Tuesday, February 28, 2017


I had been told about the murals on a bridge in Frederick by a good friend of ours.  She and her husband visited Frederick some time ago. We have been thinking about this for a few months and last Wednesday, when the weather was mild and sunny, we decided it was time for a road trip.

The bridge is transformed by the painting technique of trompe l'oeil, meaning 'deceives the eye'.  It is described as a type of illusionistic painting characterized by its very precise naturalism. 

Those 'bricks' are not bricks at all.  The bridge is a blank canvas of plain concrete, and a very talented local artist, William Cochran, along with his team of other talented artists, created the Community Bridge.   The painting surface has 3,000 square feet with over 3,000 simulated stones. 

And then there are the symbols.  The bridge is painted with those that represent the many groups that live and work in Frederick.  Throughout the bridge there are symbols and stories contributed by thousands of people from all over the community, across the country and around the world.

In the following photo you will see The Unfound Door.

According to this website where I found the information for my post, 'the city of Frederick receives regular complaints from visitors excited about the mural project, but aghast that the city would allow ivy to grow across the priceless mural, unaware that the tendrils of ivy they saw climbing the painted stonework, were themselves part of the painted illusion.'

In the next photo you will see a very beautiful fountain.  

According to the website, several times birds have been observed attempting to alight on the fountain. 

My thanks to the website where I have found most of my information - link here - and a short history of this amazing painting technique.  

"As a painting style, trompe l'oeil has a history extending back as far as the Greek and Roman Empires, where horses are said to have neighed at a mural of horses they recognized.  The only ancient trompe l'oeil murals that survive today are those unearthed at Pompeii.

The famous art historian Vasari reports a story of a famous contest of antiquity held between two renowned painters to see who was the finest.  The first painter produced a still life so convincing that birds flew down from the sky to peck at the painted grapes.  The master then turned to his opponent in the triumph and said, "Draw back the curtains and reveal your painting."  The second painter knew then that he had won, because the 'curtains' were part of his painting.

Trompe l'oeil mural paintings resurfaced during the Renaissance and Baroque eras, and was used to extend churches and palaces by 'opening' the ceiling or a wall.  The muralists of the day - Andrea Mantegna, Paolo Uccello and Paolo Vernonese, among the most notable - experimented with perspective and found trompe l'oeil architecture to be their ally as they strove to paint what architect Leone Alberti called "a window into space."

In the mid to late 1800s in the United States, William Harnett revived trompe l'oeil still life easel painting, and his paintings are today acquired by major museums for millions of dollars.  A very labor intensive technique, trompe l'oeil fell out of favor after the industrial revolution when mass produced items became the rage.  There are few artists - and even fewer muralists - who execute this demanding style of art today."

I will have another post on these murals.

Monday, February 27, 2017


Chunky Beef, Cabbage and Tomato Soup
7 servings - makes 11 cups
181 calories per 1-1/2 cup serving

I found this recipe here.  It is one of those recipes where you can add all the veggies in the fridge you need to use up.  The recipe's instructions include ones for an electric pressure cooker.  I don't have one and used the instructions for a regular soup pot.  If you have the electric pressure cooker, you can go to her recipe at the link provided above.

1 pound (90% lean) ground beef
1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
Half a head of a cabbage, chopped
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced celery
1/2 cup diced carrot
28 ounce can diced or crushed tomatoes
5 cups beef stock (canned or homemade)
2 bay leaves

Add ground beef and salt to a frying pan and cook until browned, breaking the meat into small pieces as it cooks, 3 to 4 minutes.

When browned, add the onion, celery and carrotes.  Saute for 4 to 5 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, cabbage, beef stock and bay leaves.  

Bring to a boil and then turn down to simmer.  It should be done after about 40 minutes.

Serve and enjoy with a crusty bread or not.

A delicious soup and very comforting after coming in from the cold.  

Friday, February 24, 2017


On Wednesday we took a drive to Frederick, Maryland.  It took us about an-hour-and-a-half.  First of all we stopped in the visitor center.  A gentleman directed us to the multi-story car park.  From there it was only a short walk to the riverwalk.  Here are a few photos taken and I will share more in the next post I do on Frederick.

There were several people out walking their dogs. 

There were two bridges we saw to cross the canal.  There is a story about them, which I will share next time.

