Archive for June, 2011

Good News and Bad News….first the bad…
June 29, 2011

yes, I know.... I should have gotten a case...

This is possibly one of the saddest sights in the world…a new iPhone 4…with a shattered screen. My daughter kept telling me…”You’d better get a case for it.”…”You don’t have a case for it yet??” And last night I paid the price…dropped it on a stone patio at just the right angle and….shattered. The phone still works…all the functions seem fine(except the audio for the video camera seems crackly to nonexistent). I will go to Apple and see what they can do for me(besides selling me a full price new phone-no thanks)…and after that, will call Mac Medics and home for a happy ending.  Someone on Facebook told me they washed their husband’s iPhone in the laundry. 😦

Not as colorful as her mate, but still beautiful

Much sadder than the iPhone screen is the loss of one of my momma cardinals this morning….I had been out watering plants, and came upon Muffy with its little body. Broke my heart…we have two pair of cardinals that seem to live around our garden….and then to see the male cardinal later, obviously looking for her…calling cheep, cheep, cheep…I wish I could tell him, that she wasn’t coming back, not this time buddy. I really hated that, but there it is…

Shady licking his chops after some food....

Now on to some better news…I need it after writing that last paragraph….Shady(that’s what we call him because he loves to sleep in the shade) is a male tabby cat that has taken up here at WBAL for the past week or so. He’s neutered, and super friendly…loves to be petted, but very skinny. We started feeding him…hey, I couldn’t let him starve…and then set about trying to find him a proper home. Lots of people like him but already have pets(including me)….so we’ve been updating everyone on Facebook about Shady’s situation(this cat needs his own Facebook page).

Elizabeth Silber, of the Baltimore Humane Society

And here’s the great thing about Facebook…my daughter posted my picture of Shady on her page, and a young woman she used to know in high school, Elizabeth Silber(her friends call her Lizzy), is now PR director at the Baltimore Humane Society(it’s a small world after all…)saw Shady and  called WBAL morning, and said they would come and get Shady, and make sure he got medical care and a home! How great is that?  In case you’re wondering, they are a no-kill shelter.

Shady enjoying the shade...

And if he is not adopted by next Thursday(which I think he will be)…Shady will be on 11 News at Noon….the star he was born to be. Here’s a video of Shady leaving the building..sorry about the audio…but…refer to paragraph 1. Get a case. And thanks Baltimore Humane Society!

Paint, pork belly and elephant ears….it’s the weekend wrapup…
June 27, 2011

One of my weekend projects....painted two Adirondack chairs that REALLY needed it.

Next weekend, I have over 50 neighbors coming over to my house for brunch, and I have no idea who will show up, or if I even know them. Yeah, I know….I know. How have I been talked into such….an event? My neighborhood does Fourth of July up…in a big way, which is awesome, but it’s also a lot of work for a lot of people. And when I was asked if I would host the brunch… I. Said. Yes. So there it is.

And since there is no way I could fit that many into my house…the shindig has to be outside….and if it’s outside there is stuff that needs to be done….you know. Areas of the garden that need love, pots that need plants in them, Chairs that need painting, patches that need weeding…etc, etc. And it’s amazing what a coat of enamel white paint does to a pair of aging Adirondack chairs(don’t look at the back of them, that’s all I have to say)…and I had to find plants for two tall, glazed pots from Vietnam that I love. Nothing seemed quite right until I found these:

Love the sculptural look of the elephant ears with the contemporary lines of the pot...

These pots have been waiting for a while for plants….and filling them with dirt was…ummm…not fun, ok?

Just inside the entrance at Bistro the copper walls!

But two friends took me out for a late birthday celebration Friday night…we went someplace totally new….Bistro Blanc-here in Howard County(Glenelg). Bistro Blanc has an ambitious menu(citrus braised pork with figs, grilled brie with lavendar honey, lump crab empanadas) …they are obviously serious about their food…and it’s a wine bar as well, and sells wine retail, too. Had the braised pork belly on white beans that was divine…

Self-serve wine bar...just swipe your card! Love it...

I saw lots of people walking up to a circular wine dispenser….with what looked like a credit card in their hand, and leaving with a glass of wine. Whahh????  Found out this self-serve wine bar offers 1 or 2 oz. tastes, or a full glass….so you can taste many wines without having to order the whole enchilada. Great idea. You just swipe and it charges your card. Check it out sometime!

And I still haven’t found what I’m looking for…maybe it’s a Nutella pizza?
June 24, 2011

Before the concert started...but it's already packed, in summer heat!

