The right thing…..when you do it, just ’cause you should…
November 11, 2011

My Dad in his Ray-Bans....with my Mom

Like many of you, I have pondered the inexplicable goings-on at Penn State…I feel so sad for those kids…that no one stood up for them. So on this Veteran’s Day, I offer you the example of my Dad, who stood up for a child in a similar terrible situation long ago, even when he didn’t have to do so…it was in this previous post. I wonder what happened to that little boy. But it made me think about how we all come to critical choices in our lives, and what we do in those difficult moments….defend those who can’t defend themselves, or protect the establishment…those choices stay with us, always.

The good guys of sports....

Oh, and something else that made me think of how the big money of college athletics was part of that bad decision makingPay a visit to Kurt’s Corner-here…you’ll love his look at a Maryland  D-3 basketball program. As Kurt says, “Nobody is slipping them cash or sliding them a hooker.  A big, fat, endorsement in not headed their way. NBA scouts do not come to the games.” They play for the love of the game….how crazy is that?? It will be a few minutes well spent…and how often can you say that these days??

Happy Veteran’s Day….hope all of you make some good decisions this weekend, do something nice for someone….cook something delicious, and come home safe…’cause we miss you!

What’s cookin’ this weekend???
March 25, 2011

Hello, lover....what's cookin'?

Ok, it’s not gonna be a spring weekend…so let’s just get the thoughts of something super-springy on the menu right out of your mind. With snow in the forecast..alas…it’s a weekend for something a bit heartier. So I modestly offer what I had last weekend…a perfectly braised and roasted chicken, surrounded by vegetables and pancetta. Super-easy, super-delish. here we go.

Love the witty Joseph Joseph glass cutting board...

First, quarter some new potatoes…..any taters will do, but red ones do add a dollop of color. And the toughened glass cutting board is from Joseph Joseph…it’s the queen made from vegetables, and I love it. They have all kinds of witty ones, including Elvis made from veges.(Update: just heard from a reader, Jamie, that glass cutting boards dull your knives pretty quickly…and when I googled it, found he was absolutely right…see this post on things that dull your knives! I’ll save the glass cutting board for serving something…maybe cheeses, or crudite?) Darn it, it’s still cute.


Then some onions….I think I cut these too small….quartered onions would be more substantial at serving time. My bad.

Carrots, and some chopped pancetta...

Add some carrots….and don’t be stingy, I feel like I never do enough carrots! Teh chopped pancetta I get from Trader Joe’s, already in this perfect little dice. I keep some in the freezer, for all kinds of dishes…adds a lovely flavor(duh, it’s Italian bacon). Here it is, ready for the oven after I added some garlic cloves, wine in the bottom, salt and pepper, and some Provencal herbs.  I covered it and cooked it for two hours at 325 degrees, then removed the top and upped the temp to 400 for another 30 minutes or until browned on top. Get some crusty bread and dinner is ready! Get crazy and invite your neighbors over for dinner….a new study out this week said that social connections…make you lots happier than money(ok, not happier, but as happy)….and when your friends get there, give them a glass of wine, don’t throw rocks or talk politics, and wherever you go, come home safe…’cause we miss you!

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 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.

Breakfast with Bayliss…and $47 cupcakes…
October 1, 2010

early morning at Xoco...a Rick Bayliss restaurant...

The lovely Jennifer, my daughter-in-law, was in Chicago for a business trip this week…and this morning, she was stepping outside her comfort zone and walking to Xoco to meet her aunt Connie in Chi-town for an early morning breakfast(she sent me the pic above this morning). She was also super-excited as was I…we are both big fans of Rick Bayliss. If you saw him on Top Chef Masters…he was the one who was the master of Tex-Mex and Mexican cuisine. Always calm, unflappable, and kind…not at all what you’d expect from a big name chef.

Get in here with your little jam pots!!

She and I share a love of a good room service breakfast when you travel….at a nice hotel anyway. I remember one experience where they brought plastic cutlery…NOOOOOOOOOO! But when a nice table covered with white linen rattles in, with a silver coffee pot and creamer, nice china and hot eggs and bacon….while you’re in your bathrobe….it’s a little slice of heaven. But one doesn’t give up a chance to go to a Rick Bayliss place.

Hey little sister!!

 XOCO(which is slang for “little sister”)specializes in Mexican street food from one of America’s top chefs(which means you’re not nervous about eating it).

Mmmmmmm.....churros...and coffee...

 Churros, tortas, caldos..and mmmm…hot frothy Mexican hot chocolate. I was jealous.

