Archive for August, 2009

It’s Monday…and I made it…
August 31, 2009

This was the best part of my weekend....

This was the best part of my weekend....

Yes, my glorious new caffeine-free life has begun. Not with a bang…more like a whimper. I’ll be honest, I really miss my morning coffee. And while I tried to fool myself  with decaf, it’s just not the same. Not the same at all. So I can wait quite a while before brewing some, because I really don’t care. I know it  sounds as though  I’m sulking, there is an element of that going on…”Donna want her coffee and she want it now!!” Oh well. I know I’ll get past this, but it may be some time….quite some time…before I don’t miss my coffee. But I appreciate all the kind words of encouragement from all of you…really.

On the plus side, I attended(with a little caffeine headache) a terrific crabfeast in Chestertown Saturday night. My friend Elise and her darling hubby had really outdone themselves….a canopy of lights over tables set outside were soooooo pretty. And look at how  the crabs were arranged…not just dumped on the tables, but artfully arranged in a row…like crabs in a congo line. Love it.

Yummy corn on the cob...

Yummy corn on the cob...

And there was potato salad, creamy and roasted potatoes, sweet Maryland corn to slather with butter, and Elise had made not one but two Smith Island cakes …one the traditional yellow cake with chocolate icing…the hands down favorite…and one with devil’s food cake with white icing. She admitted that making two Smith island cakes was something she would not attempt again anytime soon. Me either.

Bloody Mary bar at the Imperial Hotel...

Bloody Mary bar at the Imperial Hotel...

We stayed at the Imperial Hotel in Chestertown…a stately  old hotel that was kind of  like staying at your Grandma’s house, in the best sense of the term…if your grandmother had a huge vintage victorian house, with brass beds, and creaky floors. Great restaurant too, with a fabulous brunch menu…We sat outside and enjoyed the Hangtown Fry omelet, complete with fried oysters(delicious) and check out the Bloody Mary bar…all different blends of tomato juice, and you pick which vodka you want, and add the fixings. Pretty presentation….and they are kindly sending the book I left in the hotel room(darned if I don’t always leave something)…Girl with the Dragon Tatoo  by Steig Larsson, if you must know.

Theres a turkey under this trashcan!

There's a turkey under this trashcan!

Oh, and I’ve never had a trashcan turkey, but I can now add it to my list of culinary checkoffs….that’s it on the right…and there really is a turkey under there, as you’ll see in the next picture.  Guessing if it’s done is the hard part I guess…this is one I’d love to try…if only I had a field I didn’t mind scorching a big hole in my yard.

Hmmmm, is it done you reckon?
Hmmmm, is it done you reckon?

That’s the beauty of owning more than a postage stamp of a yard. But the turkey was delicious, really moist….and the man who made it…Kurt…never got one bite. You snooze, you lose, my friend.

It’s Friday people!! And I’m kicking caffeine…really.
August 28, 2009

Goodbye my love, my French Roast....thank goodness Zekes makes it in decaf...

Goodbye my love, my French Roast....thank goodness Zeke's makes it in decaf...

Yes, and this particular Friday is starting off with no coffee…, ummmm…let me restate that. No coffee that really means anything to me today, as in ….no caffeine. Did you hear me? I said NO CAFFEINE!!! That means by this afternoon, perhaps earlier, I will feel as though my forehead was in a vise, that keeps tightening, tightening….yeah. I’m really looking forward to that. And if this afternoon on 11 News at Five, I look like I’m thinking about a cup of coffee from Zeke’s in Baltimore, it’s because I am. Thank goodness they make a French Roast in decaf.


Why on earth have I decided to go cold turkey on caffeine? Because my doctor told me to. Simple as that. I was having some not happy feelings in my chest, like feeling my heart beat too fast, which if you’ve never experienced, is not a good feeling. More like a bad feeling.  So the verdict…no coffee, no tea, no alcohol…and the coup de grace…no chocolate.(sound of crickets)

Come on!! I stared at him in disbelief….many of  the little things that make life enjoyable? You just slice them out of my life? Why not just reach inside and… take another little piece of my heart, now baby…oh, sorry, that was Janis Joplin. Anyway, I offered weakly, “I have cut back on caffeine…this morning I only had a half a cup of coffee.…”. He stared at with a look that said , “oh, you little ignoramus, you just don’t get it, do you?” And then actually said, out loud, “I didn’t say cut back, I said NO caffeine.” I don”t smoke thank God, because I’m sure he would have snatched that too, if I did.

