An Uber Treat

My Friend Erin's Tie Dye (Roll Up N Dye and Colorful Abandon)

My Friend Erin’s Tie Dye (Roll Up N Dye and Colorful Abandon)

I was born in the 60’s. As I grew up in the 70’s and early 80’s, I think there was a lot of residual hitchhiking going on. It must have been leftover from it’s heyday in the 60’s. I, however, was told to not hitchhike. I was raised with the notion that hitchhiking is very dangerous. You don’t know whose car your getting into. It could be a murderer! Well, truth be told, I don’t believe I was ever told that folks picking up hitchhikers were murderers. I’m sure I just assumed that was the worse case scenario of dangerous. And, I probably saw a scary news item or two to that effect. The bottom line message was that hitchhiking was dangerous.

Over the years, I was never tempted to hitchhike, nor did I run with a hitchhiking crowd. We had the “mini buses” or ColumBus buses. So, if I needed a ride to The Mall, for example. I could jump on a ColumBus. I didn’t use it often, but it did save me from hitchhiking a number of times, I’m sure. If we needed a ride to the airport, we would call a taxi. Taxi’s were driven by strangers, but had the benefit of being vehicles labeled as such and being backed by a probably big, well known company. They were just smaller versions of the mini bus. Right?

So, imagine my consternation upon hearing about Uber. My kids were the ones to clue me in on this new ride sharing experience. The first exchange with my daughter went something like this:

Wait. What?

You get in an unmarked car with a stranger?

That’s not safe.

That’s crazy.

No. No, I’ll pick you up. Night or day. Anytime. Just call me or your father. Nope. It’s fine. I’d much rather you get home safely…

The popularity of Uber soared and so did the opening of my mind. I became a hip mom who confirmed that my children would be taking Uber, or Ubering, after a night out on the town. But, even though my children were experiencing Uber firsthand, I was not really accepting it into my world. That is, until my friend and fellow blogger Jessie became an Uber driver. “Whoa,” I thought. “What? Is she nuts?” It’s like picking up hitchhikers, I thought. That’s not safe, I said to myself. So, the same argument for why I wasn’t supposed to hitchhike growing up was, not surprisingly, the same as it was for why I shouldn’t pick up hitchhikers. But, Jessie has always been an early adopter. She not only embraced being an Uber driver, but she blogged about it. I was hooked on her posts. I enjoyed hearing about the people she picked up and her interactions with them. I loved the realness of her trying to find her way through tricky city streets. It was so entertaining. I would read one post and could not wait for the next one. I was thrilled to hear she was planning to publish an e-book based on her experience. It is available now and I highly recommend it.

Are you interested in checking it out? Please click here or visit Amazon.com and look for: Uber Chronicles: Field Notes from the Front Seat  Kindle Edition by Jessie Newburn. You will not be disappointed!

UberChron

@HoCoBlogs

In The Bubble

Owen Brown Tennis Club

Owen Brown Tennis Club

One of the advantages of being a blogger in Howard County (HoCo), Maryland is the wonderful network of bloggers you can get to know. Many of HoCo’s bloggers know and blog about local events and happenings, and etc. I was happy to catch up with one such knowledgeable blogger at the Nalley Fresh Blog party a couple weeks ago. Duane, of HoCoConnect blog fame, has shared lots of newsy tidbits on things to do around the county. Today, I had a chance to check one out. I went to Drop-in Pickleball at the Owen Brown Tennis Club bubble. Since I’m not a tennis player, it was my first time at this Columbia Association facility, which currently offers drop-in pickleball twice a week. Wednesdays from 1-3 PM and Thursdays from 12-2 PM. There is a nominal fee of $3.00, and they have paddles to use if you don’t have your own.

 

In the Bubble

In the Bubble


It was not my first time attempting to play Pickleball. But, it was my first time playing with folks who know the rules. I have a lot to learn, which is really easy to do with practice. And, while I can say I played real Pickleball, I cannot say it went real(ly) well. In fact, suffice it to say I will not be representing the USA in any World Pickleball Championships any time soon. Or ever. Just judging by my games today.

The good news is, I am back into the whole idea of playing and can now set about to get some drop in sessions on my calendar. Many thanks to Duane, his wife and her teammate for today for teaching me the ropes (and for having lots of patience!). With spring right around the corner, look for more opportunities to learn to play this fun game that has elements of tennis, badminton and ping pong at different locations around the county.

