Archive for the ‘TRAVEL’ Category

Boars, Bucks and Hoppin’ John!!
January 3, 2013

Hope your holiday season was like mine…fairly peaceful, lots of good food and wine, family, laughs, interspersed with, ummm…disagreements, about what would and would NOT fit into a car as we headed south . I may have mentioned before that I travel in the non-light fashion. I carry my house with me…it’s sad, I know, but there are things I just NEED for Christmas!

And the seat in the picture is the front passenger seat….the rest of the car: fully packed. What’s in the white bakery box?

Yep…even a buche de noel made it down. And it arrived, miraculously, in one chocolatey, yummy piece.  It is the season of miracles after all.

See? This was from Sugarbaker’s in Catonsville…it was soooo good…..chocolate and raspberry….

Let’s face it….things that go pop and have people wearing funny hats at dinner, is just plain old fun.

Found a great furniture store in Ashville(such a cool town)…called Dwellings.

I could literally have spent all day here..happily.

Fell in love with a vintage dresser there….the orange is adorable!

NO, this did not come home with me…it wouldn’t fit in the car. Alas.

Also really loved this lamp….very tall. No, it’s still at the store too! I think)….

But this little guy did come home with me…Jonathon Seagull!

Love this little guy…..

I must have liked this a lot…took a picture of it…..

And this…..snap. Can one have too many mirrors?

Saw this handsome fellow outside an antique shop in Cashiers, NC….great little town with some amazing shops!

I realized that, once again, I packed badly when it came to my own clothing…these I found at a shop in Highlands NC…they saved the day, and my ears!

My fav ornament this year…Harry the hedgehog. Isn’t he a cutie?

I could see the Christmas tree from my bedroom window…. it was a nice feeling.

Hung out at a coffee shop in Cashiers called Buck’s Coffee…actually I could move in there and be pretty doggone happy.

Never get tired of a mountain view like that….

Made a killer batch of pimiento cheese(and by killer, I don’t mean people got sick after they ate it!)….

And this was a new recipe I tried…Hoppin’John Risotto with greens, sausage and Parm…..it was truly….amazing.

I want some right now!  And how was your holiday??

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“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….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

High tea sendoff for the Phelps family
July 24, 2012

Really, what better way to bring a little bit of London to Baltimore, and send the Phelps family off London in style,  than to have high tea, Four Seasons style? I mean, if they can’t handle it, who can??

There’s a lot of hand talkin’ going on here, but I’m pretty sure
it wasn’t as serious as it looks. Debbie Phelps on the left…in
case you didn’t know!

Momma Debbie Phelps, who let’s just say it, is always precious….was so excited…I mean, of course she is!  Trip to London, her baby boy Michael’s last Olympics…as he makes another run at the history books. I asked how she gets herself together on a trip …given the fact that she KNOWS all cameras will be on her when her son is in the pool. She admits she is super organized about clothing…all outfits are planned in advance and packed accordingly with lists, etc., so that nothing is forgotten. I like it. I want to be more like that.

Hilary Phelps…in a royal blue dress. She’s funny, smart,
and has a killer smile….

Her daughter Hilary(who has the skin of a two-year old I swear) is also psyched about the trip. Funny story…I got to know Hilary on Twitter, because she likes the same things I do, yoga…healthy eating…and she has a great website called Genuine Joy….you know. Who wouldn’t follow such a cool girl? And then Kate Amara told me that Hilary Phelps was going to the Olympics and would be doing some stories for us. I looked at her, with what have been a confused expression, and I asked her, “So, she is a big Olympics fan? Why is she doing stories for us?” Kate replied, “She’s Michael Phelps sister.” Light dawns on yonder rock. I truly had no idea they were related. Hey, she still invited me to tea….it’s all good.

Hello lover….steamed puddings a la Four Seasons…

And while most people were talking, and not in my opinion paying nearly enough attention to the food…I made time for it. Incredible shortbread, a concord grape macaroon that was seriously one of the best things I’ve ever eaten, and these crazy little steamed puddings that were, just….just…I wanted to grab all of them and stuff them in my bag, ok? But I did not. 

Green tea with pineapple? I’m all in…

Add really interesting teas and coffees from Lamill Coffee Shop …the tea served in beautiful stoneware cups. It was one of those days I was glad to be me, you know?

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!!

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!

 

 

 

 

 

Salty moss and Key Lime dreams…..
May 14, 2012

There’s been a lot going on at my house, like yours, I’m sure…things springing up out of the ground, new things to try, just stuff, ya know? So let’s catch up….remember the stone path we had put in last year? Now look how pretty it looks with the grass actually growing around it…

Fernw take over the world….

And these ostrich ferns came from ONE plant years ago…I guess they like where they are, as they are about to swamp the Japanese Maple tree.

Succulent garden on pot of dancing nymphs!!

I love succulents…just planted these a few weeks ago. As soon as they fill in a bit, I think they’ll be stunning..such a great contrast of textures and colors.

Mossy table…

and this is a table made from old wood, that has frankly…started to r-o-t. So in the worst bits, I gouged out the rotted wood, and plunked in some moss. Now I know, that will probably make the rot worse-it sure won’t make it better, anyway. But I figure, it’s a way to make the table pretty again in the meantime…and I’d better start looking for a new table for  next summer.

Here’s some places I’ve been recently….

Momma’s Day Brunch at Blue Grass Tavern…housemade pimiento cheese!

Chunks of salt and a microplaner for Mother’s Day… My kids know
I’m a salt freak, so now I can grate my own. (Or will people think that’s
weird?)

B & O Brasserie….this is the Horsecar…made with Hendrick’s GIn,
Blueberries and thyme…amazing.

A single bite of Taharka Brothers Key Lime Pie is soooo
satisfying…tart, crunchy graham crust…luscious.

And I thought I’d share this with you too…Rod Daniels brought in some duds from the 60s….

He can’t wear them now so the station dummy got to model…
the crotch of the pants has a pic of Jimmy Hendricks, his idol!

One of his old girlfriends did the embroidery…not bad…

And it’s Preaknss week, and you know what that means…the search is on for hats….These were brought in by La Chic Boutique….some gorgeous hats there, but none of them were quite right for what I’m wearing, so I’m still on the lookout!

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.