Road Trip to Columbus

The first day of our road trip to Columbus, Ohio for the Buckeye Elite Showcase Tournament was pretty soggy.  Most of the baseball games were canceled as there was an incredible amount of rainfall.  Fields and highways were standing in high water.  I-70 was shut down for an extended period in two different places.  It looked like some of the boys on teams that played should have been wearing swim suits instead of ball uniforms.

We stayed in the Embassy Suites on Corporate Exchange Drive at Cleveland Avenue exit of I-270.  It has lovely, clean, accommodations with efficient service.  Since our games were canceled for the first day we used the Chitty-Chitty Bang Bang button in our cars and ventured out to Roosters for some stress reduction and lunch.

stress reduction

Our team did not play until late in the day on Friday.  This was my son’s team’s last baseball tournament of the year and our second out-of-towner of the season. Our first out-of-town tournament was in Indianapolis and my daughter and I went to the conservatory there, so this time in lieu of ball games, we decided to check out the conservatory in Columbus, Ohio on this road trip for Plan B (as Suzy Toronto would say).

Flamingo topiaries

We were lucky to see “Topiaries at the Conservatory, Wild Wonders” as well as “Blooms and Butterflies” plus all the other exhibits for our admission price of only $14 each adult. The topiaries were so fun and playful – I especially liked the expression on the lion and panda.

Lion Topiary

The Pacific Island Water Garden was loaded with over 2,000 beautiful, colorful, butterflies. In the Rainforest we tried to get the macaws, Mic and Max, to talk us but they weren’t feeling chatty.  Outside the John E. Wolfe Palm House guests were arriving for a ceremony and they were setting up tables inside.

Elephant topiaries

I don’t want to spoil the exhibit by showing all 13 of the topiaries.  If you want to see them all you won’t find them here until I update in November when the show is over. The butterfly exhibit runs through September 17, 2017 and the topiaries will be displayed until October 29, 2017.  We took about an hour and a half to buzz through the conservatory, but I could easily have spent another hour or so.

Leave it to us to find time for a gift shop! On the way out we stopped in the Botanica Gift Shop & Greenhouse and bought some little pots and a hoe for our fairy garden and a 2″ succulent and a little ceramic pot for it. So far we haven’t killed the succulents we planted in our terrarium earlier this year so we thought we could handle another one.


We attempted to go to The Thurman Cafe in The German Village on Friday night, but it was packed and we were already running on empty so we decided not to wait.  If you are on a road trip to Columbus I recommend this cafe for a tasty burger.


We found it once by accident years ago when we were visiting COSI which, by the way, is an excellent place to visit if you are ever on a road trip to Columbus, Ohio.  Give yourself at least 4-6 hours to explore this science and industry museum.

Cincinnati Stix 15U team won all three of our pool play games ranking us fourteen out of over 80 teams so we got a bye and enjoyed a late Saturday lunch at The Winking Lizard.

Unfortunately, we fell hard and fast this morning at 8am losing by too many runs to report 😦 .

So that is the end of the tournament for us, the end of our 2017 baseball season, and the end of our road trip to Columbus, Ohio.

Have you ever been to Columbus? What’s one of your favorite places to eat or visit in Columbus, Ohio?

What do County Fairs, Outdoor Movies, & Road Trips All Have in Common?

What do county fairs, outdoor movies, and road trips all have in common?



A pig named Charlotte

We took a trip to the county fair yesterday and had a great time watching all the aggies show their animals.  We saw a pig named Charlotte and learned that some pigs like marshmallows.

Horse Grooming – No Soap!

We watched part of a horse grooming contest where the participants had 30 minutes to groom their horse without using soap.  It looked like the horse was getting an all over mud mask.

Of course we had to ride the ferris wheel – it’s a fair classic.  We saw a walking horse show, the pee-wee showmanship show, and a turkey show.

Pee-Wee Showmanship

It was fun to watch tikes as young as two years old try to stay focused on keeping their pig in front of the judge.

Turkey Show

Have you ever seen a girl turn a turkey half her size upside down?

There is always something going on at the fair. A naturalist was showing a snake.

Green Mobile

The Green Mobile was busy educating on ways to recycle.

