Now that the holidays are over, expect some changes in the parking situation in the historic district that should make the experience much better.
First, there is now a new app for your smartphone called Parker, which will allow you to locate available parking without just wandering around and hoping for the best.
The county has installed sensors in the 600 local parking spaces that will tell a visitor if the space is available and if it is free or a paid spot.
Also, soon the new meters on Main Street will go into effect. The two-hour parking limit will still be enforced, but now you will also need to visit a meter to pay for parking.
Each meter will serve about seven cars, and will accept credit cards. Spots are now clearly marked on the street, which also makes parking easier. Check it out.
Window display winners
The Ellicott City Restoration Foundation Inc. announced the Judges' Choice winner in its annual window decorating contest. Joan Eve at 8018 Main St. has been chosen as the official Judges' Choice winner for 2012.
This year's official winner was determined by a panel of judges including Victoria Goodman of Blossoms of Hope, Jackie Panowicz of Custom Media Options, Joan Waclawski of the Business Monthly, Beth Burgess of Howard County Planning and Zoning and Ed Lilley, president of the Restoration Foundation.
The Judges' winner will receive an ad in the issue of their choice from Howard Magazine. A people's choice award will be chosen by popular ballot. Voting ended Jan. 2 and the winners will be announced shortly.
Joan Eve's window is striking, with festive red ribbons and lots of crystal. Second place runner up Vintage Bliss features lots of lights and frosting. Third place A Journey From Junk has a lighthearted approach, using beer cans and lots of red and white.
Honorable mentions went to Sweet Elizabeth Jane and Tea on the Tiber. I noticed that Tea on the Tiber had a table set up outside with a lovely little tea pot and cups. Thanks, but it might be better to eat inside in this weather.
These windows will probably come down soon, so get down to the historic district this weekend.
Make a New Year's resolution to come down to the historic district for a meal during Howard County's winter Restaurant Weeks, Jan. 14-28. Participating historic district restaurants are Portalli's, the Diamondback Tavern and Tersiguel's French Country Restaurant.
Treat yourself — these restaurants are great anytime, but especially when they are offering special meals and special prices.
I was delighted to see that Main Street Oriental Rugs has been awarded the Angie's List super service award. Only 5 percent of registered businesses achieve this award, shared by only one other rug dealer in Central Maryland.
Main Street Oriental Rugs is at 8290 Main St. and offers rug repairs and cleaning in addition to a large inventory. Congratulations, Mojan!
Happy New Year!
Like everyone else, I'm glad we read the Mayan calendar wrong and the world didn't end on Dec. 21. I was sure it wouldn't because I had all my Christmas presents bought and wrapped by then.
We had a nice visit from our son Dave and his fiancée Kristen, and we all still love Kristen even though she beat us at Scrabble. They enjoyed traveling with us along Main Street and seeing all of the decorations and lots of foot traffic.
I'm so glad that so many people are supporting our local small businesses right now. Please keep it up in the New Year.