Top Ten Cool Holiday gifts: Part II
December 9, 2008

Alright , my pretties, it’s time for part two of my cool gift list…and not a moment too soon. Great food, jammies, vanilla latte booties…you know you love it.  Read on…

They look like Chewie from Stars Wars boots!

They look like Chewie from Stars Wars boots!

5. The gift of cozy…we all need it now and then…especially now. Vanilla Latte Spa Booties?….Coconut Lime Mink body wrap? …you can find them both at Pop them  in the microwave and then wrap up for a blast of the tropics, scent and temperature wise-booties are $40, the wrap-also $40. Wish wrap  lets you shop by occasion  or recipient…they have some really interesting gifts, like bamboo baby blankets, “just soap and water”(grapefruit/aloe soap printed with “save water” and “shower with a friend” along with  bottle of rosewater-$25), And something else I like, everything comes “wishwrapped” at no charge, either in a pretty brown box or faux silk bag, both of which are reuseable(the ultimate recycling). $10 flat fee shipping….

Walnut Apple Cake!!

Walnut Apple Cake!!

6. Something you don’t have to cook yourself! Call Cafe Germaine….they can do it all, from appetizers( mini corn fritters with red pepper dipping sauce, French Country pate’…mmmmm ) to  main courses like chicken and leek pot pie(sounds so comforting) and desserts, like the Apple Cake with bourbon sauce(keep your fingers off).  These women can cook up a storm…Mary has worked with Woffgang Puck and was catering manager at The Harbor Court Hotel…not too shabby….and Germaine  has worked with the beloved and legendary Morris Martick! They can make a holiday gathering a breeze, or just do dessert for your family.

All kids need jammies!! And so do the rest of us....

All kids need jammies!! And so do the rest of us....

7. Pajamas. The Today Show had a segment on The Great Sprout Tuck-In yesterday, about how something as comforting and basic as jammies, many kids don’t have.  And that’s just wrong.  The Great Sprout Tuck-in is providing clean soft pj’s and books to thousands of children who would otherwise do without either. When I think about how much I love my jammies, and all the sweet jammies my children have had over the year, it’s sad  think of children who have nothing warm to change into at night. 

8. Weekend subscription to the New York Times. You know, The Baltimore Sun has shrunk and shrunk and shrunk….so that I’m finished reading the paper, especially on Sunday, before I’m ready to finish reading the paper. Is that all there is to a newspaper? So, I decided a nice present for myself (and maybe some others) is the weekend edition of the Times. Oh, and if you want to more about what Sam Zell has done to the Tribune Company… wow…oh, and those people who took the buyout? They are now standing in the line of creditors waiting for money as the company files for bankruptcy. That’s a dirty rotten shame. Take a load off Fannie…..take a load for free.

9.  Sorry about that…I got bitter for just a second, and speaking of bitter….I am reading a book think loads of you will enjoy, especially given the current economic climate, (which stinks, if you hadn’t noticed). . Bitter is the New Black  from author Jenn Lancaster(who also wrote Such a Pretty Fat) is a recommended gift, especialluy for the women on your list. It’s  about this woman who was living the high life and spending money (on things she shouldn’t have-she admits), who hits hard times when she loses her job after 9-11. Jen has been called irreverant, abrasive, outspoken, and she has a wicked sense of humor. You can visit her world at

All the Better to Kiss You With!

All the Better to Kiss You With!

10. Hmmmm…something simple, somthing sweet smelling, something girly……how about All the Better to Kiss You With lip balm?? As a confessed lba(lip balm addict), I’m always looking for the latest and greatest. This trio of certified organic balms are non-petroleum based, come in vintage recyclable tins, are  100% cruelty free, and the fragrances of Pepperminty, Lavendar Vanilla and Chai Mandarin sound delicious. Single tins are $5.99, an eco gift box  of 3 is $17.99….and when you click on their link the most soothing music plays. I’m listening to it right now!!(What is it?)

There. The list is finished. Don’t thank me..your adoration is enough.

