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Category Archives: Community

Giving

It’s not just for Tuesday.

There are so many worthy causes that can use our help and our monetary support all year long. One “Hallmark holiday” day may be cute and trendy but the reality is this. The other 364 days of the year (OK, 365 this leap year) we can still make a difference.

Give time. Give money. Give publicity. Help in any way you can. Share a Facebook post from a nonprofit. Support an event at local charities and nonprofits.

Just recently I saw requests from places locally. Like:

How Girls Code
Howard County Conservancy
Howard County Community Action Council
Voices for Children

Today I realized I supported the food bank three times before 11AM. Once by pulling some items from my CSA share, to take up to our community food bank garden. Then, by harvesting collards and cabbage to add to my contribution. Then, at Harris Teeter, donating to give them money. It’s easy to do. It’s those little things that add up.

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It’s the season of giving. Find something that you believe in. Something that ignites a spark within you.

Every little contribution is worth it. I got hooked on food bank gardening years ago. It’s one of the most rewarding things this old lady can do. I can still harvest veggies.

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The New Farm Store in Town

Did you all know that Breezy Willow opened a farm store in Ellicott City? Amidst all the fanfare of the downtown re-opening, it was somewhat low key, but at least I got some shopping done at a small business without having to hike a mile after finding a parking place. I figure I can get to Old Town any day of the week, without the crowds.

What did I find there?

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All sort of goodies. Locally produced, for the most part.

The store, is in the right hand side of the big old house on the corner of St. John’s Lane and Frederick Rd.

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Next to Southern States, and across the road from Rita’s Ice.

They had music on Saturday, and Zeke’s was handing out free samples of their coffee. Everyone who stopped by got to take home a free bunch of broccoli.

I didn’t take the camera inside yet. They were still arranging items around the store.

This is a welcome addition for those who are accustomed to buying out at the farm on Saturdays, and who live on the eastern side of the county. They have many more items here. Sun of Italy items are included in the pantry area, to help with menu planning. The meat freezers are self serve so you can pick the size you want.

My friend Nicole has her preserves on sale here. Neat Nick.

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I bought a jar of spiced cranberry jam and a fresh scone. Perfect for a Sunday morning breakfast.

And, they have Salazon chocolate. Salazon is made in Carroll County. These are the holiday offerings.

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Their sea salt and dark chocolate bars are the best dessert, with a glass of leftover red wine.

We will be getting eggs and meat here during the winter months, unless we are heading out to Lisbon on a Saturday when the store at the farm is open.

Another local small business that deserves our support. Check it out. Open Thursday through Sunday. 10-6.

Shopping Small

Tonight is Girl’s Night Out in old town Ellicott City. Here is the link to what you can find if you head out there between 5-9 pm. Many businesses have re-opened and are participating in the event.

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If you start at the Wine Bin and get your mason jar mug, you can sip the lemonade available at many of the shops.

This is just the first of many ways we can show continued support to small businesses. By shopping at the mom and pop stores, eating at the locally owned restaurants and using locally owned services.

Five Years Old

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I made it to five years writing this blog. On November 2nd 2011, I opened a WordPress account and started writing. Somehow I have gone from a handful of readers to over 500 followers. Amazing to me that I continue to find topics that interest me, while plodding along in retirement. Keeping busy. Still dedicated to eating well, volunteering, gardening, and not quite as dedicated to remembering to write about it all.

My second post. About my fall CSA. Which just began again yesterday. I have continued my commitment to eating from small farms, local and regional, as much as I can.

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This fall I expanded my options to include flour and grain. I hope to bake more than I used to do. I do know that the flour will find its way into holiday baking, and that cornmeal just inspires me to make polenta more often than I did.

As for new exotic things to discover, we found a Thai Kang Kob squash in our box. I just made squash lasagna from the triamble squash from a few weeks back.

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It was a good dinner last night for us, and leftovers will feed my better half while I am out with the local bloggers checking out The Turn House, a new restaurant that took over the space in the Hobbits Glen Golf Course.

Both the squash recipe and a report on the blogger party will follow in a few days.

I also need to write about the construction at the Conservancy, and about two great events in the next week.

There is much happening around here. Definitely enough topics to continue my blogging. Think I can keep this thing going until it’s ten years old. Let’s see.

Anyway, I will be seeing the locals tonight in Columbia. Can’t wait to try out a new farm to table option, with a locally raised chef.

Food Insecurity

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The harvest season is coming to an end. Those of us who work to provide fresh produce to our local food bank are taking out the last vegetables in the garden.

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This is the time of the year when we get slammed with greens, and not much else. The cabbages are winding down.

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Once you harvest a large head of cabbage, it tries to make more but you get mostly cabbage leaves. You can still harvest them, and make soup, but this is the beginning of the end.

