Dogs in Strollers and Diamond rings…Donna’s trip to ‘bama
December 10, 2010

Mom's wedding band... so sweet..

I told you that we were in Alabama this past weekend, for a big family  Xmas party…and it really meant a lot to us because it was almost the anniversary of my Mom’s death….she died Dec. 7th of last year. And it was practically the same crowd that got together last year after her funeral. All my cousins who I played with every Sunday afternoon at my grandparent’s house…their kids..and for some of them, their kids. Four generations, with some really cute kids running around(and no arguing or crying, it was amazing).And she would have loved it.

 I came home with her platinum wedding band you see in the picture above…I never saw it off my Mom’s hand…she loved that little band set with tiny diamond chips. Really, I don’t think that’s uncharitable, they are truly tiny. But it is so sweet, and it goes perfectly with my husband’s grandmother’s diamond solitaire. Women today get these hunky engagement rings that make mine look also like a diamond chip, but that’s ok. I love their history.

My baby sister brought out a little box of jewelry after the party and said, “I still have these things of Mom’s, so it’s time to pick what you want.” All three of us want the other ones to have what THEY want, so no one want to go first, so we made the eldest, Audrey(sorry girl, but you are the eldest!), go first. In the end she had some diamond stud earrings, and my baby sister had a pretty gold and diamond ring that my Dad had made for my Mom from his service pins at work(back when loyalty with a company was rewarded)..and I have her wedding band. My sisters were happy for me to have it, because I will wear it every day, just like I think of my Mom every day. We all miss her.

A skating moose in 'bama? WHO KNEW?

But on to the fabulous shopping in Birmingham. There’s a place there called The Summit. Seriously, it is a mecca to us every time we go…beautifully decorated(like the topiary skating moose in the pic)…and some of the best stores. 

It's a doggie...in stroller!!

They have a gorgeous Saks there which is where we saw the cutest dog …in a stroller. Only in the south. I asked them if they had trouble getting through a store after we accosted  them for several minutes to oooh and aaaah over their little princess. My daughter totally fell in love.

Can you hear it? Awwwwwwww!

 Isn’t she cute(the girl not the dog)? Hope all of you have a wonderful weekend, enjoy the holiday spirit(even as one cannot use one’s kitchen…soon grasshopper, soon), be extra nice to someone, and don’t throw rocks. Oh, and come home safe, ’cause we miss you.

It’s Friday , baby….
April 9, 2010

Where are you going this weekend, handsome??

It’s Friday, which means it’s almost time to get the hell out of Dodge…if you know what I mean, and I think you do. This particular weekend has great appeal for me…because…I have nothing planned. Don’t you love weekends where there are really no commitments, like people coming over to your house to have lunch on your porch? I mean, that’s very nice(and I loved seeing anyone reading this who was there last weekend), but the thought that anything is possible this weekend…I can do a lot or a little, is tantalizing.

I think that’s because most of us live our weekday lives so scheduled, that there’s little room for error, much less experimentation, or wandering about. Like an afternoon wandering through the shops of Hampden…you never know what you’re gonna find. Or taking a bike ride somewhere you’ve never been….ditto.

Ok, I have one plan…tonight, to see Phantom of the Opera. It’s at the Hippodrome  downtown through April 25th. I may be one of the last people on earth who has never seen it…onstage or in the movie theatre…so I’m a Phantom newbie.  Everyone tells me this production is “fabulous”, so I’m excited to see it. Though someone who works here (who you would know), said she did not like Phantom.. “It’s just a show about a stalker!” And I guess from what I know of it, that’s true. But the music is lovely, and well…it’s Phantom of the Opera, dammit!

And from this blog to the airwaves….I write about the new Grilled Cheese and Company restaurant in Catonsville, and presto…it’s on our air tonight! 11 News Rob Roblin will be taste testing the goods….and he brought me their menu…does sound killer. Maybe I’ll check it out this weekend…let’s face it, I don’t have anything better to do. Play nice, be kind to others and come safe….and have a great weekend!