Muhammed Ali alert!!
October 15, 2008

Get a front row seat...

Get a front row seat...

The “Greatest of all Time” has a huge, loyal fan base….and besides being, well, the greatest of all time, Muhammed Ali has also led a fascinating life, and people love him.  I found that out bigtime today, when a copy of the just released

 ESPN’s “Ringside Ali” DVD was sent to me….and because I really don’t care much about boxing, I subsequently gave it to the guy who heads up our edit department. You would have thought I gave him a bar of gold, or, like my reaction would have been to a pair of Jimmy Choo Shoes had someone handed me a pair….ecstasy, ok? “Oh, thank, you , thank you, thank you, I am his biggest fan ever!”, or something like that, and I got a bear hug. A big one.

Sooooo, given the positive reaction, I thought this would probably make a good gift idea for Ali fans, and sports fans in general. And it does look pretty cool really….fifteen of Ali’s greatest fights, and a 3 and a half hour ABC Classic Wide World of Sports documentary on Ali….it’s a four disc set that sells for about 35 bucks. Who knows? Maybe you’ll get a bear hug too….

Lost jobs, lost dreams, and tears hit close to home….
September 30, 2008

Scary headlines in real life....

Scary headlines in real life....

My son… you know, the one who lives in New York and we borrow his apartment,  called me last night to tell me about all that had transpired at his office that day. He knew it was coming…I knew it was coming…they had all been told, that the company where he works would be “shrinking it’s way to profitability“.  That phrase always means one thing and one thing only…lost jobs, lost dreams, and tears.

Hey, it’s tough times everywhere, but no where more so than in New York right now…where some businesses will soon be called something else, others are waiting to see what happens with the government rescue plan.  The business where my son works is not a bank, but like many businesses which have investors…nervous investors right now…people want their money, their cash, their “liquidity”.

So about one-third of the employees, walked out the door yesterday with their belongings….and fortunately for him, my son was not among them. But the experience shook him to his core. How could it not? As one of many 20-somethings who have never seen any bad times…not really…watching over a hundred people getting their pink slips one by one marching into an office to get the news, is an awful, sobering experience that you never forget. And you hope you never see again.

He said that many people were crying…partly for a lost job, naturally,  but also because they loved working there…loved it. And no one really knows what’s ahead for the company. Will the cutback work? Will the company be sold? The road ahead for now for this company and many, many others is uncertain brambly path, through which we all have to find our ways. Together.  I hope we figure it out…and quick.

An update on my four-legged cousin…and reader comments about
September 21, 2008

My cousin Josephine...

My cousin Josephine...

Dear Blog Readers, As most people don’t bother reading comments on blogs…I thought I’d pass along a couple regarding my previous entry on my famous four-legged cousin Josephine Myrtle Corbin…and one person has an odd family member story of their own!!

From Paul:

Wow Donna that is fascinating! I’m that type of nerd that likes to learn about all those medical anomalies. I spend a day of my anniversary a few years ago at the Mutter Museum in Philadelphia. It has an extensive collection of genetic abnormalities, particular Siamese twins. It is a very interesting museum and I can’t remember if I saw your cousin there but I’m sure she probably is mentioned at least.”

Paul… your anniversary? That’s so romantic. Anyway, I went to the Mutter Museum website and provided a link above….(which they saw)….and have communicated with them…you may find this email from their communications manager J. Nathan Bazzell at the College of Physicians in Philadelphia,  interesting:

Hello Ms. Hamilton,                I have asked the Library and Museum to look into this.  I recognized the photo on your site as one that we have in the collection. I am hoping that the library and museum can shed more light on what exactly we have.  The College of Physicians of Philadelphia has one of the most important  historical medical libraries in the world, so I would be surprised if they did not have some sort of record.  The Museum has an extensive collection of historical photos, including some that I saw on your site.  I will let you know as soon as I hear back from them.

