Fun Things in Mighty Packages: An Interview with ‘mightyPigeon’

Mighty Pigeon - Trio of Monsters

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As the holiday season nears and the year comes to an end, there is no one I would rather feature than the mighty imaginative Danamarie Hosler of mightyPigeon. I mean it — spending time with her will inspire you and make you smile! With creative monsters, an open minded way at looking at unfamiliar creatures and an uplifting spirit, Danamarie’s energy and animals will get you in gear to take on anything 2018 throws at you!

Mighty Pigeon - Girl and Pigeon

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Just B More: So how did you get started in the making of monsters, Under Appreciated Animals cards and other imaginative finds? Have you always been making fantasy products or did you have another artistic outlet before this?

Danamarie Hosler: Professionally, I started out as a Children’s Book Illustrator & Muralist, but I actually started making my dolls back when I was a sophomore in college. I went to MICA and was fascinated by this girl in my Art History class who used to knit socks during the lectures. I’m from Miami, so the whole concept of wool socks was new to me in general, but also that she could come to class with a ball of yarn and leave each day with an entire sock was just… whoa.

So I taught myself to knit and it turned out that socks were kinda boring for me, but I had these silly little paintings I was doing of happy big-nosed creatures with little horns and cats with one big eye and teeny little feet, and one day I just decided I needed to know what one of them would feel like to hug, so I set to work knitting it. I called them Knitimals and the rest is kinda history. I don’t really knit the dolls anymore, but I’ve since expanded my line to include a number of new “species” of creature (all of them have the same sort of design style, which originates from the way I drew faces when I was little) and that keeps me on my toes.

In general, my work is about making childhoods happier, brighter, smarter, more imaginative & more representative. I want kids to look at my stuff and feel inspired by it, excited by it, to see themselves in my characters and see faces that look like theirs. And I want all those same feelings to reach grown-ups too, and tap into their inner child and feel connected to that part of themselves again. So, having all these different outlets and imprints/collections helps me do that.

 

Mighty Pigeon Underappreciated Animals

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JBM: I adore your Under Appreciated Animals line! Where in the world did you come up with that line of merchandise?

DH: The Under Appreciated Animals project actually started as something I was just going to make for my son. When he was two, his favorite animals at the zoo were the Okapi and the Dik-dik and he asked me one day, while going through one of his many ABC books, how come they weren’t in any of them.

I was just going to draw them and stick them over the O & D pages, but then realized that EVERY kid should know what those animals are and there’s no reason to keep giving kids the same animals over and over again. As an educator and with my Children’s Book background, it was something I knew I could (and should!) pursue. Once the cards came out, the rest of the merchandise grew out of customer response and request, believe it or not.

JBM: How long have you been in business?

DH: I officially launched my business in 2000 when I graduated, and used to balance other full-time/part-time work alongside it… and that got old fast. I wasn’t able to fully commit to my work and myself and eventually had to make the choice to just strike out on my own and see what I could do. I’ve been happily working for myself full-time since 2006.

JBM: Why the name mightyPigeon? (It’s adorable!)

DH: I LOVE PIGEONS.

My business is actually twofold; the plush side is called *might and the Illustration side is mightyPigeon. *might is a play on the double meaning of the word — possibility and strength, which is what I think of when I think of my younger audience. Little kids have so much amazing potential and possibility, and I think if we give them the right tools, they can be fortified and grow up strong & resilient and ready to take on the world!

mightyPigeon is who I am… the grown up version of the *might kid. I’ve still got the possibility in me, but I’ve already been fortified and I AM taking on the world! I relate very strongly to pigeons. They’re actually incredibly smart and skillful birds with rich histories & cultural importance all over the world… but they’re deeply misunderstood and taken at just face value, you assume you know everything you need to know about them (and a lot of it is actually false). People tend to see pigeons as a cluster, as opposed to each individual bird as unique and special. I want to change that! I want my art to make people pause and reflect. And for people to see their own value & strength — the mighty pigeons they are.

