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Otter Lending a Hand


The Calvert Marine Museum sent me a cute picture of their otter mascot taking a sledge hammer to a wall to showcase their new renovation. Due to the extraordinary growth of both the museum’s educational programs and the number of events taking place inside the museum, they are expanding their facilities.

Over the last 40 years, the Calvert Marine Museum has grown from a modest community-based operation created to preserve and celebrate Solomon’s history to a premier educational facility serving a regional and national audience. Since opening in 1970, nearly two million visitors have visited the museum, and they expect another million during the next ten years.

The museum and Museum Store are open and will remain so until January 1, 2014. The renovation is estimated to be completed in March 2014.

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Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives is Right!


Haluski: Copyright Gail A. Sisolak 2013

Haluski: Copyright Gail A. Sisolak 2013

On my last trip to Pittsburgh, MAD2Go had the chance to stop in at Kelly O’s Diner in Pittsburgh. I must admit I’ve always been a bit suspicious of restaurants featured on TV shows. Even if they were good prior to filming, they are often victims of their own success as viewers mob well-rated venues. 

I was pleasantly surprised by the meal I had at Kelly O’s after it was showcased on Triple D. I visited the downtown location, which featured a vibrant nouveau-retro décor.

Copyright: Gail A. Sisolak 2013

Copyright Gail A. Sisolak 2013

I particularly wanted to try the haluski, which I had never seen on a menu. Apparently it’s a church fair staple in Pittsburgh, since the city has a large population descended from Eastern European immigrants. 

Haluski is Slovak Soul food; a dish I have made and enjoyed many times. Its three main ingredients are cabbage, noodles, and onions. When I was young, my mother used to make the noodles, but like most people she now uses store bought. I don’t have a written copy of the recipe, because every Slovak woman had her own version and they probably varied depending on the amount of cabbage and onions on hand.

 My Mother taught me to make haluski in the following proportions: 

1/2 stick of butter

1 medium head of cabbage

2 large onions

Salt and Pepper to taste

A healthy dash of paprika 

In a heavy skillet, brown the onion in butter. When browned, add salt, pepper, paprika and cabbage. Cover and simmer about 5 minutes. Add a little water or broth as needed; cook until cabbage is tender. My Mother usually served it over good quality egg noodles. 

Kelly O’s adds a couple of twists to their version of haluski—they top theirs with bacon and a dusting of shredded cheese.

While I loved the addition of the bacon, at first it seemed a little strange. Then I remembered early cooking lessons with my Mom. Back in the day, she saved the bacon fat from the skillet and poured it into a clean glass jar. Instead of using shorting or butter when pan frying, she would use a scoop of bacon fat. It was obviously not heart healthy, but the fat added a tremendous amount of flavor. There is a good chance a made haluski with bacon fat at some point.

Kelly O’s Diner

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Best Egg Hunt Ever!

Work 2013

Everyone seems to have egg hunts in spring, and let’s face it; they’re all variations on a theme. If you’re looking for a family outing that will provide the kids with something more than a sugar rush, check out the Fossil Egg Hunt at the Calvert Marine Museum on March 30 starting at 10:30 a.m. Designed for children age 3-8, the kids are divided into two groups to give everyone a fair chance at the goodies. Best of all, participants get to keep the fossils. Bring your own basket for egg collecting. Free with museum admission.

 Also at the CalvertMarineMuseum, enjoy learning about otters, the merry prankster of the mammal world, on April 1 for a fun April Fools Day activity. Sign up for the Otter Breakfast and learn about otter enrichment, habitat, and the mischief these mammals get into with their playful curiosity. Go behind the scenes to talk with a keeper and observe a feeding. 

A continental breakfast will be provided as part of the fee. Children must be at least 8 years old and accompanied by an adult to participate. Space is limited, pre-registration required. Fee is $15 per person, $10 for members and includes museum admission. Call 410-326-2042 ext. 41 to register.  Program begins at 9 a.m.

 Calvert Marine Museum Society

Solomons, MD


Image Source: Calvert Marine Museum

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Slovak Folk Crafts Animated Wood Carving

Click on image to go to our video tour of the animated wood carving.

Click on image to go to our video tour of the animated wood carving.