So, this morning, without any urgency at all because what difference does it make,  I brewed some decaffeinated coffee. That’s a sad thing. I’ll have some deffeinated tea mid-afternoon(but will be gobbling Tylenol for the headache no doubt). I won’t eat any chocolate, even though I make a mean dark chocolate sauce that is so fabulous over vanilla ice cream.  I won’t have any wine even though it is Friday night people!!! I have a big pitcher of decaffeinated iced tea in the frig instead. Yegads. There it is …my sad  little tale of woe. I know, count my blessings, you’ll get over the coffee thing, things could be much worse . All this I know, but I’m allowing myself one day of wallowing in self pity. OK, maybe half a day. And then I’ll move on to my caffeine free existence. Sigh. Have a good weekend, play nice, and come home safe.

The passing of Ted Kennedy….
August 26, 2009

Like many of you I heard about the death of Ted Kennedy  first thing  this morning….I felt…not surprise, certainly, with terminal brain cancer it was amazing he lived as long as he did….a testimony to his will to live. And what a life that man has lived…no matter how you feel about his politics…he had a grand, glorious, sorrow-filled, marred and privileged existence.

Born to great wealth and what would become America’s “royal family”, he was the younger brother who lived to see his older brothers both murdered in the most public fashion. He had to grieve in public. He was Uncle and father figure to his many nieces and nephews who lost their Dads. He dealt with alcohol problems, the cancer of his son who lost a leg to it, a tragic blunder that ended his presidential hopes(and a young woman’s life), the death of beloved nephews to drugs, plane crashes and skiing accidents, his wife’s alcohol problems, divorce, and lived through it all to still become one of the most influential U.S. Senators in history. As an email that just popped into my mailbox said…he was indeed larger than life.

He did not live to see his lifelong passion become realized…health insurance for all Americans…but no matter what happens with it, he will be missed, by people on both sides of the aisle. One of a kind.

Scary text PSA and Meatloaf Monday
August 25, 2009

Stop your darn texting right now!!

Stop your darn texting right now!!

If you haven’t seen this British public service annnouncement (from Wales of all places)about what can happen on the road when you text and drive, I have provided the above easy link. It really will make you think about this dangerous activity, that makes you 23 time more likely to be involved in an accident. I’ll be honest, I have texted while driving a few times, but I’m not doing it again, and I hope you share the link with teens and young people you know who are the most likely to TWD(texting while driving).

You may wonder, ok, how on earth are police enforcing a law against a not easily noticed activity here in Maryland(and it is now against the law to TWD)…..let me share a story. A co-worker of mine that you would know, has a teenage daughter who was stopped for speeding. Already frightened to death by the stop, the officer saw her phone and asked , “Have you been texting?” She shook her head no, and he demanded to see her phone. Luckily for her, she had not texted since a couple of hours before…so he took a look, and handed her phone back, saying something like, “Lucky for you“….but she still got the speeding ticket, of course. There are two things she will think twice about…speeding and texting.  Me too. My daughter too.

It was more red than this, but you get the idea....she puts it together the night before.

It was more red than this, but you get the idea....she puts it together the night before.

And speaking of the girl who is now on WEEK TWO OF ON THE JOB,  she has declared the first day of the workday….Meatloaf Monday…and she makes it!! She found a recipe on Whole Foods website that uses grass fed ground beef(of course), beef broth, chopped spinach…I gotta tell you, it is the best meatloaf I’ve ever eaten, super moist, extremely flavorful. It’s a great recipe.


One of St. Brigids mootiful grassfed cows....

One of St. Brigid's "mootiful" grassfed cows....

And this weekend I’m off to the Eastern Shore for a crabfeast, courtesy of  my friend Elise who publishes Chespeake Foodie…(it’s Foodie’s 3rd birthday)a terrific website about local foods, restaurants, and recipies…and in this month’s issue in the link above, I found tips about cooking grassfed beef, which is different and more lean than regular beef. They also link to

St. Brigid’s Farm website and blog, in Kennedyville MD, which sells grassfed beef and veal, and homemade mozzarella at their farm store…we will definitely make a stop, cooler in hand, to take some grassfed ground beef home for next week’s “Meatloaf Monday” . Some very cool cow pictures on the site.

