Archive for July, 2009

A Quick Update..Beef Bourguignon laced with Harry Potter and Julia Child
July 31, 2009

 Sorry about no bloggy-mac-blog-blog this week….I’ve been a bad girl. A loyal reader wrote in saying(ok, complaining)…” Please tell Donna to update her Hamilton’s Habitat. Nothing has been posted since 7/24.” Hey, I know that, and I’ve felt guilty every single day, ok? But here’s a quick update…it’s almost news time!

I’m back on another round of antibiotics…no, not for a communicable disease, but for some recurring symptoms of Lyme Disease. But I’m hopeful this will take care of things. I’ll keep you posted.

My daughter was called for her first ever jury duty yesterday. She asked me the night before what time she had to be there….”8:15 am“, I told her. Horrified, she said, “8:15? How on earth do people go to work by then???” Ahhhh, grasshopper…..I told her lots and lots and lots and lots of people, including her Dad, have to be at work  by then…and lots more get to go in even earlier. The fact did not console her… at all. But she made it to the courthouse on time….did get called, but not selected as a juror(SHOCKER)….much relief on her part.

Making seafood paella

Making seafood paella

Let’s see, what else? I made a paella last weekend….found some wild caught shrimp that were really nice at the Supermarket….that were $7.99 a pound! Not bad for shrimp….and I keep a little jar of saffron(the most expensive spice in the world) in the frig, for just such an occasion, because it’s really not easy to find on the fly. I now order it off the internet.

Mmmmm, let’s see…went to yoga class and got my butt kicked Tuesday night…sometimes that instructor seems a little mean, but in a good way. I really felt it the next day, which means it’s a good workout.

And my daughter called this morning…you know, the one who plops roasts into the over without a pan underneath because I didn’t say use a pan…and asked, where one gets “stew meat”. “In the grocery store at the meat counter“, I say levelly.

Does it say stew meat?”

It might but it’s just cut up chunks of beef….why do you need stew meat?

Will ours look like this?

Will ours look like this?

I’m cooking dinner for you! Julia Child’s Beef Bo-erg-ooee-gon!” She’s delighted by the idea. And it is very, very sweet. “Do you mean beef bourguignon?” She does indeed. She has been inspired by the new movie coming out about la Julia, and Mastering the Art of French Cooking was one of the first serious cookbooks I used. I have made the above recipe many, many times. It is excellent…but there are many steps…perhaps too many for my girl? We shall see…the bacon has already been deleted I hear. But it will probably still be delicious….I’ll let you know how it went, but it is an ambitious recipe, as are many of Julia’s recipes. 

And today is J.K. Rowling’s birthday! Maybe we will celebrate by seeing the latest Harry Potter movie on the IMAX, at the Maryland Science Center…that really should rock. And for those of you discouraged about life or your job, or lack of one, remember that J.K. was an unemployed single mom, at rock bottom, which she said she found freeing….because there she was, but still standing. Her Harry Potter series became one of the best selling book series( and movies) of all time. Goes to show you, you just never know, and should never give up. A single idea can turn into great things. Or maybe just a very good beef stew. And tonight, that’s just fine with me. Have a lovely weekend, play nice, and come home safe…we miss you.

The Fight against Cankles…a new worry for women….
July 24, 2009

Self portratrait of my ankles....

Self portratrait of my ankles....

