Sunday, March 26, 2017

A Warm (and somewhat profitable) Weekend

Friday March 24, 2017
Today I was happy because I got out of work an hour early (my boss had to take our server down, so they let everyone leave early), and it was absolutely gorgeous outside – around 70 degrees and sunny (though a bit breezy).

Karen picked me up a couple hours later so we could attend Foodie Friday at Giant Eagle. This was a belated Birthday present which I believe I had suggested to her after I attended a couple weeks ago. Not only did she pay for my admission to it, but also bought me a bottle of wine, so she was very generous.

Not sure what the theme was this week, but I think it was Italian judging from the pizza, pasta, and gelato we had at three of the six stations (the others were cheese/crackers, asparagus and something with chicken).

Like when Andrew and I attended, we too did our weekly shopping. I only had about three things on the list, but just winged it. I think I got enough supplies to feed us for at least the next week or so. We finished off the evening with a bowl of broccoli/potato soup.
Cheers darling!
All in all a fun evening, and there was music this time. I don’t seem to recall that from last time, but maybe there was. Hopefully Andrew will take me again some time after Easter.

Saturday March 25, 2017
This morning after I finished decorating for Laetare Sunday, and got my chores done at home, Andrew and I headed to Grandview for lunch and an errand.

I suggested we eat at Sweet Carrot (, a somewhat newish restaurant situated in what used to be Riffe’s Market on the corner of 5th & Grandview Avenues. They specialize in barbecue and other American comfort foods. Andrew ordered his sandwich (pulled pork?) which was served on a slab of cornbread, whereas mine (chicken meatballs) was on some sort of a roll topped with a non-traditional slaw. Next time I hope to try the Carrot Tomato soup (but it really wasn’t soup weather today). Since it was so warm we ate at a table outside, and it wasn’t too breezy, so that was nice.
The one on the right is Andrew's meal.

After leaving there we drove over to World of Used Photography so I could sell three boxes of cameras and camera paraphernalia I had after thinning out my collection a little bit. The proprietor was really pleased with the selection I brought in, even noting there was one camera he had never even seen before (probably the 3-D one I used on our honeymoon).

Shortly after he had looked through the boxes he asked me to name a figure I had in mind. I wasn’t prepared for this since usually stores where you bring in items to sell they dictate a figure to you – take it or leave it. Also, I am used to be low-balled (Half Price Books I’m talking to you!), so I really didn’t know what to say. I conferred with Andrew who did a little research by seeing what prices they were asking on similar cameras to get some idea. We still had no idea what to say, so we asked the proprietor, who seemed quite eager to have my collection, just to tell us what his figure was. When he said $140 for the three boxes I was absolutely gobsmacked because my figure was only a tiny fraction of that (but I don’t think the proprietor would have only given me that and let me walk out a sucker). I happily accepted figuring it would just be greedy to bargain any further. I really wanted rid of the cameras and would have given him whatever he didn’t want to pay for just to save me taking them to Goodwill.

Andrew and I wandered around and checked out the stock, but nothing really grabbed me as a must-have, though there were some cameras I was 50/50 on. Andrew lucked out and found a fisheye lens he can mount on his Lumix, so we purchased that, and then pocketed the $30 difference. Even though I didn’t buy anything, I was glad Andrew found something useful. I told the proprietor I would be back with more stuff next time (like that huge unwieldy screen we bought off of Craig’s List that’s just too big for us to want to bother with). I would prefer to have something a lot smaller and lighter.
a photo of Andrew's bookshelf taken with the fisheye lens
Shortly after I got home I grabbed a couple boxes of miscellaneous items, a bag of pillows and a rolling laptop case and went to New Uses to see if I could sell them. After I had set the last item on the counter one of the assistants immediately started removing things from my boxes putting them in one of their black plastic bins. There were only 4 items they said no to right off the bat (2 candlesticks and 2 small globes from World Market). They said they would text me when they were done, so I took the empty boxes and refused items back to the car and then did a bit of shopping while I waited, and waited, and waited, and waited. At one point I decided to just purchase the items I wanted so I didn’t have to keep track of them any longer. They still weren’t done at this point, but I kept getting periodic updates from one of the assistants. Finally around 5:15 pm (about 90 min after I arrived) they were all done. At this point I was definitely hoping for a good offer and would definitely have been angry if I had been given a pittance, but I was offered $40, so I was quite happy with that, and just barely made it to church on time afterwards.

