Tag: shopping

Gestalt & Pepper: Mom’s Day Out


Guilford resident Beth Smith is one of those people who I constantly pester for restaurant recommendations. She is not easily beguiled by flashy decor or trendy menus, it’s always about the the food. I have never had a bad meal following her advice. Beth’s foodiness is evident in her kitchen too. As a mother to three girls she is always cooking something that is simple, well-executed and delicious. (And she’s my sister-in-law.)

Home cook assessment:  Do you consider Durkee Onions and Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup legitimate ingredients or cheating?

Totally cheating . . . never, never, never.

Saturday night with the husband: Where do you book? What do you order?  

Petite Louis. I get a salad and make my husband order the frites. I eat most of them but it doesn’t count because I didn’t order them .

Where would you take fun friends down from New York?

Demi (basement level of Crush, in Belvedere Square). I like the idea of a lot of small plates because the appetizers are usually my favorite part of any meal.

How about for a celebratory dinner?

Wherever the new place is that I am dying to try.

Where is your go-to place with the kids?

Sushi Hana.

Any drive-ins, diners and dives that you hit?

My husband used to take the girls to breakfast at Paper Moon but there was always a very long wait, so they have switched to the New Wyman Park Restaurant (on 25th Street in Charles Village). Oh, and Joe Squared. Unbelievable pizza!

What new restaurant are you dying to try?

I am DYING to try Volt in Fredrick. It is the guy from “Top Chef” Bryan Voltaggio’s restaurant. Unfortunately, it’s an impossible reservation.

Where do you grocery shop and why?

Whole Foods for quality and Eddie’s for convenience.

Is there a food item that you regularly go out of your way to buy?

Is it bad to say wine?

What Baltimore restaurant has the best vibe?

Woodberry Kitchen. I love that wood stack.

OK, we gotta do it: best crab cake?

Friendly Farms carry out in Upperco, no filler, great for dinner parties.

Anything on your wish list for the Baltimore food scene?

There is a restaurant in the Palisades area of D.C. called “Black Salt.” I would love to see it replicated in Baltimore. The front of the house is a scrupulously clean fish market and amazing restaurant in the back. For a town that is all about seafood we are lacking a great fish market.

Fashion for the 99%: Jason Wu (Jason who?) For Target


Even if you’re too smart to read fashion magazines. Even if the last ‘new’ designer you know about is Vera Wang. Even then, you know that from time to time, Target (in a trend started by TopShop or maybe JC Penny with Martha Stewart) has been carrying special collections with big name designers, using fabrics and designs that make them affordable to the average Target shopper. To fashionistas, especially ones on a budget, these are major events. According to a local Target store manager,“for Missoni, we had people in here buying $3,000 to $4,000 worth of clothes at a time.” At less than $40 each, that’s a lot of zig-zag. Demand was so high, it famously crashed the Target website.

On February 5th, at 8 a.m., local Target stores will be featuring all or some of the new collection of Jason Wu for Target. You know Jason Wu — a young designer and fashion favorite ever since Michelle Obama wore his white dress to her inaugural balls. Designed exclusively for Target, and in-store just until March 6th, fashion editors are already raving . “We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, we love this collection,” at the Huffington Post. “These pieces look far more expensive than they are,” at Fashionista.com. “Simply put, we want it.” at Lucky.

Okay. Okay.

The clothes are very cute. According to Wu, in an appearance on the Today Show, he was inspired by “French New Wave cinema,” with a nod to classic American sportswear. It’s a flirty, ladylike collection, with lots of bows, pleats, dainty ruffles and nice tailoring – yes, “gamine.” There will be something here for almost everyone.  Promoted as “fashion for the average woman” it must be said that this is strictly true only if the average woman is under 40 with no boobs.  Models are suspiciously accessorized with schoolbooks. Still, the accessories are beyond adorable, and there are always daughters and friends to shop for…Check out the pics.


The Shops: Gore Dean


Over the holidays we featured “The Shops”, a column by our friend and Pigtown Design blogger Meg Fielding. You liked it so much, we’re going to keep posting her delightful reviews of the most interesting shelter shops in town. – The Eds.

I do love Gore Dean, and I hadn’t been by there for ages, even though it’s only about a mile up the Falls Road from me. So when I went to the local outpost of Williams-Sonoma on New Year’s Eve to pick up some fun cooking tools, I popped in to Gore Dean.

