Sunday, July 1, 2018

Fun Filled Weekend

This has been one crazy busy weekend, but a good one nevertheless.

The weekend started a bit early on Thursday when my family (and my brother-in-law’s family) gathered to celebrate the twelfth birthday of my nephew, Carter. Carter, although a bit shy, is a great kid with a variety of interests. His latest project involved the assistance of my husband, Andrew, who helped Carter choose the components for and then build his first computer.
For Andrew, this was his third time around doing this, so he felt reasonably confident it would be a success, and it was. I imagine Carter will enjoy many happy years with his new technology, so I am grateful we could help him out.

Friday night Andrew and I enjoyed the latest installment in the “Jurassic Park” franchise, which was called “Jurassic World.” Since it’s now been 25 years since the first movie (based on the book by Michael Crichton) was released, it does feel like Hollywood is milking it for all it’s worth, but thankfully the movies haven’t been too bad. I tell everyone to go in with low expectations. That way you might be pleasantly surprised when it turns out to be a halfway decent movie. Through some clever writing, state of the art cinematography and sound mixing, they somehow still manage to keep us on the edge of our seats a quarter century later.

Saturday my parents joined my husband, sister, and me on an outing to the new Dublin Farmer’s Market which is being held on Saturday mornings on one of the streets in the new development near the river. It was a good choice for location as the road was reasonably shady, so quite comfortable for walking around on a day with a heat advisory.

In the hour or so we were there we had plenty of time to peruse the offerings of each vendor (including some rather unusual ones like the guy pitching compost bins for $20 where you keep bringing back your full one in exchange for an empty one and he takes care of dumping your refuse). Good plan for those who perhaps live in an apartment or who are environmentally minded but don’t have the time or money to invest in their own compost maker (like the ones where you turn the crank to mix up the contents periodically) or compost pile in their backyard. We used to compost, but made more than we needed, so we scaled back to now just keeping a small container in our refrigerator which we usually dump in the trash once a week. My neighbor informed me he’s going to start a compost pile again in his backyard, so we’re welcome to come over and dump our fruit & vegetable waste there. Thanks Dick!

Since it was the first time my parents had attended a Farmer’s Market, or at least one down here, they seemed to have mixed reactions. My dad enjoyed the free samples, but refused to spend $3 on a cookie, not being used to how much things cost on the open market (from both vendors and food carts). I wonder what he thought about Andrew and me spending $7.50 for this:
raspberry cruffin
Yes, a bit pricey perhaps, but since Andrew was also drooling over it, he quite happily agreed to me buying it to later split.

My mom enjoyed the few produce stands there were and purchased a zucchini and some other vegetables to take back with them. I bought a head of lettuce and a tomato, so those were my healthy choices. Here’s Andrew and I enjoying our mid-morning snack:

My sister, Karen and I went together and bought the same shirt in a price reduction deal for buying two. Since I was also still in the middle of eating my PB & J popsicle, I didn’t have my hands free to get a picture of the two of us with them, so here’s me wearing mine at home:

Andrew and I also purchased a jar of vanilla pear jam and a jar of honey.
My favorite booth was the one selling ceramics, mugs, and miniature mug pendants. Being a “Gilmore Girls” fan, the Luke’s (Diner) mugs caught my eye.
Although impressed, since I already have a “Gilmore Girls” mug (and a full cupboard at home), I opted for one of the necklaces instead.

My rating of this Farmer’s Market: a 6 on a scale of 1-10. Not many produce vendors, and really not that many vendors overall. Even though it’s close by and convenient, I can’t see visiting too many times because there just isn’t the variety. Hoping to get to Hilliard’s and Upper Arlington’s before the summer is over.

My afternoon was spent at a nearby art store called Dick Blick’s learning how to create and bind my own book. Even though I had already learned basic bookbinding skills in another art class there (taught by my friend, Amy Flowers of Shrewd Art), it had been many years, and the example book sitting by the cash register was pretty impressive, so I decided to sign up. There were five of us, four ladies and the daughter of one of them, so we all squeezed around a six foot table for the next two and a half hours while our instructor, Mikayla (an employee and design student at OSU), instructed us in the process.

Since I had done this before, I didn’t find it too difficult. The hardest part was attaching the book to the cover so it laid flat without any bubbles, but with ample flexibility. I ended up with some wrinkles from not flattening it properly with my bone press (or laying a heavy object on it to keep it flat). Still, I was pretty happy with the finished product and certainly feel more capable of making more books in the future.