And the winner is…..
March 1, 2010

After much deliberation, this Orla Kiely wallet is the winner....

As you know, my wallet disappeared  last week, never to reappear. But as I told you, I got a call that night from a woman who said she had found my driver’s license, some credit cards, and business cards on the ground. We met at an appointed place Saturday and I got them back…most were useless of course, having been canceled, but to get my license back was HUGE! I thanked her profusely, and gave her a cash reward(appropriate, oui?)…and I was on my way.

Really liked this one....would make a great evening bag!

I started perusing wallets on-line this weekend, looking for one that could be everything I asked it to be: 1. large enough to contain all the stuff I put in it 2. durable 3.  attractive and 4. one new requirement …it also could fit my cell phone, so that I could  use it as a clutch purse on occasion. A lot to ask, yes?

Double Dutch to the rescue!!!

But as I started looking, my daughter called and told me to check out a shop called Double Dutch  in Hampden. I know the place, I pass it all the time and have shopped there before…and I like to keep it local if I can. Double Dutch has loads of cute clothing and accessories. But evidently this February, they got in the mother lode of  wallets, of every size, color and description….shiny, metallic, leather, plastic, with grommets and studs and without….some great looking choices, really. 

Oh Orla...you really get it....

In the end, I picked one by Orla Kiely….not the least expensive model there(it’s in the top picture), but it was on sale, super chic and I know it will be extra durable. The owner said she carried one for years, and when the zipper broke, they replaced it for free…..love it. And Kiely makes some smart looking bags and clothing…the line is based in London. Plus I can get my cell phone inside, zipped up with looking like a snake that ate a hardboiled egg. Mission accomplished.

C-Mart Lives Again!!!!!!!!!!!
January 25, 2010

I simply cannot tell you the happiness I felt, when the hubby spoke these words from the next room… in a tone of voice that this was something I might be interested in…”Looks like C-Mart is coming back…” 

“WHAT?”, I screamed….and ran in to grab the paper. And sure enough, there  was the article in the Baltimore Sun(and I have to tell you, I hear people saying “oh I don’t take the Sun anymore”….silliness…there are things in the Sun I won’t see anywhere else) about how C-Mart wouldn’t have the same name…the family doesn’t own the rights anymore, but it will be the same quirky place that so many of us loved and found fantastic bargains. For those of you who might have missed my dirge about bargains found and my sorrow, when C-Mart closed….here’s a link. I got some great stuff at C-mart, and while trying to help my daughter furnish her new apartment, more than once I thought sadly, “Oh, if only C-Mart was here….the stuff we could find.” And now it’s coming back, in its original location in Bel Air…ok, I wish it was the one in Joppatowne, but whatever, and will be called The Big Tarp Company Store. I can’t wait. Oh, and speaking of the girl’s apartment….she moved this weekend…details and pictures tomorrow. It’s looking pretty cute.

Oh, here’s a quote from the article to whet your appetite….”There will be $30,000 worth of products from a Vera Bradley boutique, 3,000 pairs of shoes from two department stores, and books from a Barnes & Noble truck that didn’t make it to stores because the front cabin caught fire.”  Done. CU@C-Mart.

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?

Rue La La! Competitive shopping at its finest…
August 7, 2009

You may rue the day you found Rue La La....

You may rue the day you found Rue La La....

My daughter sent me a link, actually it’s called an “invitation”, to join Rue La La. What, you may well ask, is Rue La La? Well, here’s a hint. Today’s “invitation” read like this….”slip on the edgy sweetness of Vera Wang Lavender Label. Fun, flirty and feminine collide with sultry, dark and romantic.” Say again?