Isn't this a beautiful, whimsical clock?  It is decorated with zodiak signs and is created by artist Nikolai Pakhomov.  He is also the owner of a firm called Iron Masters.  There is one on either side of the bridge, which individually weighs about a ton.  According to the company's interpretation, "the theme of the design was reconnecting time, universe and humanity."

Looking one way....

and then in the opposite direction.

We saw a few ducks....

and crossed over another bridge.

On this one people had placed some love locks, like I saw in Paris a couple of years ago.  

The ones in Paris have since been removed. There were so many, the weight of them was damaging the bridges.

It hasn't gotten too bad.... 


I think these are apartments.  

One last shot of the ducks to end this post.  

Thursday, February 23, 2017


Dedicated to all our farmers.  We have them in the family.  I've had them as friends also, often unsung heroes of the land.  To all farmers I send them love and gratitude.  Thank a Farmer :)

Wednesday, February 22, 2017


A Boat On the Sea 
by Seth Milliman

What am I?
Just a boat on the sea
Sailing softly with the winds gentle breeze,
I have seen rough and calm,
Soft and chaotic,
With no rest in between.
What lighthouse guides me to its safe shores?
Am I destined to ride the waves with no light?
No, maybe not but I cannot tell the future.
You who travel paths less taken,
Those who seek refuge from the rain.
Take haste and seek quickly,
The storm comes without warning sometimes.
And if you can't see will you hear?
I am not wise but foolish,
Destitute and foolhardy.
But I will seek the lighthouse
In order to get in at least before the storm.

When we have gone to Virginia Beach we more often than not find ourselves at Dockside, a restaurant we have been coming to for many years when visiting family and friends.  We like having lunch at a table - whenever possible - right by the water.  This day we watched a fishing boat tie up and bring their catch to the fish market.  You walk through the market to get to the restaurant.  

There is a seating area outside for when the weather is warmer, and then you can say hello to the seagulls.  I have seen a whole variety of ducks in the water, migrating back and forth.  You can also see pelicans and cormorants.  The seagulls had the place all to themselves when we were there.

Monday, February 20, 2017


As I mentioned in my previous post, we went to see a dear friend the other day.  There was a restaurant I had learned about a year previously.  If it were closer we would have visited ages ago and probably more often, but as our friend lives in the same area, I suggested we all have lunch.  It was lovely and sometimes you can have a mediocre meal but the people you are with always make up for it.  Here, however, we not only had great company but also a great meal.

To give you a little background, about a year ago I was looking for identification on wildflowers, and up pops this blog.  It was very well written and the photos were fun to look at.  I was able to ID several wildflowers in my own photos, and as I found that the blog owner and his wife went on several hikes, taking photos along the way, I found it all very interesting and informative.  

As time went on I began to explore his blog and found not only that they enjoyed being out in nature, but he added meals, and also he was very knowledgeable about wines and beers.  I am always looking for something new and this blog fit the bill.

Popping in every now and again,  I read his biography - yes I was a bit slow on that - and learned that he was the chef/owner of a restaurant in the same town my friend lived in.  In fact, when I mentioned it to her, she said she had been there a few years previously.  I asked her if she would be interested in going again the next time we got together, and so last week we found ourselves heading to One Block West.

Wonderful restaurant with friendly service.  At some restaurants you get the feeling that you are being rushed through your meal, followed by negative vibes from the staff who hover until you feel it's definitely time to go.  Here we had none of that and were able to enjoy a leisurely meal, which was not only delicious but very attractively presented.  

And we were able to talk with our chef.  I told him I felt like I knew him as I had read his blog.  We also said how much we had enjoyed our meal, and were able to chat for a little while.

Here are a few photos of  each dish, each absolutely delicious.

Shortly after being seated we were given a basket of bread, which was very yummy, and a small container of olive oil for dipping.  Loved the little pot the oil was served in.  Our soup of the day was Beef and Barley which came with crispy breadsticks.  I was chilled from the cold weather, and found the soup very comforting.  We all ordered Beef and Barley.

My friend and I ordered the Carmelized Sea Scallops with Parsnip Puree and Arugula.  

Gregg ordered Ed's Pasta.  You could add chicken, shrimp or scallops and Gregg chose shrimp. 

By this time we had all had more than enough to eat, but my friend and I ended up sharing the Creme Brulee of the Day.  This day it was apricot.  There were other delicious dessert items on the menu, which you can look at here.  All excellent choices and we are just going to have to go back to try them one of these days.