OK, being at the U2 360 Tour concert was, in a word…amazing. As much event as concert, whenever you gather 80-thousand….picture that…80-thousand people into a hot, muggy stadium for a rock concert, there could be trouble, you know?  But amazingly,  the crowd was so zen…and by that I don’t mean placid….there was hooting and hollering, singing, clapping a plenty…but no fights that I saw or heard about, no cursing, in the crowd or from the stage. A group of like-minded people who came there to hear some great music from a legendary band…and that’s what we got.

When Bono sang(and of course everyone in the audience sang along) “But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for“…I glanced around at people from age 15 to, what maybe 70?….all happily swaying and singing the lyrics to a song that obviously touches something deep in the wellspring of simply being human….watch a little of  “In the Name of Love”-here. That feeling of seeking something…even when we’re no longer teenagers…we’re all still seekers. Great concert. But last night I was seeking Chazz, A Bronx Original

Chazz is right by Pazo.....

The Chazz man-heard he was at the opening but I never saw him...

Chazz…A Bronx Originalhad its “grand opening”(it had what they call a soft opening a couple of weeks ago)  in Harbor East on Aliceanna…owned by non-other than Chazz Palminteri, of A Bronx Tale. Think luscious coal-fired “Bronx style” pizza, fabulous antipasta, and some great wine.

The coal-fired pizza oven is the first thing you see when you enter....

Margherita pizza, with fresh basil...and at the top, rice balls filled with bolognese-unbelievable...

Let me tell you, I’ve been to more than a few openings…and you often struggle to get food to eat(people camped out by the kitchen door and attacking waiters as they come out with stuff-hey, I’ve seen it…)….but not at Chazz…the kitchen was slamming it last night…constant hot pizza, big platters of prosciutto(which I adore) cheeses and bread….fresh pasta…sigh.

Is there anyone who doesn't love Nutella???

And the killer…a Nutella pizza fresh from the oven sprinkled with powdered sugar. That’s right. A freakin’ Nutella pizza(don’t get me started on the Limoncello rice pudding) good.

Room full of movers and shakers(I'm a shaker, not a mover)...

And because I like myself a nice looking Ladies room….here it is. Thumbs up..

The ladies room...Chazz style...

Have a lovely weekend everyone…don’t throw rocks, make a Nutella pizza(or order one)…do something nice for someone else(it all comes back)…and come home safe…’cause we miss you.

Et tu, U 2?? Donna heads to the concert….and meets Santa!
June 22, 2011

Picky, picky....hope my iPhone isn't considered off-llimits?

Yes I am going to the much talked about U2 360 Tour tonight, at M and T Bank Stadium…I got quite a lot of questions from people on Facebook this morning….to answer some of them: Yes I bought them, no I’m not selling them, yes I know it is VERY hot and muggy tonight, and yes, I know there may be storms. And yes, I am looking forward to the concert. I will rush from the set at 6(do not get in my way), run home, change, stuff down a sandwich-in the car-on the way to the stadium-park far, far away and hike it. That’s living.

Looking at Bono, from faaaarrrrr away....

But the assignment desk now tells me that umbrellas are also verboten tonight…makes sense I guess…if it rains, you can’t pop your umbrella up in a crowd like that, so attendees had better pop a plastic poncho in their pocket, if they can’t stand the idea of getting wet(from rain…sweat will be a different issue)….and you can see from the sign above posted outside the stadium, other items are also off-limits. And I really wanted to take my beach ball!

Hi Santa...whatcha doing this summer??

I met the cutest man at Mercy Medical Center this morning-click here….he has been Santa Claus for 15 years at a local mall…and you can see why…he has the most perfect, fluffy white whiskers. Mrs. Claus was upstairs getting a mammogram while he waited in the lobby, so I had a little chat with him…about his interesting tattoo!….enjoy….And as you hear that first roll of thunder tonight, remember me sitting in the elements, unprotected…but as my Mother always reminded me….”You’re not made of sugar, you won’t melt.” 🙂

Do it outside…..dining al fresco or a yoga mat on the grass…
June 20, 2011

FYI...this was before class had begun....ok?

I just realized when I looked back over my pictures from this weekend, just how much I was outside…starting with a Saturday morning yoga class at the Inner Harbor. Even better, these classes, sponsored by Charm City Yoga...are totally free!! And doing yoga outdoors, is just, so nice. Even with the people passing by, ships horns blowing, and the occasional kid yelling….it is a peaceful place to be. Very namaste. One day I would love, love, love to attend a yoga retreat where they do yoga on the beach or on a platform overlooking a lake…or even better, overlooking a vineyard in Italy…

Like this....

