Non-Profits to Love this February

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It started almost before the New Year, the hearts and cupids came out to remind us that the month of love is right around the corner. This, of course, means different things to different people – there’s family love, friend love, significants and spouses. You have epic date nights being planned, baby-sitters are being booked and Galentine’s Days and Bromances are being celebrated in full force. We’re very good at making sure that everyone gets a little love this time of year.

Or so I thought.

But then I realized that there is another group that could possibly use a little bit of time and affection right now. So this Valentine’s Day season (which I’ve decided is the entire month of February), I challenge you to show some love to your favorite local non-profit or charity.

This is the best time to remember them. Why? The holidays are over and maybe you didn’t get to send that check to your favorite charity because you just didn’t have the extra cash or it got lost in the long list of to-dos and to-attends. The season of giving may be over, but the season of love just started! Now’s the time to send that donation.

Did you make a New Year’s resolution to volunteer more and it hasn’t quite made the top of your priority list? Many organizations are starting to feel the New Year’s rush drop off, so now is your chance to swoop in and lend that much-needed hand.

The point is, now is the time to remember the others that don’t always get remembered past Thanksgiving and the typical charity holiday season. So this season of love, let’s look to those that might be overlooked this time of year. I’ve included some of my personal favorite non-profits. Share your faves in the comments section to spread the Valentine’s Day vibes!

What could ‘B’ more loving?

Bea Gaddy Family Centers

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Picture: Bea Gaddy Family Centers

Let’s face it, we all love food – but sadly, not everyone has enough. Luckily, there’s Bea Gaddy Family Centers to continue on the great work of their namesake. Hunger never takes a holiday and what you may not realize is that donations of food often slow down after Thanksgiving. Give extra chocolate kisses and non-perishable food items to those who go without.

Contact: 410-563-2749 or beagaddy@bea-gaddy.org

House of Ruth

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The non-profit, House of Ruth, helps women of intimate partner violence and their children with counseling, intervention and shelter, as well as working for legislation to strengthen laws and more. With all that House of Ruth does for the women and children of Maryland, there are just as many ways for you to give. Do you love to shop? Spend an afternoon at Ruth’s Closet in Owings Mills and shop with a purpose. The upscale boutique has new and gently used clothes for you to try on and take home – profits help fund programming and services. Do you love to sew? Then help create B-More Bags, which have raised more than $60,000 since 2005. Of course, you can give a little love the old fashioned way with time and monentary donations, or attend their Spring Luncheon on April 27, 2017.

Contact: 410- 554-8449 or info@hruthmd.org

Pet Rescue of Maryland

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Picture Pet Rescue of Maryland

For those of you that have a soft spot for love of the four-legged kind, Pet Rescue of Maryland is chock full of sloppy kisses. Even if you aren’t able to give a forever home to one of the adoptable dogs or cats, there are numerous other ways to show a little love. The non-profit is completely volunteer based, so helping hands in the form of dog handlers, puppy wranglers and cat cuddlers are always welcome. If time is not something you can give right now, donations of paper towels, trash bags and canned cat food are always in need, while those of you who would like to put some money in their paws will feel great knowing all of your donation will go directly to the pets. The current goal of Pet Rescue of Maryland? To raise money to build a Sanctuary for their adoptees in waiting. Think you have the space in your heart and home for a pet like our featured friend Simon? Their next Adoption Event is on February 11, from 2:30 – 4:30 at the Petco in Owings Mills.

Contact: 410-472-1172 or info@petrescueofmd.org

 

The Book Thing

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Is your true love more of the between-the-covers kind? The Book Thing is in the process of rebuilding after a fire forced it to shut its doors last year. Progress is being made and it promises to be bigger and better. Donations of books to fill the shelves are welcome, as are CDs, DVDs and vinyl – check the website or Facebook page for updated drop-off times and places. Those who don’t mind getting a paper cut or two can help stock, sort and stamp the incoming books. And as always, monetary donations are appreciated, but better to donate on the website than to slip your bills in between the pages.