I learned something new this morning, and I had to pass it right along to you. I’m breathless….Do your calves kind of just run into your ankles with no demarcation? Are your ankles stubby? Fat? You may have cankles!!You heard me….cankles. (My daughter tells me she knew of cankles long ago…as usual, I’m behind…)

According to the Wall Street Journal online cankles have become a  big problem in this country….cankles (a portmanteau word-look it up here-I didn’t know what it meant either)….are according to the report, an issue for Hillary Clinton(this I knew but I doubt she cares) and Miley Cyrus (are you kidding me… But evidently she addresses her cankles in her autobiography which is why someone that young should never, never write an autobiography).  Exercise routines and yes, even liposuction are ways to which women desperate to shed their cankles, have resorted. And from what I gather the exercise route isn’t actually reducing  your ankles, oops…cankles, but making your calves bigger, so your ankles look smaller by comparison. Get it? Or the writer suggests using Preparation H on the ankles at night, and wrapping bandages around them(ummmm, so sexy…my lady!)…to get rid of any excess water. I dunno…sounds kind of weird, though I know women who use it around their eyes. Luckily, I have skinny ankles…but plenty of other body issues to worry about (muffin-top anyone?), of this you can be sure.  Who cares? Thick ankled girls unite! Take back your skirts and your gladiator sandals! Walk proud, and know your ankles are sturdy…sensible…solid.

Weekend Wrapup: Cake and Popular Girl Syndrome
July 20, 2009

My non-view of Cake...not so sweet...

My non-view of Cake...not so sweet...

For those of you who went to Artscape late Saturday afternoon hoping to catch a glimpse of the band Cake, as they performed at 6:30….I hope you got there a whole lot earlier than I did. By the time we found a parking space (got a $27 ticket…thanks Baltimore City), and wiggled through the crowd…the amphitheatre was totally packed…seriously, not a place to sit, or even stand where you could see them. So, we heard a few songs(though no Short Skirt, Long Jacket)…briefly considered a looooooong line for food, and peaced out for home and leftovers and Beyond Rangoon on Netflix. The leftovers were good, the movie …not so much.

Owl cake made from split oreo cookies, icing, and m&ms....

Owl cake made from split oreo cookies, icing, and m&m's....

Sunday afternoon  my daughter and I went to a gathering of …wow, I’m not sure how to put this…ex-sorority girls? No that’s not right, because once a sister always a sister…so, umm…mature sorority girls maybe? Oh, I don’t know, but we all used to belong to the same college sorority from schools all over the nation, and now live in Baltimore and occasionally have a little meet and greet. It’s usually people you don’t know at all…which is a little nerve wracking for almost anyone. Add to that you don’t know what the ages of the group will be for the most part….it can be girls who are just out of college and recently moved to town….to those in their 30s and 40 with a couple of kids… to women who have retired. Let me say that yesterday, I was the oldest sorority girl there…and I would not have attended this gathering( I suspected it was a pretty young group) except that I was my daughter’s security blanket.  It was a potluck…and she made this really cute owl cake that she saw online…me…pulled pork barbecue.

But the whole gathering made me think about how it almost felt like rush…going into a room full of girls you do not know…who are all there, to judge you and your worthiness. Not fun. So there is an element of this still present when you go to a party where you don’t know people. Will they like me? What should I wear? Am I overdressed? Underdressed? OMG!!! It takes you right back to the days when you wanted to be the popular girl. And indeed, there is still that wannabe in most of us. Even at my Mom’s retirement home, there are cliques and the cool people…”Oh, she has lots of money and she doesn’t mind you knowing it!”, she will say about a seemingly nice lady who is dripping with jewelry. So my Mom would never dream of sitting with her…she’s a popular  girl. I was talking about this very thing with a “sister” who is a math professor at a local college….(math whiz?)…about how insecure going to a gathering where you don’t know anyone can make you? She commented, “It’s interesting that with you being on tv and doing what you do, you still think about what to wear…”, but I’m no different than her.  I believe that people are all the same on the inside….even those you see as self-possessed and confident… they still worry just as much as anyone else about who likes them. Maybe more. Anyway, it ended up being  a fun couple of hours…nice young women, a couple of husbands, two kids and one dog. And how was your weekend?

Food for Friday: Changing the world one plate at a time!
July 17, 2009

Plates Cafe, change the world one plate at a time...

Plates Cafe, change the world one plate at a time...