Mighty Pigeon - Bill Nye and Neil Degrasse

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JBM: Your creatures are so whimsical and unique. Where do you get the inspiration for your pieces? 

DH: I’m inspired by a lot of things. Color is a big one for me; color is so emotive and sometimes I’ll just lay a bunch of fabric out on the desk and see what combinations occur naturally and pull my eye to them, or I’ll just let myself paint and move colors around the paper until something starts to look like something. I love patterns and repetitive shapes and designs. I’m inspired by my kids and the things that get their attentions or seem to be interesting them. I love seeing the world through their eyes — the perfect way they draw, without rules and restriction, the connections they make, the words they use to tell stories.

I’m inspired by current events too — though, most of the time these days, what I’m trying to do is make work that can brighten a dark day, give voice to the voiceless, draw attention to an issue that needs addressing, or simply say, “I see you. I hear you. I value you.” Its hard to stay positive all the time, but if I can find one thing to make me smile each day, that helps and sometimes I need to be the one to make that thing exist for myself.

JBM: So I have to know, do you have a favorite collection? 

DH: A favorite?!?!?! DONT MAKE ME CHOOSE!! I don’t think I can pick favorites. I love them all for different reasons. There, that’s my “mom” answer for you.

Mighty Pigeon - Megacon 2017

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JBM: Do you have any fun stories from the business?

DH: My work has traveled far more than I have. In fact, I have sent work to every continent on Earth, which is a pretty fun claim to fame.

I did MegaCon, a convention in Orlando, FL last year though and it was SUPER fun. I’d never done a con before so I was anxious and had no idea what to expect, and then the doors opened and whoaaaaa! It was SO crowded, SO fast. And EVERYONE was so incredibly kind and patient and passionate, it touched my heart every day since.

I LOVED seeing all the cosplay and how people would stop and pose for pictures with strangers of all ages — and the cosplay was so detailed and intense; people clearly put so much pride into their work and then would stop by the table and buy something from me and tell me that they wished they had my talent. Meanwhile my jaw is in my lap because I’m gawking at this larger-than-life, fully functioning, robo-exoskeleton something-or-other that they’re wearing like it’s nothing. I don’t know… I just loved that experience so much. I love geekery. I love seeing the things people are REALLY into… because, like, I get really into stuff and geek out about it and have to collect the heck out of whatever it is and can talk to people about whatever it is for hours on end, so to have an entire convention center full of people with all these various but often overlapping fandoms, and to see them all connecting over it, it was kinda beautiful.

It was clearly an environment without judgment and there were people of all ages mixing and mingling. It was all a really nice reminder of how lovely the world can actually be.

Mighty Pigeon - Monster

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JBM: You’re such a joyous person and you seem to absolutely love what you do! What do you love most about mightyPigeon? Is this your forever job?

DH: This is absolutely my forever job. I will probably continue to ebb and flow, add products, do less sewing and more drawing and then come up with some great new idea for a new doll design and go back to doing more making than painting, but I will be an artist and will run my own business forever and ever and ever and ever.

I love the freedom it affords me, both in terms of actual physical freedom (hello working in my pajamas!) and mental freedom (I just don’t feel like doing anything today… so I won’t). I love that I can homeschool my kids and still work — that I can prioritize without having either side of my life suffer. I love that if and when I have some nagging idea that has to be acted on, I can just go and do it and I don’t have to wait until I finally get that vacation time I’ve been accruing, like when I was managing another full-time job.

But mostly, I love that I am doing exactly what I have always wanted to do, ever since I was little. And its not easy… at all. And money is very often tight. And I am very much at the mercy of other people’s tastes and budgets and gift-giving lists (all of which I completely understand). BUT I am also very lucky to have found and cultivated a wonderful following of supportive art lovers, who appreciate what I do and have made room for it in their lives. And I love that about my job too. I’ve met incredible people and knowing that other people are out there loving my work as much as I do is just the coolest thing.

JBM: I’m thinking that people should all own at least one of your creatures to give them some of your positive spirit. It’s hard not to smile when you look at them. How can people get in touch?