Mr. Chevy

Down the hill the tractors and trucks were showing off their power.

For the weekend we’ll be setting up the outdoor movie screen again for a double feature. We might have to draw straws to see which movies we will watch for our double feature.

Choices for our double feature

Today we are getting ready to take a road trip to Columbus, Ohio for a baseball tournament.  I love taking the time on short little road trips to visit new places along the way. Our next road trip will be a little longer to Cable, Wisconsin by way of the little Swiss village of New Glarus.

Road trips, outdoor movies, and the county fair – which one do you like best?

Any road trips in your summer plans?


Magic of Love Part 2

Continuing from Magic of Love Part 1 .

I have answered my own question.

Big Magic may simply happen to some degree, but for the most part, the love and the magic you receive are what you get in return for what you contribute by just being who you are.

Letting your soul take the lead instead of your ego brings magic into your life. Tweet: Letting your soul take the lead, instead of your ego, brings magic into your life.

My daughters missed each other when my oldest daughter went off to the university. My older daughter discovered a paint-your-own pottery studio on campus.  It ended up being the perfect place for them to go together on visits to enjoy each other’s company and stay connected.

Fast forward to when we moved to our country home almost two years ago.  I had to rent office space because my job required a faster home internet connection than we have at our new house (our download speed is <1).  Over time “one thing led to another” and we ended up buying a very small office building nearby.  In the meantime, I had quit the job that needed faster internet access.

Last year our gift shop had a vendor booth outdoors at a nearby flea market.  The vendor next to us sold concrete statues and was liquidating his business because he had been doing it a while and wanted to try something new.  “One thing led to another” and I bought some of his smaller molds.  My parents added to those giving my younger daughter some more fun concrete molds for Christmas this past year.

So now we are in the midst of figuring out what to do with the building and having a little fun with it.  In Big Magic there is a story Gilbert tells of a playwright who had a flop of a play with bad reviews.  He then spent a summer painting stars on his daughter’s bicycle and her neighborhood friends’ bikes and got his mojo back.

Because of my work (or maybe it’s just in my nature) my mojo wears thin at times.  We are doing some painting projects just for fun and some with purpose at the new building. The painting is helping with my mojo and I’m excited because I can feel the magic working.

The magic swirled into my car one day as I was on my way to work.  There was a radio show discussing the recent Youth in Iceland program.  That topic has been in the back of my mind for a few months percolating.  I’m afraid to say it out loud or commit to the idea in writing.  I mentioned it briefly to my dad a month or so ago and we haven’t talked about it since.

If you haven’t heard, Ohio has a drug problem (and alcohol).  It is one of the main reasons I don’t want to go back to working at the bedside in a hospital.  I really don’t have it in me (at least not at this time in my life).  In Ohio this problem is not exclusive to youths… it’s across generations.

I created my other blog so that I wouldn’t have “scope creep” or bring my depressing topics into the wonderful area of gift shops.  But there is a little bit of overlap here so I’m going to let it creep in a tiny bit.

At this point you are wondering how that connects to my story?  It’s a tiny thread (that maybe only I can see) holding it together.

We have hosted a couple of events that were to paint-your-own concrete pieces at the new building.  For instance, one day we painted stepping-stones, another day we painted gnomes.  It was a low turnout which was fine because we didn’t advertise it much and we were just experimenting to see if there was any interest.

I believe that some of the behavioral problems and drug problems I am seeing can be treated with stronger communities, beauty, and a little more joy, love, & hope.

The end of the second quarter has arrived.  A few 2017 goals are being met sooner than expected.  We are building on some of those and setting new goals.

We will continue to work on our previous goals and share gift giving ideas and products we enjoy or carry.

Also, going forward in 2017 I would like to set a goal to bring some magic my community. Obviously that is not a SMART goal.  Here are three SMART goals I came up with that I hesitate to say out loud because they might be a bit of work and I’m going to feel a little exposed:

  1. In 2017 I will host 8 or more events inviting the community to create with us.
  2. I will going to further research starting a meet-up and/or book club to use to host regular events in 2018.
  3. I will organize a fall and/or Christmas “gift shop hop” with other area businesses to promote community.

