Life: Version 2.0

happiness is a simple life



My Local (Virginia) Thanksgiving – Success and a summary

I am so thankful for such a wonderful day. Great friends and family gathering around the table, where we went around the table to say what we were thankful for. I am blessed.

Dinner was by far the best Thanksgiving meal I have had in a very long time. The meal was fresh and full of flavor. It was a lot of work (since I was the only one cooking) but well worth it. Only a few non-local ingredients were used (see my summary below).

Farmers Market purchases (things I purchased last weekend at my local farmers market):

  • 13lb free-range, Virginia turkey – enough to serve 6 people, with a bit of leftovers
  • sweet potatoes – baked and mashed, with a hint of cinnamon, nutmeg, tiny bit of butter and salt
  • Red potatoes – mashed with butter, milk and salt
  • Brussels Sprouts – tossed in olive oil, fresh rosemary from my deck garden, salt and pepper. Roasted until browned
  • Kale – sauteed onions, garlic and some bacon (not local) – then threw in 1/2 cup local white wine to de-glaze the pan, then chicken broth and kale
  • Onions & Garlic-  for just about everything
  • Granny Smith Apples – for deep dish apple pie
  • Apple Cider – used as part of the turkey brine as well as to drink
  • Eggs – for brushing the pie pastry
  • Sausage – for the stuffing.

From my deck garden: Fresh Rosemary, Sage, Thyme – all from my deck garden. I used these for the turkey as well as for the stuffing.

To decorate my table: I used some blue glass bottles with sprigs of sage, lavender, lemon verbena and rosemary (all from my deck). Beautiful.

Local beverages served:

Blenheim Vineyards 2005 Virginia Meritage

Barboursville Vineyards 2006 Virginia Chardonnay

Barboursville Vineyards 2006 Virginia Cabernet Savignon

Afton Mountain Vineyards 2007 Virginia Gewurztraminer – by far my favorite of the evening

Starr Hill Virginia Dark Starr Stout

Shenandoah Joe’s Coffee

Non-local ingredients: Salt, Pepper, Stuffing mix, chicken broth, flour, celery, walnuts, some spices, coca-cola

Uber-geeky holiday wish list

I was recently asked about my holiday wish list. My mature, responsible self tried to respond with pleas for world peace and an end to poverty. My selfish, all-about-me self responded with this:

I like themes – this year it’s all very Jeffersonian:

Thomas Jefferson’s Scrapbooks: Poems of Nation, Family and Romantic Love Collected by America’s Third President

A 2 night stay at this bed & breakfast which was designed by Thomas Jefferson, along with dinner and a wine-tasting at the vineyard:

Weekend Seminar:
Full tuition for The University of Virginia Travel & Learn series: Jefferson Weekend Seminar – THOMAS JEFFERSON AND THE DEMOCRATIC REVOLUTION IN AMERICA

A 1 year subscription to the Virginia Wine of the Month club

Amazon Kindle – so I can read my favorite Jeffersonian books wherever I go

What’s on your list?

1804 Inn and Barboursville Vineyard

My best friend and I recently spent the night at the 1804 Inn at Barboursville Vineyards. Located about 20 minutes north of Charlottesville, the inn and its surroundings are steeped in history – and beauty. Needless to say, it was VERY difficult to leave.

Celebrating local abundance: Wine, Coffee, Farm-fresh produce

I noticed recently that local grocery stores are starting to carry a lot more locally produced items, including wine, coffee and produce. Ultimately this does benefit the local economy and support local business and albeit convenient, it is much more expensive to shop this way. Of course if you have to rely on grocery stores, it is still a good thing to choose locally produced goods in general.

It occurred to me that it would be helpful to make a short list of resources to help folks celebrate the abundance of this beautiful state by enjoying some of what it has to offer.

Buy coffee from local roasters

In Virginia, I found these:

Buy locally grown produce

Use to find any of the following in Virginia (and any other state):

  • Shop weekly at your local Farmers Market
    During Farmers Market season, make it a point to buy everything you can from here. The produce is much less expensive than in stores AND it is fresh and delicious.
  • Participate in Community supported agriculture (many times wonderful, fresh produce gets delivered to your door!)
  • Pick it yourself (this is REALLY fun and supports local farmers) – visit

Buy (and Drink) Virginia wine

Virginia wines are fabulous – the first vineyards in America’s history were in Virginia. Not only do these vineyards make for a wonderful weekend getaway (see my favorite Virginia Wine Blog), but the wine is excellent.

Thankful for Thirty: Day 10: The best day ever

I had the best day ever today. Both of my kids were elsewhere, so I woke early and headed south to Charlottesville at 5:30 am to my favorite coffehouse, La Taza. It’s a 2 hour drive to Charlottesville, a beautiful drive where I was able to see the sun rise in the rolling hills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. I arrived at 7:30 ish at the coffee house and had a nice big cafe cubano with some eggs – and read my book.

Shortly thereafter, I headed to the downtown historic district for the open air city market where local farmers and artisans sell their goods.

It was a wonderful mix of organic farm goodness, homemade artisan breads and jams, locally roasted coffee, homemade pies, handmade jewelry, bags, sweaters, pottery and just about anything else you could think of. It was a crisp and cool September morning – perfect for such an event. I purchased some bread, cheese and fruit to prepare for the rest of the day.

I took the long way back to my car, walking through some historic neighborhoods and admiring the personality that downtown Charlottesville has to offer. I snapped a few photos of homes that I would want to own one day.

I drove around for a while, admiring UVA and the charming neighborhoods – then decided to head to my next destination, Barboursville Vineyards. I arrived at Barboursville at about 11am – just in time for a tasting. The tasting room was beginning to get crowded, so I think I got there just in time. I purchased some gifts and then drove up the hill to the ruins where I layed out my blanket and spent a leisurely 2 hours reading, listening to music, and simply being still. This has to be one of my favorite places on the planet.

 Today I am grateful for the beauty and the bounty that I experienced. I spent several hours doing things that fed my soul. I am thankful for being aware enough to enjoy such things – and to silently soak it all in.

Manolo’s Shoe Blog

I am no fashionista, that’s for sure. I prefer techie gadgets, a good book and glass of great red wine. Yet I have to say that this is one of the most entertaining blogs I have run accross. Complete with readings from “Don’t Hassel the Hoff

I especially like the tone in which it is written, third person and all. How do people come up with this stuff?

My new favorite blog: Virginia Vine Spot

I was out surfing the blogosphere recently and came across a fabulous blog: Virginia Vine Spot. Dezel provides very descriptive and informative reviews of local vineyards, with helpful hints on visiting PLUS beautiful photographs! Reading through his blog reminds me of how beautiful, green, and abundant the state of Virginia is. I have a whole new appreciation for what it has to offer!

I began visiting local vineyards about 2 years ago – not only because I enjoy a good glass of wine, but because often times the vineyards themselves offer breathtaking views, relaxed atmosphere, and quiet/untouched countryside – an excellent way to spend the day or weekend! With more than 100 wineries in Virginia, I was never sure which ones to visit – now it’s much easier thanks to Dezel!

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