Archive for the ‘ENVIRONMENT’ Category

A southern Christmas, a little bit early…
December 13, 2012

 

A picture I love of my sisters and me, from when Mom was alive.

Thanksgiving found me once again in Alabama with my sisters…I’m so sorry we did not do this while my Mom was alive…but it would have been difficult. And I know she would love the fact that we’re all together. And this year, we celebrated Christmas early, while we would all be together! We cut down a tree by the side of the road…

All the decorations(sans lights) had to be found on the property…

You know you’re almost there when you see this….

I love, love, love all these property signs…and wow have they grown over the years!

My daughter and Tommy…she loves being with her cousins. And the pets aren’t bad either!

My sister’s Thanksgiving table…again, mostly things from the property!

For game day(Auburn-Alabama game)…we made a big pot of gumbo…omg it was so good. Lots of chicken and sausage..added shrimp right at the end. Made for great leftovers too…

The pre-game spread…lots of Gulf shrimp my sis brought from Gulf Shores…my bro-in-law is in charge of those…he’s quite particular about how they’re cooked!

We did a pool so the game would be at least somewhat interesting. (Bama beat Auburn 49-0….ouch)….I won nothing of course.

The multi colored eggs my niece brought from her very own chickens at home….Martha Stewart would be so proud!!

Went shopping in Cullman one day…thought it was amusing this particular store was NOT open. Hey, we tried.

My Grand-niece Piper…how cute is she??!!

We played a mean game of Take-away Santa….I ended up with the Kapoosh knife holder…which Cowboy found quite cozy for a post game nap….

Last but not least: No trip to the south is complete without a stop at Krystal. Just can’t be done.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“Roughing it” in the NC mountains….
September 6, 2012

Canyon Kitchen in Cashiers NC….wait ’til you
see the rest….

Most of you know I’m not really a girl who roughs it when she travels. Give me a good Ritz Carlton, some scented candles, a fireplace , a nice view and I’m all good. Oh…and great food. While on a recent holiday…I had everything but the Ritz Carlton. But the house where we stayed  could compete…definitely.

From the dock in front of our house…no
motor boats or jet skis allowed…shhhhh!

House…VRBO, of course. Angler’s Point-here(everyone in the Cashiers area seems to name their house…don’t know why but there it is)….is a great house….beautifully furnished, right on a pretty lake(great view,check), great fireplace(check)….it was blissful.

Charcuterie plate at Madison’s in the Old Edwards Inn.
What a great restaurant….and they make their own
charcuterie.

Heirloom tomato starter also at Madison’s…too cute to eat!
But I ate it anyway….

Ok , there was a lot about food this trip(great food, check)….and I went to a restaurant I had been reading about for a while.

Patio area of Canyon Kitchen, where drinks are served…
sigh…..

I first met Chef John Fleer when he was the head chef at Blackberry Farm-here outside of Knoxville. Blackberry(such a fabulous place) and her both became justifiably famous for their food and service. A couple of years ago, John started Canyon Kitchen…wow.

Exterior of Canyon Kitchen….and the inside is just
as kicking….

Dramatic, no? And all the doors open up so that when the weather
is nice(most of summer and fall) you’re kind of dining al fresco.

Canyon Kitchen garden….gorgeous…

Not everything was so hi-falutin’…we bought some great
boiled peanuts from this nice man at a road stand…peanut
pot behind him!

Discovered Tabasco mayo on this trip. this stuff is the bomb!

 

 

Little girls in cute southern dresses play with the llamas
at High Hampton Inn…pretty classic place…

High Hampton-here by the way, is an amazing family mountain resort….a shoot there for TLC’s Great Country Inns years ago is what first led me to this beautiful area.And there are lots of cute shops in Cashiers and Highlands…where I saw the prettiest hanging baskets ever…

Loaded with nasturtiums, and lots of other things
I don’t know the names of….

I have a thing lately for owls….even mossy ones.

Ended a couple of nights by the fire(at 4000ft. altitude it gets quite cool at night!) with s’mores made with “stacker” marshmallows, and dark and milk chocolate…your choice. Or both. And we discovered something that makes s’mores even more fab…use Reece’s Cups. A. Maz. Ing.

