Gnome Garden

Remember approximately one million years ago when I said I was going to start blogging about things in Baltimore that make me happy and I then managed to write maybe two posts before never writing another one? Yeah, it’s been so long, me neither.

I actually had a couple of posts in the works way back when that I never wrote but took pictures of things for. I ran across them in my photos the other day when I was looking for something else and thought, hey I should write those posts. They might bring the tiniest amount of joy into our currently hellish world.

This one has a little bit of sad tinge to it in that the Gnome Garden is currently on hiatus because the gnomes have had to social distance, but one day it will hopefully be back. Someone in my neighborhood has created this little Gnome Garden in her front yard and invites little kids to play with the stuff in the garden and to take things home from it for a short time.

She would post updates and gentle reminders about the garden from the perspectives of the gnomes on Nextdoor under the title Gnome News. It was pretty much the only good thing about Nextdoor. For whatever reason, even though my settings in Nextdoor were set to get a daily digest of posts I stopped getting them eons ago and never bother to go to the site because it’s mostly garbage. I did go and search for Gnome News to confirm that the reason the garden disappeared as in fact due to COVID and was informed that that it was because the gnome doctor insisted the gnomes follow CDC guidelines.

It was a delightful little spot in the neighborhood. I always enjoyed walking by it even though I don’t have kids and thus never played with anything in it. I appreciate the joy that it brings to be people, and I hope that it won’t be too long before the gnomes can come out of quarantine.

By the way I took these photos way back in September in case you were wondering how long ago I thought about writing this post originally.

Magic Containers

I’ve been in awe of these Rubbermaid Freshworks produce containers for years and had previously thought about writing about them here as something that makes me happy but never did. Now in the midst of this COVID-19 crisis I feel like it would be remiss of me not to share my knowledge of them with you. I’ve always been skeptical of any specialized stuff like this claiming to keep stuff fresher longer. In my experience they never work. So when my husband bought some of these containers a couple of years ago I kind of scoffed at him and was like whatever. Those were probably a waste of money.

Boy was I wrong! These things are amazing! They totally do make our produce last longer without getting wilty and sad. With our new reality of trying to go to the grocery store only once every two weeks we bought even more of these to try and extend the life of the fresh produce we’re buying. I highly recommend getting some for yourself. Now if only someone could figure out a way to make it so bananas didn’t get ripe so fast. There’s no way I can buy two weeks of bananas at a time.

Punny Swag

We listen to Marketplace almost every night while my husband is making dinner. I’m also a huge fan of two Marketplace podcasts, Make Me Smart and The Uncertain Hour. So I toss them some money every once in awhile. I am especially pleased by their swag. Kai Ryssdal host of Marketplace and one of the co-hosts of Make Me Smart along with Molly Wood is always saying “The stock market is not the economy”. I love my reusable bag and now new socks that play off of that phrase. I look forward to all future punny swag they come up with.

Pair of socks that say the sock market is not the economy and a tote bag that says the super farmer's stock market is not the economy.

Fun with Flags

So I’m guessing no one thought my first post about Baltimore would be a random post about flags, and not even the Maryland flag which is a pretty cool flag that we love to put on everything. I can tell you what you’re going to get in at least the first month of these posts are a lot of little things that I’ve noticed and that make me happy. It’s important to enjoy the simple things, and I’m trying to be better at doing that. Plus over the many years I’ve been writing this blog, I’ve already written about a lot of the big things about Baltimore that people might actually expect me to be writing about. I’m sure I’ll write about some this eventually, but don’t expect to get a bunch of posts about things to do in the city. You can go search my archives for that.

What I’m writing about today is my neighbor’s flags. Someone who lives near me has a flagpole that they constantly change the flag on. I first really noticed the flags changing on a consistent basis a couple of years ago during the Men’s World Cup. He (I’m making an assumption it’s a he, though I don’t really know who lives there) started changing the flag to whatever country he was rooting for.

Sometimes I’m able to figure out what the flags are and sometimes I’m not. Sometimes it’s hard to see what the flag is because there’s not enough wind to make it unfurled. Sometimes it’s obvious like this past June when he had the rainbow flag and the trans flag flying for Pride month. The title of this post is a reference to the YouTube show called “Fun with Flags” that the character Sheldon on the Big Bang Theory has. Whenever I can’t figure out what a flag is I joke that I need to watch “Fun with Flags”. For flags I don’t know I’ve made the assumption that they have something to do with soccer teams so I’m guessing that Sheldon actually wouldn’t be able to help me either.

Sometimes I’m able to get a good enough look at the flag and can Google what it is based on a description of it. Recently he had the Tennessee state flag flying for some reason, which I was able to find out through Google since I don’t know all the state flags.

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Right now he has flags for the New Orleans Saints and the New England Revolution soccer team. It took me forever to confirm that New Orleans Saints flag. I felt like a very terrible librarian because I couldn’t figure it out. I spent a really long time searching for that one and couldn’t figure it out. I tried again yesterday after I saw someone else a few block away with the same flag flying when I was out on my walk. I still couldn’t locate it based on any efforts at describing what it looked like. I finally based on timing, the fact that multiple people were flying it, and what I know about the Saints that it might be a Saints flag, so I Googled New Orleans Saints flags and after a bit of scrolling did eventually find that flag. So mystery solved there.