Or this.....

This would also be acceptable...

Had  fabulous cheap dinner Saturday night at Tortilleria Sinaloa-here on Eastern Avenue…our bill was $22.

Tiny little place, but so good!

Their barbecoa tacos(with homemade tortillas that people were carrying out by the kilo and half kilo!)…really rocked it…

My version of heaven....

Add some guacamole for $1….and some green sauce, and fresh lime juice….and a couple of Dos Equis from a carry out across the street=BLISS.

And I also had Father’s Day brunch outside….at Marie Louise Bistro-here

Right on Charles Street....

It was our first time there…nice menu, very cute inside as well(with some smashing looking pastries in the case at the front).

Inside Marie Louise....

My only complaint was somewhat minor. If you’re gonna have seating on the street….make sure all the trash is cleaned up around you. I sat my handbag down onto some gum :(….and I had to turn my chair so that the view in the first  picture is the one I saw. Otherwise it was a parking lot(which I can deal with) complete with overflowing trash cans(which I can deal with less well). It’s not their trash, I know….but maybe screen it? Just an idea….But my smoked salmon eggs Benedict were very good.

Gussied up store bought potato salad, with smoked sea salt!

OK, last….I bought potato salad at Whole Foods that we served with grilled lamb Sunday night….I “doctored”(as my Mother would have said) it with some Dijon mustard, more potatoes that I boiled, and some boiled eggs(I know, why not just make my own, right?)….and then sprinkled the whole thing with some smoked sea salt. Turned out very nice….and my daughter did not ask, as I expected …”What’s this weird stuff on top?”

Salute to my Father….on Daddy’s Day
June 17, 2011

This was on my sister's wedding proud!

He was a pretty quiet man, not by any standards loquacious….he never hit me or my three sisters(that I remember), he never raised his voice(though his looks could mean business), and he loved a good joke.

That's him on the right...I looked just like him as a toddler...

He was one of three boys… never went to college….finished high school in Birmingham Alabama, and after coming home from WWII, went to work in his own back yard. I mean that literally, American Cast Iron Pipe Company was a block down the street from where he grew up…a street that was gritty from the cinders that flew from the furnace that melted and molded cast iron pipe. He worked there until he retired…..over 50 years at one company….can you imagine?

In World War II, he, like so many others, enlisted after D-Day….he and my Mom married quickly…(hey, it was war-time and why not get a little lovin’ in before who knows what happens!). He traveled all around the world as an M.P. My Mother told us a story when we were adults(my Father would never mention such a thing) about when my Dad was stationed in India….he passed by an alley in Bombay, in which a soldier had his fly open and a little Indian boy was……to use the proper term… fellating the soldier. The boy had tears running down his cheeks. Some MPs might have looked the other way…hey, a war is on and this is trouble I don’t need…but not my Dad. He arrested the guy and threw him in the brig, pronto. Good on you, man.

A man and his Ray-Ban aviator sunglasses....

Some of you may remember this wonderful picture of my parents,  and the story of my Dad and how he obtained  his beloved Ray-Ban aviator glasses from this prior post….the pic was taken on the shores of Lake Ponchatrain in Louisiana where he was stationed…and my Mom followed and worked at the airfield. I love that story.

My Daddy guarded this plane....

And perhaps because he was such a straight arrow(?), he was one of the men who guarded the famous, or infamous Enola Gay airplane…which dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. He and his squadron were flown to the tiny island of Tianan in the Pacific, from which practice and the real runs were staged. My Dad had no idea what they were guarding, or what was so special about the plane at the end of the runway, all by itself…they only knew NO ONE was to get close to it. I never knew how he felt about being indirectly related to an event that killed so many people. I wish I had asked, but there it is. I didn’t. And he wasn’t one to speak of such things.

He came home…still a simple guy who went to work every day, raised his kids, put all three of us through college, never left us and was a good husband…did pretty much everything my Mom told him to :)….and he loved fishing and swimming in his beloved Smith Lake. He died of Parkinson’s Disease, certainly not the way any of us would have chosen for him, nor he for himself… but he was pretty stoic about the whole thing. I only remember him saying once, “I can’t even wipe my own butt“.

Here’s to you my Father…lots of men could learn a thing a two about service, about loyalty, about kindness, and about being a dad, and a man. He got it right, all the way to the end.

Hope all of you celebrate your dads this weekend….especially those who deserve it. Call him…take him out to lunch…let him know you love him while he’s still around. Make it a great day and come home safe…’cause we miss you!

