Archive for January, 2010

Foodie delights for your weekend…..
January 29, 2010

Ok here’s the first one and it’s dead easy, and really good…I made it last night after work!! It’s called Chicken Ground Nut Stew….I know it sounds a little …awful…but it isn’t, and it is a variation of something cooked in the West Africa Peace Corp, but using Thai ingredients.

from the Peace Corps to you.....Chicken Ground-nut Stew

Here’s what you’ll need

1 can of coconut milk (highly recommend the brand  ‘A Taste of Thai’)
1 package of ‘A taste of Thai’ peanut sauce mix (use both envelopes in package)
1 can of water chestnuts
1 cooked (baked) and de-boned / de-skinned chicken – cut into approx 1-2″ pieces (Donna’s note: I also sautéed a red bell pepper, a bunch of green onions and fresh garlic and some fresh baby spinach at the end. Made it much prettier and much more healthy.)

1.  Shake coconut milk before adding to pan. This is important because a lot of the milk will stay clumped in the bottom of the can if you don’t shake it well. 
2.  Heat the milk to simmer
3.  Add the spices. 
4.  Stir together for 2 minutes (until the sauce is consistent)
5.  Add everything else and heat on medium low until boiling
6.  Boil on low for 2 minutes  …  and voila, you’re done! Serve over rice(and I like brown rice…healthier).    

Please take the bag away from me....

Next up: delicious crackers I found that are made on the Eastern Shore. Little Ragghi’s Crackers are yummy flat bread crackers made with olive oil and parmesan cheese. I’m eating one right now, and the flavor is just sooooo good. if you go to Ragghi’s website, you’ll find a list of where they’re sold and the story behind Raggi, which is pretty fascinating. I bought mine at Well’s Liquors on York Road…and picked up a bottle of wine for the weekend. Can’t wait to eat these with some cheese tonight!

Oysters, Gruyere, green onions and bacon..

Last, but not least…something I want to make this weekend, maybe Sunday night. It’s a recipe for Iron Skillet Oysters from Callie’s Biscuit Blog. I’ve told you about Callie’s before….their biscuits, which hale from Charleston are so very  very good, but I’m not gonna lie to you…they’re pricey. But they have some lovely and easy recipes on their blog….and this one really struck me as something I might like to make for Superbowl…and you don’t have to go outside…this recipe is made in the oven.  Fresh oysters, Gruyère cheese, bacon and green onions…what’s not to like?  So there you have it….3 suggestions to make your weekend a little more special…mostly simple, and people will love you for it. Play nice with others this weekend and come home safe….talk to you Monday!

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Sully’s Plane for Sale?????
January 28, 2010

Sully's miracle plane in the salvage yard??

That’s the word on the street anyway….that the famous U.S.  Airways plane that ditched in the Hudson…with everyone on board being saved….is now in the salvage yard, and yes, for sale. Is nothing sacred? Or maybe an old plane that has crash-landed is only worth the sum of its parts… 

Plane interior....whose luggage is that in the bins??

How do I know this? I got an email today from a free email magazine I receive called Urban Daddy.…(its devoted to keeping me in the know)that said that is indeed what is happening.  And there it was with a link to the  Chartis Insurance Company, (though it pops up as AIG Aviation)complete with loads of pics of the plane inside and out….if you click on the link to Chartis, you can see all the pictures.  I found it fascinating, because really, you never think about what happens to old airplanes that get semi-trashed….what then? They go to salvage, that’s what. Perhaps the most interesting/chilling photo of the plane may be the one below, that shows the belly of the plane ripped out. Ouch. It really was a miracle that everyone got out alive. So HOW do you get a piece of the action? Evidently bids are being taken, as you’ll see on the link under the pictures, …but I’m pretty sure Sully is not included in the deal. Oh, and they say the plane is for sale, “as-is, where-is” No kidding. They’re not gonna fix it and bring it to my house? I have called Chartis to confirm that this is really THE plane. So far, no call back. 

The picture says it all......

The Most Depressing Day of the Year…
January 26, 2010

yesterday was pretty blah.....

Turns out yesterday is referred to as  “the most depressing day of the year”….the last Monday in January. Why that day? People who know such things say it’s because the holidays are over:( and holiday bills are rolling in(my AMEX bill was truly startling), and it’s cold outside, and …. just because. And perhaps I had another reason to feel a little blue….we had moved my sweet daughter this weekend to her very first apartment. I just want to say this….we should have hired some movers. I wasn’t feeling great anyway, as Friday I was home sick with a dreadful cold which I’m still nursing. But we were optimistic that 3 of us could “handle it”. Yeah.