We only have carrots, beets, collards, lettuce, kale, and Swiss chard left to harvest. Just about a month until we finish. Then, the fresh produce dwindles down at the Food Bank. In November and December many people donate, but those long months after the holidays are pretty grim. The gardens and local farms donate between the months of May and November. After that, it’s mostly canned goods.

I get an immense satisfaction in harvesting for our local food bank. They are about to move into much larger space, where they can process more fresh foods and hold them. That is good for the gardeners, the farmers and the local CSAs, like mine. Our site host wants to give more to the food bank but the limited storage and the limited days to accept non-perishables has hindered us in the past.

Every week when we drop off our community garden bags, we ask when they will be moving. Hopefully, it will be soon.

In the meantime, if you can, be sure to help by donating. Head over to the bulk stores and pick up some staples. Beans and canned proteins like tuna are always welcome.

Here’s the link to our local food bank. Take a few minutes and find yours.

Dennis Lane

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Traffic made me miss the dedication of Dennis Lane, a private road on Merriweather Post Pavilion Land, named in honor of one of the well loved members of the Columbia/Howard County blogging community. I was stuck on I-97 and then on 100, trying to get back on Wednesday afternoon. I did see that many, many people made it to the dedication. All the friends who loved to read Dennis’ writings about life in Columbia and Ellicott City. Or, who were family and friends.

Dennis was special to us. We miss his wit, wisdom and his way with words. Three plus years since we lost him. Tragically, but we lost him. Nice to know he will be remembered by the developing community of which he was a large part.

Dennis scooped the Whole Foods thing. In his blog. Which thankfully is still there for us to find and read about our home.

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Dennis just knew everyone. His love of Columbia and Ellicott City was obvious.

So, this year, when you head out to Symphony of Lights, which is back as a fundraiser for the hospital, see if you can find Dennis Lane as you drive around.

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It’s a brown sign. A privately maintained road. And, in the spirit of sharing trivial information about where we live, like Dennis was so good at doing, did you know, green signs are county roads, blue signs are Columbia (CPRA) roads, red signs are old town Historic District Ellicott City roads, and brown signs are private roads.

The Local Restaurant Scene

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Things have been pretty crazy around here, and I haven’t blogged much the past few weeks. Finally, the contractors are about done and I can take back my basement rec room, without smelling paint fumes from the door painting, or shivering because the door is open for hours a day.

I need a new restaurant fix. I keep hoping the two newest ones in our area would open soon, but until then, I can at least try out the Turn House, with my friends the HoCoBloggers. Another blog party on the 2nd of November, to showcase the talent of Thomas Zippelli. Local farms will be providing quite a bit of the protein and veggies on the menu. This restaurant used to be the Coho Grill, in Hobbits Glen. One of our old “watering holes”, back before we moved out to west county.

Out here, changes have been seen also. The Town Grill in Lisbon is moving to West Friendship (if they ever get there). Every month we hear a new date for opening. When the Citgo was sold, we thought it would be fairly quick for them to be relocated. They are going into the old Foster’s General Store site, next to the Pink Cabbage antique store. Frederick Rd and Triadelphia. I absolutely love their smoked salmon BLT and their breakfast offerings are awesome. Hopefully, they will continue to offer ribs every Saturday. I like the fact that they are on my route to and from the Conservancy, where I have my community garden plot, and where I volunteer.

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As for the other close by new offering, I have no other information except for a paper sign on the window at the old Bistro Blanc location in Glenelg. The new place will be called Dandelion Bistro and Bakery. Supposedly, opening mid October (which is right now, but it’s not open yet). No web site, or page, to let us know what is coming. I am just glad the bad rumors of a Dunkin Donuts/Baskin Robbins aren’t true. We welcome small family businesses, but aren’t keen about chains. They also seem to be adding a heated area to their patio, one of the features of the site.

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Out west farther from us, another new place. Bolder, in Mt. Airy. The Howard County part of Mt. Airy, on Frederick Rd near Watersville. It used to be Drover’s Inn. Opened October 11th. Small plates, and more.

I obviously need to get out more.

Fall Festivals

‘Tis the season. October. When everyone decides to host a fall festival. My favorite. Which is attended by hundreds of kindred spirits in Howard County.

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The one at the Howard County Conservancy this Sunday the 2nd of October. It’s $10 a car. A bargain for all you get to experience. It mixes history with agriculture with children’s activities with good food, and so much more. 11-3. The weather should clear up before Sunday. Come out and have a relaxing fun Sunday afternoon.

Not Good At Math

A phrase that drives me crazy. Why do we announce (and particularly in front of children) that we aren’t good at something? Something necessary to thrive and excel in our lives. Most of the time, it isn’t even true. But I hear it constantly.

