A Lot to be Thankful For

November 22, 2011 2 comments

Today’s blog post was contributed by a member of MPT’s producing staff, Marsha Thomas:

2011 is quickly winding to a close and it has been such an eventful year.  Wow, where did the time go?  One of the main events that I’ll never forget from this year was the earthquake that unnerved me to the core.  That experience jarred me into realizing how fragile life (the world) is and to relish every moment with family and friends just a little bit more.

So now I’m striving to work less and spend more quality time with the people I care about, including a little bit of community service somewhere in there to make a difference in the world.   Now that I have a little down time from working in various capacities (associate producer and coordinating producer to name a few) for Maryland Public Television, I’m living it up in the month of November.  On the 5th, I traveled to Columbia, Maryland for a friend’s birthday party.  On the 19th, I volunteered at Sarah’s House in Fort Meade to serve meals to families in transition.   Whew!  My new life plan ties perfectly in with National Family Week celebrated November 20th-26th, 2011.

The Morgan Choir: Lift Every Heart premieres 11/26 at 8pm on MPT

And Maryland Public Television (on my TV or online) is one of my main sources for finding fun-filled activities for my friends and family to do at home and around the state.  What else can I do now?  I think I’ll get out in the community and donate a sweater to my local Goodwill for Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood Sweater Drive going on now through January 15th.

On November 26th, I’m going to just kick back with my family and friends in the house and tune in to MPT at 8pm to watch The Morgan Choir: Lift Every Heart.   I watched the MPT staff and performers put their hearts and souls into this locally produced show featuring performances by the award-winning choir and soloists from Morgan State University.  Dr. Eric Conway conducted the choir’s powerful performance ranging from classical to gospel.  I know that this show will be the perfect relaxing event to end the busy Thanksgiving week with.  It’s another event for the year that I know that I will never forget.

Bringing Baltimore artists to the world

April 13, 2011 1 comment

**Maryland Public Television has been an avid supporter of the Maryland arts scene over the years, and we’re pleased to again bring the Baker Artist Awards to our air.  On Tuesday, April 19, 2011, at 7:30 PM, MPT will broadcast the announcement of the 2011 Baker Artist Awards winners.   We hope you’ll tune in to celebrate these accomplished Marylanders and join us on Twitter #BakerAwardsMPT during the broadcast!  Here’s a guest blog from our friends at the Baker Artist Awards.**

Established in 2008 by The William G. Baker, Jr. Memorial Fund, the Baker Artist Awards recognize Baltimore’s artists and engage regional, national and international audiences in supporting their work.  Through an innovative application process that allows for image, video, audio, and text formats, artists in any creative discipline are encouraged to register at www.bakerartistawards.org, create a “profile”, and upload samples of their artwork to be exhibited on the website.  In addition to commenting on artists work and on the Baker Artist Awards Blog, site visitors can also participate by signing up to create a collection of “Favorites”, a way of saving or bookmarking a selection of artwork.  Up to three Mary Sawyers Baker Prize winners are selected annually from the site’s applicants (or “nominees”) by a private jury and awarded up to $25,000 each.

The 2010-2011 Award Season has been a spectacular year for the Baker Artist Awards. In addition to breaking a record with 696 nominations, we also broke a record in the total amount of awards given with the advent of the “b Grants”, which have been overwhelmingly accepted and positively received by the community.

In addition to seeing the effects the awards have had on our thriving art community, it has been wonderful to see how the award recipients have taken advantage of their prizes.  There are no guidelines for how artists are to use their prize money, so it’s always a surprise and a delight to see what past winners have done with their awards.  John Ruppert, Mary Sawyers Baker Prize winner from 2009, showed us what he bought with his prize in this video:

ellen cherry, b Grant winner from December 2010, also sent us this video as a thank you and to explain how she took advantage of her award:

In only its third year, we could not be happier with the overwhelming interest from everyone who has been involved.  We have seen the Baker Artist Awards grow into a community itself, connecting artists and the Baltimore community at large in new and exciting ways.  Through supporting our local artists and encouraging the evolution of what some have dubbed “the Baltimore art renaissance”, we’ve received international attention and brought our artists the recognition they deserve.