This post may seem a little abstract, but that’s the way magic and ideas work for me. This post has already gotten a little lengthy for my tastes so coming up I will show you our painting projects I’ve been referring to,  I’ll tell you about other books we’ve read that have added to the magic, and  I’ll share our the tiny doors & fairy gardens we’ve been creating.

We’d love to hear if you have ever had a time when you “painted stars on bicycles” just because you could?

Feature photo is the cupcake that started some of this magic and our dog Copper wondering why in the world I’m taking a picture of the cupcake instead of him 😀

Here’s the link again to buy the book Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert.

Early Stop on the Underground Railroad

If you are traveling southwest Ohio I recommend embarking on a little trip to Ripley, Ohio.  Ripley sits on the Ohio River east of Cincinnati.  It is a town rich in history.  One of the most popular spots to visit in Ripley is the John Rankin House.  It is a national historic landmark.  John Rankin was a Presbyterian minister and abolitionist who is estimated to have helped over 2000 slaves escape to freedom.

The little house is estimated to have been built in 1826, making it over 200 years old.  The grounds are natural & beautiful providing a fantastic view of the Ohio River.

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Overlooking the Ohio River

Parking is free, but hours are limited, so check the museum schedule before heading out. Cost is around $5 per person to tour the house.

After overlooking the Ohio River from the John Rankin House, we couldn’t help but get a closer look on the River Walk along Front Street in Ripley, Ohio.  We recommend a stop Rockin’ Robin’s Soda Shoppe to get ice cream and watch the boats on the river.

The Parker House  is also on Front Street, Ripley, Ohio.  Parker was a former slave, inventor, and abolitionist.  Another house on Front Street is known as the Signal House.  It was owned by Vic and Betsy Billingsley and is where the attic lantern signaled Reverend Rankin that it was safe to cross the river leading slaves to freedom.    

If you want something a little more filling Cohearts Riverhouse is also on Front Street, Ripley, Ohio.  My daughter and I have eaten here and enjoyed it.  The food and service were good.

Moyer Vineyard Winery & Restaurant

Another dining option a little further east up the river is Moyer Vineyard Winery and Restaurant .  My daughter and I ate here a few weeks ago.  What we really enjoyed here was the restaurant’s setting on the river.  I bought a bottle of River Valley Red, but haven’t tried it yet because I’m waiting to have someone to share it with 🙂 .   It is described as a soft, mellow, moderating dry red wine and is made from grapes on the property.  I’ll update you after I’ve tried it.

Needing a place to stay?  Brown’s Motel in Aberdeen, Ohio is modest & inexpensive.  It’s right across the river from Maysville, Kentucky which is also a historic little town (and home of Rosemary Clooney) worth exploring.  I’ll tell you more about it another time.

Have you ever been to Ripley,Ohio?  Tell us about your favorite place to visit when there.

Where Are the Monarchs?

Simon Kenton Memorial Bridge Maysville to Aberdeen

Last night I took a little venture to Maysville, Kentucky to attend the 8th Annual Farm & Family Night at Maysville Community and Technical College.  While I was there, I attended the session Saving the Monarch Butterfly.

According to what I learned, the monarchs that live east of the Rocky Mountains are now in Texas. They are on their yearly journey north from Mexico.  Those that live west of the Rocky Mountains winter in California and spend their summers in the Northwest states.

Part of what makes monarch migration so wondrous is the fact that monarchs are the only insect to migrate a distance of 2,500 miles.  During migration monarch butterflies can fly up to 300-500 miles a day.  During their migration north monarchs will go through about 4 generations.  Those monarchs that fly south in the fall, however, can journey the whole distance living up to 9 months.

The purpose of the session was to discuss why monarchs are at risk and what can be done to help them.

Currently the monarch population is 4% of what it was in the 1970’s.  The biggest factor leading to their decline is loss of milkweed.  Other contributing factors to the decline of monarch populations are weather, use of insecticides & herbicides, and habitat loss.


Some things we can do in Ohio to help the butterflies as we await their arrival this year is to learn about their habitat.  We can plant milkweed and other pollinator plants that monarchs need.  In addition we can learn about plants that are native to our yard that butterflies enjoy and keep them in place when possible, rather than removing them.