Later in the evening after Andrew had returned home from helping Carter build his computer, we attended the first Gallery Hop of the summer in Grandview. The name is really misleading since there are no actual galleries on this “hop.” The art aspect comes in with the various vendors that line Grandview Avenue each vying for a sale from all the hot and sweating attendees. If you want to browse galleries it’s better to attend the Short North Gallery Hop held on the first Saturday of every month year-round (which we attended once last year). Of course these things are as much about food and drink since food trucks also line the streets and the bars usually have patrons overflowing out into the street.

At the Gallery Hop in Grandview there were tents selling beer in exchange for a set amount of tickets, so you had to queue up twice, which was two times more than Andrew was willing to endure in the 80+ degree heat. Lots of people apparently didn’t mind since most of the crowd seemed to be holding a plastic cup of booze.

There were a decent amount of vendors to peruse, so it probably took us best part of a couple hours after enjoying dinner from a food truck. Plus, we also popped into a couple shops and stopped by St. Christopher’s parish festival, (who were also using the ticket system, even to sell baked goods).
I wasn’t surprised, but a little disappointed there was such a long line at Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream, so we skipped that and instead opted to split a strawberry smoothie from Stauf’s. Though I doubt Andrew will be in a hurry to attend another Grandview Gallery Hop, I wouldn’t mind going again in August, but I think I still prefer the Short North version.

Have a happy Fourth of July everyone and stay cool!

Sunday, June 24, 2018

New Hilliard branch library open!

This weekend I was privileged enough to visit the new Hilliard branch library not once but twice (the first time alone; the second time with my husband, Andrew). The 63,000 square foot building is part of the Hickory Chase Way apartment complex which has been through troubled times financially, which is how Hilliard City Council scored such a good deal on the building (which I think was going to be the recreation center for the complex), $800K.

As Andrew and I are “friends of the library,” we were invited to the grand opening on Wednesday, but were sadly unable to attend due to prior commitments. Since I had already RSVP’d before our plans were made, I asked my sister if she wanted to attend in our place. No sense wasting the privilege (free food & drink were included along with the entertainment). My sister took me up on my offer and said she had a great time.

The library is light years ahead in design as compared to my childhood library, Mackenzie Memorial Library in Madison. Saying that, Mackenzie did pass a levy since I graduated and moved away, so I know they’ve undertaken quite a few renovations. I’m sure it probably looks nothing like I remember. Sadly I haven’t prioritized stopping in over the last 20 years, so I should probably add that to my list of things to do when I am back home visiting my parents, etc.

In my almost 20 years of marriage I’ve been lucky enough to visit some libraries both here in the US and overseas. As much as I love Europe, hands down the best libraries can be found here stateside (perhaps because they’re better funded?). Probably the most impressive is the one we toured (led by a guide) in Seattle. I believe it even had a yellow escalator, so points for originality and cheerfulness in choosing the color scheme.
Here’s what I wrote, “Since we still had a little time before we had to pick up our rental car, we decided to walk over and check out the state-of-the-art library, which is now about five years old. According to an article in the Seattle Times, Mayor Greg Nickels said that “Seattle residents check out more books per capita than people in any other city. More important, at least to some: Patrons could bring drinks inside as long as they had a lid.”

"Is that a Seattle library or what?" Nickels said. "Never again will Seattleites be parted from their lattes."

Although we were a bit late, they still let us join the architecture tour that had started about 20 minutes before we arrived. Our volunteer guide was very interesting and informative and a very personable young man who reminded us a lot of one of Andy’s former co-workers in England.”

Then there was the tiny, but charming library we visited in Conway New Hampshire.  Here’s what I wrote, “the library itself was really charming with interesting details in the woodwork and pretty stained glass windows in many of the rooms, as well as a large fireplace in one of them.

I could definitely see spending a whole day sitting in the sunshine at a table (or one of their comfy chairs) while working on a research paper or just catching up on some reading. Size wise it’s at least as big as Hilliard’s library, and is two stories tall. There’s definitely something to be said for small town libraries.”

This was the competition Hilliard was up against, but it’s definitely a contender as I was absolutely blown away. Andrew and I had feared it might be a little cold and impersonal, much like an airport lounge (and pretty much the way the main library downtown was redesigned), but the architects seem to have done a good job creating intimate seating areas where small groups can meet, but individuals can also spread out if so desiring. 

Like airports and a lot of public spaces, the furniture is all equipped with outlets to keep your electronics charged while visiting. Let’s face it. Probably half the people who visit will be bringing laptops and pretty much everyone will have a cell phone with them.

One of my favorite amenities the library has in common with many of the newer branches (and the main one downtown), is a café. Hurrah! We can enjoy an adult beverage (the wakey wakey kind, not the mellow sleepy one usually partaken after 5pm) along with an indulgent pastry
while perusing the free publications (Columbus Alive, The Free Press, Parents Weekly, etc.) and books for sale. I bought a sticker endorsing the new café (The Public Perk), and can’t wait to get it on a t-shirt (which they assured me they’ll be making more of since the first batch sold out.

