forgotten how big the damn thing really is. Probably 40-50 inches in diameter. So there I was on a super hot day, struggling with this thing on Calvert Street, trying to get it in the car without damaging it. Guess where it is now? That’s right, back in the development office. I’m coming up with plan B.