DH: Follow me on Instagram for (nearly) daily posts — sneak peeks at works in progress, studio scenes, inspiration and more — @mightypigeon_art.

Shop online at SHOPdanamariehosler.tictail.com and email me knitimal@gmail.com for commissions or custom work, or to be added to my mailing list for coupons and announcements.

JBM: Thank you so much for your time. This was a delight!

DH: THANK YOU!!

Mighty Pigeon -Pigeons

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I’ll Be Row-Home for Christmas: An Interview with ‘Row House 14’

Holiday Cards Row House 14

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There’s no place like home for the holidays, and there’s no better way to say it than with a greeting card from Row House 14. Seriously, if you want your gifting to stand out this season, then you need Heidi Shenk’s funny-’cause-they’re-true cards and adorable wrapping paper.

I chatted with Heidi about how it all started, a cute orange cat, and my love of her wrapping paper.

Pencils Row House 14

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Just B More: First things first, where does the name Row House 14 come from and how long have you been in the business of making fun paper products?

Heidi Shenk: Just until recently, my studio was in our [husband’s and my] tiny guest bedroom in our Baltimore row house. Fourteen was the address number of our home and my studio, hence the name Row House 14.

Row House 14 turns seven at the end of November. I can’t quite believe that myself, but time certainly flies when you’re having fun!

JBM: What made you think, “I’m going to make stationery and awesome pencils?”  Did you make other items before Row House 14?

HS: This is my first official small business endeavor, but I’ve always made things to sell, even as a small child. I come from a family of makers, so it always seemed natural. Illustration has probably been my favorite form of art. My parents are both self-employed makers, so doing something of the same always felt more normal to me than more traditional occupations.

I also love humor and writing and so I think it came naturally that I could do all of those things with greeting cards. I used to teach in Baltimore City and I needed a creative outlet for the days that burned me out. Illustrating and writing were those outlets and that’s essentially how Row House 14 came about.

Wrapping Paper Row House 14

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 JBM: So about that humor.  Where do you get the inspiration for your hilarious pieces?

HS: If you find yourself chuckling about one of my cards, mostly likely there is a personal story behind it that you can relate to. I draw from my own personal experiences, jokes amongst friends, or other daily life realities. I believe laughter in life is essential. If you can’t laugh about your own downfalls or mistakes, then it’s harder to get through life.

My husband and I also have a very twisted sense of humor, so some of my best selling cards have come from jokes made while sitting at the table eating dinner. Some of my favorite cards are those starring my orange tabby, Finn. He’s the epitome of the phrase curiosity killed the cat. The cards that he stars in are representations of true stories about him, and they also happen to be things that many other people can relate to.

JBM: I’m very partial to the ‘Holy Shit Balls’ wrapping paper. I remember I HAD to have it and I get so many compliments on it. Everyone loves to get a gift wrapped in it!)

HS: I’m glad people love the gift wrap! It’s one of my faves!

Happy Ho Days Row House 14

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JBM: I know that in the world of small business, shows and events are a common part of life. Do you travel far and often with your work?

HSI don’t travel much specifically for work, though I do sometimes vend at art markets in Philadelphia and Richmond, Virginia. However, when I do travel for fun, which is fairly often, I’m always on the lookout for new card shops and interesting paper goods. I love finding inspiration in these kinds of places while I’m taking time off from my own work.

While I don’t travel very far, my cards do! My cards can be found in many retail stores across the country, and one of the most rewarding feelings is getting a text message from a friend who happened upon one of my cards while they were traveling or shopping at a local store.

Row House 14 Greeting Cards

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JBM: I always ask this question: What do you love most about what you do? 

HS: I love hearing different stories from my customers about why they buy my cards or the significance behind a card they are giving to someone. When I sell my cards at art markets, it’s so much fun watching people reading my cards, laughing, and listening to their reactions. Often, people will open up to me about something that they were able to relate to through my work, and hearing those stories is why I do what I do.

JBM: Your cards are so great, I could see them in the big box stores. Are you hoping to “get noticed” and become a staple at one of the large corporate retailers?

