Columbus Overview

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Last week when we went to Columbus the weather was absolutely horrible, so it was really convenient that my mother-in-law and I decided to go shopping at the gorgeous, indoor, Polaris mall. Our husbands on the other hand, we trapped at the Ohio State football game where the weather was so bad there was a game delay, leading them to eventually come back to the hotel and watch the game on TV.

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 The Columbus Zoo play area at Polaris Fashion Place is one of the many experience-shopping options available for families at the Columbus mall. Courtesy of Glimcher Realty Trust

While they still had a great time, I feel that my MIL and I got the better portion. The Polaris mall has an amazing variety of stores that we don’t get here on the East side of the Ohio Valley. Not to mention, they had a huge play area for the kids that Sophie totally loved. The most annoying part though, as is the pet peeve of every place place, is there there were bigger kids, totally disregarding the height limit for the play place, bullying the small kids. Like a good helicopter mom, I followed Sophie around and made sure no punks pushed her out of the way or yelled at her.

Later that evening , J and I were able to sneak in a spontaneous date night, as the rest of our crew wanted to dine in and order take out. We went to the Bonefish grille for the first time and it was delicious. We both got fish tacos, giving us a feel like  we were on vacation. It was a fun weekend, and I am glad we went even though it is always tough to travel with young kids.

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Day Trip to Columbus

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I am really excited for a little trip we are taking to Columbus tomorrow! A few months ago, our uncle got tickets to an Ohio State game for his birthday, and so it was decided that the men would go to the game, while the ladies [and babies] did some shopping. We have a hotel downtown and are planning on going out altogether, after the game, for a nice dinner.

It is so nice to get away, even if you’re only going a couple hours West. I love a change of scenery, plus my mother in law is good company. Hopefully the girls will behave, and we will all have a great time.

Be on the lookout for cute pictures next week! Until then, Have a great weekend!

GO BUCKEYES.

Fall Bucket List

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Now, before all you summer-lovers jump on my back like, “IT’S NOT FALL YET!” Trust me, I know. I am no lover of fall. Did you know…. after fall comes WINTER? Yeah, you don’t have to convince me that summer is the beast season, I know. So why create a fall bucket list? Simply for the reason that I have to psyche myself up for fall. Now That I have lived in Ohio for roughly 7 falls, I’ve come up with a few favorite things to do here that I can’t necessarily do in California.

Here is the list:

  1. Apple picking – it’s just not the same in the golden State!
  2. watching the leaves change color – palm trees have no changing color
  3. bonfire on a chilly night
  4. drink seasonal spirits (spiked cider, pumpkin ale, etc.)
  5. photoshoot at the pumpkin patch with the kids
  6. put up seasonal decor
  7. go to a fall festival
  8. toast pumpkin seeds
  9. go on a hayride! (so many more local farms here!)
  10. curl up under blankets and watch a movie with hot cocoa
  11. make pumpkin bread
  12. jump on crunchy leaves
  13. get a fall themed mani/pedi (I like dark red)
  14. get out your football fan gear! People are more serious about their football out here.
  15. EAT CANDY

Ok, so that last one every one can do regardless of state or season… but its so much more fun when they come in festive little fun-sized packages!

Hope this helps you look forward to fall, even if you’re a summer-lover like me

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House Updates

I can’t believe how far we’ve come with this house! Many updates are still underway, but I am in love with every thing we have done thus far, and I just had to give you guys an update on the progress.

Kitchen

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The kitchen is pretty much done, with the exception of adding some shelving above my coffee station. We painted the cabinets, removed wallpaper, and painted the walls. That is what I call an easy update! [Well, removing wallpaper isn’t easy, but I mean, we didn’t have to knock down any walls.] The previous owners really took care of what they had, plus they installed some top of the line appliances to begin with, so we had a lot to work with. The cabinets were beautiful, solid wood, but I just HAD to paint them white. They were too rustic for me in their raw form. Plus, the white paint really off-set the dark granite and opened up the space. We still have to paint the island, but it also needs new wheels, so we are trying to figure out the best way to go about replacing them.

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Living Room

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This is another room that is 90% finished. All that is left to be done is mount the TV over the fireplace [ don’t try to talk me out of it], and add a mantle. I wouldn’t mind a new coffee table, but let’s not get too greedy… We painted the space, had the carpets cleaned, and sort of sectioned off the room into 3 separate spaces: reading nook, entertainment area, and kids’ area. Last weekend I had a fun time whitewashing our fireplace, and while I wasn’t sure I liked it upon completion, it has since grown on me.

