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Category Archives: Family

Thankful for What We Have

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. A time spent with family and friends to celebrate. To be thankful for everything we have.

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For the ability to travel freely. For the ability to say what we wish. For the ability to get a good education. To have clean water. Relatively clean air. Food, water, shelter. We take it for granted, many of us.

Carneros at Thanksgiving

Carneros at Thanksgiving

We don’t always do enough for those who don’t have all of the above. Or, don’t have most of the above. I only do a small part. Those weeks last summer that I spent doing the food bank garden are only a drop in the bucket.

Want to help in a small way all winter long? I know a few ways to help, and I am making a note to remember to do those things before Christmas. Go to an outlet. Buy a large amount of socks, mittens, gloves and/or scarves. Find a local church or nonprofit who is collecting items to be given to those who need them to keep warm.

Head over to Costco with a plan. If you can afford $50 or $100, fine, but any amount helps. Buy those bulk packages of canned goods. Tuna. Beans. Two good candidates that help the Howard County Food Bank. Keep the Costco receipt and staple it to your donation acknowledgement. The food bank really needs useful foods. Not the cleaning out the pantry stuff, but things that people who only have a hot plate, and maybe a microwave, can use.

We learned when we put our garden together that certain foods are used the most. Many of the people who need the services don’t have the ability to make meals from scratch. They lack the pans, the baking sheets, the ovens, or other items that we take for granted.

Go through your closets and donate any sweaters, coats, sweatshirts, warm pants that you no longer wear. Winter is harsh around here. We have been downsizing our life, by eliminating all those extras just taking up space and never getting used.

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I missed making a post for “Giving Tuesday” a few days ago. But, we shouldn’t need a day for giving. We should think about how lucky we are, to be sitting in front of a computer, or writing on a tablet, while warm, with the turkey in the oven, and all our family around us.

And, while we are at it, tomorrow, we will be Opting Outside, even if it’s only to string a few hundred yards of power cable to the radio tower. Maybe we will get over to Old Westminster Winery to see the new tasting room. They are open with music on Friday and Saturday evenings. I think it’s a better way to spend Black Friday.

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.

Thirty Five Years

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Give or take an hour.

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A significant anniversary. Living through those vow-y things. Like sickness and health. And loss of loved ones. Job changes. Uncertainties. Good times. Laughter. Tears.

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Standing up there not knowing what life will bring. Operating on love and faith. It does amaze me that we beat those odds. About eight years ago at a Christmas work dinner/dance, at 28 years, we were one of the last couples dancing. We could call it luck. We could call it dedication. We could call it hard work. Or a bit of all of it.

We’re not doing much for this one. We did the big splurge at 25. The fancy inn. The gourmet meal.

We just hit the county fair to see if I won any ribbons (more on that tomorrow). We will be grilling shrimp and petite filets. Opening an old Chateau Montelena we won at a charity auction years ago.

We certainly aren’t party people anymore, are we? Maybe tomorrow, the 36th anniversary of our first date, we will raise a toast at the beer garden.

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Memorial Day

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We were somewhat busy today but I still took some time to remember what this “holiday” really means. Besides the start of summer, the pools opening, those retail sales, and BBQ parties at the beach or wherever.

We tend to stay home this weekend. Always have. We know we are lucky our dads came home after WWII. They both served in the South Pacific 70 years ago.

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Came home, met our mothers. Got married. My husband and I were both first born children. Early baby boomers. We lived through the Cold War. Hid under our desks during air raid practices. Watched the protests during the Vietnam War. Lost many class mates to that war.

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My retirement flag. Sits there to remind me how fortunate we are. To live in freedom. That others fought and died to achieve, and maintain.

Thanks to all who gave their lives so we could live in freedom.

Spring Visitors

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Just a while back, the local online papers, Columbia, Ellicott City and Elkridge Patch asked readers to recommend places to take out of town visitors to Howard County.

Want a locavore take on this? I thought of so many great places not included on their list. After all, how could you not recommend Clark’s farm? Or Larriland? Or Brighton Dam? Or Oella? Or, the other dozen I will cover in some future posts.

Let’s start with Clark’s Farm. Adjacent to Centennial Park. The walk through the Enchanted Forest Tree Maze is worth the price of admission. As well as the petting zoo, the wagon rides, the “Old Lady Who Lived in a Shoe” and much more. Nora and Martha have made this place special for children, and adults who carry that sense of whimsy found in those old fairy tales.

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I did a post the day I visited the farm in April 2013. The farm is open April through October.

