Archive for August, 2008

Labor Day weekend dos and don’ts….
August 29, 2008

First, my DON’T LIST…..

Hell, no....

Hell, no....

1. There is no way I’m crossing the Bay Bridge this weekend…not even for the J. Crew outlet. Not even for friends who live there…..not until the state reopens all the lanes. A four hour backup yesterday? What, the work on the guard rail couldn’t wait until after the holiday weekend? Maybe not, but seems like it just might have. Anyway, I’m not getting stuck in the mess I saw on 11 News at Five from Captain Roy Taylor’s chopper….awful. And for those of you who have no choice…you have my deepest  and most sincere sympathies.

Maybe Baby Girl can sweep!

Maybe Baby Girl can sweep!

2. I’m not doing any housework this weekend. If anything falls on the floor, it can just stay there, darn it. And that goes for gardening, too. Sure, things are a bit bedraggled by this time of year, but really there’s not much I can do about the inevitable decay of the garden at the end of the summer. Walk on by, baby…

3. I’m not gonna diet this weekend….not that I’m much of a weekend dieter, ever. It’s my time to eat what I want and drink what I want. So there. I’m dumping my lunchtime salad with canned salmon for something sinful. Tacos, maybe…from Taco Bell! But I’ll still take all my vitamins…they’re a meal in itself.

MY DO LIST:

Ummmm...lets cook it up!

Ummmm...let's cook it up!

1. Cook something creative….I know, I know…doesn’t that fall under the purview of housework? Well yes, and no. Yes, if it’s just drudge cooking…no, if it’s creative, fun cooking, as any real foodie will tell you. And I got those creative juice flowing for some weekend creations on Chesapeake Foodie….(which is written by a friend of mine)..I get their monthly newsletter, and it is fullof good stuff…watermelon mojitos, heirloom tomato and spaghetti strata (how crazy is that?),  and how to store artisan bread (hey, after I’ve paid 5 bucks for a loaf, I don’t want it going stale.), and Deviled Eggs from the Executive Chef of the Government House. Yummy.

2.  Sleep Late. That doesn’t sound like such a big deal, except that I tend to wake up early, and just give up, and get on with the day. I hope to slumber like my daughter…zzzzzzzz……but that is a lofty, lofty goal.

3. See some movies. What I want to see…Man on a Wire (playing at The Charles Theatre downtown) and Vicky Cristina Barcelona  at Harbor East .  What others will twist my arm to see….Death Race.  No.

Sooooo, those all seem to be doable, don’t you think? Nothing too ambitious…and I all of you have a fabulous, fun safe holiday weekend….Don’t throw rocks, be nice, and come home safe…’cause we miss you.

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A Couple of Movies for you to try….
August 26, 2008

Assistant News Director Tim Tunison, here at WBAL-TV always says, “You watch the strangest movies“, all because I’ve been bold enough to share some of my choices with you in the past.

Watch out, buddy...

Watch out, buddy...

He particularly makes fun of Twilight Samuraii, 2002 samurai film by Yogi Yamada….sure it’s a little off the beaten path, but then, aren’t you? It was, after all, nominated for an Academy Award….and it was excellent. Here are another two you might not have heard of and might like….

The Real Dirt on Farmer John.…a 2005 documentary about a young man who inherited his family farm, during some very tough times for farmers….not that times have ever been that easy. The story of what he has gone through to triumph was just fascinating. It made me think of Charlie Obert’s Barn, a documentary made by a Kurt Kolaja, a longtime friend of mine from the Eastern Shore….and if you haven’t seen it, that fine, fine film will be shown at the Chesapeake Film Festival in Easton, September 19-21…good movies, The Eastern Shore in September…what’s not to like?

Also have recently seen Goodnight Mister Tomactually a 1998 Masterpiece Theatre release about an embittered old man who takes in young evacuee from London during the blitz in WWII….and the impact they have on each other’s lives….So sweet!

Such cute little red shoes!

Such cute little red shoes!

