Archive for May, 2011

Summer Reading….books for the beach and the backyard!!
May 31, 2011

Part of my library on NOOK.....some I haven't read yet...

Ok, now that summer is here, I wanted to share some books that I have read( and loved) recently…that you might also enjoy trying. It seems I am always looking for a good read, and like you, I am loathe to spend bucks on a book that I don’t know I’ll like. Not that my recommendation means that YOU will like it, but it’s a start, right? Here we go…

Lisa Robinson recommended this...

Wench, by Dolen PerkinsValdez.  Lisa Robinson recommended this when I was looking for a book to read…and she was right, I loved it. About the lives of four slave women who are also their masters’ mistresses….the women meet when their masters go to the same resort in Ohio every summer. Fascinating and suspenseful.

It struck a chord with me...

The Pull of the Moon by Elizabeth Berg. Don’t know if you have already discovered her books…definitely a chick book writer…I’ve enjoyed some of her others, but this one is about a woman who takes off from her life and husband, on a road trip to rediscover what she really wants from life. (who hasn’t dreamed of that)

Loved it!!

A Discovery of Witches, by Deborah Harkness.  Ok, if you’re a fan of books about witches, vampires, that sort of thing…you’ll love this. Well written and it interweaves all of them into one long(hello, getting your money’s worth-what’s with the 195 page reads)fantastic read, that is obviously set up as the first in a series. Loves it.

Found it from a NY Times review...

Among Others, by Jo Walton.  Also fantasy, science fiction book….it is about a young girl shunted off to a grim boarding school…who knows she is from a family of spell casters, and a pretty surprising past….she finds a group of science fiction readers that change her life. Lovely read…

Where is she really? Takes a while to find out...

Room, by Emma Donoghue. Read about this in the NY Times book review and it sounded so fascinating, I knew I had to get it. 5-year-old Jack lives with his Mother in what seems like a single room, as Jack tells it, where he has lived his whole life. They eat, play games, sleep….but why are they there? Kinda creepy for sure, but also amazing story of hope, and love….a real page-turner.

Look at that face!!

Katie Up and Down the Hall, by Glenn Plaskin, is, as you would guess from the cover, a heart-warming book about a dog…and the way she changes the life of her owner and everyone else on his hall. True story of Plaskin, who lives in Battery Park …who also witnesses 9-11, and the terrible aftermath for the people who lived on the tip of Manhattan. If you love dogs, you’ll like it.

I loved this book...

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, by Helen Simonson. An amazing book( so good I read it twice), about a man who is in the autumn of his life in a small village in Great Britain…finding love so late in life, and standing up to prejudice. major Pettigrew  clings to traditional values and has tried (in vain) to pass these along to his
yuppie son, Roger. Oh, an ungrateful child.

Oh Anthony....

Medium Raw, a Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook by Anthony Bourdain. If you liked Kitchen Confidential, or are just a Bourdain fas, as am I…you’ll love this book about his life, what happened after Kitchen Confidential became a mega best seller, and what has happened to him since. Bourdain is his usual profane, hilarious, take no prisoners self…very  entertaining, and you’ll learn things about the food industry too… who he like and why… who he hates, and why. Entertaining, for sure.

If you like clothes....

Last, A Vintage Affair, by Isabel Wolff. A novel about a vintage clothing expert who abandons a career at Sotheby’s, to open a shop in London, selling only the finest vintage clothing(she don’t want your old Talbots jacket)…she is also reeling from an imploded engagement and the death of her best friend. Enter an elderly client with some amazing pieces she wants to, ummm, divest herself of….and quite a story behind them. Sweet, and a lovely read.

Ok, enough for today…movies tomorrow, ok?? And do you have any recent great reads to share?

It’s the weekend baby! Ballroom update, egg whites and a new dish to try..
May 27, 2011

The motto I have yet to live up to.....I'm just sayin'

This is the sign I see every day I go to the Arthur Murray Studio on York Road….Hmmm…”Dance like no one is watching“…..easier said than done I’ve found. One, because I’m not a good dancer, and two, because people ARE watching…or they will be on June 3rd. But I’m trying to put aside all that and just march forward( I mean dance forward)…if you haven’t seen the little snippets of my lesson on-line  you can watch it here.  Though I have to tell you it’s not all like that..being corrected, there is some “Very good” thrown in….really.