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Dining Room

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The first thing that had to go was that enormous chandelier. It is beautiful, probably antique, and expensive, which are 3 reasons for a mom of toddlers not to have it in her house. Also, it’s just not really my taste. The dining area is complete, all but the dining table. We are having a table custom built for us, but in the mean time we have this old set with some mismatched chairs. I absolutely love the decor in this room. The cross wall was inspired by my mother, who designed one for her house, and the photography is actually my father’s. When I was 10, he and I took a photography excursion to Northern California. We both fell in love with Yosemite, and took lots of snowy pictures of the scenic winter landscapes. The waterfall picture is from that trip, and I have another that he took on his own. I believe my mother had them custom framed at some point, so it was such a treasure to receive them for my new home.

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Powder Room

Keeping true to the “buckeye” theme, every house in the Ohio Valley has to have at least one room that is a deliberate nod to OSU. Many people pick the bathroom since scarlet and grey aren’t really the trending colors in interior design right now. Apparently they weren’t in 1954 when this house was built either, because no other room dons the iconic scarlet and grey except this bathroom. I actually like it, as its predominantly grey. I’m also a big fan of the sink mounted on a vintage sewing machine. Justin hates every thing about it s we’ll see what ends up happening, but for now it is in good shape and a fun conversation piece.

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That’s it for now, as far as updates go. I’m hoping to update the guest bathroom next, as well as paint the girls’ room. Of course, everything downstairs should be finished before I even touch anything upstairs. I’m committed to finishing the downstairs first because it is the part of the house people see first and where we spend the most amount of our time in.

So far, I love every thing and Sophie has been great about not touching any tools that were forgotten to be put away, or anything else that gets left out after a project. We are so blessed, and thankful to be in this new house every day, and I look forward to sharing more updates with you!

PS Sorry some of these pictures were so dark. Full disclosure: I took them at 5 am, when Cora was having a sleeping strike and the sun hadn’t come up yet.

 

 

 

An Outsider’s Guide to East Ohio

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I titled this blog “Buckeyes and Babies,” not only to document my adjustment to motherhood, but also my adjustment to living in Ohio. You see, we live in a very special niche of the Ohio Valley. Close enough to Pittsburgh (30 minutes) to make us honorary Pittsburghers, but loyal enough to the Buckeye state that we still bleed crimson and gray (OSU colors). There are a number of unspoken traditions here that I, as an outsider, have been able to take note of. They’ve helped me appreciate this area and its eccentricities.

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#1 We decorate all year – Every house I’ve been in (that belongs to a native Ohioan,) has a tiny “Christmas” tree that is left up all year, sporting different decorations for each holiday. If you’re a really dedicated Ohioan who takes pride in their home, then you don’t just decorate for the bigger holidays (ex. Easter) you decorate for Valentine’s and St. Patrick’s too. And not just a little tree, no– if you really take pride in your property, you also decorate your mantle and doorway with festive lights and adornments.

Speaking about pride of ownership…

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#2 We take our landscaping seriously – It can be hard to find beauty in the steel mill cities that line the Ohio River, so we create our own. Vegetable gardens, fountains, flower beds, and perennials… I’ve never experienced a community of people who put so much work into their yards before. Also, residents here don’t just have beautiful landscaping, they have a spotlight on every tree, walkway, and bush so that you know they have nice landscaping. Day or night, you will appreciate the man made beauty of East Ohio residents. Back in California, I never thought twice about landscaping.  Why put effort into a garden when you could be at the beach? (Not to mention there probably wasn’t enough water to maintain a garden with the seasonal droughts.) We’d just throw a few palm trees in the yard and call it a day. I mean, our state flower is a weed for goodness’ sake. That should highlight to you what Californians think about landscaping.

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#3 Our seasons rock – Yes, some times we have to create beauty, but there are a few moments when we don’t. Winter sucks, I won’t lie to you… and I’ve heard we get about as much sunshine here as they do in Seattle, but when the seasons change it is absolutely stunning. Rolling hills covered in fall colors, or in the spring, daintily adorned with small buds and wild flowers are not moments to be missed.

