C-Mart Lives Again!!!!!!!!!!!
January 25, 2010

I simply cannot tell you the happiness I felt, when the hubby spoke these words from the next room… in a tone of voice that this was something I might be interested in…”Looks like C-Mart is coming back…” 

“WHAT?”, I screamed….and ran in to grab the paper. And sure enough, there  was the article in the Baltimore Sun(and I have to tell you, I hear people saying “oh I don’t take the Sun anymore”….silliness…there are things in the Sun I won’t see anywhere else) about how C-Mart wouldn’t have the same name…the family doesn’t own the rights anymore, but it will be the same quirky place that so many of us loved and found fantastic bargains. For those of you who might have missed my dirge about bargains found and my sorrow, when C-Mart closed….here’s a link. I got some great stuff at C-mart, and while trying to help my daughter furnish her new apartment, more than once I thought sadly, “Oh, if only C-Mart was here….the stuff we could find.” And now it’s coming back, in its original location in Bel Air…ok, I wish it was the one in Joppatowne, but whatever, and will be called The Big Tarp Company Store. I can’t wait. Oh, and speaking of the girl’s apartment….she moved this weekend…details and pictures tomorrow. It’s looking pretty cute.

Oh, here’s a quote from the article to whet your appetite….”There will be $30,000 worth of products from a Vera Bradley boutique, 3,000 pairs of shoes from two department stores, and books from a Barnes & Noble truck that didn’t make it to stores because the front cabin caught fire.”  Done. CU@C-Mart.

Alabama Memories of Julia Child
October 27, 2009

Hughes Kennedy and Julia, 1973I’m freshly back from ‘bama, where I had a great visit with my Mom, one of my sisters, one nephew, one brother-in-law, two sisters-in law, and my Father-in-law and his new love. It was one of those somewhat hectic visits where there is sooooo much more that you’d like to do and see, but there are lots of people to get to and only so many hours in the day. You know what I mean…

And my Mother is still an avid reader of the Birmingham News…wouldn’t go a day without reading it cover to cover, though as with many newspapers these days (including the venerable Baltimore Sun) it doesn’t take as long as it used to. But she had saved a couple of things she thought I’d like…and she was dead on, both times.

The program from Julia's program in B'ham.....The first was an article about Julia Child, and a visit she made to Birmingham 36 years ago to give a series of cooking demonstrations at the Civic Center. She stayed with a Dr. Hughes Kennedy (seen with Julia in the top photo)at his home. My Mom asked, “Do you recognize him?”…and both my sister and I were clueless….”Nope…who is he?” She replied, almost scandalized that we didn’t know, “But he was your pediatrician!” Seriously, I don’t remember him at all, but she does.

And he must have done pretty darn well in the kid doctor business, because he had not one, but three kitchens in his home, and a dining room that would seat 100 guests. Good Lord. Dr. Kennedy hosted a dinner party for Julia while she was his guest, for about 125 people… he said he was too naive to be intimidated by cooking for the great Julia Child…they just dove in.

7 ingredients...how easy is that??He made his signature dish, a pretty simple chicken casserole with celery, onion, cheddar cheese and slivered almonds called Chicken Riggins. And even though it calls for only seven ingredients, Julia was impressed by it, so much so that she later requested the recipe for her garden club and named the dish, after Dr. Kennedy’s partner Wendell Riggins

My Mom said a group at church years ago saw the recipe long ago and made it for a Christmas party…it was such a hit  that they served the same thing year after year. And I plan to give it a try, though my mind reader Mother(who knows me well) said, “And don’t change any of the ingredients!” I was secretly  thinking…TWO CUPS of mayonnaise?? I can only imagine Dr. Kennedy didn’t eat this too often, as he’s now 85 and still kicking it. But I’ve provided the recipe below…and it does sound sinfully delicious. Let me know if you make it and how it was. Just loosen the belt buckle.

CHICKEN RIGGINS (Serves 10)

3 cups diced chicken

2 cups diced celery

1 cup diced onions

1 pound sharp cheddar cheese

1 can slivered almonds

2 cups mayonnaise

Bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook 4 chicken breasts and 4 thighs with salt, pepper and celery tops until tender, about 20 minutes. Cool and dice. Dice 2 cups celery. Saute onions and cube 1 pound sharp cheddar cheese. Mix above with 2 cups mayonnaise and almonds. Place in 3-quart casserole, sprinkle with bread crumbs and bake at 350 degrees until bubbly and golden on top (approximately 20 minutes).

