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Category Archives: Howard County

W1AW/3 aka W3AO

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It’s Field Day weekend. The weekend each year that my husband joins about 100 fellow club amateur radio operators, friends and family at a local school field to exercise their radio operating skills in remote, or portable, or emergency conditions. You all know the phrase, practice makes perfect. So, once a year the USA and Canada conduct this weekend event. Putting radio stations on the air all over the two countries.

This year is the 100th anniversary of the American Radio Relay League (ARRL). For Field Day the Columbia Amateur Radio Association and the Potomac Valley Radio Club get to use the national organization’s call sign W1AW portable 3. We in MD are in the “3” region of the country. The headquarters is located in New England, the “1” region. Since we are licensed to use their call sign for a week of the centennial, we will be using it for Field Day.

Instead of our usual club call sign. W3AO. I did a series last year on our Field Day. W3AO is extremely organized, competitive, yet one of the nicest groups of people you could ever meet.

Today about 30-40 of us were out there setting up the towers, antennas, laying coaxial cable, and getting ready for tomorrow.

A few fun pictures of set up day.

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Generator. Check. Air Conditioner. Check. Say What? Air conditioner? Yes, when you bring all the generators and have built them for us, you do get to bring your own portable unit to keep the VHF tent THE PLACE TO BE when it’s 90 plus degrees out there.

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Working on the power to the main tent.

Then there’s our solar unit, to get those points.

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We also have the satellite tent being set up with all their equipment right outside their tent flap.

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They were on the air late this afternoon using our club call to be sure everything was set up. The rest of the radios and computers will be set up tomorrow.

This was a really great group. All eleven bases of the AB-577s, the crank up towers, were in place in less than two hours.

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Being level is important.

Coaxial cable was all in place before six pm today. We spent less than 10 hours out there today. Tomorrow it’s just a few more hours of radios, computers, power up and check out, before beginning on the air at 2 pm local time.

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How many miles of cable do we use? Answer tomorrow.

As for all the planning, a small group does so much of it. This picture is one of my favorites from today.

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K3RA, Rol, who gets us all organized, with his XYL, Audrey, who is in charge of feeding us all. After all, we know an army marches on its stomach. Along with Jim, N3KTV, seen above unrolling cable, they keep us focused and busy getting prepared.

Time to shut this down and sleep before the fun begins. Come visit us at Triadelphia Ridge Elementary School tomorrow. We may put you on the air, as W3AO. I think I will operate our Get On The Air (GOTA) station. After all, W3AO holds all sorts of records, and this year the GOTA station is using that call sign, while the rest of the club uses W1AW/3.

The New Blogs in Town

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Howard County has been blessed with some really interesting writers, particularly when it comes to food. Using hocoblogs and HowChow as my go-to sources and my morning coffee accompaniment, I get what is happening in and around the area. And find new things to cook. And to blog about.

Like my latest finds in the food world.

Three Beans on a String. A fellow LFFC CSAer who loves to cook and takes amazing photographs. I met Elizabeth at Petit Louis Bistro, at a hocoblogs party there. I regularly read her posts and envy her photography skills. Her food looks great. I bet it tastes that good also.

The Unmanly Chef. Love the name. Jessie from hocoblogs sent me a link. HowChow had him guest post today. I see from that post we are both customers of Friends and Farms. And, I have to get my hands on these skewers, highlighted in his kabob post. I also need to try the egg in my kofta.

The Bare Midriff. Yes, Elizabeth’s blog isn’t new, just new on my regular reading list, that I just updated. I have been reading her blog for a while, but haven’t written about it. We met at the Gadsby event, another hocoblogs get together.

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Next month we have an event planned at Secolari, my favorite place for olive oil, seasoned salts, vinegars, and of course, that awesome Pappardalle’s pasta. More on the event later.


Now, it’s nice to see more company on the food blogs column of hocoblogs. Bon Appetit!


A Decade of Summers

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Our tenth summer here. Time flies. The trees are much larger. The bushes growing together. It is even more private than when we arrived. Not quite as quiet, though. More development brought more traffic.

But still, summer out here is lived outdoors. Either mowing or weeding or trimming or harvesting or eating or drinking or whatever. I spend so much time outdoors. Watching the animals. The birds. The snakes. Yes, the snakes. Life in the country is always an adventure.

We also eat more meals at home. Shop closer to home. I almost titled this post, summer salad days, because we have transitioned into the summer routine of salads for lunch, and a big component of dinner.

It’s too hot some days to cook. Or, our appetites are affected by the heat.

We stopped up at the garden after dinner at Iron Bridge tonight. Tried to decide if we wanted to stand in that long line at the Woodstock snowball stand. Decided instead to come home for leftover crumble with a scoop of salted caramel ice cream.