Basically, it’s a website where virtual “boutiques’ selling different designer goods, and even hotel rooms,  at 50-80% off, open at certain hour….Vera Wang’s opened at 11 this morning, and then, it’s an online rush like you see every year  at the Filene’s Basement wedding gown sale. Only instead of women rushing through the doors and elbowing each other our of the way to get to wedding gowns, it’s women crouched at their computers, waiting until the clock strikes 11, and then elbowing each other “virtually” out of their way. And I’ll have to tell you… the stuff  goes fast. If you’re not there right at 11….all that’s left is size 0 and 2.

Oops....too late...loser.

Oops....too late...loser.

Or….you see the Sold Out ribbon gaily festooned on the picture, reminding you that others are faster, better online…or tinier than you…and got there first. I must admit it creates an odd kind of competitiveness in me, and the idea that if you don’t get it, someone else will! And that’s probably the idea.

The running of the bulls..I mean brides…in Filene’s were to be studied by academics, they would no doubt find the same mentality going on. Throw it on my pile…even if I can’t use it, I sure don’t want you to have it. Some kind of bizarre, survival, hoarding instinct that comes from our barely upright ancestors? Basic human greed? The need to adorn ourselves? Honestly I don’t know. But it works.

Here’s my little confession. The first day on Rue La La…the Lulu Lemon Boutique opened. Only those who are yoga people like me know what Lulu Lemon is, and the only reason I know, is the lovely Jennifer in New York told me that’s what all the cool girls in yoga class wear.  I had no idea!! Sooooo, long story short, I got a couple of Lulu Lemon tops and a pair of pants…and I seriously would not have paid full Lulu Lemon prices. No way. But at such a bargain price…how could I NOT buy them? I know, I know…sucker punched. But today I was wiser. The crafty Vera Wang did not lure me into her dark, flirty, romantic boudoir. Unh-uh. This girl didn’t buy a thing. However, I just told my daughter I was writing a blog about Rue La La, and she said, “NO! Don’t tell other people about it!”  and then comforted herself with… “But they can only join if they’re invited“…isn’t that innocent? She thinks it’s actually a club, instead of just another ploy to get us to buy things we don’t need and they want to get rid of.   Oooh, gotta run….the Laundry by Shelli Segal boutique opens in 5 minutes!! Have a great weekend, play nice and come home safe.

BPA free finally hits the shelves….
November 10, 2008

BPA free water bottles!

BPA free water bottles!

Was doing a little holiday shopping this weekend….at Eddie Bauer they have these neat BPA freewater bottles. It’s the first time I have seen any that prominently display that fact….bpa, if you don’t know, is Bisphenol-Aa chemical in many many plastics, including some baby bottles. There has been a good dea of controversy over BPA, and whether it is safe in small quantities, or not…many experts say no, especially for babies and children. I was happy to see one retailer get on the bandwagon….

Solar-crank powered radio/cell phone charger/flashlight!!

Solar-crank powered radio/cell phone charger/flashlight!!

And I bought a couple of Solar Dynamo Radio Lightsfor gifts. It is a solar powered, radio/flashlight/cell phone charger, and you can also crank power it. Pretty neat really, especially in a power outage. And only 30 bucks…both L.L.Bean and E. Bauer’s had them.  Great for a car. They’re only about 5 inches long. Cute and handy…What have you found lately?

C-mart…. do-it-yourself version??
October 22, 2008

C-Mart...You bring it and you cart it away?

C-Mart...You bring it and you cart it away?

It caught my eye, yes it did this morning, as I was reading The Baltimore Sun,  that sweet familiar handwritten notice.  Only one place has ads that look like that and smells of….ooohhh, bargains. C-mart!! Kind of.

This is a do-it-yourself  kind of C-Mart….it’s a flea market, ok? I  can rent space and sell all the things I bought at C-Mart that perhaps I shouldn’t have ( the Marc Jacobs Venetia handbag comes to mind). They’re calling it The Big Tarp, and it will be not at the latest C-mart location but at the old Forest Hill one….the one I always got lost trying to get to. Anyway, someone…I’m assuming the original owners of C-Mart as they still own this property….is opening up and is renting table space now…75 cents a square foot. Not bad  I guess.