The good life. No doubt….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sputnik, Clafoutis, and watermelon salad….that’s what been happening in my world!
July 16, 2012

Softshell crabs Linwoods style on creamed corn bed, with béarnaise sauce….

Ok,….I ate this weekend at a restaurant I haven’t been to in several years. Not for any particular reason, but Linwoods just isn’t on my beaten path…and I just haven’t thought about it. How sad for me…had the most amazing meal there Saturday evening…my first soft shell crabs of the year, served on a creamed corn puddle, with pickled green beans.

Watermelon salad…love the composition of it, hated to mess it
up, but I did!!

And a watermelon salad with feta cheese and little scoops of cucumber sorbet on the top. So pretty…so delicious.

It’s a French classic….for a reason.

But you can’t always eat out, and I had a big bowl of fresh cherries from Whole Foods at half price that needed a home….so I made a cherry clafoutis(pronounced kla-foo-tee’). The recipe I use is from an old French cookbook I’ve had for probably 25 years, but there are plenty of other versions around….one of which I will provide below. But it’s a delicious eggy dessert that can accommodate almost any fruit…I added blueberries to the one above. And dead easy. This recipe from Williams-Sonoma is pretty close to mine…

Saved from the trash….now to be recycled. Sigh.

OK, I know some consider me a recycling freak…and maybe that’s true, because I spend part of my time here at work saving bottles and cans from the trash bins, and walking them over to the recycling bins. You know who you are, people.

I know, I know…what was I thinking???

And this Sputnik looking light fixture I won at an auction two years ago at Center Stage…it’s been sitting in their development office ever since. I went down last week, to finally take it home(and do what with it I still don’t know)….but I forgotten how big the damn thing really is. Probably 40-50 inches in diameter. So there I was on a super hot day, struggling with this thing on Calvert Street, trying to get it in the car without damaging it. Guess where it is now? That’s right, back in the development office. I’m coming up with plan B.

Weekend Getaway…Relaxing in Rhode Island!
July 10, 2012

This pic personifies Rhode Island…stone walls and hydrangeas…
I’m in heaven!!

OK, a couple of weeks ago…I attended a wedding in Bristol, Rhode Island, a charming small town on the water. But rather than fly up Saturday morning…go the the wedding and back home Sunday(what a schlog)…decided to make a long weekend of it.

Classic gray shingle cottage right on the bay…(no the big
house on the right was not a part of the deal!)

You know I’m a hopeless fool for VRBO….my go-to website for vacation places to stay. And in Bristol…there was one especially charming choice. I fell in love with this precious cottage a mile out of downtown. The owner lives in a (larger, obvie)house to the left, closer to the street. Big shade trees, private dock….it was amazing inside and out. Take a tour…

Honestly, I think it was this little screened porch that
sold me…look at the view!

Living room to the left, staircase leading to loft bedrooms…
adore the light.

Seaglass blue everywhere…

The owner has such a nice eye for details….

My view reading under the tree….sigh. Heaven.

By the sea, by the sea, by the beautiful sea….

Bristol is a town that really does it up for the Fourth of July…they have a huge parade, and the stripe in the road lets you know the parade route.

Classic front porch of a house on High Street, as one neighbor told me,
“the nicest street in town!”….It was pretty sweet…

Blueberry stuffed French toast at a sidewalk cafe….yumsters.

And lobsters galore, naturally….

Keep in mind, you can drive to Bristol in about 8 hours….and Southwest Airlines, bless them, fly nonstop to Providence…so Rhode Island in general is a great weekend getaway…just up the road a ways. All the Rhode Islanders said they’d love to have you!!

Hot and in the dark…..
July 5, 2012

This huge limb is still dangling from this enormous tree in my yard…haven’t found anyone to take it down…yet. I think this past week has been one to remember for many people, and one they’d also like to forget. Friday night when the darn derecho…that’s what the storm was called…moved through….and left such a mess behind, and a heaping helping of misery.

