Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Retro Roadside

If you love history and enjoy learning and/or visiting some really cool historical and retro places, try these sites. I have used them as reference for several years now and it is always kept updated. Enjoy!

A favorite neighborhood dive

A fave place when I worked in West Baltimore was a little place called Charlie and Dee's Carryout on Bush Street. OR, as we called it "Chuck & Di's"! : )

Back in the day, about 18 years or so, this was THE place for a quick breakfast on the way to work or a quick lunch during a quick lunch hour for me and many of the industrial area's workers.

I had an occasion last week to be in the area before they closed and decided to revisit it for one of my most favorites lunches - chicken salad and ice tea.

Their chicken salad is practically famous, and it is always fresh and always great tasting. The same for their ice tea - they make a sweet and unsweetened version in a big gallon jug that is kept in one of the coolers. Customers serve themselves - get a cup, scoop some ice and pour from one of the jugs. (They also have lemonade)If you want a slice of fresh lemon, hand the cup top to the owner and he will bring you back a slice from the kitchen.

The sub was exactly as it always was - on a H & S roll, packed full with fresh lettuce and good. And so very cheap - about $5.69. The large tea is cheap as well....the total tab was about $7 and some change.

I have gotten used to good breads and rolls at pricier "gourmet" places, so the H & S roll was a throwback to my early days when I did not know any better, but the chicken salad would have tasted just as good on a rice cake....the bread is always just secondary to the chicken salad here.

The homemade tea, as usual, was stellar.

So, for quick, tasty and cheap eats on the run and you happen to be near this beloved dive, stop in and enjoy the food...just try not to think too much about the!

Charlie & Dee's Restaurant

Pigtown/Washington Village

Yule 2016

As usual, my quirkiness in holiday decorations was evident in this past year's Yule/Christmas holidays. This particular "tree" is always here, so I decided to add purple lights and a few new decorations for the holidays!
This is my Game of Thrones "throne"! It is so cool, I just might let it hang all year!

No tree is complete without a snowy owl resting in it's branches.
I've had the fairy ice block light for a while, but a friends crafted a new block light for me with a Christmas witchy boot!
The most gorgeous wreath I have ever seen hangs proudly on my front door - after having a real wreath this year, I will probably never go back to the fake ones!

Raven ventures.....

Raven is 15 years old and has a passion for fashion, modeling, make up, interior design and "pretty things".  An adventurous spirit, I will be featuring her in upcoming articles!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Celtic Harvest Festival - Lughnasadh

The Celtic harvest festival on August 1st takes its name from the Irish god Lugh, one of the chief gods of the Tuatha De Danann, giving us Lughnasadh in Ireland, Lunasdál in Scotland, and Laa Luanys in the Isle of Man. (In Wales, this time is known simply as Gwl Awst, the August Feast.) Lugh dedicated this festival to his foster-mother, Tailtiu, the last queen of the Fir Bolg, who died from exhaustion after clearing a great forest so that the land could be cultivated. When the men of Ireland gathered at her death-bed, she told them to hold funeral games in her honor. As long as they were held, she prophesied Ireland would not be without song. Tailtiu's name is from Old Celtic Talantiu, "The Great One of the Earth," suggesting she may originally have been a personification of the land itself, like so many Irish goddesses. In fact, Lughnasadh has an older name, Brón Trogain, which refers to the painful labor of childbirth. For at this time of year, the earth gives birth to her first fruits so that her children might live. Tailtiu gives her name to Teltown in County Meath, where the festival was traditionally held in early Ireland. It evolved into a great tribal assembly, attended by the High King, where legal agreements were made, political problems discussed, and huge sporting contests were held on the scale of an early Olympic Games. Artists and entertainers displayed their talents, traders came from far and wide to sell food, farm animals, fine crafts and clothing, and there was much storytelling, music, and high-spirited revelry, according to a medieval eye-witness account:" Trumpets, harps, hollow-throated horns, pipers, timpanists, unwearied…fiddlers, gleemen, bone-players and bag-pipers, a rude crowd, noisy, profane, roaring and shouting. "This was also an occasion for hand fasting, or trial marriages. Young men and women lined up on either side of a wooden gate in a high wall, in which a hole was carved, large enough for a hand. One by one, girl and boy would grasp a hand in the hole, without being able to see who was on the other side. They were now married, and could live together for year and day to see if it worked out. If not, the couple returned to next year's gathering and officially separated by standing back to back and walking away from each other. Throughout the centuries, the grandeur of Teltown dwindled away, but all over Ireland, right up to the middle of this century, country-people have celebrated the harvest at revels, wakes, and fairs – and some still continue today in the liveliest manner. It was usually celebrated on the nearest Sunday to August 1st, so that a whole day could be set aside from work. In later times, the festival of Lughnasadh was christianized as Lammas, from the Anglo-Saxon, half-mas, "Loaf-Mass," but in rural areas, it was often remembered as "Bilberry Sunday, " for this was the day to climb the nearest "Lughnasadh Hill" and gather the earth's freely-given gifts of the little black berries, which they might wear as special garlands or gather in baskets to take home for jam. As of old, people sang and danced jigs and reels to the music of melodeons, fiddles and flutes, and held uproarious sporting contests and races. In some places, a woman—or an effigy of one—was crowned with summer flowers and seated on a throne, with garlands strewn at her feet. Dancers whirled around her, touching her garlands or pulling off a ribbon for good luck. In this way, perhaps, the ancient goddess of the harvest was still remembered with honor.                                                                          


Is there a difference between "authentic mexican cuisine" and authentic mexican street food"?