A Friday Sea Turtle Hatching…and my baby girl hatches too!
August 21, 2009

A baby sea turtle gets ready for his first swim in Gulf Shores....

A baby sea turtle gets ready for his first swim in Gulf Shores....

My sister(my OLDER sister I always like to say, much to her chagrin), sent me this video of a sea turtle hatching where she lives in Gulf Shores Alabama. It’s almost 10 minutes long…but if you watch to about the midway point, a hundred  tiny turtles come scrambling out of the nest. It’s a big event for people who live at the beach, and they are very protective of the nests and the hatchlings…the nests are marked, and have a wire covering on top of them, so nothing can get to the nest before they hatch, and people keep an eye on them…111 turtles hatched that day!  So sweet, as they all paddle their way to the water, by instinct. As you’ll see, the residents even build a little “autobahn” for the baby turtles, a kind of  “turtle chute“to make getting to the Gulf of Mexico less laborious. And off they go…, into the waves….to their destiny.

And speaking of off they go, to their destiny….I’m almost afraid to say the words, lest I jinx it, but…my daughter… has a job. In a bad economy, a real, live job….with a wonderful non-profit organization in town that does such good work. I’m really excited/relieved/hopeful/ for her….after the first day she came home and flopped on the sofa with an, “I’m exhausted!”.  And I know exactly how she feels…it’s overwhelming when you’re at a new place, learning new things, trying to be what they want you to be, when you’re not sure what that is, and knowing that everyone is watching the new girl. I’ve been there too…many times. It is exhausting. I was unbelieveably tired my entire first year here at WBAL-TV…just exhausted when I got home, until I got used to the pace, and the work.  That’s just the way it is. But I bought her a pretty little case for her cards, as a small first week on the job present…she was so pleased. And I’m proud of her…my own little hatchling, off the to the sea.. to her destiny. You go, girl! And sis Audie…thanks for the video…I could listen to the waves all day.

Michael Vick’s second chance…..How do I feel, how do I feel??
August 14, 2009

Some of the dogs made it, some didnt....

Some of the dogs made it, some didn't....

I’ll be honest, I’m not sure how I feel about Michael Vick  getting a $1.6 million first year paycheck (not guaranteed),…. now that he’s out of federal prison, of course. The better natured and more forgiving side of Donna says,Hey…MV paid the price required of him by society. He did his time. And far too many people who come out of prison, go back to a life of crime because they can’t make a living in the honest world(not that that was ever a problem for Vick). So….shouldn’t he be allowed to make a living(ok, a fortune), doing what it is he does…a.k.a., throwing a ball and running around on a 100 yard field for big bucks while he’s being chased by really big men? Yes, he probably should. Ok, that’s the nice, fair Donna.

The other me says, NO way should that dog killer be paid over a million dollars this year, and maybe 5 million the next! He just doesn’t deserve it and should be pun-ish-ed forever.Once an animal abuser…well, you get the drift of my bad angel side.  I’m sure many of you have stronger feelings than me on the subject.

My son in NY thinks MV has paid his price and has a lot of good football left in him. Let the man play. My daughter, on the other hand, is horrified about the idea. She is on the “pun-ish-ed forever” side. It must be said she doesn’t forgive easily.

But whether anyone likes it or not, Michael Vick will(quickly) get his second act…his second chance at leading a good life. And by good life, I don’t mean high living… though he will get that chance too. I mean good life, in the context of deciding who he wants to be and what he wants to give back to our society, besides dog-fighting, which really isn’t needed at all.

At a new conference today, Vick had this to say, among other things…”For the life of me, I can’t understand why I was involved in such pointless activity.  Why did I risk so much at the pinnacle of my career?”  That is an excellent question MV, and one to which  you could no doubt use some time in a therapists office to find the answer. Why do people who have it all, do bad things….illegal things, that they don’t need to do? 

I dunno…but the man has made a vow to crusade for animal’s rights in Philly…that one will seem ironic at best, for many people. Perhaps his heart is finally, in the right place. We shall see, we shall see.

Have a good weekend everybody…play nice, give your dog a hug, and come home safe.

Unbottle your tea!!Time to bag it up….
August 13, 2009

Unbottle your tea!!

Unbottle your tea!!

I got an email from Salada Tea today, trying to sell an interview with one of their spokespeople about their new “Unbottle Your Tea” campaign…about how it’s better for you healthwise and better for the environment if you stop buying bottled teas, and start making your own.