MPT provides a great service to the Baker Artist Awards in helping to not only expand our network, but bring our community to an even wider and more diverse audience.

We’re thrilled to be teaming up with MPT once again in announcing and introducing this year’s award winners, and sharing the exciting and creative work of our artists on a broader scope.

Looking forward to seeing you on April 19th,

– The Folks at The Baker Artist Awards

Welcome To Our Home

March 7, 2011 Leave a comment

Vitame va u nas doma. Welcome to our home. All the recent talk of home cooking and ethnicity sent me right back to my childhood in Texas. I grew up on a cotton farm and spoke mostly Czech until I was forced to speak English in the first grade.

Forty years later, in 2000, I was transplanted to Anne Arundel County, Maryland. I was quite happily transplanted, but I found myself surrounded by my husband’s sweet Irish relatives who don’t do the polka very often and, needless to say, don’t speak Czech.
I thought they represented the population of Maryland. Silly me!!

Little did I know that not very far away in Parkville was a lovely group of folks who longed for my traditions as I did. The Czech and Slovak Heritage Association was established in 1986 in Baltimore. Since then, the group has grown into a national organization. They preserve the Czech and Slovak heritage promoting and providing education in the languages and history of the Czech and Slovak peoples. They sure can dance too!

I have to admit I haven’t been a faithful member, but I know they are there when I need a dose of “home.” Speaking of home, since this is Baltimore, I guess I should have said, “Vitame vas u nas doma, HON.”

Maybe one day they can film “Slavic Cooking at MPT?”

Joyce at MPT

Categories: Uncategorized

Home Cookin’

March 2, 2011 2 comments

You should know by now that I’m a self-proclaimed foodie,  and always on the lookout for new places to eat and new recipes to try.  I’m a regular Food Network (& MPT2!) viewer, and I subscribe to a couple of local foodie blogs to get the latest scoop on new restaurants and dining trends.

As much as I hate chain e-mail letters, I recently got sucked into a recipe sharing chain.  In a matter of days (as promised–for once), I received a good number of easy and interesting recipes in my in-box from folks I don’t know.  Pretty cool.

Seems that whether you’re a foodie or just a home cook, there’s always something to talk about and share with others.  Food is a universal need, right?  Everyone needs nourishment at some level, and in some cases, food satisfies people at many different levels–from basic physical nutrition to very deep social & emotional connections with others.  We can all talk about Food.  We all have a connection to Food, and Food plays a part in everyone’s lives.

Especially Home Cooking.  Who doesn’t have a fond memory of a home cooked meal?  For me, I miss my mom’s Filipino dishes, adapted for her own tastes & that of her four first-generation American kids.  Try as I might to recreate them, I just can’t seem to get the exact flavor of Mom’s chicken adobo or pancit (Filipino-style lo mein–see picture).  It’s not because I don’t have her recipes–I do.  They’re just incomplete, because she never measured anything.  But with each attempt that I put on my family’s dinner table, I find myself apologizing that “it’s not as good as Momma’s.”  Nine times out of ten, plates are licked clean regardless of that apparent shortcoming.  So I’ve finally come to the realization that it really doesn’t matter that my attempts don’t match up to Mom’s, because I’m developing my own version & adaptations–just like she did.  Don’t get me wrong; I’ll never turn down Mom’s home cooking when she comes to visit.  (That woman makes a MEAN adobo.)   But now, I’m less harsh on myself for my Americanized Filipino cooking.  Besides, my sisters and I occasionally compare notes on how Mom made something, and how they’ve tweaked her recipes for their families.

So what’s your favorite home cooked meal memory?  Is it breakfast in bed made by the kids?  Is it making cookies with Grandma?  Share them in the comments below, and if you have a recipe to share, by all means:  DO!

P.S. Tune into MPT this Saturday, March 5 at 2:30 PM for a whole show on Maryland home cooking, featuring Maryland home cooks in action in our studio!  AND: we’ve compiled an entire cookbook of viewer recipes from all over the area–MPT Cooks!

