The dusty and the sweet….redoing a bathroom, & dessert for the weekend
September 16, 2011

The stage we're in now...and there was NO insulation behind the walls!

Yes, it’s come to that again…walls and doorways covered with plastic…coughing a little because of dust you inhale in spite of your best efforts not to….crap in the yard(see below)…and lots of deafening hammering and drilling noises. Yepperdoodles, it’s a long overdue bathroom makeover at my house…

Detritus in the front yard....nice!

And look at what’s on the bottom of the old cast iron American Standard tub…..ah, days gone by….LONG gone by. (this was a circa 1955 bathroom)

made in America...wonder if that's still true?

Too bad it had to be broken to get it out…but there it is. But I don’t feel too bad…onward and upward….this is the look we are doing today…

Sink will be wall-mounted, grey pebbles, white subway tile, grey walls-check!

Nice, yes? Ok , there’s no pretty bathroom now though…..so how about something sweet for the weekend?

small plums in season!!

I know, I know…I’ve given you the plum torte recipe before, oui? (Whatsupwiththat?)But the little prune plums are just now in season, and given the fact it is the NY Times most requested recipe ever….so I’m giving it again-here. Love, love, love this torte…sooo easy, and relatively quick…just butter, flour, sugar, salt, eggs and plums. And cinnamon. If you don’t like prune plums or they’re not in season, use peaches, blueberries, raspberries,regular plums… whatever you like. Here’s the finished product…

I used plums and peaches together....yummy!

I don’t think I’ever ever served this to anyone who didn’t adore it. Try it this weekend!! Have a great weekend….even if you have to work(and I know some of you do-I’ve been there-recently)…cook something delicious, read a good book, don’t throw rocks, and come home safe…’cause we miss you.

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Kim Kopies Katie?
August 22, 2011

Kate waving at Kim....who's taking notes: "How to have the best wedding, ever!"

There was some talk this morning on the telly, about the fact that Kim Kardashian…you know… she’s petite, dark-haired, famous but not for anything in particular(wow, she and Kate have more in common than I thought)….was very much taken by the royal wedding earlier this year between Prince William and Kate Middleton. And she wanted hers to be just as fine….and that’s a tall order.

"I want to be just like Kate....she would so love this dress...."

And in the picture above, you can see just how much Kate and Kim really have in common in their style of dress….Kate also adores exposing her ample bosum…oh wait, no, she doesn’t.

Kim and new hubby Kris....is he a bit tall, or is it just me?

Still, they did both have big, very expensive weddings. Extravagant really. THough Kim outdid Kate in the wedding gown department. Kim wore three…yes, three wedding gowns…(one are the ceremony, 2 more at the reception)all designed by Vera Wang. I could kinda see sharing the glow of the Kardashian wedding with 3 different designers, but having one designer make you three gowns seems….grandiose? Obsessively opulent?

E got to cover the wedding....obvie...quite a production...

The wedding was catered by celeb chef Wolfgang Puck…..and I would love, love, love to know what the cost of the food was. Or the flowers. Or the gown. Because in a production(and it was a production) like this….many things change hands….influence, media coverage, but how much cash ? And Kim and her Mom Kris are cagey at that game….Wolfgang does the food, but because of all the exposure he will get…is it done at cost? Or less?

Royal wedding guests, grabbing for canapes...cartoon from NY Times.

For Kate and Wills…the NY Times said of their wedding reception consisted of… “modest spread of Champagne, wedding cake and two-bite appetizers, or canapes.” And it was prepared by the staff chef, not a celebrity chef.

I would almost put money on Will and Kate still being a couple in a decade…if I were a betting woman. But I’d be cautious about placing that same wager on Kim and Kris being around in, oh,  two years? One never knows, does one?

Back from Chucktown….re-entry day….
April 26, 2010

Dinner on the Porch, Charleston style...

Yes, we arrived fresh from a warm and altogether fabulous week  in Charleston…to a rainy and chilly welcome home in Baltimore….not the greeting I was hoping for, but perhaps apropos of saying goodbye to vaca. I always call today….your first day back at work…re-entry, as in re-entry to real life. It can be a little tough, I won’t lie to you, and a little sad. Laundry that needs to be done, grocery shopping list waiting, an email box at work that I still haven’t finished clearing out…you know the drill.