No I didn't get any freebies for writing about this restaurant.  When I go anywhere, have a good time and have a great meal, I like to give credit where credit is due.  My photos do not always give justice to the meal shown, but everything tasted wonderful.  If you are in the area I can highly recommend One Block West.

Friday, February 17, 2017


This is a photo of one of the restaurants when we went down south last summer.  We have never eaten there but have walked down to see the boats tied up.  Occasionally a boat will come in and we watch them drag it out of the water onto a special flat-bed usually hooked up to a truck.  It's interesting to see the process for non-boat people like us.  

Son came over on his day off and helped his dad cart down an old desk out of his old bedroom from when he lived here, years ago now.  We had breakfast together, caught up on his week as we usually do and it was a fun get-together as it usually is.  I might be prejudiced but he is fun to talk to, is a wonderful conversationalist and has a great sense of humor.  His visits are a tonic. Next time we get together we're hoping we can go out as a foursome.  Because of his work hours he often has a day off when his sweet wife is working, so when we all do get together it is always a treat.

And talking about sweeties, my niece in Germany called.  We often have lovely chats thanks to Facetime.  Always bless this wonderful technology when we can talk face to face, next best thing to being in the same room and hard to imagine all the miles between us.  Our niece also has a great sense of humor, is a wonderful conversationalist and has us laughing many times.  An hour-and-a-half can go by fast.  We are sowing the seeds for getting together again.  Can't be too soon for me.

Yesterday we met up with a friend and had lunch.  A restaurant I found on a blog and as it was in the same town as our friend, I suggested we go there.  I'll tell you more on Monday when I share photos of the meal.  It involved a lovely drive through the prettiest countryside to pick up our friend, a short trip to the restaurant and after our meal a cup of tea at our friend's house, and then another nice trip home.  Even though it was during rush hour we were driving against traffic and it was smooth sailing.  Put my feet up once we got home and took a nap!

One exciting trip to the dump to take said desk mentioned in my second paragraph, and filled the van up to the gills with items we couldn't give away but were recycled at the dump.  

Had phone chats with other friends and there you go.  That's been my week up to now.  It was a good one.  Hope yours has been too.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017


When Gregg retired a few years ago, he had more time to get into our genealogy, not only his own but mine too.  We had a dear old friend who had been doing this for years, and he had encouraged us when we expressed our interest. There were already family members on Gregg's side who had done extensive research but none on mine.  Finding those long, unknown people who were related to me, has been a wonderful journey thanks to Gregg's diligence and enthusiasm.  He has enjoyed discovering them as much as I have.

These are the Perry sisters.  We only have information about one, Mary Elizabeth Perry who went by the name Polly, and I am not sure which one she.  She is my Great-Grandfather's first cousin's wife!  She was born in Enville, Staffordshire, England in 1891 and lived until 1970.  Like a light bulb that went off in the back of my mind, I remembered my father talking about Aunty Polly, but I am not sure if he was talking about an Aunty Polly on his side of the family or mother's side.  Polly's father was Francis and her mother was Eliza Louisa Preece.  There was also a brother named Arthur.  At least one of her parents lived in Sallop, Shropshire

She married George Archer Turley in Wolverhampton, in September 1916.  George was born in 1886.  We don't know what year he passed away.  I am curious about this photo with the trophies, a master gardener perhaps?  

He probably could tell you that England suffered from an oppressive heat that ravaged the whole country, from July through to September 1911, and that Edward VII was crowned in 1902.
In October 1903 the Women's Social and Political Union was formed to campaign for women's suffrage.  It was founded by six women, two of whom, Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst, soon became the most prominent.

There is a great timeline on British history at this link.

An added thought, if you want to connect with your grandparents, ask them "What was it like when you were a little boy Granddad?"  And remember what they say. I never knew my Mum's Dad as he passed away long before I was born. My Grandad, my Dad's father (or Nandad as we used to call him) was a rather scary fellow to me as a little girl, very Victorian in his way of thinking - children should be seen and not heard. But if only I had asked the right questions, I could maybe have connected, as I surely know the right questions now.  When we are young we think we have all the time in the world for such things, and might not even have the interest as we do when we get older.  Truth be told the clock is ticking and one day you will wish you had asked those questions.

Monday, February 13, 2017


My first photo is of two deer on the 17 mile drive, Pebble Beach in California.  My sister-in-law has said I can share any photos she sends, which I appreciate very much. I send my thanks as it is a real pretty photo.  I believe it was taken yesterday (Friday the 10th).  I am writing this on Saturday the 11th).