Contact: 410.662.5631 or russell892@cs.com

Lab Rescue LRCP

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Finally, no list of non-profits would be complete without Lab Rescue LRCP because that’s where I met my life long love, Wyatt. Specializing in labs and lab-mixes, Lab Rescue helps these energenic and friendly balls of love find their forever homes. You can help these wonderful dogs get placed by fostering or offering to be doggie transport for foster families that can’t always make it to adoption events. If you want to attend events but are worried you’ll forget the date, purchase a 2017 Rescued Lab Calendar and never miss an event. Donations of food and supplies are always welcome, and monanetary donations will help surrendered dogs with special needs, like Helen whose sight was restored thanks to the generosity of people like you! Keep up to date with available adoptees by following them on Instagram @labrescuelrcp for their Foster Fridays.

Contact: Lab Line: (301) 299-6756 or info@lab-rescue.org

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5 Places to Check Out this Restaurant Week

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year! No, not the time of gifts and lights and pretty wrapping paper, but the time of three course meals for affordable prices at some of Baltimore’s best restaurants. That’s right, friends: it’s Baltimore City Restaurant Week 2017 – Winter Edition!

Starting this Friday, January 13 and ending on January 22, you can skip around some of the best eateries the city has to offer. (That’s 10 days of glorious eating, for those of you counting.) If you have yet to hit the streets and fill your stomach during Restaurant Week, this is the year to do it. (Although, I put it on the list of things to do in 2016!) Being a seasoned patron of Restaurant Week, I thought I’d help you to narrow down the list to a few great eats. What makes these places worth mentioning over the rest? Three things: great food, great vibe, and great value for the price. So while it’s a steal of a deal during this week, if you venture there any other time (like the day after because you made a mistake or couldn’t get a reservation) you’re still going to have a full belly.

This is, of course, just one gal’s opinion, so if you feel I overlooked a great option please let me know! Chances are I just haven’t eaten there yet.

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Blue Agave

I’m going to be straight up honest and tell you that tacos, burritos and nachos are my life’s blood, so there was no way a place with Mexican cuisine wasn’t making my list. This fantastic tequila bar and restaurant in Federal Hill has everything you need for a Restaurant Week experience to remember. The staff is friendly, helpful and always game to share a great story or two, and the inside has just enough going on to keep a wandering eye busy but not overwhelmed. And then there’s the food. My best foodie friend still has dreams of their Mushroom & Garlic Empanadas and I’m sure that when we make our plans, this is the place we’re hitting up. While I mentioned the staples of Mexican food, this is where you go to try things that are a bit different, like their puerco cocoa or lamb birria. And of course, treat yourself to one of their 130 tequilas.

Bond Street Social

Bond Street Social

Want a place to hit up after work? This is your destination. Located on the water in Fells Point, this is the place with the upscale industrial vibe and fun bites. I once had an entire meal of just their appetizers and would gladly do so again (I’m looking at you house pretzels and mac n cheese bites). Adding to the posh vibe is the ultra cool staff who manages to make everyone feel like VIPs. If we have unseasonably warm weather during your trip – and that’s not impossible – grab some outdoor seating. If not, chill at the bar or by one of the multiple fireplaces. Yep, you heard that right, multiple fireplaces.

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Jack’s Bistro

There’s nothing quite like Jack’s Bistro, the little eatery in Canton with a lot of personality. The small space is decorated with slight retro vibes and lots of funky art which helps to match the unique cooking style. Specializing in sous vide (pronounced soo vee), the food is prepared by placing it in airtight plastic bags and heating in a hot water bath for long periods of time. With a changing menu, you can visit often and never have to order the same thing twice. Although some favorites, like the 100% Pure Ground Bacon Burger, is almost always listed.

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Salt

You want some duck fat fries? This is the place to get them. Located in Butcher’s Hill, this local art showing, green lit, white-washed brick walled converted rowhome is a place that you MUST try. Multiple times. A week. But if you can only manage it once a year, this is the week to do it. The vibe is hip, but not obnoxious; the staff is knowledge but not stuffy; and the food is marvelous, without exaggeration. I had the best octopus in my life at this restaurant and a risotto that I wanted to savor for hours, but scarfed down anyway. The menu here is constantly changing, so unfortunately nothing I mentioned is currently there. But that just means it’s time to go back and try something new. The hardships of life, am I right?