Herbal tea, egg white concoction, vitamins and my Jambox start the day...

Ok, this morning I shared on Facebook my breakfast for today….an egg white-blueberry concoction, vitamins and herbal tea…as one person commented, “Yech…that would make me want to go back to bed.” I get that(and for a moment I wanted to)….but for another week I’m trying the Perricone Metabolic Diet….in which you eat the concoction for breakfast and lunch, with the vitamins, and then for dinner you get salmon(6 0z) a cup of steamed brocoli and a watercress(try finding that in most supermarkets) salad with lemon juice and a little olive oil. I’ve been on it since Tuesday, and I can already tell I’ve lost some weight….but can I say I will be sooooooo glad when it’s over? I’ll tell you how it was at the end of it. Luckily grilled salmon and salad isn’t too hard to find in restaurants.

The ingredients for a very fine dinner.....

And for those of you NOT on a prescribed diet….here’s a dish I made a few weeks back that was delish. Saute some onion, garlic, fresh basil(added at the last minute) and grape tomatoes in olive oil…and toss with fresh pasta….add a little cream if you like, and be transported to heaven!! Loves it. But whatever you cook, do with love, and care, and I’m sure it will fine. Have a fab weekend, don’t throw rocks, cook with love and come home safe, ’cause we miss you!

Op’s last week…a blast or a bit of a letdown??
May 25, 2011

How many more surprised looks do I have??

You know I saw bit and pieces of  her last week shows Monday and Tuesday….and I …hate to say it…found them oddly disappointing. Perhaps it’s because Oprah is such an intimate experience normally….you feel as thought you are part of the studio audience….but this big behemoth sendoff in the Chicago United Center…..I’m sure it was kinda amazing if you WERE ACTUALLY THERE(ok someone who was there said the first part was not great)….but for me anyway, it just came off kinda flat.

Huger than huge!!!!!

The two Toms…Cruise and Hanks acting as mcs, yelling into the microphones…they didn’t look too at ease either…and when Katie Holmes came out standing between Queen Litifah and Halle Berry…I thought, “Girl, you are out of your league“…and guessed perhaps the ONLY reason she was there was because the first Tom said something like, “I’d really like Katie to have a part onstage too…. She loves Oprah!”….and thus Mrs. Cruise was front and center. The parts that really did work for me were the smaller taped pieces, about people whose lives have been impacted by Oprah…there are certainly lots of those people. And when the men of Morehouse College who were in school, thanks to Oprah scholarships, marched on stage…hey, that was impressive, no doubt.

Hello Mrs. Cruise....

I hope today will be back to format, and back to being LIKE OPRAH…the show we all loved(well, many of us anyway)…I will miss her at 4:00. And it is a fact that she, as so many people have already observed, changed television…in a good way. Whether or not someone in the future has the clout to do exactly what they want with their show, which is how the show came to be what it is, remains to be seen. There are often many powerful cooks stirring the tv broth, and they all think they know best(and often they do not). But Oprah was the last word on hers. An enviable position. And I wish her the best..not that she needs it. And good luck to Ellen(on our station anyway)…she has big Jimmy Choos to fill.

Weekend wrapup
May 23, 2011

Hey, I'm using my iPad!!

Ok, the most absorbing thing that happened this weekend(for me, not you) was the Preakness. The week before you do a live three hour broadcast, it is hard not to think about it… a lot. But better to prepare than just worry…and there’s a lot to prepare for…what you’re wearing, how it will look on camera, which hat will it be(though once I tried on the orange one from Hats to Hose…I was sold), and most importantly…what the hell you are going to say. Gerry Sandusky (God bless him)puts together a killer compendium of Preakness facts and stats. Everything you need to know and much, much more.

Gerry and me with the Clydesdales! I wasn't moving one inch closer.

And this year, instead of a thick stack of papers to go by…we had it all on our iPads. Loved, loved, loved that. But the problem was, that I couldn’t read it very well(hello presbyopia) so I wore a single contact lens in one eye, so that I could see the smaller print more easily, and I let other eye pick up distance vision. Bingo.

Some of the flowers we put the lamb's ear...

