Mom-In-a-Box…..why didn’t I think of that?
July 9, 2010

Argggghhhh....another graduation gift...what do I do???

Every once in a while…much more often than I’d care to admit…I stumble across something rather brilliant and think…”Why didn’t I come up with that??” Because I’m not smart enough, that’s why…but others are thank goodness, and so comes maybe the most practical graduation or off to school gift ever….Mom in a Box(here’s link). 

38 little necessities of life....from tampons to a screwdriver....

When the kiddies head off to college, there is such a mountain of things that they will need, that it staggers the mind to even begin to grasp then all…so this California mother of four decided to make it easy on the rest of us. There’s a Mom in a Box for women, and one for men. For la femme…you get all the stuff you see above….38 items, everything from lip balm and a screwdriver and tampons and a flashlight and shampoo and disposable razors and wipes… seriously this mom has thought of just about everything. The basic Mom-in-a Box is $49.99….for another $25 it can be the deluxe version, with Tylenol, Advil, Cough Drops, Dayquil, Nyquil, Pepto-Bismol and more….we could call that one Doctor-in-a Box! (Feel free to use my idea.) 

roasted eggplant, garlic, tahini, lemon=Baba Ghanoush

On another note…I have chicken legs and thighs marinating in buttermilk and lemon juice, all ready to grill tonight…it is Friday after all, the best day. I will probably do a quinoa salad with fresh tomatoes and roasted red peppers( did that this morning)….and maybe some eggplant. I saw a great eggplant recipe for Baba Ghanoush(here’s a link) on Chowhound that I may try…would be delicious with some pita bread. Crack a bottle of wine, put on whatever Netflix has sent this week(Brooklyn’s Finest, I think), and hollah…let’s have a party. Hope all of you have a great weekend…be nice, don’t throw rocks and come home safe….’cause we miss you. 

 

Weekend Wrapup: Cake and Popular Girl Syndrome
July 20, 2009

My non-view of Cake...not so sweet...

My non-view of Cake...not so sweet...

For those of you who went to Artscape late Saturday afternoon hoping to catch a glimpse of the band Cake, as they performed at 6:30….I hope you got there a whole lot earlier than I did. By the time we found a parking space (got a $27 ticket…thanks Baltimore City), and wiggled through the crowd…the amphitheatre was totally packed…seriously, not a place to sit, or even stand where you could see them. So, we heard a few songs(though no Short Skirt, Long Jacket)…briefly considered a looooooong line for food, and peaced out for home and leftovers and Beyond Rangoon on Netflix. The leftovers were good, the movie …not so much.

Owl cake made from split oreo cookies, icing, and m&ms....

Owl cake made from split oreo cookies, icing, and m&m's....

Sunday afternoon  my daughter and I went to a gathering of …wow, I’m not sure how to put this…ex-sorority girls? No that’s not right, because once a sister always a sister…so, umm…mature sorority girls maybe? Oh, I don’t know, but we all used to belong to the same college sorority from schools all over the nation, and now live in Baltimore and occasionally have a little meet and greet. It’s usually people you don’t know at all…which is a little nerve wracking for almost anyone. Add to that you don’t know what the ages of the group will be for the most part….it can be girls who are just out of college and recently moved to town….to those in their 30s and 40 with a couple of kids… to women who have retired. Let me say that yesterday, I was the oldest sorority girl there…and I would not have attended this gathering( I suspected it was a pretty young group) except that I was my daughter’s security blanket.  It was a potluck…and she made this really cute owl cake that she saw online…me…pulled pork barbecue.

But the whole gathering made me think about how it almost felt like rush…going into a room full of girls you do not know…who are all there, to judge you and your worthiness. Not fun. So there is an element of this still present when you go to a party where you don’t know people. Will they like me? What should I wear? Am I overdressed? Underdressed? OMG!!! It takes you right back to the days when you wanted to be the popular girl. And indeed, there is still that wannabe in most of us. Even at my Mom’s retirement home, there are cliques and the cool people…”Oh, she has lots of money and she doesn’t mind you knowing it!”, she will say about a seemingly nice lady who is dripping with jewelry. So my Mom would never dream of sitting with her…she’s a popular  girl. I was talking about this very thing with a “sister” who is a math professor at a local college….(math whiz?)…about how insecure going to a gathering where you don’t know anyone can make you? She commented, “It’s interesting that with you being on tv and doing what you do, you still think about what to wear…”, but I’m no different than her.  I believe that people are all the same on the inside….even those you see as self-possessed and confident… they still worry just as much as anyone else about who likes them. Maybe more. Anyway, it ended up being  a fun couple of hours…nice young women, a couple of husbands, two kids and one dog. And how was your weekend?

