Sputnik, Clafoutis, and watermelon salad….that’s what been happening in my world!
July 16, 2012

Softshell crabs Linwoods style on creamed corn bed, with béarnaise sauce….

Ok,….I ate this weekend at a restaurant I haven’t been to in several years. Not for any particular reason, but Linwoods just isn’t on my beaten path…and I just haven’t thought about it. How sad for me…had the most amazing meal there Saturday evening…my first soft shell crabs of the year, served on a creamed corn puddle, with pickled green beans.

Watermelon salad…love the composition of it, hated to mess it
up, but I did!!

And a watermelon salad with feta cheese and little scoops of cucumber sorbet on the top. So pretty…so delicious.

It’s a French classic….for a reason.

But you can’t always eat out, and I had a big bowl of fresh cherries from Whole Foods at half price that needed a home….so I made a cherry clafoutis(pronounced kla-foo-tee’). The recipe I use is from an old French cookbook I’ve had for probably 25 years, but there are plenty of other versions around….one of which I will provide below. But it’s a delicious eggy dessert that can accommodate almost any fruit…I added blueberries to the one above. And dead easy. This recipe from Williams-Sonoma is pretty close to mine…

Saved from the trash….now to be recycled. Sigh.

OK, I know some consider me a recycling freak…and maybe that’s true, because I spend part of my time here at work saving bottles and cans from the trash bins, and walking them over to the recycling bins. You know who you are, people.

I know, I know…what was I thinking???

And this Sputnik looking light fixture I won at an auction two years ago at Center Stage…it’s been sitting in their development office ever since. I went down last week, to finally take it home(and do what with it I still don’t know)….but I forgotten how big the damn thing really is. Probably 40-50 inches in diameter. So there I was on a super hot day, struggling with this thing on Calvert Street, trying to get it in the car without damaging it. Guess where it is now? That’s right, back in the development office. I’m coming up with plan B.

Open Letter To President Obama
June 15, 2010

Spencer waits enthralled for what he will say....

Dear Mr. President,

I watched you this morning on tv strolling the beaches of the Gulf, wiping away a trickle of sweat…hot down there isn’t it? I mean, seriously…it gets really blazing hot down there. The Gulf  also has the world’s most beautiful beaches, in my humble opinion, though I admit to being a bit biased in this area.

Here’s what I want to say to you Mr. President. None of us can undo what’s happened down south….oh, if we could only open the delicate glass door to time and turn back the clock a couple of months, but alas, technology hasn’t gotten that far.  But what we can do…what YOU can do, is first of all, make sure that big oily mess is made right down there. I have family who live in Gulf Shores, and word on the street is that the cleanup effort is kind of what you might expect when a whole bunch of beaurecratic agencies get together and jostle for who’s boss….the impolite term is a cluster  %*#. But since you and I are both civilized and well brought up, let’s just call it a boondoggle. Bottom line, get more resources down there and tell your chiefs to forget their turf wars and just get it done.


Isn't cleaning fun??

But the bigger thing I want to ask of you is to use this BP bad for global good. I need to hear from you in  your national address that things are going to change in this country, whether we’re ready or not. That it’s time..no past time…for a real ,toothy howling energy policy in this country. No more…ok, you knuckleheads, you got another 20 years to change your ways. The profligate way we all use energy in this country has got to stop. Our wasteful, who-gives-a crap-there’s more where-that-comes from….has to end. Now, Mr. President…I should tell you there will be lots of us who don’t want to do that. (Don’t tell anyone but I walk around in the building where I work and while we have recycling bins for paper around the newsroom, lots of paper still hits the trashcan.) It’s easier you know, than just making a recycling stack and taking it over at the end of the day. Soooooo much easier. That’s just a tiny example of the attitude I’m talking about.  And it isn’t always that we don’t care….old habits die hard. And we need to have it hurt to continue our ways. If you make us pay, so that  it hurts to live this way, oh, Mr. President, we’ll change in a hurry. And for many people, sadly, it will be the ONLY thing that changes them.