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Summer Clothing Staples

I’m trying to get a little bit better about posting non-music stuff around here. Let’s face it, it’s probably still going to be like 90% music related content, but since no one who reads this blog cares that much I’m trying to mix it up every once in awhile. I used to try and write about stuff that makes me happy no matter how small. With summer starting to wind down (not that you’d know it based on this heat wave), I thought I would share a couple of my favorite summer clothing items.

I few years ago Target started making these tank tops. They were originally under one of the house clothing brands that Target retired. When I saw that they were getting rid of that brand I was super sad because I thought it meant these tank tops were going away, but they just started making them under the A New Day brand (which whenever I see the tags I always think says And Away). I own this tank top in approximately one million colors. Since white tanks get dirty so easy and the tanks are so cheap, when I need something to fill out an online Target order to get the free shipping I will toss one in my cart.

The other thing I absolutely love are these Abeo Kadie flip flips from The Walking Company. I posted here once before about a pair of flip flips that I loved, but bit the dust because they were so old and I wore them so much. Those flip flips having nothing on these. It took me literally years and so many wasted flip flop purchases to finally find a pair that I really loved and I felt like I could wear without tearing my feet apart. These are great. They are super comfortable. They have great arch support and most importantly the straps don’t rub at all. From the very first second I put them on I could wear them with no issues. I’ve owned far too many flip flips that I just hoped the straps would eventually soften up or my feet would get used to. Not so with these. I can wear them for long periods of time with no problems. They have never cut my feet or caused blisters. They are just plain comfortable. They are definitely more money than I ever wanted to pay for a pair of flip flops, but they’re really worth every penny. I wish that I had managed to snag another pair on summer clearance as backup before they sold out of my size. Now I just have to hope they bring them back again next summer.

2017 Tea Advent Calendar

I enjoyed my tea advent calendar from David’s Teas last year, so I decided to get one again this year. I cheated this year and looked up the flavors that came in it to make sure there weren’t a lot of pu’reh teas, which I discovered I did not like last year. There weren’t, so I decided game on. People seemed to enjoy my thoughts on my tea advent calendar from last year, so I thought I would keep track again this year.

Day 1 – Let It Snow

This was a green tea with lots of fruit and spices. It was good, but sweeter than I prefer my tea to be. The candied pineapple, stevia, and white chocolate made it very sweet and overpowered the green tea itself. I was happy to realize that what I thought were raisins when I opened the tea turned out to be black currants instead. I looked at the ingredient list because I didn’t taste an garbage raisin flavor in the tea. Down with raisins.

Day 2 – Chocolate Macaroon

This was a black tea with chocolate and coconut flavors. I made this running on the door to catch a train, and I’m not sure I steeped it long enough as it tasted kind of weak. I’ll have to see what I think of it when I finish it off at a later date.

Day 3 – Strawberry Rhubarb Parfait

This was a fruit infusion with a bunch of fruits and nuts. It was pretty tasty. Though in general I prefer my tea to have actual tea leaves in it.

Day 4 – Organic Silk Dragon Jasmine

This was a jasmine flavored green tea. It was a pretty standard tasting green tea. I enjoyed it.

Day 5 – Glitter and Gold

This was a black tea with lemon peel and cloves and cute little gold sugar gold stars. It was very tasty. I’m a fan of spiced black teas and this one fit the bill nicely.

Day 6 – Organic North African Mint

This was a green tea flavored with mint, but ginger, cardamom, licorice root, fennel, cloves, and black pepper. I am not usually a big fan of mint, but I think all these other flavors helped round it out nicely because I liked this way more than I thought I would. I don’t much care for the licorice or fennel flavors either so apparently putting multiple flavors I don’t like very much all together creates a flavor I do like?

Day 7 – Organic Saigon Chai

I’ve already said black spiced teas are my favorite. That stands for this tea too.

Day 8 – Buddha Blend

This is a mix of green and white teas flavored with hibiscus. It was a really lovely fruity tea. I think it would also make an excellent iced tea.

Day 9 – Forever Nuts

This is the first tea that I recall being a repeat from last year’s calendar. It’s a fruit and nut infusion with apples and almonds flavored with cinnamon. It sort of tastes like drinking a red hot. I do not mind.

Day 10 – Walnut Orange Scone

This was a white tea with walnuts and orange. It mostly tasted liked oranges. I liked it because orange flavored teas are my second favorite after spiced black teas.

Day 11 – Alpine Punch

This is a rooibos tea with coconut, almonds, and a bunch of spices. It didn’t really taste much like coconut to me, but I found it to be a very tasty tea.

Day 12 – Coffee Pu’reh

I skipped drinking day 12’s tea. I do not like coffee, and in doing this advent calendar last year I also discovered that I am not much of a fan of pu’reh teas either. I don’t think putting them together was going to create any kind of winning combination for me, so I decided to give it a pass and not torture myself.

