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Welcome!

Thanks for joining us! We write about sports, food, life and anything else interesting here in Ashburn and Loudoun County, all while cramming as many features into the site as possible.

Our staff consists of one old man and a dog named Maggie The WonderBeagle. Want to know more? Click on the icon below:

About Us

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For Under Three Bucks, This Pizza Is Hard To Beat...

Today I found myself at LIDL here in Ashburn, and for the first time since all the shutdown nonsense started, the whole shopping experience seemed to be back to normal. Unlike in previous visits where there were a lot of holes in the shelves, they seemed to have everything in stock.

Including something near and dear to my heart, a deal on this take and bake pepperoni pizza for only $2.99

Naturally I had to match LIDL’s generosity by doubling the toppings, so when I got it home, I put it on a pizza pan that had been well covered in olive oil to crisp up the crust. These take and bakes can sometimes be a little on the dry side, so I then added extra sauce, along with some black olives, mushrooms, a few chopped onions and then covered everything with extra whole milk mozzarella.

Then for good measure, I just happened to have some extra pepperoni, which I laid on top of the extra cheese. To make sure the pizza looked good, I brushed more olive oil on the rim of the crust, which browned it up nicely. And while the box said cook it at 375 for 14 to 15 minutes, I went 435 for 17 minutes. Following their directions makes the crust taste doughy. You need more heat. 

At right is the finished product. I think it’s going to be good. Especially since it only cost three bucks 😊

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Watching Super Bowl III Last Night Was A Lot Of Fun....

Last night I was stumbling across channels and found the original broadcast of Super Bowl III on the NBC Sports Network. I ended up watching all 3 hours of it.

It made me want to shout at ESPN that this is what a channel like ESPN Classic should have been versus the constant showing of 19 Duke basketball games from 3 years ago.

Part of the appeal was the memories of a then 12-year-old me watching in disbelief as the Colts kept committing turnover after turnover every time they got near the goal line. It just reminded me of my post-game reaction, namely that the Colts couldn’t get out of their own way and if they just stopped throwing interceptions, they could have easily won.

Heck, if they had just kneeled every time they got into the red zone and kicked field goals they would have won. Back then the goal posts were on the goal line, so once you breached the 20, a field goal was like an extra point.

Part of the appeal was also the memory of my Dad, who had decided to become a Colt fan, mainly because I had decided to become a Redskins fan. Where I grew up in Norfolk, you either got the Colts or the Redskins, so there was always a tug of war on who got to watch the 25-inch console color television with no remote control in the den (I was the remote control). He too was pained by the game, but when the Colts finally punched it in for a touchdown in the final 3 minutes, he was elated.

This, I soon learned, was because he had bought a square in the office pool, and had a 6 for the Jets and a 7 for the Colts. He had thought the Colts would have to win 27-6 for him to win and had long given up on that early in the second half. But he then realized 16-7 was a winner. And what was the first thing he said to me after explaining that?

What all Dads say when a windfall comes their way: “Don’t tell Mom.”

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Stuffed Peppers: So Easy, Even YOU Can Make Them....

Earlier this week my wife asked me if I’d ever had stuffed peppers.

I had to stop for a second, then look on my computer to see if I still had that picture of a bear relieving himself in the woods so I could answer her with a picture.

Fortunately for me I couldn’t find it and I merely answered “of course.”

She had not, so today, I prepared my version of them, and it is not only one of the easiest dishes in the world to prepare, it’s also quite easy to customize it so it’s unique to the way you make it.

My first rule of making them my way is you can pick any color of the rainbow for peppers…as long as the color is not green. My Dad ate green peppers all the time, grew them and served them with everything from pasta to eggs. In all the times we had them, I can honestly say the number of meals I enjoyed them was zero.

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I Don't Believe Anyone Who Says They're Not Hungry

I was once asked if I followed any particular rules when it comes to cooking.

Yeah,” I replied. “I never believe anyone who says they’re not hungry in my house.”

Take for example what just transpired here. It was getting way past lunch time and my wife was working in her upstairs “work at home” office while our dog finished her third nap of the day nearby. I texted her to ask if she had an interest in some breakfast sandwiches I was going to make.

“No,” she said. “I had oatmeal earlier in the day.”

Sticking with oatmeal when you can have a fresh, hot breakfast sandwich is a topic for another day, but let’s just say I remembered rule number 1 and thought “I don’t believe you.”

So I went in the kitchen and started frying some sweet Italian sausage patties. I took out my mandolin and sliced a Vidalia onion and a sweet yellow pepper very thinly. The onions and peppers went into a saute pan, and I cooked them over medium heat until they got very soft and lightly browned.

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With Each Day, Seems We Lose More Sports Heroes Of My Youth

One of my oldest friends is a guy named Tim, and the last two days have bought back memories of a wonderful spring in 1978. Unfortunately, the memories have been rekindled because of the passing of key sports figures of that time.

“Our class is graduating,” I always say to Tim, as with each year it seems like people we knew have passed away.

One was Wes Unseld, who passed away Monday at the age of 74. It does not seem that long ago that Tim and I were long-haired students at Virginia Tech (much like we were last week until the barber shops opened again) and we were at his apartment, watching Game 7 of the NBA Finals.

For weeks we had heard that “The Opera Isn’t Over ‘Til The Fat Lady Sings” thanks to Bullets Coach Dick Motta, but we knew that day somebody would be singing. We watched on Tim’s 19-inch color television with no remote control and no cable (and don’t get me started on no computers or internet) but in our caveman-like accommodations, we were able to see that the Bullets had a slim 101-99 lead and the Seattle Supersonics had just fouled Unseld.