I also love the solarium (though that’s not what it’s called on the map), which is like a large Florida room situated on the south side of the building that is all glass and patio-like seating, though the room is fully enclosed. I could see spending a lot of time sitting there, which is the next best thing to actually being outside. Andrew and I sat there while enjoying our coffee drinks and a blueberry scone. It would be a nice place for a book group to meet.

In case you can’t tell, I am really enthusiastic about this new addition to Hilliard, which makes me proud to be a resident (especially as it always feels like Hilliard is the lesser sibling to its rich neighbors, Dublin (whose new branch won’t open until 2019) and Upper Arlington (old money; has at least 3 branch libraries in the city limits).

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Grandview Public Library, which, though not as big, is every bit as charming and has lots of good community programs (which hopefully Hilliard will soon have as well). I volunteered there from November until February where I worked in the (basement) Young Adult section pulling reserves and shelving as well. Although it was hard on my knees, I enjoyed every minute and am only sorry I had to give it up when I got my job at Humana.

Anyway, if you need to find me you know where to look. I’ve joked that I am having my mail forwarded there as well.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Grove City Wine & Arts Festival

Friday night my husband Andrew and I attended the Wine & Arts Festival in Grove City after seeing an advert in a local newspaper. Having never before attended we were intrigued, and as Grove City isn’t exactly a million miles away (in fact, it’s where my sister teaches), we thought it would be a fun evening out. The weather was more than cooperative with sun and temperatures in the low 80s (a little cooler than that after the sun went down). We parked at a local shopping center and then hopped on the shuttle that whisked us a few miles down the road to the city centre where the festival was being held.

As we’ve rarely ever been to Grove City (only twice that I can think of), it was like being somewhere brand new to us, which is always nice. We were both quite impressed by the local library (hoping that Hilliard’s new branch is half as nice as this one) as we could easily look in through the floor to ceiling glass windows on both floors.

The roads were closed so attendees could wander the streets browsing the various food stands and artists in attendance. Of course there were lots of wineries represented too, hence the name of the festival. I would say it was about 60% wineries, and 40% food/artists. It’s like a smaller, more inebriated version of the Columbus Arts Festival (which was held the previous weekend). It’s really the perfect size for an evening out because we had plenty of time to meander between stands while talking to people and trying to choose which wines to sample.

It cost $20 per person which got you a souvenir glass and 8 samples. Each sample (perhaps 1/3 of a glass) cost one ticket, and a whole glass cost 3 tickets. I had 3 samples, 1 full glass, and ¾ of a glass. Of the samples I had, a couple of the more interesting ones were a full glass of Cucumber Melon wine from It’s Your Winery in Medina (I love their t-shirts! We are totally stopping there on our next trip up to Northeast Ohio).

The other interesting sample I had was a Raspberry Mocha Port dessert wine. It definitely tasted of raspberry and mocha, which was an interesting contrast having it in a wine instead of coffee (which, as you may recall, is my favorite flavor of Folger’s).

Besides the fun of sampling the various wines (next time I need more tickets or I need to be more selective), we enjoyed looking at the art, which wasn’t all wine themed, though there were a few booths that were. Maybe it was the wine, or maybe it was the atmosphere and nice weather and all, but we broke down and bought some more art, though in this case, it’s both pretty and practical. We bought four drinking glasses depicting a tree transformed by the various seasons.

My favorites are the winter and spring scenes. I had to declutter our cabinet a bit, but it was worth it to make room for these beautiful vessels. Now I just have to force myself to use, rather than just savor them.

While walking around I enjoyed talking to various people wearing wine-themed garb (like the Wine Party ladies wearing identical pink tank tops). There was this lady from the Olde Schoolhouse Vineyard & Winery.
Olde Schoolhouse Vineyard & Winery, my new friend, Dreama
Then I met Dreama, who lives out in Morrow County (aka the boondocks or God’s country,). We had a nice long chat about all sorts of things while admiring the marbled canvases nearby. My apologies to the artist for not actually buying anything, and maybe blocking people from having a look at your art.I also chatted with a lady selling the most unusual shaped salt ‘n pepper shakers that rely on physics and gravity to hold & dispense the salt & pepper. I told her I’d possibly buy a set if I didn’t already have several dozen pair at home I inherited and am still trying to find a good home for. I also had a chat with the couple running the Mothman booth. I told them we recently had a visit from a female Imperial Moth who proceeded to lay eggs on the metal fence between our and our neighbor's yard. They were impressed by the photos I showed them on my phone.

