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Monthly Archives: February 2016

Glimpses of Springtime

Wasn’t today wonderful? Makes you almost forget it is still winter. On days like today, I begin to plan my garden. My new garden. I moved spaces up at my community garden site. I decided I wanted to be closer to the supplies, now that these arthritic knees don’t like walking long distances on uneven surfaces. I can’t wait to get into planting. These sixty degree days lull you into thinking spring is here. But, is it?

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This was a year ago. Bartlett, pruning on a bitter cold day with quite a bit of snow left on the ground.

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This was my old garden plot two years ago. Looks pretty dreary.

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A big difference from an August picture. In this picture, you can see my new plot in the far right. Flowers. Asparagus. I picked it up because of the irises, gladioli and asparagus. I have been planning what I plant, and getting ready to buy seeds.

This year I am the assistant Food Bank manager. Loving those Tuesday mornings, early before it gets hot, harvesting, weeding, watering and just enjoying the whole atmosphere in a garden.

Today, the weather made me anxious for spring. If you are inclined, there may be garden plots in your future.

Aging In Place

In an aging place.

Had quite a bit of thought about the whole aging process. Aging of us. Aging of our home. I don’t consider 30 to be old, but around here, it’s almost ancient. Not quite as bad as being 50, which is what many of the original homes in Columbia MD are soon to celebrate.

I worked in the UK, where 600 years old wasn’t out of the question. We are spoiled. Living in a relatively newly developed area. Still, I watched people turn up their noses at our townhouses (gasp) without garages. Ours, built in the early 80s were too old and dated for the crowd who wanted those brand new places in River Hill.

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Columbia is pretty much built out now. The county is expanding, or tearing down and rebuilding. I loved our old townhouse, right in the center of town. Too bad for us, we really wanted to follow our dreams of a big garden, and a couple of radio towers. Bucket list items. Not allowable under covenants.

That house is now 35 years old. Still looks great. Why? Because we took care of it. I see so many places now that are pretty much devastated due to lack of basic maintenance.

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What is this? A pile of the cedar we were replacing in this house. Our “new” house. Built in 1987. At 24 years, we replaced almost 50% of the wood. Not fun. Not cheap. Not sexy.

But, it was the bones of the house. The basics of maintenance. I can’t figure out why collectively we don’t take care of the biggest investments most of us will make in our lives.

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We took care of our infrastructure the first 10 years. New roof. New doors. New heat pumps and appliances. Making our home a warmer, safer, more energy efficient place to live.

Now, we are working on those aesthetic things. Painting, carpeting. Keeping our house new looking, while not shelling out hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy something else.

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I think I can deal with six weeks of mess to get painted walls, new bathrooms and carpet in all but those high dollar areas. We still will have to tackle the master suite and the kitchen.

At the end of this road, a house that accommodates an aging couple. But won’t look old.

Grazing Meals

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Simple to set up. For those times when maybe you want a leisurely dinner, or you don’t want to cook very much, or you just want to try something different without a major commitment to one item.

Tonight, we did that. Overwhelmed by all the running around to get ready for this week’s projects in house repair and renovation, I just wanted something simple, yet really nice to eat.

Roots Market, Harris Teeter, my CSA, my freezer, and a couple of local wineries came to the rescue.

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I’m not sure if anything is as decadent as the contributions from Roots. Their mushroom pate. And their “Indian Candy”, a luscious smoked salmon. These two items were the inspiration today.

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The mushroom pate, vegan, made with walnuts, tamari, maple syrup, olive oil and thyme was perfect on their rosemary pistachio crisp breads.

The salmon, served with onion, lemon, capers, and fresh dill, on last week’s bread from She Wolf, courtesy of our CSA. Last week’s bread was a caraway rye.

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A plate of raw vegetables, the highlight being one of those watermelon radishes that Lancaster Farm Fresh has delivered twice now in our winter CSA.

Finally, fresh kielbasa from Pennsylvania. The last of the kielbasa purchased a few months ago on a trip to the Pittsburgh area.

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The fun part of the meal. Taste testing and comparing two local wines from Virginia. The latest offerings in Sauvignon Blanc from Linden Vineyards, and Glen Manor. Two of our favorite vineyards. Totally different styles. Glen Manor makes theirs in the style of New Zealand. Citrusy. Tart. 2014 was a good year for local wines. Then, there’s the Avenius single vineyard selection from Linden. Shari’s vineyard is situated on flint, giving her grapes the characteristics of a Fume Blanc. With those mineral notes, and much more austere.