Tom and I visited the Slovak Folk Crafts Shop after our recent trip to Pittsburgh. We were surprised and delighted to see the largest animated wood carving in the United States. The Jednota published my story on page 17 of the February 13, 2013 edition of the Jednota.

Click to access FEB-13TH-ISSUE.pdf

Click on the image above to go to our video collage of the wood carving.

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Photo courtesy of Delaware Art Museum

Photo courtesy of Delaware Art Museum

The Delaware Art Museum is pleased to welcome the seventh annual Chinese New Year Celebration on Saturday, February 16. Presented in conjunction with Hanlin Chinese Culture Association, this festive, free celebration includes traditional Chinese art activities, artist demonstrations, a dragon art scavenger hunt, a dragon dance and Chinese yo-yo performance by the Chinese American Community Center Dance Troupe and Yo-Yo Club, and a special musical performance by Taiwanese Music Ensemble of New York. Artwork created by children from the Chinese School of Delaware to commemorate this holiday will also be on view. There is no Museum admission during Chinese New Year and all galleries will be open throughout the day from 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Delaware Art Museum

2301 Kentmere Parkway

Wilmington, DE 19806

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Sleeping with Sharks in MD

Photo Courtesy of Calvert Marine Museum

Photo Courtesy of Calvert Marine Museum

Okay, I admit I’m not fond of the dark. I’ve never been fond of the dark. Things with big scary teeth live in the dark. The Calvert Marine Museum (CMM) proves this for all time by letting guests “sleep” beneath the jaws of a giant Megalodon Shark. That’s pretty much guaranteed to give me exciting dreams!

Designed for groups of 10 to 20 participants, a CMM overnight invites guests to experience the  museum after hours and behind the scenes. The adventure begins Saturday nights, when guests enjoy as pizza dinner, a special program, behind-the-scenes activities, a movie, and a continental breakfast. Admission to the museum is included, so you can tour the exhibits during normal visiting hours on Saturday prior to the 5:00 p.m. check-in. The overnight ends Sunday morning after breakfast.

Overnight adventures are a unique treat for special birthdays, scout troops, church youth groups, or anyone who is looking for a great way to build camaraderie while learning about the area’s cultural and natural history. Museum educators are happy to craft a program that best meets your group’s interests and needs. Girl Scout groups can even earn special interest badges.

To schedule a museum overnight, call 410-326-2042 ext. 41 to reserve your date. The Group Services Coordinator will work with you to ensure your overnight experience at the Calvert Marine Museum is exactly what you are looking for. There is a non-refundable $25 program fee due upon booking. For open dates and theme ideas, visit the website.


14200 Solomons Island Road

Solomons, MD 20688

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Breakfast with the Arts: Part 3

 Weekday Breaks for Art

Wikipedia: DelawareArt Museum: Edward Burne-Jones (1833-1898)

Wikipedia: DelawareArt Museum: Edward Burne-Jones (1833-1898)

Those looking for light bite to start the day should check out the Thronson Café in the Delaware Museum of Art. The café and its terrace both overlook the Copeland Sculpture Garden. Assorted coffees, muffins, bagels, juices and the popular fruit parfait provide the perfect art beak in a busy day.

The Thronson Café is open Wednesday though Saturday, 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., and Sunday noon to 3:00 p.m.

The Delaware Art Museum’s collections are predominantly drawn from late 19th and early 20th century American illustration, as well as works from the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. The basis of the museum’s collections is the works of Howard Pyle and his pupils, N.C. Wyeth, Frank Schoonover, and Stanley Arthurs. Starting in 1961 Helen Farr Sloan, the wife of artist John French Sloan, began donations that eventually totaled 5,000 objects.

Since the 1970s the museum has added works by modern artists, such as Jacob Lawrence, Louise Nevelson, Robert Motherwell, George Segal and Jim Dine.

For More Information:

Delaware Art Museum

2301 Kentmere Parkway

Wilmington, DE

(302) 571-9590

This story was first published in the News Journal in 2008, under the byline of Gail A. Sisolak. All copyrights reserved.

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Breakfast with the Arts: Part 2

The Art of Nature and the Home

The Garden Cafeteria at Winterthur is reconfigured during Sunday Brunch to create a more intimate dining space focused on food and the glories of the gardens. Diners must stroll past the dessert offerings first, tempting them to forgo other buffet items. This would be unfortunate,

Images courtesy of Winterthur

Images courtesy of Winterthur

since the eclectic buffet items regularly change and include such varied options as sushi, crisp salads and fresh fruit. Boomers who visited the 1964/1965 New York World’s Fair will find memorable Belgian waffles on the menu. Sparkling champagne beautifully enhances the omelets made to order.