Gore Dean (5)One of the things that Gore Dean does beautifully is Chinoiserie. I saw this lovely little painting that Spider, Deb Gore Dean’s husband who manages the store, was about to hang.Gore Dean (6)

Then I turned around and spotted this group of plates. They’re the same colours as some Coalport china that I have. Love the blue, gold and orange.Gore Dean (1)

I spied this great-looking chair, and Spider told me that it came from the writer, Dominic Dunne.Gore Dean (13)If you’re a fan of Dunne’s writings, here’s a chance to own a piece of his history. The detailing on the chair is great.Gore Dean (12)


One of my new year’s resolutions is to keep my desk a little more tidy, especially the one at the office.Gore Dean (16)I think these pebble-grain leather pieces would look fabulous, don’t you?

Although my driving record, both here and in the UK, is SPOTLESS, I think that several people I know could benefit from this little tome.Gore Dean (20)The book would be a great conversation piece, regardless of who it was given to.

You know, this is the year of the Dragon.Gore Dean (21)So these plates would be a perfect accompaniment to some dim sum at a Chinese New Year dinner.

I love that the lighting at Gore Dean ranges from the completely traditional wall sconcesGore Dean (38)to these up-to-the-moment pendant lamps in the most au courant shade of orange.Gore Dean (39)

Finally, who could resist these cheeky monkeys?Gore Dean (40)

Gore Dean

5100 Falls Road  88 Village Square 
Baltimore, Maryland 21210 


1673 Wisconsin Avenue 
Washington, DC 20007 


441 Canal Street 
Stamford, CT 06902-5910 


The Shops: Holiday Heap o’ Craft


One of the most gratifying things about blogging is having the chance to meet other bloggers, people whom I never would have met otherwise. Today was one of those occasions, when I met up with Mary from Barn Bug Studio at the Holiday Heap o’Craft Show. It’s hosted by the local Etsy Street Team and the Charm City Craft Mafia who show and sell their wares at a re-purposed church in Baltimore.


The venue, which is always being renovated, reminded me of any number of church and village fetes I attended when I was living in the UK, especially with the fairy lights and bright pennants crossing the room. As you can see, the place was packed, just elbow to elbow. And believe me, more than a few elbows were being thrown as people dealt with the crowds.

I am always so amazed to see the craftsmanship and creativity that people have, and there was plenty to see today.

Brightly colored paper Christmas trees,

Screen-printed towels and placemats,

Pretty painted pottery with poppies,

Clever wine carriers in felt,


The Quilting Beast pillows,

Towels with vintage engravings,

Sea-urchins or jelly fish in crochet,


Cat toys in crochet.

St. John’s Church, where the Holiday Heap was held, 

is really an amazing space and is used for myriad events, including dances, yoga practices, band concerts and even services for the small remaining congregation.

There are events like Holiday Heap all over the place for the next few weeks. Go out and support your local crafter!

Shopping Tips


It’s that time of year when the list of things to do begins to overwhelm: holiday parties, family gatherings, and the shopping — the endless shopping. So many gifts to buy for neighbors and teachers, moms and dads, kids, best friends, godchildren and more. The stress can turn anyone into a Grinch!

We asked our writers to help you (and us) with ideas for gift giving by sharing their favorite inexpensive gifts to give and to get. Look for more shopping news over Thanksgiving weekend.



To Give – Last year, I made my own chai tea mix — it just involves getting some spices, grinding them up, and putting the mix in a pretty tin. It’s more special than buying a box of tea at the store and it smells great…plus tea is a generic enough gift that you can give it to most anyone.

To Get – I loooove tights from We Love Colors. They have 51 different vibrantly colored tights, each pair is only $10.




To Give – Sideshow, at the AVAM and Pier One always have everything you need for one-stop shopping.

To Get – I love bath salts or bubble bath.



To Give – I always give a book. hardback or paperback, either one. Once in awhile, I will see a great design item (last year, it was Japanese florist scissors) and stock up on them for giving.

To Get – Books, flowers and wine.



To Give – I love to do flowers so I make a little arrangement. I get flowers from Trader Joe’s and mix in things from my yard.  God, that sounds so affected/Martha Stewart, but it’s true.

To Get – Those funny retro-housewife cocktail napkins. (See our gift guide on the culture page.) In one week I received the same ones from three different people. They read: “She was one drink away from proving her mother-in-law right.” What do you think that says about me?



To Give – No one is ever disappointed to receive an orchid and the ones from Whole Foods in Mt. Washington are affordable ($20) and beautiful.  The amaryllis at Watson’s Garden Center are also a sure thing ($17).

To Get – I always love getting a Le Pen from Pleasure of Your Company in Green Spring Station. It cannot be found at Target or Staples and I rarely have time to make a special trip in search of a single pen, so whenever I receive one, I am thrilled. They are a steal at $1.95.