Normally, I eat lunch at my desk….almost always the same thing…a spinach salad, topped with crunchies and canned salmon..I’ve been eating it for years. But today, I’m breaking the pattern, and heading off to Plates Cafe and Catering, downtown on Charles Street. Never heard of it, you say? That’s because it opened just this week, serving lunch Monday-Friday from 11 am to 4 pm

Plates Cafe is the brainchild of Bridget and Galen Sampson… they are the duo behind the always popular and always delicious Dogwood restaurant, on 36th Street in Hampden. Some of you may know that the Sampsons not only try to use local food products in their restaurant, they also provide job training and a real world employable craft to people who have had some hard times….whether through incarceration or drugs, and are striving for a new and better life. And you can’t get there without a job.  So, Plates is expanding that mission….not only providing classroom training by a 5-star chef, but also professional experience, counseling, job placement and support services.  And while that is great all by itself, there’s more.      


Sock monkeys at the Exchange!!

Sock monkeys at the Exchange!!

It was sad when the lunchroom inside the Women’s Industrial Exchange  closed their doors after a century in business(the crafts part was always  open, still selling those cute sock monkeys!)…I love the space, the black and white checked floors and have enjoyed their chicken salad and tomato aspic, more times than I’d care to count. But it’s nice to know the restaurant space is alive again, providing a place to have a great lunch and provide employment for people, who want the chance to provide for their families. I  hope you will support Plates Cafe…and its mission.    





my slammin salmon blt!

my slammin' salmon blt!

Update:  Just got back from Plates….had a fabulous salmon blt….seared salmon, bacon, local tomatoes, lettuce…what’s not to’s now my new fav blt.

Charm City Cupcakes...

Charm City Cupcakes...

Oh, and here’s something I didn’t know….though probably many of you do….Charm City Cupcakes  has the most darling cupcake stand inside the historic Brown’s Arcade…also on Charles Street…and an equally charming man named Billy Palmer was selling those sweet little morsels…and when I said I didn’t know that’s where CC cupcakes were located, he said( joking I think), “I know where you are….am I gonna have to change the channel??”  I assured him that would not be necessary, and bought a red velvet, a pecan praline, a vanilla vanilla, and a chocolate mousse filled one. Yummo…can’t  wait for desert tonight….










Bye-bye Smith and Hawken….just too blooming bad!
July 14, 2009

Smith and Hawken says bye-bye in email.....

Smith and Hawken says bye-bye in email.....

I got a surprising, ok…kinda shocking, email this morning….you see it in the picture there….Smith and Hawken is going bye-bye. All 56 stores will close by the end of the year, and the company is no longer taking online or phone orders. No doubt a sign of the financial times, S&H was an upscale, gardening store that catered to those who loved to garden, and had the taste and money to indulge in their goods. There used to be a lovely store in Mt Washington Village, until a flood closed it, and they never came back. But I  cruised through their aisles at lunch, more times than I’d care to count, just to smell the rarified air and look at their beautiful products. Oh, they had good sales…and that was when I would buy things from S&H….and I’ve found many gifts there for others(and for myself) that I still love. And they carried excellent English made, gardening tools. Pricey, but well made and guaranteed for a lifetime.

lounging, sipping and flipping....

lifestyle, lifestyle, lifestyle....

What Smith and Hawken sold really, especially in the past 5 years or so…was lifestyle….a lovely, gracious, and expensive lifestyle….come on, who doesn’t want their back patio to look like on of  S&H’s?  You can just imagine yourself out there, lounging in the shade, sipping a glass of wine and flipping through the pages of a glossy magazine….can’t you? It’s  a lovely dream, anyway.

What happened to S&H? Chalk up another victim to the recession, at least in part….Here’s a link to an article  from the San Francisco area, which is where the company was based… about the whodunnit. One of the founders said when S&H was bought by Scott’s Miracle-Gro in 2004, it was the beginning of the end….here’s a quote from  Mr. Paul Hawken in the above article…”How could you possibly have a gardening store in this economy and go wrong?”  Hawken said. “I’ll tell you why. This wasn’t a gardening store anymore. Even though gardening and garden seeds are booming, all of a sudden you’re left with an image and a lot of products that real gardeners and real farmers don’t really need or want.”