And one I have on the way from Netflix (and this is just for you Tim, I don’t want to disappoint)…Balzac et la petite tailleuse chinoise or in English, Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress. It seems a fitting choice after just watching the Olympics set in Beijing . It’s the story of two young men during the Maoist era, sent to be “re-educated” in a remove village. They hope to win the heart of a local beauty with their secret stash of Western literature! I’ll let you know how it is….Tim.

Strange things I get in the mail….
August 22, 2008

Weigh your luggage...before you get to the airport!

Weigh your luggage...before you get to the airport!

When you work in the rarified world of  television, you get sent things in the mail….usually products that are new, that they hope will make it onto television. And sometimes they do….this one might because I think viewers would find it useful….It is the Balanzza, a digital luggage scale that reads in pounds or kilograms. You attach it’s strap to your bag, left, wait for the beep, and set it down….Voila, how much your luggage weighs, appears in the screen. It has a maximum weight of 100 pounds….and it pretty darned easy to use. And given what overweight luggage will cost you these days when you fly$$$$$$$$$$$$$…a handy gadget.

Im on Fruit 66!!

I'm on Fruit 66!!

Next up, Fruit 66. Get it?  Like Route 66…only Fruit 66? Ok, whatever.  It’s real fruit juice with 2 ounces sparkling water added…no added sugar or artificial flavors or colors-that’s nice. I didn’t actually try one of these my self, but others have. Their assessments: “It’s ok, tastes like watered down fruit juice.” “it’s pretty good”….so you get the drift here. I don’t like to waste calories on drinks, and this little can has 95 calories in it….So it won’t be my cup of tea, but maybe it’s yours. Oh, and their website is cute….

Drumsticks? Really? Why?

Drumsticks? Really? Why?

And last, and without a doubt least, I got some drumsticks. For my drum set at home I guess…oh what, you don”t have a drum set at home either? This is a promotional item sent by the makers of the movie Rocker. We all get these things every so often, and usually they are totally useless…though when Sex and the City movie came out, I did like the little makeup bag they sent. I’m still using a notepad from the movie The Martian…ever heard of it? Me either.  It’s baffling as to why they waste so much money sending useless items to journalists all over the country. Can you imagine the cost? (Maybe that’s why it’s 10 bucks to see a film now.)

Anyway, I’ve got one more Fruit 66 on my desk….sooner or later someone here at WBAL will come along and say, “What’s that?” I’ll explain, and offer it to them….they will probably take it, taste it and say, “It’s pretty good. Tastes like watered down fruit juice.” And I will say…”It is my friend…it is.”

A “New” Restaurant to Try…
August 21, 2008

Heirloom Tomato Salad!

Heirloom Tomato Salad!

Ok, ok, for those of you really on the dining scene….Cinghale is not really new…more like relatively new.  And  I have been there before, but that was for their opening party, which isn”t really a dining experience…more of a glass of wine and nibbles experience. Know what I mean? SO while Cinghale opened last year, it’s the first time I’ve “dined”‘ there.

My daughter is a big fanof Italian food (as if I’m not)…Sotta Sopra is her longtime fav, but she reluctantly agreed to try something new on her last night in town before heading back to school…so to Cinghale we went, close to the harbor on Lancaster Street. The restaurant is part of the Cindy Wolf/Tony Foreman group….as in Charleston, Petite Louis, and  Pazo …pretty illustrious company, and Cinghale is their newest baby.

The restaurant is divided into two areas…the enoteca and the osteria…the latter being the more formal area, with white tablecloths and stuff….the other being the bar area(where we were sitting)…as our server told us, “This is where we have more fun…”. I’m good with that. And the entire menu is also available there…which was good, because the dish my girl would pick as her last supper, would be gnocchi….those little pillowy, potato dumplings that can be served in a million different sauces, though these were in pesto. And she loved them.