Top Ten Cool Gift Ideas: Part I
December 8, 2008

I recently got this email from my son in New York…”Hello queen of cool gifts…. Have you seen this little toy?

The Netflix Player by Roku: http://www.roku.com/netflixplayer/?utm_source=nflx&utm_medium=nrd&utm_campaign=v2

My reply: “Not only have I seen it, I blogged it about 6 or 8 months ago.” Good try though. I have somehow gotten the reputation in family as the finder of cool and unusual gifts.

Last years find....but still cool...

Last year's find....but still cool...

I think it all began with the Lego Ipod docks I found last year before they were everywhere. And maybe the enchanting Tea Forte creamer and suger set…it is sooooo sweet, even though my creamer is broken-sniff. Oh, and I found a place where you can try out squash rackets, kind of like Netflix, only you’re getting squash rackets in the mail, at Squashgear.com.

OK, ready for the list..part one? Here we go!

1. For my hair stylist whose husband is always losing her tools…and she’s handy…a pretty tool set by the V & A(Victoria and Albert Museum…found it on sale(a little bit) at Zanadia. Clever, and a limited edition item…get it quick. Zanadia, btw, has lots of cute gift ideas and free shipping over $55. I love free shipping.

 

Great market bag....

Great market bag....

2. If you want to go green this year(or want your family members to, like I do)…think about giving reuseable bags…it is very chic these days. At resueablebags.com you will find a dizzying array of bags at all price ranges. I really like the one in the picture…it’s very popular in Europe, and it collapses for storage, as well as having a zipper pouch for your keys and wallet. I sent a few “more basic” less expensive bags to my younger sis in ‘bama, for her birthday this week…she called me and said in her southern accent,” I just went to Walmart and used my bags….I felt so green!!” It’s a start….it’s a start. Can recycling be far behind? UPDATE: FLAT $4.95 SHIPPING, AND ENTER CODE FRIEND10 TO GET 10% OFF!! (ends the 15th) 

Yummo-crab cake sliders!

Yummo-crab cake sliders!

3.For the foodie on your list, how about some cute little crab cake sliders, from Chesapeake Bay Crab Cakes? A new, Maryland twist on the popular slider hamburger that you can send mail order. This is a great website if you want to send some Maryland style food to your family in California, or even Alabama, or Hagerstown! Who wouldn’t like getting some crabcakes delivered…and the company is right here in Maryland…they even have a stand in the Annapolis market.(Their cream of crab soup is sooooo decadent.)update: Just got an email that their standard shipping for $75 or more is $10.95…enter code CB10 at checkout-expires 12/12!

 

A space age airmail wallet??

A space age airmail wallet??

 

3. A website called CuffArt.com has just tons of cool, really different gift ideas(including an amazing variety of cufflinks, like some made from certified Memorial Stadium seat wood or the 8-ball ones below), for all wallets. And speaking of wallets, Cuffart has them made from a micro fiber material called Tyvek….lighter than water, yet incredibly strong.

8-ball cufflinks...$22.50-fun!

8-ball cufflinks...$22.50-fun!

It expands and contracts depending how much(or how little these days) you put in it. $18.50(what’s not to like)….and they also come in other patterns like 3-ring binder paper, graffiti, and comic book. I might get one for myself. Pretty cool. And 25% off right now.

Need to do some window shopping??

Need to do some window shopping??

Oh, and if you want to spend more, Cuffart also has actual windows from a Pan Am Boeing 707….seriously. Sure, it’s $1500, but how many other people will have one?

Time for a change watches.....

Time for a change watches.....