And on Sunday, one of my neighbors was coming home from the hospital with a new baby(and they have another child under two)…yowsa…will they have their hands full! So a small group of us sprinted over when her husband left to pick her up(we were sure we had a solid 2 hours), and planted flowers and weeded, and cleaned and mulched….so when she came home, their garden would be a welcoming, verdant, shady spot to enjoy with the new baby.

We potted some of these black elephant ears(not this big yet!)...but will be dramatic.

And I ran to Pier One to get some last minute fresh pillows to spruce it up…I think this is one of the best baby presents I’ve ever given. And the garden looks so lovely. I can imagine her there with the baby, the birds singing…..a nice breeze blowing. Yeah.

Hats, hats everywhere….but where’s mine?
May 19, 2011

Phyllis Eley of Hats to the name!

OK, it is the Thursday before Preakness, and I have only a faint idea of what(on earth) I’m gonna wear. Seriously, I have to get…it.. together. Made a quick trip out to Hat to Hose on Reisterstown Road this week, to see what they have that to go with navy. Phyllis Eley is super at helping you find one…or last year she took a hat I already had, and redid it with flowers for a whole different look!

I kinda dig this bright orange hat....

I do like the orange hat in the picture….but I’m also fascinated by fascinators this year….so I took one of those along with me as well. And I may wear a the fascinator first, then switch at some point to the fascinator. I don’t know…we’ll see what happens.

Box 'o hats....

And all those hats that you see Lisa Robinson modeling, and viewers voting on? Who delivered them to the station for her?? That’s right. And there are loads of hats I like but can’t necessarily wear very well…

Cute, but....

Pure 1960s, wouldn’t you say? Or..

Cute little cloche...

This is super cute…but…

Different, yes?

 Wow….not me, but wow…we’ll see how it all comes together Saturday afternoon at 1:30 pm. Hope you’ll join us for the Preakess pre-show….Gerry Sandusky and I will join  Lisa(wearing the hat you’ve chosen) and Rob Roblin, and Tom Tasselmayer…and we promise plenty of fun, fashion, and of course…cute horsies. See you then?

Techie update….Donna gets some new toys….
May 16, 2011

All those lovely little icons mean something, I think...

Ok, some of you know I have joined the iPad revolution(which is a good thing right now as my computer at work is currently kaput)….and I really do love it. As my son(who’s had the iPad for a while)pointed out, it doesn’t do everything perfectly(no Adobe flash video, for example), but it is a terrific gadget, and

popup keyboard...

I use it much more than my laptop these days, unless I want to write something longer, and then the popup onscreen keyboard is too small for much typing(certainly not accurate anyway…some things I write occasionally look like jibberish). 

Wireless Keyboard for iPadSo, for Momma's Day, my son and the lovely Jennifer sent me Apple wireless is super light and super thin(see pic below) so it travels easily with me to work.super thin...

As long as it’s within 30 feet of your Mac or iPad, it works, so it can be in your lap, or on a table, or whatever…nice. I really like it. And it has a “smart” battery system so when you’re not using the keyboard, it automatically powers down. The instant you start typing, it turns back on! What??

And here’s another gadget that the New Yorkers brought as a gift when we all went to South Carolina for family vaca in April….it’s called the Jambox. SO cute.

So small, but terrific sound...

Made by Jawbone, the Jambox  uses bluetooth technology…after it pairs with your iPad(or smart phone or computer), you can cart the little speaker around with you….out on the porch, in the kitchen and listen to tunes from, say, iTunes, or  Pandora Radio(another great Ap to have on your iPad or computer) wherever you are, without having to have your iPad in the kitchen or in the bathroom. To give you an idea of how it works, and all the things you can use it for,check out this video-here. Very, very smart device. On the way home from Charleston, we had downloaded free podcasts of  This American Life…(if you’ve never heard of it, look it up-one of the best radio shows ever), and played them thru the Jambox sitting on the dashboard. Made the 8 hour drive, almost seem shorter!

Weekend ramblings….drinks, Waters, gardens and trucks!
May 13, 2011

Elderflower Sidecar...looks yummy...Ok, it’s Friday ya’ll….and you know how I feel about the weekend….so in that spirit, I offer a few modest suggestions for yours….ready? Soon it will be 5:00(newscast for me), and the old line…”it’s 5 o’clock somewhere“…The Elderflower Sidecar….here’s the recipe. And yes, I will have to go purchase some St. Germain Liquer if I want to make it…I’ve heard it is delicious, made(obvie) from elderflowers.