Sunday March 26, 2017
Friday night Karen invited us over for Sunday brunch so she could make me a stack of Nutella pancakes. We never refuse an offer of a free meal, so syrup in hand we set off for Karen’s. I felt honored that Karen brought out the bottle of Champagne she was saving for Wed Mimosas, so we had that with our pancakes. Karen also fried some potatoes and bacon and served some yogurt and granola along with crackers (purchased from Giant Eagle on Fri) and cheese. All told I think I ate 8 medium sized pancakes, along with several of her side dishes (minus the bacon and potatoes) and still feel stuffed to the gills. I’m definitely good to go until dinner now! Thanks for your hospitality Karen!

I then spent the rest of the afternoon sorting my stuff in the basement which had since gotten a bit disorganized as I kept dumping things there while going through items in my spare bedroom. After putting things in separate piles throughout the basement I ended up taking three boxes of stuff to Goodwill and returned some empty storage bins to Target. I also moved empty boxes (some of which will get used for my bread run next Sat) up to our den. All total I probably spent about four hours down in the basement. By the time I emerged the sun had come out (and then gone again while we ate dinner). I still have plenty of items to sell (and a few to give away), but at least I can see the floor again,

Well, that’s all my news from the weekend. I hope you all have a great week!

Monday, March 20, 2017

My Birthday Weekend

Saturday March 18, 2017
Tonight when I went to mass I noticed Fr. Bob (our pastor) had temporarily taken over the role of Welcome Greeter (which is what I usually do at the 5:30pm Sat mass). I went over and apologized for not signing up this evening because of having to get over to my sister’s for dinner straight after mass. He said, “It’s okay Cindy; you do it plenty of weekends.” (or something to that effect). I was absolutely over the moon that he actually knows me by name, and I texted my husband Andrew to tell him so. Andrew said he wasn’t surprised. I guess I shouldn’t have been either, but it’s still the first time he’s ever addressed me by name.

After mass Andrew and I drove over to my sister’s where my brother, his girlfriend, and my niece were staying for the weekend. Apparently earlier in the day they had had lunch at the Thurman Café in German Village. The Thurman Café is known for their really tall burgers – most made with ¾ lb of meat. Not only do you have to use two hands, a bib and a towel are also helpful between bites. I’ve never had the pleasure of eating there (though Andrew has), but am hoping to go there sometime in the future.

Because they were all still full from lunch, it was a slightly delayed dinner, but Andrew and I really chowed down once dinner was served (tacos), and a really good dinner it was. My sister is definitely a much better cook than me, as is Andrew too.

After dinner and dessert (I brought over leftover Zucchini pineapple cake, a cherry pie, and some chocolate cupcakes) we eventually retired to the living room where we watched several episodes of “Everybody Loves Raymond” before Karen decided it was finally time to play one of the games we brought. After a few half-hearted rounds of “Name Five,” we decided to call it a night and headed home around 11:30pm.

Sunday March 19, 2017
On Friday when I was looking up places to visit on my Birthday, I was a bit crestfallen to discover that many of my choices (restaurants & museums) were closed on Monday. I momentarily debated whether or not to still take the day off, but decided if nothing else, perhaps I could always work on some of the many art projects I keep putting off. I ended up compiling two lists – a Sunday list and a Monday list and consulted with Andrew over which he preferred. We ended up going with our Sunday list, which consisted of the following:

Brunch at either Super Chef or I-Hop
A movie at the Gateway Film Center
Afternoon tea at the Cambridge Tea House
Go book shopping at Half Price Books (& bring in my box of books to sell back).
Go out to dinner

After comparing menus, we decided on I-Hop where I ordered the Red Velvet French Toast (no syrup necessary). It consisted of two slabs of cake fried and served with cream cheese frosting drizzled over them. Definitely the best French Toast I’ve ever had! I decided to just have one piece and save the other so I’d still have room for tea and scones later.