You Know You Live in Maryland when…

January 23, 2011 3 comments

Ya gotta love Facebook.  In so many ways, Facebook has become a window to the world through the lens of my +500 friends.  Mind you,  I don’t stay in touch daily with each of these friends, but Facebook allows me to stay in touch with them and their lives simply by reading their statuses.   (For the uninitiated, one’s Facebook status is one way to quickly & briefly telegraph your most current news or thoughts.  Your friends read your status on their News Feed page, similar to a page of headlines from all your friends.)

Last weekend, I had to chuckle when I read my News Feed.  The Baltimore Ravens were in the AFC playoffs against the Pittsburgh Steelers–a long and much-contested pro football rivalry in this area.  Now, any time the Ravens and Steelers play during the regular season, I can expect to see a few Facebook statuses related to that game–usually something general about how much one is convinced that their team will prevail.  I live in the Baltimore area, so I can expect at least my football fan friends in this area to have something to say about that game.

This time, my entire News Feed read like a play by play commentary for the entire duration of the game.  People’s statuses were detailed reports of either team’s offensive or defensive strategy, predictions on what plays the coaches will call next, commentary on the TV commentators, reactions to one play or another, and on and on.  One could literally follow the game just by reading my friends statuses on my News Feed.  It was worth noting that many of these statuses were coming from friends that I wouldn’t really call football “fans.”  And, the pro-Ravens views far out-numbered the pro-Steelers views.  I thought to myself, “only in Baltimore.”   I reported that as my status:

Faith Exconde Wachter you know you live in Baltimore when your FB feed is an all Ravens play-by-play January 15 at 6:14pm

Then, I made a quick half-time run to the grocery store to pick up a few things.  The store was deserted, and many of the shelves were completely empty.  The few store employees present were wearing Ravens jerseys or hats.  As I’m heading to the check-out (no lines–yippee!), I hear over the public address system: “Ravens 21, Steelers 14.”  Again, I thought to myself, “only in Baltimore.”  I updated my Facebook status when I got home:

Faith Exconde Wachter you know you live in Baltimore, part 2: the grocery store announces the Ravens game score on the PA system, and the store is devoid of people, tortilla chips, and chicken wings.  January 15 at 6:59pm

How many times has this happened to you?  As a “come here” (someone not originally from Maryland, as opposed to a “from here” who is), I’m constantly observing Maryland-isms.  For example, describing snow accumulation with: “the snow is starting to lay.”  Or, emphasizing the word “Oh” in the middle of the National Anthem (as in “O” for Orioles)–and not only at sporting events.  Or reserving your own freshly shoveled parking space with a lawn chair.

Your turn to fill in the blank.  You know you live in Maryland when:___________________.

Post your Maryland-isms below!

New year, new series!

January 4, 2011 Leave a comment

So, we’re back from our holiday hiatus somewhat refreshed, though not quite ready for the barrage of events, projects, and to-do’s that face us in the coming weeks.  Still, there’s some exciting stuff happening on the near horizon.

First up, MPT premieres its newest series this Saturday, January 8 at 6:30 PM:  Chesapeake Collectibles!  Hosted by MPT’s own Rhea Feikin, each episode explores the rich history and culture of the Chesapeake Bay region through the artifacts and stories of its residents.  Most of the series was shot in one weekend here at MPT’s studios in Owings Mills, and other segments take us all around our beautiful state.  MotorWeek’s John Davis is also featured in several episodes, taking on the historical vehicles & other motorized finds.

This promises to be a very cool series that takes a unique look at Maryland’s culture and people.  Here’s a clip:

Through our community conversations, we’ve spoken with many of you about the cultural & historical significance of the areas that you live in, and here’s your chance to toot your own regional horns!  Viewers can submit their own collectibles for online sharing here.   Tell us about YOUR treasured item!  Or, post a comment below about some historical fact about YOUR community.  Maybe your posts can lead to a plug or feature in Season 2!

