Monday, August 31, 2015

Dog Days of Summer...

Sunday August 30, 2015
It truly is the dog days of summer as we had a cool week last week, but since then the mercury has climbed and it’s supposed to be in the high 80s this week.

My sister, Karen, texted me early last week to say they had finally sold their house (for just below the asking price after some negotiations), so of course I offered to help them move.

My husband, Andrew and I drove over on Sunday. I was tasked with helping remove pictures, photographs and art off the walls, empty cabinets and drawers, and help load and unload Karen's SUV. Andrew spent most of the duration rewiring a light switch to their basement (which involved a trip to Home Depot to exchange the switch my sister had bought). He said it definitely took longer than he thought, and I’m sure he didn’t drag out the job just to avoid any heavy lifting. : )

As it was, it only took about two and a half hours and perhaps four trips to get everything over to their new house. Since the movers aren’t coming until next Saturday (over Labor Day wknd), the Weers are still going to live in the old house, so clothing, sofas, the TV, and kitchen supplies have to remain for now. I offered to help them finish up on Saturday after the movers have gone. Since the vast majority of stuff is already at the new house, I figure it shouldn’t be too big a job, and there’s always a sense of accomplishment when you’re done (if only I could start/finish going through my own stuff!).

(photo taken seconds after Lucy suddenly dashed from the room - hence the tennis ball in the middle of the room).

To reward ourselves, we decided to head over to the Mozart Café in Clintonville to use a Groupon I had purchased for a couple gelato samplings and two pints to take home. We were told we had our pick of about half a dozen different sundaes and perhaps ten or so different gelatos for our pints. Since Andrew isn’t a fan of peaches (which 3 of the sundaes contained) or hazelnuts (which another sundae had), he had the Berrylicious sundae, while I ordered the Chocolate Raspberry Sundae (which had a couple small slices of hazelnut pastry). Being a Viennese café, hazelnut products are to be expected, which is why Andrew wasn’t happy with the chocolate selection in Austria since most of them contain hazelnuts.

P.S. I got a bumper crop of mouse melons (and lots of green tomatoes which I am hoping will ripen if I leave them on the vine) and finally tried one. They seem to taste like tiny, crunchy cucumbers (not that I am a very big fan of cucumbers, but I planted 'em, so I'm going to eat 'em!). I put some on my hot dogs this weekend and they certainly did add a certain crispness to the toppings.
Have a good week everyone!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Movie themed weekend

Friday August 21, 2015
Tonight we went to the Gateway Film Center (right in the heart of The OSU campus in the middle of student move-in wknd) to see the animated movie based on Kahlil Gibran’s book of poetry essays called “The Prophet.” Even though neither of us are familiar with his work, we both thought it was a film worth seeing – me because of the beautiful artistry in how the poems were illustrated throughout the film. Andrew was familiar with it because someone from his church youth group used to quote from it. We both thought it was an excellent film. Andrew described it as a mixture of poetry and slapstick. I found some similarities to "Fantasia" in style. I absolutely loved the beautiful way each of his poems were illustrated, and you can see in the credits each segment was directed by a different person.
Sunday August 23, 2015
Today we went to breakfast and a flick at our local Movie Tavern. I had always wanted to go to one of these events, but was always afraid it would be heaving with children (especially as the 9am selection is usually geared towards them). We had nothing to worry about as it was only us and one other family (one of which I am pretty sure was still in her pajamas). There are only three things on their breakfast menu that we’ll eat since neither of us are fans of omelets, so Andrew ordered the stack of 5 pancakes and I ordered a Belgian waffle and a plate of French Toast. Initially I just ordered a waffle, but it was kind of small, so I called back our waitress and ordered the French toast which was a far more reasonable portion of three pieces. I cleaned my plates, but took home my chocolate milk (it was that or a Mimosa, but I didn’t fancy it this morning). No need to worry about all that sugar and carbs going straight to my hips as I ran a mile and a bit after I got home.
“Shaun the Sheep” was also an excellent film and I found myself laughing out loud quite a lot. It made me a little homesick for England, especially when they were back at the farm, but also a little bit when they were in “the big city.” When we were watching the credits I whispered to Andrew, “Can you imagine what it must have been like casting the voices for this movie? ‘Let’s hear your best sheep noise!’” I loved the soundtrack which included the song, “Feels like Summer” by Nick Hodgson. You can watch a clip from the movie featuring the song on You Tube: I would definitely see the movie again and may or may not put it on my Christmas Wish List.
P.S. My mouse melon plant (now a crazy out-of-control vine) now has some little mouse melons on it. I picked one, but haven't tried it yet. I heard they're good in salads, so perhaps I'll add one to a salad for lunch or dinner sometime.

Have a good week everyone!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Weekend of August 14-16, 2015

Friday, August 14, 2015
Friday night we had a family get together that included pretty much everyone sans a cousin who was out of town and my brother who lives in Northeast Ohio. Still, even without them there were still over a dozen of us, and it certainly took some coordination to pull it all off. I am grateful to my parents for paying for all the food, my sister for selecting the burgers from wherever it is she gets them, and my husband for slaving over a hot grill while I tended the corn on the cob (none of which I could actually eat because of my braces).