To Give – If I have enough time, I might cruise etsy.com for something unique and inoffensively “nice.” If they’re from outside of Baltimore, I might get them a bag from Squidfire on Thames, something I can only get one place.

To Get – Rodenbach Grand Cru. By far the best beer I’ve ever tasted. It’s a Flanders red ale, well-balanced and sour. Used to be, you couldn’t find it anywhere in Maryland, but now it’s available at just about any serious liquor store. A 25 oz. bottle is around $10.



To Give –  A candle from House Downtown in Belvedere Square or small (tiny) vase and flower arrangement from Dutch Connection – really beautiful.

To Get – Chocolates — never wrong — but can get pricey (absolute faves from Kirchmayr… Shame they moved.Nine truffles for $11 or bottle of wine (and yes, I’ll happily drink cheap wine 🙂  like Woop Woop – under $10/bottle.



To Give – A DVD from Best Buy has been my cop-out gift for a long time. But no one really watches DVDs anymore so I wouldn’t do this now. I don’t know what I’ll do.

To Get – A good, cheap welcome gift would be a bottle of liquor. 



To Give – Anything by Kiehl’s — thick, rich moisturizers and therapeutic shampoos, etc., for men and women, and nothing’s too perfumed in case people are allergic or anxious about scents. My current fave: Decadent & soothing avocado eye cream, which is under $30; small container lasts two months. (Nordstrom features a Kiehl’s station.)

To Get – I love to receive earrings I wouldn’t have thought to pick out for myself — the bigger and funkier the better. Cheap and wacky: fine by me. If a good friend sees me in them, I’m sold.



To Give – The Magic 8-Ball, the psychic toy in the form of its namesake billiard ball. Ask the Magic 8-Ball a question, turn it over in your hand, and up pops one of 20 different answers in its teeny view screen, ranging from the upbeat (“you may rely on it”) to the ambivalent (“reply hazy, try again later”) and to the ixnayed (“outlook not so good”).

To Get – I like to receive outre pop-cultural items such as board games based on ancient TV shows (“Lost in Space”) and buttons bearing the images of innately un-cool bands (New Kids on the Block).

From writer Holly Morse-Ellington

To Give – My go-to gift is assorted chocolates from Ma Petite Shoe. If it’s for a closer friend, I throw in a pair of their funky socks.

To Get – My favorite gift to receive is a book (or two!) from The Book Thing. And they’re free. 

What is your go-to gift when you are stumped?  And what inexpensive gift are you always happy to receive?  Tell us in the comments below.

The Shops – a New Series by Pigtown Design’s Meg Fielding


Our friend at Pigtown Design, Meg Fielding, is a design and shopping expert.  She is generously sharing with us her new series “The Shops” — about local shopping — which we will run throughout the holiday season.  Look for another posting of The Shops next Friday on the BFB. Read the interview we conducted with Meg this summer, here. – The Eds.

My friend, Jax works at Hobo International, the home of Hobo Bags. Every year, right about this time, meaning just in time to do your holiday shopping, they have a massive warehouse sale. And by massive, I mean 50% to 70% off the retail prices. They have sample, prototype, and other wallets, handbags, clutches, wristlets, totes, shoulder bags and more! And they come in leathers, skins and prints.



I have a Hobo wallet that I’ve been using for more than a year now, and I love it! Black patent with a fabulous black and white print inside. It’s a fabulous wallet… and it came from last year’s sale. I am looking for my winter handbag now – gotta get rid of the current Kate Spade, which is looking a bit summery. So I am scouting their website to get some ideas of what I want. And one of the things I really like about Hobo, besides their great designs, is that they’re a woman-owned, local business. Always a good thing!



Jax is offering one winner, who must be local to the Baltimore/Washington DC area (unless you want to fly in for this event) an additional 25% off their total purchase. You could eliminate your entire holiday shopping at this one event!  Just leave a comment below and Connor-the-Wonder-Dog will pick a winner on Thursday, November 17th. The winner will receive a special e-mail coupon to use when shopping at the warehouse sale (just the sale, not stores or on-line, sorry!).



I will see you there!

Read more at Pigtown Design.

Eureka! Walters Jewelry Fair, Nov. 4 – 6


Sponsored Post – 

The Walters Art Museum’s Jewelry Fair is one of the museum’s most loved traditions. Each year, selections of America’s finest jewelers gather on the museum’s stunning Sculpture Court, where they present and sell their beautiful and inventive creations. Pieces range from the traditional to the contemporary, are constructed from a multitude of different materials, and are offered at a wide range of prices. There is something to be found by every jewelry enthusiast!

