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Tag Archives: day trips

Shopping Small

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Small towns. Small businesses. Small eateries.

Do you just do that American Express thing the day after Black Friday? Or, do you support your local businesses all year round?

It drives me nuts when people come looking for suggestions on social media, and they are directed to chain restaurants and big box stores. When Home Depot is the recommended site for Christmas trees, for example.  Really????

OK, everyone who reads this blog knows I frequent locally owned businesses as much as I can.

Take this weekend. Friday we made the trip to pick up my meat CSA share in Westminster and combined it with stops for food and supplies at three different small businesses.

I like to find new places to have lunch. Places off the beaten track. Like PORK and BEANS. A store attached to a factory that processes pork. With artisanal coffee beans. And, one very good ham sandwich.

Yes, I know, the view isn’t spectacular, but the ham is awesome. They also have bacon and that local favorite, scrapple. We brought home some ham for lunches, but I need to go back when we need a ham for a dinner.

After lunch, we headed down to Evermore Farm to get my meat share, then a detour to New Windsor. To Homestead Farm, just southeast of town and not far from Rte 27. They are building greenhouses and expanding their business to include hydroponically grown produce. Grand opening in May.

I discovered Homestead a few years back, on one of our day trips. They offer dairy from Trickling Springs and Pequea Valley, and very good bakery items from local bakers. This trip? Plants and bakery items were our purchases.

Red cabbage and rainbow chard for my garden. Along with a bag of gladiola bulbs.

My husband snuck these in the basket. Killer macaroon and scone from a Westminster small business. Rare Opportunity.

We then headed home but stopped in Sykesville for onion sets at the local Southern States. How many places can you go where a lovely gray cat snoozes on the counter where you check out? Sykesville is my favorite local small town. Full of small places to shop.

Do you have those special family owned places near you? Do you give them the business they need to survive? I hope so. They are so much better than those crowded crazy chain places.

 

 

Daytrippin’ Again and Again

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It is the season. To get in the car and head out looking for new places, and enjoying the weather.

The red buds are in bloom. So are the Kwanzan cherry trees. I have to head out to Brighton Dam to check on the progress at the azalea gardens. Maybe tomorrow we will do that.

We did get out to a few favorite places, and a new one.

We hit the Hawaiian Shaved Ice place on Liberty Road. Just northeast of where Wards Chapel meets Liberty Road. Had one absolutely awesome egg custard shave ice.

We went looking for Carhartt shorts. To National Harbor, no less. There is a Carhartt store there (go figure, a very traditional work oriented clothing company in a tourist destination). This was our first visit to the evolving tourist spot. We had an excellent lunch at Rosa Mexicano, and then slogged our way home through downtown DC. It made us remember just why we retired, and don’t regret that commute every night. By the way, the fish tacos at the restaurant. Amazing.

Spring is our favorite time to hit the back roads, enjoy the scenery and venture into previously unexplored sections of the tristate area.

Any suggestions for places to go?

Low Hanging Fruit

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The Maryland Buy Local Challenge began yesterday. An annual event that encourages people to buy from our local farms and small businesses that support farmers in the state.

With all this heat around here, who is in the mood to cook? Still, you can participate in the challenge in cooler, creative ways. Like visiting local wineries.

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We visited a new one for us, last weekend. Up in Thurmont. With weekend music. Catoctin Breeze.

A bonus up there is the relatively close location to a covered bridge over a babbling brook. A perfect place to get you toes wet, and cool down.

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On your way to or from the winery, you could stop in at Catoctin Mountain Orchards for some fresh fruit and other homemade goodies. Made with mostly local fruit, they have all sorts of desserts you could bring home.

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Or, you could head out on the Maryland Ice Cream Trail.

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Other options. Visit a brewery.

Or, pick berries at Larriland, or another pick your own place.

Hmmm, berries, ice cream, wine, beer, desserts, do you need anything else?

ISO @mdsbest Wineries

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What makes an exceptional winery? Do we have any here in Maryland? I hear people say there aren’t any good wines from Maryland. Obviously, they aren’t looking in the right places.

These days we have many very good options to find viniferous grapes being grown, blended and bottled, to make very, very good wines. I just spent some time looking at this year’s Comptroller’s Cup wines, from the latest competition (not sure what the difference is between Comptroller’s Cup, Winemaker’s Choice, and Governor’s Cup, but we seem to have many different competitions).

It prompted my husband wanting to take a trip to Boordy. Maryland’s oldest winery.

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I actually wanted to go to Old Westminster, but they weren’t open during the day. They won the latest competition. For their Malbec.

We will get there sometime soon, as we haven’t been visiting for the past year or so.

As for Boordy, it was OK. Not great. They used to have a very good Chardonnay, but the latest vintage didn’t impress. We drove there to try the Albarino and the Viognier. Personally, Black Ankle makes a better Albarino and Big Cork, a much better Viognier.

It’s summer. White and pink wine season for us. Since I am a “locapour”, championing local wines, I try to stock my beverage refrigerator with light wines that do well in the heat of the summer.

In our experience so far, Black Ankle, Big Cork and Old Westminster are our closest wineries producing outstanding wine. And, right up there. Elk Run.

If you are into local foods, expand a bit and try local wines. You may be pleasantly surprised these days.

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Be It Resolved

Do you do New Year’s resolutions? Do you keep them?

I have been putting together a simple list of things that I resolve to continue. I don’t need to add to it. In basic English. Just Do It.

Like “EAT HEALTHY”. Not that hard to do with a CSA and Friends and Farms. When someone gives you vegetables and other basic staple items, it is easy to make healthy meals. Like this one.

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Rainbow trout with vegetables. Compliments of Friends and Farms. Some quick frozen corn and green beans. A baked potato. If you wanted to eat better, this is a simple way to begin. Buy a sample basket. Pick a size. If you like it, order a monthly basket. Customize it. Right now, we buy a Protein and Dairy basket. We get meat, fish, eggs, cheese and in place of milk, I chose to get a random vegetable. It can be anything. Like the acorn squash a few weeks back.

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Stuffed and ready for dinner.

Another resolution. EXERCISE. We tend to do that by working outside. Tower work.

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And gardening.

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Crawling around in the dirt planting vegetables.

My last big resolution. BUY and EAT LOCALLY.

More and more of what comes into this house takes a short trip from the source. Whether it is food, or wine, or beer, or plants, or just services, we use local farms and stores for most of our purchases.

So this year I will be eating locally, buying locally and traveling locally. Not hard to do. For lists of sources to buy locally, I have numerous pages on my blog. Just check the header above.

 

 

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.