Now to this recipe found at Jo Cooks.  Thank you so much Jo, she has also very kindly said I could post it on my blog.  The original recipe can be found here.

There used to be a great Mongolian Barbecue restaurant we visited about once a month.  It was in one of the local shopping malls, a fast food type of a barbecue but it was excellent.  It reminded us of a restaurant in California, where we first tried this excellent dish..  

As we get older we have more chats about the 'old days', part of which are fond memories of our time spent in California.  This was in the early days of our marriage.  We spent many years in the state, living in three areas; first San Diego, then up to Long Beach, back to San Diego, up to Monterey, and finally back to San Diego.  We were living in SD when Gregg retired from the navy.  Shortly afterwards we came back to Virginia, and have been here ever since.

Anyhow, Gregg was lamenting the fact that our fast-food Mongolian Barbecue place had closed (going back a couple of years), and how much he enjoyed their food.  I do what I usually do, searched online for a recipe.

I surprised him today.  We both stepped into the kitchen to prepare.  I am happy to say that we both enjoyed this delicious dish.  

Mongolian Beef with Ramen Noodles

Serves 4
Calories per serving approximately 941 (quite high but if you eat light for the rest of the day, doable on the calorie counting)

(This is a copycat recipe from P. F. Chang's Mongolian Beef with Green Peppers and Ramen Noodles).

1-1/2 lb. flank steak (I had a two thirds left of a large rib-eye steak in the fridge and decided to use that)
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 green bell pepper, sliced into thin strips (I used a red bell pepper as we prefer it to the green)
8 oz. dry Ramen Noodles 
3 green onions, chopped or thinly sliced

For the sauce:

2 tablespoons sesame oil
3/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
2/3 cup brown sugar
1-1/4 cup chicken broth
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (I might try adding 1/2 teaspoon next time to make it a little hotter)

Slice the steak into small, thin pieces, against the grain.

In a large Ziploc bag add the cornstarch and the beef.  Close the Ziploc bag and shake really well until each piece is coated well with the cornstarch.

In a nonstick skillet heat the oil.  When the oil is hot, add beef and cook until browned.  It may take two or three batches because you don't want to the steak pieces to stick to each other.  Also, if you need more oil after each batch, add a little more if you want to.  

Remove the beef from the skillet to a plate and empty the oil from the skillet.

Add bell pepper to the skillet and saute for a couple of minutes, just until it gets soft.  Remove the pepper from the skillet onto a plate and set aside.

In that same skillet add the sauce ingredients; the sesame oil, soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, chicken broth and red pepper flakes.  Stir and cook over medium heat until the sauce thickens a bit and reduces by a quarter.  This may take up to 10 minutes.  You don't want to reduce it too much because you need more sauce for the noodles.

In the meantime cook the Ramen Noodles according to package directions.  I ended up adding an extra packet of noodles as suggested.  There were leftovers for another meal the next day.

(These are the noodles I used.  You throw away the flavoring packets that come with it, that aren't that good for you anyhow.  Also you can buy noodles that come baked and not fried as these are.  I didn't have time to go to our Asian grocery store, so used what was available at our local supermarket.)

Return the beef and bell pepper to the skillet and pour the sauce over all.  Add the cooked Ramen Noodles and fold them into the other ingredients.  

Top with the green onions and serve.  We used slices of avocado and thinly sliced radishes for garnish.  They were a nice addition.

My photos don't do the dish justice but you can go to Jo's blog to see hers.   We will definitely be making this again.

It was mentioned that the nutritional information is a rough estimate and can varies greatly based on products used.

Thanks again Jo.  This is a link to her blog and I am also repeating the link to the original dish.

Friday, February 10, 2017


While in Virginia Beach we went on another nice walk.  We discovered the Pleasure House Natural Area last year.  This wasn't the longest walk we had as we didn't want to be too late leaving.  I get a little nervous navigating paths in the dark, where there might be stumps and bumps along the walkway.  Too many twisted ankles over the years I suppose.

This is where we see Green Herons, Egrets and various other birds, but apart from one solitary duck sighting, there were no others.  I am thinking they are enjoying the warmer weather further south.

It didn't stop us looking though, or enjoying these beautiful surroundings.

Not sure when we will be back, in the spring or summer perhaps.