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Blog — "Baltimore"

Giving Back to Baltimore on Thanksgiving Weekend

Heidi Shenk "Baltimore"

Hello friends! I hope you all devoured one piece of pumpkin pie too many, shared a good laugh with friends and family, and enjoyed time to reflect on the past year this Thanksgiving! It's been quite some time since you've found me on this blog. For various life reasons, I just haven't been able to spend as much time here as I'd like, but I wanted to pop in to talk to you about something that is so important to me.

Last year, I started a new yearly tradition in the spirit of giving and helping those around us. Triggered by my reflections of last year's Baltimore riots, I decided to forego a Black Friday sale and give back to my city instead. While I didn't know how you all would react, in the end I was overwhelmed by your support. And so, this year, I've chosen to continue this tradition.

In the spirit of giving, in lieu of a Black Friday or Cyber Monday sale, I will be donating 20% of my sales from Friday through Monday to two organizations that are really important to me and for Baltimore-- Banner Neighborhoods and Access Art. Below, you'll find more information about each organization in order to understand their value to our city.

Access Art is an after school arts and media center that empowers youth to use their artistic ability and their unique understanding of their environment as catalysts for social change in their communities.

Banner Neighborhoods is a community based non-profit organization dedicated to supporting residents in their efforts to enhance the quality of life throughout 10 southeast Baltimore communities. They offer a wide variety of programs designed to strengthen the community, ranging from youth activities, to senior home maintenance, to beautification projects.

From Friday, November 25 through Monday, November 28, I'll be donating 20% of all revenue towards these amazing programs. Please join me in giving back to Baltimore! Even if you don't plan to make a purchase, please consider donating to these programs in the coming days. For those of you that do make a purchase, I'll be sending a special thank you your way. Additionally, if you make a purchase of $50 or more and mention this blog post when you place your order, I'll be sending an extra surprise your way.

And, for those of you in Baltimore, I'll be participating in the Benefit Baltimore Market at Peabody Heights Brewery on Giving Tuesday from 5-10pm. This is a new event this year, which will feature beer (of course!), 22 amazing Baltimore-based arts and crafts vendors, and food trucks. All vendors will be donating 20% of revenue to local nonprofits and the brewery will be donating 15% of their revenue. It's a perfect opportunity to do some holiday shopping while supporting Baltimore and having fun.

And lastly, if I haven't already said it a thousand times, thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for all that you do! I am incredibly grateful for each and every one of you. You enable me to do what I love doing each and every day.

I wish you and yours a wonderful holiday season!

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How to Visit Oriole Park at Camden Yards Without Breaking the Bank

Heidi Shenk "Baltimore" "travel"

Visiting Oriole Park on a Budget

Baseball season has officially arrived! We are huge baseball fans and take advantage of having a baseball team in our own city. Once the season begins, we find ourselves at Oriole Park quite a bit. However, going to baseball games can get expensive when you factor in tickets, food, transportation, and memorabilia. We wouldn't be able to go as often as we do if it weren't for a few tricks up our sleeves. So, I thought I'd throw together a quick guide for you locals (or those planning a visit!) on how to visit Oriole Park at Camden Yards without breaking the bank.

1 // Take advantage of season ticket discounts. I know this option isn't for everyone, so I'm going to put it on the table first before talking about other money saving options for tickets. However, if you go to a lot of games, it's worth looking into a season ticket package. We knew it was time to switch to season tickets when we realized we'd gone to 14 games in one season. This will be the fourth year that we have our season tickets. We have a 13 game package and didn't choose fancy seats. Because of the season ticket plan, we save between $3-15 per ticket depending on who the Orioles are playing that day. While we still save and budget for this package each year it's a huge savings per ticket. An additional perk to having season tickets is that you can also get the same discount on single game tickets, so if you want to invite friends you can share the love. Don't want to commit to 13 games? Split a package with friends or family to enjoy a discount.

Eutaw Street at Camden Yards

2 // Avoid Prime and Elite games. Prime and Elite games are the highly sought after match-ups. Rivalry games such as the Red Sox or Yankees will be more expensive, sometimes even double, in ticket price. If you don't care who the O's are playing, choose a Value or Classic game. You'll save quite a bit of money in doing so.