Here is what really set Cinghale apart in my book….and you see it in the pic above. Lots of places have great pastas, let’s face it…but I ordered a tomato salad, one with heirloom tomatoes, Gorgonzola and basil. Yeah I thought, we’ll see about those tomatoes. Just the other day I had a tomato-buffalo mozzarella salad at “b bistro” in Bolton Hill…and I love that place, but for this salad, they hadn’t gone the extra mile to get really good local tomatoes to go with the fabulous buffalo, and it’s August, baby!  So the salad lost half it’s appeal because it had hard, cold, flavorless tomatoes in it. Hello.!…The farmer’s market is just down the street fellows ! Ok…anyway…Cinghale does know where to get good ‘maters, and it just made that salad, pretty yellow ones, and the darker purpley ones…don’t know their names. And the eggs on top? Quail eggs…so little and cute. Amazing salad. And the rest of the meal was great too….You can get the pastas in half or whole portions…the whole portions being pretty pricey for pasta ($21 to $28), but very very good. And they had some decent price wines on their list…under $25 a bottle.

And I’m really dying to try out Cinghale’s Sunday night suppers….they’re at 5:30 PM….a set menu…antipasti set out for you to enjoy with a glass of wine, then a main course, and a dolci, or dessert. Three courses for $29….pretty good I thought. Oh, and if you go to Cinghale’s website this wonderful jazzy music plays….any idea what that is or who does it? I wish I could get to play for you as you read my blog….however, I’m not that techno-savvy!

Harper finds a home….as I learn the art of re-catting.
August 20, 2008

Haper gazes at the world....

Haper gazes at the world.... !

Well, fine, since none of you wanted him…I’ve had to
re-cat” a neighbor. If you don’t know, the idea in re-catting is similar to re-gifting. You simply take something someone has given you, and wrap it up all pretty, and give it to someone else. Simple, oui? And with the exception of the wrapping part, it also applies to cats, as my neighbor Liz found out.  But hey…it all worked out….Harper (ok she calls him Harry….no.) has a really good home, I don’t have three cats, and none of you  had to take him….all’s well that ends well, right?
And since la Liz is out of town this week, who gets to feed Harper/Harry and clean his litter box every day? Who does? Who does? That’s right…yours truly. And it has been a pleasure, except for the litter box, I won’t lie. That cat does poop a lot. But he seems genuinely happy to be there, and to see me (who wouldn’t?), and except for the fact that he has made confetti of the toilet paper in the powder room where his food and box are, all is well.
I figured I’d just the leave the toilet paper confetti until the end of the week…I mean, he’ll just do it again.
This is my potty room...and hers!

This is my potty room...and hers!

A late weekend wrapup….my car no longer looks like I live in it!
August 19, 2008

I took my daughter back to school this weekend…she had been home for a couple of weeks now, and she seriously couldn’t wait to get back. Hey, that’s ok….I remember how it feels to want to get back to your real, much more fun life at school and away from boring parents who are always asking you to do stuff for them.

I feel like your slave!”, cried my daughter. And in all honesty, I have been using her shamelessly as my personal assistant (now I want one), to do all the things that I just don’t seem to get to. Taking clothes to cleaners, taking broken jewelry to repair, taking shoes to repair shop, taking cats to vets, doing laundry, emptying the dishwasher, picking up food for dinner, changing the sheets on the beds (this particularly irked her), and other flotsam and jetsam chores. Now…. before you feel sorry for her….remember this. She didn’t have a job this summer, and we are paying her bills. That entitles me, I think, to a little “free” labor. And I got it, baby.

So, back to school she went….her, in one car stuffed to the gills, and us in another car (my car) stuffed to the gills. And this is the car I’ve been driving for two weeks now….”Please Mom, don’t make me carry all that stuff  into the house, I’ll just have to carry it back to the car soon.”  So I took pity ( see? I have a heart.), and have been driving around with it and all its stuff inside. Not even room for a passenger. A couple of people I don’t know, but was talking to at Clipper Mill after the broadcast of the Ozone program, glanced in my car and asked, “Do you live out of your car?” I think they were kidding. Anyway, my car in now deliciously empty. But so is my house.

Gerry Sandusky put his daughter on a plane for her first year at school this weekend. He admitted it was pretty intense at the airport, and that he already misses her so much. I admitted something to him….”I go and open the door to her room, and it smells like her…all perfumey. Isn’t that strange?” He admitted he had done the same thing a couple of times since his baby girl left. Sob. But there it is. (I told my daughter of sniffing her room, and she said, “that’s a little creepy…”)

Bye-bye Zodiac!!

