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Category Archives: Day Trips

They Say It’s My Birthday

Or at least it was, yesterday.

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My better half even remembered to get the card, the flowers and a tiny box (just the right size, 6 truffles) of chocolates. He is pretty good about remembering dates, and almost as good at getting the little things that make it special.

Sixty three years old. I have to admit, I think there is some truth to how quickly the years seem to pass as you get older. I am amazed at how fast I feel that 2015 went by.

We have lived in this house almost 11 years. I realized it is the second longest time I spent at one address, in my entire life. The 23 years in our Columbia townhouse is significant. I wonder if I will spend 12 more years here, until I am 75. Who knows? It certainly is peaceful and lovely out here.

I grew up a city girl. Twenty two years. Then, 30 years in suburban Columbia. Commuting elsewhere after the first year of living there. Eleven years now a rural route resident.  Almost half that time as a retiree.

Reflections of why we did what we did in life. And speculation about what we want to do in the future. Those things always seem to come up on birthdays and anniversaries.

A few highlights of our dinner and evening.

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A very simple appetizer. Homemade bagel crisps (easy, just thinly slice a Wegmans plain bagel, then toast it). Served with Firefly Farms chevre and housemade smoked salmon from Bardines Smokehouse in western PA. The smoked salmon was picked up on one of our day trips. To Petrolia PA to buy some tower accessories for my husband. He gets to go look for radio stuff. I get to stop at someplace to indulge my locavore and small business habit.

We were actually there looking for fresh kielbasa. Theirs is award winning and we have to compare it to the homegrown style in my husband’s PA birthplace. It’s good. It’s close, but not as garlicky as what his hometown favorite is. For us, we have to have that homemade kielbo for New Year’s.

I can’t let the opportunity pass to say something about this wine. It is a six year old Chardonnay from my favorite VA winery, Linden. If you closed your eyes, or covered the bottle, you would not know it to be a VA wine. It tastes just like a good white Burgundy. Not premier cru, but up there. A perfect mate for the tartness of the chevre and the richness of the smoked salmon.

Dinner, too, was fairly simple, yet elegant. I put beef short ribs over a bed of white beans, onions, Brussels sprouts and mushroom gravy. Slow cooked it for six hours in the oven.

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Not the best light for pictures. I served lightly glazed carrots with the beef. A yellow one, a white one and an orange one. CSA carrots come in all the colors of the rainbow around here. I am working my way through that full root vegetable drawer since the end of the fall CSA. Good thing carrots last a long time.

The splurge for my birthday dinner. The 2012 RdV Rendezvous. Just released in October. Quite an austere wine. In the manner of a Bordeaux, it does best when paired with food. The beef short ribs did OK as a match. This wine needs a few more years to mellow. Still, it’s a lovely balanced wine. Who would guess it’s from Delaplane Virginia.

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We finished this wine later in the evening with one of those truffles, while watching the Kennedy Center Honors. As for the Linden, here’s hoping the half we didn’t drink survived a night in the fridge. That’s the thing about older wines. They don’t tend to hang in there for the next day.

This birthday, like many of ours, was spent here at home. Leisurely. Relaxed. Full of great food and wine. Easy to make dishes. I really enjoy putting together a make ahead meal, and spending time just having uninterrupted conversations with my better half. While also enjoying locally produced beef, vegetables and wine. Not a bad way to turn 63.

 

Tidbit Tuesday

Here we are heading full speed into the holiday season and there is quite a bit happening.

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Like this weekend, the holiday Colonial Celebration over at Belmont. I hear there aren’t many tickets left. Absolutely beautifully decorated, and with good food and libations, it is the only fund raiser that the Howard County Conservancy holds at Belmont to raise funds to support the educational programs held there.

Meanwhile, tonight at Mt. Pleasant, another of the meteor shower events. The Leonids. I will be there setting up and we are crossing our fingers that it isn’t too cloudy. The event is from 10pm-1am.

Here on the home front, I am trying to get ready for Thanksgiving, as one by one, appliances in my kitchen keep having problems. First, the dishwasher only intermittently drains. Even taking it apart and cleaning it out hasn’t solved the problem. Guess it’s time to find a new one.

Add to that, my microwave knob no longer functions. The microwave works, but you can only use the express button and push it enough times to get the number of minutes you need. Since I only use it for potatoes, pop corn and reheating coffee, it’s not a big issue for Thanksgiving, but it is just another place where we see quality is lacking.

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Last week our CSA had pop corn in it. I like to pop it in a paper bag for three minutes in the microwave. No need for butter or oil or clean up.

As for the “last straw”, so to speak, our oven door shattered. This is the second one. The top oven did it a few years back. The lower one, late last month when I put it into cleaning mode.

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Thankfully, it was fully contained in between the outer shields. I suppose I could still use it for a while as it shattered at the beginning of a two hour cleaning cycle, and I didn’t know it until it finished and unlocked. I had heard a “pop” and couldn’t figure out where it originated, until I opened the door.

So much for having a fancier oven. It seems bad glass is bad glass so matter who the manufacturer is. I guess this means I get to hand clean the ovens from now on. Or, I keep having to replace the glass. Annoying. Particularly as we get into my busy baking season.

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Cookie baking time is fast approaching.

Tomorrow, if I get a chance to sit down, I will be writing about Thanksgiving plans, including getting the turkey and the wine.

Get outside tonight, and look for meteors.

Standing Room Only

I love it when the free programs out at the Conservancy far exceed our expectations. Like today.