It’s bully pulpit time, Mr. President. This is your chance for a game changer, time to craft your legacy. Oh I know, I know…President Jimmy Carter tried it back in the 70s and look where it got him.  Here’s what he said on national tv on April 18th, 1977.  “Tonight I want to have an unpleasant talk with you about a problem unprecedented in our history. With the exception of preventing war, this is the greatest challenge our country will face during our lifetimes. The energy crisis has not yet overwhelmed us, but it will if we do not act quickly.” (If you’d like to read the entire text, here’s a link.)

Wow, you could just recycle that opening paragraph! I know some  will cry plagiarism, but I think President Carter would be honored if you opened your talk just that way….and then give the good man credit, naturally. But it is time for  an unpleasant talk Mr. Obama….that our way of life, as much as I hate to say it, has to change, should have changed 40 years ago. No one loves cranking the ac more than me…hey, I’m a southern girl and I remember when we first got AC at my house in ‘bama. It was like a icy gift from the gods, but we probably stopped playing outside as much…the yin and yang of cool air. But if we don’t change, like yesterday, our children and grandchildren will hit a wall like a subcompact hitting a concrete barrier at 90 miles an hour when the oil runs out. Bad, bad things could happen as the world fights over what’s left. Time for alternative energy Mr. President. Past time. It’s your job to step up to the plate, and many people from both sides of the aisle will stand behind you. You don’t have the votes? Get them. OH yeah, I don’t care that it’s too close to an election. It’s go time, Mr. President.

Jessica and Nick get a 2nd chance??
May 28, 2010

They're getting back together?

Seriously, that’s what I thought this morning when I was cleaning up my daughter’s old room…really more like an excavation. Because in spite of promises to come over and help me clean up the big old hot mess she left behind when she moved to her first apartment…..yeah, nothin’. So this  morning, in anticipation of my son and the lovely Jennifer coming in for the night, as they’re on their way to the Eastern Shore for a friend’s weekend wedding, I made a token effort at setting things to right. I put sheets on her bed, and put some extra unwanted clothes aside for Goodwill, and started putting about 3 dozen(at least) magazines and catalogues into the recycling. That’s when I realized how old this stuff was…some of it was almost in the collector category. Piled up some chick lit books to bring into work, and I had a quick taker for “You’ll Never Nanny in this Town Again“. Actually, I enjoyed that one myself….kind of like “Nanny Diaries” but with real names…no Mr X. I cannot imagine how the publisher escaped a lawsuit from the powerful people talked about…and maybe they didn’t. 

Wrappy McWrapwrap

We’re also doing an early celebration tonight for my daughter’s birthday while my son and daughter-in-law are in town, so last night I was wrapping gifts…why is it that always gives me a backache? Really…every time. But it’s done. And today, the new sofa arrives and the old one(fingers crossed) goes… a…way. 

Just a few of my "Sofa Notes"...could be the title of a book.

And I have amassed quite a compendium of resources as a result of all the reader comments(thank you!) and a little research I did trying to get rid of this thing….and I’ll put that together for you next week.  Actually, now that I washed its slipcover, it looks pretty darn good…so much so the hubby said, “Why are we getting rid of it?”…we just are sweetie, we just are. it’s time. The only possible hitch (think positive)is the truck that’s picking the old one up…may possibly be too full to take it. Iris at Rock City Church(a contact I got from Sheila, a habitat reader) said, they could probably get it but….it’s the last thing on the pickup list. (Send out positive energy.) I’m not sure what we’ll do if there are two big sofas…. think positive, think positive, think positive. 

Anyway, have to pick up a birthday cake at one place, and some scones for breakfast at another….Yes, I could have made them but I didn’t, ok?  Trust me when I say these are better than anything moi could have done. And it’s party time! Hope all of you have a great holiday weekend….I’m working on Monday, as are some of you no doubt…it’s no big thing.  It’s good to have a job. And I’ll let you know what happened in the saggy sofa saga(say that three times fast) Play nice and come home safe…’cause we miss you.

P.S. several hours later, I still have the old sofa…the group said it wasn’t good enough to take….:(  Back to square one.

Overpacking..and other wasteful sins….
March 4, 2010

I've just begun...see how tight those suckers are wrapped?