Enough said….except for this…700 people will lose their jobs, and any way you look at it, that’s a bloomin’ shame. Look for deep discounts ahead if you live near one of their stores, as the company begins to liquify their stuff(where’s C-Mart when you need them?). But it makes me sad. I really loved that store…at least the store it used to be.

Six $$ Cheeseburger!
July 13, 2009

Mmmmmmm....cheeseburger goodness...

Mmmmmmm....cheeseburger goodness...

You know that I’m always looking for a food bargain…a place to eat out that is pretty, fun, good food..and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. An email from Fleming’s Steakhouse (which can be a pretty pricey joint) downtown at the Harbor, revealed a real possibility for good food and savings….their Five for Six before Seven menu. Five mixed drinks and five glasses of wine, and five appetizers….all for $6 each, before 7 PM, any day. I had a similar email fromPazo in Fells Point, called Pazo Cinco, but that’s only Monday-Friday, 5-7 PM, and this was Saturday night… off to Flemings, after an afternoon showing of Public Enemies at the Landmark Theatre just down the street…Johnny Depp‘s latest offering to the movie world(I give it a B).

two drinks: $12

two drinks: $12

We cruised into the bar at Flemings…indeed, this is the only area where you can get the special menu deal(and it filled up pretty fast)….ordered a mojito and a glass of pinot grigio..$12, in case you’re counting.  And one of eachof the appetizers…TENDERLOIN CARPACCIO with  Creole Mustard Sauce, SWEET CHILI CALAMARI, CAJUN BARBECUE SHRIMP, SEARED AHI TUNA, and JUMBO LUMP CRAB CAKES……and because they had just added a bacon cheeseburger to the list, we ordered that too. Let me just say….it was way  too much food, but in the interest of scientific progress, I felt we should try each one. My favs were the calamari, the carpaccio and the shrimp…and the cheeseburger arriving last(which I thought would be like a “slider” tiny burger but it isn’’s full size with two fat onion rings), we had wrapped up…we couldn’t eat another bite. Total tab: 6 appetizers and 2 drinks….$48….not bad, not bad at all…and the cheeseburger is still in the fridge….waiting for me. At least I hope it’s there when I get home.

The controversy over Lyme Disease update….a gathering storm?
July 8, 2009

Theres no medicine for someone like you...

There's no medicine for someone like you...

I wanted to thank all of you who wrote responses to my blog entry about contracting Lyme Disease…the more I’ve read about this disease, and it is scary, let me tell you…the more I realize how fortunate I am to have 1. developed a rash, and 2. gotten treatment right away. I was so happy when I recently took my last dose of Doryx!!( And it was expensive…$150 even with prescription coverage..the lady at Giant Pharmacy said “whew” when she rang it up-I soon found out why.) These are just a few comments I’ve received….from Lucy:

Dear Donna,

Thank you for your anticipated upcoming effort to educate others concerning Lyme and tick borne diseases.I am happy to hear you got the rash so it could alert you to the fact you had a problem. I am also happy to hear and that you saw the rash and acted promptly (approximately 50 percent of those infected don’t get the rash in Maryland- and less than 10 percent of children get a rash).I am thankful that your doctor was able to recognise the rash and you were treated promptly. (This isn’t always the case and the rash is often misdiagnosed as a spider bite or ring worm or some other malady.)”

And oddly enough, before I saw my doctor, I thought maybe it was a spider bite too!

