Archive for December, 2010

It’s Christmas Eve….Yikes!
December 24, 2010

The wrapping ready to go...finally...

As my much missed Mom would say, I have “a lot of water to run under the bridge” today. Because of all the kitchen chaos, I have done no wrapping…as in zip…zero. So that back breaking task still lies before me. And why is it that wrapping puts such knots in my back? I’ve never found the right height place to avoid it. One person said it happens to them on the floor….I usually choose the dining room table as the wrapping station. But still…backache.

more cute handmade tags from Etsy

So it’s all set up…though now..I can’t find the tape. SOMEONE used it and didn’t put it back where it belongs, so the search is on. Oh, and I promised you pics of the decals I put up for the holiday season(please let them come down easily, or it will be the worse for me).

My decals for the winter....

I love the grey snowflakes..and after Xmas, I will take down the words, and put another snowflake in its place for the winter season. …smething else for spring?? We’ll see.

But I am wishing for all of you a wonderful, safe, happy Christmas. I hope you get the gift you want, and if you don’t get it, I wish for you the ability to forget about it. I hope you have friends or family around, and if you don’t, I wish that you will create your own special day, just for you. And for those of you who have a little water to run under the bridge too…I hope you don’t get too stressed about it. It doesn’t have to be perfect…that is my mantra today, although I don’t really believe it. Be extra nice, don’t throw rocks at family members who irritate you, cook something delicious, and come safe. Seriously, come home safe, ’cause we miss you. XOXO

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Donna’s very busy day….. come along for the ride!
December 22, 2010

So cute....two girls and a boy!

I’m working nights this week, and while I’m not normally a night person, working that shift this week gives me all kinds of daytime hours in which to finish all the crap that I have left to do…not to put too fine a term on it. 

I was off to Belvedere market off York Road first thing. I know that Atwaters Bakery runs out of stuff early around the holidays. Not this year my friends, not this year. So I bought some luscious looking breakfast scones and stuff and the cutie-pie gingerbread men in the picture.

great place for meat....

 I ran over to the Ceriello, also in Belvedere…great butcher shop with breads, Italian cookies, and cheeses.

A porketto? Porquetto? How about dinner?

 I can never walk by without buying something, and on this trip I discovered what was on the menu for Christmas day…a “porquetto”…or that’s what the guy said…I didn’t make him spell it. What is a porquetto, you may ask? The guy wrapping it said, “It’s a pork loin wrapped in pork belly, with garlic, olive oil and herbs in between.” Sold, wrap it up, and call it Christmas dinner. $6.99 a pound…not bad for something that took a little while to put together. He told me to roast it at 500 degrees for about 10 minutes, then lower the heat to 250 and slow roast it another hour and a half. Yummy.

Marta and her business partner Richard....

 Then I headed up York Road to Towson where I stopped for the first time to the new Havana Road Cafe…..I had wanted to see this new Cuban cuisine place since it opened, and to grab a couple of Cubano sandwiches (one of my all time favs) for dinner tonight.

The Cubano...Cuba's gift to me...

The place is super-cute and very festive with lights all over the ceiling…just a nice warm feel to it(not to mention smelling divine). I also took home a little Cuban brisket and some Cuban pork….OMG…the flavors are so rich and layered. Just amazing. And I can’t wait for dinner time and the Cubano…

Cutest baby ever????

Saw this cutie above out with Mom and Grandmom, all dressed up for Christmas. Isn’t she a love?? Her Mother wrote to me in the comment section and told me her name is Charlotte…a name I adore…but they call her Charlie. Sooooo sweet.

Gettin’ ready for you know what!!!
December 21, 2010

Ok, I’m a little crazy right now like many of you….making mental check lists of things I haven’t done and things I forgot at 3 am(how I hate that)….and I’m pressed for time like everyone else….so here are some pictures of what I’ve been doing. First….a centerpiece…

Pine cones and this and that....but I like it!

Everything in this bowl were things I already had, except these darling little gift tags I got off Etsy.

Such sweet little gift tags!

Someone called CardsbyCarla did them, and I adore the little “diamond” at the top of the tree. I have to admit I have a terrible prejudice against stick on tags, and love the more old-fashioned tie on ones. These were just perfect so I added a couple to the centerpiece. I hope someone at dinner doesn’t say, “You forgot to take the tag off“….Tomorrow I’ll show you some winter snowflake decals I’ve done in the dining room(gray of course). I love the effect.

New Chairs and Fat Mama’s Tamales in the house…
December 17, 2010

Love the chairs....

