Local Love


do what you can. with what you have. where you are.
theodore roosevelt

Local Travel

Young at Heart in Columbus, OH: Day 1


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Sometimes the best way to experience a city, no matter how familiar you are with the area, is to be lead by the hand of a child. Specifically your doesn’t-slow-down-for-anything nephew. I spent 4 years exploring Columbus while attending The Ohio State University (ahem……go bucks.), attending concerts, trying new restaurants and touring the city with my roommates. Since graduation, I’ve tried to visit as often as I can and rarely do I turn down the opportunity to spend time in my favorite city. So when Em had this grand plan to pack up her two year old son and head up to Columbus for a weekend full of toddler inspired fun, my bags were practically already packed.

Both family and budget friendly Columbus OH is a great place for a little getaway, no matter your age. We had such a great time as guests of the Columbus Zoo and Jurassic Quest, we thought we’d share our faves from our little weekend trip with all of you.

Where we started: 

The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

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First on our list was the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. Okay okay …. first on our list was actually coffee and donuts. Anyway, moving on …  We are frequent visitors (and members) of the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens. It is one of our favorite attractions in the Cincinnati area and has such a wonderful reputation … so why visit the Columbus Zoo? Because, not all zoo’s are alike, especially the Columbus Zoo! New animals, exhibits, rides and attractions make every zoo a completely different experience. The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is the home of Jack Hannah, and the new NatGeo show, Secrets of the Zoo and is known for its manatee rehabilitation and gorilla surrogacy programs.

What we loved most:

  • Stroller/wheelchair accessibility – The Zoo is nearly completely flat (a welcome difference if you’re used to schlepping a wagon or stroller through the hills at the Cincinnati Zoo) Automatic doors were also everywhere. Being 8.5 months pregnant, Em decided to rent a motorized scooter so she would be able to keep up with us and found all the automatic doors to be incredibly convenient.
  • Dinosaur Island – If there’s one thing my nephew loves more than a trip to the Zoo, it’s dinosaurs. He’s obsessed. So naturally we couldn’t pass up Dinosaur Island exhibit and boat ride
  • Heart of Africa – Seeing zebra, giraffe, antelope and other African animals all playing and grazing together was unlike any other Africa exhibit we’d ever seen. A definite must see! Also, I highly suggest embracing your inner child and jump in line to ride a camel – because I sure did.

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Upcoming Events at The Columbus Zoo: 

  • Classic car show (October 7th)
  • Boo at the Zoo (Last 2 weekends in October) – pumpkin-palooza carved pumpkin display, pumpkin smashes for animals and treat stations for the little ones!
  • Wild Lights (November 15 – January 6) The Columbus Zoo is lit up with more than 3 million lights and several animated light shows.

Suggestions and Tips: 

  • After purchasing tickets for a few of the rides, we came to the realization it would have been more cost effective to purchase a wristband than to buy individual tickets for the attractions.
  • For our next visit we will likely bring some healthy snacks along. (Check the cooler/bag policy before packing!) We had a hard time finding healthy options for lunch, but on a 90 degree day we opted for a double scoop ice cream cone from the little ice cream shop just inside the gates.

Where we Stayed: 
Homewood Suites Columbus/OSU

This was the perfect place for us to stay after a long day at the zoo. Huge rooms and a full kitchen were perfect for a take out dinner from Hudson 29 next door (because an un-napped two year old in a restaurant may as well be a time bomb.)

A clean, well kept pool provided a relaxing after dinner activity and I took advantage of the spacious fitness center … while pregnant Emily took advantage of having a whole bed to herself and total control of the thermostat.

 

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Local Guide: Fresh Picked Apples


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This time of year my mind seems to wander in two different directions. Half of me is soaking in the last of the summer sun while the other half longs for cooler weather, scarves and changing leaves. When it comes to fall comfort food, apple recipes are some of my favorites. I know, I know, it’s only August, but I just can’t help but let my mind creep forward a little while I relish these last few weeks of summer.

We’ll have an autumn apple recipe lineup for you in a about a month, but in the meantime we thought we’d give you a little guide to where to snag the best fresh picked apples (and where to pick your own, too!)

  • McGlasson Farms – Fresh and locally grown produce including apples!
  • Brumbaugh Fruit Farm – This place has everything! Loaded with activities for kids of all ages and a market and bakery make this the perfect family friendly fall destination.
  • Iron’s Fruit Farm – Not only can you get your fresh picked apples in their produce market, but they even provide wonderful recipes for your fresh produce on their website.
  • Tuken’s Farm Market – Apple picking days are coming up soon! Click the link for more info!
  • Lebanon Country Applefest – Not only can you buy fresh apples in bulk at the Country Applefest, you can also get just about every kind of baked, fried or cider apple treat you can think of.
  • Shaw Farms –  Shaw Farms gets the Fall Festival party started early! Visit between mid september – end of October for fresh apples, pumpkins and fun for the whole family.
Local Travel

“Bloom Where You Are Planted.”