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Fifty two people. Ten of them little ones. For Frank Marsden’s talk and walk about finding wildlife in winter.

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Frank told us everything we always wanted to know about scat, but were afraid to ask. Like determining the diet from the color, texture and “ingredients” found. Like how grey fox and red fox are different. How we never see grey fox as they sleep in trees.

We went out for a ninety minute hike, looking for signs of wildlife. We did find deer tracks.

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We also found out that our former ground hog habitat, a large number of interconnected holes up in the meadow, have been abandoned by the ground hogs, and are now inhabited by fox. How do we know that? The smell of fox urine, a sure sign that fox have moved in and are marking their territory.

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We had a lovely day out there, even if it was a bit windy.

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The meadows are lovely this time of year, and by taking a leisurely hike, you can find many signs of the wildlife living here. Take a hike some day. There are four miles of marked trails, and with no leaves on the trees, you can see far across the ridges to neighboring towns.

Planning Ahead?

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Just a couple of really interesting programs are coming up next weekend over at the Howard County Conservancy Mt. Pleasant site. Followed by one of the very popular meteor shower watches on the following Tuesday. Here are the details for those planning their weekends in advance.

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Spotting Wildlife in Winter – Saturday morning the 14th at 10am. For the hikers, photographers, and nature lovers who want to learn how to see more during the winter, Frank Marsden is leading a hike through the fields, woods and along the stream out at Mt. Pleasant. Frank has been taking amazing pictures out at Eden Mill Nature Center in Harford County. He is coming into our woods to show us what to look for, and how to increase our chances of seeing wildlife in their natural habitat.

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Then, on Sunday, another very special program. Do you know where Patterson Park is? Have you ever heard of Miracle Pond? Middleton Evans had made over 600 trips to this pond in a wildly overgrown section of the park. His visits, and his amazing photographs, span 15 years. He is giving a presentation in the Gudelsky Center at 4pm on the 15th of November. It should be something special.

Planning to check out the Leonids? Want to do it with some of our talented astronomical experts, like Star Doc (Dr. Joel Goodman) and Dr. Alex Storrs from Towson University? They will be bringing high powered scopes, but on a dark night like the 17th, you should be able to sit back in a lawn chair, bundled up against the cool weather, sipping some hot chocolate while looking for meteors shooting across the skies. This is always a popular event, with many attendees. Sometimes we’ve had over a 100 people out there. They will be there from 10pm until the wee hours of the morning.

This trio of programs should give us a few good reasons to “Get Out There”. Details on the Conservancy web site, under upcoming events.

The Antietam Highlands Wine Trail

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Something to do on these lovely autumn days.

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Fall foliage season is fast approaching. I picked up this brochure at Big Cork a few weeks ago. The offerings interested me.

Like the Meadery and Ciderworks.

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Filed away to try out on a weekend soon. But today, the first sunny day in a long time, we ventured out to taste at Knob Hall.

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Just west of Hagerstown. They were harvesting red grapes and sorting, when we got there.

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And, you know what? They make some lovely wines. Not very expensive. But, really well done. The tasting room is in a 200+ year old bank barn. They make one awesome cheese and charcuterie plate. We enjoyed their Chambourcin Reserve for a late lunch.

For those who love good wine, this is a very nice place to check out.

We will be heading back out there to try out the other offerings just west of Frederick. Who can resist the pull of the Appalachian mountains in the fall?

Fall Fest is On!

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Tired of being indoors from the rain? Want to get out and have a fun Sunday at the Howard County Conservancy? The festival tomorrow the 4th of October is still going to take place. Minus a few things, like the hay rides. Slippery, wet trails where they usually ride will make it impossible to hold the rides without creating ruts, which encourage erosion.

Besides that change, the rest will still take place. Pumpkin painting. Crafts and storytelling.

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You can visit the animals, including the alpacas from Pearl Moon.

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The square dancers will be inside the Gudelsky Center. The historic farmhouse will be open for tours.

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The blacksmiths will be operating. So will the chair caners, the woodturners, the basketweavers, and more.

The cost. Just $10 a car. Bring neighbors, relatives and friends. The more the merrier. Time is 11am-3pm. Food trucks will be there with waffles, BBQ, and other goodies.

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See you there?

Agritourism

Some of my favorite fall activities on the local farm scene.

The farms in this area have created many opportunities for people to enjoy the properties, pick some fruit, go on hayrides or get lost in a corn maze.

You can’t go wrong picking these events. There’s something to do most weekends.

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Right now.

Clark’s is always open. They even have dinosaurs, I hear, to go along with the Enchanted Forest attractions in the pine tree trails. So many things to do there, and really close to town.

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Larriland is open for pick your own, has a straw maze for the little ones, and has hayrides to the pumpkin patch.

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Gaver Farm just west of Mt. Airy is already open with their corn maze.

Starting next week.

Mullinix Maze opens next Friday the 25th with their huge corn maze, out by Western Regional Park.

Farm Heritage Days at the Farm Museum across from the Fairgrounds is next weekend.

Sharp’s Farm opens next weekend, too.

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In October.

TLV Tree Farm in Glenelg has something different every weekend out at the farm.

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Baugher’s in Westminster has their fall festival events every weekend in October, as well.

Good to see so many choices to get out, pick apples or pumpkins, go on hayrides, check out a petting zoo, or two, or three.

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Support our local farms, who offer much more than the farmer’s markets. These agritourism events help their bottom line, and keep them healthy to be there every year, giving us fresh fruit and vegetables.

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