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Waterfront Kitchen

If you have to see the water even in the dead of winter, you can’t do better than Fells Point’s WK; their one wall is an actual floor to ceiling window overlooking the harbor. The view is only one of the many things to love about this alphabetically last-on-the-list stop. All of the food served here is locally sourced and in season, so it’s the definition of fresh. This is not a line, as much of the produce comes from greenhouses right around the corner on Caroline Street. Still not impressed, you say? What if I told you that same produce is grown by Baltimore City students as part of Living Classroom’s BUGS program? A great meal and a great cause all rolled into one. Now that’s something worth chowing down for.

What could ‘B’ more delicious?

*Photos by my awesome editor, Melinda Campbell
*None of these are paid advertisements. As always, these are things I know of that I want to share with you!

 

4 Goals to Bmore in 2017

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Now that the year that was 2016 is blissfully behind us, we can get onto the business that is 2017. And I don’t know about you, but 2016 was a bit rough for me personally. It’s quite hard to write about all the fantastic things you can do in Baltimore when your driving foot, ankle and leg are casted, thus grounding your car as if its got a permanent boot attached. While friends and family were TOTALLY helpful in getting me to work, food and a holiday party or two, it just wasn’t an inspiring time to write about our great city. (Unless you wanted a run down on the lack of handicapped amenities – which still isn’t out of the question.) So it’s with much relief and a healing body that I look toward 2017 and what it may bring.

When 2016 started, I gave you a great list of things to do for each month of the new year. Trust me when I say that the suggestions on the list will be just as great for 2017 if you missed it. But a new year means a new direction, so this year I’m giving you some tips I plan to use to help hit some New Year’s Goals. (Because no one keeps resolutions anyway.)

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Travel (around town)

Some years the round the world trip is just out of reach. That doesn’t mean that travel has to go out the window. Make this the year you check out a different part of the city, county or state. That new neighborhood bar you keep meaning to get to? Make that an after work happy hour spot one night. Never seen Western Maryland and unsure if it really exists? Take a weekend to explore the western unknown.

The best part about Maryland? It’ll deliver photogenic getaways for any season. Hit some slopes in winter. Check out cherry blossoms in spring. Beach bum it out in the summer. Admire the foliage in the fall. Just remember that travel isn’t something that only counts if you change time zones. Have an adventure a little closer to home. Still need inspiration? Check out vistmaryland.org for more great ideas.

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Support Local Businesses

There are so many great things about the region and one of the best is that if you need it, want it or don’t know about it yet, there’s a good chance you can find it locally. I doubt I need to remind you that our food and drink scene is ever-growing and on point. Stepping out of the city won’t lead to your hunger pangs growing, as there are places to eat in every hill and valley of this great state. With restaurant weeks around the corner, there are plenty of opportunities and deals to help you eat local.

But what about the other things in life – home decor, clothes, books and the rest? Don’t worry, you’re covered. Pick up all of these and more at the next Charm City Craft Mafia craft fair. Or wait until Artscape and snag some local wares there. There is so much talent in and around Baltimore that you just might get the urge to up your hobby game. And that brings me to my next 2017 goal.

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Add a Skill

So many local businesses offer classes that 2017 is definitely the year to add to your skill set. Learn to decorate cakes like a pro with Lotz of Sweets or make pasta with Baltimore Chef Shop. Become an expert at climbing mountains with a class at Earth Treks or become an equestrian at one of the many horse farms. Create your own museum after you’ve mastered how to blow glass and create ceramic sculptures.  Or give an Oscar worthy Shakespearean monologue for your friends.

If you simply search “classes in Baltimore” you will be given multiple options, price points and locations to just about anything you could think of and more. (Hey, I didn’t even know Baltimore had glass blowing classes until I searched two seconds ago!) And if you’re more of a learn on your own type, my final goal for 2017 will help you out.

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Hit the Books

Got stacks of books catching more dust than dog-eared pages? Magazines so old you still don’t know what was fashionable to wear for summer of 2016? Or am I the only one that owns 70 unread titles, courtesy of The Book Thing?

Well, even if you don’t have my bibliophile tendencies and still want to up your read-word count, here are two easy tips to help you reach the “Well Read in 2017” badge.

First, find 12 books for the year. That’s one book a month. Any title, any page length, any anything. Now gather them up, make a stack and place them somewhere you’ll see them. Now you have a visual reminder to whittle down that pile, and the bonus of seeing it shrink over the year. Got an e-reader? Purchase or borrow the one you want to read for the day and add it to your library. Or make a list on GoodReads to help get you in the reading habit. *Bonus* Post a picture to social media to let everyone know about your year-long library.

