Archive for October, 2010

Some lamb dreams were never meant to be….
October 29, 2010

Me, after peering into my slow cooker...

Ok, you know how I was all about the lamb in the crockpot yesterday…how fab it was gonna be…how smart am I, blah, blah, blah? Here’s the thing…when I arrived home yesterday, I put the mail down on the table, brought in a box that had been left on the front porch(hello Rue La La…no, not something for me…ties for xmas presents, so there)….and went straight into the kitchen. I have been oddly starving lately…seriously…I wonder what’s up, I’m just really hongry. (Hongry is one notch above hungry, fyi)..and nothing. No fragrant smell of lamb and garlic, no gentle steam coming from the crockpot…just a cold hunk of raw lamb sitting in some chicken broth and soy sauce. Aghast(really, I was horrified), I realized I had plugged the slow cooker into an outlet….that’s right, that doesn’t work. Why? WHY?

SO, dinner consisted of some skillet sautéed Andouille sausage, some leftover sweet potatoes and I steamed some brocoli. Not terrible, but it was a bitter disappointment, let me tell you. I plugged the cooker into an outlet that actually has electricity and let it simmer away the rest of the evening. Should be great this weekend, but still. Still.

I like this distressed black.....

What’s up for Halloween weekend? Tomorrow morning  I head off to visit a kitchen designer(I told you I’m knocking out part of a wall…and kinda redoing some things…not a MAJOR$$$ thing…though anytime you start kitchen stuff, you better be ready to ante up some dollah bills, ya’ll.

I hope you don’t gasp at the black cabinets…..I know lots of people love white cabinets and light cabinets and dark granite  in their kitchens and it is a pretty combo…but  somehow I really like the dark distressed cabinetry with a lighter colored countertop.

Pretty with dark cabinets???

 I’ve considered concrete countertops….I love the look, but in the end it may cost more than I want to spend and I’m really not sure about the upkeep. Probably I’ll end up with the ubiquitous granite, just like everyone else in the world.Thoughts, ideas, concerns??? Anyone have concrete and love it??

Yep, all stocked up....with my favs....

On Halloween proper…no, I do not dress up…nor do I go out(somebody has to guard the homestead)….But we are having lunch with friends down the street that day(hopefully no noon time trick or treaters?)….and then dinner at home(leftover crock pot lamb anyone?).

Someone asked if I get many trick or treaters. You know, it depends. Some years we have a lot, and last year, none at all…which meant a lot of fun size Reese’s Cups for Donna to eat. It must be said though, our house is a bit of a climb up steps….and sometimes I think groups see easier pickings just down the street and say, “Oh, to heck with them and their steps…let’s move on.” But it feels a little sad when I have no little monsters at all…like somehow the holiday is changing . I hope that’s not true. And if you do come to my house…I am stocked with more Reese’s!! Have a great Halloween, cook something nice and slow for dinner this weekend, be nice to each other and don’t throw rocks….oh, and come home safe, ’cause we miss you.

Dreaming of crockpot lamb……
October 28, 2010

The results I'm hoping for.....yum...

I’m sitting here at work, going over scripts, writing, editing…pretty soon it will be makeup time…wheeeee….and while I am crunching on my daily salad topped with canned salmon, I’m secretly dreaming of what’s waiting for me at home….leg of lamb slowly tenderizing in a slow cooker…..ummmm.

I’ve had this little boned lamb roast in the freezer for a while…ever since I bought a whole lamb (what was I thinking?)from the Eastern Shore….we’ve been slowly eating our way through frozen grass fed lamb ever since. Yesterday morning I took the roast out of the freezer…it looked kind of like a frozen football…and put it in the sink to thaw, then last night started researching if one can cook lamb in a crockpot. The short answer is yes.

And the consensus seemed to be universal that the results are freakin’ fabulous….not to mention easy. Hey, I can do that. So I stuck  slivers of garlic in the roast and peppered it(salt is coming later, you’ll see) and put in the fridge overnight. Then this morning, right before I left for work, I put it in the crockpot on low, added a cup of chicken broth and a little soy sauce(the salt, you see)…and I was off.

When I get home I’ll roast some potatoes chunks with garlic and lemon, and steam some brocoli….and call it dinner. No, I’ll call it an amazing dinner.  Now…I really have to get my mind back on work. I’ll think of you tonight.

The Barbie-Ipod Smackdown….it’s so oooonn!…
October 26, 2010

 

She looks so sweet...ready for a holiday smackdown?

Did you know that Barbie is also a news anchor? It’s true…I just found the news anchor game on Barbie’s own tricked out website-here.  You can “get Barbie ready to report today’s top stories“. (I’m SERIOUS- no one has played the anchor game yet…it’s harder than you think! Play and report back to me here...) Hmmmm, when I was a girl, Barbie just drove around in a peach colored sports car(with teal colored seats, remember?) and wore her airline stewardess uniform(hey, there was no airline attendant back then) and here she is now,  angling for my job. Not cool, Barbie.