Obits that talk to you….
May 5, 2009

I am a longtime reader of the obituary column in the Baltimore Sun….I don’t really expect to see someone I know there, usually, though I’ve been surprised more than once. And a well written obit is a thing of beauty really….it several hundred words it captures a little window into a life…tales of exploits in WWII, incredible accomplishments, funny stories from the people who loved them. Those kind of obits are a little gift to everyone, even those of us who never even met the person, especially when they are written by the Sun’s Frederick Rasmussen, who brings the deceased back to life,  in print.

And once in a while, there is obituary that speaks volumes to all of us.  One that says, learn from me….get something from this…don’t let this be your story.  I read one such obit this morning in the Sun about a smart, unbelievably accomplished woman of 50, who died from colorectal cancer.  Anne Talbot Brennan was a lawyer, a mother of three girls…the youngest an 8th grader…a wife, a daughter, a sister.  And someone who became a colorectal cancer activist, after being diagnosed with an advanced stage of the disease, four years ago. And I’m sure she probably had some symtoms that being a super busy working wife and mother, put off seeing to, for too long. How many of us do exactly the same….oh, it’s probably nothing, I really don’t time to go to the doctor, much less get a colonoscopy, for Pete’s sake…that’ll take the better part of a whole day!

And I think Anne Brennan must have said to many, in her years of being an activist to raise awareness of the disease and support for its victims, and I think she wanted me to take this chance to say…don’t let this happen to you. Don’t let your life get cut short by a disease that should have been caught earlier. You have the time to be tested. Make the damn time.

My dear, dear Father-in-law, who never had a colonoscopy by the way, developed colorectal cancer a few years back. He was lucky…they found it in time for surgery to save him. Inexplicably, I don’t think either of my sisters-in-law have ever had a screening test…even they are both over 50, and both at greater risk having a family history of the disease.  I can’t believe it.

So this Thursday at 10 am, as Anne’s family says goodbye to a brilliant attorney who was so much more than that to them, to a woman established a central resource center at Hopkins to help patients, and started successful fundraisers for the Colon Cancer Alliance….let this be her message to you. If you’re 50 or younger with a family history of colorectal cancer…call right now and schedule a colonoscopy. And if you’re having some ongoing  symptoms…don’t just sit there another day, thinking you’re just too busy to see about it.  Do yourself and your family a favor and get thee to a doctor, and insist on a colonoscopy.

Watch who you’re emailing…..
April 28, 2009

The suite life....

The suite life....

OK, weekend before last I was in NYC, trying to get the lay of the land, so to speak, of a certain wedding that is to take place there, soon, and getting sooner every day. Ended up finding a great hotel in the financial district, for a great price  on Expedia, at Gild Hall in lower Manhattan. My son warned  me that “the financial district is desolate on the weekend“….but I didn’t find that to be true at all. And I had a reason to stay there. For the wedding, I found a loft apartment where we can 1. Stay for the 5 days we’ll be in town, and 2. Have a party Friday night for family and out of town guests(like me). Much more relaxed than a restaurant…more like a party at home…and think of all the money you save of liquor when you buy your own!! I wanted to see what was around there.

So anyway, we arrive at the Gild Hall early, because Megabus…now my favorite thrifty way to get there…got in by 11 am. We went on to the hotel, to at least store our stuff and check in later, and sure enough, the king room wasn’t ready. But the clerk said, “But if you like, I can give you a suite for $50 more...”. I hesitated, wanting to keep the 50 in my pocket…but he added, “It’s a gorgeous room, you won’t be sorry.” So I went for it. And was soooo glad. Really just  unbelieveable looking…check out their website, it’s quite a place if you can get a good deal.

My co-worker WBAL-TV anchorman Rod Daniels, who sits right by me in the newsroom, often goes to New York, and he was asking about where I stayed, so I emailed him a link to the hotel. Or…I thought I did. A few minutes later, he said , “I didn’t get anything.” So I checked again…ooooohhhh…I didn’t send to link to a romantic NY hotel to Rod Daniels…I sent it to Dan Rodericks, from the Baltimore Sun and WYPR!! I quickly sent along another email, explaining what happened, why it was an accident, not an attempt to lure him to a hotel room. I haven’t heard anything back. Sooooo embarassing. Check your mail addresses, people….