This little device really saved us….we could at least charge phones, computers, Nooks, etc…..in the car(where it was also blissfully cool)…

The Powercup Inverter is something I’ve used more often on long car trips…but in this power outage, it was a lifesaver. It has  two 120-volt AC outlets and a USB port…so you can power three devices at one time….and it fits right into a cup holder! It’s powered by plugging it into your cigarette lighter.

Spagetti and meatballs from Cafe Gia in Little Italy…great food…plus they had AC, power and cooked food!

Like many of you who lost power, we had to find cool places to go. Saturday afternoon…a movie at Harbor East and dinner right down the street at Cafe Gia. Their ac was making thing decently cool, and the food was amazing…it’s like eating at your Nona’s house(if you’re Italian). And I didn’t have to open the refrigerator( a no-no during a power outage). But then Sunday morning at 8….I felt like the angels started singing…

The power is back, the power is back…hallelujah!!!

This is the first thing I had from the frig….

A big glass WITH ICE of Hojicha green tea with vanilla. Yum.

My neighbor’s dogs came over for a “cooling off period”….bless their hearts.
Had to take this from the next room looking through a French door, as my
cats were NOT happy about it.

Ok, this picture has nothing to do with power outages….

A leftover from some plumbing work done in my basement….

The plumber handed this to me as he left….and I’m trying to figure out what kind of art project I can do with it…any ideas? I love the old copper getting the aqua blue tinge….so cool looking. But what? Still pondering.

For those of you out there still sweltering in the heat and the dark….I feel you…and I hope your lights come on very, very soon. Then you’ll hear the angels sing too….

Spring, spring everywhere….
June 6, 2012

I heard this little chirping the other day…ground level chirping…looked thru the bushes…and I saw this….

Oh no, baby Robin!

Yep, a little baby Robin, out of the nest just a little early. OK, I flip out, and immediately start googling how to save baby Robins. Answers, mush up worms and berries, and feed them to baby. So I do.

Yeah, I know. And in a pretty green bowl, too.

Then I read further. That you should feed them every 15 minutes(who can do that?)…and even further….that you should leave them alone and let the parents take care of them….that they won’t come around with you dithering about. So…I stopped. I don’t know what happened after his initial meal of worms and berries…but he was gone the next day. Fingers crossed for you, little buddy.

Isn’t this pretty? Totally unplanned…

And nature is at her very best this time of year….this picture above is just outside my house. Absolutely none of it was planned…it just….happened. OK, this was planned…

Who doesn’t love the sound of water…

I made a water feature for the front garden from  a fire pit, a pump, some stones, and one water plant. And surrounded by ferns and hostas, it’s just the most soothing noise when you’re leaving or returning home. And the birds adore it too. SO dead easy.

So Original!

And how cute is this in the garden…using a vintage toy as a planter. Just adored this when I saw it the other day(and wished I had that kind of imagination)…And this past weekend I was in Talbot County( Tilghman Island), for the Heritage Garden Tour. Saw some really kick butt gardens that made me feel pretty guilty about some weeds I left growing at home….here are some things I loved.

Look closely…see the chandelier over the chair?

In the same garden…using bushel baskets as chandeliers…
brilliant, and so perfect for the Eastern Shore!

Perfect use of old barnacled buoys by a front door….

But my fav view was when I got back home, over the Bay Bridge Sunday afternoon…Yeah.

A perfect G & T with Hendrick’s Gin…cheers!

 

 

 

 

 

Preakness week wrapup….check.
May 21, 2012

Just hangin’ with Cam Newton and Torrey Smith….look how happy I am.

This past week has honestly been a whole lot of the P word for me. You know, that big old party over on Northern Parkway that we call the Preakness….you know the one. The picture above is one of my fav moments there…Once I heard the Raven’s Torrey Smith(who is really the nicest young man in the world…seriously sweet) say Cam Newton(once an Auburn Tiger and now the Carolina’s Panther’s hotshot new quarterbackk) was in the Under Armour tent…nothing was gonna keep me away. Creepy obsession? Maybe. One woman asked me was he dreamy…me: “Yes, the dreamiest.” And also very nice…and they were both dressed like a million dollars!

My lemon yellow hat this year…..

