I live a simple life, exploring the great outdoors, and slowly the world with my husband and our 2 amazing little girls. I am a Shutterbug, I am constantly taking pictures, my camera is like an extra appendage! I love to cook, craft, bake, travel and just enjoy life! I've been told I'm a "Jane of all trades" and I like to tell people I have Creativity A.D.D. My interests are completely random and can range from making hair bows for little girls to "dumpster diving" and refinishing furniture with my best friend! I paint, I use power tools(and I'm quite proficient with a hot glue gun), and I just learned to sew this year, so I'm excited to see what will come of that! I hope you enjoy tagging along for this crazy journey of randomness!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Local Love: Experience Columbus *Food Edition*

So, I followed a link in an online article, earlier, that led me to a list of the "Top Ten things to do in Columbus". The one that really caught my eye was, "Go Out To Eat Constantly" Boy, they aren't lyin'! Seriously, there is SO much to eat here...even at 19 years old when I hardly ever went out to eat,due to a shopping habit and working in retail, I moved to TN and one of the things I missed the most was the FOOD and the long list of dining options!! Fast food, PIZZA(Oh, the pizza options made me want to cry, they were so sad!) and casual and/or fancy dining restaurants...I did find one I liked, Calhoun's...good ol' American food and bbq, and one other that has since closed down, but had the best mozzarella sticks ever...but every time I was craving something specific I would get very homesick because all the good food was back in Columbus!!
This article reminded me of the variety around here and since moving back we have greatly enjoyed "Going out to eat constantly" (Okay, so maybe it's just once a week, but still...) We try to go somewhere new every once in a while...places we've seen on TV, read about in magazines, or heard great reviews about from friends. I wanted to share a list of my own favorites in or around Downtown Columbus and give people an idea of what they are like, in case they are looking for something new to try as well!

Schmidt's Sausage Haus:
Location: German Village

Atmosphere: This place is a blast! I don't recommend it for a sit down, quiet dinner...it is more the, "I came to have a good time with friends, eat some good food, maybe a beer and sing along with the polka band!" kind of dining experience. Note: If you yell out the request for "Free Bird" The band will play it...on the accordion and tuba!

Food: I recommend the sausage sampler platter or the Golden Turkey Reuben, it is delicious!!(I did not take a picture, I was starving, so I dove right in!) For dessert, the cream puffs are a must-even if you get it to-go! Honestly, there were 5 of us, everyone got something different and everyone loved what they ate! I don't think you can go wrong with anything on the menu!

The Thurman Cafe:
Location: Thurman Ave.
Atmosphere: Bar, loud music, loud people, sometimes loud singing involving entire bar...kind of depends on the jukebox selections that night! Waiters/Bartenders are fun, sarcastic and busy-that place is always hoppin' so don't be surprised if it takes a while to get your check...flag them down, they don't mind!

Leave your mark! There are dollar bills EVERYWHERE! Just ask your server for a Sharpie and some tape! They will gladly give them to you! 
Food: Giant Burgers that will make you drool...All burgers are 3/4lb, so sharing is a great idea here! The A-1 Burger is the Slam. Seriously, so good. Their appetizers are awesome, the fried pickle chips are delish and their chicken wings...well, just order them and let me know what you think about their size!(*hint* their ginormous!)
Fried EVERYTHING...pickle chips(My fav!), pickle spears, JalapeƱos, Mushrooms, Pizza "Egg Rolls"...and I don't have a picture, but their chicken wings are the biggest I've ever seen!

Also, they have "Thurman's To-Go!" Due to the small nature of the building, you could spend quite a while waiting on a table, we've used the To-Go option multiple times now and love it!

The Jury Room: **Update: As of 2015 The Jury Room is permanently closed**
Location: Mound St.
Atmosphere: I can't speak for the daytime hours, as we've only dined here late at night(8pm or later) and at those hours it is still pretty busy, they usually have good music playing(not real loud) and it kind of seems to be a hipster hangout after 9pm. I would assume, by it's location, the breakfast/lunch crowd is business/downtown employees. The decor and architecture are very neat, it was a bordello and has made the list for "America's Most Haunted Restaurant's and Bars"
Food: Lots of awesome sandwiches! Their menu changes with the Seasons and everything I've ever had there has been good, their fried pickles are my favorite! My favorite sandwich is the Chicken Pesto(on a hoagie) and I prefer the fries over the house chips!