 But I’ll bet even Barbie with her glamorous clothes and careers and blonde glossy hair has her hands full this holiday season, getting the attention of kids who are part of  the technology revolution. Barbie who?

One newsroom reporter was telling me her 7 year old daughter is asking Santa for  her own Ipod this year. The wee lass already has an MP3 player(pleeze, chile)…but it’s difficult to use and she’s always borrowing her Mom’s Ipod….blah, blah, blah.  And my friend  said mournfully….”I was hoping the 3 story Barbie Townhouse would be at the top of her Christmas list…I want to play with it…but it’s waaay down below the Ipod.”  I asked  if  her daughter’s friends have Ipods…the answer? “Yes, all of them do! One family has three kids and they ALL have Ipods!” Yikes….you’re so done girl. Take that $144 that Barbie’s crib costs at Walmart, and plunk it down on the Ipod. Smackdown over.

It’s the old yin and yang of the holiday season…getting kids what they want, vs. what you want them to have, vs. what you can afford. Ah, my old friend denial…we meet again. 

My darling daughter, who is no child(except at holiday time), has already sent me her Christmas list via email. To be fair, she asked if I wanted a list and I foolishly said, “Sure!”. And in it came that same day, neat as a pin, looking like it had been compiled by an executive assistant(which is her current job)… nine items(think cashmere, gold and Lilly Pulitzer), complete with links to where these items can be obtained. That girl…champagne taste on a beer budget, as my Mother used to say.

And at the end of the list… a chipper little “I’ll update if I find anything else!! xoxoxo.   Hey, I asked.  I hope to….NO…I will have part one of my 2010 gift idea list done and posted by the end of the week. As Rocky our old mechanic used to say when pledging to finally work on a car…”That’s a threat and a promise!”

Weekend Wrapup….Beeswax and BOP
October 25, 2010

Beeswax wood finish....smells good too...

What a gorgeous weekend it was…too bad I can barely move today. I got a little, ummm, ambitious…this weekend with a can of Skidmore’s Beeswax Wood Finish. The hardwood floor entryway to my house has been a source of great consternation to me for a long time. The floors have lost their finish, but the only thing to do about it really, is to re-finish them, which would mean also refinishing the living and dining rooms too. THAT means, moving all the furniture out(where?) and sanding and staining and dust and polyurethaning and argh!! So, I’ve never done it. But this weekend I got down on my hands and knees and rubbed the beeswax finish into the areas that are neediest. And I have to say…they look a lot better. Not like new floors, more like floors with patina…you know…that show a little living(that’s an understatement). And I can live with that for now. But wow, am I sore.

Beeswax for everyone...in Laramie Wyoming...

Interesting company in Laramie WY….and they make other products too…like furniture cream, and leather care products…even stuff for bikers!

The Whole Foods oven looked kinda like this...

Went to Whole Foods on Saturday where they had a brick oven on wheels baking delicious looking pizzas(I’d show you my pictures but my BB email is down…again). The guys told me they designed the contraption special….for portable BOP(brick oven pizza) . I didn’t eat one, but they looked unbelievably good.  Hey, all pizza is good and BOP is the best. Yum.

And saw RED (as in the movie…I wasn’t angry)at the newly re-opened Senator theatre…it looked pretty much the same inside…same big screen, great sound, great popcorn…loved watching a flick there again. And the movie was fun…nothing to worry about or think about later…just a fun and funny 2 hour ride. RED stands for “retired, extremely dangerous”….sooooo, you get the idea. Here’s a trailer….Helen Mirren, Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman…what’s not to like?

Sweetest Halloween Ever….
October 22, 2010

Yummiest ghosts and goblins ever...

I don’t think I’ve ever shared Cheryl’s Cookies with you. It’s not that I was being selfish, or trying to keep it all to myself…sometimes I just don’t think about something until ding…..light dawns on yonder rock. You know what I mean.  So…I’m sharing Cheryl’s!

Cookies for birthdays.....

Like so many things(Kiehl’s comes to mind), I was introduced to them by the lovely Jennifer. She and my son were coming to visit one Easter, and knowing that I do a big lunch for around 25-ish people( every year I think never again), she had some frosted egg-shaped cookies sent to me…lovely pastel green, pink and yellow in a pretty basket. Cute sure, but since I’m not really a fan of sugar cookies…I wasn’t sure I would dig them. Until I took….one….bite. Wow. The cookies are like soft buttery shortbread…not crunchy…and the buttercream frosting is to die for. Unreal.