3 // Take advantage of ticket offers or snag your tickets on Stub Hub. For every home Friday game, you can get a $7 left field reserve ticket with a student ID. Student IDs for all ages are included, so while it's probably not what you're supposed to do, I'm not going to tell anyone if you pretend to be in grad school and use your old college ID. ;) For those of you that are younger, are still in college, or have kids you should definitely take advantage of this. Checking Stub Hub the day of is also a great way to snag cheap tickets. There are always season ticket holders that are trying to unload tickets they can't use, and you can often snag them at a fraction of the cost.

Adam Jones Orioles Centerfielder

4 // Pack a delicious picnic dinner and bring it with you. Stadium food isn't cheap. Luckily, Oriole Park is one of the few major league stadiums to allow fans to bring food into the stadium. A few good guidelines to follow to make stadium entry go more smoothly is to pack your food in clear, plastic containers or bags. You can also bring in non-alcoholic beverages as long as they're in a plastic bottle that is still sealed. While you can bring in food, leave the coolers at home or they won't let you in. Just to give you some ideas about how creative you can be, in the past, we've taken chips and guacamole, cake, pasta salad, and a plethora of other delicious summer eats with us to games. And we always remember to take a couple large bottles of water for those super hot and steamy Baltimore summer nights.

5 // Go to a game that offers a freebie. If you're hoping to grab a new O's shirt or hat, pick a game that offers one for free. Just a simple Orioles t-shirt from the team shop usually starts around $25. The last couple of years, the Orioles have stepped up their promotions game. On t-shirt giveaway nights, they offer both medium AND extra large sizes, so it's a little bit more true to the statement "one size fits all" than it used to be. Additionally, they do a jersey night and a sweatshirt night this year. Similar giveaways happened last season and the quality of the items were just as good as something you'd purchase in the team shop, and they weren't plastered with sponsor logos. Some of our favorite giveaways have included a super cozy, high quality stocking hat and Orioles reusable shopping bags (perfect to use to bring our picnic with us to games).

Baltimore Orioles Bullpen

6 // Ride your bike, take public transportation, or walk to save on parking. This is more easily said than done if you don't live in the city, but there are still plenty of options. We often ride our bikes to the stadium because there are plenty of bike racks to park and lock our bikes. The bike path along the Inner Harbor makes it a pretty easy ride for the most part. If we don't want to bike, we'll park near Little Italy where parking isn't metered or limited and then take a nice stroll along the harbor to the ballpark. This could be a feasible option for those of you that need to make the drive in.

There's a garage on Gay St between Lombard and Baltimore that usually has parking under $10 since it's just far enough away from the stadium. There's also the Charm City Circulator as a free transportation option if you don't want to pay the steep parking prices. If you have a larger group with which you can split the cost, it's probably much more reasonable to take a Taxi or Uber. Finally, don't forget about the Light Rail! While I've never used it because it's not convenient to us, many people do. It can be much cheaper and easier to park at a suburb station and take the Light Rail, which drops you off right at the stadium. Essentially, there is little reason why you should have to pay a ton of money for parking unless you simply want the convenience. If you're on a budget, suck it up and use a different alternative than driving.

Crowd at Oriole Park

7 // Download and check in with the Ballpark App. If you're looking for special offers or deals, this app might for you. I've not ever used this app, but my husband used it to check in to every game we went to last season. Each time he checked in, he got a special offer or promo that he could use. It ranged from a percentage off at the team shop, discounts at certain food stands, and promos for seat upgrades. While it's not a surefire way of saving money, it could be of benefit if you're planning on purchasing food or merchandise.

Legends Sculpture Garden

8 // Don't go to a game, but visit anyway. Yeah, ok, I realize that this isn't the popular option, but for some people, they just really want to check out Oriole Park at Camden Yards because it is known to be one of the most beautiful ballparks in the league. When the Orioles aren't playing, Eutaw Street, which runs between Oriole Park and Camden Yards, is open to the public. Spending some time on Eutaw Street can be a lot of fun. You can still sneak peeks at the field, find your favorite player's home run plaque, or bring a camera and pose with the sculptures in the Legends Sculpture Garden.

And that wraps up my guide to Oriole Park at Camden Yards on a budget. Are you a baseball fan? What are you secrets to going to baseball games on the cheap? Have you ever been to Oriole Park at Camden Yards?

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Light City Baltimore // Part Two

Heidi Shenk "Baltimore" art

Light City Baltimore

I don't usually post on Saturdays, but I couldn't help myself to squeeze in a second round of Light City Baltimore. And since the festival's last night is Sunday, I thought I'd post a few more photos to convince any of you locals to go this weekend if you haven't made your way there just yet. The diamond structures that you see above were some of my favorites in terms of their subtlety. Can they just stay along the promenade permanently?