The movie we selected was called “Kedi,” which is the Turkish word for cat. The film was an hour and a half long documentary about the many street cats that reside in and around Istanbul, and the kind souls that care for them. Like dogs, cats too, have personalities, and this movie featured seven such cats including: Sari (the hustler), Bengu (the lover), Psikopat (the psycho), Deniz (the social butterfly), Aslan Parcasi (the hunter), Duman (the gentleman), and Gamsiz (the player). I think Deniz was my favorite because he was such a lover boy. I was absolutely amazed by their caretakers’ generosity. These people spend their hard earned money on food for dozens of cats. One of the men said he had had a nervous breakdown several years earlier, and feeding the cats was the best medicine for him. All in all a pretty poignant and fascinating film that I would definitely recommend and watch again.

After the movie when we pulled up to the tea house (whose parking lot was absolutely overflowing), Andrew noticed that pretty much everyone was dressed up (and we were both in jeans and sweatshirts), so we decided to go the nearby Chocolate Café instead where we both selected a different dessert and beverage and sat amongst our scruffy breathren (incl. a table of ladies who looked like they were having a great time).

I chose a Black Cherry cheesecake while Andrew had a slab of a multi-layered chocolate cheesecake that was probably three or four times the size of my more petite delicacy. Andrew had a chocolate coffee drink while I tried the Chocolate Chai Tea, which they told me was Chai Tea flavored with milk and some chocolate from their processing vat. It was more chocolately than tea flavored, which was perfect for me. I might try making that at home some time.

After loosening a button or two on our trousers, we made our way over to Half Price Books where we split up for about an hour to have a look around, elbowing our way through the masses. Once a quarter on a Sunday they send out 50% off coupons which always brings the public in in droves. It’s good that people still like to read (though they also sell lots of other kinds of items incl. games & art materials). Between the two of us we probably spent about $40 (and got $10 for my box of books & dvds), but got an armful of stuff, so we left satisfied.

We decided to go to Café DaVinci in Upper Arlington for dinner. The last (and only) time we were there was for lunch on Andrew’s 40th B-day. I’m not sure what I had then, but this time I opted for the Ravioli Grandioso, and they certainly were rather large Raviolis. Café DaVinci is unusual in that you order at the counter and they bring it out to you, but the rest of the restaurant is a little fancier than your usual fast food joint. We sat in the corner and enjoyed a peaceful dinner (Sundays aren’t too busy). I was grateful I had had time to take a nap beforehand since the Chianti definitely made me feel a little sleepy.

After we got home I was scrolling through Netflix and came across a program called “Escape to the Country.” It’s like the British Countryside version of House Hunters. The episode I selected was Herefordshire, though one of the properties was actually in Gloucestershire (though the couple didn’t select that one). Unlike when Americans parade through homes (and make comments both good & bad), this couple seemed wowed by every single thing, and with typical English reserve, kept quiet about that which didn’t please them (except for a set of steep stairs they spoke out about). I had Andrew add the series to our queue, so I look forward to watching future episodes.

Monday March 20, 2017
Third cloudy, dreary, day in a row (saw some sun briefly Sat a.m. though). I groaned when I looked at the clock and saw that it was 8am and still pretty overcast. I know you shouldn’t let the weather get you down, but when it’s three days in a row, it’s difficult not to let it get to you.

I spent the morning sorting my art supplies and then putting the boxes on a wooden shelf I had brought up from the basement. On Saturday I had mostly emptied out my closet in an effort to finally get organized. Though I didn’t get all the way finished, I did make fairly good progress and was pleased with myself.