And since they come individually wrapped, you can put some in the freezer for later…or safely give them out for Halloween(if you’re that generous-at my house they get mini Kit-Kats.)…but they really do make fantastic gifts….for a hostess, a birthday, get well, or just thinking about you. 

precious for Thanksgiving...

And I got an email from them this morning that everything on the Cheryl’s website(click here)…is 25 % off! And they also have a section that is free shipping…so there you can save even more.

Cookies for the cure!!

They also make brownies which I’ve ordered…really fudgy…just the way I like them. (OK, now I’m hungry, I’m placing an order immediately). Anyway…from me…to you….some sweetness for the weekend. Play nice, don’t throw rocks (no matter who you’re voting for)….and do a kindness for someone this weekend. Oh, and come home safe, ’cause we miss you.

Thursday lagniappe…Living Social good deals!
October 21, 2010

Today's deal...hay ride and corn maze!

I just got this one from my daughter-in-law, the lovely Jennifer yesterday…I had told her about Groupon, so she was thrilled to find the site Living Social Baltimore . ( She said, “I know about something you don’t know about? Zing!”  And so in the spirit of lagniappe(a little gift), I pass it along to you!

Living Social a similar thing…you get a deal a day via email that you can buy or not(plus side deals in nearby areas like D.C. and Montgomery County)….and today you can score passes for two adults and two children to Rodgers Farms’ North Run Farm on Greenspring Valley Road. In their words, ” It’s not officially fall ’til you’ve taken a hayride, visited a farm, or gotten lost in a giant corn maze, so why not take the family to do all three — and just 15 miles outside of the city?” Why not indeed…It’s a $28 value that you can get for $14. What’s not to like? Oh, and the farm also has a farm animal zoo…kid’s (like me)love that.

Past deals include one I meant to get yesterday, but it got by me…to Sticky Rice in Canton…also Eco-chic spa packages, 3 laser hair removal treatments, all about half price. I just love it.  Anyway, if you like Groupon, you’ll like Living Social..here’s a link. Save on dear readers, save on.(Oh, and you an also give things from Living and Social and Groupon as gifts…it is the holiday season. ) And I hope by the end of the month to have out my 2010 Gift Guide…which I’ve been working on for a while now…stay tuned.

Make it Work!…. Creating a sleeveless blouse in 5 minutes…
October 20, 2010

A pretty blouse, but the sleeves don't work for me...

Ok, I bought this lovely silk, wine colored BCBG Max Azria shirt last fall(off Rue La La, if you must know). Love the color, love the hammered satin fabric, love the bow at the neck….hate the sleeves.

 They’re just little, puffy mini-cap sleeves that I don’t like and if I try to wear it under a cardigan….they stick up and make lumps underneath…which I do not appreciate.

Scissors in hand, I remove the offending sleeves...

So yesterday, as I was struggling with this piece of clothing, I thought…what on earth am I doing? My practical angel said “You don’t like the sleeves, you never wear the blouse without something over it…just cut them off,  Donna. Cut them off..right now, while you’re still wearing it. What are you waiting for?”

My impractical angel was shocked… “That’s a lovely silk blouse Donna…you’re ruining it. What would Max Azria say?” To which the practical angel replied, “Sister, if Max knew what he was doing, he’d have made it sleeveless anyway.”

So I whipped out my scissors and whacked the sleeves off…yes…while I still had it on. Oh, sure if was a little difficult at the back, but I still got the job done. 

All's well that ends well, right?

And, it fit perfectly under the thin cardigan I was wearing yesterday on the air. I’m practically a couturier seamstress. And to soothe those of you who sew and are shaking your heads in disgust, I want you to know… I will take this blouse to a seamstress at the cleaners, and have them redo the arm seams and maybe even have them cut it in on the shoulder a little…I like that. In the end, Max Azria may think…”Why didn’t I think of that? It’s brilliant!” Just goes to show you, ain’t nothin’ sacred about any piece of clothing, if it’s not working…as Tim Gunn from Project Runway would say, Make it work!”.

My energy audit…BGE has good news(not)…
October 19, 2010

Don't bother replacing the single pane windows yet.....

BGE Home!” , the guy kept pointing out to me every time I said, simply, BGE. Two  energy auditors(former HVAC guys turned energy savers) from BGE Home came out and combed over all the nooks(dusty) and crannies(spiderwebby) of my old house last Saturday morning. After attaching a gi-normous vacuum to the front door and sucking air through every crevice and documenting every leak….they told me I had done an excellent job with insulation and weather proofing my house. Ok, they didn’t say anything like that…it was more like, “I wouldn’t spend any money on replacing your windows….they’re the least of your problems right now.”

Trapdoor to attic....sooooo many problems...

