Merle ’17

We enjoyed the 30th Merlefest last weekend in Wilkesboro, NC.  Lots of fantastic music and while it rained THursday evening the rest of the weekend had gorgeous weather.  I added some photos to Instagram however I took a lot of  photos I with my DSLR camera and cant get those photos to load to my iPhone or iPad to load to other apps.  I am posting the better photos here.  IMG_3924

Del McCoury BandIMG_3927DSC_0281

TransAtlantic SessionsDSC_0283DSC_0286Sarah JaroszDSC_0287

Maura O’Connell and Declan O’RourkeDSC_0288DSC_0290DSC_0292Declan O’RourkeDSC_0294

James Taylor “In my mind I’m going to Carolina”DSC_0297DSC_0299Maura O’ConnellDSC_0300Jerry DouglasDSC_0307DSC_0314DSC_0315DSC_0317

Steep Canyon Rangers DSC_0318DSC_0320DSC_0324DSC_0326DSC_0332Sam Bush with Leftover SalmonDSC_0336DSC_0341

Earls of LeicesterDSC_0342

Shawn Camp and Jerry DouglasDSC_0346DSC_0347DSC_0351

Merlefest Reunion Jam with Sam Bush, Jerry Douglas, Bela Fleck, Bryon Sutton, and Mark Schatz.DSC_0353DSC_0354DSC_0375DSC_0378

Tara Nevins of DTBDSC_0380

Jeb of DTB DSC_0382DSC_0383DSC_0384DSC_0386DSC_0388DSC_0391

Peter Rowan joining DTB


Memory Quilting

I took up a new hobby recently and have surprised myself with how much I enjoy it!  My mom had several shirts that belonged to my step dad who passed away about 4 years ago.  She wanted to donate them and I asked if I could have them.  I had heard about memory quilts made from men’s shirts.  I did some research (mainly on Pinterest) and then asked a cousin who is an experienced quilter for help. She steered me towards a pattern that matched my experience level-NONE!  And then gave me a lesson in how to cut and lots of great tips on sewing the pieces together.IMG_3660

These shirts were similar in material probably cotton/poly blends and I used the blue, green and yellow ones in the quilt.  The pattern is called simply squares.  The light blue material I selected thinking it would complement the shirt colors.


With help from my sister and Mom, we picked a red material for the border and then added some spots of red in the quilt.  Red was one of his favorite colors.


I made LOTS of mistakes on this and was thankful for a good seam ripper so I could start over.  For me, the trickiest part was sewing everything precisely and getting the seams to match up as I added the pieces and the border.  I completed the top and plan to have it machine quilted.   I never thought I would enjoy quilting and was so wrong.  IMG_3804

I love how the top turned out and can’t wait to see the finished product.

Slow Sauce

I made my first batch of sauce last weekend.  The tomato plants have struggled along and I needed to do something with what I had but it was not enough.  I went to a farm stand on Saturday and bought a box of “seconds” for $15 and started the 4-5 hour process of making sauce.   A friend of mine wants me to teach her how to can tomatoes so I wrote down quantities and steps this time. Usually I just do it and don’t follow a recipe however it is hard to tell someone else how much of each ingredient to have on hand!

The garlic, onions, basil, oregano, carrots, squash, eggplant, and about a third of the tomatoes are from my garden.  The purchased tomatoes and peppers come from a farm close to Gettysburg, PA so I am saying this is slow sauce.

This process takes awhile and it seems like I use a ton of pots, pans, utensils, etc so the end result is a messy kitchen.  Thank goodness the cleaning crew came on Monday though I am still finding tomato splatters in the kitchen.  The pot is 12 quarts and just eyeballing it at this point, I thought I had 8 quarts.

I finished the process on Tuesday with a hot water canning bath.  And ended up with 9 quarts, I processed 7 quarts as that is the max the canner holds. The rest will go into lasagna as requested by my son before he returns to school.


Fresh out of the canner

Here is the recipe, documented mainly for my benefit, so maybe I can repeat it!

Tomato Sauce

  • 36 cups peeled and roughly chopped tomatoes.  These were a mixture of Brandywine, San Marzano, Cherokee Purple, Yellow, Beefsteak, Stripey and Amish Paste
  • 1/2 large chopped cayenne pepper (will cut back on this in next batch)
  • 3 large chopped green bell peppers
  • 3 large chopped carrots
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • I small chopped eggplant
  • 1 small chopped yellow squash

I chop everything in the food processor and then sauted it in olive oil until soft. I combined the tomatoes and vegies in the 12 quart pot to bring to a boil.  Then I added the following:  (all the measurements are estimates as I did not measure anything)

  • 6 tbls black pepper
  • 3 tbls onion powder
  • 2 tbls garlic powder
  • 2 tbls smoked paprika
  • 2 tbls cayenne pepper
  • 2 tbls white pepper
  • 1/8 cup pickling sale (no iodine)
  • 1/4-1/3 cup fresh chopped basil
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped oregano
  • tomato paste, added later to help thicken sauce

I brought this to a boil and then simmered it a couple of hours to reduce.

Fun Stuff

We have lined up a few good shows over the next month.  Starting off with a girls outing to see  The Phantom of the Opera at the Kennedy Center for a matinee performance this weekend.  Here is a link to WashPo’s review.  I have never seen it so am excited!  We are having lunch at District Commons, another first for me.