After lunch (Andrew fetched me a wrap from Jersey Mike’s) we drove to the Gateway Film Center to see “My Life as a Courgette.” (or Zucchini as it was listed on all the American posters). We’re still not sure why they insisted on the translation, but God forbid someone be confused by their vegetables. Anyway, the film was in the tiniest theatre which had since gotten new super comfy recliners. Hence, having just eaten lunch and sitting in a darkened theatre, it didn’t take me too long to nod off. I missed a few subtitles here and there, but got the basic gist of the film. It was a stop action animation film about a group of children (in France) living in a foster home where, at the end, two get adopted out by a kindly cop who brought one of the children to live there in the first place after his alcoholic mother dies. It’s a really good movie and I should probably watch it again to see what I missed. Hopefully it will be available for streaming at some point.

After the movie was over we popped in to Barnes and Noble, and then walked down High Street to Buckeye Donuts, which is open 24 hours and is famous for Prince having once stopped in there. They definitely have a fairly good selection, though nothing really out of the ordinary. Had Andrew not been there I might have selected a fair few to bring home, but donuts really are better fresh (not frozen). After doing eeny, meeny, miney, moe, I selected a red velvet donut with cream cheese frosting, and sat down to eat it while watching students stroll past the Wexner Center across the street. It was definitely worth the walk, and even though the donut had probably been there several hours, it was still really tasty. I hope I burned some off some calories on our long walk back to the Gateway Film Center.

When we got home I made a mug of hot apple cider before going into our library to open my presents from mom & dad. I figured I would save them til last so I had something to look forward to later in the day. It was definitely worth the wait. Mom and I were on the same page with it being a Cat-themed wknd (though we skipped the Cat Café having already visited there, and it was closed on Monday). Besides the little Herb garden mom bought me, I received two other Laurel Burch gifts – a trio of purses and a lightweight t-shirt (which I can’t wait to wear once the weather finally warms up a bit!). The smallest of the purses will be perfect for my new phone while I wait for the case (for the phone) to arrive.

Russ bought me a book from my Amazon Wish List. I tried one of the projects from the book (about Image Transfers), which was fairly easy, but ended up being kind of lame. Still, I think the rest of the suggestions are much better, so I think I will probably consult with the book from time to time.

All in all, not a bad Birthday. I only wish the weather had been better (and more things open today, though I wouldn’t have wanted to spend all day out in torrential rain).

Thanks to everyone who texted or sent me a card. Every kind thought is much appreciated. I am lucky to have so many wonderful friends and family. Take care all and have a great week!


Sunday, March 12, 2017

Foodie Friday & "Hairspray"

Friday March 10, 2017

Tonight we decided to pop in to Giant Eagle to pick up some sushi for dinner and perhaps just do the rest of our weekly shopping since we didn’t have too long a list. Upon entering we saw lots of people with partially full wine glasses milling around – some with food, some with carts, some with both. I happened to see someone holding a card that said, “Foodie Friday.” Everyone looked like they were having so much fun and I wanted in on the action. Though Andrew seemed reluctant, he agreed, so we paid our $6@, got our punch cards, and wheeled over to Station #6 since it was the closest. The theme for this Friday was “Indian Food.”

Station #6 had a nice smooth red with rice pudding for dessert, which was okay, but a bit dry (which is what the lady told us who was serving it). Seemed an odd pairing since I always thought you paired white food with white wine, or at least a sweet dessert wine with dessert, but at least the red was quite nice.

Not sure about the rest of these, but I can tell you we probably had 3 glasses each of red/white.

Station #5 also had a red I think, and this station had a flavored Naan bread that was quite flavorful. I agreed with the girl serving it that a cheesy Naan is really the best. I also told her about the sweet Naan bread I once had at Aab India that was really good.

Station #4 had a red I think, not sure if this was the station where we tried some hummus, which I liked, but not enough to buy it and eat it with crackers or whatever all the time (I suppose it’s the healthy alternative to dip).