Sunday Brunch is served from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.

The Holiday Brunch menu at Winterthur offers special seasonal temptations, including Berry Muffins with Nutmeg Sugar, Sweet Cream & Currant Mini Scones with Fig & White Raisin Baked Apples and Smoked Salmon on Mini Potato Pancakes with Dill Sour Cream & Fried Capers.

Yuletide at Winterthur allows visitor to experience traditions of the past and dazzling displays in this special wintertime tour. Be transported to a 19th-century market square to see how preparations for winter festivities began, and in celebration of the exhibition Uncorked! Wine, Objects & Tradition, see the scrumptious evolution of the holiday meal from the colonial period to the early national period. Enjoy Winterthur’s unique version of a winter wonderland as you meander through a re-created woodland path offering vistas of the Winterthur Garden enveloped in snow.

Whether you are taking in the breathtakingly decorated trees, the colorful and exquisite room and food displays, or the winter wonderland of the garden, Yuletide at Winterthur is a feast for the eyes.


5105 Kennett Pike

Winterthur DE

(302) 888-4600       

This story was first published in the News Journal in 2008, under the byline of Gail A. Sisolak. All copyrights reserved.

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Gardens of the Garden State: Part 6 Surprising Summit

Summit, New Jersey is an ideal weekend destination for garden enthusiasts or those wanting to explore central New Jersey. This picturesque community is rich with history and culture, and has inviting oak-lined streets and Victorian architecture. Shops and restaurants line the downtown street, enticing sightseers and residents to linger; yet New York City is an easy commute from the train station.

The DeBary Inn
© Gail A. Sisolak 2012

Nestled within the shaded avenues is the DeBary Inn. Owners Anita and Hill Rose have remodeled the circa 1880 mansion to create an atmosphere of serenity and Old World charm. While the elegantly appointed rooms reflect period design, modern amenities abound. A full breakfast is served in the light-filled dining room, which overlooks the deep covered porch and blooming gardens.

The gourmet breakfast is specially prepared with healthy, natural; organic ingredients, said co-owner Anita Rose. During our stay, tempting European-style pancakes were served with lingonberry preserves and pure maple syrup.

Over 25 restaurants are within walking distance of the DeBary Inn; many feature al fresco dining during clement weather. My companion and I strolled to La Pastaria on our first night, where we savored a local favorite, Pork Chop Giambotta, (grilled chops sautéed with mushrooms, onions and peppers) while we enjoyed a street-side view of the gathering dusk.

On our second evening, we joined a vibrant crowd at Winberie’s, which has an eclectic range of menu offerings featuring contemporary American cuisine. Cedar Planked Salmon, served with seasonal vegetables, is a crowd pleaser.

While Summit is approximately a two-hour drive from Newark, Delaware, I recommend checking into your accommodations and getting directions to gardens or other venues. New Jersey roadways can be confusing.

2012 Update: Since I stayed at the DeBary Inn, it has changed owners and been extensively remodeled. Updated information can be found on their website.

For More Information:

The DeBary Inn

265 Springfield Avenue

Summit, NJ 07901

City of Summit

This story was first published in the News Journal in 2007 under the byline of Gail A. Sisolak. All rights reserved.

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Gardens of the Garden State: Part 5 Grounds For Sculpture Hamilton, New Jersey

Grounds For Sculpture, a 35-acre sculpture park and museum, has captivated visitors since 1992, and has only gained in popularity as more of the public discovers its tranquil setting and engaging sculpture.

Over 240 contemporary sculptures, from monumental to smaller scale, can be found on the beautifully landscaped grounds.  Indoor Exhibitions of emerging and well-known artists are shown throughout the year in two expansive, glass-walled buildings that were once exhibit halls for the New Jersey State Fair.

Grounds For Sculpture also offers gardens, water features, an exciting restaurant—Rat’s, a Café, Museum Shop, Toad Hall Shop & Gallery, and a seasonally-open Gazebo Café for visitors.

This story was first published in the News Journal in 2007 under the byline of Gail A. Sisolak. All rights reserved.