Easy Street Cafe:
Location: Thurman Ave. right around the corner from Schiller Park
Atmosphere: Classy, quiet Bar on weeknights, have not experienced a weekend setting yet.
Food:  Greek! I have so far only tried their appetizers, but am anxious to go back after looking at the rest of the menu and really enjoying the fried, cheese ravioli and onion rings. I have a feeling it is a hidden gem that is going to become one of our favorites...I've been told they hold the number 1 or 2 title for "Best Gyro" a few years running, so I can't wait to try them!

Japanese Steakhouse:
Location: Downtown on High St. directly in front of North Market

Atmosphere: Classy Hibachi. It is a nice atmosphere that makes you want to dress nice, enjoy a great, entertaining dinner and head out for a stroll through the galleries in the Short North, which is within walking distance, to burn off those calories after a humongous meal!
Food: Japanese/Hibachi  The Filet melts in your mouth and their zucchini has always been cooked just the way I like it(Not turned to mush!) It is our favorite Japanese Steakhouse, although we prefer the Yum-Yum sauce and fried rice at Ichiban, the all around food and atmosphere win out, downtown, on this one...Out of the 15+ years I've gone there I think we've had a Not-so-great chef one time...and he was a newbie!

Jeni's Ice Cream
Locations: Several around Columbus, Easton Town Center, Bexley, German Village and 714 N. High Street in the Short North Arts District, which is a great place to stop in during the gallery hops in the Summer! Don't be deterred by the line if it is wrapped outside around the building, this is common during weekends in the Summer and the line moves very quickly! (Also, the line basically starts at the door, so there is really nowhere to go but out!)

Atmosphere: Vintage Ice Cream Shoppe with modern, adventurous, magnificent flavors, very cute, tons of personality(The atmosphere as well as the employees!)
Food: The flavors will blow you away, some of them sound just plain crazy, but 9 times out of 10 they are amazing...and I only say 9 times out of 10 because I don't like coconut flakes and the coconut ice cream has coconut flakes in it(I can feel them on my tongue just talking about it...blech!)

Wildberry Lavender : Delish!

Jeni's "To-Go!" (Influenza Sorbet was like a Hot Toddy and tasted great during flu season!)

Personal Favorites: Plum Sake Sorbet and Pistachio & Honey

Wildberry Lavender, Pistachio & Honey and Honey Vanilla Bean

One of my all time favorites is the Rainbow Frozen Yogurt, it is like eating Sunshine and Rainbows in a delicious, fresh made waffle cone, I kid you not! My other favorite hasn't been featured in a couple of years, but it was Violet and Meringue and it was a very sad day when I finished my last pint and they quite carrying it for the Season(And never brought it back! Boo!)
At any rate, you can't go wrong! Check it out!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Mother Nature says it's time for Soup!

 It's finally feeling like Fall in Ohio and this wonderful weather just screams, "Eat Soup!" It's funny, Mother Nature decides what's for dinner in our household, quite often! I don't like to cook when it's hot outside because it makes the house hot, and I despise being hot unless I am laying by the pool and have a quick means to cool off, so we grill a lot and order our fair share of pizza over the Summer! I figure it all evens out since I cook the majority of our meals during the other 3 Seasons! Cheesy Potato Soup is one of our Fall family favorites, I like to serve it with fresh baked French Bread(Okay, so it's a Take and Bake Loaf from Kroger) My FAVORITE pairing with this soup is actually a recipe my best friend makes-Pretzel rolls! They are delish! I believe she got the recipe from pinterest, but I haven't made them myself, yet! Luckily, there is plenty more cool weather to come...maybe next time I will try to make them! (Or wrangle my best friend back from Atlanta, bribe her with soup and convince her to make rolls...hmm)

Cheesy Potato Soup


6-7 Red or Yellow Potatoes, peeled and diced into bite size pieces

1 stalk of celery, chopped or minced(I prefer minced in a creamy soup)
1 small onion, chopped or minced
1 32oz. carton of Chicken Broth(4 Cups)
1 can Cream of Chicken Soup(I used Cream of Chicken and herbs)
1 tsp. garlic powder(or more or less to taste)
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2-3 Tbsp. Real Bacon Bits or Pieces
12 oz.(3 Cups) Finely shredded Cheddar Cheese(I used 1 Cup Sharp and 2 Cups Mild, you can use whichever kind you like)
2 1/2 cups Milk, warmed up (2 minutes in the microwave)
5 Tbsp. flour
*Optional: 2 green onions, thinly sliced for garnish