Home and Garden tour!!

And in the springtime, who doesn’t love a Home and Garden tour? This one  is on Susan Reimer’s blog Garden Variety-here, on the Baltimore Sun’s website. Browsing through people’s gardens on which they have worked very hard( how much pressure is that, to know people are gonna come look at your garden…Judging, judging, always judging). So they must be confident there’s is pretty fine….no leaves out of place.


Sneezy, HappySleepy and Co.

And if you have small children( their presence is probably not required at a house and garden tour…can you just imagine…”Jimmy, get out of that bed of pansies, before I whip your butt!…I mean it Jimmy, now!” 

So for you I offer a live performance of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs…playing at the Glen Echo Park, put on by the Puppet Company Playhouse-ticket infor here. The production has been nominated for some awards….and at 40 minutes long, perfect for kids!! (And will keep them out of those flowerbeds)

Love, love love John Waters

Next up, how about a night with the King of Trash? You know…John Waters! The great director of classics such as Polyester and Hairspray, will be signing copies of his book,
 Role Models at Atomic Books on Fall Road-info here Saturday night at 7 pm. Funny story…my daughter had to deliver something to Mr. Waters recently for her job. There was no number outside so she wasn’t sure she was at the right address, and was kind of looking around….Waters
comes the door and and peers at her thru a little window..finally answers the door and says, “I thought maybe you were a stalker…”classic.
And here’s a freebie….hey,  never say I didn’t GIVE you something….great again for kids, especially for kids who love big trucks(I remember fondly Richard Scarry’s kids book about big machines).

Hey Dad, look...a BIG truck!!

 Some of the largest behemoths(is that redundant?) from the Baltimore City fleet will be parked on the lot of the Baltimore Museum of Industry on Key Highway(interesting in its own right), all day Saturday….and all of you who pay city property taxes, like me, I say again….this is free. So let your kiddoes explore the mchines.

Enjoy the weekend, Don’t throw rocks, see something different and interesting this weekend…setp out of the rut for once….and come home safe….’cause we miss you!

Lady in Waiting?….Pippa serving Kate could be great or a royal sister catfight…
May 11, 2011

Pippa almost stole the show on wedding day...

Ok, now that Pippa Middleton, sister of Kate, now Duchess of Cambridge, one day much more…has made such a huge splash around the world….and become a celebrity in her own right(the Facebook page Pippa Middleton Arse Appreciation Society  pops to mind)….comes (unofficial)word that big sister has asked little sister to be her Lady in Waiting. Yes, that’s a real job.

some say Wills married the wrong sister...I disagree..

And while it’s nice for Kate to ask her sister to take the position, I can imagine some issues…after all, they ARE sisters. Know everything about the other, weaknesses, frailties, soft spots….and some sisters don’t hesitate to use those knives, if provoked. Keep in mind, being a lady-in-waiting today, isn’t like the old days, when they helped the royal get dressed, put out their clothes, etc., …today it is really more of a confidant that one trusts absolutely not to blab, and maybe help with a little correspondence or travel with her or  entertaining. Not a bad gig.

Pippa, striding toward a new job??

Can you imagine if it was otherwise? “Pippa, I simply must have some undies washed by hand tonight…you know how delicate they are, and I cannot trust anyone else not to put them on Ebay!” 

But Kate, It’s one am and I just got in from a party…”

Pippa, YOU are my lady-in-waiting. Wash the damn knickers!”

You see what I mean. And there is no blood badder than bad sister blood. It can get nasty. Which is difficult for me to understand, because my two sisters and I have always(for the most part) gotten along so well. So if Kate(the now royal one) and Pippa( the fun sister, rumor has it), really are good friends and get on together, it could be a dream Lady in Waiting-ship. I can only imagine some of the perks(clothes, invitations, etc,) could be killer. “What kind of detergent did you want on those knickers?”

Momma’s Day weekend….it’s all good, even when it’s not
May 9, 2011

My daughter's note to very sweet...

