4 Goals to Bmore in 2017

2017goals

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!
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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.

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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.

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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?

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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

When the Lights go on in the City

20160328_222647If you’re looking for a bright way to spend a spring evening head to Baltimore and check out Light City. Starting last night and continuing until Sunday, April 3 the festival showcases both local talent and the city skyline. This all ages event takes nothing from your wallet and adds inspiration to your imagination.

Each night promises bright and fun light installations, ranging in animatronic peacocks, 70’s inspired patterns, and projected short films. Run through a playground of light, take selfies with Vegas style signs or play with glowing shipping containers that react to your movements.
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While you may have missed last night’s parade (and the axolotl) there are are still plenty of events to surprise and delight you. You could catch a “ballet” of bubble balls by Single Carrot Theatre, paint the air with Illumnia! or catch a Planet Awkward performance.20160328_201107

The free Light City app,which is available for both Android and Apple, will help you plan your evening’s events. I found it extremely easy to use and as you star events you want to catch it puts them in a handy schedule for you. The maps let you know where everything is happening and where the street food is.
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Being in the heart of the Inner Harbor and spreading to Fells Point, there is no shortage of food options provide by all the excellent restaurants. However, if you’d rather chow down by the lights there are food vendors serving up drinks and delicious treats. I totally recommend The Nickel Taphouse Badass Burger sliders. They are amazing!20160328_193316.jpg

I spent all night at the festival with a friend and have every intention of heading back this weekend. Any pictures you see of the event don’t do it justice – it’s a must do this week. So gather your friends, family, dogs and head down to spend the night with the lights. You won’t be disappointed.

What could be more bright?

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(And after you check it out comment below and tell me what you thought!)

Treat Yo Self to Cider

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It may be cold outside, but you can warm up your insides easily at MillStone Cellars. It’s their Treat Yourself Weekend and they mean it!

Honestly, there’s no better way to start your Valentine’s Day or celebrate Galentine’s Day. Cancel your afternoon plans, pack some light snacks and your palette, and head to Monkton’s local cider mill. There you’ll be treated to tastings of their seasonal varieties as well as classic favorites, like the popular Farmgate.  After you’ve found your favorite beverage join a free tour, you just might be inspired to try your hand at the craft. Or you can see what’s available on draft while you admire art from local talent.

End the afternoon with some sweets from Charlottetown Farm. Chocolate truffles, fudge, and cheesecake – all made with goat milk. Don’t worry, if you want more savory flavors they have cheeses as well and either way you won’t be disappointed. (I have the cheesecake in my fridge to prove it! Well, the part I didn’t already eat that is.)

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The Treat Yourself Weekend fun continues today from 12 – 5 pm. I recommend going early as the place fills up quick and who wants to wait in line for cider? Happy tasting!

What could be more indulgent?

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