Add the first 9 ingredients to the Slow Cooker, stir and cook on LOW for 6-7 hours.
Add the Worcestershire sauce, bacon bits and cheese and stir.
Warm up the milk, sprinkle and stir in the flour until smooth. Add mixture to the Slow Cooker and stir.
Cook on HIGH and additional 30-45 minutes.
Serve with a sprinkle of cheese, green onions, and bacon bits.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Crockpot Chicken Tacos

Crockpot Chicken Tacos

Taco Seasoning (I use a local spice mix called Sazon, but any taco-like seasoning will do!)
6 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts(thawed, if frozen)
1 16-ounce jar Salsa (My favorite is Chi-Chi's Original Recipe Medium Salsa)
*Optional: ½ can of whole kernel corn and Can of black beans-drained*

Lay chicken in bottom of crock pot, pour all other ingredients in on top of it, place lid on crockpot and cook on high for 4 to 6 hours or on low for 6 to 8 hours. When done, the chicken should shred easily when stirred with a fork.

Serve with taco shells, on taco salad or burritos. We like to top them with cheese and sour cream, but you can add any toppings you prefer!

(Any leftover chicken and the leftover ½ can of corn is great to use in Tortilla soup!)

These are a family favorite in our household, and definitely my "go-to" meal for an easy dinner! On days that I know I will be out running errands/volunteering at the kids' school, etc. it's great to just toss this in the crockpot and it is done when we get home, no fuss-no muss! 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Pinsperational Parties Past...

We want ideas for party decorations, cake inspirations or themes, we go to Pinterest...But since you're stopping by, I'll share a few of my girls' parties past, in case you happen to like one of them! I think I came up with some pretty fun ideas-even before Pinterest was around, but you can definitely tell what years were Pinspired and which were not!! I usually use it as a "go-to" for inspiration and then go with my own thing with a twist of the idea I saw! Feel free to steal/twist/adopt any ideas you like! (Like I could stop you? haha)

Luau Birthday Party

 *Most delicious "Sand" ever-lt. brown sugar, dk. brown sugar and graham crackers-mix together in food processor! 
 *If you go to your local supermarket bakery(i.e. Kroger or Giant Eagle) some of them will sell you the "kits" or other miscellaneous parts that go on top of cakes! I paid $6 for the beach kit, it came with the chair, trees, sand castle and pail. The person is one of the girls' lego friends! The rest of the cupcake decorations are Drink Stirrers from the party section at the store, I got them on clearance for $1.29!

 *Hula Skirts from the Dollar Store!

 Garden, Bugs and Butterflies

How to make Marshmallow Flower Cupcakes: Place each color of sprinkles in a separate bowl. Working with one sprinkle color at a time, cut a marshmallow crosswise into 5 thin slices, letting slices drop into sprinkles. Toss to coat sticky areas of marshmallow with sprinkles. Repeat with remaining marshmallows and colored sprinkles to make 20 petals of each color. Place a spice drop in the middle of the flower.

 *Put your veggies in inexpensive plastic flower pots!*

Marshmallow Fondant, cookie cutters and playdoh roller cutter!

Star Themed Birthday
*For a giant cupcake "liner" take the silicone giant cupcake mold and fill with melting chocolate wafers of your color choice, melt down the chocolates and pour into mold-tipping and turning the mold until evenly coated-you may have to allow it to dry/cool in the freezer and do another coat(or two if your chocolate is thin!)

 I saw the idea for streamers as a backdrop on Pinterest a couple years ago and have used it for every indoor party we've had!! It makes such a fun, inexpensive decoration and backdrop!

Snowflake/Winter Wonderland Birthday

For decorations we had paper snowflakes galore, you can also make that a fun(but messy!) party craft for the guests-kids AND adults! 

The snowflakes are all made from Wilton white chocolate melting wafers and piped onto wax paper with a candy decorating squeeze bottle.

Cupcake Themed OR Ice Cream Shoppe Themed Birthday

"Ice Cream Shoppe"

Rainbow Birthday

Glass vases for veggies, very pretty and shows off the vibrant colors of the vegetables!

 Balloons hung upside down from the ceiling and streamers as a backdrop for cake time!

(Excuse the poor yellowy lighting, the cake is actually WHITE!)

{Photo and Cakepops Courtesy of True Cupcake Creations}

Cake: White frosting + mini M&M's, Regular M&M's and Peanut Butter M&M's!