Breakfast with Bayliss…and $47 cupcakes…
October 1, 2010

early morning at Xoco...a Rick Bayliss restaurant...

The lovely Jennifer, my daughter-in-law, was in Chicago for a business trip this week…and this morning, she was stepping outside her comfort zone and walking to Xoco to meet her aunt Connie in Chi-town for an early morning breakfast(she sent me the pic above this morning). She was also super-excited as was I…we are both big fans of Rick Bayliss. If you saw him on Top Chef Masters…he was the one who was the master of Tex-Mex and Mexican cuisine. Always calm, unflappable, and kind…not at all what you’d expect from a big name chef.

Get in here with your little jam pots!!

She and I share a love of a good room service breakfast when you travel….at a nice hotel anyway. I remember one experience where they brought plastic cutlery…NOOOOOOOOOO! But when a nice table covered with white linen rattles in, with a silver coffee pot and creamer, nice china and hot eggs and bacon….while you’re in your bathrobe….it’s a little slice of heaven. But one doesn’t give up a chance to go to a Rick Bayliss place.

Hey little sister!!

 XOCO(which is slang for “little sister”)specializes in Mexican street food from one of America’s top chefs(which means you’re not nervous about eating it).

Mmmmmmm.....churros...and coffee...

 Churros, tortas, caldos..and mmmm…hot frothy Mexican hot chocolate. I was jealous.

Jen and my son are passing through Baltie briefly tonight…dinner, crash at our house, and then off to Annapolis early tomorrow morning for a wedding and straight back to New York. So this morning, while Jen was enjoying hot from the fryer churros…I was changing the sheets in the guest room and throwing shoes in the closet. Don’t really have to worry about dinner…we’ll eat out…probably 13.5% Wine Bar in Hampden which is close to work,(though I’ve got to mix it up a little-last time I was there, the waiter saw me and said “It must be Friday“…how predictable am I?) and lots of fun, and not too expensive. (Hey, when you’re paying for dinner for 5 wine-drinking adults…that’s important).

Cupcakes....what's not to like?

And this afternoon I’m headed down to Charm City Cupcakes to use my Groupon there! One dozen cupcakes(4 key lime, 4 red velvet, and 4 chocolate mousse Pimlico) at half price…dig it…so we can have dessert at home. I want a cupcake right now.(Side note-just returned from downtown where I parked in a no parking zone for 5 minutes to run in and grab cupcakes…got a $32 ticket. So $15 groupon + $32=$47 cupcakes…sigh. This is no fault of Charm City Cupcakes-just my being a dumbo.)

Hope you’ve all dried out a little from the torrential downpour yesterday…one of my neighbors had an 80 foot spruce tree come down onto the power lines in front of his house(yikes)….luckily it spared his home, but it was such a gorgeous tree. Hope all of you escaped unscathed. It’s Friday people…I hope you’re enjoying your family as much as I’ll enjoy mine(briefly)…play nice, don’t throw rocks and come home safe…’cause we miss you!


Gratitude and Envy…how to feel both at the same time!
August 4, 2009

I picture the villa like this(in my head)....
I picture the villa like this(in my head)….

One of my favorite co-worker/friends is back from vaca…she traveled with her entire family…parents, husbands, and kids in tow,  to France. Provence to be exact. How idyllic is that? They stayed in a fabulous country villa decorated in shades of grey and white, drank white wine, made daily visits to the village fromagerie and boulangerie, and days trips to Arles and Paris, and the best part…at least one of the best…her parents footed the tab, I mean hosted the trip. That’s…just…not…fair.
All of us here were alternately pea green with envy and wildly curious for all the details. “How cold was the white wine?” “How fresh was the bread?” “How long did you sit on the terrace overlooking the vineyards?” You know what I mean.
We couldn’t get enough, like thirsty stragglers on the desert. If it had happened to someone I like less, it would have been truly painful. As it was I was able to enjoy it vicariously, as a really thirsty straggler, who has not been on holiday all summer, and will not be on holiday for the dog days of August.
One reporter here, who I shall not name, asked, “Your whole family was there, and there wasn’t any drama at all??” When she assured this person that there was a wee bit of drama, and indeed, when is there not on a family trip, they breathed a tiny sigh of relief.  OK, there’s the envy part of my day. To hell with France.
The gratitude part? Well, there are two parts to it. The first..I gota call last night from myson in New York. As you may know, this is not an everyday occurance. The lovely Jennifer will call me, and sometimes at the end of our convo, she will say to my son, who is also in the room, “Do you want to say hi to your Mom?” I can almost feel the resigned look he gives her, which is to say, “What else can I say now…no?” So he he replies with somewhat forced enthusiasm, “Sure!”  Perhaps I imagine all this, but still, it is nice when he calls me, because I know he wants to talk to me. And he called with good news about his new wife of whom he is understandably proud. “Jen is gonna be an American Express Featured Card Holder!” Honestly I wasn’t sure exactly what that meant, but I knew it had to be good, and quite an honor for her fledgling business to be included, so I though you might also enjoy it. Here’s the link!