Yikes. They then set about showing me what problems we did have. Shall we start in the attic? 1. There are all sorts of gaps in the already inadequate insulation.  I know partly why that’s true. When we had a new ac system put in, the darn thing started leaking through the ceiling as soon as I turned it on(they forgot to vent the condensation to the outside-whoops)…so I told the ac guy to please remove all the wet insulation so it wouldn’t mold. He did, but it was never replaced. My bad, or his. Ok, my bad. 2. There are lots of gaps in things that need to be caulked up there.  Birds are roosting in the slatted vents to the outside of the house(I thought I heard baby birds chirping this summer through the air return to the attic). 3. We need MORE insulation. 4. We need more insulation downstairs in the basement. Bottom line…you got it…more insulation. (Actually there were many more points made, but I won’t bore you with the details.)

More leaks where paneling meets crown molding...

 3. OK, I get it, I get it. So this week, we will get estimates on getting all that darn ole insulatin’ done. Chi-ching. Oh, and a reader asked about the cost of the audit….in the end it was $340, even though I had been told it would be $500(!)…something about the zones and a 15% discount….and BGE’s website says that I will get a $250 rebate on the audit if I take some of the recommended actions(which I will). I took it and ran. And one good thing, energy insulation and things like that qualify for a $1500 tax credit if done by the end of the year. Maybe the credit will be extended for 2011 🙂 and I can get the windows done too. If you want to find out how much YOU need insulation…there are quite a few companies who do energy audits….here’s BGE HOME’s website.

The weekend is here…but it got off to a “crappy” start…
October 15, 2010

I got a roaring start to my day when I ran over not one… but two bags of trash in front of my car…which I knew were there. Drove about 10 feet before I realized what that dragging sound was under the car. Had to run back in the house, get two trash bags, scrape all the crap back in the fresh bags(which included Back Street Boys tapes from a clean out of my daughters old stuff-sorry Nick)…and defiled cat litter(literal crap from Spencer’s visit). Yeah. Jammin’. Happy Friday.

The Wiz is in town!!!

But onward and upward…a suggestion for this weekend or the next few as the play runs at Center Stage-click here  downtown  through November 7th…but if you’ve never seen The Wiz on stage…it is just phenomenal fun! I never even caught the 1978 movie(I don’ t think) with Diana Ross, Nipsy Russell and Michael Jackson(what a cast)…but I knew lots of the songs of course…sing it now..”Go on, ease on down, ease on down the road..go on, ease on down, ease on down the road. Don’t you carry  nothin’ that might be a load, go on, ease on down, ease on down the road.” Great cast, fantastic music, and so, so funny. It’s a winner for kids too(though no kids under 5). Irene Lewis , Artistic Director of Center Stage welcomed everyone before the play started… and revealed that Toto isn’t a trained stage dog, “So Toto does his own thing“. And he did…hilarious.

Chip and dip, of a different sort...

And the huge Maryland Home and  Garden show-info here– is at the Timonium Fairgrounds this weekend. J-Fran…aka Jennifer Franciotti…always one to get her shop on…snapped up the ingenious chip and dip set that goes vertical, not horizontal.

See? The dip bowl sits on top...clever...

The bowl sits on top of the chips, which can be accessed from with side. And pretty. No doubt loads of great things  there to see.

What? All my heating is leaking out? Noooooo!

And not that it’s exciting, ’cause it ain’t…but I have a 4 hour energy audit tomorrow morning. I can only imagine the loooooong list of things I should and could do(sigh) to make the house more energy efficient. I guess it’s a start, right? Hope all of you have a lovely weekend…don’t throw rocks, play nice, and come home safe…’cause we miss you.

What price silky straight locks? Bad news on the Brazilian…
October 14, 2010

Jennifer reportedly uses the Brazilian...

It’s one of the most popular hair “procedures” out there right now….I even considered(briefly) getting the Brazilian hair straightening myself…and I know several women who get them regularly for around $350 a pop..and love it.  What the Brazilian does for you is give you silky straight hair for several months(people call it life changing)….You might need to round brush it a little, but the time it takes you to do your hair and get that straight silky look goes from a lot, to a little. If you’ve never seen it…. Once you watch it you’ll see why women love it.

Now news from Oregon that the Brazilian Blowout treatment which  says it is “formaldehyde free“….may still contain formaldehyde at well above what is considered safe levels(news flash…it’s the formaldehyde that actually makes the process work). That’s not great for the person exposed once every few months…but definitely bad for a stylist who may do several a week.

The CDC says  low levels of exposure can cause irritation of the skin, eyes, nose and throat, and High levels may cause some kinds of cancers. Yikes! The company that makes the product says they stand by their product being formaldehyde free…and say OSHA’s testing was flawed. 

And there are salons who don’t even bother with the no formaldehyde products because they don’t work as well. So are those salons taking precautions(masks and ventilation) or just doing them? And if you’d like to read the entire article in the Oregonian newspaper…here it is. The stylists there had some definite health issues from the product. Word to the wise….