Being that it is almost spring (12 more days, but who’s counting?), now is a great time to think about monarch butterflies that are migrating our way.  When planning your garden try to include some nectar plants.  These can be annuals, biennials, and/or perennials.  Here are just a few examples: Shasta Daisy, Cosmos, French Marigolds, Lantana, Verbena, Zinnia,  Black Eyed Susan, Hollyhock, Phlox, New England Aster, and Purple Coneflower. Milkweed, Goldenrod, and Ironweed are often plants that we might consider undesirable, but butterflies like them.

If possible, know your plant source.  When purchasing plants ask what type of greenhouse they came from.  Ideally, buy plants raised in a chemical free greenhouse.  Often times you can find someone who has perennials who is willing to split off part of their plant that you could start in your yard.

Choose a sunny location for your plants and consider including windbreaks such as a fence or shrub.  If you have limited space many of these plants do well in pots or containers. Bird baths or water containers should be shallow with some object which will allow for butterflies to perch.  Items such as floating corks can be placed in deeper water to provide a perch.

Do you plant flowers in your gardens for butterflies?  What are your favorites?

Learn more about Protecting Monarchs and Monach Watch .

Feature photo by Chris Bending

Christmas Celebration in Peebles



This past Saturday, December 3rd, we went to the Peebles Christmas Celebration 2016 in Peebles, Ohio.

I took the opportunity to do a little Christmas shopping at the American Legion which was set up from 10AM to 4PM.  There were about 12 vendors selling their wares.  I bought a great little snowman made out of an old signal light cover and I picked up some information on Posh products including a small sample of some Cackle Spackle (I’ve used it a couple of times and it is a refreshing mask).  There were also crafters of jewelry and woodwork to buy from.  There were other independent consultants for Scentsy and other businesses.

I try not to spend a day in Peebles without going to my favorite coffee shop, The Greene Beanery.  I went there and bought some coffee and a mug for Christmas gifts.  I bought Timot Fair Trade Coffee.  One reason I like it (besides the dark chocolate and smooth nutty taste) is because it is chemical free. It has low acidity and a full body which most coffee lovers will enjoy.  I entered my name in their Christmas Gift Basket Raffle.  Fingers crossed that my ticket is a winner!

I also did some Christmas shopping for gifts at a store I’ve never been in before: The Gospel Connection Inc. It is a christian book store and full line music store.  It is a great place to go for christian gifts such as bibles, books, apparel, music, and wall art. In addition they have guitars, mandolins, other musical instruments and lots of accessories.  I bought some gifts for my niece, sister and mom which I’m pretty sure they are going to love.

As I was walking in town I stopped to see the nativity.

Mr. and Mrs. Claus were available for children to visit by the Christmas tree from 4pm to 6PM. At 6PM the Christmas tree was lit in the center of town.

I had a front row seat for all the action at my new Vine Street atelier where I am still getting settled.  I washed the windows, vacuumed and mopped.  I set up my computer most of the way, but unfortunately I forgot the cord for my monitor.

Signal Light Snowman

Shop online or check us out at an upcoming event.

Looking For a Sign?

Greene Beanery Coffee House Roastery, Ohio

When you walk in the door the sign on the wall reads, “If you were waiting for a sign this is it.Tweet: If you were waiting for a sign this is it.

If you are looking for a sign you’ve died and gone to heaven that is.  I’m talking about the Greene Beanery Coffee House Roastery in Peebles, Ohio located in Adams County.  The moment I walked in the door the delicious coffee aroma made me take a deep breath and bask in it.  I thought I was in heaven.

For lunch I had the featured Red Pepper Bisque  which was delicious and an iced coffee.  The ice cubes are made with frozen coffee.  Prices were $3.75 and $3.55 respectively.  With free Wi-Fi this is a great place to stop in during the day and write a blog post or get some work done.  Or just relax by the fireplace or on the porch.

Our current little gift shop location has some issues with water leaking in so I was out looking for a new space to rent or buy today.  After my stop here in Peebles I think I found my sign and where we’ll be moving to.