Bye-bye Zodiac!!

And here’s another sad leaving I witnessed this weekend….ah, the price of progress. One of my favorite haunts when I go to the Charles TheatreThe Zodiac Restaurant, is now closed. They said the road work, which you see going on in front of their spot….discouraged customers over the summer and they have hung it up. Now that is a loss. I have had some really fine meals there, and I love the interior of the place. But I always felt that if you didn’t know that the Zodiac was a great place, just glancing at it from the outside would make you a little nervous about going in, like… a place for serial killers or something. Dark, almost looked closed, with big bars across the windows….its “curb appeal” probably discouraged new and  uninitiated customers. Anyway, it’s done now. But I’ll miss the joint…best desserts, and let me tell you, anyone who can make a vegan dessert taste like that, is a talented chef…R.I.P. Zodiac.

What are you putting on YOUR skin?
August 15, 2008

Heres what Im using...

Here's what I'm using...

We had a story on 11 News at Five that honestly set me (an admitted lotion freak) back, and maybe it did you too. A new study from Rutgers University,  that said putting moisturizer on your skin may increase you risk for skin cancer. Whaaaaaat?? Now, keep in mind this study was done on mice, and for those of you who missed it, after exposing hairless mice to UV rays for 20 weeks, they then applied moisturizer to the mice once a day, 5 days a week, for 17 weeks. They found the mice who got the moisturizers had an average 70% increase in production of skin cancer tumors! I did a little more digging into that study and here’s what I found.

Scientists felt that maybe, mineral oil or sodium lauryl sulfate were the culprits…that they may both promote tumors. I took a look around my house to see what’s in lotions I use. Of the four bottles sitting around, two of them….Bliss Lemon Sage Body Butter and Williams-Sonoma lotion don’t contain mineral oil, the Olavie Chardonnay lotion doesn’t list any ingredients (?), and the French Gabriel Couzian body moisturizer lists mineral oil as their third ingredient!(This one I use everyday, and love it.)

So what does it mean? I’m not sure and neither are the scientists…here are the brands they tested….Dermabase, Dermavan, Eucerin Original Cream (its website say its the brand dermatologists trust), and Vanicream(the only I’ve ever heard of is Eucerin)…but here’s the kicker. One of the creams that seemed to cause tumor growth, Vanicream,  had neither ingredient, so they really don’t know what is causing it. Here’s the good news, the skin cancers involved were not melanoma… the most dangerous kind of skin cancer,  but basal cell and non-squamous cell carcinomas. Most people do not die from these and they can easily be treated with surgical removal. I’m not sure that will make any of us feel much better. Oh, and scientists weren’t really looking to find any of these results when they stumbled upon them…they were investigating if caffeine had any effect on skin cancer and were working on skin delivery systems for getting the caffeine to the skin. How about that? I’ll let you know more when I hear it….in the meantime, I’m sticking with my moisturizers….

A Zone Drone……
August 14, 2008

Two little Zone Drones

Two little Zone Drones

Yes, I’ve become a Zone Drone….an “Olympic Zone” Drone that is…..and I’ve had lot of people ask me…”where on earth are you?”, and I don’t wonder that you would wonder! Big fiery torches, gorgeous old ruin-looking brick and stone walls in the background, gorgeous blue pool….But it’s right here in town, and for us right at the bottom of TV Hill.  Clipper Mill is providing us that beautiful setting, and this part of the condominium and townhouse complex was indeed created from the ruins of the old Clipper Mill, thanks to the as always creative efforts of Struever Brothers.  The mill burned  in 1995…the tragic  Clipper Mill Fire is well remembered, because a brave young firefighter lost his life there.  The link above was written by a woman whose firefighter husband broke his leg, when one of the huge granite block walls came tumbling down in that fire. But as she says…he was lucky.

Wow...

Wow...