4. If you’re looking for something unusual, like the blingy, Obama “Time for a change” watch above…visit the American Visionary Art Museum , like I did yesterday…the place was packed.

Remember these? $2.50 sticking stuffer...

Remember these? $2.50 sticking stuffer...

Ohmigoodness, such fun, offbeat things at their Sideshow Gift Shop
from fun little stocking suffers, to actual artwork! And they told me they have sold over a thousand of the Obama watches . Not everyone will want to wear their vote on their wrist, but for those of you so inclined…they have all sorts of them….and here’s the best part. They’re $12.

I said, Baby Girl!!

I said, "Baby Girl!!"

5. Some people say don’t get a pet for Christmas, but if my sweet daughter had not insisted we get a rescue cat last December, we would not have Baby Girl(about whom many, many songs have been written) providing much furry love in our house. Baby came from Charles County Humane Society, but the S.P.C.A. also has so many dogs and cats who need a good home. (Baby just jumped up by me…to provide her support for this idea). Obviously, you need to choose wisely, and make sure someone wants a pet, and can provide proper care, but don’t go buying an animal, when there are so many that need homes, at shelters. And if you don’t need a pet, think about giving a donation to the S.P.C.A. in someone’s name…now, that’s a great gift, especially for the person who already has everything. And they need your help. Baby has been such a blessing. Love that cat!

Wow…that’s enough for today….the rest of my list tomorrow!! I have much, much more….

 

Pie Party, Mezza and wet basements…
September 29, 2008

Pie, pie... me oh my...

Pie, pie... me oh my...

Yeah, it was a busy weekend….Saturday night, a friend and neighbor had a 50th birthday pie party for her husband John….she provided bratwurst and fabulous potato salads( there were two…one made with mustard, olive oil and olives from Cafe Germaine -they are  such talented chefs-that was just about the best thing I ever ate…), and the beer, 3 on tap, and the guests brought pies….wow. I was telling my daughter about the pie party…she herself was set to go to a fraternity party at school…she said, “I’m jealous. I want to go to a pie party. And who wouldn’t? I had several people there ask for the recipe for the Tarte Tatin I made……so here it is, from French Cooking en Famille by Jaques Burdick….Don’t bother looking for this book that I’ve had for years…I found one used copy on Amazon for $104…and that’s not a typo. Anyway…

You need about 5 or 6 apples…granny smith, gala…both fine, peeled, quartered and cored. A 1 & 1/4 cup of sugar, 1 & 1/4 stick of butter, and one Pillsbury pie crust. That’s all! Cut the butter into thin pats and create a mosaic of them all over a 9-10 inch iron skillet, most of sugar over it, and then wedge apples in as best you can, rounded side down, rest of sugar on top.  Over medium low heat let the apples caramelize…this will take quite while…go do some chores and just keep an eye on it. When the apples finally begin to caramelize and turn brown, (I’m warning you , don’t start this too late), drape your refrigerated pie dough over the pan, tuck the overhanging crust  into the sides of the skillet with a wooden spoon, and prick all over so the steam can escape. Bake at 375 for about 20 minutes. Take out and let cool a few minutes, but while it is still warm, put a plate over the top, and holding the plate firmly to the skillet, flip it over. Wear oven mitts and be careful not to spill hot caramel on yourself…ouch. If a couple of apples stick to the pan, no matter. Just get them out with a spoon and put them where they belong. Voila….accept the compliments gracefully. It is luscious.

Pie-boy John...

Pie-boy John...

But the best pie I thought had the pie-boy’s name spelled out on top. How creative is that?

And there are other ways to make this…I found one using tomatoes!! More a savory tart I think, but this Tomate Tarte Tatin sounds like a terrific lunch dish, or maybe a starter?? 

Mezza!!

Mezza!!

After seeing Burn After Reading, which was pretty amusing…odd but amusing…strolled to Lebanese Taverna just down the street from the Harbor East Theatre for an early supper….what a lovely space it is, and I had no idea it was even there! Had Lebanese Mezza…small plates of Humus, fava beans with lemon juice and olive oil, fat little sausages, grilled eggplant salad, lamb schwarma…and a Lebanese sauvignon blanc that was super. Great supper…oh and the best part? The tab under 50 bucks. Nice.