And starting this Friday night, July 10th, at The Senator Theatre on York Road, an award winning documentary about Lyme Disease called Under Our Skin-the Untold Story of Lyme Disease will be showing for a week(click here if you want to see the film trailer-wow)….I plan to see the film with my family, and I hope you do too. Being unaware of Lyme Disease and its dangers , is a risky ignorance. I hope you’ll see it. Linda Brace, the mother of a young woman featured in the documentary wrote me this:

Dear Ms. Hamilton:  I am the mother of Mandy Hughes, who is featured in the documentary “Under Our Skin” and frequently the spokesperson at events and screenings related to the documentary.

As a parent, I had/have all the hopes that my vibrant, healthy and intelligent child would grow up and thrive. Going from a dream of working in the profession of her choice, to within a few short years, wheelchair bound and in extreme pain, which you have seen in the documentary, cripples an entire family.

What is not seen are the personal struggles/tolls taken on families both emotionally and financially seeking out treatments that the Healthcare community refuses to acknowledge in hopes that this will all “just go away”. The fact is that it will not go away and neither can we.”

And don’t forget, it’s not just humans who get Lyme Disease…your pets can also be victims…perhaps more easily than you.

Adventures in Lyme Disease….and the Big Apple…
July 7, 2009

Waitin for the big blowout on the Hudson...

Waitin' for the big blowout on the Hudson...

I was going to blog today simply about my weekend in New York for the 4th… but this morning…. I saw it…a promo on our air, about my recent bout with Lyme Disease, which airs tomorrow night. Knowing the story was airing pretty soon, I hadn’t written about it here. But now that the promo is gonna be seen…maybe a lot…I just want to tell readers I am OK!  I was happy to do the story, because I thought it would help other people, but the thing I dreaded about it was the immediate large number of friends and neighbors and co-workers, who I never told about it(I mean what do you say? Oh, I have Lyme Disease, by the way) who will now say, “How are you? I had no idea!”

Funny sign and pig nose in a costume shop..

Funny sign and pig nose in a costume shop..

And what is it about New York and Lyme Disease?? That’s where I was…in NYC for my son’s wedding… when I discovered the odd looking rash…the very morning of the wedding, so I really didn’t have any time to cogitate it at all. But I did know I needed to see a doctor as soon as I got home. And I did. My dermatologist, Dr. Eva Simmons-Obrien took one look at it and said, “Lyme Disease.” And it was right after I got home from this weekend’s  trip to NYC that I saw the promo, which kind of brought it all back. Film at 11, as they say.

It was lovely in the Big Apple this weekend, just like it was here in  Baltie….cool at night, warm breezy days. The fireworks over the Hudson were spectacular, though we were about 10 blocks south of where the six barges on the Hudson River actually began. I could see three of the six…and when I saw the video the next day on tv from television’s always privileged advantage point…they looked even more fabulous. But it was nice being at the waterfront with thousands of other people who just wanted to see it for themselves. Everyone was in a good mood, and friendly…lots of families, romantic couples, all ages and descriptions…New York.

Chocolate milkshake at Sweetiepie!

Chocolate milkshake at Sweetiepie!

And the city was quiet, except for that night. Lots of residents beat feet out of town I suppose, leaving the tranquil streets for the rest of us to enjoy. I engaged in a lot of walking around….my favorite thing there…each trip I go I learn that huge beast of a city a little bit better. Going to New York used to be something I rather dreaded, because…I just didn’t know where to start. Know what I mean? You know everything you can imagine is there, but you’re not sure where it is or how to get there. I’m much better now. And we had some great grub…though a lunch at the much talked about Sweetiepie Restaurant in Greenwich Village, was kind of a disaster(though the food was pretty good). And I knew it was gonna be rough the moment we stepped throught  the door. Filled with screaming small children and mommies…it was a cruel thing to do to the hubby…and he got a nosebleed(how perfect is that?) right at the end of lunch. Blood pouring…so he leaves my daughter and I to pay up…only we cannot for the life of us  get the check. So I head to the marble ice cream counter where a beleaguered waiter is making(and spilling) two Bloody Marys for some parents that needed something to soothe their jagged nerves. A woman marches up to the counter and demands those drinks…”We’ve been waiting for those Bloody Marys for a half hour. That’s ridiculous!!”  Yeah, I hear you lady, but I want my check first…I need to blow this joint and fast.  Eating was uphill from there….El Charro in the village for a fabulous paella and sangria….The Spotted Pig for some, well… pig …the next night, and we actually got a table within 30 minutes!

