Archive for November, 2008

Cornbread dressing and Thanksgiving…
November 26, 2008

Whenever I start to assemble the ingredients for my Momma’s cornbread dressing...I feel a little nostalgic. I remember her standing over the stove, cooking mounds of onions and celery, that were to be added to the buttermilk cornbread she had already prepared in big hot cast iron skillets. And keep in mind, in the South, we eat dressing, not stuffing. And it’s cooked on the side, not in the bird. And it’s made with cornbread(oh dear God, don’t ever try this with the travesty of sweetened cornbread), not bread cubes.

The basic mix....with homemade cornbread, natch...

The basic mix....with homemade cornbread, natch...

Mom’s dressing is pretty simple really, as long as you begin the day before getting the cornbread done. My first Thanksgiving here in Baltimore, my first year away from ‘bama, and my first ever preparing the meal on my own…was a disaster. I waited to until that day to do everything. Such innocence. With only one oven to cook a turkey, the dressing, the cornbread for the dressing, the sweet potatoes….it was a long day and maybe the latest we’ve ever eaten Thanksgiving dinner.

Sauteed shitakes.....dont tell my Momma...

Sauteed shitakes.....don't tell my Momma...

So let’s just say you cook a big pan of cornbread the day before….crumble that up and add a couple of sauteed onions and plenty of celery, Momma does put in a single bag of Pepperidge Farm stuffingfor flavoring…they know what they’re doing….salt and pepper, some sage if you’re feeling daring, mix it alll up with plenty of broth for moisture. She says her Mother….Clifford(can you imagine?)…put in a couple of eggs. But Mom likes the dressing not so set, as do I, so no eggs here. But don’t skimp on the broth…it should be just slightly goopey. Bake at 350 degrees for maybe 30-40 minutes until set. It’s luscious. Divine simplicity….this year I added some sauteed shitake mushrooms this year, from that crazy mushroom log I told you about. That…Momma would consider just so wrong, or as she would say, “That’s a good way to mess up a pan of dressing.”

But I don’t think it will…just adding my own touch, as she added hers along the way. And so it goes, Thanksgiving traditions passed down from one generation to the next. I’d love to hear about yours, and I’ll post your responses Friday. Have a wonderful day tomorrow, even if you don’t have a big happy family at your table…not everyone does, you know. I distinctly remember one bizarre Thanksgiving as a girl, when my Mom’s side of the family ( there were issues with her brother), including my Grandparents, now long departed, all sat silently at dinner.  My sisters and I shot looks at each other that basically said, “Can you believe this ??” Luckily that only happend once.

So, let’s be thankful for what we do have, whatever it is…cousins who argue, a Grandfather that drinks too much, a sister who criticizes your every move, kids who don’t understand why we all have to sit for a long time at the table with all these people! And you may even be alone…if you are, I hope you find a way to celebrate. Fix yourself a nice dinner, or buy it, light some candles and watch It’s a Wonderful Life….because it is you know, even it it ain’t perfect. Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

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Real Men Wear Blush…..
November 24, 2008

Meterologist John Collins strapped to the makeup chair....smile!

Meterologist John Collins strapped to the makeup chair....smile!

Ah, yes….last week was high-definition makeup class 101 here at WBAL-TV….high def cometh. And certainly around the country there has been everything from dread, to curiosity, to apprehension, to outright panic about the approach of high definition to the newsroom cameras. And makeup will change, but it seems not necessarily as much as we all thought. To put it simply and not bore you with the details, makeup will be lighter, and more blended. most of will probably switch bases to a line called Makeup Forever .  It’s like this. When I leave the studio now and want to go out, I have to take off part of my makeup….it isn’t something I would wear on the street. Now I won’t have to do that….this is a much more natural look. Makeup artist Debi Young also made it painless…and fun….she is so talented having done makeup for many movies and tv shows, and a joyful spirit to be around. That’s a good thing when people are uneasy, and they are uneasy about change.

Look at all the stuff it takes!!

Look at all the stuff it takes!!

I think the females here are totally into it…hey, we’ve been playing with makeup since we were at  our Mother’s knees…getting into the rouge pot, putting on powder with a fluffy puff, smearing on lipstick…it’s a natural thing for us. Not so much for the guys. They’re used to slapping on a little foundation, some powder and hitting the studio. So this this time of self-reflection in the mirror is a little more unnatural.