This from Brian: 

That’s amazing Donna,
I could assume back in that day, women usually wore dresses more often. Do you know if she wore long dresses to cover up the middle legs sometimes, and can you imagine in today’s society how she would deal with it

I don’t know the answer to that Brian, but would guess she did….why wouldn’t she?

And from M.D….I saved the best for last, and thanks for the smile!!

I saw this on the news today, and had to check it out! Well, Donna, I’m not related to you, or Josie, but do have a similar, much more recent story. My own mother was supposed to be a twin, but the only thing that developed of her sister, was the internal reproductive organs. That twin never separated, so my mom was born with 2 sets of internal reproductive organs, but looks completely normal on the outside. My brother and I both happened to develop in the smaller set of organs, so, technically, we were born to our aunt, who, herself, was never born. Yeah, go figure that one out! Unfortunately, I didn’t quite understand all this until much later in life. I sure wish I had known about it sooner; can you imagine a teenager yelling “Why? You’re not my mother ! ”

And I thought some of you would find the following information on Josephine (they refer to her Mrs. B, as her married name was Bicknell) interesting…a few more details…and a little gruesome… from Anomalies and Curiosities of Medicine
by George M. Gould and Walter L. Pyle:

Wells a describes Mrs. B., aged twenty, still alive and healthy. The duplication in this case begins just above the waist, the spinal column dividing at the third lumbar vertebra, below this point everything being double.

Micturition and defecation occur at different times, but menstruation occurs simultaneously. She was married at nineteen, and became pregnant a year later on the left side, but abortion was induced at the fourth month on account of persistent nausea and the expectation of impossible delivery.

Whaley, in speaking of this case, said Mrs. B. utilized her outside legs for walking; he also remarks that when he informed her that she was pregnant on the left side she replied,
‘I think you are mistaken; if it had been on my right side I would come nearer believing it;’–and after further questioning he found, from the patient’s observation, that her right genitals were almost invariably used for coitus.
(the name Mrs. B. refers to Myrtle’s married name, Bicknell.)

And as you know, gentle readers, she did go on to give birth to five children. According to one account I read online, and which I have no way to know if it’s true….they said at one point when she was young, Josephine made $450 a week traveling with a sideshow…that’s a fortune in those days. What a story!

Gustav tales from the Gulf Coast….
September 2, 2008

Gustavs big blow....

Gustav's big blow....

As many of you know, one of my sisters lives on the Gulf Coast…Gulf Shores, Alabama, to be exact. She and her husband live in a charming home that sits on stilts, high in the air, right on the intracoastal waterway. She and I have spent quite a few pleasant hours sitting on her screened porch, overlooking her pretty garden (on which she has worked very hard), and the waterway…watching brown pelicans, pleasure boats and big barges loaded with coal glide past, to parts unknown.

They’ve had to evacuate several times…of course…The very first time, my bro-in-law George had tied their boat up under the house , every which way from Sunday, when an old timer came along and said, “Son, I don’t care how you tie it, if the water comes up, that boat is gonna be in your  living room.” They moved the boat. And since then they have a “list of what must be done” when they leave….such as, take up every other plank on the pier in hope of saving it, putting all their potted plants(and there are lots of them-too many George says) in a trailer and haul the trailer to someone who lives on higher ground, carry all the lawn furniture upstairs into the house, move everything on the screened porch into the house, take the blades  off the porch ceiling fans, empty the freezer and fridge in case  the power is out for a while….you get the point. It’s exhausting. Hurricane Ivan was their worst hit in Gulf Shores….they lost their pier when a big barge got loose from its anchor in the canal, and careened wildly downstream, knocking out piers along the way. They had lots of water under the house, of course the cars and boat were moved…the windows were boarded up so the worst of it was they couldn’t get back to their house for at least a week or so, because the roads were covered with trees and refrigerators and boats and everything you can imagine. And even though that was three years ago, there are devastated houses there that still look it happened last month.  And her garden wasn’t the same for a year or two, after being soaked in sea water.  Since Katrina, they’ve been lucky along the Gulf Coast.