Jen and my son are passing through Baltie briefly tonight…dinner, crash at our house, and then off to Annapolis early tomorrow morning for a wedding and straight back to New York. So this morning, while Jen was enjoying hot from the fryer churros…I was changing the sheets in the guest room and throwing shoes in the closet. Don’t really have to worry about dinner…we’ll eat out…probably 13.5% Wine Bar in Hampden which is close to work,(though I’ve got to mix it up a little-last time I was there, the waiter saw me and said “It must be Friday“…how predictable am I?) and lots of fun, and not too expensive. (Hey, when you’re paying for dinner for 5 wine-drinking adults…that’s important).

Cupcakes....what's not to like?

And this afternoon I’m headed down to Charm City Cupcakes to use my Groupon there! One dozen cupcakes(4 key lime, 4 red velvet, and 4 chocolate mousse Pimlico) at half price…dig it…so we can have dessert at home. I want a cupcake right now.(Side note-just returned from downtown where I parked in a no parking zone for 5 minutes to run in and grab cupcakes…got a $32 ticket. So $15 groupon + $32=$47 cupcakes…sigh. This is no fault of Charm City Cupcakes-just my being a dumbo.)

Hope you’ve all dried out a little from the torrential downpour yesterday…one of my neighbors had an 80 foot spruce tree come down onto the power lines in front of his house(yikes)….luckily it spared his home, but it was such a gorgeous tree. Hope all of you escaped unscathed. It’s Friday people…I hope you’re enjoying your family as much as I’ll enjoy mine(briefly)…play nice, don’t throw rocks and come home safe…’cause we miss you!

Spotted in Mt Vernon….Donna’s adventures at the Book Festival
September 28, 2010

Me and Ree..just chillin'...

Loved meeting Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond on Sunday…she was super nice and lots of fun…not that that’s a shocker. I was a little suprised that she wasn’t planning to speak first and then do some questions and answers….an hour is a long time to fill, but in the end it was easy, really. I asked everything I wanted to know, and then the audience had plenty of their own(great) questions.  Then Ree was off to the airport and back to Oklahoma and the ranch. We both agreed on one thing…when a woman travels for work occasionally, the best thing about it is a hotel room to yourself, a long bath and room service. Definitely. Also spotted in Mt. Vernon

Ham and eggs, potato pancakes and spiced apples...

Had a nice brunch at City Cafe  pre-book festival…hip spot that had quite a following(and there were two tv screens for one of us to follow football).

Hello pretty orange thing...

This is a Mimosa City Cafe style(huge)…and a cranberry something or other…reading glasses for perusing the menu.


Interesting footgear on the guy sitting in front of me at a food demonstration…I wonder if they’re comfortable…isn’t it hard to get your toes in the little toe thingies?

Isn't the carving gorgeous?

Beautiful doorway at a house on Mt. Vernon place….love the detail on the door and look closer at the ceiling light….

So delicate...soooo pretty...

Totally charming…and a guy had a big moving sale going on…but just as I was about to trip trop upstairs to look at his wares(rhymes, get it?)…someone grabbed me, and hustled me off, saying  it was time to interview Ree…foiled again.

Flowers, Cake and Oil…..
June 1, 2010

Buttercream fabulosity......

It was a lovely weekend, with a most important occasion being celebrated…my sweet daughter’s birthday. She now moans about “getting older”(puh-leeze) and wishes to be 17 again..though I don’t think she means it. Seventeen? No thanks. But my son and the lovely Jennifer came in Friday night, and while we had intended to celebrate at the Dogwood Restaurant  in Hampden, they were stuck in traffic coming down from NYC, so at the last minute we rushed together a birthday dinner at home….barbecued ribs, lobster tails, and thank goodness I had snapped up a couple of family size salads at Whole Foods that day..potato salad  and tomato/corn…both accidentally perfect with the meat and seafood. And Jennifer had bought the birthday cake(Schnooks is her pet name for Cada) from One Girl Cookies Bakery in Brooklyn, that she claims has the best cake she’s ever had….that from an admitted cake snob. Yummy buttercream, with a raspberry middle layer….fabulous. Just amazing…and they even make Whoopie Pies!

It's hydrangea time!!

Let’s see….the hydrangeas I painstakingly lugged back from a farm in Rhode Island two years ago in the back seat of my car are in bloom…and while I still suffer from a lesser degree of Hydrangea envy…(you know those yards with humongous bushes covered with endless blooms, that must be decades old)….mine look really lovely, and I adore them.

Cherries and can see how many pits I left...