Hey, I grew up making a pitcher of iced tea a day…. no supper in ‘bama was complete without a big pitcher of iced tea on the table.  That was always someone’s chore for dinner…making the tea and filling the glasses with ice. And while we didn’t realize we were being green, (we called it being thrifty) it was also my or my sister’s  job to trudge out to the vegetable garden to throw the tea grounds into it…composting even in childhood. And let’s face it…making your own tea, is honestly dirt cheap, where buying a bottle(or really big bottle) is anything but. A bottle of tea costs at least a buck….and quite often more. Buy a box of 20 tea bags for…oh, let’s say $3.00…you can have a cup of hot tea(or add ice in the summer ) , and your tea now costs about 15 cents a serving. Big difference.

My tea makings...I love white tea, and I reuse the cups....

My tea makings...I love white tea, and I reuse the cups....

And think of all the containers you won’t have to recycle( I don’t even want to thinkabout you putting them in the trash, because I won’t like you anymore). And Salada says you get 90 % more antioxidants in tea you make yourself from a tea bag….Prevention Magazine did a test(here’s the link to an interesting article)…and while you do get antioxidants from bottled teas and even powered teas…you get the biggest amounts from tea bags brewed the old-fashioned way in hot water. So bag it up, tea-lovers….and make your own, get healthy and save some coin.

A delicious ode to Julie and Julia
August 11, 2009

Meryl Streep doing a mean Julia Child...

Meryl Streep doing a mean Julia Child...

Yes, I was indeed part of the pack who made it to see Julie and Julia this weekend….Realizing the theatre at Harbor East would be packed with people just like me(Julia/food nuts), we got there just in time to find seats together. The audience was as expected, majority female, but there were plenty of guys there too for this new genre of film…the chick food flick. And we loved it. Meryl Streep pulls off the impossible…playing someone so much part of the public consciousness even as parody….and making the character plausible, and lovable. Just a word of advice…plan to eat something delicious afterward whether you’re eating out or in. Plan something nice. You will be ravenous for something with butter after seeing this ode to all cooking Julia Child. And sharing this movie with my daughter, who is just learning to cook, was such a special treat…I got tears in my eyes at one point….I know…so sentimental.

The ratatouille is coming together!

The ratatouille is coming together!

Our reward when we got home? Some amazing Ratatouille, (the dish, not the movie)compliments of my daughter who is a new convert to Julia Child’s legion of fans, now drawing a whole new generation of people learning the joys of slow food…actual cooking….in the kitchen..with real ingredients. Real butter. Real flour. Real vegetables! Now, there are as many recipes for ratatouille as there are restaurants in Provence, and they’re probably all delicious…here’s one from Epicurious, that uses copious amounts of garlic…(love it!)….but ratatouille is a forgiving recipe…adjust ingredients to your liking.

The ratatouille was finished before we made the afternoon movie…it sat happily on the stove with all it’s luscious ingredients(heirloom tomatoes that I got on sale from the farmer’s market…a large basket of “seconds” for $5 as they were racing decay, but perfect for cooking)melding blissfully into one another, and when we got home I quickly butterflied( not boned!) a chicken so that it would cook in half the time, roasted it  after rubbing it down with some butter mixed with Mediterranean sea salt, chopped some French Bread and put it all on the table with some real butter(Julia would want that). What a feast…I think we all channeled Julia that night as we savored the fresh tomatoey-garlic-eggplant-olive oily goodness…it was great plopped on top of the bread. Bon appetit!!

DVR Showdown…Kardashians vs. Olberman
August 10, 2009


The not touch...

The playlist…do not touch…

OK, here’s the problem with three adults living in the same house….there is much that is good about it…always someone to talk to, hang out with, go somewhere with…but 3 willful inhabitants trying to control the dvr list is turning into a little slice of hell, with yours truly stuck smak dab in the middle.(Oh, and I should add, one show Hung , is not porn, but a funny and quite insightful show on HBO)

The latest clash went like this. My daughter…23, newly graduated, looking for a job, bored…you know the type…loves the reality program Keeping Up with the Kardashians  on ETV….oh, you’ve not heard of  it? Let me fill you in, my little cultural ignoramus…The Kardashians, as in Kim Kardashian(who seems to the most prominent of the group, except for Bruce Jenner–yes that Bruce Jenner)…a blended family of Momma Kris (exwife of O. J. attorney Robert Kardashian), Olympic champion Bruce, her 3 Kardashian daughters and one son, and the two kids she has with Bruce.  It basically  follows these people around while they do whatever it is they do…blah, blah, blah. My daughter likes to record the episodes at all hours of the night and day. Saturday she was incensed..”Daddy erased my KUWTK(let’s use this for short, okie dokie?)…just so he could see that boring Keith Olberman! That’s not polite to just delete my recording request!!