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 Wishwrap.com. 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 Jensylvania.com.

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.

Did Michael Phelps pull a Vinnnie Chase?
October 29, 2008

Read in the Baltimore Sun this morning, that the New York Times was reporting, that they heard…(wow, can this get any more passed along, he-said, she-said, heresay?)….that Michael Phelps was paid $100,000 for appearing at a (presumably)big party thrown by a tv network head’s wife, and all our boy had to do was show up, and swim a few laps in the pool. Hmmmm. Has Michael Phelps pulled a Vincent Chase?

Vinnie didnt mind making a few extra bucks....

Vinnie didn't mind making a few extra bucks....

Those of you who love  the HBO show Entourage like I do, will know the episode I’m talking about. It was the season finale last season, where movie star Vincent Chase was down to his last dime, literally, because of a run of bad luck and bad movie choices, and to make a quick few bucks, accepts a gig at a man’s opulent bat mitzvah  for his very spoiled daughter, for a few hundred thousand.  At first, they want him to sit in the pool dressed at Aquaman, his famous movie character. He is understandably humiliated by this and says no way, that he will come to the party and sing a little love song to the bratty daughter, but that’s it. No costumes. If you haven’t seen the episode yet, I won’t spoil the ending for you, but his brother Johnny Chase really makes the party one that people will talk about for years. And years. I’ll say no more.

So, did Michael Phelps decide to make a few quick bucks at a party doing what he does best….swim? Dunno, the Sun says his rep didn’t return calls. That isn’t surprising. And if he did, so what? Not a lot of people will laugh off 100 grand, and maybe, he was also doing it as a favor to the network head. That’s not a bad friend to have on your side, even if you’re Michael Phelps….hey, especially if you’re Michael Phelps.

And confession time.  I actually stumbled over Michael Phelps just this morning. Well….practically. It was a total accident…I had gone downstairs to the accounting department to ask them for something, and I glanced into the lobby and there stood someone who looked like a delivery man…kinda…dressed in a baggy hoodie and baseball cap, but he also looked like Michael Phelps. I opened the door to say, “Hey, does anyone ever tell you you look like Michael Phelps ?”, when our lovely receptionist Gwen put her finger to her lips, “Ssshhhhhhh. He doesn’t want anyone to know he’s here.” ….so I know it’s him!!  Like an idiot, I ask my question anyway….and he said people do actually ask him that all the time, and he usually says, “Yeah, I get that a lot.” So in a moment of celebrity to celebrity commaradarie, I admitted that I get asked that too. Not that I look like Michael Phelps, but that I look a lot like Donna Hamilton.  He smiled and was very kind. That was about it….Michael told me he was headed up to radio for an interview, and I moved on to accounting…for some non-glamourous paperwork.  But I really thought I’d had been pretty cool about the whole thing. You know, not too gushy…not too friendly…didn’t ask for an autograph…nothing like that. And then I remembered that I had been so…starstruck, it must be said..that I forgot to ask him about pulling a Vinnie Chase, as this blog was already half written when I ran into him. Did he go to the party, dressed as an Olympic swimmer, for 100 grand? Alas, we may never know….

C-mart…. do-it-yourself version??
October 22, 2008

C-Mart...You bring it and you cart it away?

C-Mart...You bring it and you cart it away?

It caught my eye, yes it did this morning, as I was reading The Baltimore Sun,  that sweet familiar handwritten notice.  Only one place has ads that look like that and smells of….ooohhh, bargains. C-mart!! Kind of.

This is a do-it-yourself  kind of C-Mart….it’s a flea market, ok? I  can rent space and sell all the things I bought at C-Mart that perhaps I shouldn’t have ( the Marc Jacobs Venetia handbag comes to mind). They’re calling it The Big Tarp, and it will be not at the latest C-mart location but at the old Forest Hill one….the one I always got lost trying to get to. Anyway, someone…I’m assuming the original owners of C-Mart as they still own this property….is opening up and is renting table space now…75 cents a square foot. Not bad  I guess.

And here’s the great thing about it it….. in a down economy, when people are hurting, this place will provide a place not just for people to spend money, but also a place to MAKE SOME MONEY…..that can’t be anything but providential.  The Big Tarp will be open every Saturday and Sunday. So, there it is. No, C-Mart isn’t returning, but I’m keeping the door open and the welcome light on. See you there!