We sat around eating homemade brownies and fresh cherries at a neighbor’s house one night…enjoying the loveliness of the evening, and the deliciousness of the brownies, while mourning what’s going on(and what’s not going on) along the Gulf Coast. I haven’t written about it, because I can hardly stand to contemplate it. I spent all my girlhood summer vacations on those Gulf beaches with their blindingly white sugar sand, beaches so wide they were really never very crowded, even at peak holiday time. The thought of those white sands and the clear blue-green waters being fouled,  home to so many sea and air creatures, perhaps for years and years, with smelly oil from giant rigs that plunder what’s underneath the seabed, I can’t stand it. And what I must also admit , is that we all share in the blame…all of us…because we demand the oil , oh, and we want it cheap too. Let’s take a collective look in the mirror.

Parting is such sweet this case, just sweet.

On a happier note, one thing that didn’t end up in a landfill was my sofa….if you remember on Friday, I was desolate because no one would take it. I called the nice man(Daryl) who did my mulching this year to see if I could pay him to haul it to a rescue mission downtown who said they were interested. But when Darryl got there, he announced that he would keep it himself! Love it…and all’s well that ends well. I wish we could hope for that down South. As a trip to Biloxi looms this month for the wedding of my nephew, I will be anxious to see what’s going on in the area. I’m hoping for the best….but fearing the worst.

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.

It’s Friday People!! And the reader’s verdict on Bob’s Snowblowing problem….
February 12, 2010

Slow-cooked pork shoulder, with spices and poblano chilis!!

Can I tell you how happy I am it’s Friday…it felt like it should have been yesterday, but….as you and most others know, it was only Thursday. I worked last Saturday on snow coverage, and this has been a really long week, not only for everyone at WBAL, but everyone in the state! We could all….collectively… use a restful weekend, but as you know, there’s much digging to be done still, just about everywhere.

More decisions at 70 just right???

But I slept in my own bed last night….which was so nice. And hey, for all of us who stayed at the Cross Keys Radisson….all the chatter was about the Sleep Number Bed! “What was your number?” , “how did you like it?”. And I did like the bed, though it does seem like a lot of decisions to be made at bedtime. Set it 100….65….45? Too soft? Too firm? Just right? I think  I like the higher number setting, which means a firmer mattress, but I’m not sure.

The Piano I took to the hotel, and it's good!

A few people who already own the Sleep Number Bed were truly in heaven…just like being home I guess. But a little shout out 🙂 to the staff at the Radisson…they had put up workers to make the hotel run smoothly, which it did… and everyone was so nice. They had a great breakfast(loved the big pot of oatmeal, with bowls of brown sugar and raspberries), and to Brett who emailed asking “Were the other two TV hill tv stations in the same Hotel?“….I know one was, because I saw people I knew(it was a pretty lively bar scene for sure), but I guess other hotels were involved too. Not sure where.

And it’s Valentine’s Day Weekend ♥♥! I’m feeling a bit of a yawn over that, alas, after such a crazy week. I just want to curl up in the cave, get a good fire going, and have something delicious to eat. And don’t forget the Olympics start tonight…watching the torch runners this morning, it reminded me of my torch run, maybe 10 years ago, as it came thru Baltimore. I’ll never forget it, but as I’m not a runner, I was secretly concerned I couldn’t make my tiny piece of the run, and the thing is, the torch is kind of heavy, so you’re not just running but also holding something heavy that has to be held high for everyone to see. Yikes! I was panting like mad by the end but I made it. Nice memory.

As for Bob’s snowblowing dilemma…the consensus seemed to be…do your best and forget the rest…..a few samples..from Sandy….”We have a small snow thrower and my husband and son spent MANY hours clearing our driveway and sidewalks and those of our neighbors. We wouldn’t even think of asking for anything in return. It’s part of being a good neighbor/Christian. (And it doesn’t hurt that the snow thrower is one of those not often used big boy toys!) But when the second round hit, the novelty wore off, the snowblower needed help and the husband and son were sore and tired. So they only did our elderly next door neighbors.”

From Bonnie: “Donna, I agree that there is no obligation to help everyone just because you are someone who is prepared to take care of yourself. If the neighbors have never offered to take care of things when you are on vacation or help you at any other time, I say they can shovel their own driveway or PAY someone else to do it.”  Right on, sister.

From Stephanie: “Donna Every neighborhood has participants and watchers. There are those who are out shoveling (in summer, mowing) not only their yard/street/sidewalk/driveway but someone else’s. Then there are those who sit back and watch and complain why did they not do mine. Human nature is what it is.'” Sad Steph, but true. I’ve seen a little of that in my own hood.

From Carol: ” Bob relax. You have done enough. I am a recipient of similar kindness from my neighbors. I deeply appreciate the help. I also don’t take it for granted. I am thankful I gave them a restaurant gift card for Christmas. Any suggestions on what else I can do for them?”  Where is that case of beer??