But, it was a wonderful week in Charleston…which I noticed the NY Times touted this past Sunday as a great place to go in April and May. Well, duh, and I’d add March to the list. Spring there is splendid…not humid or hot, just sunny and so, so pretty. The house we stayed in this year was dubbed by the lovely Jennifer, as…”our rock star pad“.   And I can’t disagree. You can check it out on VRBO right here.  The picture above was taken one night before dinner, out on the porch overlooking the Isle of Palms marsh. While we ate dinner out several nights, we found we were happiest cooking and eating at home….so relaxed, and such a gorgeous view. We cooked shrimp and grits(of course), had delish carry out pork carnitas from Caviar and Bananas(a Dean and Deluca like food emporium), made shrimp risotto another night….the local shrimp are so good. And we loved just hanging out….we don’t get to see each other as much as we’d like.

view from loft bedroom window seat...

Hey, who would not be happy here? And you know I’m a VRBO girl all the way, when it comes to family travel. To have an actual house to stay in…where everyone has their own bedroom and bath, but we have a communal gathering space for tv, or games or dinner…is perfect. And we love to cook on holiday. And this house had a great kitchen in which to prepare meals, and had the most wonderful selection of pots and pans, utensils and dishes…seriously, it had everything. And nice stuff too.

boardwalk over the marsh leads to the beach!

Great  living room with comfy seating for all five of us, a huge projection screen tv that came down from the ceiling, glass all around, porches with dinner seating and getaway spots for reading, beautiful bedrooms with pretty views….it had it all. It was designed by Peter Bohlin, who is (evidently) a famous architect who designed part of the Bill Gates house. Pete…good job.  Best vacation house ever.

Thigh Praise for Chicken and….Grilled Cheese Academy??
April 7, 2010

Ummmm, chicken thighs, my fave part of the chicken...

Ok, I was immediately mesmerized by Mark Bittman on the Today Show this morning….evidentally he loves chicken thighs, Matt Lauer admits it’s his favorite cut of chicken. And I love chicken thighs too….there, I’ve said it.  I’ve always kind of harbored an inferiority complex over my thigh love. I think it started when I read that the Junior League in Birmingham automatically knew  you weren’t member material if you put dark meat in your chicken salad. You simply had no taste, darling. Seriously, I read this and believed it and for all I know it’s  still true, but that didn’t change the fact that I  love chicken thighs best of all….they’re jucier, more flavorful and cheaper that the breast of chicken. Though forever scarred by the Junior League, I still only make chicken salad  with breast meat…some things from our past never leave us. The Today Show had some simple recipes to try with chicken thighs ….here’s a link if you want to watch.

The Bianca...dulce de leche, mascapone, and raspberries...

And I was reading in the Baltimore Sun this morning that a new restaurant has opened in Catonsville not too far from me, all about grilled cheese. Now, if there’s someone out there who doesn’t like grilled cheese sandwiches…seriously…I just feel sorry for you. Grilled Cheese and Co.  on Edmondson Avenue…here’s a link….is basically a sandwich place with lots of fresh ingredients…I haven’t been there yet, but the menu looks delish. And is it a conincidence that on the very day I read this , I also find a spectacular website for grilled cheese lovers like myself and for anyone who wants to kick their grilled cheese up a notch or three….called Grilled Cheese Academy….it’s a site sponsored by Wisconsin Cheese….but you could use cheese from anywhere really….and take a look on the link above  at some of their recipes. Unbelievable, like the Bianca pictured, with mascapone cheese, raspberry jam, and dulce de leche(that you can make yourself), on grilled cinnamon raisin bread. Please. Though in the interest of safety, it tells you to put the can of sweetened condensed milk in water and cook it for 90 minutes….important safety tip: the can should always be covered with water as it simmers, or it could explode. At best, this is messy. But I’ve done it myself several times, and while I am careful to make sure the can is underwater, I’ve never had one bust.  And the stuff inside is sooooo delectable. Added feature on the website: each recipe on Grilled Cheese Academy is described by The Office’s Jenna Fischer,  like this……..”The Brassierie…Wisconsin brie with braised short ribs and picked onions on grilled country French bread…it’s pretty much what heaven tastes like!” That’s what she said. And isn’t grilled cheese what Pam shared with Jim on their first date???

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….