HS: While it would be fun to find my cards in larger stores, it’s not a priority for me. Enjoying what I do and sharing that with other people is a bigger driving force for me. I prefer being a part of locally owned shops that I can build personal relationships with rather than larger chain stores, because I think it’s important to support that community wherever you live.

JBM: So when someone wants one (or ten!) of your awesome cards, what are the best ways to get in touch with you ?

HS: People can find me via my website or Etsy shop. I’m also a huge fan of Instagram and love connecting with people there @rowhouse14. During the holidays, you can find me at all sorts of local markets. And I’ll be at the Last Stop Hops and Shop event at Peabody Brewing on the 21st of December.

JBM: So fun talking with you. Have a great holiday!

HS: Thanks!

Row House 14 Cards

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Breaking Dishes this Holiday: An Interview with ‘The Broken Plate’

Matyland

Photo credit: Juliet Ames

Many people have the urge to break things from time to time, maybe even more so during the holiday season. But did you ever think of making a living by breaking dishes?

The unbelievably creative Juliet Ames of The Broken Plate did and she’s been breaking plates since 2006. That’s quite the run for a job that doubles as fun stress relief. Here we discussed with Julia how breaking a plate to make a mosaic turned into a creative small jewelry business.

Teacups  Jewelry

Photo credit Juliet Ames

Just B More: So how in the world did you get the fantastic idea to break plates for a living and then turn it into jewelry? Did you make other jewelry before or was this your first go?

Juliet Ames: I started as a photography major in community college but when my credits didn’t transfer (because of the death of the darkroom) I realized that my quickest path to graduation was by getting an Interdisciplinary Craft Degree from Towson University. I took an odd mix of classes to learn all sorts of different materials such as glass, paper, ceramics and metals. I spent most of my time in the metals studio. Upon graduation, I didn’t make anything for about six months when the creative bug struck and I spent a weekend in the basement, manically making myself a mosaic mailbox out of an old plate that I bought at Goodwill. When the project was complete, I still had so many pretty shards leftover that I decided to make them necklaces. The rest, they say, is history. 

JBM: So how long has this been your small business? Have you always been a small business owner?

JA: This company began in 2006, but I have been making and selling my own jewelry and photography since high school. I even managed to earn the “Most Likely to be a Millionaire” superlative in high school, but unfortunately I don’t think selling jewelry is the path to that. Maybe my next business. 

Before and after The Broken Plate

Photo credit: Juliet Ames

JBM: Where do you get the inspiration for your pieces? Do you have a favorite collection? (Mine is of course the Pyrex!)

JA: I’m usually inspired by the pattern of the plate, but lately I have been really enjoying just using simple stained glass. Since I make so much jewelry, I am finding most pleasure in making some self-indulgent art with my shards, like the map of the US or animal shapes. 

JBM: Do you have any fun stories from the business?

JA: I was honored to be invited to have a solo show in Hong Kong last year. I initially thought the invite had to be a prank, but I took a chance and traveled across the world to show my work. It was an incredible experience to be treated like a pop star for a few days. They even built me a plate breaking stage and massive broken teacup for photo ops. 

JBM: What do you love most about what you do?

JA: I love the creative process and assembling all of my pieces.

The Broken Plate Jewelry

Photo credit: Juliet Ames

JBM: Do you think this will be your “forever job” or do you see something else on the horizon?

JA: This is my forever job for now. I will never get rich doing this, but I can work in my pajamas and be there for my boy after school. They only other thing I am half qualified for is maybe being a line cook, but even that would probably kick my ass. 

JBM: Now that you mention it, don’t you have a cookbook?

JA: Yes, I made a cookbook last year.  Will have some at Holiday Heap and in my Etsy shop.

JBM: It’s the holiday season, how can people get their hands on some plate jewelry for gifts (or to treat themselves)?

JA: Email is best for me.juliet@ibreakplates.com 

My Etsy shop is www.thebrokenplate.etsy.com

My only holiday show is Holiday Heap with the Charm City Craft Mafia on December 16th at 2640 St Paul Street. 

