Hey Baltimore, what ever happened to those New Year’s Resolutions?

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Recently I was home, frustrated that I wasn’t able to complete the goals I wanted to accomplish for this blog over the summer. This was because of unforeseen surgery complications and major life events that were beyond my control. The fact that these hurdles popped up and were indeed more important than my self-imposed deadlines was something I recognized, but it still hurt that my plans had been derailed yet again.

Dealing with an injury that won’t go away has been a real challenge for me the past two years and I was feeling like I had achieved nothing, both professionally and personally. After all, how do you write a blog about the goings-on in your hometown when you often can’t participate in the goings-on?

So I got to thinking about my January post on goals for the new year and whether I had actually accomplished anything.

Imagine my surprise when I found that I had! Since 2017 is now over half-way through, I thought I’d share my progress. Plus, the  new school year is (unfortunately) upon us and is a perfect time to remember and restart those goals you made at the beginning of the year that may need a little push to the finish.

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Travel (around town) and Support Local Businesses

Being unable to get to places has been a struggle for me. I had plans to have some fun day trips and extended weekends – I’m looking at you Ocean City. Clearly, that didn’t happen, and sadly, my Thrashers fries appear to be more of a 2018 goal at this point. (Funniest part? I was able to get to Mongolia. Life just makes no sense sometimes.)

BUT I was able to check out local businesses and organizations, which happened to take me all over Baltimore and parts of Maryland. So far I have racked up: visiting the awesomeness that is The Foundery, seeing art among flowers at the Rawlings Conservatory, treating myself to local art at Charm City Craft Mafia events, getting my science on at Baltimore Underground Science Space (BUGSS), attending the opening of Hysteria Brewing Co, and chilling with Baltimore’s newest Zine Queens over at Nasty Press. And that’s not including the local restaurants and beers I purchased. I feel that’s a respectable showing from January to August.

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Add a Skill

When my best friend suggested I get my Katniss on with her and take an archery class, I had only one answer, “Hell yeah!” And so, with mandatory braid in place, I went with her to *forgotten the name so must look up and tried to find my inner tribute. I was not a natural, but by the end of the lesson I could hit the target 9 times out of 10. Not bad for one hour’s worth of work. Since that March outing I’ve been back and intend to continue – I have a bullseye that needs to be hit.

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Hit the Books

Last year I read a total of 2 books. It hurts just to type that. So my final 2017 goal suggestion was to try to up my book reading this year to one book a month for a grand total of 12 entire books. In the end I just made it a point to make time to read (sorry Netflix binge weekends!) and didn’t count the books as I went. I did keep a list though, and when I went back to count I found I’ve already read 14 books! I smashed my goal and there’s plenty of time to add more.

All in all, I’d say it’s not too bad of a goal run for a person who had stretches of time where she couldn’t leave the house or drive. How did you do on your goals? Did you reach any? Have a way to go still? Like I said, it’s not too late to pick them up again or even make new ones. You just have to try.

What could just ‘B’ more encouraging?

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I also made it to Light City.

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Flower Power: Best Thing to Do this Earth Day

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It’s April! It’s Earth Day! It’s my Birthday!

If you can’t tell, April is my favorite month of the entire year. The weather warms, the O’s are back at The Yard, I happily become a year older and the flowers come out in force. It’s the season of renewal and restarts and there’s no better way to celebrate than with a trip to the Rawlings Conservatory and Botanic Gardens of Baltimore. And there is no better time to stop and smell their flowers than this weekend, for the following two reasons:

  1. It’s Earth Day on April 22, 2017.
  2. It’s the last weekend of their Annual Spring Flower Display.

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If you’re a loyal follower of just B more blog, then you’ll remember my past visit to the Spring Show which took you to outer space. This year, they’re keeping it closer to home and traveling under the sea to discover An Octopus’s Garden, with help from the National Aquarium and the Enoch Pratt Free Library. Trust me when I say that this is where you want to take family and friends on your Earth Day adventures.