I put a boneless pork shoulder roast in the crock pot this morning(as seen in the photo above)with lots of garlic, a little wine, cumin, thyme,  roasted poblanos and coriander… was smelling delish by the time I left, along with the scent of roasted eggplant as a side dish….this girl cannot wait for dinner. It’s Friday night people!!!!!!

Weekend Wrapup….Jazz, Twilight and Pork Bellies
November 23, 2009

Darryl Harper playing smooth tunes onstage at Creative Alliance

Let’s see….did something I’ve never done before Friday night. Went to a jazz concert at the Creative Alliance, just east of Patterson Park on Eastern Avenue, to see jazz clarinetist Darryl Harper. What a talent he is….he had gathered some great local jazz guys in for a concert and the music was smooth, smokey…very blues. Darryl’s latest album is Stories in Real Time….you can hear  some selection by clicking here…and the Creative Alliance has many unique offerings… for music lovers, film lovers, classes for adults and children, including a 4 week Saturday session of running away to join the circus…”Admit it–your child is amazingly gifted and you’ve dreamt of creating a circus act together. Now’s your chance! Aerial superstar Lizzie Lyra introduces parents and kids to the circus arts: acrobatics, partner balancing, hooping, trapeze.” Come on people! You don’t see that everyday….

OK…saw Twilight…I’m in…all in.  And now I’m ready for New Moon….maybe over the holiday weekend. But I also want to see Precious….I’ve heard it is simply amazing….and Blind Side….also supposed to be just wonderful. It could be a good movie marathon weekend!  I love doing double features with a snack in between. Time to get my movie on. 

Oh, and I made some mean pork belly for dinner one night..(which is the new foie gras, or some people say). Not that I was  foie gras eater…I wasn’t, but I do love properly prepared pork belly. I used a variation of  Jamie Oliver recipe that I found on someone else’s blog….thank you very much….and it was luscious. Just absolutely fantastic. Still have some leftover in the frig. Wait for me…no matter where you are, I will find you!

It’s Monday…and I made it…
August 31, 2009

This was the best part of my weekend....

This was the best part of my weekend....

Yes, my glorious new caffeine-free life has begun. Not with a bang…more like a whimper. I’ll be honest, I really miss my morning coffee. And while I tried to fool myself  with decaf, it’s just not the same. Not the same at all. So I can wait quite a while before brewing some, because I really don’t care. I know it  sounds as though  I’m sulking, there is an element of that going on…”Donna want her coffee and she want it now!!” Oh well. I know I’ll get past this, but it may be some time….quite some time…before I don’t miss my coffee. But I appreciate all the kind words of encouragement from all of you…really.

On the plus side, I attended(with a little caffeine headache) a terrific crabfeast in Chestertown Saturday night. My friend Elise and her darling hubby had really outdone themselves….a canopy of lights over tables set outside were soooooo pretty. And look at how  the crabs were arranged…not just dumped on the tables, but artfully arranged in a row…like crabs in a congo line. Love it.

Yummy corn on the cob...

Yummy corn on the cob...

And there was potato salad, creamy and roasted potatoes, sweet Maryland corn to slather with butter, and Elise had made not one but two Smith Island cakes …one the traditional yellow cake with chocolate icing…the hands down favorite…and one with devil’s food cake with white icing. She admitted that making two Smith island cakes was something she would not attempt again anytime soon. Me either.

Bloody Mary bar at the Imperial Hotel...

Bloody Mary bar at the Imperial Hotel...

We stayed at the Imperial Hotel in Chestertown…a stately  old hotel that was kind of  like staying at your Grandma’s house, in the best sense of the term…if your grandmother had a huge vintage victorian house, with brass beds, and creaky floors. Great restaurant too, with a fabulous brunch menu…We sat outside and enjoyed the Hangtown Fry omelet, complete with fried oysters(delicious) and check out the Bloody Mary bar…all different blends of tomato juice, and you pick which vodka you want, and add the fixings. Pretty presentation….and they are kindly sending the book I left in the hotel room(darned if I don’t always leave something)…Girl with the Dragon Tatoo  by Steig Larsson, if you must know.

Theres a turkey under this trashcan!

There's a turkey under this trashcan!

Oh, and I’ve never had a trashcan turkey, but I can now add it to my list of culinary checkoffs….that’s it on the right…and there really is a turkey under there, as you’ll see in the next picture.  Guessing if it’s done is the hard part I guess…this is one I’d love to try…if only I had a field I didn’t mind scorching a big hole in my yard.

Hmmmm, is it done you reckon?
Hmmmm, is it done you reckon?

That’s the beauty of owning more than a postage stamp of a yard. But the turkey was delicious, really moist….and the man who made it…Kurt…never got one bite. You snooze, you lose, my friend.