 

*None of these are paid advertisements. As always, these are things I know of that I want to share with you!

I’m sensing a pattern here: A sit down with MICA graduate Steph Stilwell

pattern play

I took one look at the Charm City pillow on thebaltimorecreatives Instagram feed and thought: I. Must. Have. That. The picture of bright blue and purple row homes in a throw pillow perfect square was meant to be on my couch. Sale at Caravanserai on the Avenue in Hampden when I wasn’t in town – unacceptable. So, being resourceful, I joined others who were clamoring to find out how else to get these delightful pillows of perfection.

Enter MICA artist, Steph Stilwell. She happily directed me to a solution to my conundrum and pictures of her entire line of pillows. Scratch the Charm City row homes, I had to have the Baltimore crab and the Maryland postcard. I mean, it has a diamondback terrapin on it, what’s not to love? She also excitedly accepted an invite to be featured on my humble blog. So on a Saturday afternoon in the unassuming, but ever hip Red Emma’s, we meet for hummus, iced coffee and a chat about MICA, Delaware, and art.

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Artist Steph Stilwell

The first thing you should know about Steph is that as a graduate fresh out of MICA, she has honed a unique voice and style all her own. Her doodles and sketches are simply delightful. She creates characters and illustrations that dance around the page. In a style that she describes as “50% food, 50% animals” she uses patterns to solve problems – like how to make a cactus footstool.

Steph hails from Middletown, Delaware where she started drawing at an early age. Her father was an artist by hobby and her mom likes to say she sacrificed her own artistic ability so Steph could inherit all of it. Fed on a steady stream of art supplies at Christmas and plenty of doodle time, Steph spent the weekends redrawing cartoons and comics instead of actually watching them. This naturally progressed to doodling during high school classes, cumulating in an independent high school project and landing her at MICA. 

MICA was my dream school. For art school, it’s a very collaborative, tight knit community…it makes you want to be as good as the people you admire.” Plus she wanted to live in a city, and Bmore was the place for her. “I wanted somewhere I could assimilate. Baltimore isn’t NYC, I like the environment. I  think there’s a lot of great things happening here.”

cactus footstool

For her it was really all about the patterns.

“It kinda just fell into place. I went into MICA and I didn’t really know what ‘Illustrator’ meant. But I think I was drawn to it because I was redrawing illustrations.

I took the patterns course… I was trying so hard to be what graphic design is, but I took that patterns course and I kept using patterns in other assignments. It’s funny, looking back, that I use patterns so much in my assignments, it was sorta foreshadowing what was happening later.”

If she had her way she would stay here in Baltimore, but there’s not a lot of work for illustrators and designers like her in the area. While her own gallery and studio would be nice one day, right now she’s focusing on expanding her portfolio and style. While I may argue that her style needs no tweaking, she’s got her eyes on bigger things. Her main goal right now is to work for a company where she can collaborate with other artists. While you might think of illustrators as people hunched over a desk drawing away by the light of a lamp, she’s quick to dispel that stereotype. The back and forth creativity that fed her passion and education at MICA is not something she’s ready to part with just yet.

piggies

Currently she’s shopping Hallmark, Greetings and Readings, and even Target. While she doesn’t have any bites yet, she’s hopeful that the right company will come along. I offered my two cents that Mod Cloth and her would be the perfect fit. (I’m also the first to admit, what do I know?)

But I do know that at this point you are thinking: “I love her stuff! I can’t wait for Target to wake up! Where can I get my own cactus footstool?

While she was mum on current projects (“There’s one in particular I’m not sure if I’m allowed to talk about yet.”), she is currently freelancing while working the typical post-college desk job to help make ends meet. (Oh, the life of the starving artist.) You can find samples of her work on her website stephstilwell.com and request your own custom work. Or you can stop at Caravanserai and grab one of her pillows – before they’re all gone.

Bmore crab and postcard

Sushi Outside the City: A New Place for your Raw Bar

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Rainbow Roll & Spicy Tuna Roll: Sushi Staples

I’m just going to come clean: I’m addicted to sushi.

Hopelessly, shamelessly, happily addicted to the rice buffered, seaweed wrapped, pastel colored circles of taste explosion. There is never a time when I don’t crave the intricate flavor dance that is a sushi roll. Luckily for me, there are no shortages of places to go to feed this joyful addiction.