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That’s because there’s more than just flowers to gaze upon at this show. Follow the paths and you’ll find an eel peeking between some petals, jellyfish hanging from trees and an octopus chilling with the succulents. Just be sure to take a close look at the animals – you’ll find that most of them are made of trash – reminding you to think green this Earth Day and every day. There’s a scavenger hunt for children of all ages, or if you’re less actively inclined you can curl up under the tentacles of a jelly and read a good book. Either way, you’ll get happily lost for an hour or two checking out this amazing show.

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Love it so much you can’t bear to part ways?  Take some greenery with you – there are lots of plants and succulents for purchase that would love a new home. (I couldn’t help but bring this little guy with me!)

 

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Can’t wait until Saturday for your dose of flower power? The Conservatory is open late tomorrow, April 20, allowing you to tip-toe through the tulips until 7 p.m. If the weekends are more your style, then stop by between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. for your last chance to see this special display. The Octopus will be leaving on April 23, 2017.

What could ‘B’ more green?

Rawlings Conservatory

 

Seeing the City through a Newbie’s Eyes

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At the beginning of the year I set out to achieve four goals for 2017. (If you missed it, you can read about it here.) Recently, I met one of those goals — Travel (around town) — in the most interesting of ways.

Last Friday, I received an alert on my phone from Couchsurfers: Jonathan has requested to stay with you. Seeing as my weekend was pretty empty and I had the room, I enthusiastically hit the “Yes” button. What happened next was not having a person crash on my couch, but even better. I made a new friend and gained a new perspective on the place I call home.

If you really want to fall back in love with Baltimore, then show around an out-of-towner.

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The first place that Jonathan and I hit up was the National Aquarium. One of the city’s jewels, we decided to take advantage of the Fridays after Five deal and enjoy the underwater world without having to get soaked. (It was already raining, so staying dry was a bonus.)

Now, I will say that I am biased when it comes to visiting the Aquarium because I work there on occasion. But due to a pesky broken ankle that’s made walking a literal pain, I haven’t been back in six months. There is something about seeing a familiar place with a person who has never been there, which allows you to notice things that you may not have noticed — and get points of view on things you have always wondered. (For instance, Jonathan being an Aussie native, enjoyed the Australia exhibit and was delighted to get to see the archer fish being fed. Although, when you get to watch fish spit water to knock crickets out of the air, it’s hard to be disappointed!)

It also shows you that, even when you live on the other side of the world, some things are universal — like getting your picture taken at the bubble tubes, something I’ve seen every visitor do at least once. We spent a good two hours wandering the Aquarium, so Jonathan was able to see Maryland rockfish, sturgeon and horseshoe crabs. He appreciated all of that, since he wasn’t able to hit Ocean City on this trip.

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Jonathan really wanted to know about the city as well as the animals. He already knew to grab a crab cake, try Old Bay with fries and buy a box of Berger cookies. I figured we could make some of it happen that night.

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He wanted to get a real Bmore feel, but had to be at an event in an hour. I knew that if he wanted local Maryland beer and seafood, the best place close by was none other than my fave, Heavy Seas Alehouse.

Our awesome waitress helped Jonathan choose between the oyster poor boy sandwich, crab dog and crab cake sandwich — gotta go crab cake, man! I went with my own tried and true dinner of a foot long crab dog. We swapped stories of our homes while dining on lots of crab cakes, crab dip, Old Bay and beer. Just like a normal Bmore night, right? Well, with one Aussie twist: Jonathan brought Tim Tams from the land down under, so we swapped those in for dessert instead of searching for Berger cookies.

(By the way, tipping your waitress with an additional Tim Tam surprise is totally worth it!)

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Over the next few days, I wasn’t able to physically show Jonathan around (jobs are pesky like that). Instead, I steered him towards Hampden for some great music and dinner at The Food Market. And he enjoyed his crab cake so much, he hit up the Papermoon Diner for a crab melt. Before he left, he bought his own box of Berger cookies to take home. Rumor has it, his coworkers thought they were delicious.

I’m hoping that Jonathan and I cross paths again on the travel trail. And I must tell you, having grown up on crab cakes and Old Bay it was fun to watch someone experience the flavors for the first time. I was a little jealous! So if you ever get the chance to take someone around town, I say do it! You won’t regret it!

After all, what could ‘B’ more adventurous?

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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