Here is the thing - I saw an online menu for
 "Los Portales" in Glen Burnie and it reads like a Chi Chi's menu from the 80's - from the ground beef (standard if not otherwise specified) and shredded beef (optional) to the fried ice cream. It turned me off a little and since I thoroughly enjoy the BLT's and fries from the Aviation Deli next door, I am still hesitant to enter a place that just seems....well...kinda "touristy" or maybe "cheesy" (no pun intended). Even though it is insanely crowded. I realize it is next to BWI airport - but, c'mon - authentic? I am remembering my horrible experience with the bland, watery gummy-cheese crap served to me and my friends in El Salto's - a place that is apparently all the rage and the "best" and most authentic...yada yada yada. I live minutes from this place and would never consider going there again.

 In the meanwhile, I wander into the Mexican joint in the Shell station where I have been getting my car repaired for years (Russell and Mike - all-American and 25 million years experience - people are towed from miles away to have their work done - excellent!) BTW - the station is owned by Indian people (very nice) but their mechanics are apple-pie American and they rent space to a Mexican family that barely speaks I love the whole melting-pottiness of it all - BUT especially the part about my mechanic speaking "perfect-honest-I-will-never-rip-you-off" English!

 Anyhoo - I see authentic Mexican - something clicks and I can't resist exploring. So while Mike is busy coaxing my car to stop behaving badly I tried to peruse the menu - and wow! Totally different from the extravagent menu at Los Portales and it's sister Plaza Garabaldi. Tongue? yikes! Tripe soup? double yikes!! But - I did recognize a few things that reminded me of Fiesta Mexicana in Rosedale.

 A limited menu with a variety of protein offerings, mexican cheese, fresh and handmade - in other words "authentic".

 So - I am confused. To make matters worse, I was exploring Highlandtown today looking for a small house my aunt lived in centuries ago and I have fond memories as a child visiting and I cruised past a rather cool little place on a neat little corner called "Los Catroches"....or close to just when I thought I could not be more baffled - it said "a Spanish restaurant"!

So - what exactly is "authentic" Mexican cuisine?


Roseloe Motel - Country Comfort

 There aren't any bad things I can really say about this low-key locally-managed 50's style motel. There is actually a resident manager on premises and this lovely lady's name is Thelma Curtis. She will instantly remind you of a favorite aunt, or concerned grandma - she embodies all that is good about home-style comfort.

 The home-like comfort description is very fitting - the room I stayed in was number 26 also known as the “Sam Snead” room. Indeed, his pictures adorned the walls painted a serene and calming washed-out blue. The room was exactly as I expected - a little faded and a little worn around the edges, but in that home-y comfortable sort of way that will instantly steal your heart. There are no fancy bells and whistles, but what you will find is an extraordinary understanding of a weary traveler and her needs. There were a few amenities included in the very budget-friendly price that were immediately appreciated. FREE basic cable with HBO on a 27” TV, plus all the things you would want away from home - coffee maker, fridge, microwave, phone (Free local calls).

 There were thoughtful conveniences like real paper towels on a holder along with a cooking guide for the microwave. The motel binder included not only the menus of all the area's eateries and a channel listing, but the names and phone numbers of the area's B & B's including the insanely expensive Homestead. I appreciate any place that includes listings of their competitors! I found that interesting and extremely endearing, considering that this little modest motel can be easily missed because of the popularity and historic status of the hulking Homestead and the enchanting web sites of the area B & B's offering idyllic stays in their gorgeous Victorians.

 The bathroom was impeccably clean, as was the sink vanity area that was separate from the tub and toilet which is very convenient when there is more than one guest. Who wants to put on their makeup over a toilet in a steamy bathroom?

 This is a great place to stay if you wish to enjoy the magnificent natural springs at Jefferson Pools and/or hike and relax in the many varied natural areas nearby. You can spend an entire day at Lake Moomaw or the Goshen Pass gorge area or enjoy a leisurely and scenic drive up Route 220 towards Monterey in Highland County - a gorgeous mountainous area and quaint little town known as Virginia's “Little Switzerland”.

For the most affordable dining experience, check out the Country Café. They offer breakfast, lunch and dinner. Their homemade pies are amazing.

 The area B & B's do offer fabulous stays but if you appreciate the privacy of your own room and convenient parking right outside your doorstep and cannot, or like me, will not pay the exorbitant prices at The Homestead, this charming little motel will fit the bill.

 This motel is truly a throwback - there are no internet reservations or confirmation numbers - just call and advise Mrs. Curtis when you want to visit. Almost like visiting Grandma's house!

Rt 1 Box 590
Hot Springs, VA 24445