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Blueberry season opens this weekend at Larriland. I never went to Larriland when we lived in Columbia. Now, it’s a couple of times a month. Peaches and blackberries after the blueberries.

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Getting ready for field day this weekend with the radio club. Hoping we don’t get storms.

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Tomorrow I need to go and vote. Thursday is Fiddlers and Fireflies, a summer staple in this part of the county, out at the Conservancy. Things don’t always slow down around here when it’s warm.

Here’s to summertime. Officially here last weekend. To lazy days with minimal fuss.

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To that perfect Caprese salad.

To Life in the Slow Lane.


Sunday Night Tidbits

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Us and Them. No, the answer is WE.

At our planning meeting for Howard County Conservancy events for 2015, we discussed the addition of the Belmont site to the Conservancy venues. Trying to remember to say “WE” instead of “US or “THEM”.

It has been interesting to observe the expansion of what my favorite non-profit organization manages and offers.

Like this event Tuesday night at Belmont.

JUN 10 – Tuesday 6pm Saving the Places We Love: Belmont, Howard County and Beyond: Come out for an evening with Ned Tillman, award winning local author of The Chesapeake Watershed. Ned will lead a 40 minute walk around the estate followed by a presentation on his latest book: Saving the Places we Love: Paths to Environmental Stewardship. Walk begins at 6 pm at The Carriage House followed by the presentation and book signing. Rain or Shine! FREE.

If you have never been to Belmont, it really is a treasure and worth a visit.

That brings me to a request of fellow countians. Please consider joining our cadre of volunteers. We now have so many cool opportunities to make a difference in a child’s or a family’s or a fellow adult countian’s life.

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I just feel as if I drop all cares from my shoulders when I drive up that driveway and enter that quiet lovely farmland.

I like leading field trips. I like heading up events. Heck, this summer I am leading geocaching, and an ESOL hike, and a food preservation class.

I don’t think they collectively fall into the same box, so to speak.

Anyway, if you can’t make Ned’s event Tuesday, you could join us on a history geocaching scavenger hunt on Saturday. I have all sorts of surprises in store for the participants.

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Saturday 10 am at our Mt Pleasant site.

Pre-register if you want to be guaranteed one of the loaner GPS units.


Strawberry Fields

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I can’t resist Larriland for strawberries.

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This year the fields are south of the main farm. The price went up. $2.75 and $2.25, up 16 cents from last year. We only picked 14 pounds this year. Well. at least so far this year. I might go out again later this month.

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Here’s to the first strawberry margarita of the season. One part Triple Sec. Two parts tequila. Six parts strawberry syrup, made using pure cane sugar to taste, and a couple of limes squeezed in. A handful of crushed ice. Blend. Enjoy with the salsa from the Ellicott City Market.

The rest of that juice.

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Poured in ice cube trays. Resting in the freezer as we speak. These cubes go into many things. Once they have frozen, I put them in a container in the freezer. Pop one in a glass of iced tea, or lemonade. Or make a sangria. Or, melt one to make a strawberry balsamic vinaigrette. I am just finishing up last year’s stash.

The best berries.

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Washed, stemmed, dusted with sugar. Frozen until solid. Packed away to come out in cold months. Defrost and make your own strawberry yogurt.

And, it figures. Saturday we saw we are getting strawberries from Friends and Farms. Today, our Lancaster Farm Fresh newsletter predicts strawberries, too.

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There can never be too many strawberries.


Fish On …

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… the grill.

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There is something about halibut. One of my favorite fish to grill. And we can’t go to Annapolis to visit family without stopping at Annapolis Seafood for something. It was a stop for shrimp but the halibut was calling my name.

The shrimp, also bought, was used today in a shrimp curry with Thai Spices Matsaman curry, fragrant with cumin and cardamom.

The halibut, grilled last night with some Friends and Farms vegetables.

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Asparagus and red potatoes.

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All seasoned with one of my pesto concoctions, defrosted from the freezer. This one was a mixed greens pesto, made last summer. Since it is almost garlic scape season, I need to finish off the last of the pesto containers from the basement freezer.

To complete that local flavor.

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Maryland chardonnay, from Big Cork.

Here’s to many more locally inspired and small business supplied dinners. It’s grilling season, big time.


Inspired By

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The Ellicott City Farmers Market.

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Just a simple salad. Baugher’s strawberries. Breezy Willow arugula. Shepherd’s Manor Ewe Cream Cheese. What you can do after a quick walk up Main St. on a Saturday morning.

What would you pay for a salad of this freshness at a restaurant? Not the small amount necessary to make this one.

We bought a quart of strawberries (OK, two quarts). They were $5 a quart if you bought two. The cheese.

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$7.50 at the market. Sheep’s milk cheese. To. die. for.

Arugula. $2 for 1/4 pound. We bought half a pound because I love it.

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Breezy Willow’s organic veggies are awesome, to say the least.