I called sis this weekend as they were making preps to go to their son’s house…she was agonizing about how much to do …as Gustav really wasn’t really expected to hit there, but you don’t want to be sorry, what if it changes course…you can imagine. And everything that you do, when you come home, must be undone. Boards back on the pier, furniture thumped back downstairs, …another day or two of labor. She says it’s worth it to live there…right now anyway…though their insurance has skyrocketed to the point that if they get another big hit, they really might not be able to afford to stay.  And they have talked frankly about leaving, even though she loves it there…they both do. That has been the scenario for lots of folks in those parts….just too much trouble and too much money to stay.  Same for New Orleans. But this time….this time, they were lucky. Lots of people were.

Weekend wrapup… pretty much the big O!!
August 11, 2008

Seriously, my weekend was all about the O, as in Olympics. I simply could not believe my eyes Friday for the opening ceremony. Un-freakin-believable. Beautiful….eye-popping…mesmerizing….intimidating. You name it, I had the feeling…including some chills. I’ve given a link to some video images of that night set to music in case you missed it….what a shame if you did. But most people didn’t . The 2008 Beijing Olympics is kicking it out of the park, ratings wise. Millions and millions of people watched this weekend….from start to finish.

I was wondering how my 22 year old daughter would react to watching…will the younger demographic want to see it, and for how long?  She never once asked to change the channel. That astounded me…and when that happened, I knew the weekend numbers would be big, big, big. And they were. Americans are in…all in.

We did eat Chinese Friday night in honor of the occasion…from P.F. Changs….”Ooooh, upscale..” said my Ozone co-host Gerry Sandusky. Whatever, Ger, it was good. Really good. Hot fish is my favorite from there…followed closely by Wok seared lamb…..yummy.

And if there are events you missed here’s a link to NBC Encore….they have tons of videos for you to check out. See you tonight at 7:30 for the Olympic Zone, and then….more O!!!!! And by the way, I WANT AN OLYMPICS GOODIE BAG TOO!! Waaaah!

Weekend Roundup, and Baby Girl is seeing things!
July 14, 2008

in Hampden, hon...

in Hampden, hon...

Well, let’s see. It was a pretty quiet weekend, all things said. Ventured to a place that I’ll bet some of you have already tried. I feel so behind the curve. It’s called Grano Pasta Bar, on 36th Street in Hampden….sweet, tiny place…maybe 10 or 15, 20 seats? They do pastas to order….with several sauces that you can try..pesto, bolognese, marinara…all homemade sauces, though not the pasta. BYOB….and a bowl of pasta is 7 bucks, and they’ll throw on a couple of meatballs for $2 more.  Can’t beat that in tough  economic times, eh?  It’s run by Gino Troia, of the well known Cafe Troia in Towson…and when I stopped in for some carryout sauce which they sell, Friday night at 6:30…the place was already packed (keeping in mind it doesn’t take too many people to do that). I adored their grassy green pesto, a container of which was $9….not inexpensive, but a little goes a long way, and the taste is fabulous. Used it on some focaccia sandwiches made with fresh tomatoes from the farmer’s market and  mozzarella, and it was yum. And Grano also does carryout pastas and salads. Cute…you’ll like it. 

Beets baby, beets.

Beets baby, beets.

Got way too many beets at the Farmer’s Market in Waverly on Saturday…so I roasted them (wrap the beet in foil after you cut the tops off, and roast in over at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes). Then you slip their skins off after they cool, slice and use in salads and stuff. Delicious. However, not everyone in my house is a beet lover….I think that comes from the childhood trauma of eating picked beets. That’s just so wrong to do to an innocent beet, and let me tell you, they bear no resemblence to a roasted beet…these are just very mild and sweet…great with goat cheese or feta in a salad.

I see dead cats....

"I see dead cats...."