Not my dog, but cute nonetheless....
Not my dog, but cute nonetheless….

And the other gratitude I pass along compliments of Ojas Yoga…my yoga place, that comes from their monthly wellness newsletter, about how we can all take a lesson in life and happiness fromyour dogs. Enjoy…ruff.
When it’s in your best interest, practice obedience.
Let others know when they’ve invaded your territory.
Take naps and stretch before rising.
Run, romp and play daily.
Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.
On warm days, stop to lie on your back in the grass.
On hot days,  drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree.
No matter how often you’re scolded, don’t buy into the guilt thing and pout. Run right back and make friends.
Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.
Eat with gusto and stop when you’ve had enough.
Be loyal.
Never pretend to be something you’re not.
If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it. (Like a holiday in Provence!) XOXO

A Mac & Cheese Osculator Party??
February 20, 2009

Earlier this week, I received the lovely Jennifer’s Excel Rainman newsletter ( which kept her up until the wee hours putting together)…and it has a great idea for your Academy Awards party, if you’re having one, or just a way to play a pool….either way, fun. Plus she sent me a great recipe for mac and cheese you could serve(which I made last night….fabulous)….a recession Oscar party!! It’s down below. Don’t say I never gave you anything .  

Dear Donna,


Whether you have seen all of the movies nominated for Best Picture or not… it is more fun to get involved when there are stakes!
Help jump start your OSCAR party with The ExcelRainMan OSCulator (Get it? OSCAR + Calculator… OSCulator!).  This tricked out spreadsheet will allow you to host your very own OSCAR Pool… well virtually at least. Send out The ExcelRainMan OSCulator Ballots to your competitive crew and then use the OSCulator to keep track of their selections.  Let our OSCulator do the work of tallying up the results on OSCAR night so you can get back to enjoying the crudite and long-winded accptance speeches!   
The ExcelRainMan OSCulator can be downloaded for FREE from the Tips & Tricks section at  Instructions are also provided to help you dominate this terrific tool!
Check out the latest free tips, tricks and goodies from the ExcelRainMan team and improve your spreadsheeting skillz today!!  All goodies (templates) are free for the 1st month after release, after which they will be available for the modest price of $5.00 each.

 Ok, here’s the recipe for Mike Malin’s mac and Cheese….(as given to me)

3 normal size bags shredded sharp cheddar, 1 bag shredded mozzarella, 1 big container cottage cheese, 1 regular size sour cream, 1 box macaroni, 1 egg(optional)

Pre-heat over to 350 degrees. Cook Macaroni as per instructions and drain. Mix 2 bags of the cheddar, the mozzarella, cottage cheese, sour cream (low cal this dish!), and raw egg, if you use it, then mix macaroni with cheese mix.. put in cassarole and sprinkle the other cheddar over the top (as much as you can)….bake in oven with NO cover for 25-30 minutes. You want the top to be browning….so it has a little crispy top. You know what I mean.

Mike says you really can’t go wrong with this one. Jennifer seconds that thought…I third it!! I thought about suggesting you add some lobster if you’re feeling really flush, but our chief photog just passed by and said, “Hey…that’s just ruining a good lobster, or a good mac and cheese. That’s taking comfort food and making it Phooffy food…” While there is no definition for phooffy food, I catch his drift. Dump the lobster idea. Stick with the mac and cheese.

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!