Light City Baltimore Light City Baltimore Light City Baltimore

I loved the interactive nature of the installation The Pool. It kept both children and adults happy and delighted as they hopped from one circle to the next in order to create change in the light patterns and colors.

Light City Baltimore Light City Baltimore Light City Baltimore

In general, I loved the atmosphere of the festival. Everyone in attendance was so incredibly happy and in awe of the installations. The energy of the festival reminded me of why I love this city. As we near the one year anniversary of the riots that occurred last April, this festival felt symbolic for so many of us who live here. I only hope that it continues to be an annual tradition of celebrating Baltimore for many years to come.

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Light City Baltimore

Heidi Shenk "Baltimore" art music

Light City Baltimore

When I first started hearing about Light City Baltimore, I had no clue what it was. All of the descriptions were incredibly vague and didn't really explain things much. Essentially, I knew it was going to some sort of innovative festival dealing with lights, installation art, and technology. There was going to be a conference aspect as well.

As the festival neared, I learned more about it through various outlets. A friend of ours and a co-worker of Andrew's was working on a team for their firm to create an installation on the Living Classroom's lighthouse (pictured above) in the Inner Harbor. Andrew would tell me here and there about what he knew about the installation, and I learned more tidbits through the grapevine as well. Slowly the concept of the entire festival was coming together.

On Monday night, Andrew's firm hosted a happy hour to celebrate the beginning of the festival and the reveal of the light house installation. Afterward, we were able to take in the first evening of the festival, and it was spectacular.

Light City Baltimore Light City Baltimore Light City Baltimore

While each of the installations obviously involves light in some way, many of the installations also have musical and interactive aspects to them as well. There was something so incredibly excited about walking around the Inner Harbor amongst a crowd of people that were happily and excitedly talking about the art. Music from the installations drifted through the air, live music performances were taking place, and the city was aglow.

Light City Baltimore Light City Baltimore Light City Baltimore

We didn't have time to make it to each of the installations, but we plan on visiting the rest of them by the end of the week. If you're a Baltimore local, the festival runs through April 3rd, so there is still plenty of time to take in the installations and performances. I also highly recommend visiting the Light City Baltimore website, so that you can either plan a route or create a plan of attack since there is really so much to see and do.

Have you ever been to an installation art festival? Does your city put on similar festivals? If you're from Baltimore, have you been able to explore Light City?

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14 Things to do in Baltimore this Spring

Heidi Shenk "Baltimore"

Things to do in Baltimore

It seems like spring is here (or at least almost here), and I am so insanely excited about that! Here in Baltimore, weather tends to be so temperate that we get beautifully long spring and fall seasons. And by beautifully long, I mean that 7 or 8 months out of the year are full of gorgeous, sunny, 75 degree weather.

Along with the beautiful weather comes a plethora of awesome things to look forward to in Baltimore during this season. Here's a look at just a few of those things to look forward to.

1 // Eat and drink outside, preferably along the water. We're a bit partial to The Boathouse these days for afternoon drinks because it will be guaranteed to make you feel like you're on vacation even if you aren't. And bonus points because they let you bring along your furry friends to sit with you on their patio. A mojito outside on the waterfront patio at Little Havanna is always a win. And it'd be hard to pass up brunch and the tasty cocktails at Waterfront Kitchen, especially with one of the best harbor views you'll find in the city.

Oriole Park at Camden Yards

2 // Orioles baseball is back! Opening Day at Oriole Park at Camden Yards is Monday, April 4th. That's less than a month away! While we won't be going to Opening Day, we'll be there a couple days later for our first game of the season. As always, we opted to renew our season tickets and can't wait for yet another baseball season spent at Oriole Park.

Sherwood Gardens

3 // Enjoy a picnic among Sherwood Garden's blooming tulips. Sherwood Garden is a beautiful spot tucked away in the Guilford neighborhood. Each year, about 80,000 tulips bloom at the end of April or early May, depending on the year's weather. It is also home to many flowering trees and other beauties. It's sort of a magical spot, especially when in bloom, and it's the perfect spot to take a blanket, have a picnic, and enjoy the beautiful weather on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon.