#4 Buckeyes are the best – And the term “buckeye” can refer  to a multitude of things: the OSU mascot, our state tree, the actual buckeye nut (left), the cookie (right), etc. Personally, I think the cookies are what’s “best.” Even though every one calls it a cookie, it’s really just a peanut butter ball dipped in chocolate. While we’re talking about cookies…

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#5 Cookie tables – I’ve been told that this tradition actually started in the city of Pittsburgh and just spread within a 50 mile radius. Either way, its a tradition here! During the great depression, people couldn’t afford wedding cakes, so family and close friends to the bride and groom would bring various cookies for people to eat for dessert at the wedding reception. Now, friends and family make cookies for the bride and groom as a show of love and support. To not have a cookie table is to insult the generosity of your kinsmen (no body will explicitly admit it, but trust me — it’s true.)

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#6 Cold Cheese Pizza – This is more of a pet peeve for me, but it is some thing that is also unique to our area. Cooked pizza dough, cooked pizza sauce… with the cheese and pepperoni sprinkled on AFTER. That’s right, cold raw cheese and meats on your warm bread and sauce. Don’t ask me why, I just chalk it up to a valley quirk, but some people actually crave this square pizza.

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#7 “Yinz” – Another Pittsburgh tradition sneaking its way into the valley, “yinz” simply refers to a group of people.

Those are the most common Ohio Valley quirks I could think up. Are you surprised by what made the list?

 

Buckeye Pie

*Check out this pie recipe I created in honor of OSU winning the Championship!*

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Why is this called “Buckeye Pie”? Aren’t Buckeye nuts poisonous? It doesn’t look like a buckeye…. YES I know. I’ve deemed this “Buckeye Pie” because of the big championship game that took place Monday, involving the Buckeyes… and the traditional “Buckeye cookie” is chocolate + peanut butter… like this pie.

If you reside in Ohio, this was a huge cause for celebration. They took victory at the Sugar Bowl, and then went on to the national championship. Since I’m not actually FROM Ohio, the extent of my fanfare was in the kitchen, making Ohio themed treats.

What you need:
-1/4 c. chocolate chips
-8 oz. cream cheese [feel free to use low-fat]
-8 oz. cool whip [or truwhip, to be healthy]
-1 c. peanut butter
-1 and 1/4 c. powdered sugar
-1 chocolate, gluten free pie crust [or make your own using 25 K-Toos and 4 Tbs of melted butter… or if you really don’t care you can just use oreos.]

1. In a mixer, beat softened cream cheese and peanut butter together. Slowly add the cool whip, and then 1/2 cup at a time, add your powdered sugar. Mix until smooth [no lumps]. Pour into your prepared pie crust, and smooth around with a rubber spatula. Allow to set in the fridge for at least an hour. Melt 1/4 c. of chocolate chips in the microwave, 30 seconds at a time. Drizzle over pie.

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Healthy Buckeyes

The dessert of my blog’s namesake! Only, this version is PALEO friendly!

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If you’re not from Ohio, you may be wondering, why is this significant? Buckeye is the state tree, the Ohio state mascot, the Ohio state candy… and if you’re a college football fan you know that today is the national championship. Now, for any big game involving The Buckeyes, buckeye candies are made in celebration. Well, they normally involve peanut butter balls that contain a lot of butter and powdered sugar. So, I went on the hunt and found a healthier, Paleo version here. I made a few adjustments according to the ingredients I had at home.

Its a good way to stick to whatever healthy resolution you made while also being able to partake in the fanfare! Also, its been freezing cold outside lately and I needed a project to keep me busy and distract me from the imminent cabin fever that should be setting in soon.

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What you’ll need:

  • 5 tablespoons sunflower seed butter (a.k.a. sunbutter)
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil (melted)
  • 1 tablespoon raw honey
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup almond flour
  • 1 tablespoon flaxseed meal
  • pinch of salt
  • ¼ cup chocolate chips (I use the ‘enjoy life’ brand, its vegan, and hardens when cool)

Instructions

  1. add sunflower seed butter, coconut oil, honey, vanilla, almond flour, flaxseed meal and salt to a large bowl.
  2. using a mixer with paddle attachment, mix until all ingredients are incorporated, then put mixing bowl in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, so the mixture hardens like a dough.
  3. roll the dough into 1-inch balls and place them on a sheet of parchment paper or use a silicone mate (this recipe makes about 12 buckeyes)
  4. melt the chocolate chips in the microwave 30 seconds at a time.
  5. dip the sunflower balls into the chocolate, using a toothpick, but leave a circle of the ball visible, as to achieve the “buckeye” look.
  6. Refrigerate again, until the chocolate hardens.
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