Art on display at Silver Queen Cafe until January.

Studio visits by appointment.

JBM: Thanks so much for speaking with us!
JA: Thanks for the opportunity!

cookbook

Photo credit: Juliet Ames

Baltimore Small Business: Three Local Women to Support this Season

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What’s in here?!?

It’s the holiday season and here at just B more blog I believe in keeping it local. That’s why each Wednesday for the next three weeks I’ll be featuring a local artist whose wares are sure to be a hit on any holiday shopping list.

Whether you need something for a hostess gift, a special present for the child in your life or would like to treat yourself, these ladies will have something for you to gift wrap.

That’s right—ladies. I’m featuring three local women because their talent is fantastic and they represent what local business in Baltimore is all about: heart, creativity and quirk.

So check back here on Wednesday, December 6, to meet the first of three seriously creative small business women from right here in Charm City!

What could just ‘B’ more festive?

 

Healing the Nasty Way: A sit down with The Nasty Press

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May We Heal Event this Friday night. YOU better be there!!

Sometimes things happen in the world and you know the only correct response for yourself is to get out there and make a difference. That was the case for three amazing women after an election that shook much of the country. If you haven’t heard of The Nasty Press yet, allow me to introduce you to Baltimore’s newest femme zine collective and the fantastic ways they plan to change Baltimore’s art scene – and beyond.

And let me start by telling you that the BEST way to get to know these ziners is to attend The Nasty Press: May We Heal?  FREE event this Friday night, Sept 15, 2017. Located at The Annex 2E and starting at 8 pm, the night is all about celebrating Baltimore’s LGBTQ and POC artists in Baltimore. There will be poetry, music, art, photography, and new friends for everyone. Bring some beer and maybe a little spending money. (You may just find something you must have!)

Can’t wait to show up? Great! Now here’s the low down on what brought it all together so you’re completely in-the-know Friday night.

Zoey, Alysha, Em – AKA: The Nasty Press

“Trump was the catalyst.” —Zoey

Like so many people after the 2016 election, Zoey, Alysha and Em felt that the wrong things were getting the spotlight, namely racism, homophobia, sexism and religious intolerance. As they started looking around at the zine scene in Baltimore, the dynamic trio realized that there didn’t seem to be a platform for all artists. It was very male dominated and what femme-run zines there were could sometimes be more competitive than supportive. Beyond that, Alysha explained the art scene in general had a reputation of “being pompous, pious and off-putting on the surface“- just plain intimidating to newcomers or the curious.

What started as simple idea to have a one-time gallery show for the art of those underrepresented, turned into a zine and event collective whose mission is to give a platform to EVERYONE. Their goal is to be Inclusive not Exclusive so that their zine can show the richness that is Baltimore City and highlight those that often don’t get the spotlight.

Constantly referring to themselves as an infant zine, you’d be hard pressed to know it just by looking at their first issue This Moment in Politics. Turns out that was all thanks to a grant that didn’t pan out in the end. As Zoey explains, it seems she often can’t believe the story herself:

“We tried to do this grant, but it was due in five days. We didn’t even have a name at the time! Over the next four days we met every night to write it and submit. We didn’t get it in the end, BUT it helped to solidify the idea…we had themes for our first issues because we had to and it helped to give us focus…And we often didn’t know what we were doing or if something was going to work.

I mean, we were zine panelists before we even had a zine! We were giving advice before we’d published our first issue!”

Alysha laughs and adds:

“We’re not big shots! We definitely don’t think we are! We’re infants. We’re beginners and we WANT beginners. Some of our (published) submissions are from beginners. You take your iPhone and take a picture that works with the theme. If you have something to say – say it….Politics affects everyone from women’s reproduction and marriage equality to veterans and (pause) just everyone. It affects EVERYBODY.”

This Moment in Politics

And The Nasty Press is committed to focusing on those issues that affect everyone.

While the first zine was a reaction to the election of Trump and a showcase of people’s feelings at that time, the second issue will tackle mental health.