Her new breakfast/dinner area....all from Overstock...

And we did. There were no tears, and we were all speaking at the end of the move, but it was a tough, testy, long, messy two days. And while I love Ikea, can I just say…who writes those instructions? We bought a media unit for her which of course came in a flat box with 10 pieces that all looked kinda alike and a big pouch of wooden pegs and metals screws and round screw tighteners that look like tiny torture implements. First my daughter gave up on it after starting with gusto, then I did…finally her Father finished it. The title of my next book  is going to be Inside the Mind of a Swede“…and it will be a murder mystery about the mysterious disappearance of an IKEA instruction writer. Don’t steal my idea.

But the apartment is  almost finished…there are things she still needs…a rug, a longer cord surge protecter….and her room at home looks like a hurricane hit it. (It looked like that before, but now there’s less stuff in it.) I will show you more pictures later this week…but I thought the dining nook turned out well..it’s at the end of her tiny kitchen, and the window has a pretty view. The table and chairs all came from Overstock….not part of a set, but we liked them together. The lamp is old, she bought the tray at Target, and the yellow pot had been on my desk at work….we just plopped an orchid inside. I’d eat there. I have more “stuff” to take over this week…or maybe it’s just a good excuse to see my girl! She says she is sleeping well there…which is something for her. So I’m glad for that. You know the oddest thing I miss? When she was in her bedroom at home,( it’s just across the hall from my bedroom), her door was closed but I could see the thin strip of light glowing underneath…I knew she was reading as was I….and when the light would go out, I’d think, “I really should go to sleep too.” I miss that little strip of light at night.  I know she’s fine, and I’m fine too…but I miss her, just like my Momma said I would.

C-Mart Lives Again!!!!!!!!!!!
January 25, 2010

I simply cannot tell you the happiness I felt, when the hubby spoke these words from the next room… in a tone of voice that this was something I might be interested in…”Looks like C-Mart is coming back…” 

“WHAT?”, I screamed….and ran in to grab the paper. And sure enough, there  was the article in the Baltimore Sun(and I have to tell you, I hear people saying “oh I don’t take the Sun anymore”….silliness…there are things in the Sun I won’t see anywhere else) about how C-Mart wouldn’t have the same name…the family doesn’t own the rights anymore, but it will be the same quirky place that so many of us loved and found fantastic bargains. For those of you who might have missed my dirge about bargains found and my sorrow, when C-Mart closed….here’s a link. I got some great stuff at C-mart, and while trying to help my daughter furnish her new apartment, more than once I thought sadly, “Oh, if only C-Mart was here….the stuff we could find.” And now it’s coming back, in its original location in Bel Air…ok, I wish it was the one in Joppatowne, but whatever, and will be called The Big Tarp Company Store. I can’t wait. Oh, and speaking of the girl’s apartment….she moved this weekend…details and pictures tomorrow. It’s looking pretty cute.

Oh, here’s a quote from the article to whet your appetite….”There will be $30,000 worth of products from a Vera Bradley boutique, 3,000 pairs of shoes from two department stores, and books from a Barnes & Noble truck that didn’t make it to stores because the front cabin caught fire.”  Done. CU@C-Mart.

Haiti Horror….
January 19, 2010

Common painting themes in Haiti....

I have a painting at home that looks very similar to this one….only it’s more primitive and less refined looking. I bought it in Haiti, years ago when I was in Port-au-Prince. A city teeming with people, most living in tin shacks, you couldn’t really walk the streets without people insisting that you buy something. So I bought the painting. But it brings back memories of Haiti’s largest city…memories of extreme poverty and people living in conditions that residents of the U.S. would find intolerable. And now this. What little they had….a bit of a house, some pots and pans, clothing, some furniture…it’s gone. Along with many of their friends and relatives. Never to be seen again, and many  they will never know what happened to them, because as bodies are shoved into old crypts or mass graves, no one is keeping records of who died…or how many.

I wonder how babies that are pulled from the wreckage will ever find their families…if their families are indeed alive. And the number of orphans in the country is now growing…kids with no one to look out for them. There were already some 50,000 orphans in Haiti before the earthquake, several hundred of whom were in the process of being adopted by American families, but now all those records are lost.

Many were hoping the U.S. would grant orphans in Haiti what is called Humanitarian Parole, which would allow certain children to enter The U.S. quickly without tons of paperwork, to be adopted. Otherwise, what will happen to these thousands of orphans, many of whom lost their caretakers too? And that has happened, Dept. of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced yesterday that children already in the process of being adopted, or those who had been matched with an American family would be expedited through. Unfortunately that might help only some 600 children….and it’s being done on a case by case basis. What will happen to the rest of them?