My friend Gerry Sandusky stopped by last week, and was asking Debi about blush. Surprised, I asked somewhat incredulously, I think, “You wear blush ?”

Not losing a beat, he snapped back, “Yes, Donna, don’t look so surprised…real men wear blush.” And there you  have it. So guys, when you’re looking a little pale, a little wan….thinking that perhaps mid winter, you needa little touch of the sun on the apples of your cheeks, reach for a little blush. Powder, gel, stick….just grab it and apply to said apples. Ummmm, that rosy kiss of health…of youth…of a brisk stroll outdoors. That look can be yours… real men do wear blush…. just keep it light, and for Debi’s sake, don’t forget to blend.

Not as green as I think I am??
November 20, 2008

Look, I really do try to live green….I carry reusable bags for groceries. I recycle the plastic bags if I forget. I’m getting a tankless water heater…trying, anyway. I drive a hybrid, and I hypermile. I recycle all my newspaper, magazines and catalogues….all plastics and glass. Come on….I’m pretty darn green, OK? But here’s the thing.

An outraged Lisa Robinson.....or maybe just surprised....

An outraged Lisa Robinson.....or maybe just surprised....

I like to keep a plant on my desk, something pretty, just for looks. It pleases me. So, right before we had some company bosses come in, ( and you wanted your work area to look nice for company, right….judging, judging)  I bought a pretty calla lily with the loveliest orange/brown blooms. Very nice. And it stayed nice for about a month. But in spite of watering it, soon it a very sad little plant. Sooooo, and I’m sorry to say this, but I put it in the trashcan. Along comes 11 News I-Team’s Lisa Robinson, who plucks it from the garbage, offended, and says, “You are the green queen, and you just throw this living thing away? Just throw it away?” I respond…weakly, “Well, it looks horrible,……what else am I supposed to do with it ?” She suggested taking it home and trying to nurse it back to health. I wasn’t up to that, but Lisa was. So while she’s not a big recycler…yet…I’m working on her….she is recycling my calla lily. So, I owe her. And at least Lisa’s not investigating me…..are you?

I was right…it is…all about the hair.
November 18, 2008

See it? See the hair? Love the hair...be the hair!!

See it? See the hair? Love the hair...be the hair!!

Again with the hair!! You may find this hard to believe…I did…and then again , I didn’t….but our website here at WBAL TV….has had 67-thousand hits on our “hair then and now” post. The one with Jayne Miller and curly locks….me in much shorter hair, oh the hairdos, the hairdos, the hairdos-dos-dos-dos! It’s still on the front page, getting more hits. (And my hair is different still from my most recent photo).

 

 

If we had all the money we have collectively spent on color, cuts, glossing creams, shampoo and conditioner, stylists, mousse, straightening cream, silicone gels, flatirons, hairdryers(now one knows but the hairdryer graveyard)….and just gooey stuff to make you hair look better, we could all take a trip to the Carribbean….a really nice trip.

You may be thinking wow, how shallow is that…all that attention on hair. And yes, you are correct,  at first glance seems to be …a vanity issue. And I suppose it is, but Corbin (who you saw doing Deborah Weiner’s hair, and whom I have also known for over 20 years) put it this way. Or something like this. “It’s all about the framing. You look at someone on television, and you have to like the silhouette, the look,….because if you don’t, chances are you might just use the clicker.” Horrors. We definitely do not want that. And many viewers are not shy at all about sharing their opinions of how our hair looks. Yeah.  Soooooooo, we worry with our hair, and curl it and color it and straighten it and gloss it. But really, we’re not so different from anyone else….not at all. Most women (and many many men)spend a great deal of time and $$$$ on their locks. Hair ain’t called “the crowning glory” for nothing. But still….67-thousand hits. Really?

Mystery squirrel inflicts untold damage to unsuspecting pumpkin….
November 17, 2008

What the hell happened here??

What the hell happened here??

A couple of large pumpkins have been sitting in front of my house since Halloween…I was a Halloween grinch and didn’t carve them…but they do last much longer when uncarved. But about a week or so ago, tiny little carvings started to appear on the pumpkin’s orange flesh. It looked for all the world like someone with one of those fancy carving kits has struck…where you carve shapes into but not through the pumpkin…a kind of pumpkin whittling, if you catch my drift.  And we never see the mystery carver, only the handiwork. And the carving has progressed.