We Megabused up and back…traffic made it a little longer on the return, but hey, it’s all good.

Hats off !…a Fourth of July remembrance….
July 3, 2009

Hats Off! The Flag is Passing By....

Hat's Off! The Flag is Passing By....

Sometimes I have the most amazing chats with my 89 year old Mommy. For every mundane how are you feeling, what did you have for dinner, what are you doing today conversation, she still has the ability to surprise me. Like this morning….she was describing a little 4th of July party at her assisted living facility, at which she recited a poem, Hats Off!! , that she had memorized in the 4th grade, (that would be about 80 years ago)and still remembers by heart!! She recited it to me over the phone….perfectly…I asked her who wrote it, she replied, “Oh, I don’t remember that.” But I looked it up online…and found it in 20 seconds (which amazed my non-computer literate Mom)…Hat’s Off ! was written by Henry Holcomb Bennett in 1900, but the poem didn’t become well known until 1919, when it was published in Women’s World magazine…it became very popular during the depression. I now pass it along to you, compliments of HHB….it is quite stirring when read aloud….perhaps you and you kids can recite it at your barbecue(though presumably not by heart). Certainly reminds one what the holiday is all about. Enjoy, and Happy Fourth of July everyone…Be nice, and come home safe.

Hats off!
Along the street there comes
A blare of bugles, a ruffle of drums,
A flash of color beneath the sky:
Hats off!
The flag is passing by!

Blue and crimson and white it shines,
Over the steel-tipped, ordered lines.
Hats off!
The colors before us fly;
But more than the flag is passing by.

Sea-fights and land-fights, grim and great,
Fought to make and to save the State;
Weary marches and sinking ships;
Cheers of victory on dying lips;

Days of plenty and years of peace,
March of a strong land’s swift increase:
Equal justice, right and law,
Stately honor and reverent awe;

Sign of a nation, great and strong,
To ward her people from foreign wrong;
Pride and glory and honor, all
Live in the colors to stand or fall.

Hats off!
Along the street there comes
A blare of bugles, a ruffle of drums,
And loyal hearts are beating high:
Hats off!
The flag is passing by!

Wink it out? I really have to stop scratching my back with a pen….
July 2, 2009

Can these ink marks be removed from a fav sweater?

Can these ink marks be removed from a fav sweater?

Yesterday as I left the news set and Marianne Banister was sitting down, she said, “You have ink marks all over your pretty looks like the bad boy in class has been sitting behind you!”. Except, the bad boy was me…I had a little itch during the news, right in the center of my back, and the only way to reach it was with a pen, which I thought didn’t have the inky tip out. Wrongo.(I am not the only doing this, btw….meterologist Tom Tasselmyer says he has done this to many, many shirts.)

Does WINK really work?

Does WINK really work?

And I was sad, because I haven’t had a lot of luck getting ink out, and I really love this little coral J. Crew cardigan. Then I remembered a product in the laundry room, which I bought a long time ago at the supermarket and never tried….it’s called WINK…and supposedly, it melts ink stains. But hey, it’s worth a try.

Last night I followed the directions and rubbed WINK into the stain, rubbed it a little bit and put it in the wash….the ink was already fading. Out of the washer…good as new. No ink!  I pass this along to all of you who may also…have an itch in a hard to reach place…and use ink pens indiscriminately. It’s worth noting that one cleaning website  says nothing removes all inks…but they have lots of ideas including hairspray and rubbing alcohol(?), and some stains they say are indeed a lost cause. But Wink worked for me!