Let me start with something pretty…I bought two of these chairs (from Overstock) to go at either end of the dining table(that is to be delivered on Monday)…and I really like them! The print in the background is going to go up on the wall there…it’s one from Relais & Chateax that I had signed by the artist, when I was in Quebec for  Great Country Inns years ago. I still love it and it’s prefect for a dining room, with a festive eating and drinking scene. But there is still much to be done.

Where did I get all this crap????

Pots and pans and various and sundry kitchen STUFF that needs to find a home. Some will get a new cabinet space, others will be taken to Goodwill..surely someone needs a potato ricer….anyone? Anyone? It’s shocking all the little gadgets and thingie-dos that accumulate in the cupboards, and you don’t even know they’re there until you clean it all out. Sigh.

So sad without it's door...so exposed...

ANd the dishwasher still needs its door to be atached…evidentally a little re-figuring has to be done..no slam dunk.

Fat Mama's in the house, ya'll!

But let’s end with something delicious,…especially on a Friday when thing should be a little delicious…Fat Mama’s Tamales-here,  came today….wrapped in the Natchez Democrat.  I first had Fat Mama’s years ago when I was actually in Natchez…such a lovely place to visit. We stumbled across Fat Mama’s…and I don’t think I’ve ever had such great tamales, and never forgot them.

Newspaper from Natchez Mississippi....

SO when I found they did mail order on the web…I ordered some for my sister in Gulf Shores(my other sister got Cheryl’s cookies) and some for me. I think how my amex card gets so high at Christmas…one for you, one for me…one for you, one for me…you know. But I wonder if the Natchez football players in the pic above have any idea they were the wrapping for six dozen tamales that ended up in Baltimore, MD…probably not. I salute you, Col-Lin Wolfpack…hope you’ve had a good season. And I hope all of you have a fabulous weekend, or even a decent one. Think of me still trying to get my kitchen straightened out and guests coming Sunday for lunch(overly optimistic? perhaps..). Play nice, don’t throw rocks and come home safe, ’cause we miss you!

Everyone’s a comic…..
December 15, 2010

I'm sure there was a huge laugh when this was written....

I work with a lot of people here at WBAL, some of whom are very funny indeed, and some who fancy themselves so…you know what I’m sayin’. So it didn’t surprise me much when this anonymous note showed up a desk a this week. What the note refers to is the refrigerator, door and dishwasher that are in my yard that make me look like…well…Fred Samford does come to mind, or the Clampett family perhaps.

Anyway, just so you know, they are all off today to the Salvation Army, to live again hopefully….because they all worked quite well, but are no longer needed. And the kitchen is ALMOST finished….a little strip of granite that was somehow left off the template is coming today, the range is in(Oh, JennAir did the controls have to be so complicated?), and the new stainless French door frig, which spent last night in my entry way, and the new dishwasher…. will be hooked up today.

I love these knobs, and they look great on new cabinets.

The the “fun part” of putting everything that has been residing in the living room, back into the kitchen, and no doubt getting rid of some stuff along the way. Oh, and the knobs above are something I’m resusing….I loved them when I bought them(and they weren’t cheap) and still do. A little recycling. Something old, something new.

First Christmas with Spencer...

And I haven’t done any decorating at all..yet. It’s gonna be a hectic weekend getting everything together, just in time for Xmas. Whew! But my sweet daughter is excited about her first Christmas in her own apartment, with Spencer of course. She got the little tree at Target….and says Spencer loves the tree(a little too much).

A working sink!! The kitchen makeover continues….
December 13, 2010

My new sink and faucet…hollah!!

I had a working sink over the weekend. Did you hear what I said? A WORKING SINK, WITH A FAUCET AND EVERYTHING! OK, not everything… exactly. A plastic bag was plugged into the hole in the disposal where the dishwasher  will(one day) drain, so you couldn’t use the disposal.(AND as Mary astutely noticed….the granite and subway tile backsplash are also in…love it!)

Is this frig clean, or what?

 But I could wash dishes…and clean the refrigerator so it can go to the Salvation Army(the thing has never looked so good), and wash my hands, and get a cup of water for tea. Oh, you never appreciate the luxury of the kitchen sink with hot and cold running water….until you don’t have it for a while. Know what I mean?

We had such fun with these for years....

 And I had to remove about a hundred tiny little magnets that have a lot of history for me. My wonderful, late Mother-in-law Shirley gave my daughter a silver metal lunchbox when she was little, and a set of magnetized words with which you could write little messages  inside. That lunchbox is long gone, but we kept the magnets and played with them over the years writing nonsense like “sweet hot peach“, and “gobble the smell“, or “the milk picnic” on the refrigerator. I brought them into work today, because it’s time for some other little girl or boy write silly messages on their refrigerator with them. Another transition.

late 3:00 lunch at Vino Rosina....

