Archive for November, 2011

Boiled peanuts and boat rides….Thanksgiving down south…
November 28, 2011

Things were pretty civilized Thursday am at BWI....

Most of you know I traveled back to Alabama for Thanksgiving…the first time I’ve done so since I moved to Baltimore in the 80s….suffice it to say…it’s been a while. And it was amazing. Relaxing, good times, good weather, boat rides, cooking, hanging out with the fam…just a fabulous long weekend. I attempted to recreate the weekend for you in pictures….

Intense fog over Smith Lake in the distance ….

Sign down the road...none of us are sure what a turkey shoot is...

I was the lucky one…arriving on Thanksgiving Day…dinner is already cooked!! Love the table my sister set(all from foraging, not buying)…and I did make the pear name tags!!

Ok, I did buy the pears, but we ate them later...

I was tempted to buy some boiled peanuts…I am a recent convert to the treat….and look they’re right there, just open the can!

So easy right? Just open the can...

But in the end, we boiled our own…..though it takes HOURS(seriously). And as we couldn’t find green peanuts(ours were dried, but not roasted)…they were good, but could have been better I think.

My first time actually boiling peanuts....they're not bad!

"Confederate Roses" my sister put by the bed....

And we actually went for boat rides on the lake, it was so warm out….

My nephew Allen, and my daughter are ready to go...

Tommy enjoys the ride more than anyone....ears flying..note the AU collar.

When in doubt, wear pearls.....

And there was a precious antique store that’s opened up just down the road….they had some amazing things in there…and a great eye for display. Love the lunchboxes….just like the one my Father took to work every day.

So cute, mounted in multiples!!

My daughter fell in love with these owl cookie jars...

And we all love these coffee cups….the joke is, Crane Hill is really just a four way stop, with a little store there….Love it.

Crane Hill folks wish all of you happy holidays!!

Thanksgiving vagabonds head home…dragging their food with them…
November 23, 2011

This Thanksgiving I am doing something I haven’t done in years and years….I’m going home…to Alabama. I know many of you will find that odd, if not unbelieveable, that we’ve never gone back for Thanksgiving. But when the kids were younger, we always wanted to be home for Christmas, and it was just too hard, and too expensive to try and do both. But this year, we’re on the road down south.

My sister called and asked did we have any favorite dishes, so she and my other sister wouldn’t leave anything out. So sweet to ask, but as I told her…we have been Thanksgiving vagabonds for so long…we haven’t been able to latch onto anything really…something we can’t live without. The various Thanksgivings we have had(not in any particular order of preference): cooking at home, driving to Pennsylvania for dinner in a restaurant and staying at an awful cabin in the woods(we also got lost on the way to dinner-big argument best forgotten), driving to Philly(parade and dinner in restaurant), driving to NYC(dinner in restaurant and Macy’s parade), dinner at friend’s house, dinner at a restaurant here in Baltimore…..and so on, and so on. We’ve done just about every variation you can think of,  except Thanksgiving on a cruise ship(an idea for next year?).

So this year we will meet my sisters and some various members of their familiesnot everyone can make it, of course…my nephew has new baby twins in Florida, my son and the lovely Jennifer will be in Pittsburgh…but my daughter is going(hurray!!) and other nieces and nephews and kids will be there…and I can’t wait. Seriously. Can. Not. Wait.

Love Smith Island Cake with Reece's Cups!

In the spirit of carting food across the country with me… because as my husband says, “There won’t be any food where we’re going, of course“….funny…I am picking up a Sugarbaker’s Smith Island Cake. It’s one of my faves, made with Reece’s Cups in the icing( so incredibly decadent and delish)…and it will also be my younger sister’s birthday cake, which we will celebrate that day.

Jan was born the day before Thanksgiving..about 6 weeks early…how inconvenient is that?! And as dinner for all the cousins was to be at our house(for reasons unknown to me my pregnant Mother was hosting everyone), the turkey was in the freezer and forgotten in the rush to get to the hospital. We were shuttled off to my aunt and uncle’s house where we were served ham sandwiches…with ketchup on them. I’ve never forgotten the culinary horror of not wanting to eat them, as we did NOT put ketchup on our ham sandwiches. My uncle said, “I guess you’re just too excited to eat, right?” We nodded yes…polite(starving) southern girls to the end.

Ah, memories of Thanksgiving rarely looked like this!

And in the spirit of nostalgia, I’m fixing something my late Mother always called “Cowboy Dinner“….perfect for the cook in a hurry.  She would brown some hamburger meat, saute green pepper and onion, then add some pork and beans(maybe a little ketchup and mustard for seasoning?)….and voila…Cowboy Dinner. As kids, we loved it. As adults, it will be interesting to see what we think today of this childhood memory. Or maybe I’ll fancy it up a bit(who knows?).

Here’s wishing  all of you have a lovely holiday…that you have either family or friends with whom to share a meal…and if it’s just you…cook yourself something extra nice. Be nice to Uncle Joe, even when he says something truly jack-ass, laugh at Aunt Mary’s story you’ve heard a thousand times…Oh, and come home safe, ’cause we miss you!