Found my hat at Hats to Hose, on Reisterstown Road….they always have some gorgeous chapeaus…and because I had waited until the last week to go pick one….there was only  a few yellow ones(I wanted yellow to go with navy) left…and two were too small for my huge cranium. But this one really worked….I loved it! As for shoes?

J. Crew comes through again….

Picked these from J. Crew…and they were remarkably comfortable, even for clomping around the infield of Pimlico. THe only danger in shoes like these, is the tip-over…you unwittingly place your foot on uneven ground, and….over you go. At best, you’re embarrassed, at worst, you end up with a sprained ankle. Neither happened to me.

Ha-ha….beat you again Bodemeister!

And my Twitter pal I’ll Have Another is on his way to the Belmont! Who knows, maybe he’ll be the first triple crown winner in 34 years. In one tweet, he said, “Got my hooves crossed for a good run today.” Is he cute or what?  I just love that horse.

My mega pill carrier…

Several people in the newsroom have had some fun at Donna’s expense, regarding her industrial size pill carrier. It is indeed my first foray into the pill organizer world that my Mother in habited for many years. But when I found this one at Target before I went to Uganda…it solved my vitamin problems. That’s the only diff between Mom and me…she carried prescription meds, and mine is full of vitamins. Sigh.

Why, why, why mix your peanuts????????????

And just a little nudge to companies that ship things to people. If you send me biodegradable packing peanuts, I’ll compost them. If you send styrofoam peanuts, I’ll recycle them. If you mix them, I’m mad. And here’s why. It took me a good 30 minutes to sort through them all to pick out the ones I can compost. So why do that to your customers? Why? Just pick one, and I’ll deal with it. Mix them and I biodegrade. So stop it.

Bangles, grits, and groundwork…..
April 30, 2012

I got my baby back this past week….I had missed her soooo much. Here she is arriving in the mail, from where I left her in Charleston.

Mommy, where are you???

So I immediately put her back to work….Twitter and Facebook, and blogging.

Good morning....got my tea, ready to go...

And I took a picture of this ’cause I thought it was pretty…I gathered up all my many  bracelets(actually there are more), and arranged them in a pretty antiqued bowl that had no other seeming use…now it has something to do.

Hmmm, who gets to go to work today?

Had some friends over for dinner Saturday night…did pan-fried catfish with remoulade sauce…amazing…and did creamy grits in the slow cooker. I had never tried this before, and it worked! Took about 2-ish hours.

And we started with oysters on the half shell…some Choptank sweets from Whole Foods….not inexpensive, but soooooo clean! These babies had been scrubbed…

Cleanest oysters in the world!! (and delicious)

So clean, that I took some of them and used them for other things…like salt, and vitamins!(Yes I washed them first!) But as Nate Berkus says, using designs from nature you can never go wrong.

Nature's salt cellar...

Planted a new succulent garden…I adore the way these look, all the different textures and shades of green. They just look to chic to me, especially when they fill in a little.

Pretty, oui?

And here’s the topiary I dragged home from a Charleston Piggly-Wiggly…I had to have it, and now it’s in its new pot, outside. It would have been sad if it had died after all that….

From a Charleston Piggly-Wiggly parking lot, to Maryland...

Bacon and chocolate, beef belly, and gardens…did I leave anything out?
April 23, 2012

Project side garden....underway. I need more rocks!

OK, let’s see what’s been going on….I’ve been working on a little garden on the side of my house. It doesn’t get seen much really, so I’ve never given it much love. But when a huge Black Walnut tree came down last summer there, the area was just… so…nude, really. SO I bought a tall crepe myrtle that I intended to get in the ground last year. Ok, let’s make it THIS year. And once that was done( I hired someone to dig the hole for me) I was inspired to create a stone border and get some other things in the ground. Almost there, but still need more rocks!! But one of my neighbors has this garden thing down to a science.

I love the rhubarb in the pot...such a nice contrast....