4 // Listen to some tunes at Charm City Bluegrass Festival. We're lucky to have a day full of amazing music during the Charm City Bluegrass Festival that takes place on April 30th in Druid Hill Park. While I grew up listening to bluegrass, this is a definite yes on my spring list. However, for those who aren't as familiar with bluegrass, it should still be on your list. It's hard to go wrong with spending time outside in the company of friends while listening to music and enjoying delicious food and drink.

5 // Take a walk at Cylburn Arboretum. This is another lesser known spot in Baltimore that is truly a gem. The Cylburn Arboretum is a perfect spot to visit during spring because of all of the flowering plants that you'll see. Take a walk on one of the many short trails, bring a camera to snap a few photos, or take a book and enjoy some relaxation in a serene and quiet space.

6 // Take in the installations of Baltimore's inaugural Light City festival. Installations of light, art, and music will be set up along a 1.5 mile art walk along the Inner Harbor during Light City Baltimore. The festival runs from March 28-April 3, and the installations will be free to enjoy each night. While this is the festival's first year and I have no clue what to expect, I'm incredibly intrigued and will definitely be making this a part of my spring experience in Baltimore this year.

Baltimore Farmers Market

7 // Go shopping at the Baltimore Farmers' Market. The bustling market that takes place every Sunday morning under the JFX is back in business for the season starting on April 17th. Grab a cup of Zeke's coffee, stock up on fresh, local produce for the week, or browse arts and crafts made by local artists. It's a low key way to start your Sunday morning.

8 // Take a trip to DC to enjoy the Cherry Blossom Festival. Ok, you're right. This isn't a Baltimore event, but it's still one of those yearly things I like to check off my list. DC is only a quick 45 minute drive away, so it's silly not to spend a day along Tidal Basin soaking in the beauty of the annual spring blossoms. The white blooms make you feel as though you're in the midst of winter snow, yet the sunshine, the sweet smells, and the soft touch of the petals will clearly tell you otherwise. Simply magical! This year's peak bloom prediction is March 31-April 3, but that can change as the date nears. Keep an eye out on the Bloom Watch page to plan your visit accordingly.

Kinetic Sculpture Race

9 // Hedge bets on which sculptures will float the best or make it through a pile of mud the quickest during AVAM's Kinetic Sculpture Race. If you've never watched the Kinetic Sculpture Race, it is a definite must do. Essentially, a bunch of sculptures powered by bicycle parts and humans, race around the harbor through an obstacle course including a quick dip in the water at Canton Waterfront Park and a mud pit in Patterson Park. That's the best way to describe the wackiness. It's much easier to just go a see for yourself. It takes place on May 7th this year. Go!

10 // Head to Woodberry and enjoy some craft beer. The good old standby Union Craft Brewing has now been joined by Waverly Brewing Company just across the light rail tracks. Both offer outdoor seating and often have food trucks hanging out on a Saturday afternoon. Baltimore's craft beer scene has been steadily growing over the last five years, and I certainly won't complain about that.

11 // Take in the city view during a walk around the reservoir in Druid Hill Park. Once the weather gets nice, we often find ourselves enjoying as much of our free time as possible outside. On any given evening, we'll load the pup into the car and take her for a walk in Druid Hill Park. One of the best views of the city happens to be from the loop around the old reservoir. And when you're done taking in the view, enjoy another trail in the park. You'll probably even see some deer!

12 // Enjoy a free concert at Canton Waterfront Park during First Thursday. One of our awesome local radio stations, WTMD, puts on a free concert series called First Thursday. While the first concert of the year hasn't been announced yet, the series starts on the first Thursday in May. Take some chairs, a blanket, a picnic, and meet up with friends for what is always guaranteed to be good music along the water.

13 // Load your bikes on the car and pedal along one of the many bike trails in the area. While this usually requires a short drive out of the city, it's nice to get outside and enjoy some green scenery. The Baltimore area has so many fantastic bike paths, so it would be silly not to take advantage of them. One of our favorites for a leisurely ride is the Torrey C. Brown Rail Trail.

Hiking in Rocks State Park

14 // Go hiking in one of the various state parks. Once again, it's a quick drive out of the city, but it's easy to find some good hiking all over the Baltimore area. We find ourselves hitting the trails most weekends as soon as the weather is nice. For a quick drive, head to Patapsco Valley State Park or pull over at one of the many roadside trail heads of Gunpowder Falls State Park. If you're up for a beautiful afternoon drive and a gorgeous hike, head up to Rocks State Park.

If you're a local, what are your favorite things to do in Baltimore during the spring season? What do you look forward to every spring?

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