When my late Father said he was sending package my way years ago, I knew I was in for a wrestling session. We had a saying at my house, ……when Bobby wraps a package, it stays wrapped. He used so much tape, the wrapping was barely visible, and one didn’t dare approach it without multiple, razor-sharp implements of destruction. He didn’t make it easy, but there was NO WAY something he sent, fell apart in transit.   No sir-ee.

Such as innocent looking box......

I was reminded of my Father’s endless devotion to over-packing, when I tried to recycle a box, in which a table for daughter’s apartment had arrived. Sounds simple enough, oui? But here’s the rub, gentle reader…or the wrap, I should say. Inside the box were at least 50 strips of cardboard, rolled and then individually wrapped in plastic strips….around and around and around and up and down, in something like Saran Wrap(or cling film as they call it in the U.K.). So to recycle all the cardboard strips under the plastic,(and people who know me, know I’m gonna recycle those suckers…I’ve almost had battles in the newsroom over this)….you had to individually UNWRAP all those little rolls. And they didn’t unwrap easy….there’s another Bobby out there. Sigh.

We love the table, truly…it came from ETSY…the website for people who are selling handmade things they individually make. But I would say this to the owner of Applewood  products……”Dear Mr. Applewood and Decor in Utah: I really love your little table, even though you sent a white one when we wanted a black on…(no problem, we’ll paint it)….but it must be said tha your packing is lamentable. Not that it was shoddily packed, oh no.  Perhaps a greater sin….over-packing. Only a maniac recycler like myself would have unwrapped each and every one of those little  #*&^#*# tubes….I had devote a full two weeks at it …off and on of course…but I did it. However,  in the feeling that we perhaps both desire the same thing….getting something safely to its destination without driving the person who receives said package insane….and in the interest of saving someone on your end much time(how long did it take to wrap those little suckers anyway?), and money(that giant wad of plastic has to be expensive…shall I mail it back to you?)….let’s just agree that there must be a better way. A way that is kinder to your wallet, kinder to me, kinder to the earth(Oh, Momma can you hear me?)…and just, well…better. Biodegradable peanuts? Cardboard rolled but not wrapped? Air bubbles? Yours for a better world, Donna Hamilton.

I'm closing in on the finish...Baby Girl doesn't like the looks of it....

Anyway to make a long story short(I know, too late for that)…I did get them all undone and drug the bunch out to recycling this week. I felt much better not looking at it in my living room, and even better still that MOST of it was recycled…I still have your giant wad of plastic wrap to put in the trash tomorrow. That makes me feel bad, and I don’t like people who make me feel bad. Can’t we find another way? Pretty please?

Countdown to Christmas…I’m recycling just about everything…
December 22, 2009

I'm drowning in recycling...help!

OK, seriously….if recycling doesn’t come tomorrow(and I know they will, but still), I will be in big trouble. Take a look at this pile of boxes and paper and flotsam and jetsam, lurking untidyly(not sure that’s a word) in the corner of the family room. It’s enough to strike terror into the heart of anyone riding the recycling truck. And it is without doubt, evidence that I did most of my shopping online this year. I love the idea of strolling around charming shops looking for gifts, but this year I just didn’t have the time, and my fingers did the shopping.

Recycled pine cones...

And speaking of recycling….recycled pine cone alert! Remember the huge pine cones from the party? The ones I ordered off of EBay…(yes, you can find anything on Ebay).  I had so many of them, I tied a dozen or so onto pine roping…can I tell you they looked so beautiful in the snow….very rustic, very Southern Living.  Oh, and some of them also did double duty,  showing up as Christmas tree ornaments.

The tree wasn’t bought until this past Saturday morning…in the snow…but it’s up and decorated…finally. All of the ornaments on our tree have a history of some sort, and while I love the idea of a “designer tree”…where all of the decorations have a theme or match in some way, I could never change our tree from what it is. Which is to say, a hodgepodge really, of lovingly collected snowmen, dolls, animals, angels and whatever that we have collected or been given over the years.

Wise elf watches all...

The ones in the pictures have memories for me….great memories….the little elf holding his knees, and the little china angel date back to my childhood….and Mom gave them to me. I love finding a place in the tree for the elf to sit…he just watches all the holiday fun from his piney perch…and the tiny basket by the angel, no bigger than your thumb..was  given to my daughter from a wonderful young woman who took care of her in preschool named Miss Daisy.