We ate out a couple of times this weekend(hey all I have is a sink, come on)….tried a new place downtown called Vino Rosina-here…it’s a really cool looking wine bar just off President Street close to the harbor….neat menu and guess what? On Christmas Eve, all bottles of wine are half off…you know that’s calling my name.

I love love love grilled cheese!!

 And it must be said that all grilled cheese sandwiches are good, the one Vino Rosina made with Jarlsburg and dijon was celestial..with a glass of rose sparkling wine…a fabulous late lunch.

It's soooo lovely here....

We had Sunday brunch at one of my fave spots for brunch...The Ambassador Dining Room-here close to Hopkins University. They really know how to do it…and for those who don’t want Indian food(more’s the pity because their’s is fabulous),  omelet and waffle bars too, plus Mimosas and Bloody Marys, included in the price of brunch. One of the best buys in town. And if the Bhindi Pyaaz is on the buffet( okra with tomatoes and onions)…don’t miss it…it’s my favorite dish!

Dogs in Strollers and Diamond rings…Donna’s trip to ‘bama
December 10, 2010

Mom's wedding band... so sweet..

I told you that we were in Alabama this past weekend, for a big family  Xmas party…and it really meant a lot to us because it was almost the anniversary of my Mom’s death….she died Dec. 7th of last year. And it was practically the same crowd that got together last year after her funeral. All my cousins who I played with every Sunday afternoon at my grandparent’s house…their kids..and for some of them, their kids. Four generations, with some really cute kids running around(and no arguing or crying, it was amazing).And she would have loved it.

 I came home with her platinum wedding band you see in the picture above…I never saw it off my Mom’s hand…she loved that little band set with tiny diamond chips. Really, I don’t think that’s uncharitable, they are truly tiny. But it is so sweet, and it goes perfectly with my husband’s grandmother’s diamond solitaire. Women today get these hunky engagement rings that make mine look also like a diamond chip, but that’s ok. I love their history.

My baby sister brought out a little box of jewelry after the party and said, “I still have these things of Mom’s, so it’s time to pick what you want.” All three of us want the other ones to have what THEY want, so no one want to go first, so we made the eldest, Audrey(sorry girl, but you are the eldest!), go first. In the end she had some diamond stud earrings, and my baby sister had a pretty gold and diamond ring that my Dad had made for my Mom from his service pins at work(back when loyalty with a company was rewarded)..and I have her wedding band. My sisters were happy for me to have it, because I will wear it every day, just like I think of my Mom every day. We all miss her.

A skating moose in 'bama? WHO KNEW?

But on to the fabulous shopping in Birmingham. There’s a place there called The Summit. Seriously, it is a mecca to us every time we go…beautifully decorated(like the topiary skating moose in the pic)…and some of the best stores. 

It's a doggie...in stroller!!

They have a gorgeous Saks there which is where we saw the cutest dog …in a stroller. Only in the south. I asked them if they had trouble getting through a store after we accosted  them for several minutes to oooh and aaaah over their little princess. My daughter totally fell in love.

Can you hear it? Awwwwwwww!

 Isn’t she cute(the girl not the dog)? Hope all of you have a wonderful weekend, enjoy the holiday spirit(even as one cannot use one’s kitchen…soon grasshopper, soon), be extra nice to someone, and don’t throw rocks. Oh, and come home safe, ’cause we miss you.

News from the dustbowl…more kitchen progress….
December 9, 2010

OK, is it a bad thing that I’m getting used to living with everything topsy tervy…and no matter how much I clean, or dust around the place? Is it? have I lost my standards or is it just a testament to human adaptability that I no longer feel too distressed. Just thinking out loud.

This is what they look like...and now they're half price???

Anyway, more is happening at the homestead….the pendant lights came in, and while for a bit I was smitten with some lights at Alluminaire(which I still think is fabulous and their pendants come in all sizes shapes and patterns)…but when I saw these clear glass ones(that is not my kitchen-yet) at Wistera-here…I fell in love. Although I just now looked at them online..they are now HALF OFF today!(I’m on the phone right now with them, and after waiting a little while on hold…I got the discount..hollah and thank you Wisteria!).

Please be a good stove...please?