Usually during field trips when I introduce a math element to our hikes. Like when I talk about the chickens, and how many eggs they may lay in a week. If you have four chickens and they lay about six eggs a week, how many eggs do you gather in a week?

Basically, we are good at math. The common sense math we encounter daily. Here’s how.

Do you bake? Can you halve or double a recipe? Are you like me, finding only a 1/3 cup measure clean when you need a cup of an ingredient. Knowing three of them will make a cup.

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How about deciding how much paint to buy? What is the area of your room? Or, my latest project. The deck. Estimates of $40 a square foot to install. What will that cost? We divided the deck into squares, rectangles, triangles, and the one trapezoid to add up the area. Figured it out, and decided we could live with that estimate.

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Do you tip? Can you calculate that 18-20% number by looking at the bill?

Then, obviously, you are good at the math skills necessary to function. Yeah, you may have problems with trig or geometry, or like me, hit the wall at Theory of Numbers (I hated that course!).

I think we all need to be enablers when it comes to encouraging children to figure it out. Learn those analytical thinking skills.

Pull out a recipe. Measure and bake. Make a simple wood project, like a frame. Learn how to saw at a 45 degree angle.

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Just don’t tell the little ones that it’s OK to be functionally deficient. It’s not OK to be “Not Good at Math”.

A Few Good Volunteers

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Actually, a few hundred to start. The clean up effort of public and private lands ravaged by last weekend’s flash flooding continues. Now, looking for people to help in teams with leaders. Currently, just show up at the volunteer tent on North Ridge Road, Walmart parking lot. Daily. 8-4:30. Teams will be assembled and sent where needed.

Ellicott City, my county seat and one of my favorite places to shop and eat locally, was pretty much devastated with the massive flooding Saturday night. Tomorrow, access to areas that need to be cleared of run off and debris has been granted.

The efforts are coordinated through the county Recreation and Parks department. Registration is required. Minimum standards must be met. Age, physical ability, and proper clothing are listed in the web announcement.

As someone who frequently volunteers, and also leads volunteers, at my “job” at the Howard County Conservancy, I can offer some practical advice for those willing to volunteer their time. I have four things I stress when looking for people to help.

1. Dress for Success
2. Be Prepared.
3. Safety first.
4. Know Your Limits.

We lead groups on Earth Day doing clean up. I lead service learning groups from the local schools. We have work days on food bank gardens, and over the years I have gotten better at volunteering and at making volunteer efforts of others much more enjoyable, because we learn what works best. After all, a happy volunteer comes back over and over. A stressed, or unappreciated, or underutilized, or overworked volunteer doesn’t.

Dress for Success – the announcement from the county asks that you wear long pants, closed shoes, preferable boots, and that if you can, bring work gloves.

Dressing right is really important. You don’t want to get scratched by thorns, get wet feet, or blisters, by not having work clothes.

This is mosquito and tick season. It’s also the time of year those annoying little bees come out of the ground and want to sting you. Also, hats are a big help, to provide cover from the sun, and to keep little pests out of your hair.

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I am showing a picture of a construction crew on site at our house (installing part of our storm management solutions, more on that in another post), but they absolutely demonstrate what works best when working outdoors to avoid problems.

Long sleeve lightweight shirts. Hats. Glasses. Boots. Gloves.

The second item on my list. Focus on basic supplies to help you. I carry sunscreen and bug spray. Bandaids. In my car, when I get out for my volunteer work, I have spare shoes, socks, and a change of shirts in my car.

Safety. I never try to do things I can’t control. No attempts to climb over obstacles. I wear safety glasses. I use heavier gloves. I try to avoid contact with poison ivy, or if I know I have carried logs covered in vines, I never wipe my face with my hands. I carry a bandana, just in case. I also come home and immediately put everything in the wash, to avoid carrying ticks around.

I always take the face masks if offered, when dealing with excessive pollen, which drives my allergies nuts, or when handling debris that may include insulation fibers or other possible inhalants.

My limits. I know what I can’t pick up. I don’t qualify to help with the Ellicott City clean up efforts right now, because I can’t lift 40 pounds. I can’t carry heavy items. Back surgery put an end to those days for me. The days of lugging 35 pound bags of mulch or top soil.

I know I can’t volunteer to help with the current clean up efforts. Somewhere along the way, they will be looking for help disinfecting or scrubbing down cleared out spaces. I can do that. Patience is a virtue, they say.

As for right now, my help will be in supporting fund raisers. And, finding out when my favorite places find temporary or new homes, and giving them as much business as I can.

If you do volunteer, you will know the satisfaction of making a difference. Just be an asset, follow directions, and realize you are appreciated. Like those groups that help us at the Conservancy.

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Here’s to better days ahead, and the return of our favorite places.

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