Little old angel...

She made sweet little ornaments for all the kids, and at least this one survives, almost 20 years later.

On Christmas day we will be home …home here, not home Alabama. My sweet daughter, my son and the lovely Jennifer will also be here…I feel so lucky to have them all at Christmas though I know that won’t always be true. One must learn to share, after all.

But all my shopping is finished..done. I think. I’m hoping I don’t get a last minute attack of the “I don’t have enough” whimwhams. One of my sisters has already come down with this much dreaded and potentially expensive malady, and I hope to avoid her fate….last minute shopping. The gifts are wrapped, for the most part, mostly with recycled boxes I got last year and the year before when I had gifts wrapped at the store before they were sent(thank you Neiman Marcus)….and get this.

Gift tags with a little history behind them...

I even recycled some really beautiful bird gift tags I bought last year! I mean, the presents are given to the same people year after year….why throw away something that is perfectly useful and still lovely? And my sister Audrey had a great idea which I haven’t tried…she makes tags from the fronts of Christmas cards she has received….pretty on the front, blank on the back…think about it.

Ok, for those of you not finished with your “rat-killing“, as my Mother would call it…get out there and get it done. And then lets all take a collective sigh of relief and just….relax. For a little while?

Ebay Bounty…you really can sell anything…
October 30, 2009

Carefully hot-glued wine corks....

A shoebox came in the mail the other day, wrapped in brown paper…my daughter eyes lit up when she saw it and said, excitedly, “New shoes?”, naturally  thinking they MIGHT  be for her.  Ah, disappointment…. we meet again.

Inside the shoebox was about 50 used wine corks. She looked at me with the most peculiar look that implied Mommy has gone around the bend, and said, “Old wine corks? Wow…you really can sell any kind of crap on Ebay.”  I suppose that’s true. Sure, you can put anything on the market, but it takes a special buyer like myself to actually make it a sale.

But I needed more corks…(and still need more if you have any to send my way…especially fancy wine corks-amazingly I have very few of those) I’ve been saving them up for some time to cover part of  a wall over the door in the kitchen. And clearly, I needed to be drinking faster and more often to complete such a cork-thirsty project. After hot-glueing every cork I had, I was only about two-thirds of the way. Sooooooo,  I went on Ebay.

Wine Store in NYC with a total wine cork wall....

I was soon the proud owner of not one but two lots of various, wine corks( the first batch has way too much Woodbridge in it)…corks worthless to someone else of course, but not to me.  And this is also very green…these corks did not end up in the trash…reuse is the ultimate recycling…and if you don’t send your corks to me, save them up and send them to this Planet Green website….Corks for Kids is a non-profit organized through Recycle Cork U.S.A.

A wider view….

 I kinda like the look of the wall….and it’s fun to arrange the patterns. And if I get tired of it, I can pull them all down and sell them…on Ebay. Oh, and I also bought some pine cones on Ebay. yes, I know I can walk under any pine tree and find pine cones…but these are special! Huge pine cones that only grow out west!  Wonder no more about who is the grease that makes the Ebay wheel turn….it is I.

Happy Halloween everyone..have a great weekend, be nice and come home safe.

It could be a trashy transition….
June 4, 2009

my daily salad containers and salmon can-I save them for recycling!

my daily salad containers and salmon can-I save them for recycling!

As many of you know, I have been an avid recycler for quite a few years now, and I have a system at my house that works for us. There’s a big basket in a corner of one room where the paper and boxes go….and a hamper at the top of the basement steps where I put cans and bottles and plastics. I don’t have to do that any more as the city went to single stream(meaning you don’t have to separate anything, it can all go out in one big hamper if you like). But because I have a system, and it works, I keep it like it is.

Now Baltimore City has announced the following as of JULY 14:

 1. reducing trash pickups to once a week,Tuesday -Friday. 

2. instead of picking up recycling every other week, you get a weekly pickup.