After working so hard to get the first issue out we each had to really rely on one another at different times. We got to share our stories of our struggles and our families suffering from mental illness. This is a topic that needs to be normalized. And it’s not just about mental illness, it’s about mental HEALTH. We want to be as open and broad as possible and level the planning field. We’re trying to make it comfortable for people to relate.” 

Along with supplying a platform for underrepresented artists and raising awareness of important issues, The Nasty Pressers are all about giving back. All profits from their zine and merch (like these killer totes) are donated straight to The Baltimore Transgender Alliance, Planned Parenthood of Maryland and Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

“This was never about making money. It was about providing help and resources to those who need it.”

In the coming year there are plans to do a large fair on the street surrounding The Annex, complete with bands, food, art, performances and lots of zines! Alysha envisions blocks of zines and people supporting one another and raising each other up, with support from local businesses. Places like Red Emma’s, Bird in Hand, Greenmount Coffee Lab, and Dovecote Cafe are already dedicating space on their shelves for The Nasty Press, as well as other zines like Herstaria and Beast Girl.

Alysha and Zoey (and me) kicking it at their amazing event space at The Annex 2E.

No matter what happens in the future the femme forces behind The Nasty Press promise to always be relevant and turn out thought-provoking zines and events. Alysha summed it up best:

Queasy. Good. Raw. That’s what we want.”

What could ‘B’ more inspiring?


Want to get involved with The Nasty Press? Drop them a line on Facebook, Instagram or their website.

Want to submit to their next zine? Perform at their next event? Find out how here.

Farmers Market Season Starts with BUGS

 

With the opening of the Baltimore Farmers’ Market & Bazaar two weeks ago, you can safely say that the city’s farmers market season has officially started. While I love the tried and true markets, I wanted to give a shout out to a smaller, less-known one that’s big on heart, as well as food.

This Saturday, May 6, 2017, be sure to check out the  BUGS Farmers’ Market on Living Classrooms’ campus. This one day market is run by the BUGS students who worked all school year to grow the food, make the crafts and wares, and plan the entertainment. It’s kid planned, kid grown, and kid powered! Not only can you fill your bags with delicious locally grown produce, but you can feel great knowing that all the proceeds go right back into the BUGS program. Trust me, this is one program you want to support.

Finishing up its 22nd year, the BUGS program is one of Living Classrooms Foundation’s outreach programs that works to give under-served Baltimore City elementary students academic, social and dietary help. Currently, the program works with 60 students from Commodore John Rodgers Elementary School and offers a unique support system that includes help with homework, a healthy dinner, and the opportunity to learn skills not often found in the traditional education setting. With five areas of study: gardening, cooking, art, dance and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), students in grades 2 through 5 are able to learn a variety of things, like healthy eating, chicken raising, dance routine creation and ice cream making. Working after school all year, students create or grow the wares and food that will be on sale at this year’s market.

BUGS Farmers Artists 2016

The BUGS Farmers’ Market itself is in its 21st year and is a staple of the community that surrounds Living Classrooms’ campus. It’s the must-attend event of the spring with seasoned patrons arriving early to snag a sought after tomato plant, bowl of freshly made ice cream or, the crowd favorite, money soap. (Seriously, this soap has $1, $5 or $10 hidden inside!) Along with other traditional favorites like scented soaps, herbs, and perennial flowers, this year’s market will also sell kid-made pillows, recycled handbags, slime and the very on-trend succulents.

Want to get a little more hands on? BUGS wouldn’t say no to some adult volunteers —  simply contact Erin Myers at emyers@livingclassroomfoundation.org.

After you peruse the stands, fill your bags (and empty your wallets) swing by the face painting, say hello to the chickens and watch the dance performance. It’s a morning at the market like no other.

The BUGS market is open on May 6, 2017, from 10 am until 2 pm at 802 S. Caroline Street and will be well worth the visit. Then, put it on your calendar for next year. Program Director, Algernon Campbell, gave me the scoop about 2018:

“Next year: Ponies.”

What could ‘B’ more fantastic?

BUGS Farmers Table

 

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!