Hallelujah, my son is engaged….finally!!!
October 16, 2008

At the risk of being one of those bloggers that I read about in the Baltimore Sun this week in an article by Andrew Ratner about the “blogosphere”, in which he says a certain percentage of bloggers report their personal relationships have suffered with friends and family because of their blogs(because they use them for blog-fodder…),  but I still just have to tell you this! My son and the lovely Jennifer, about whom I’ve written often (too often?) are…yes…engaged. At long last. Like many parents of 20-somethings, you watch their lives from a certain distance(judging, judging, always judging, my daughter would say)…but that’s not true. More like, observing.

And here’s what I have observed. My son has been in a wonderful relationship, with a wonderful girl, for a wonderfully long time. And in his Mother’s opinion, which was never asked by the way, it was time for a ring. No, I never said anything, never even hinted at it…I don’t think. The only time I ever brought it up was a couple of years ago, when he was home sans Jen, I asked very casually, I swear, “So, do you and Jen ever think about getting married ?” He clearly interpreted my casual question(I practiced it, serously), as inquiring into his private life(which I was), where he did not want to go(and we didn’t).

Yeah, enought of that subject. So I just let it go, and thought, what is meant to be, is meant to be. Good Mommy, yes? Yet as the months and years went on of this happy relationship, my family in ‘bama has nagged…yes, nagged me relentlessly about it. “When are they getting engaged?”….”I’d like to go to a wedding while I’m still young enough to dance.” “Do you think it will be this year?”  Leave me alone, leave me alone…..was what I wanted to scream, but just smiled wanly and said, “I really don’t know.”

So, last Friday night, when we got a call from the boy and he announced, “I just asked Jen to marry me…”, there was great happiness all around. Happiness for him, for her(oooh my future daughter-in-law I can say that now!!), for her family, for our family, which will soon be one family. And I can’t wait. And no, I don’t think there will be any big wedding…Jennifer just isn’t into that it seems, and really, with the economy being what it is, it might be too much anyway. A small wedding is such a kindness to the bride and groom’s respective families, don’t you think?

Anyway, I wanted to share the news with you….for those of you who have gone before me, keep me in your thoughts….that I don’t say or do the wrong thing (beyond writing about it), that everything stays on a somewhat even keel, that none of us go off the deep end….wow, any cliches I missed there? But you know what I mean. I just want it to be a happy time. Not a stressful time. None of us need any more of that right now. We need some good news…and I got some!

Weekend Wrapup…recipes,and a dangerous new kitchen tool!
July 7, 2008

LIke for many of you, this holiday weekend went by waaaaay too fast. There was a lot going on…fun stuff, but suddenly, it’s Monday morning and time to go exercise (which I desperately needed). But it’s all good…

the new Froggy!Got to try out my Froggy…it’s a new kitchen tool that my sister gave me for my birthday. Now at first, I thought, “I need something else in my rather small kitchen like I need a hole in my head”,….but now that I’ve used it, how have I lived without the Froggy, which is a Rachael Ray product. It’s basically a chopping board with a circular concave indented side, on which one uses the vicious little double bladed mezzaluna. You roll it back and forth, back and forth, back and forth…to chop things into itty bitty pieces. It is fabulous on garlic, and a lot of garlic is called for in the making of Potatoes Fontecchio, (8 cloves), but don’t be scared of it…. Potatoes Fontecchio recipeThis is a classic Silver Palate recipe that I have used for years and love. The recipe also calls for lots of EVOO ( do I need to say extra virgin olive oil? I hope not.) and chopped mint…which the Froggy also made short work of. I will warn you, the blades are VERY sharp…I cut myself twice!(Oh, and I see it online for around 40 bucks…but I gave you a link above  to Amazon which has it for $24.95….)

And I tried another recipe that I saw in the Baltimore Sun  last week….for Wacky Cake. …a..k.a. Lush Cake, Cockeyed Cake, Three Hole Cake…it sounded so good and chocolatey and sooooo easy…and it was all of those things…and you don’t need any eggs or milk. Just sugar, cocoa, flour,baking  soda, water and vinegar, of all things. Now I will admit I doctored it a little adding some ancho chile powder(sounds odd but it was good) and cinnamon, giving it a little south of the border touch. And I melted chocolate chips with a little cream and poured that over the top. What’s not to like?  Took both dishes  to a picnic and they were happily scarfed up…so I guess they were well received. I liked them both, anyway. Did you try any new foodie items?