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?

Phelps Phired….Marijuana or Money??
February 6, 2009

A chastened Michael Phelps, talks to 11 News...

A chastened Michael Phelps, talks to 11 News...

It seemed for a couple of days as if the greatest Olympic Champion of all time might escape  serious repercussions for a serious lapse of judgement, captured for all eternity by a cell phone, no doubt. There he was, 23 year  old Michael Phelps, winner of eight gold medals, taking a hit of weed off a bong. But the chickens are coming home to roost, as my Mother might say….late last night, the Olympic Committee announced they were suspending Phelps for 3 months, which means he won’t get his $1700 monthly training stipend…not that that means a great deal to him…he is a multi-millionaire,  but the 3 month suspension from competeting no doubt hurts. Even more painful,  his first sponsor has announced they are dropping himKellogg’s said at the end of the month, they will no longer need Michael Phelps to smile on front of their cornflakes boxes. That hurts a lot worse, of course, and no doubt his management team is hoping other sponsors like Speedo and Omega watches(who have so far said they would stand by him) won’t follow suit. But here’s the thing….Michael P. made this decision super-easy for Kellogg’s. And maybe…just maybe…dropping him is not as much about his recreational drug use, as it is a financial decision. Let’s say Kellogg’s is feeling the same crunch (financial not Sugar Frosted Flakes), and they, like many companies are looking to reduce their costs. Quick board meeting among top execs….”here’s how you can save some big money”…and wow…done…over…kaput. All it takes is  quick phone call, and Kellogg’s has improved the bottom line.

Which sadly leads me to something that has been rattling around in my brain for a while. This January, employers lopped off 598,000 jobs. As in, over a half a million people lost their paycheck…the worst since 1974. Here’s my question(and sometimes the question is more important than the answer)….how many of those companies laid off people because they had to…and how many fired workers as a kneejerk reaction to the recession…or, even worse,  I find this hard to even put this in print because it horrifies me….how many are cutting people because they will NEVER have a better opportunity. I know. But when your boss says, “Hey I’m really, really sorry to let you go, but it’s the economy, you know? I have no choice.” And you my unhappy friend, have no choice but to believe him or her. It is the perfect downsizing cover. Know what I’m saying? When I have mentioned this wonderful, awful idea to a few people, they look at me shocked, and say(usually), “I never thought about it like that.”

We’ll never know really, until maybe years and years and years down the road, when some people reveal with a guilty conscience, that they cleared out some deadwood, unproductive workers,  someone they didn’t like, or fired 100 people  just to save a few bucks…. people they could have kept. And you don’t look like Scrooge!! But you just made the economy so much worse. I hope I’m wrong, but I fear I’m not. And Michael Phelps is not exempt from this kind of thing…just better able to take the blow than most.

You can watch our exclusive interview raw footage, Michael Phelps with WBAL reporter Kate Amara…right here.

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….

Weekend Wrapup….Sweet Treats, Phelps, and Billy Bush
October 6, 2008

The sign should say...Goodies Inside!

The sign should say..."Goodies Inside!"

It was one of those busy, busy weekends, the kind that is fun but when it’s over, you think, I need a day off! My daughter was in for college, her first visit home in a while….as I told you it was mostly for a hair appointment, but she spread some love on her parents too….for which they were grateful.

Saturday morning I trudged over to Sugarbakers in Catonsville, on Frederick Road. I had no idea they existed, until several months ago I had dinner at a restaurant who sells slices of  the multi-fudge layered Smith Island Cakefrom Sugarbakers….and that cake is off the hook. Fabulous. I’ve bought several desserts from there since….and while they’re not inexpensive, they are not terribly pricey….

Tarts, anyone? Anyone?

Tarts, anyone? Anyone?

My Mamma would have said, “What if you have an accident dressed like that? “…but I took the risk and drove to Sugarbakers in flannel jammy pants, Ugg boots, and a sweatshirt…yep, I made quite a picture, but the ladies behind the counter were nonplussed by my appearance and I hope to heaven they didn’t recognize me…and armed with a box of fresh baked cinnamon rolls and sticky buns dripping with caramel under my arm, my daughter woke up happy (hours later, of course).

Saturday night I hated to leave her, and begged her to come with me to Ft. McHenry for the Michael Phelps Star-Spangled Salute  which we broadcast Saturday night….but she is way too savvy for that. It’s funny….when you’re working something..not there as a spectator, but as a participant…and if your family comes along, you really don’t get a chance to see them much and your mind is on other matters. So, no takers to my invitation to tag along….

Say cheese Billy!

Say cheese Billy!

But if you weren’t there, the crowd went absolutely crazy during the recap of  Phelps eight gold medal wins….it was as thought it were happening for the first time right before them. Gorgeous weather, beautiful sunset, fireworks, Michael Phelps and Billy Bush from Access Hollywood. What’s not to like? And Billy Bush, who is a sweetheart  by the way…nice and very funny…had a great idea for Ft. McHenry. As we were waiting to go on, he said to me, ” Donna, they should take one of the rooms at the fort, make it into a beautiful bedroom suite overlooking the harbor, and rent it out to high rollers for five g’s a night…hey, people would pay it! And all the proceeds would go to maintain the fort!” And he’s right…and here’s my idea…have the Wine Market restaurant down the street cater a dinner served on the ramparts overlooking the water for the renters…so romantic. Anyone at Fort McHenry listening?? We got ideas here!!