Back then, Wes was an incredible rebounder, but he shot free throws like I dance: not that well and not that often. He had only hit 55 percent of his free throws all season, but Wes was one of those players who just always seemed to get the job done when needed the most. He hit both free throws, and a few seconds later Norfolk State alum Bobby Dandridge slammed home a dunk and the Bullets won the deciding Game 7 105-99. Unseld would be named the Finals MVP.

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Someone Is Learning How To Deal With All The Heat

Because I’m Italian, I can’t say hello in less than 10 minutes, so while engaging in conversation with a friend across the fence (see previous post) Maggie had her run of the yard. She’s not used to being outside for close to an hour at a time, and she particularly isn’t used to it being 90 degrees, as she was born last fall. This is her first real experience with hot, humid conditions outside.

As you can see from the picture, she prefers a cool place to nap. She immediately came inside, slurped up a significant amount of water, then grabbed one of her toys to head upstairs and see her Mom. A few moments later, the toy has been abandoned and she is snoring.

It’s good to be Maggie 😊

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Remembering The Days You Could Have Civilized Conversation...

Was just outside with Maggie, and since our back yard adjoins the bike path that runs through Ashburn Farm, we get to see a lot of people passing by.

One friend managed to stop by, and over the fence we had a great discussion on politics. He and I are 180 degrees different in our opinions on politics, and to make it even worse, he was wearing a University of Virginia T-shirt. We even joked I needed to go inside and get something with Virginia Tech written on it to balance everything out.

We had a very spirited, yet civilized conversation. We don’t agree on much, but listened to each other. When done, we wished each other well, and I told him to come on back tomorrow and we’ll solve more of the world’s problems.

Couldn’t help but think heading back inside about how this is the way it used to be. On social media these days, it seems like with every debate, you have to state your position and then seek to destroy anyone who doesn’t see it the same way you do. Vary from the narrative, and you must be attacked.

Also couldn’t help but think how much better the country might be right now if the people we elected would listen and have reasonable, civilized discussions instead of the “my side must destroy your side” antics that seem to occur regularly. Can’t say I’m all that optimistic about that happening these days, however…

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Will Always Remember The Simple Lesson I Got From Pat Dye

I was sad to learn of Pat Dye’s death today. I never met Pat, but for about 10 minutes over 40 years ago, our paths crossed.

He taught me a lesson that day I will always remember.

It was 1977, and the Virginia Tech football program was a mess. The Hokies had just finished 3-7-1 and a player had died in the athletic dormitories after being forced to run punishment drills. Coach Jimmy Sharpe and the entire staff were fired.

As is always the case when a coach is fired, the rumor mill immediately fired up as to who the potential replacement would be. I was the sports editor of a twice a week newspaper called the Blacksburg Sun (we even had T-shirts that said “now doing it twice a week”) and was also a senior at Virginia Tech, trying to take classes and work a fulltime job to pay the bills.

To make a few extra bucks, I also wrote some stories for United Press International, and the bureau chief in Richmond and I had become good friends (which we still are to this day). He asked if I had a story on who the potential replacements were I could send him, and given that I could write it for my newspaper, then send it to him and get an extra $15, the story moved to No. 1 on my priority list.

Back in the days before social media, rumors of who the next coach would be were usually rumors sportswriters themselves started. I’m not sure that’s changed any since that day, but if you looked at a map and tried to rationalize who would be a good coach and was nearby, East Carolina’s Pat Dye seemed like a logical choice. A columnist in the Greensboro News & Record had pretty much said the same thing, so as far as I was concerned, Dye was the leading candidate to become the next Hokie Coach.

These were the days of Watergate, and if you saw “All The President’s Men,” where Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman were tirelessly calling everybody on the planet to chase down a lead, then you too – if you were at the young age of 21 as I was – did the same thing.

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Somebody Turned Nine Months Old Today

Today, Maggie is now 9 months old. Which is a pretty incredible situation given it seems like she’s been living here for the last 10 years.

As you can see, she starts her day on my lap, usually in search of treats. I made the mistake of reaching into my pocket to get my phone, and she knows now that it’s warm, I keep treats in my pants pocket instead of that of a jacket.

Any sudden move toward a pocket will draw an immediate inquiry.

Like any child, she also likes to play, and tug of war is her game of choice. If you’re trying to work on something, she gets right in your face with a toy in her mouth, and if you ignore her she will not think it’s because you don’t wish to play. She will think it’s her choice of toy, and she’ll go find another and come right back.

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Tonight's Dinner: Ravioli With Marinara, Meatballs & 3 Cheeses

One of the more common refrains I heard when Maggie and I decided we didn't need to contribute to Twitter any more involved no longer being able to see pics of Maggie or the meals we eat around here.

You'll notice the rather lazy canine in the post below.

Here, is tonight's dinner. As I tend to make meals into two-day affairs, this is round 1. Each bowl has six large ravioli, and I had made a huge pot of sauce and meatballs weeks ago, with about a third of it put into the freezer for some day in the future. Today was the calendar equivalent of that player to be named later. 

The ravioli is covered in the sauce and meatballs, as well as mozzarella and pecorino romano. Combined with the riccota in the ravioli filling, that's a nice three cheese variety.

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You Are Looking Live At The Hardest Working Dog Alive

While I was cooking dinner, I noticed my trusty hound was not at my side, looking for mistakes to hit the floor.

So I went looking for her.

Apparently - as you can see -  she was worried she might pull a muscle getting ready for dinner. So she is resting until she is served her next meal, at which point she will then resume her hunt for squirrels in the backyard. 

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After a long and bumpy road, The Washington Nationals finally won the World Series. And made an old man in Ashburn cry...

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My faithful dogs probably rode shotgun on hundreds of stories I've written since 2003. This one is for you, Doodle & Schnoodle.

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