 

#HoCoBlogs

Bonus Day Fun

 

It’s been awhile since I’ve blogged. So long, in fact, that one of my fellow HoCo bloggers introduced me tonight as a retired blogger. Very funny, HoCoConnect! Because I have had such a good “Leap Day” and not because I was guilted into it, I am inspired to get back to my blog. (Smile)

Tonight, the HoCo Bloggers were invited to enjoy a meal at the new Nalley Fresh Restaurant, which is in the Dobbin Center plaza near Performance Bikes. Nalley Fresh offers a “Chipotle-style” make your own salad, wrap, or bowl. I think one of the more unique offerings, and there are several here, is the sweet potato base for your bowl. I did not try it, because I was drawn to the salad. There is a wall of lettuce options, and I asked to have a romaine and spring mix combination. From there I had to choose a protein, which wasn’t easy. The beef looked fabulous. There was shrimp and salmon, and three styles of chicken, and I was stuck in the land of too many choices. It was temporary. One of the very friendly staff members had told me to ask for a small taste of the protein to make sure I’d like it. So, I asked to try the plain, grilled chicken. It was OK, but I wasn’t sold on it. So, I took a chance on the whisky chicken. I proceeded to the next friendly server and picked a bunch of my favorite salad veggies, then skipped the cheese (as I do) and asked for ranch dressing on the side. I was offered a piece of nutty bread, which I accepted. It was a delicious salad if I do say so myself. It was very obvious why fresh is in the name. It was super fresh. On top of a great meal, John really liked the wrap he chose, too, it was fun to meet new bloggers and chat with the regulars. (I’m going to have a lot connecting to do on social media after I get this post up.)

I was happy to get to tell JessieX in person that I love her new blog series, The Uber Chronicles. It is so perfectly her. I was so energized by her excitement and our conversation that I’m sure that is also propelling me to write this post.

Earlier today I was able to get in one more Masters swim practice for February, and it ended up being about 500 more yards than the coach actually wrote for us. Note to self: It’s time to grab your prescription goggles so you can read what is actually written on the white board. It was a happy problem on a bonus day!

Go check out Nalley Fresh for yourself. You may even run into this guy:

Chef Nalley at the New Columbia, MD Nalley Fresh Location

And, if you’re lucky, there will be live music and you’ll catch him playing a mean harmonica.

#hocoblogs

 

Not So Picky After All

A "Green Bag" from Whole Foods

A “Green Bag” from Whole Foods

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I learned something quite astonishing about myself this past evening. I’m still in a bit of shock. John was also amazed when I told him the news. It happened during a food tasting event. I was invited to attend the exclusive sneak peek tasting of the new menu offerings at The Counter. The Counter is the in-store diner at the Whole Foods Market in downtown Columbia, MD.

Breakfast Sandwich at The Counter "Counter Fave"

Breakfast Sandwich at The Counter “Counter Fave”


I am not a adventurous eater. In fact, I’m a straight up picky eater, who tries to act like a normal eater. I can pick the smallest particle of black olive from an empanada with my eyes (partially) closed. I can remove onion or pepper pieces from just about any dish with the surgical precision of a brain surgeon. I rarely order anything off a menu that I don’t modify in some way. And this picky gal found herself at a food sampling party. It was great. I ate breakfast sandwiches with cheese on them (I don’t eat cheese on any sandwich unless it’s a grilled cheese sandwich.) But that wasn’t even the amazing part. I ate braised kale and caramelized kielbasa. My husband is Polish and can attest to my non-sausage eating ways. But, this breakfast sandwich, called “Counter Fave,” was very tasty. Another, “The Biscuit” was also very good, and it had fried spinach and chipotle remoulade.

Breakfast Sandwich at The Counter "The Biscuit"

Breakfast Sandwich at The Counter “The Biscuit”

I tried everything, as if I wasn’t a picky eater. Next up was Southwest Tofu and aged Cheddar Scramble. Yes! I ate Tofu! I ate kale and tofu and everything had cheese on it. It was really good. I’d order it and eat it again.

The Scrambler Breakfast at The Counter Southwest Tofu and Aged Cheddar Scramble

The Scrambler Breakfast at The Counter Southwest Tofu and Aged Cheddar Scramble

Another shockingly delightful offering I couldn’t believe I ate and really liked is from the lunch and dinner menu. It is the Avocado Tacos. Deep fried avocados, cabbage slaw, chipotle remoulade in a soft tortilla shell. The avocado has a plain breading and is deep fried. It has the most interesting and tasty textural contrast with the cabbage slaw. It’s a must try, if you’ve never had anything like it before. The chef who was introducing the samples told me that it is a customer favorite and was rolled over from the previous menu. So, you are in luck if it was one of your favorites.