If you want a sneak peek at Chesapeake Collectibles, please join us at the Historical Society of Talbot County in Easton this Friday, January 7 from 5-8 PM.  Joe Krushinsky and I will be showing a brief excerpt at 6:30 PM.  Bring in your own antiques for a verbal appraisal too!  Info and RSVP: (410) 822-0773, director@hstc.org

Chesapeake Collectibles airs Saturdays at 6:30 PM and repeats Thursdays at 8 PM on MPT-HD, plus Sundays at 6 PM on MPT2.

We’d love to hear your comments about the new show!  Post them below or send them to collectibles@mpt.org.  Thanks as always for watching, and we look forward to hearing from you soon!

See you around Maryland,

The Cost of Your Future

December 6, 2010 1 comment

Like many parents out there right now,  I am helping my 17 year-old high school senior through the college application process.  If you haven’t looked at the cost of higher education recently, then boy are you in for HUGE sticker shock.  I thought it was expensive when I went to a small private college in New York State in the late 1980’s, but holy Pete.  Tuition costs are roughly twice as expensive as they were back then.  Then you add room and board and “other fees,” and it’s the equivalent of buying a new car every year.  A REALLY nice car.  For four years.

I don’t know how my parents did it back in the day; and they had four kids to put through college.  Three of us went to out-of-state schools, and all four of us went to private institutions.   I worked my way through most of my graduate school, but still needed some help from Mom & Dad to afford life in New York City.  I was grateful when they started college funds for my kids when they were born, but I don’t think anybody anticipated that it wouldn’t be enough to cover even one semester when the time came.  The steep rise in tuition, the even-steeper fall of the stock market, and the current costs of living have brought us to where we are now.

Okay, some things about the college application process have gotten better.  Virtually everything is done online, and most schools accept a universal web-based application form.  (Remember typing all those application forms and your essays?)  The Internet has made it easier to conduct your college search and “visit” schools from your desktop.  You can even fill out your financial aid forms and pay for tuition online.

But the cost of higher education has become prohibitive for too many Americans these days.  Students find themselves mired deep in debt upon graduation from all the loans they took out to finish school.   Parents mortgage their homes to pay for their kids’ education.   Many students attend community colleges for the first two years of their degree work, and then transfer to a four-year institution for the remaining two years–a less expensive solution to getting a four-year degree from a reputable university.  Here’s the story of a recent graduate that racked up $200,000 in student loan debt.  It’s doubtful she’ll ever pay that off, unless somehow she becomes the first sociologist ever to command a Hollywood salary.  And even then, her credit score is ruined and she’ll have trouble buying a car or house, and qualifying for other loans.  That six-figure loan debt IS her future, and I wonder:  was it worth the price?

Thank goodness we live in a state with GREAT public colleges & universities.  Thank goodness for in-state tuition.  Thank goodness my son has great grades at a magnet high school, wants to study in a STEM* field, and is Asian American.  All of these attributes increase our odds & eligibility for more student aid.  No doubt, we are applying for any and every scholarship opportunity available to help pay for college.  Yes, we are applying to out-of-state schools as well, but it’s clear that our best odds at an affordable college education are right here in Maryland.

We’ll be getting notifications from these schools over then next few months, and we will all take a collective sigh of relief when we’ve settled on a school with the best financial aid scenario.  Meanwhile, we still have a few more applications to hit “send” on, and there’s the dreaded Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) coming up on January 1.

Still, regardless of the costs, kids are attending and graduating from college every year.  If you are in the same boat as me (or have been recently), I’d love to hear how you tackled this conundrum.  Did you take advantage of a pre-paid plan or similar college savings option?  Were you able to score merit or need-based scholarships?  Did you find any good websites for scholarships?

Even if your kids are still young, it’s a good idea to begin planning for their college education.  Start reading up on college savings options and get started on that nest egg NOW.  And even better, watch You Can Afford College on MPT this Wednesday, December 8 at 8 PM.  Get FREE live financial aid advice from financial aid professionals during the broadcast:  call 800-222-1292 or tweet your questions #affordcollegeMPT.

And good luck on the FAFSA!


*Science, Technology, Engineering, Math


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