Magenta Friday……
January 15, 2010

Purple? I'm not sure....

Ok, let me just say this up front….I’m not really into “Purple Friday“.  I realize that’s a semi-heretical thing to say here in Baltimore, especially the Friday before a playoff game. “How awful….she doesn’t want to wear purple on Friday..shameless!” Here’s the thing. I don’t really like purple….I have ONE thing that’s kinda purple….you see it in the picture, and it’s really more of a magenta, but I’m wearing it tonight on 11 News at Five. You can judge its degree of purpleness for yourself.

Purple  is a lovely color in it’s place….it was the favorite of Cleopatra I’m given to understand…it’s also the color for widows in Thailand(hey, at least it’s not black)…and purple has always been the color of royalty. In Feng  Shui circles, purple belongs to the element of fire and is known as a strong vibration color…one that should be used in moderation. But if you simply cannot get enough purple, especially in football season, do I have the website for youThe Purple Store.  And here is a must have bumper sticker for the back of your car!

I hope to be seeing more of these around town....soon.

 If I had to pick a favorite shade, it would be eggplant, or aubergine, as the French would say….I can hear it now….  “And the Ravens come onto the field,  in aubergine and black!!”  Hey, don’t think this reflects in any way,  my feelings about the Ravens. I think they’re a perfectly fine football team, and I wish them well Saturday night, and I will watch the game and indeed, cheer them on. But when it comes to wearing purple every single Friday in football season….it just seems a little…I don’t know…cheerleader-esque?  And that’s just not my thing. Plus there’s none in my closet. But today I have reluctantly caved to pressure and will sport a magenta/purple on the air. So there. Enjoy your weekend…play nice and come home safe. And yes, go Ravens.

It’s Almost Moving Day…..
January 14, 2010

It's almost moving day!!

You may remember my daughter graduated from college last May(yeah!), and has lived at home ever since. This past summer was the summer of slumber….looking for jobs yes, but also deep, languorous, coma-like morning sleep, which is something at which all 20-somethings just out of college seem to excel. That girl is a champion sleeper.

Then, she found a full time job…one that required her to be in downtown Baltimore by 8:30 AM. Hmmmmm…a serious attitudinal adjustment about bedtime was in order…and a really rude awakening time of 6:45 am. It was a shock to her delicate system. But she has adjusted, to her credit….though on the weekends, we never see her before at least noon. Talent will not be denied.

But later this month, she moves on to her first independent apartment. Oh, she’s  lived in dorm apartments with other girls, and houses in the summer with other girls, but it will be the first time she has ever lived on her own. Our house has become a staging area really….full of boxes with things she has ordered for her cute little studio…and boxes of things her brother brought down at Christmas….hand-me-down pots and pans, bowls, just stuff he and the lovely Jennifer didn’t need anymore(they upgraded most everything when they married…you know how it is).

More stuff to move....linens, pots and pans....

I heard her complain to her bro over Christmas…something like,”Mom is trying to take over decorating my apartment…”, to which he replied, sagely, “Let her!”. Jennifer echoed, “Yeah, let her.”  Now let me say this in my defense…I’m not trying to take over the look of the apartment, I’m just … guiding. As in…you need to pare down your colors…you can’t have yellow and red and Lily Pulitzer pink and green(I mean you can, but sheesh). Something’s got to go. Preventive apartment therapy.I want her to have a look that she’ll enjoy for a long time, and looks like an adult lives there, not a girl in college. Which she isn’t….not anymore. She was talking to a sorority sister about taking all her paraphernalia from sorority(and there’s a lot of it, believe me, much of it covered with sequins). Here sister offered this advice..”Leave it at home in a drawer.” Thank you Heidi.

My Mother and I had talked about this upcoming move…she knew Cada had a job and was planning to move….and while she was really happy for Cada, she also said, “You’re really gonna miss that girl.” Don’t I know it. I really enjoy her being home most nights….watching tv together, fixing her a cup of hot tea in the morning before she heads off to work, hanging a little on the weekend. And while I’ll still see her a lot…she won’t be far at all, it will be different. I know I’ve survived her leaving before…when she went to college, so I know I’ll survive again. And these months of living together post-college has been like a little gift, really. It’s a time we probably won’t ever have again(unless something unfortunate happens, as is sometimes the way). But the time for moving on has come….for her, and for me. Because I have to go write a story for the news, and stop blogging!! Oh, and tomorrow, I have something for those of you looking for a “calm” year….that seems to be a lot of us. See ya….