And here’s the great thing about it it….. in a down economy, when people are hurting, this place will provide a place not just for people to spend money, but also a place to MAKE SOME MONEY…..that can’t be anything but providential.  The Big Tarp will be open every Saturday and Sunday. So, there it is. No, C-Mart isn’t returning, but I’m keeping the door open and the welcome light on. See you there!

What I’m serving this weekend…and the restroom from hell!
May 23, 2008

my groceries!Well, here’s a peek inside my grocery bag (reusable of course), after a trip to the store this afternoon on my lunch break….found blueberries, a pint today for $3.99….just yesterday a half pint was $4.99. Go figure.  The cherries were new…just $3.99 a pound…love cherries. Artichokes were yesterday 2 for $4.00. Today a buck each. Yes, I’ll take three. it’s funny how some people shy away from artichokes, and honestly, I never had one growing up…as they were not grown in my Daddy’s garden, and those were the veges we ate. No broccoli. No cauliflower either. But there were copious amounts of Big Boy tomatoes, sweet corn, okra, green beans and lima beans….oh, and eggplant. Yeah, we ate pretty good.

Here’s the deal with artichokes if you’ve never cooked one. Simple. Cut off the stem so the bottom is flat, boil it in a couple of inches of water until the leaves pull off easily…may 35 or 40 minutes. Make a butter cause of melted butter, lemon juice to taste, salt, pepper, a touch of Tabasco, and some chopped garlic of course. Then pull off the leaves and dip the end you’re not holding in the butter. At the end is a little bite of heaven that your teeth scrape off the leaf. When the leaves are gone, scrape off the fuzzy looking choke…and at the bottom is the artichoke heart. Dip and eat. How easy is that?

Please, no!Oh and for those of you who are traveling this weekend, I hope you find better restrooms than one I visited on my way home from Charleston this past March. I took a picture of the sign…it was just too funny, and all too well indicated what I was to find inside, if you know what I mean. Happy holiday everyone…be nice, and come home safe.

How are you saving money at the supermarket??
May 1, 2008

Yikes!! Ok, prices are defintely, oh, without a doubt, higher at the grocery store….so I, like just about everyone else, am bargain hunting. Today I lugged out what felt like a ton of cat food…the lady at checkout said “How many cats do you have?”….and I meekly replied, “Two.” I don’t think she believed me, because of the small steel mountain of Nine Lives I had.  Here’s the thing…It was half price. Why on earth would I not stock up at half price. Those cats are gonna eventually eat all that tuna and chicken, and save me money too.

And while I usually put raw walnuts in my cereal in the mornings…I really love walnuts and they’re good for you…today the bigger pack was $5.99…it used to, a month ago, be maybe $4.89. The sliced raw almonds were a buck cheaper, I like them too, so bang, in the cart they go. 

My daughter is coming home from college tomorrow for the weekend, she loves watermelon. Who doesn’t really, and I started to get some off the salad bar, because getting baby spinach to take home and saute is cheaper by the pound from there, than getting those sealed cello packs. Wouldn’t watermelon be the same? Checked out the precut melon in plastic containers over in the fruit section….huh, wouldja look at that.  It’s $2.99 a pound..the salad bar is $4.99 a pound. What I’m getting at here, is it pays to check it out!!

Some of you may be familiar with the  great food author M.F.K. Fischer….she is one of my all time favs, and I have I think, all of her books. But the one that comes to mind in tough economic times, is How to Cook A Wolf. It was published in the WW II years of rations and shortages..and while we’re not there, thank goodness, it offers some funny and entertaining ways to stretch the dollar, and some good recipes. And more to the point, she is a fabulous writer, who led a fascinating life. If you’ve never heard of or read M.F.K. Fischer, consider this my little culinary gift to you today. Bon appetit!