And last but not least, Baby Girl  seems to see things that are not there….or are they?  She will just stare off into the distance…I look too, to see what on earth she finds so fascinating, and….nothing. Like you see here…trust me, nothing is happening on the ceiling. I looked. Maybe she is doing a “sixth sense” thing? If she could speak, perhaps she would whisper,  “I see dead cats.”  And there could be quite a few feline spirits around the place….Wild Kitty, where are you?  Something to think about.

Ooooooh-new template…”Dusk” by Becca Wei. 


Baby Girl’s new tricks….
April 7, 2008

babyI suppose it was only a matter of time really…that day when Baby Girl realized she could indeed jump from the kitchen floor to the counter. It’s always been too far for her, so things were safe up there…including Muffy’s food. Muffy is a dainty eater…just picks at it and finishes it later, but Baby eats anything and everything….fast. So the only way to keep her from Muf’s food was to put it in a place where Muffy could access it, but Baby could not. The counter under the phone…it’s not a food prep area…(so germaphobes don’t need to be concerned).

Actually, yes you do, now that I think about it. Here’s why. Baby came up to me a few days ago with paws darker than usual…and smelly. Aghhhh, what’s that? Took a closer sniff…not poopy, thank goodness, but what is that smell? Washed her paws with soap and water(umm, she really loves that), and didn’t think much more about it.

When I leave for work in the morning, I usually put down a little extra food for Baby, that I have saved from the morning feed….she likes that. But the can was nowhere to be seen..not in the spot where I usually put it. Oh, there it is, on the floor…now how on earth…wait just a minute. That’s what Baby’s paws smelled like. Cat food. She had dug out with her paws what she couldn’t get with her mouth. And the reality of it hit me. The kitchen counter is no longer safe territory, and Baby has no manners at all. My fault, I know. So now I have to find an even higher place for hiding food…..and I don’t know what to do about Muffy’s food…and I really don’t want her walking all around my kitchen counters. But I’m not sure what to do about it. Besides disinfect every night, or try to catch her up there and yell. A fat lot of good that will do. Baby Girl grows up…..

Deadlines and procrastination….
April 28, 2007

Here’s why my job is perfect for me…..perfect…It’s because I have a deadline every day at five o’clock….actually several deadlines throughout the day. If I have a story that has to be written today, so it can be edited…it will be. If I have a shoot at 11 AM, I’ll be there. I start afternoon live promo shoots at 3:30….so I know I have to be in makeup at 3:00, and hit live at 3:30, 3:55, and 4:10, and as was said about another program, it’s also true for us. We don’t go on at five because we’re ready, we go on because it’s 5:00!!
But if you were to ask our special projects producer Augusta Brennan(who certainly deserves a special place in heaven because of her continual patience and prodding with me and others), and if she were to be honest, she’d say getting people to finish projects that are airing in a week or two, is like pullng teeth from a snake. It’s very hard, OK?
I’m not sure why this is true….Maybe television attracts a certain type of person who is deadline driven. Oh, they’ll get it done ok, just not very soon. And I do have the best intentions to finish logging tapes that day(and logging tapes is something you must do yourself if you’re writing a story….getting an intern to do it isn’t even close too the same), but it’s a kind of slogging torture.
Start the tape, write some words, the time code, stop the tape. Get the end time code….blah, blah, blah. I think I can safely say, everyone hates logging tapes.
But today my procrastinating has put me in a familiar yet dicey predicament.
I don’t think I have anything to wear to a black tie event tonight,( at least nothing everyone hasn’t seen, twice,) and all week, I’ve put off having a mani and a pedi…both of which I desperately need.
SO, there I was schlogging around Towsontown Centre, looking for a pedicure, a dress, or a new top to wear wth a black evening skirt I already own, makeup I needed two weeks ago at MAC, new shoes(where are you)…oh, and my daughter seems to have absconded to college with all my evening bags, so I need to yell at her, and buy a new one …Then, on to Usha Gupta for brow maintenance, and THEN on to the Shock Trauma Gala at the Baltimore Convention Center….Phew!!
If only I planned ahead, all that last minute panic buying could be avoided, but then, I wouldn’t be me, would I?