Station #3 had a white wine – probably Pinot Grigio, and little cups of seasoned vegetables. Since I couldn’t sample the meat dishes at the next two stations, Andrew let me have his veggies too. I liked the flavors. When we make curry at home we don’t tend to do side dishes, so this is something I only ever have when eating out.

Station #2 had a white wine – probably Pinot Grigio and some sort of a meat course.

Station #1 had a white wine – probably Pinot Grigio and some sort of a meat course.

I don’t know how many ounces each sample was, but probably somewhat close to ½ (measuring) cup at each station, so I’m sure I quite easily drank the equivalent of at least a half a bottle of wine. Yes, I was definitely in a pretty good mood by the time we were done. Andrew was amused by how chatty I was with each of the servers. I’m sure that was partially the wine talking, but I do also enjoy chatting with others, which was part of the reason for participating in this activity. Would I ever want to do this again? Yes, definitely, but perhaps not every weekend, and only with a designated driver and/or a bottle of water to sip from after each sampling.

Saturday March 11, 2017
This afternoon I slipped out and drove over to Acorn Books in Grandview. I would be lying if I said it was my favorite used bookstore, because, quite honestly, I visit Half Price Books more often than Acorn, though is still my number #1 source for used books (alongside the library).

I wanted to visit Acorn Books because I hadn’t had time on my most recent visit to properly browse the section all about Books & Bookselling, which included a book about collecting Bookends; another with a compilation of Bookplates. There was also a book on ‘How to Discuss Books You’ve Never Read.’ That would probably be useful if you were only in a book club for the free snacks and social hour. I also spied some of my favorites – 84 Charing Cross Road and The Bookman’s Tale, both of which I’ve read; only one of which I own.
books I passed on (for now)

After removing several volumes from each row and examining them one by one (and making various piles on the floor), I made my decision which books would come home with me and hopefully get read, instead of just getting dusty on another shelf. Either way, it’s a change of scenery for the books, and helps support an independent business, so it’s all good.
My Life Story!
In the evening I joined my sister and her family at the new Hilliard Arts Complex to see “Hairspray.” With community productions, one doesn’t always go in with high expectations. Well, whatever expectations I had, they were completely blown away by the caliber of the cast. There were some truly gifted actors in this cast that I hope to see again in future productions. Of particular note: Tracy, played by Amy Lang (perfect casting!), Edna played by Chris Johnson (I wonder what he looks like when he’s not in drag?), Link played by Jay Reid (what a cutie!), Little Inez played by Natalie Beasley (very deserving of an Outstanding Ingenue award), and Motormouth Maybelle played by Ellisa Coston (she was FAB FAB FABULOUS!!! How has Hollywood not discovered her yet?).

It’s my understanding that this production was an experiment and also the first play to be held in the new space. It’s only unfortunate that the risers didn’t arrive in time. Sitting in the back row it was difficult at times to see parts of scenes if anyone was on or near the stage floor. Also, a little more heat would have been nice (though sometimes auditoriums can be boiling either) due to the frigid temperature outside.

I think the new space will work fine for smaller productions, and perhaps some of the schools may want to utilize it as well. I think the important thing is the size of the production should fit the venue. We’ve seen many high school plays with probably the same amount of people in attendance, but 125 people in an auditorium that holds probably 500-600 people, looks practically empty. It’s also more cost efficient to hold smaller productions in a smaller facility.

Either way, I’m glad Hilliard has this facility and that there’s so much enthusiasm from the community to support it (incl. my niece, Ashley, who was a member of the stage crew). To Director and Board Member, Robin Brenneman, Keep up the Good Work!

Have a great week everyone!

Friday, March 3, 2017

The Early Days of Lent...

Happy Friday everyone!