 The Jenn-Air range is in….I have some mixed emotions about this item… the way it looks appeals to me and I needed a downdraft stove…which really limits your options about what’s available. This is the one that worked for the space…it was more(much more) than I wanted to spend on a range($2500-ouch) and look as I might…NO ONE carried it for any less. No one. And I looked online everywhere. At least I got a $200 rebate. Yeah. 😦

Ok, it never looked this bad...really...

 I’m having some open shelving put in…I love love love the look, plus it provides a bunch of storage compared to what was here before, which you can see in the picture above.

New cabinet below and open shelves above...pre granite.

 Here’s what is there now(not finished, but you get the idea). The granite has yet to be put on top of the cabinet, but I love the look. And so, slowly, the flower unfolds its expensive petals, but as so many of you have reminded me….it will be worth all the blood sweat and dollah bills that have gone into the project. Thanks for the support!!!!!!

Kitchen Update….blog post from the dustbowl.
December 7, 2010

I was out of town this weekend for a family holiday party in Birmingham…saw all the cousins and my lone remaining uncle and two aunts…my sisters of course and their kids. It was such a great time…and I really enjoyed being somewhere with no dust, where the furniture is in place, there is running water and a stove in the kitchen! You know…the little luxuries we all take so for granted until we don’t have them anymore. 😦

The kitchen cabinets arrive...wheeeeeeee!!!

The cabinets have arrived….they came last week and have been sitting in the dining room waiting for their time…and I’ve been in the process of picking out a paint color(so many to choose from-yikes) and pendant lighting fixtures(ditto!).

Yellow...green...blue? Can you guess what color I chose?

 I went to the paint store(Benjamin Moore) to look at paint…wow, there are so many finishes, colors, low VOCs, blah, blah blah. And while I considered a vibrant green…in the end I decided on a more neutral look for the room…and picked out Ben M’s Stonington Gray low voc paint in an eggshell finish, which is the wall color on the picture below.

Like it? The wall color not the room, which is gorgeous...

 One person on Apartment Therapy said, and I agree, “ the BEST grey ever is Benjamin Moore’s Stonington Gray. It’s a light and neutral grey — not blueish, not greenish, not purplish — very clean, a perfect contrast to bright white. A really great color.” And I’m using high gloss enamel Shell White trim…I do all the house woodwork in it, so there’s no confusion when it’s time to paint. It’s shell white…all of it. One and done.

Granite countertops...finally...

 The granite we picked(after briefly considering concrete countertops-decided they were too much upkeep) is called Silver Supreme…grey with white and black in it…and an interesting pattern in it. And I love  the contrast with the espresso brown cabinets….and the backsplash will be white subway tile.

Wine corks in a frame....

A reader asked what happened to my wine cork wall I had so painstakingly created….that’s long gone,  sadly, lost in the destruction. All that work, down the drain(and all those corks too).  Maybe I will recreate it in a frame fashion, like I saw at a little shop in Alabama last summer. It was kind of like the one above, only a bit smaller….when I get the time anyway.  More tomorrow….and more pictures( I love the pendant lights!)…

Kitchen Hell….
December 2, 2010

When I left for New York last Wednesday night, my kitchen looked like this after taking everything off the counters and emptying the cabinets….(can I tell you how horrifying a couple of drawers were? Hello birthday candles from 1000 b.c.)…

Get all the junk out...check!

And let me tell you, the kitchen looks better in this picture(definitely not high def) than it did in person. We had an easy makeover on the cheap a 10 or 15 years ago…new fronts on cabinets….but still had laminate countertops(one of the last people in the world), and I have always wanted to open the kitchen into the dining room by removing the top half of the wall.

Bye-bye wall, hello dust....

This is what it looked like when we came home..after destruction. And I know that to knock down walls and take down cabinets, a mess will be made…the old breaking eggs thing. I think I just hadn’t realized how much, and how bad. This is what the living room next door(with all the dining room furniture crammed in) looks like.

Dust anyone? Anyone?

So this is how I’m living right now, and to be honest I’ve had to work hard to keep a positive attitude….as someone who values order in their lives. All my order is topsy-tervy…and everyone says, “But it will be so beautiful in the end“…”Think how much you’ll enjoy it!”…and I know that is true. But-I-really-want-this-to-be-over.

And to add insult to injury, this morning our Pella storm door that cannot be more than two years old…. won’t open. Not from the outside, not from the inside…the mechanism inside the lock seems to be broken and nothing moves it..and you can’t get to the hinges to take it off. Not good. And I have a busy day ahead…need to write a story(besides my tale of woe) and get ready for the Washington Monument Lighting tonight in My Vernon. Just me and Elmo, hanging out in Baltie. 🙂