Vacation cooking….southern food, mountain style!
June 16, 2011

Pan-fried of my favorite dishes!!

I don’t think it’s wrong to start this post with a big skillet of pan-fried okra….which is in my mind, the only way okra should be fried. Yes, restaurants always batter and deep fry it…but take it from me…this takes away the flavor of the okra, and makes it too bready(and fattening). Just toss it with some plain cornmeal, and pan-fry it in a small of vegetable(or olive) oil. You will need to add a little oil as you go along….salt and pepper….done. Some people like it darker(burned), like my sister…I prefer mine a little greener, as above. Either way, you’ll love it.

from left: my sister Jan, the lovely Jennifer, my precious daughter, me, my sister Audrey, and my son!

And we cooked a lot in North Carolina….and why not? We had a huge, killer kitchen with a large island(and a 6 burner stove), so lots of people could prep(aka stand around drinking wine and peeling and inhaling 5 pounds of gulf shrimp my sister hauled from Gulf Shores-that’s what my son is doing in the picture)….and socialize at the same time, of course. My fav way to prepare a meal…not alone! Occasionally we did eat out….

Hey, can I borrow that lip gloss???

Watch the roux, or it will burn, baby!!

We made a fabulous gumbo one night….with chicken, Andouille sausage and shrimp…in a big pot. But of course you start with a roux(oil and flour cooked to a carmel brown), and add the peppers and onions and garlic..the step you see above.

Serving up bowls of gumbo, Paul Prudhomme style...

We listened to Clifton Chenier during gumbo prep… NOLA music…

Dinner on the porch(right after I check my Blackberry)my bros-in-law Jack and George in foreground...

How lovely is that??

Our VRBO house thru the trees….as we called it, our “big-ass house”!
Highlands….you’ll love it!

Tomorrow….”cake surgery” on a birthday cake that…ummmm….wasn’t up to code!

Back from the land of cool nights and sunny days….
June 14, 2011

Welcome to Cashiers, baby!!

I’ve just returned from a little slice of heaven…..for those of you who have never been to the mountains of North Carolina…a little south-west of Asheville…around Highlands and Cashiers, you must go one day. Beautiful mountains, incredible views, cascading waterfalls, cool crisp nights, and sunny warm days. Seriously…it is an amazing area. Love it!!

Hello outdoor new obsession....

We rented BIG house in Highlands, big… because my sisters and their husbands came up from Alabama, and my kids came down from Baltimore and New York….VRBO, of course… know that’s how I roll.  And while there are many lovely homes for rent, the thing that really sold me on this one was the outdoor fireplace you see above. We fired that baby up almost every evening on the porch….heavenly, when it was 100 degrees back home. And we ate most of our dinners gathered around  the big porch dining table you can see in the background. Lots of wine, lots of laughs.

The great room....lots of seating room...

Pretty views everywhere you went…..from winding drives (kinda scary at first) to golf clubs with views. Our house was inside the Old Edwards Golf Club….and while I’m not a golfer…my son and the lovely Jennifer played the course, which you can see below.

Yeah... I lovely is that??

The views there were drop dead gorgeous  ….and the club has a gps system so if you need something to eat or drink….just let them know, and they’ll bring it to you on the course. Two beers and two club sandwiches please! They thought it was one of the prettiest courses they’d ever seen, and they’ve seen many, all over the world.

Easy to see why they're called the Smokies!

Some of the cutest consignment and decorating shops I’ve ever traipsed through…my sister went home with a darling lime green wicker table, and my other sister, a wonderful painting of raccoons peeking through a window.

Love this little arbor!!

Wow....old school....but no gas to be had.

And I re-visited High Hampton Inn and Golf Club-check it out here….a place we covered on Great Country Inns years ago…I have to say it is prettier than ever…modern improvements but kept the charm….seriously, a wonderful place for a family vacation.

High Hampton's dining room.....charming...

Things for the kids to do all day….great food…the prettiest dining room, where you’re assigned a table that is yours for your stay, men wear coats and ties at dinner….and you dig into some delish food. Mountain living at its finest.

View from High Hampton

More on the food we cooked (and we made some great meals)….and a special cake surgery my sister and I accomplished….the redo of a cake that needed some help…in a couple of days. Glad to be back(kinda)!

June 6, 2011

Ok, everyone…I’m on vaca this week, so excuse my absence in this space. When I return, refreshed and perky….(well maybe not the latter) will have fabulous tales of where I have been and what’s been going oooooonn!
And I may give some clues via Facebook later this week as where I am….and see if you can guess(I may be closer than you think)…… Talk to you soon!! Take care and have a great week!