Crude map of the world?

Crude map of the world?

I think my mystery carver…some hungry yet artistic squirrel…may be going for a squirrel’s view map of the world…I mean,  Florida and Australia are clearly visible. Or perhaps, a turkey with a tiny head in full plumage?  Maybe it is simply a work unfinished…waiting to unfold. But this is what I think is in store for my pumpkin, compliments of youtube….of course..

Ray Lewis and the Grinch….
November 14, 2008

I took this picture BEFORE the announcement about no pictures...really.

I took this picture BEFORE the announcement about no pictures...really.

Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas holds special memories for me. We have a dog-earred copy of that wonderful tale, and when my kids were little, it was brought out faithfully for their Dad to read to them every Christmas….he does wonderful voices, and really is a great grinch….in a good way.  So when I heard that the book, after becoming a movie(which I never saw) was now a Broadway play and in town…count me in, baby!  Waltzed down to the Hippodrome last night for the opening night…it’s the begining of the Broadway Show’s national tour….and let me just say right up front…I loved it. More on that later….but the show began with a surprise…it was past curtain time at 8 PM…and there were restless kids in the audience, and I’m thinking…”what’s the holdup? A rip in the Grinch suite? Cindy Lou Who having wig trouble…I got here on time, let’s start!!?” But then “who”(sorry) whould come on stage but the great Ray Lewis?

Ray-ray on stage!!

Ray-ray on stage!!

I know you can’t see in my picture, but take my word for it. It was Ray, surrounded by about 10 cute kids….who gathered at his feet, while be began reading  Dr. Seuss’ Christmas favorite. He just read the beginning of the story, and while he didn’t do any special voices (which the story really calls for Ray), he did fine….and on with the show.

Kids in the audience were mesmerized, beautiful colors, great songs…could it get better? Yes it does!! Saints be praised, hallelujah…..this play is 90 minutes long with NO INTERMISSION. I have a thing about intermissions. I hate them. So 1955, big time-waster, I’ve said it before….away with intermissions. Banish them forever. So last night, as is befitting a family performance, people were leaving at 9:30. Love it. And there are four performances on Saturdays, three on Sundays….so if you can afford it, it is a great holiday treat for your kids(tickets range from $25-$65 fyi, depending on location). And if the tickets don’t fit the budget, and hey, they may not this year….get a copy of Dr. Seuss’ book…get your Grinch voice going, oh, and one for Cindy Lou Who, who was no more than twoWHO was fabulous last night…what a voice in such a tiny body!!

Growing my own private stash of mushrooms…right in the open!
November 12, 2008

What the heck????

What the heck????

It’s another one of those odd things I get  in the mail…..a mushroom log. Not that it looked like much when I opened the box from Gourmet Mushrooms….as you can see it’s just a kinda scuzzy looking little loggy thing….but supposedly, if you run water over it, put it back in the bag, wait a few days, shitake mushrooms will begin to grow….that the log has been innoculated with mushroom spores, that can be grown on a kitchen counter, a desktop, anywhere inside really…and all you need is water.  How easy is that?

 

 

 

Now look at it...sprouting...things!!

Now look at it...sprouting...things!!

Here’s what my log looks like almost a week later…..I’m growing shitakes, baby…my own private stash! The kit instructions say I can expect to harvest maybe a pound of the fungi…in mushroom speak, the crop is called a “mushroom flush”. And for those of you who want to grow mushroomw outdoors, there’s an outdoor kit too, even one that grows the cute, (very expensive IF YOU FIND THEM IN A MARKET) morel mushroom

CREATE AN EARTH FRIENDLY, SUSTAINABLE, ORGANIC MOREL MUSHROOM GARDEN & GROW MORELS IN YOUR BACKYARD
The indoor kits are $19.95…Great gift idea for a gourmand, or even a child who likes to watch things grow…AND you get to eat the mushrooms later! What’s not to like?

BPA free finally hits the shelves….
November 10, 2008

BPA free water bottles!

BPA free water bottles!

Was doing a little holiday shopping this weekend….at Eddie Bauer they have these neat BPA freewater bottles. It’s the first time I have seen any that prominently display that fact….bpa, if you don’t know, is Bisphenol-Aa chemical in many many plastics, including some baby bottles. There has been a good dea of controversy over BPA, and whether it is safe in small quantities, or not…many experts say no, especially for babies and children. I was happy to see one retailer get on the bandwagon….