It’s About Making the Effort…not Perfection!
November 21, 2011

It’s always one dilemma we face at Thanksgiving dinner….what to do with the table (besides throw a cloth on it and slap down some plates and silverware). Here are some ideas that may inspire you to try something a little different this year. The one below I adore…bare, blonde table, dark plates and all those clear wine bottles minus their labels… are so elegant looking. All white candles at different heights make it.

SO simple but so lovely...

Again….not complicated or expensive but original..and so personal with the old black and white family photos…brilliant…and what Thanksgiving is all about. Love the pear place card holders….I may copy that this Thanksgiving. Again, bare table.

A few pears, some old photos, and you're in business!

Here’s another one with no cloth…just runners, which you could buy or make in about 5 minutes from a remnant. the roses and the colors...

I like this one too…the green cloth and orange napkins are cheery, and most likely not expensive….pine  you can pick from the yard to give a seasonal touch(and free). It’s just all very soothing and seasonal. I would love to sit down at this table, wouldn’t you?  Notice the candles are lit, even though it’s daytime. I really hate candles on a table that aren’t lit.

Very serene, and contemporary....

And remember, it’s not about being perfect, it’s about making the effort.

Pass the cinnamon bread, and the sushi while you’re at it…
November 14, 2011

Greenlee's Cinnamon Bread...from San Jose, CA

Ok, I have to share with you the best cinnamon bread I’ve ever had….I picked a loaf at Whole Foods on a lark, a couple of weeks ago…one of those impulse purchases.(you know how good those feel) Ooooooohhh, frosted loveliness. Toasted? With butter? Amazing. It was so good, I picked up another loaf this past week, and with it, the most delectable French toast I’ve ever made. It wasn’t until I was taking a picture of it for this post when I saw it….a little sticker on the back.

Look past the price tag to that gooey frosting......

Yeah. $7.99 for a loaf of cinnamon bread. Someone(near and dear to me) asked me, logically, “Didn’t you look at the price?” Well, duh…no, I did not. But seriously…I don’t think of any kind of bread as being a high price item…you know? Oh, Greenlee’s….why did you have to turn me into an addict before I realized the price of my little habit…now I have to get a cinnamon monkey off my back. (Maybe a loaf every two weeks??….something?)

What!!? There's a washer and dryer in the unit???????

Was apartment shopping with my daughter Saturday…and can I just say it is AMAZING that you can see two apartments that cost exactly the same, and both in the same neighborhood, and one be so nice and the other be so ratty? Seriously. One on Charles Street..brand new(see above), hardwood floors, washer and dryer in a little closet(apartment dwellers know how huge this is), dishwasher(ditto)….granite countertops, exposed brick……NICE.

My girl fell in love with this brick wall....

And for the same price, we saw a place that was so ratty looking(I took no pictures of this, it was too awful)…I mean…a cracked front door, cracked kitchen floor, the most grotty bathroom ever, ever ever. We smiled and nodded(polite southern girls to the end), touched nothing….and ran away as soon as we could. What gives??

Joss has amazing fish....

But we had a chance to have some super-sushi at Joss on Charles Street, for lunch on Saturday. It always amazes me that this place isn’t covered UP, their food is so good.

Joss South

If you’ve been to the perennially popular Joss in Annnapolis, …their sushi(and other seafood cooked-it’s not all sushi), is the best in town. I get the feeling Joss in  Baltimore is waiting to be discovered. But it will be…it will be.

Let’s see…what else. Oh yeah…my daughter is always complaining that I favor one of my cats over the other….that Baby Girl gets all the glory, so just to prove her wrong, a pic of my lovely calico, Muffy.


And because she will demand equal post space, one of the luxurious B to the G.

My sheepdog of a cat....Baby Girl

The right thing…..when you do it, just ’cause you should…
November 11, 2011

My Dad in his Ray-Bans....with my Mom

Like many of you, I have pondered the inexplicable goings-on at Penn State…I feel so sad for those kids…that no one stood up for them. So on this Veteran’s Day, I offer you the example of my Dad, who stood up for a child in a similar terrible situation long ago, even when he didn’t have to do so…it was in this previous post. I wonder what happened to that little boy. But it made me think about how we all come to critical choices in our lives, and what we do in those difficult moments….defend those who can’t defend themselves, or protect the establishment…those choices stay with us, always.

The good guys of sports....

Oh, and something else that made me think of how the big money of college athletics was part of that bad decision makingPay a visit to Kurt’s Corner-here…you’ll love his look at a Maryland  D-3 basketball program. As Kurt says, “Nobody is slipping them cash or sliding them a hooker.  A big, fat, endorsement in not headed their way. NBA scouts do not come to the games.” They play for the love of the game….how crazy is that?? It will be a few minutes well spent…and how often can you say that these days??

Happy Veteran’s Day….hope all of you make some good decisions this weekend, do something nice for someone….cook something delicious, and come home safe…’cause we miss you!