Recreating a Winning Weekend….
January 11, 2010

OK, here’s the deal. I’m really not all that superstitious…but I’m thinking we should all do as close as we can, what we did this past weekend, in hopes of a Ravens’ win this coming weekend in Indianapolis! I understand for those of you who were painting a bathroom or sawing wood, that’s asking a lot, but hey…a little sacrifice could please the football gods, and secure a victory. What does that mean for me?

Great place, On the the Hill!!

Friday night it means takeout..from On the Hill Cafe  next to MICA on John Street in Bolton Hill. They do killer good Cuban sandwiches (called the Mosher)with shredded pork. Try them out…they’re one of my faves.

Let’s see what else…I’ll have to call some friends who just moved to D.C. and tell them we’re coming back for dinner Saturday night. This may surprise them a little, me inviting myself over, but hey, it’s all in the name of a win. On the other hand, maybe the thing to do is exactly what you did last game time….that would not mean a trip to D.C. but the making of chicken wings. We did them a little differently this time…coating in flour and roasting them in  some butter in the over. They needed to cook a lot longer than the directions said, but in the end they were delctable, topped by a Carolina style barbecue sauce I found on sale(of course) at Williams Sonoma.  I’ll have to see if I can pursuade my daughter sleep throughout the game, because that’s exactly what she did Sunday. Maybe she’ll feel like a Saturday night nap. I could certainly wear the same unbelieveable good luck combo…grey sweatpants, t-shirt and grey sweater, hair pulled back in a ponytail, oh I was quite the sight let me tell you…and I’m pretty sure I can recreate that same fetching look this weekend. I could upgrade just a little with yoga pants without doing too much damage to the Ravens’ karma. And we’re all good to go, oui?

Time for a 2010 handbag makeover?
January 7, 2010

My Kooba handbag...gift from my sister-in-law!

I was inspired this morning by a funny segment on the Today Show, talking about “man bags”….I can’t criticize. Men are entitled to carry a bag…my son carries one and so does my husband.  But there’s not much inside…and that’s the real difference between a boy bag and a girl bag….all the stuff inside. Which made me wonder..what is really in my purse? I haven’t cleaned it out in a looooong time. Deep breath…here goes.

Exhibit # one....who doesn't rubber bands or tape?

In exhibit number one(a single picture couldn’t capture it all)….we have: a hairbrush, sunglasses, stamps, reading glasses, 2 emery boards, 2 containers of hand sanitizer(really can one be too sanitized?), a MAC compact, a whole bag of makeup(more on what’s in this in a minute), random movie stubs, receipts and tickets for dry cleaning I already picked up, a box with a necklace inside( the silver one I’m wearing tonight!), and a little flashlight on a key chain(I always think that ONE DAY I may be in the dark and voila, it will become useful).

the little pink corner at the top is my wallet(Lilly Pulitzer)

Moving on to the left side of the grouping, exhibit # 2…..we have: a videotape that I should have put in my desk drawer yesterday after a shoot ,but brought it home instead, my pink print wallet(hand-me-down from my daughter), a little owl change purse(that easily weighs a pound), coupons( so thrifty), two tubes of hand cream(love the Olivina), makeup brushes(I know the case needs washing, leave me alone), and more reading glasses.

Does anyone need this many lipglosses? I think not.

And inside the makeup bag? No fewer than 8 lipglosses of all kinds and colors, 6 lipsticks, 3 eye shadows(ones by Tarte I love), 1 lip pencil, 1 eye pencil, 1 eye pencil/eyeliner combo, 1 lip balm, mineral compact by Jane Iredale, and another Mac compact.

Oh yeah, and what you didn’t see is all the little bits of crap and pennies in the bottom of the bag, that I shook out into the trash can after I unloaded all this stuff. You’re probably thinking…..great idea…clean out the purse, get rid of things you don’t need, but here’s the thing. I put it all back in…except the old receipts and dry cleaning tickets. All of it. It’s my stuff…I need it all!

A Tardy(not tacky) Holiday Wrapup……
January 5, 2010

Mea culpa to those of you(probably very few) who have wondered what on earth happened to my blog….just this weekend my sweet daughter exclaimed, “You are  a crappy blogger. If you don’t post people will stop checking to see if you have anything new up.” And I know that’s true…the me being a crappy blogger part, anyway. Here’s the thing.…once you go for a little while without posting, it’s easier to continue doing  just that…nothing. It’s kind of like anything you stop doing for a while…exercising, going to church, calling your mom….once you don’t do it for a while, it’s gets easier and easier not to do it. But that all ends. Today. At least when it comes to blogging.  