I don't know about the weather where you are, but here in Ohio, March has certainly come in like a lion with frigid temperatures and even some snow, which is totally normal for this time of year. However, it's about an 180 degree turnaround from the spring-like temperatures we experienced last week. Hence, I am very much craving some comfort food at the moment, but can't reach for candy, cake, or ice cream (does a muffin count?). It's going to be a long 40 days...
In my effort to slowly declutter my house as an ongoing project,  I decided to go through my cookbooks last week. That turned out to be an epic fail as I only ended up getting rid of a couple - from my chocolate collection if you can believe it. There are a few that could go without me minding too much (since I've made copies of the recipes I want to keep), but as they're small/thin, I see no harm in keeping them for now. There's also one cookbook I would probably never consult, but am keeping for the nostalgia value, and that's Alice's Brady Bunch Cookbook. On at least every other page is an anecdote about the show, so it's a "Brady Bunch" trivia lover's dream. After having flipped through the probably 30 or so cookbooks that I own, it's prompted me to add to my New Year's resolutions, and that is: "to consult a cookbook for ideas rather than immediately pulling out one of my many binders of recipes." I'll let you know how well I follow-through on this.

Lent is Here...
Yes, I'm one of the many Catholics who give up the cliche candy (and cake & ice cream) for Lent, but only because it's a bad habit and crutch that I could do without (but honestly, have no plans to give up even after Lent). Hence, I bagged up all my candy bars and bag of Mocha Dove chocs and put it in the basement on the shelf where my junk food stash used to reside (I bagged that up and plan to donate to the Hilliard Food Pantry). Now it looks like Andrew is the junk food addict since most of what's on that shelf now is his stuff: a bag of Caramel Apple flavored popcorn, a package of Biscoff biscuits, a bag of Noblesse biscuits, and a bunch of items bought on his last visit to the UK.
I also went through my junk food stash in the freezer, that being the only other place where I keep goodies. I swear I don't also have candy bars stashed in my sock drawer or behind the books on my many bookshelves (though these would be good places to hide them if I was so inclined). Andrew suggested I start by culling the Goat Cheese Pumpkin pie I made last Thanksgiving since 'it doesn't look that good.' It didn't have the same smooth appearance of a typical pumpkin pie since the surface was dimpled with little bits of goat cheese that didn't quite dissolve in the pumpkin. It's probably a sin to waste food, but I think it's also a sin to over indulge in something, or maybe that's just my guilt for eating junk food. Either way, I tossed the pie and am not going to fret about it. I didn't get rid of anything else, but at least took stock of what's there, and later ate one of  the Japanese pastries I bought at Christmas.

How Real Couples Spend their Sundays...
Recently I was reading this article on Apartment ( and I have to say no one I know does any of those things (and yes, I'm more than a little jealous). I suppose this has as much to do with the geography of where you live and what kind of a dwelling you reside in as anything else. For those of us who live in the suburbs and own a house, we often spend Sundays (and Saturdays too) doing housework or DIY, because when you own a house, there's always something that needs doing. It's probably a universal that everyone does some grocery shopping, unless you order yours online (tempting, but only if you never order meat or produce because you'll get whatever they can grab, and it might not always be the nicest items). I also go to mass every weekend. Those are the constants. Otherwise, I occasionally pop into the library or some other store. Shopping will probably always be my favorite Saturday afternoon activity, a habit I don't know if I can ever break (something I should probably work on during Lent).

I think my ideal Sunday would be spent like someone in NYC might do - spend the morning at a coffee shop or cute little restaurant somewhere reading the NY Times, then in the afternoon peruse the shelves of a used bookstore (somewhere like The Strand) or go thrift shopping. These are things you can do here (even in Hilliard!), but the atmosphere isn't quite the same (though spending the morning in the Short North would be about as close as you can come). 
Actually, one of my favorite Sundays was spent downtown last May when Andrew and I went out for pancakes at Super Chef (they do a lot of fun themed hotcakes) and then strolled over to the nearby art museum, the library and Topiary Park, all free on Sundays!
Have a good weekend everyone!