I screened the movie Nanking this weekend from Netflix. Originally made for HBO, I  want you to see it, though be forewarned, it is not for children or the faint of heart. What a powerful film about the horrible things peope can do toone another, and the unbelieveably brave things we can do for one another.  And it is yet another reminder of the terrible, unspeakable things some people have had to endure, and what a great life we Americans have here, where there’s always food, and a supply of hot water at the turn of a tap. It’s a must watch.  

And what happened in my basement during the deluge Saturday? Let me just say this…there were shop vacs, mops, trash bags, and sweat equity involved. Yeah.

Two New Things…Both Sweet!
August 7, 2008

Splenda with fiber? How great is that?

Splenda with fiber? How great is that?

OK, the first sweet thing I saw just yesterday at the grocery store and bought it immediately. Splenda with fiber!! How crazy is that? I love Splenda anyway…it’s my fav artificial sweetener, and now every packet I use, I also get one gram of fiber. I don’t know how they do it but I suspect it involves using something similar to a product someone sent me called Fiber Xpress. It is little packets of a powder that you dissolve in a drink…no taste at all, seriously, and gives you two grams of fiber, using something called Inulin, a natural fiber from chicory root. (They also make a product that has calcium that dissolves, but let me tell you, that is one way to ruin a good cup of tea.) Maybe Splenda uses something like that in their sweetener…but whatever, I like the idea of getting a little fiber every time I sweeten my tea or cereal. And it simply tastes sweet. You know.

The Netflix Player

The Netflix Player

And here’s something I haven’t tried and wonder if any of you have….but it is sweet too. A way to play Netflix movies immediately on your television. The little Netflix Player is made by Roku. It’s 99 bucks, but the nice thing is it doesn’t change your Netflix subscription cost…if you have Netflix, you already know you can  watch certain movies instantly on your computer for free (not all titles are available for this). But you had to watch them on your computer. Now they can stream right onto your tv. And they say, the player is compatible with any televison, guaranteed. I may try it….and hopefully more titles will become available  on demand. Right now Netflix says there are 12,000 available, but they are not the big new movies….surprise, surprise. Let me know if you have a player!

Cramming for the weekend….
February 29, 2008

Weekends are funny for me. Not ha ha funny, but odd in the way I approach them. I have learned that I need a carefully balanced activity level. Too much and the weekend has happened so fast I didn’t really have one. A blur. Too little and I feel a little depressed. Such as “I’m such a loser, I didn’t do anything this weekend.”
It’s all in the balance.
So this weekend, there are several possibilities before me and one thing I’m committed to.
0229081158.jpgFirst the commitment. Saturday I’m going to an “all-Beethoven evening”. It’s at a neighbor’s house, and the food served will be Big B’s favorites…white fish, mac and cheese, and dark beer. Presumably there will be something green as well. Another neighbor is doing the food…she’s just started a new business called LATCH KEY COCKTAIL & DINNER PARTIES….she does the work for you and leaves….or stays to serve, whichever you like. And entertainment will be provided by the Trio la Milpa from the BSO. I know, I know, you’re thinking terribly high-brow stuff, but it won’t be, really. Good food, plenty of German beer, pretty music….what’s not to like?
0229081144.jpgAnother option, seeing Three Irish Plays being presented at the Performance Workshop Theatre on Ostend Street in Federal Hill. Joan and Sam McCready are incredibly talented directors and actors, who hail from Ireland….so I really do want to see this before its run is over…maybe Sunday?
Also, my Netflix selections are backing up. Watched The Invasion last night with Nicole Kidman when I would rather have seen Lipstick Jungle, just because I’ve had the darn dvd for over a week, and somehow the thought of sending it back without viewing it is like throwing good food away. But today, I wish I’d just sent it back.
0228081411.jpgAND last but not(?)least, I have inexplicably signed up for the Oprah web class Monday night on Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth. Oh, and did I mention I haven’t purchased OR read the book yet?
Wow, it’s amazing what writing about these things have done for me…a clarifying already. It’s too much. Way too much(especially with yard work that needs to be done and just the usual household drudgery)….something has to go. I have a feeling it may be Eckhart. Sorry Oprah.