Mother’s Day means many things to many people…I know a lot of moms who simply want to be left alone a little bit…so they can read a book, take a nap, have a glass of wine, take a long bath…unmolested. You know what I mean. And I know others who want a messy breakfast in bed,  prepared by little sticky hands who will also help them eat it, right after they spill the orange juice…been there. Hopefully you got a modicum of what you hoped for….and I hope you were remembered.

Yoga in Patterson Park!!

My weekend was pretty busy….the yoga class in Patterson Park was ab fab…really, the weather was perfect for yoga.

Ace ready for yoga....downward dog!!

As we all did our downward dogs….a little dog named Ace…did the most natural one…He came over an sniffed my ear during one pose which almost made me collapse with can’t get that in a regular yoga class.. . The outdoor series will last all summer..sponsored by lululemon…maker of wonderful yoga gear(and they now have a store on Aliceanna St. in Baltimore)…my daughter, writer of sweet notes,  gave me a pair of their yoga pants for Momma’s Day. Adore them!

Where else but Baltimore would you see this????

Downtown traffic was a bear though….with a race that closed off several streets…wish I’d know about it(I mean, come on, I do work in news)….and there was even a parade with the strangest assortment of homemade floats…loved it.

Blackboard specials at the lanterns....

Tried a new restaurant for dinner Sunday night….Regions in Catonsville-here. I’ve been meaning to get there for a while, but when it new, you really couldn’t get a reservation. So I just waited a while…and the menu rocks it. My latest ordering routine is a couple of small plates, instead of a starter and main dish…that’s usually too much food.

The Mad Hatter....yumm...

The risotto with scallops,  and beef tips with ratatouille stuffed ravioli(called The Mad Hatter) were perfect, though I ended up bringing some of that home too-quite rich, both of them. But a great meal. Oh, and Regions is byob…which as you know I adore…and there is a wine store on Frederick Road in Catonsville if you forget.

And I spent part of the afternoon, just reading on the back porch with my Nook….and enjoying the birds feast at the feeders. So relaxing, and too too rare…the chance to just sit and read, and observe nature. Hope yours was lovely too!

Breathless from Ballroom….Donna learns to dance…
May 6, 2011

In my dreams...

Ok, let me say..if you think the picture above in some way depicts what my first lessons have been  like…it does not.  Let’s start at the beginning….I was asked by an acquaintance to be part of a fundraiser for The Tuerk House-here, a non-profit substance abuse house in Baltimore. These folks do really great work, and provide many, many services to recovering addicts. So it’s hard to say no to those who do good works. And when Lucy Henningfield asked if  I would learn and perform a ballroom dance(something I have NEVER done)….I agreed. Because it’s a good cause, sure. But also, we all get to a point in our lives where we are comfy…and we like comfy. This was absolutely not in my comfort zone, so before I could say, “Ummmmm, no“….I said yes. Let the lessons commence.

Again, not me...yet...

My teacher John McCraw is at the Arthur Murray studio on York Road…beautiful, light filled studio.  I enter with great trepidation…I mean, I have pretty good balance, I do yoga, but I don’t have any sort of dance background(which was I think, pretty disappointing to my instructor….my Mom really let me down). “Ballet, tap, anything?”, he asked….nope,  just a big old blank slate. But he is very patient(thank God).

We are doing a bolero(for those of us who are ignorant of bolero-here’s one)…which I am told is a combination of a waltz and a samba. Is it hard? Yes. And you have probably seen enough Dancing with the Stars to know how some of those practice session go, especially at first. Yeah.  Next week I will share some video that we shot at a practice yesterday…I just don’t have time today to get it together. You’ll see what I mean.

Love outdoor yoga!

It’s a busy weekend tomorrow, have a doctor’s appt at 7:30 Saturday morning(I know-who does appts at 7:30 on Saturday?), then an outdoor yoga class, followed by a dance lesson(doing the bolero, of course), after which I hope, there is a nap…..then onto the Center Stage Gala that evening, for which I have to figure out what on earth I’m going to wear(it has to be something in my closet-I’m NOT going shopping). Whatever you do, have a lovely Mother’s Day, and if your Mom is still living…enjoy her, I miss mine so much. Cook something tasty for her or take her out, and just let her know you care…that’s what she really wants. And come home safe, ’cause we miss you!