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“Bloom in the garden where He has planted you

…radiate the beauty and fragrance of His providence” 

Saint Francis de Sales

There’s something about going back to your hometown. Ease, simplicity, comfort. Something about knowing the back roads, shortcuts and local favorites that makes you immediately feel welcome and at rest. Both of us have had the “move away” itch from time to time. For me, it was Nashville, Tennessee – for Jess, it was New York City. Yet, something kept us right here in Ohio. Even when Music City and The Big Apple tug at us from time to time, we’ve never been able to pull up our roots, pack our bags and go.

Scrolling through Instagram, it’s easy to feel the need to compete. Fashion, travel, parenting, home renovations, fitness … no matter the topic, we’ve all felt the pressure to do more, be more, go more, spend more. Social media can make you feel like you couldn’t possibly be happy, truly happy, right where you are, with what you have, with who you have. I’ll be the first to admit I’ve found myself playing the “I wish ….” game from time to time … perfection, wealth, beauty, “success.” Jess and I have talked about this plenty of times, but we’ve always come to the conclusion that we are happiest with simplicity and familiarity. For us that means living “in the garden where He planted us.”

We’re hometown girls and that’s okay. 

    While we’ve toyed with other plans since college graduation, we’ve learned to accept that God’s plan for us didn’t involve a busy bustling city or the country music capital. No no, we were meant to stay right here and create a blooming, beautiful, “fragrant” life without leaving the state where we were born.

We were meant to let our lives blossom right where our roots began and that simplicity is what brings us true happiness. Our family is here, our traditions are here, and our hearts are here. And here we’ll stay. 

Be happy with your little corner of His garden, wherever that may be. For some of us it’s where we grew up, others have been transplanted and have nurtured a new garden. Wherever God has led you, create a beautiful life right where you are with the people who love you.

You’re comfortable. You’re happy. You’re home. Let that be enough.

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Secrets to Assembling the Perfect Flower Arrangement


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Last Saturday we visited Morning Sun Flower Farm , located in quaint and quiet Morning Sun Ohio, to attend Two Little Buds’ farm to vase workshop. When we met with owner Mindy and her mother back in February, we fell in love with their dream, and their flowers (flash back –> here). Since then, we’ve been counting down the days until their Farm to Vase Workshop.

Walking up to the farm, the first thing that caught our eye was the stable of horses; quickly followed by the hill absolutely covered in wild flowers ( I’m sorry but are we 30 minutes outside of Hamilton or are we in Heaven?).

It was the perfect setting. A small bar under the shade of an old tree, a large white tent umbrellaed tables covered with vintage table cloths, and live acoustic music; all overlooking what Two Little Buds is all about, the fields of flowers.

Mindy started the night by telling her story of how Morning Sun Flower Farm came to be. It truly was a dream turned in to reality by a lot of love and elbow grease that has cultivated a sense of belonging within her own family and all those who visit her farm and shop.

All  guests receive dinner, drinks, a vase for your arrangement, clippers and an apron. After a lesson from the pro herself, you are free to fly with the butterflies. Free to harvest whatever flowers you choose ( about 10-15 flowers in total). We strolled throughout the fields watching a dahlia clipped here, cone flowers there.

Mindy and her team not only do bouquets and arrangements for weddings, you are also able to visit Morning Sun Flower Farm to pick your wedding arrangements. How’d ya like to actually watch your future hubby pick your flowers himself! Cue: “he loves me, he loves me not, he loves me!”  Farm to Wedding Experience

We’re convinced that no bad looking bouquet could come from the Morning Sun Flower Farm. So, even if you’re an amateur gardener or a notorious plant killer, the secret to assembling a gorgeous flower arrangement is to attend a Farm to Vase Work Shop —Click Here. for all the lovely details!

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Weekend Plans: Summer Farm to Vase Workshop


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We are sooo excited to be invited to Morning Sun Flower Garden tomorrow evening for their Summer Farm to Vase Workshop ! We had such a great time interviewing Mindy and her staff at their shop, Two Little Buds,  in Hamilton, we were thrilled to be able to have the opportunity to check out where all these beautiful blooms begin and where all the hard work happens.

 

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We’ll post plenty of photos here next week (and we can’t wait to share them with you!), but in the meantime we thought we’d repost our interview with the gals over at Two Little Buds in case you missed it a few months ago.

Check out our little visit with them here!