My second favorite springtime place to take friends is Brighton Dam. On the county line. The azalea gardens are legendary. Part of the Triadelphia Reservoir land, the 5 acre gardens are the place to go in late April and early May. The water authority, WSSC will publish a news release on their home page that documents status of the azaleas. You can picnic below the parking lot on the downstream side of the dam. The gardens have trails that work well for strollers, but a little tricky for wheelchairs. Still, this place is full of couples, families, individuals, bird watchers, photographers, and those just wanting to take a stroll on the beautiful spring days.

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It doesn’t get much better than this.

Moving on to May, strawberry picking at Larriland. A trip to this family owned farm is a real treat. Weekends there will be wagon rides, food, things for the families to do. We go out to Larriland at least six times a year. We do strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, cherries, tomatoes and apples. Sometimes more. Like flowers. Or beets. After picking fruit, we head up to the Town Grill to sit outside and eat their wonderful messy barbecued pork.

Berry picking. We love to do. Bring them home. Clean them. Freeze whole berries to add to a glass of white wine, and it feels like spring no matter when you have them.

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Finally, in this post, head over to Oella. Walk the Trolley Trail. Visit the Banneker Museum. Have lunch at BricknFire Pizza, at the Breadery.

Pick up Angus beef steaks at JW Treuth, a traditional butcher shop just down the road from the Breadery. Wander the tiny roads that lead down to the Patapsco. Just across the river from Old Town Eliicott City. Which will be the subject of my next post later this week.

Oh, and if you want cherry blossoms? Howard County has those too. Check out Blossoms of Hope events. And, we haven’t even made it to summer yet. You have lots of exploring to do.

The Year of the Sheep

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So is this the year of the goat, or the sheep?

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Either way, I’m covered.

Want to learn more about the New Year traditions of various Asian cultures? Come join Wendy Ng and Kyong Parker at the Howard County Conservancy this Saturday at 10 am. to hear all about it.

Here is the write up from the events page.

Lunar New Year celebrations are linked to nature and are celebrated by billions around the world. Traditions abound with flowers, special fruits and foods, beautiful colors, games and posters throughout the house. Preparations for the new year also include organizing, clearing out, and cleaning. We invite families to participate in some of the Chinese and Korean traditions while learning the greetings and etiquette of Eastern cultures. Make and take home some of the decorations. Rain or shine. Program is free but registration is necessary. FEB 14- Saturday 10am FREE

They do want people to register to be sure they bring the right amount of materials.

It would be a fun Valentine’s Day morning excursion, before heading off for those romantic evenings.

See you there??

Home for the Holidays

Yesterday we took a trip back to my husband’s home town. Mainly because we hadn’t been there in 18 months, and we wanted to check in on some things (and buy some of his favorite kielbasy). Most of the family is gone. Moved, passed away. A few friends still in the area, but not many.

It’s a deeply depressed coal mining town. We found my husband’s old house on the market again. Like hundreds in the area. We were lucky to sell it quickly 12 years ago when my MIL moved to a retirement community in Pottsville.

The cemetery. Covered in fog and snow. Too wet, windy and cold to try to take pictures. We were there to check on the gravesites, before paying our yearly maintenance fee to the man who the church uses to maintain graves for those who are no longer local. The cemetery is on a huge hill outside of town. At 1800 feet elevation according to our GPS.

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This picture, taken last year shows the wind turbines installed on the ridge. Yesterday we couldn’t see them, the fog was so thick.

As for getting that kielbo, we forgot that Kowalonek’s gets really crazy at the holidays. Lines out the door, through the parking lot and around the corner. Not our idea of what to do in the rain and wind. We decided to head south to Manheim and look for fresh kielbasa at the Roots Country Market and Auction.

We found some at Hummer’s meats. A three pound ring of fresh, not smoked kielbasa. It almost is as good as his hometown version but not quite. We also picked up some of Hodecker’s celery, a real delicacy harvested in the fall and early winter. The web site is from the Bed and Breakfast at the farm where the celery is grown.

Some of that celery went into stock tonight. The leaves were frozen for later use.

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We took the back roads up and back. On the way up, we stopped at the Peters Orchards to get some gifts like this one.

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Cranberry salsa. Made in PA. Peters carries a nice selection of hot pepper jellies, all sorts of jams, honey, syrup and much more. They are open year round and are on the way to Carlisle on Rte 94. My husband couldn’t resist the molasses cookies either.

All in all, on a rainy blustery day, we had a good time, even though traffic was awful on the way home. I have to admit, I don’t miss that commute in really bad weather up I-81.

Now, off to bake cookies and other goodies using things I picked up at the market.

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