Day 13 – Organic Cinnamon Rooibos Chai

I thought I would really like this tea. I like chais and I like rooibos, but there something I did not like about it. There was some kind of aftertaste that I did not care for.

Day 14 – Lemon Pound Cake

This tea actually really tasted like drinking a piece of lemon pound cake. It was really tasty, but it’s not something I would make an every day tea. More of a special once in a while tea.

Day 15 – Raspberry Cream Pie

This tea tasted like drinking a piece of raspberry cream pie. Just kidding. I have no idea what a piece of raspberry cream pie tastes like. It did taste like raspberries though. Fruity teas are not my favorite. I didn’t hate it, but it’s definitely not something I would buy for myself.

Day 16 – Sleigh Ride

This was a repeat tea from last year. My review last year was “Another fruit infusion. This one had lots of fruit in it, but one of those fruits was raisins and that’s all I could taste. Why would you put raisins in tea? Why would you put raisins in anything?” I stand by that statement.

Day 17 – Caramel Shortbread

This tasted nothing like caramel shortbread. It didn’t really have much flavor at all. It was mostly like drinking sweet hot water. Thumbs down.

Day 18 – Organic Cream of Earl Grey

Earl Grey is one of my favorite tea flavors, so I was looking forward to this tea. I don’t know what the cream part is based on since the ingredient list was only black tea, marigolds, and cornflowers. I just looked at the David’s Tea description and it claims that vanilla gives it a creamy taste. I thought it gave it an off taste. I’m not sure if it tasted gross to me because it didn’t taste like Earl Grey to me at all or if there was something not right about this tea. At any rate I took 2 sips and then dumped it. 0 stars would not drink again.

Day 19 – Organic the Spice is Right

A green tea flavored with cinnamon, cloves, and orange peel. I’m not sure I could distinguish it from any other spiced tea, but it was tasty.

Day 20 – Carrot Cupcake

Did this taste like a carrot cupcake? It did not. Did I like it? Yes, I did.

Day 21 – Candy Cane Crush

A black tea with white chocolate and peppermint candy in it. This was okay. I don’t love mint, so this was never going to be my favorite, but I will drink the rest of it.

Day 22 – Hot Chocolate

Actually it turns out hot chocolate was really day 21 and candy cane crush was day 22, but I don’t know how calendars work and drank the candy cane crush a day early so I switched them around. Hot chocolate was a repeat from last year. It’s a black tea with chocolate in it. I’d rather drink plain black tea or actual hot chocolate. The watered down chocolate flavor of this isn’t great.

Day 23 – White Cranberry Bark

This was a tasty tea, though the cranberry did leave a tart flavor in my mouth

Day 24 – Santa’s Secret

Turns out Santa’s secret is that I didn’t drink this tea until December 30. We were out of town on the 24th and I thought it would be a little ridiculous to fly with this tea across the country. It’s another black tea with peppermint in it. It’s a nice tea to end the year with.

 

Perfect Fall Weekends

Given the terrible hurricane that is destroying so many places right now I almost feel a little guilty about how perfect our weather was this past weekend. It was great to take nice long walks outside every day in it. In addition to all the fun activities I had it made for a wonderful weekend indeed.

Friday night we walked over to a little Italian restaurant in our neighborhood that has a nice patio. The weather was great for dining al fresco, so when my husband asked where I wanted to go to dinner that’s where I chose.

Saturday was Hampdenfest, one of the two street festivals that happens in my neighborhood every year. It’s smaller and much more neighborhood based than Honfest. I much prefer it that way. We went out to get something to eat for lunch and ran into a good friend who we hadn’t seen in awhile so we wound up wandering around with her and her friend from out of town, getting drinks, and then heading over to everyone’s favorite activity, the toilet bowl races. I ran into some other friends there. So it was a nice day to spend outside with good friends. Rat Czar was my favorite entry in this year’s toilet bowl races, although I needed to get a closer look inside because I don’t see where the toilet bowl comes into play in this vehicle.

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Sunday continued the theme of good times with good friends. My first stop on Sunday afternoon was at a 1st birthday party where I got to celebrate a little cutie, hang out with friends, and enjoy some of this delicious carrot cake. I even have some leftover cake to enjoy tomorrow. Carrot cake is my favorite, so I’m very excited about that.

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After that I headed out to the county for dinner with friends who recently left Hampden and bought a house out there. While I’m sad that they are no longer my neighbors, their new house is perfect for their family of 5 and I’m happy they have a great new home to create beautiful memories in. It was wonderful to sit outside in their little yard listening to bluegrass music and catching up with a group of friends who is very dear to my heart. I used to see most of them every week, but now that life has scattered us all to the winds it’s been far too long since I’ve seen most of them. It was great to all get back together for a few hours and enjoy a gorgeous fall evening together.

I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect fall weekend. It was a nice reminder that the world isn’t all terrible and that I have a pretty great life with a lot of wonderful people in it.