But like the mythical Phoenix rising from the ashes, Clipper Mill has taken on a whole new, and a much better life than it ever had before. Seriously, if you’ve never seen the place, you have to check it out. Not only are there the great condos, partments, green contemporary homes and the staggeringly  beautiful pool setting, but the offices they’ve created from the space are incredible…modern yet with the old stone and brick walls….really, really nice. And there’s a coffee shop, all kinds of art galleries and  studios (beautiful blown glass), and Woodberry Kitchen….Spike Gerdje’s latest creation, which is hot, hot, hot. Marianne Banister and I tried to meet there last night for dinner…Ummmm….no we didn’t, because we couldn’t get in! The place was packed, so if you go, make a reservation in advance, even on weeknights or you’ll end up like us.  We ended up(and happily so) at The Dogwood Gourmet on 36th Street in Hampden, just down the road. They seriously, have some of the best food in town and so pretty….great appetizers and small plates, nice wine list, and innovative entrees. You can’t go wrong….and it won’t hurt to have a reservation here too…especially on the weekends. It’s popular, and one of my favs.

So, if you join us tonight at 7:30 for The Olympic Zone….NOW you know where we are! Maybe we’ll see you there….

Looking for a new vet…..
August 12, 2008

See how upset baby is?

See how upset baby is?

OK, here’s what happened, and it is not the first time. I had taken both my cats, Muffy and Baby Girl in for shots this past Saturday….in two different trips as we only have one cat cage. On the second trip with Muffy, who is of a delicate sensibility and always  a little nervous when a trip in the cage is involved….there were two big dogs inside. This is not an office where like Falls Road Animal Clinic they have a dog waiting place and a cat waiting place…you’re all just dumped in one room. And these dogs were not being nice. One was barking his head off, and the other was barking and straining against his leash, eyes bulging, and if that beast got away from his owner, it was not gonna be pretty…and it might even hurt. The owner said apologetically, ” He’s my problem child, always has been.” Yeah, lady, why don’t you take your problem child somewhere else or get him a muzzle? I didn’t say this of course, just gave her a cold look.

As the barking continues,(and I’m on time for the appt, yet waiting, waiting), I finally ask the receptionist (who was very busy texting someone about something), “Is there anywhere else I can wait?”….she glances up for a second, “You could wait outside.” Sure, that makes sense, because it is clearly MY pet that is misbehaving….

I finally motion to the other side of the counter, where you pay and is at least you are separated from a dog’s teeth by a wall and a desk…..”Can I at least wait over there?”

“Oh…sure”. Grrrrrrrrrr….that was me, not the dog. Soooooooo, I’m looking for a vet who just does cats. A feline vet, a chat vet, a kitty-cat only vet. Got one? Heard of one? Recommend one?

Harper finds a home?

Harper finds a home?

P.S. An update on Harper…..the little grey stray I brought home after drinking wine at a dinner party…I thinkI’ve found him a permanent home. Keep your fingers crossed…will let you know when the ink is dry.

Weekend wrapup… pretty much the big O!!
August 11, 2008

Seriously, my weekend was all about the O, as in Olympics. I simply could not believe my eyes Friday for the opening ceremony. Un-freakin-believable. Beautiful….eye-popping…mesmerizing….intimidating. You name it, I had the feeling…including some chills. I’ve given a link to some video images of that night set to music in case you missed it….what a shame if you did. But most people didn’t . The 2008 Beijing Olympics is kicking it out of the park, ratings wise. Millions and millions of people watched this weekend….from start to finish.

I was wondering how my 22 year old daughter would react to watching…will the younger demographic want to see it, and for how long?  She never once asked to change the channel. That astounded me…and when that happened, I knew the weekend numbers would be big, big, big. And they were. Americans are in…all in.

We did eat Chinese Friday night in honor of the occasion…from P.F. Changs….”Ooooh, upscale..” said my Ozone co-host Gerry Sandusky. Whatever, Ger, it was good. Really good. Hot fish is my favorite from there…followed closely by Wok seared lamb…..yummy.

And if there are events you missed here’s a link to NBC Encore….they have tons of videos for you to check out. See you tonight at 7:30 for the Olympic Zone, and then….more O!!!!! And by the way, I WANT AN OLYMPICS GOODIE BAG TOO!! Waaaah!