Solar-crank powered radio/cell phone charger/flashlight!!

Solar-crank powered radio/cell phone charger/flashlight!!

And I bought a couple of Solar Dynamo Radio Lightsfor gifts. It is a solar powered, radio/flashlight/cell phone charger, and you can also crank power it. Pretty neat really, especially in a power outage. And only 30 bucks…both L.L.Bean and E. Bauer’s had them.  Great for a car. They’re only about 5 inches long. Cute and handy…What have you found lately?

I’m a Lip Balm Addict….so what?
November 7, 2008

right before I go to sleep....

right before I go to sleep....

It’s the last thing I do at night…reach for my little tin of Burt’s Bees. So soothing, knowing my lips won’t get chapped overnight. Hey, I’ve long known I’m a Lip Balm Addict…that I’m powerless over lip balm…though I haven’t always thought of it those terms. And yes, it’s true, I turned both of my kids into LBA’s as well. When they were just little tykes I was always slathering chapstick or more likely, Burt’s Bees’ balm on their little lips. I slip tubes of Kiehl’s lip balm into their Christmas stockings….and I will tell you, that seeing someone with chapped, cracked lips…just about sends me over the edge. It’s all I can do, to resist the urge to grab some lip balm from my well stocked…ok, over-stocked bag of balms, glosses and lipsticks, and slather something on them. I cannot stand looking at chapped lips.

The lovely Jennifer, my son’s fiancee, accuses me turning him into a a lip balm addict…there’s no defense really , I know it’s true.

OK, from one addict to another….what’s your favorite lip balm? My longtime fav has been Burt’s Bees Beeswax Balm. That sweet little yellow tin that when twisted open, releases its sweet, pepperminty, beeswaxy smell. Goes on smooth, not too shiny…men like it too. Love the beeswax, be the beeswax!! Very comforting.

Alternate way to get my fix...

Alternate way to get my fix...

I have also found another fix in Lip Cream from DHC, with olive oil and vitamin e. It’s the little pink tube…a little shine, but not too glossy. (DHC also makes the wonderful Skin Velvet Coat, their under makeup product that several of us here at TV-11 adore…). I have used and loved Carmex, though it’s a little too medicinal for me….and MAC also makes a very nice lip conditioner, shinier, and you can get it colors. 

For those of you who are also LBAs, and want to kick the habit, there is a place for you to get help. Lip Balm Anonymous. There you can find others like yourself, and those who can say that they no longer have tubes and tins of balm floating around their cars, pockets and houses. I am not among them. For now, especially now in anxious times, I’m keeping the lip balm monkey on my back.

Candy that won’t pack on the pounds and flowers that never die…..
November 6, 2008

Calorie free gumballs!!

Calorie free gumballs!!

Look at it. Gorgeous  gumballs, and all calorie free!! And there are lollipops and pix stix  and so much more….These colorful images would look so great in  kitchen, or a kid’s room…or anywhere really…are by a very talented  photographer here at WBAL-TV 11. Jenn Lauren loves taking pictures, and her images are so good, that she is now being sold at the Michael Joseph Gallery in Fort Lauderdale.  Jenn came by my desk a couple of weeks ago and exclaimed, “Can you believe it? A gallery is selling my pictures!!” She just couldn’t quite fathom it.
But I could…good is good…the gallery knew that. And Jenn has turned many of her photos into cards…. colorful lights and pine cones would be  fabulous holiday seasonal cards. You might get one from me this winter!! But my favorites are her nature shots…..like the purple coneflower here….several people at at TV-11 (and you would know their names) have some of her nature photos in larger form, framed on the walls of their homes. They’re gorgeous, and the colors are so intensely vivid.

And on another subject, I was remiss not to post this earlier, with everyone beginning holiday shopping….when I wrote a post about layaway coming back, I got this from Heather…who is a small e-retailer whose beautiful sconces we showed pictures of….

“Thanks for the great feedback on the site. I love those sconces, too. We try to gather items that we would use in our own home. And if anyone is interested…as a thank you, 20% off for you and your readers on a first order. Just type in coupon code WBALTV when prompted. “(Their site at http://www.crunchygranolahome.com, is an eco-friendly lifestyle website.) Heather does have some cool stuff there…thanks Heather!!