And this morning, I paid a visit to the courthouse, where my daughter was determined to fight a “turning right on red without making a complete stop” camera ticket. “

I know I stopped before I turned. I’m fighting that ticket!”…..Oh my little activist. But what she(and probably others) didn’t know…is that the police don’t just have still pictures of your offense. They have actual moving video. So when she’s called up, and presented with video evidence of her heinous crime(in which she clearly doesn’t come to a complete stop)…really, what can you say? But just for her taking the trouble of showing up, the judge cut her fine from $75 to $35. I guess that’s worth a visit.

The charcuterie is housemade, and freaking fabulous....

Ok, best new restaurant find. I’m really psyched about this place, because I went there on a Groupon(which has fooled Donna a few times)….But the Blue Grass Tavern in Federal Hill, is the real foodie deal. It’s on the corner of Fort Ave. and Hanover…nice atmosphere, and the food was just sooooo good. And they had something on the menu I’ve never seen before. Beef belly. Pork belly…plenty…but never beef belly. The waitress  described it as a cross between pork belly and a pastrami(she had me at pork belly). I’ll just say this…if you go, order it if it’s on the menu. Just stop deliberating and get it. And I noticed at the end of the meal, they also have pimiento cheese, which was too late to order, but next time…next time.

Just plain yum.

Best new guilty treat: Vosges Haut Chocolate “Mo’s Dark Bar“….62% dark chocolate with hickory smoked uncured bacon and smoked sea salt. The guilt is on two levels. 1. That I just paid $7 for a chocolate bar. and 2. That there is something so amazing and I get to eat it! I allow my self a square or two after salad at my desk. It makes the evening at work, just a little smoother. Trust me on this.

Duly chastened….and back on the case!
April 16, 2012

One of our neighbors in Chucktown....dig the placement of the hazard marker!!

I just got an email from a blog reader who said,” I know you’re busy, but I live vicariously through you and miss more regular posts! I always learn some about new fact, or tidbit, trends and trendy spots.  I love your travel advice and suggestions and the food chat and photos – oh, how I miss the food chat and photos! .  C’mon, Donna, you’re killing me here!”

 

My favorite bridge....to the Holy City...

Tout mes excuses!! And while my excuses aren’t bad really….let’s just get with the program. I just got back from the Holy City(someone here in the newsroom with initial GS–ok, Gerry Sandusky–asked me if I had been in Israel, as I tweeted something about being in the Holy City). I just gave him what I hope was a suitably scathing look, and informed him that here in the U.S., Charleston SC is the Holy City, because of all the church steeples that dot that city skyline.

Here’s the beach I walked to almost every day, over a long boardwalk out over the marsh…you have to know the code to get on the boardwalk, which is why the beach there is never crowded… http://youtu.be/sJ8Jpv3W2CQ

We also had baby gators..so cute....while small anyway...

My daughter with Esmerelda, the dog who lives down the street....

Fish tacos at Poe's Tavern on Sullivan's Island...yes that Poe....

Pistachio gelato on King Street...with some of the best shopping and eating you'll ever want....

Shop window of Blue Bicycle Books, also on King Street....a literary kitty!

Classic....just classic, and so Charleston.

My two fav purchases....

Adore the dress above with the cute bow in the back and beading…and the grey-green topiary was the subject of some spirited discussion about hauling it back in the car…but as you see, I won.

If you're looking for preppy(and pricey)...look no further than M Dumas.

M. Dumas is really pronounced Doo-Mahs’……but in fun, we call it Dumbass. Quietly of course…quietly.

Dumas ties look like sherbets.....

More Topsiders and in more colors and styles I never imagined.

I did say the place was prep, right?

Soft shell crab at hot new restaurant called The Grocery...soooo delicious!

But Cru Cafe is still our go-to restaurant....so charming, and the food is so inventive. Best mac and cheese in town, hands down.

This was the view I woke up to every morning....the beautiful salt marsh.

And alittle bird right outside always called first thing, “cheeseburger, cheeseburger, cheeseburger“..seriously it does! If you have never heard a bird say “cheeseburger“(they really do) listen carefully to this video I took, on the little porch right outside my bedroom….http://youtu.be/gBYbJbWa4H8

Yep, the drive home was as fabulous as it looks...

But this was the view home, on a 10-1/2 hr drive that should have taken 8…horrible traffic, and fast food french fries. Just keeping it real, ya’ll.