There is a new kid behind the sushi bar: Ooki Sushi in Owings Mills. (I know, it’s outside of Bmore, but food is an adventure right?) All I can say is that if you find yourself wandering around the area you must give this place a try.

Located in a strip mall by a Giant and a gym, you wouldn’t think it’s much from the outside – but trust me – this is a place to surprise a date on a Friday night.

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Ooki Sushi, complete with mounted fish

The inside gives a super modern vibe with textured walls, changing light displays, and a color palette that’s easy on the eyes. Whether you want an intimate booth for a date, a high top table for a causal girls’ night out, or the sushi bar to cut it up with the chef, the waitstaff will have you comfortable and covered.

This isn’t one of those places that’s dimly lit so you can’t read the menu or see your food. It’s bright, inviting and with a six page menu of traditional favorites and chef specialties, there’s no worry about running out of rolls to order.

Ordering might actually be the most difficult thing you do once you arrive! (Although pricing may help – while it’s not extreme in expense, it’s not your cheap eats either.)

 

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Philly, Green Dragon and Yellow Tail and Scallion Rolls

Staying with tried and true favorites for my first trip, I have to say they did not disappoint. The rolls were the perfect size, steering away from the gargantuan monstrosities that you sometimes encounter or the tiny morsels that leave you wondering if you ate anything. Where sauce was used, like in the Spicy Tuna Roll, it never overwhelmed the fish. Each roll allowed you to taste the flavor notes of each ingredient and blended together to give you the perfect sushi eating experience. I highly recommend the Yellowtail Scallion roll, the perfect pairing of light fish flavor and tangy onion family goodness.

pork dumplings

Pork Dumplings

Not in the mood for raw fish? There are other plates for your discerning taste. The pork dumplings were a favorite of mine. Light, sweet, with a great accompanying sauce. It’s the perfect plate to share… or order seconds and thirds!

I’ll definitely be back for a new round of rolls – and maybe desserts (there are bear shaped chocolates that I’m keen on trying). When you check this place out, let me know what you think! And leave me your sushi suggestions – I’m always looking for a new place to roll up and try.

What could B more fresh?

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9944 Reisterstown Road, Owing Mills MD

 

 

10 Questions Posed by a Blogger

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Getting my writing on

This post will be incredibly different from my usual ones. You see, a good friend of mine Nicole (whom you can find at thoughtsstainedwithink.wordpress.com) has “nominated” me for a get-to-know-your-blogger type posting. The rules are simple: You become nominated by an awesome blogger who poses 10 questions which you answer. You then you pose your own to 10 new bloggers.

Nicole is an awesome writer, who will one day be a published author, and I highly recommend that you check out her blog, especially if you are into the fantasy genre. I also find it a great honor that out of all the fantastic bloggers and people she knows she asked me, a local Bmore blogger to throw my two cents in to the ring. And I’m hoping you will enjoy getting to know a little bit about me. So here goes:

1.Why do you write?

I feel my answer will be completely predictable here. I write because I feel I have to do so. While I have just started truly trying to “put my writing” out into the larger world, I have always written. Short stories, bad poetry, and journal upon journal of personal essays about my experiences. The personal essay writing has been my favorite and it was in the past few years I seriously considered trying my hand at “publishing” it. And slowly it became this blog!

2. What would be the hardest part about surviving the apocalypse?

Knowing that it is actually happening, because I feel that I would miss that memo big time. Especially if it happened during a snowfall when everyone acts like the world is ending anyway and I ignore these things and promptly run out of food.

3. What author has inspired your writing the most?

Hands down it would be Bill Bryson. I am completely at awe with how he can turn anything into an incredible tale and still sneak in educational tidbits. His In A Sunburned Country was my bible when in Australia.

4. Your top five animated films?

Bambi (because I still like to walk around my parents’ house yelling “Mother”), The Lion King (whose list is this not on?), Tangled (Lanterns, incredible hair, catchy songs), The Lego Movie (Again, who doesn’t love this?), Cars (because it’s fits nicely next to my Fast & Furious Collection)

(And Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. Sometimes you need a sixth.)