Looking back on it now I think I can safely say a good time was had by all, and I was thanked repeatedly for hosting the party, which was really no big deal. We should make it an annual event, like we do at Christmas, and perhaps take turns hosting it between the four of us who live in the greater Columbus area. I will certainly bring that up for discussion later…

Saturday, August 15, 2015
Today was our seventeenth anniversary. No, I don’t know what one gets on the seventeenth, and we usually don’t exchange presents. I did, however, purchase (from the $50 my mom gave us) a cute little cartoon-like character that was created by a local artist in Springfield. I saw it for sale at Café Mundo when we went to lunch there. I decided to call him Felix and he currently sits on the shelf above our kitchen sink.

After spending most of the morning chatting in our kitchen, we decided to head out to Springfield to visit the infamous American folk art site, Hartman Rock-Garden. The garden was created in 1932 by Harry George “Ben” Hartman after he was laid off from his job during the Great Depression. I had first read about it in my Weird Ohio book and the August issue of Ohio magazine has an article highlighting it.

I figured since it was free and open dawn to dusk, and not too far away (perhaps an hour’s drive), it would be the perfect activity for the five of us (my parents, my uncle, my husband, and myself). Although it wasn’t as big as I thought, it was just the right size to spend an hour or so, and there’s certainly a lot of detail, so it’s easy to miss something if you don’t look closely. There were a few other people while we were there, so it’s definitely a popular tourist attraction. I’m not sure what was my favorite part, but the concrete pond (which he built first) was quite lovely.
Since it was already midday we decided to head downtown for some lunch at Café Mundo, which Andrew and I had previously visited after a recommendation from my artist friend, Amy. Although my dad isn’t much of a sandwich person, he, and everyone else seemed to enjoy their selections, and some of us shared a strawberry smoothie which was less creamy and more fruity than some I’ve had.

Andrew and I had glimpsed an interesting looking mural on the side of the YMCA building, so we decided to go over and check it out. It’s called “Upward Through the Storm” and was sponsored by Project Jericho. Here’s a link to an article about it:
Our next stop of the day was Frank Lloyd Wright’s Westcott House, which everyone but my uncle had already been to, but we all decided to go again. Unfortunately there was a large tour group (that had been bussed in) ahead of us, so we either had an hour wait or an option to skip it, so we skipped it. There was a lady in the gift shop who was a member of the FLW Foundation and kept trying to convince us to tour it. We told her we had already been through it and weren’t that impressed having been to Taliesan West, the Roby House, Falling Water, etc.

A gift shop employee mentioned the Solar House, which is owned by the foundation, was open for free tours and was only just a little ways down the road, so we all headed over there. It turned out to be way more impressive than Frank’s house!

The solar house is 1000 square feet and was transported to the site in two halves. It has an open floor plan with a single bedroom and bathroom. We were quite intrigued by the rubber-matte like solar tiles since we were expecting them to be heavy like glass, which is what you usually see. These are apparently lighter weight and easier to install [there’s a photo illustrating the point that even a female student can lift them]. The glass is triple paned, which is a bit of overkill for Ohio, but perfect for Alaska the docent told us. Also, there’s underfloor heating, which I think is geothermal, but not absolutely sure. Here’s a link to info. about the house:
My uncle said he could definitely see himself living quite happily in something like that, and being that he lives in California, where solar houses are probably more of a reality than here in Ohio, I could totally see that too. I like the idea, but I don’t think there’s any way my husband and I could peacefully coexist in only 1000 square feet (unless there’s loads of outdoor space to get away from each other).

I really enjoyed getting to see the Solar House. I love unplanned activities as they sometimes make for the best memories. Also, it felt a bit like being part of “House Hunters.” It made me dream of what life would be like if I was more of a minimalist (one can dream….).

Sunday, August 16, 2015
Today on the agenda was a visit to President Harding’s house in Marion (which is about an hour due north of Columbus). Russ wanted to be able to tick off another house on his list of Ohio Presidents’ Homes having already seen Garfield’s in Mentor, and McKinley’s in Canton. All that’s left is President Hayes’ house in Fremont and President Taft’s birthplace in Cincinnati.

It was an easy drive through a mostly rural area, which Ohio seems to largely be made up of with smatterings of little towns and villages here and there with the occasional big city.

Though we drove separately (since my parents and uncle were heading straight home up north afterwards), we were surprised that my parents managed to arrive only minutes after we did. Hence, we timed it right for getting on the next tour. Our small group (perhaps a dozen or so of us) met on the front porch where our guide gave us a quick rundown of the rules (no photography inside and of course no touching anything) and what our itinerary would include before giving us the history of President Harding. Though Harding was a Republican, our Democratic family did our best not to show our political leanings.

There were certainly a lot of interesting objects in the house and our guide said only about 3000 of the 5000 in their collection can only be out at one time. The rest are stored in the attic. I liked the lamps and the elephant collection, and the quilt on their son’s bed.

Some parts of the house are still undergoing restoration – like the kitchen and dining room where part of the wall has been torn away to reveal where a staircase once existed I think. Water damage is evident upstairs where the wallpaper has bubbled. Our guide said the leaky roof has been repaired, but other work needs to be done before the repair can be made. Most of the house is in pretty good shape for being over 100 years old, and it’s an enjoyable enough tour, and quite affordable (it was only $30 for the five of us).

Since the Harding monument was only a mile and a half away, we decided to visit before heading home. We noticed the monument is surrounded on all sides by cemeteries (but bisected by a couple roads), which I wish we had had time to look around inside, but maybe on another visit? The monument was pretty impressive with large marble stairs to the top (which of course we climbed). Also, there were lots of big puffy clouds, so it was a good day to take pictures.

That concludes our very busy weekend. Hoping for a quiet week and upcoming weekend. Have a good week everyone!