It was interesting to compare and contrast how they paired against the three choices for dinner. You can’t go wrong with either wine with the salmon. The Avenius was a better match to the kielbasa. The Glen Manor to the mushroom pate.

If you want a great date night meal, find a couple of bottles of the same varietal wine. Pick up two or three things that go well with that varietal. Have your own grazing meal, relaxing and taking the time to savor the experience.

Controlled Chaos

It’s not easy going green, to paraphrase Kermit the Frog. I know why we procrastinate when it comes to home repairs. The chaos is sometimes overwhelming.

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We just finished using Dr. Energy Saver to seal our dormer crawl spaces, and condition our attic. A world of difference in the temperatures on our upper floor. We decided to do the Super Attic. Massive difference.

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Before.

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After.

With a 40 degree difference in temperatures. No more drafts down the stairs. No more cold bedrooms.

We have been slowly working our way through the tasks necessary to make our house “greener”. A warmer, better place to live, while saving energy. It’s been an eleven year journey and we are almost done.

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Insulating crawl spaces, too. Before we started the massive painting job. Which will go on for at least a month.

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The study is close to being finished. Just need to add the new carpet, now that we insulated under the floor (above the garage).

Dr. Energy Saver in Glen Burnie is part of a national chain. They are one of the sponsors of our county Greenfest, and they do energy audits. They have no idea I am blogging about them, and I don’t take advertising dollars. If you want to go greener, and make your home warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer, you might want to check them out, wherever you live.

Now, for us, on to the rest of the painting and repairs.

Telling Tales

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A picture is worth 1000 words. That’s what they say. But, what does this picture say? Don’t you need the story behind it?

This picture represents my blog name. Why it’s annieriedora.com. My grandmother. Dorothea. When I wanted to name my blog, I needed to go all the way to my confirmation name to get something unique. Not obvious to me, but AnnieRie, a diminutive nickname for Diane Marie, or Anna Marie, was already in use.

My mother called me AnnieRie. Her name was Marie, so I am named for my mother and grandmother.

Is there a story in there? Can I tell it well enough to keep people interested?

Why am I blogging about stories? Because a week from now there will be one incredibly awesome experience for people who love to tell stories, and who want to be better at it.

At the Howard County Conservancy, who is partnering with Howard County Rec and Parks, and the Columbia Association to provide a workshop on storytelling followed by an evening of telling tales, with a local perspective.

Twenty four people take the workshop. After that, an evening where many of them tell stories about living here, in beautiful Howard County.

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What could be a better way to spend a Friday evening in our home town?

Information is here.

The Great Backyard Bird Count

I do it every year. Count the birds in my backyard. This year the snow made it interesting, and slightly different. We always get a massive influx of starlings when the snow falls. But, I did capture my friend flicker.

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This Northern flicker hangs out all winter at my suet feeders. He is also a resident bully, chasing away smaller birds. Sort of how the mockingbird acts, but with that long beak, he is definitely intimidating.

Since the weather has been cold, snowy, windy, and the birds are struggling, I always give them extra during this time. I even add peanuts and corn for the squirrels, like this rare black squirrel who hangs out here too.

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Last item that attracts birds to your yard. Berries.

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The robins love the nandina. We also have crabapple trees.

Keeping the birds fed and hydrated.

The Young Farmers

It’s been a while since I blogged about our local farming community. A link this morning to a blog about women farmers which is highlighting Nora Crist of Clark’s farm made me think about creating this post.

A few years back I worked on a program out at the Conservancy. Many of the farmers were young, which is a great thing for us. Lowering that age.

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It is great to see that enthusiasm and drive.

Besides those farmers I can think of others that are building their businesses in the area. Like Dave and Lydia Liker of Gorman, and Chuck and Nancy Gardetto at Copper Penny. Jen and Jamie at TLV Tree Farm.

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Casey and Jason at Breezy Willow.

Can’t forget Courtney and John Dove at Love Dove Farm.

Can you think of others? I know that Alan is working with his parents at Sharps Farm.

Bowling Green. Carroll Farm to Table. Greenway Farms. All of these farms have a younger generation working them. Check them out. Our local dollars make them successful.