After much contemplation and Andrew’s encouragement, I decided to try my hand at a little glass spin art. Basically you chose your various colors (Pebeo 650) then gradually squeeze them out of a plastic eye dropper while your piece of glass is spinning around (inside) underneath. Whatever color you most want to emphasize you should probably save for last and keep it close to the center. I tried to recreate a tie-dyed effect I saw on one of the samples, but didn’t quite manage the rainbow effect. Still, I am happy with my creation and forever grateful Andrew remembered to pick up my piece of glass at the end of the evening (they had packed it up since they didn’t think we were coming back). We followed the instructions which was to let it dry for 24 hours, then seal it by baking it in the oven for about 40 minutes. Here’s the finished product:

I might frame it (using a piece of clear glass or just an empty frame) to protect it from damage.

Near the end of our evening we ran into our cousin and her husband who live nearby and enjoyed having a chat with them before getting some ice cream from the local ice cream shop, then took the shuttle back to the car park and headed home.

Needless to say I had a bit of a hangover (both from the food and the wine) and slept quite late the next morning, but it was totally worth it and I can’t wait to do it again next year!

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Worthington Farmer’s Market

Every summer I have high hopes (or at least I jot it on my summer 'To Do’ List) of going to a Farmer’s Market having only attended the Hilliard one a few times. Since most of them seem to be during the week and aren’t open too late, that’s been my excuse for not going. However, a couple weekends ago I did some research and made a list of where all the local markets are and the hours they’re open. Although it’s still a bit early in the summer for some of them, others, like the Worthington Farmer’s Market are open.

Probably our main reason for going was so I could see where the Griswold Senior Center is located since I plan to drive out there on Thursday to attend my artist friend’s lecture there. Since gasoline is now $2.90 a gallon, I hated to waste the gas without visiting somewhere in Worthington while I was there. By the way, downtown Worthington has charm coming out of its ears and it’s only a shame we don’t visit there more often.

The Farmer’s Market is held in the square every Saturday from 8am until 1pm. By the time we arrived it was getting near 11am, so we didn’t have a lot of time, but my husband Andrew doesn’t like to linger anyway, so he’s good at keeping to a schedule.

What seems fairly typical these days is that a Farmer’s Market isn’t solely about fruits and vegetables. There were probably as many, if not more, stands selling bread and pastries, which kind of corrupts the whole reason for going. However, my husband, my moral compass, kept me on the straight and narrow. All we bought of that sort of thing was: a jar of rhubarb blackberry jam with limoncello, a packet of biscotti, a small pie, (which I should have photographed before we cut into it)

and a box of gourmet chocolates (almost too pretty to eat!).

As far as nutritional items, we bought a small basket of strawberries, a small head of lettuce, a bundle of asparagus, a block of cheese made from sheep’s milk, a package of butternut squash raviolis, a bag of chocolate cherry coffee (and an ice coffee from a different vendor), and a wooden sign that says, “Coffee Keeps Me Going Until It’s Acceptable to Drink Wine.” 

(After reading this Andrew commented that the items I have listed under nutritional items really aren’t that healthy; true, but let’s not quibble : )

What was as much fun to me as buying lots of lovely sustenance, was talking to the various vendors. That’s partly why we bought the pie. Andrew said he felt he had to buy something after the long chat I had with the lady selling various pastries. She explained that her two teen/tweenie aged children helped her bake, as boredom has set in for them already (from being on summer break from school). I congratulated them on their efforts as our pie (mixed berry with a lattice crust) is so cute and tasty! I told her about helping out in the garden while growing up and how much I hated raking up apples since there were always so many yellow jackets buzzing around the sometimes rotting fruit. Plus, I never liked apple dumplings (still don’t), or applesauce (I’ve come around on this one), which is where most of the apples ended up. Had we had more ambition we probably could have started our own apple pie business, but the thought never once occurred to us. Anyway….

Andrew and I got to split a chocolate glazed donut from another vendor gratis as he gave us one as a free sample.
That was certainly a nice compliment to my ice coffee. We also sampled various breads. In return (for not buying anything), I told some of the vendors about the annual Bread Festival held in October in nearby Dublin. Since it will only be the third year for it this fall, it’s still new enough none of them had ever heard of it, but said they’ll look it up. I hope to see some of them there (and maybe then I’ll buy some of their starchy goodness).

At any rate, it was a lot of fun and I think we scored some nice produce and goodies to enjoy over the next few weeks. I look forward to attending again, and will definitely make sure to arrive a lot sooner (and bring plenty of cash, though you can use your credit card at a lot of the booths).