I sense a trashy transition coming. Unless the people of Baltimore really get behind recycling (some neighborhoods are and some could care less)….the trash could stack up in a big, bad, ugly way.  See….for someone like me…a recycler….I like this plan. I only put trash out once a week anyway usually…as I don’t have that much, because at least half to two-thirds is put into recycling. People would be shocked at how much their trash output is reduced if they recycle. And the plan will benefit me…because what stacks up at my house is recycling. And Lordie, if I miss  recycling pickup, or a holiday kills one…you end up with a month of recycling. Luckily I have a basement to put it, but still. Lots of people don’t.

But if people refuse to learn to recycle, and let’s face it, it ain’t brain surgery….they will either have loads of trash at their house…or even worse, loads of trash they just put on the street anyway. That will be a rat’s fondest dream…”Oooh, look at  that big pile of nice stinky trash all ripe-like in the summer heat…have I died and gone to heaven? Where’s my spoon? ” 

You get the idea. So I’m hoping Baltimore City will start explaining in a clear fashion(and we in the media need to do this too…that would be a big help) just how one recycles. What goes in? What doesn’t? What kind of container can you use? What can’t you use? All plastics? Just some of them? All paper? boxes? Styrofoam? This is very confusing to folks who have never tried to recycle( and I know a lot of people that would surprise you, that they don’t recycle)….and it needs to be made simple. Which it is really, you just need some guidance. And then it’s all about creating a couple of  new habits…you don’t just throw everything in the trash. The earth only has so many landfills. And lots of them are full. It’s time to recycle….once a week….every week. It ain’t that hard. For those of you who live in the city, you’ll be getting a postcard soon about which trash and recycling days are yours. Look for it!

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.

Not as green as I think I am??
November 20, 2008

Look, I really do try to live green….I carry reusable bags for groceries. I recycle the plastic bags if I forget. I’m getting a tankless water heater…trying, anyway. I drive a hybrid, and I hypermile. I recycle all my newspaper, magazines and catalogues….all plastics and glass. Come on….I’m pretty darn green, OK? But here’s the thing.

An outraged Lisa Robinson.....or maybe just surprised....

An outraged Lisa Robinson.....or maybe just surprised....

I like to keep a plant on my desk, something pretty, just for looks. It pleases me. So, right before we had some company bosses come in, ( and you wanted your work area to look nice for company, right….judging, judging)  I bought a pretty calla lily with the loveliest orange/brown blooms. Very nice. And it stayed nice for about a month. But in spite of watering it, soon it a very sad little plant. Sooooo, and I’m sorry to say this, but I put it in the trashcan. Along comes 11 News I-Team’s Lisa Robinson, who plucks it from the garbage, offended, and says, “You are the green queen, and you just throw this living thing away? Just throw it away?” I respond…weakly, “Well, it looks horrible,……what else am I supposed to do with it ?” She suggested taking it home and trying to nurse it back to health. I wasn’t up to that, but Lisa was. So while she’s not a big recycler…yet…I’m working on her….she is recycling my calla lily. So, I owe her. And at least Lisa’s not investigating me…..are you?

May 6, 2008

trashThat’s what the headline would say, if such a thing made news…which it won’t. Recycling(single stream) in my neighborhood is every 2nd and 4th Tuesday. That’s fine, but occasionally, the calendar tricks you. It has been two weeks since we had recycling…so the paper and cans and bottles pile up, but even though it’s been two weeks….it is NOT the 2nd Tuesday…it’s the first.

Now this has fooled me several times so that now I’m careful to mark recycling days on the calendar…otherwise you end up carting all that stuff back in the house, to wait another long week, before your day comes.

canThere were quite a few neighbors who had their recycling out…enough so that I wondered..”Do they know something I don’t know?” I mean, maybe recycling IS today and they know it and I don’t and I’m gonna miss it which means I will have to wait two more weeks to get all that stuff out of my house!!!!!!!!! I pass a neighbor in the street…”Today isn’t recycling, is it?”, I ask. “Nope”, he answers reassuringly.

At that moment another neighbor comes out of the house and we break the bad news, as he has put his recycling out on the curb. “I told my wife it wasn’t today, but she insisted it was.”  Sure, blame her. But I’ll bet he has to cart it back inside…..