5. Have you ever read any books on craft? If so, which was your favorite and why?

Honestly, for writing books and blogs I have not. I have read bits and pieces on various other blogs but no tried and true books. I have read two books on how to write a screenplay and many advertising textbooks in college years gone by, but those aren’t the same thing.

6. Which fictional land would you have to visit and why?

Honestly, I want to visit the 1980’s My Little Pony Land because I still love those ponies! Again, there is nothing to hate about miniature unicorns and pegasus.

7. What is the best advice you’ve ever gotten about writing?

Not sure who to credit to: just write. It doesn’t matter how much, how often, to who, just put the pen/pencil to paper (or digits to the keyboard) and write. It’s the best advice and the advice I’m still struggling with on a daily basis.

8. Which element do you wish you could control?

Fire. Done.

9. What is your current writing project about and what about it excites you?

Currently this blog is my biggest project. I started it because I LOVE my hometown and I love to write. And I’ve encountered a lot of people who want to tear it down, and I won’t let them! I want to spread the Bmore Love. I felt like there’s a lot of sites where you can find things to do but so few of them tell you what it’s like to do these things or go these places.

That’s why this is a present day memoir. I enjoy trying to describe a place or event and transport you there. I don’t know how effective it is, to write about things that may be finished for the year, but it’s what I like to do. It’s also making me search out and try new things in this town which is always fun!

10. Most importantly: favorite type of cheese?

I am a fan of the cream cheese variety. You can put it on anything and it’s magically wonderful. And it’s the basis of every good dip there is, therefore becoming my food staple during football season.

There you have it, a little about me, courtesy of Nicole.

Here are my 10 questions for 10 new bloggers.

  1. Who is your pop star spirit animal?
  2. What are three things you love most about your current city of residence?
  3. When will you know you “made it” as a writer/blogger?
  4. Where do you hope your current writing project is in 3 months?
  5. Why did you pick the topic you did for your blog/project?
  6. How close are you to reaching the writing goal you set at the start?
  7. In the music realm, who is an unknown you think we need to know?
  8. What’s the most unhelpful advice, about anything, you’ve ever been given? (No one asks this ever.)
  9. Social media: best creation ever or end of society? Go.
  10. And lastly, because I always have to know: If you could only travel to one more place, where would that be and why? (Yes, it can be a repeat trip!)

And the 10 bloggers I extend an invite to answer are actually 7 because I don’t really follow that many bloggers. But trust me, these are people you want to read and follow. They are fantastic writers:

Tippy Rex: when you stop digging

Becky Stavely: BS in Bmore

Alysha: Discover Charm City

Ellen: Travelling the World Solo

Ashley: Neverbeenso

Meghan Faulkner: Oatgasm

So there you have it! A little about me and some new friends to meet.

What could B more friendly?

Me n lights

Lit up at Light City

For the Return of Books: Upcoming Fundraiser for The Book Thing

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Just a few (and I mean few) of the free books I’ve collected from The Book Thing

If you haven’t heard our beautiful and glorious The Book Thing is in need of help and support. March 5 was the last day it was able to open it’s doors because of a fire that destroyed much of the building and the free books.

Yes, for those of you not in the know, The Book Thing was a wonderful place where you could go and take a book or a million books all for free. Basically, if the Disney’s Beast had known about this place he’d have bought it for Belle instead of giving her a silly small library.

Baltimore is rallying around our beloved book exchange and events have been taking place to help raise funds for the not-for-profit. The newest one will be held at Clavel on April 11, 2016. Below you’ll find the link for the event as well as the description from the Facebook page.

What could ‘B’more giving?

Book Thing Benefit at Clavel

On the morning of March 2nd, Baltimore’s Book Thing suffered a catastrophic fire which destroyed portions of their roof, garage door, and large collection of free books for the public.

Lane Harlan (WC Harlan, Clavel) and Doug Atwell (Rye) are joining forces to create a special evening-long happy hour to benefit our beloved community institution.

Doug and Lane will be joining the Clavel bar staff and offering 2 literary themed cocktails from a satellite bar on the patio.

Clavel will donate 50% of the drink sales both inside and outside to the Book Thing’s restoration fund. Join us Monday April 11th from 8pm – midnite to support the Book Thing in their efforts to rebuild.

Monday, April 11 at 8:00 pm – 12:00 am

Clavel

225 W, 23rd Street Baltimore 21211