Avocado Tacos at The Counter

Avocado Tacos at The Counter

For me, the best sample of the event, was the “Columbia Burger.” It is a blend of short rib and ground chuck. It was served with caramelized onions, mushrooms, special sauce on a Brioche Roll. I did not remove the onion. It was delicious. It was so delicious. I highly recommend trying it. The Counter also offers desserts. But what caught my eye was that they serve Milkshakes and MALTS. Yes, malts.  And, it is very hard to find malts around here. And an awesome malt…well, let’s just say, I’m in the Market for one (no pun intended!). I am looking forward to pairing one of those awesome burgers with a chocolate malt. 

The Columbia Burger at The Counter in Downtown Columbia, MD

The Columbia Burger at The Counter in Downtown Columbia, MD

The evening was obviously all about the new menu offerings, but I was equally if not more impressed with the Whole Foods Market Chefs and marketing team. They eagerly and thoroughly explained every item, answered questions, and made sure everyone had a chance to sample everything. It was an absolute joy to be there. I am grateful to have been invited to this sneak peek and can’t wait to bring my family back for dinner.

 

@HoCoBlogs

Truly A Treat

HoCoBlogs Party at Seasons 52
 

I kicked off my birthday month by attending the HoCoBlogs party for bloggers and blog readers at Seasons 52 in the new outdoor wing at The Mall in Columbia. What a great decision that was. I had been fighting a cold for a week, so I wasn't sure I had much energy to mix and mingle with my fellow bloggers and blog readers. But, I been very eager to check out Seasons 52, so John and I went. The Howard County Library, a co-host, greeted us at the entrance with a Choose Civility wristband and information about an upcoming Choose Civility Symposium panel discussion, The Ball's in Your Court: Can Civility and Sports Coexist? This symposium is on Thursday, October 9 at the Miller Branch of the HoCo Library System. Find details about this event at Choosecivility.org.

Our group, apparently 80 plus in number, had the outdoor seating area and it was a perfect evening to be outside. I was happy to see a few familiar faces right away. As we made our way back to the bar, we chatted with a few folks. By the time we made it there, we were ready for a cold beverage.

 

Seasons 52 Signature Flatbread

 

Seasons 52 was a delightful host. There was beer and wine at the bar, and the friendly and energetic staff quickly brought water and sodas around, as well as signature flatbreads. We were thrilled to try the flatbread appetizers we had heard about, and we were not disappointed. I liked the Garlic Pesto Chicken flatbread the most.

In addition to the familiar faces, there were quite a few new ones, too. Just as John and I were about to head back into the “mob,” a new blogger, Jamie, approached us and struck up a conversation. Her blog thepurposepages.blogspot.com is about two months young. We had a really nice time chatting, and we enjoyed introducing her to some of the long-time fixtures in the HoCoBlogs community.

Meet New HoCoBlogger Jamie!

We had a wonderful evening and are looking forward to our next HoCoblogs event.

@HoCoBlogs

 

We’re All Adults Here

 

We have officially moved into a new realm as parents. Yes. Another noticeable milestone has been reached. Alex wanted to come with John and me to the HoCoBlogs party at Alexandra's Restaurant at Turf Valley this evening. He was looking forward to meeting some bloggers and seeing what it's all about. It was such an adult thing to want to do. I was surprised and happy he was willing to come. Alyssa had attended a HoCoBlogs party (also at Alexandra's) back in January, and I appreciated her coming with us then.

The party was another delightful event. We were treated to delicious appetizers that everyone was raving about. I met a couple more bloggers and was able to say hello to several familiar ones. Alexandra's once again proved to be a warm and inviting location for the bloggers and their readers. I'm glad we made it out tonight.

 

A New Read

 

I am so excited! I received a new book today by best selling author Chris Bohjalian. My friend Terri, who is also a blogger*, passed it on to me read. She received a complimentary copy of the book in exchange for some social media feedback and/or social media love (positive feedback). She was also asked to find another avid social media user, who had not yet read anything by Bohjalian, and pass the book onto him or her. Terri finished the book earlier this week, and now it's my turn! I am really looking forward to reading it, which I will do as soon as possible. I didn't want Terri to give me too much information about the book, so I can start it with a clean slate. I know she enjoys reading this author and that she did like this book. So, stay tuned for my review…coming soon. I hope!

Visit Terri's sunny side of life blog at quiltsfromtheheart.blogspot.com.