I thought I’d do a little holiday mishmash, since I haven’t told you ANYTHING about what went on. My son and the lovely Jennifer came down for Christmas and spent 4 lovely days with us….it’s so much fun having them around, and seriously I dread the first year they won’t be here(and yes, I know the day will come)…because it will just be the three of us…two doddery old adults watching my daughter open her presents. She would be horrified. Maybe that will be the year we shake it up and go to Mexico or Spain for Christmas, thought honestly, it sounds a little depressing. But I digress.  

My new Manduka Yoga mat and bag.....

I got some good stuff…presents, you know….and the following are some of my faves. A Manduka yoga mat…..and a really great carrying bag, from my son and Jen…..they love yoga, and say all the cool kids at Kula Yoga in NYC use this kind of mat. I want to be one of the cool kids too! And this mat has a lot of support and good spring for the hands, and you don’t slip on it…love it, and love the bag too.  

Ummmmm..Uggs...

New Uggs. My daughter gave me these, as she was disgusted by the fact I could stick my toes out of the side( yes really) of my old chestnut Uggs. I may still try to have them repaired…but they are really old. Oh, and tip for those of you who wear a size 8 or smaller…save yourself $40 and order kids Uggs. A child size 6 is an adult size 8….that’s what she got me…and with all the variations of Uggs out there today, I still love the Uggs classic Chestnut boot.   

play some new tunes....

Let’s see….I love, love, love  my new Bose sounddock speaker for my Ipod…this was from the hubby who gave me “portable speakers” a few years ago, but in truth, they’re not really portable. Nice smaller speakers but with a lot of wires and the plug is big, and they just don’t work for carting around. The Bose SoundDock is perfect…small, runs on battery or electric power, looks sleek, no wires….love it and have used it a lot already, after downloading free yoga classes from Itunes! There are some good ones…some that last 20 minutes, others a little over an hour, and for people who know something about yoga, it’s much better to hear the directions that watch it.  Saw some great films over the holiday…you probably did too. Avatar…I give an A-….and liked the 3D effect after I got used to it. Took me a few minutes of feeling a little disoriented though. Invictus….loved it…a solid A. Why this film starring Matt Damon and Morgan Freeman hasn’t created more buzz, I don’t know. Great story….go see it. Up in the Air with George Clooney…again, an A. Smart, smart writing, and it’s much more than just a romantic comedy….it is funny, but it’s also sad..and deals with the downsizing of many jobs. A multi-layered film.  And I tried a new fabulous dish, from the NFL of all places….a recipe for Pork Belly with Collard Green Risotto and Pickled Okra. It did have a few steps, and I cheated and didn’t “cure” the pork…I just roasted it with sea salt, and a little cinnamon and it was still fabulous. And I only put part of the collards into the risotto…if you put all that’s called for, I think the risotto would be overwhelmed….just serve the rest of the greens on the side.  (If it seems that I am addicted to pork belly…I am. It is just so delicious, and cheap.)  And just the recipe for the greens alone  is lovely, even if you don’t do the rest of it! 

 So there…gifts, movies, home cooking….that’s what the holidays should be about anyway, don’t you think? Many of you have asked how this Christmas was, the first without my Mom. It was…different. She was very much in my thoughts and memories of Christmas past, and I so miss talking to her. She is the one person in the world who was always, without exception, happy to hear from me. Always. Even other people who do love you, aren’t always glad to hear from you…they’re busy, have a lot going on, now’s not a good time…you know? She was always thrilled to talk to me. So I miss that. But I’m happy knowing she’s not struggling anymore, and my sister doesn’t have to race to the hospital all the time. But I miss her. A woman that I work with here  lost her Mom two years ago, and she told me, “It’s still hard for me, without her.” I think it’s the loss of the person who always  loved you( not necessarily approve…oh no, but love, yes)…no strings attached…that kind of love is hard to come by.

OK, I’m not a big believer in making resolutions for the New Year, because like many of you, I feel like I do the best I can, 24/7. Now that may not be good enough, and let me assure you it often is not…but still it’s the best I can do, ok? So why make some namby=amby “resolution” to do better when I’m not? So I’ve decided instead to to make some negative resolutions…things I will not worry about doing.  

1. Sto worrying one cat is too fat and one cat is too thin. It’s true of course, and I do what I can(my best already being done, remember?)…to make sure they eat the correct amountws, but there’s only so much one can do with cat and their eating habits. I’m letting it go.  

2. I’m gonna worry less about things I can do nothing about. My Mother, bless her, was the champion at this….I’m determined not to follow in her worrying footsteps. I can’t fix the middle east….I can’t do anything about the economy. Let it go.  

3. I’m going to sincerely try…really, really try…