The weekend of jewelry also offers a variety of activities and celebrations including a fashion show, opening night party and gallery talks featuring exhibiting jewelers and members of the curatorial staff of the Walters.

If you wish to learn more about Jewelry Fair 2011, please call 410-547-9000 x305 or go to 


Charitably Chic: Shop to Give


The retail industry has taken a hit in today’s fledgling economy.  Our pockets are more shallow, we’ve tightened our belts, and it’s hard to justify accessorizing this new look without cause.  The industry has met this challenge by aligning with charitable causes to incentivize shoppers and assuage their retail guilt. This month, the fashionable philanthropy is all over Baltimore, with local retailers offering shoppers a number of ways to contribute to the community.

From now until October 23rd, the shops at The Village of Cross Keys are offering a number of charitable incentives through the shopping center’s semi-annual Cross Keys Cares event.  The Pied Piper, for instance, is collecting cash contributions and donating a percentage of sales for the Children’s Cancer Foundation.  Ruth Shaw, J. Jill, and The Store Ltd. are collecting gently warn clothing and cash donations for The House of Ruth, which helps lead the victims of domestic violence to safety and shelter. (Ruth Shaw gives a certificate for lunch at the Village Square Cafe as a thank you too.) Talbots is collecting men’s and women’s winter clothing and shoes for Paul’s Place, which provides programs and services to support struggling families in Southwest Baltimore.  There are over a dozen shops offering opportunities to get involved. For a full list of store and charity involvement, visit the Cross Keys website.

Earlier this year, The House of Ruth introduced its resale boutique, Ruth’s Closet, which collects gently used high-end fashions for resale, with 100% of profits benefitting the House of Ruth Maryland services for victims of domestic violence.  Later this month, Ruth’s Closet will host its “One Great Thing,” event, which offers shoppers an exclusive opportunity to grab some valued furs, boots, handbags and accessories donated by some of Baltimore’s most fashionable women.  The event takes place from 5-7:30 p.m. on Thursday, October 27th and will include expert guidance from a professional furrier. For more information, visit www.hruth.org.

Next month, Green Spring Station is getting in on the giving during its “The Weigh to Shop,” incentive, which aims to help Baltimore soup kitchen Our Daily Bread stock its shelves for the holiday season.  Customers can bring canned goods to the Nut Farm & Creamery at Green Spring Station and, in an added plus, Green Spring Station will donate a percentage of sales from future purchases based on the weight of customers’ contributions.  For contributions weighing ten pounds or less, Green Spring Station will donate 10 percent of your next purchase to Our Daily Bread. For contributions weighing more than ten pounds, Green Spring Station will donate 20 percent of your next purchase.  The week-long event will take place from November 12-19.  

This month, feel good about splurging on that new fall wardrobe – it’s for a good cause, after all.

Fashion’s Night Out Gets A Little More Charming This Year


When Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour launched Fashion’s Night Out in 2009, the industry revival initiative centered mostly in New York, with smaller echoes in major hubs like Los Angeles and Miami.  Since then, the September celebration of fashion has taken off throughout the country, and this year, its official presence will be felt in Baltimore.  

This Thursday, September 8th, the city’s retailers will join the fashion retail promotion with after-hours events to encourage customers to get shopping.  Marking the Baltimore’s inaugural official participation, the non-profit Baltimore Fashion Alliance will host a celebration at the Harbor Court Hotel with up to 40 Baltimore-based designers, manufacturers, and retailers on display.  

The BFA is also encouraging retailers city-wide to remain open after hours, and many retailers have taken note.  Downtown, Cupcake Boutique will be selling the official FNO tee-shirts and will feature a Black Halo trunk show as well as giveaways and added shopping incentives.  Fells Point’s Babe A Boutique is offering 10% off all merchandise store-wide.  Across town in Towson, The Shops at Kenilworth will join the festivities with in-store events, cocktails, and discounts throughout the shopping center.  At Towson Town Center, stores will display trunk shows, refreshments, and shopping incentives.  What’s more, the mall will put on a fashion show and offer exclusive giveaways, prizes, cocktails, and cosmetic bars.  At Green Spring Station in Lutherville, Fresh! Boutique will host a daytime Lionette trunk show from 1:00pm to 5:00pm. The shopping center will also stay open until 7:00pm with champagne and treats.

Reports have been mixed regarding whether Fashion’s Night Out has been a financial success in years past, but there is no question that as far as brand recognition and foot traffic, FNO is tremendously powerful.  The official presence of the initiative in Baltimore should prove to be at least a new way to tackle fall shopping, if not a shot to the arm to the local fashion retailers.