Ready…set….shower! The bathroom makeover is completed….
November 7, 2011

I love stepping into this shower....the door is the Enigma by Dreamline

Ok, I’ve had several of you ask about the completion of the bathroomthat was being redone….It is now finished, except for a couple of details(deciding what to hang on walls artwise-there has been a teensy bit of disagreement over this)….but finished. I love the white subway tile. Classic…don’t think I’ll get tired of it, and the gray grout makes the tile stand out(besides being practical).

Shelves at the back of the shower...mirror glass in cabinet doors..

And I’m determined that these shelves will not become overrun with shampoos and conditioners, like before(should be easier now that my daughter the product fiend, lives elsewhere)…

Love the way the pebbles feel under your feet....

Here's how the bathroom cabinets turned out....

Glass from Chaudron Glass in Baltimoresuch a cool placepost about it here.

the pattern is called "Rondelle"....

I want a larger mirror...and on the wall is to be determined...

The mirror I recycled from the bathroom in it’s previous state(still like it)…got a different wall-hung sink..larger and more contemporary looking…nice ledge to put things on!

My daughter painted this canvas...I think I like it here...

And as you can see, I mixed metals…(something I did in the kitchen makeover as well)….it’s just more interesting than everything perfectly matchy-matchy…as long as you don’t overdo it. Used the polished chrome for most things, and the sink faucet and shower hardware in wrought iron finish. And yes, I bought everything including the shower door(which weighs 400 freakin’ pounds) online…..except for the cabinet doors-from Chesapeake Kitchens….and Chaudron glass.

What I’m using right now….hair, lips and legs..
November 4, 2011

Applying my fav shade of lip gloss....fav right now...

Thought I’d share some of the products I’m using and loving right now….one of them is the least expensive, too….it’s the CoverGirl Nature Luxe line….I’m using their mascara,  and I love their gloss/balm with shea butter.

And it has SPF 15 sunscreen...cost about $6...

Goes on really easy, soft colors, you can slip it on without looking in a mirror even. A new shade I’m loving right now is “hibiscus hibiscus“…soft rosey pink that goes really nice on a purple Friday!(Go Ravens…)

I found a new hair conditioner that I really like.. Hey, not every conditioner is “serious” enough for my tangly locks. I’ve tried  some products, and when I try to comb out later, it’s like I only used shampoo. NO likee.  Evolveh organic conditioner is a product I picked from a bag…..4 times a year they send out product pick 10 of them(many are full size), and they ship to you. It’s a nice way to try new thing without paying full price. And this one I really love. Leaves your hair super-silky, but I wouldn’t suggest it for someone with oily hair.

Love, love, love this IS Genius

Next up, Janet Waddell Genius Hair Balm….and it is Genius. Another Beauty Bag find…whenever I use this stuff after shampooing and conditioner, my hair is more manageable that any other product I use,(including the much beloved Moroccan Oil). OK, I just went to the Janet Waddell website above, and found out it uses Emu oil! Who knew?) I see it is $28 for 6 ounces, but you only use a little dab….lasts a long time.

Don't let those legs go pale.....keep summer around!

Last but not least….all us fair skinned girls are in the dog days of legs…as in no color. So I use Yves Rocher Bronze Nature Summer Legs….and while I don’t see this exact product on their website the link above looks like the same stuff in a different container. Goes on golden so you get a nice quick hit of color, and the rest develops over several hours. Good stuff. And only $8.

Here kitty, kitty, kitty….Making your own cat food…
November 3, 2011

Make your own? Maybe...

Ok, let me put it out there that I’ve never, ever made my own cat food. But I am one of many who sighs deeply when looking at the price for a can of the stuff. The things MY CATS will eat…range in price from around $.50 for a small can( will serve two of them for one meal) to $1.30…or more(Wellness at Whole Foods-$1.50, Newman’s Own-$1.40).  That can add up over the course of a year.

At the EXPO East show here in Baltimore, I stumbled across a booth for Wild Kitty Homemade Cat Food kit-website here. All you have to do is lightly cook a pound of ground whatever…beef, chicken, turkey(you can also add raw meat, if your cat is on a raw diet)…and add the packet from Wild Kitty. What’s in it? Accoding to the ingredient list….pretty good stuff, like clams, chicken liver, rice bran, broccoli(when’s the last time your cat ate his broccoli?), wheat germ oil, natural taurine, spinach, coral calcium, and so on…..And Wild Kitty says on its website that owners of indoor cats will notice an added bene….almost no smell in the litter box!

This makes a little over a pound of cat food....

If I am to be honest,  I’ve had this packet for over a month…and I have yet to actually use it. But I promise to make up some this weekend, and let you know how Baby Girl and Muffy react. They are, by any definition, picky eaters. The cost of 4 packets(to which you add meat) is $14.95…..but that makes, ummmmm, 4 plus pounds of cat food. That’s a lot. Don’t make me do the math. Here, kitty, kitty, kitty