We will head to the beach for a long weekend and return in time to deposit son back at school.  I hate to say it but I am ready for him to be back in college.

In September, we will see Little Feat at the Warner Theatre, I really like this venue for a show and we have pretty good seats.

And then in the same week, on to Celebrate Virginia in Fredericksburg for ZZ Top and Govt Mule.

Today we are headed to the ballpark to see the Nationals face the Giants again.

Fun times!



BLTs adjusted

We finally have some tomatoes from my garden, it took awhile with rainy May and the chloratic tomato plants I had.  Some I grew myself and some I ordered from a company that is totally devoted to tomatoes but I won’t mention their name (smile) as the plants came in dismal condition.  So we had to get them healthy enough to be planted.

Last night we had BLTs for dinner, the bacon came from Springfield Butcher.  And each of us changed it up a bit as we built the sandwich.  There was the BLT+cheese-cheddar on the first sandwich and pepper jack on the second sandwich.  And the BT+basil, my personal favorite. The last one was BLT x2 with lettuce then tomato then bacon then tomato then lettuce layered between the bread.  I did not take photos-photo fail-again.

Also I made ratatouille with all the ingredients from my garden, eggplants, yellow squash, peppers, onions, garlic, basil, and tomatoes.   Doesn’t get more local/slow food than that!


Garden Gate

So we had a bit of a mishap at the community garden.  It appears someone or something hit the gate posts and broke them.  As the community garden coordinator, I arranged to get it repaired.  I found a great handyman not too long ago, he helped me with some repairs on a townhouse that I am looking after for a friend who is active duty and deployed to Europe.  Anyway, the gate would hardly open as the posts wobbled back and forth.  So Joe the handyman had a pretty large job to dig up the posts and concrete so he could replace them.  The gate looks great and works so much better.

The vegie garden is not looking so good, heat and disease are taking a toll.  If we can persevere for a couple more weeks, then the plants should produce through the fall.

The pollinators keep on doing their job.  I see lots of butterflies and bees working away.

First of the Month

Its August 1 and as usual I had some work tasks to get done, submit invoices, file and pay sales taxes, review the monthly budget, all part of the routine.  I like to get these tasks out of the way and think about our plans for the month.

This month I have several things to accomplish:

I will help our son get ready to return to school but first he is going to OBX with some friends.  And trying to keep the garden going through the heat of August.  Hopefully starting to can produce from the garden. I  have several home improvement projects planned.  And will share more on that- if I can remember to take before photos!  And for fun, we have one more beach trip planned.

Anyway, I hope your month is shaping up nicely!


Bright Star

Yesterday, I went with a gaggle of girlfriends to see Bright Star at the Kennedy Center.  We had lunch at Clydes of Georgetown, crab cakes again!

I have been anticipating this musical for a few months, as it combines two favorites of mine, bluegrass and a musical.  Steve Martin and Edie Brickwell wrote the story and all the music and lyrics.  I LOVE Steve Martin, and have seen him play bluegrass with the Steep Canyon Rangers.  His talents are amazing, a comedian, actor, musician, writer…  seems he hit the motherlode.

And I absolutely loved it!  The music, the sets, the actors, the story = a musical that exceeded my expectations.  I read the Wash Post’s review here and so was not expecting to be wowed.  Act 1 ended with a stunning scene that left me feeling sad and upset, even though I had figured out the ending.  No spoiler here, you will have to go see it!

One of my favorite parts was the cabin set holding the musicians that whirled around the stage with actors dancing and singing through it.  I admired the musicians and their ability to NOT be dizzy.

Bright Star closes at Kennedy Center today and moves on to Broadway.  Vanity Fair has an article on it this month here.  Enjoy!

New beginnings

I woke up Monday morning, the first working day of 2016 and didn’t have to get up and go.  An unusual feeling for me still.  With 10 months of retirement down, I have drifted into somewhat of a schedule that includes working out, pursuing hobbies, lots of reading, and consulting work.

Not being big on New Year resolutions, I haven’t made many as my resolve doesn’t seem to stick much beyond mid-January.  In the past, I found energy in the idea of new beginnings at the first of the year and often spent time on setting my house, literally and figuratively, in order over the holiday break.  I experienced that same energy again this year and have a great list of things to work on in 2016!

One thing I am doing is letting go of one consulting job that has not met my expectations as planned and picking up another one.  Developing my consulting company became one HUGE opportunity to learn new things in 2015 and hopefully will continue in 2016.  I find myself doing things and facing situations where I have no experience, and casting about for answers, guidance and resolve!


Speaking of new beginnings, we went to the Dead and Co show at Verizon Center back in November.  We had a stellar time, one of the best shows of 2015.

Stepping out

For the first time in several years, we went out on New Years Eve.  For Christmas, I gave hubby tickets to the Infamous Stringdusters at RamsHeadLive in Baltimore, booked a room at the Marriott Renaissance.  Turned out to be such a fun night.  We met some friends for dinner at Peter’s Pour House and then on to hear some great music.  The crab cakes were delicious as to be expected in “Bawltimere.  Cabinet opened the show.IMG_2971Obligtory “selfie”!

And not a bad view in the venue!  We traversed between the main floor and  the general admission balcony, ending up the evening in VIP balcony.  What a great show, I have not located a setlist, still looking, and I am lousy at remembering.

So we rung in 2016 in a fun way, and I have lots in the plan for 2016.