The retort from her Father went something like this…”It’s my television and my dvr, and I’m not going to worry about some silly show like KUWTKs!! And by the way, last week, you canceled my recording of Olberman, and that’s not nice either!”

Yeah, but Olberman also comes on at 1 AM and 4 AM…you can record it then!”

So I can watch a current events show the next day? NO thank you, I want to see it that night!
You see what I mean. And the dvr can only accommodate two programs at once. So you can’t record 3 things…only two, and you have to be watching one of the two, if you want to watch television, unless you’re watching something that was already previously recorded on the dvr….Oh heavens to Betsy, it makes me crazy thinking about it. And trying to keep the peace, (being the middle child peace keeper by nature), is not easy. Because I see it as a silly argument over two (arguably) silly shows…and I just try to protect Entourage on HBO…luckily I have no challangers…everyone loves Entourage. There you have it. And no, the answer is not a second dvr…not going there. We’re just gonna have to work it out, old school style. Though more trouble lies ahead….people wanting their K-fix will get to follow the other two sisters, on  Khloe and Kourtney Take Miami(yes those are  their real names), as the sisters spinoff their own show. That’s just Krazy. Too much K.

Rue La La! Competitive shopping at its finest…
August 7, 2009

You may rue the day you found Rue La La....

You may rue the day you found Rue La La....

My daughter sent me a link, actually it’s called an “invitation”, to join Rue La La. What, you may well ask, is Rue La La? Well, here’s a hint. Today’s “invitation” read like this….”slip on the edgy sweetness of Vera Wang Lavender Label. Fun, flirty and feminine collide with sultry, dark and romantic.” Say again?

Basically, it’s a website where virtual “boutiques’ selling different designer goods, and even hotel rooms,  at 50-80% off, open at certain hour….Vera Wang’s opened at 11 this morning, and then, it’s an online rush like you see every year  at the Filene’s Basement wedding gown sale. Only instead of women rushing through the doors and elbowing each other our of the way to get to wedding gowns, it’s women crouched at their computers, waiting until the clock strikes 11, and then elbowing each other “virtually” out of their way. And I’ll have to tell you… the stuff  goes fast. If you’re not there right at 11….all that’s left is size 0 and 2.

Oops....too late...loser.

Oops....too late...loser.

Or….you see the Sold Out ribbon gaily festooned on the picture, reminding you that others are faster, better online…or tinier than you…and got there first. I must admit it creates an odd kind of competitiveness in me, and the idea that if you don’t get it, someone else will! And that’s probably the idea.

The running of the bulls..I mean brides…in Filene’s were to be studied by academics, they would no doubt find the same mentality going on. Throw it on my pile…even if I can’t use it, I sure don’t want you to have it. Some kind of bizarre, survival, hoarding instinct that comes from our barely upright ancestors? Basic human greed? The need to adorn ourselves? Honestly I don’t know. But it works.

Here’s my little confession. The first day on Rue La La…the Lulu Lemon Boutique opened. Only those who are yoga people like me know what Lulu Lemon is, and the only reason I know, is the lovely Jennifer in New York told me that’s what all the cool girls in yoga class wear.  I had no idea!! Sooooo, long story short, I got a couple of Lulu Lemon tops and a pair of pants…and I seriously would not have paid full Lulu Lemon prices. No way. But at such a bargain price…how could I NOT buy them? I know, I know…sucker punched. But today I was wiser. The crafty Vera Wang did not lure me into her dark, flirty, romantic boudoir. Unh-uh. This girl didn’t buy a thing. However, I just told my daughter I was writing a blog about Rue La La, and she said, “NO! Don’t tell other people about it!”  and then comforted herself with… “But they can only join if they’re invited“…isn’t that innocent? She thinks it’s actually a club, instead of just another ploy to get us to buy things we don’t need and they want to get rid of.   Oooh, gotta run….the Laundry by Shelli Segal boutique opens in 5 minutes!! Have a great weekend, play nice and come home safe.