We added a simple cream dressing. This was Newman’s creamy Caesar.

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You could make at least six salads with what we bought. $16.50 total in cost. We are greatly enjoying the bounty from the market.

As for dinner that night.

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I grilled those Lancaster Farm Fresh wings and served them with that rhubarb sauce.

And the wine. From the Wine Bin.

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How great to have wine right next to the market. The better to complete your meal choices.

I could get used to finding Saturday dinners at this market.

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Markets, Farmstands, CSAs and Cooperatives

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Somewhere along the way during the past three years, I replaced the grocery store visits with fresh, regional, seasonal foods bought in four venues.

We started with vegetables and fruit.

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Sunday mornings at Olney, or Saturdays at Glenwood.

Add to that our visits to the local farmstands and local farms, for dairy, meat, cheese, bread and other goodies. As well as the veggies and fruit.

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You can go online and find year round open farm stands. Like England Acres, Breezy Willow or Copper Penny. I have been keeping track of the locations on my Farms page, and my local resource page.

There are at least six CSAs in this area. Some of them year round. Others, eight or nine months a year.

There are buying services. One, Friends and Farms uses regional suppliers. The other, South Mountain Creamery, delivers all sorts of items beyond milk, right to your door.

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Now, I have also expanded my garden.

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Add to that the pick your own sites, like Larriland, Butlers and Baughers.

It is pretty simple around here to replace grocery stores for most of what you eat.

Over these four years we have done just that. It took a while to find sources, but it is so satisfying to have really fresh foods. And we know the people that supply us with most of our food.

I just visited the new Ellicott City Farmers Market last Saturday. This is what I love most about farmers markets. The best things to buy and use.

I came home with two really great salsas. Some romaine. Radishes. Apples. A half dozen plants for my yard. I was tempted by the pizza, but had enough at home to pass it by this time.

I will be going back for more of that salsa.

Have you replaced the stores with your local businesses? The buy local challenge in July isn’t the only time to support your local farmers, vendors and small businesses.


Lunch From the Garden …

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… and a few regional farms.

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In the process of making lunch, the picture above shows some of the kale and chard from this morning’s thinning of the garden. Dressed with a simple yogurt dressing. Shake yogurt and lemon infused olive oil with some garlic powder, salt and pepper.

An apple from last week’s Friends and Farms basket, served with some of that provolone that we got, too.

Homemade peach yogurt.

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To share, we used one cup of plain yogurt. One defrosted peach, from my stash in the freezer (courtesy of Larriland picking last August). A 1/2 tsp squirt of agave. That’s all. I control the sweetness when I start with plain yogurt.

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This yogurt is available at Friends and Farms. At Breezy Willow Farm store. And at England Acres in Mt. Airy. Best yogurt we have ever found. No web site, as they are an Amish farm.

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As for the rest of this bag of peaches. Destined to become peach pops. Simple to make. Blend the peaches with yogurt. To fill my popsicle molds I need about 32 ounces in the blender. If I get a little too much, the rest goes in a small plastic jar and becomes frozen yogurt. I am using whatever I have to give it the amount of sweetness I want. Currently I have agave, but I also use honey or maple syrup.

On a related note, I harvested a few more white onions today.

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Including one very large one, that was too crowded in the middle of the rows.

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And found the beginning of an onion scape on the largest one. Now, I need to head back up there and pinch off scapes to let the onions put more energy into the onions and not the shoots.

Back on the home front, though, my garlic out in the back yard hasn’t begun to produce scapes yet. They are getting really large finally, so I hope to get at least one dozen large heads of garlic in a few months.

So far, a good start to the harvest of spring vegetables. Now, if only the strawberry picking season would begin. Gorman Farm projects that they will open Saturday the 24th of May. Larriland is still posting “late” May. We are almost out of the last of the frozen berries, and can’t wait to get out in the fields and bring in this year’s berries. The freezer is getting empty now.


Having a Meadow

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Since we moved from Columbia to the western parts of the county. One of those things that just boggles my mind.


Having a meadow, that is. I am a city girl. Born and raised in Baltimore. In a row house. It most certainly is different to live where I can’t see my neighbors. Where I can have coffee on my patio in my nightgown.

I am lucky, I know. But, where did it come from? My mom hates it out here. Too dark and quiet for her. She is also a city girl. Born and raised just west of downtown B’more.

Why do I love it so much? Maybe a throwback to my great grandparents who had a small farm in western Baltimore County. Who knows?

Three times around our property line is a mile. A far cry from the 1/12th acre of our townhouse in Columbia.

All in all, it is something that interests me. That sense of doing something new. Of changing my comfort zone. Of growing even after retirement.

We all need to find those areas that challenge us. That make us different than what we were when we were young.


Me, I’ll just be happy out here in the boonies. If only those people who are running the triathlons these days would only clean up their trash.



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