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Monday, September 30, 2013

Restaurant Review: Bill's Donuts - Centerville, OH

We hired a new girl at work and she's from near Dayton. I knew I liked her - but now I think I love her. Why? 

Bill's Donut Shop is a 24 hour donut place in Centerville and Anne brought the amazingness to work. Let me just say - the fact that it's open 24 hours just might come in handy - so I can go whenever I want!

I'm a longtime devout fan of Silverton Donut Shop - but I think this is better!!!

They have Red Velvet - and the one in the bottom left is the kind with the frosting inside! Everybody was raving over these - and with good reason. They were awesome. Surprisingly my favorite was...

...this glazed pretzel twist!

I'm not usually a fan of glazed donuts - I mean - they're fine but nothing to write home about. But this!?! This was amazing! It was sweet and tender and fell apart with barely a tug. It was just plain damned glazed amazement.

Why Should You Go? Well I hired Anne - so I don't have to. But you - you should go. And doesn't matter when you're reading this - you can go! So go!! Bill's was also named one of the 50 Finest Donut Shops in America - so seriously - don't argue with that!

Bill's Donut Shop on Urbanspoon




Friday, September 27, 2013

Product Review: CasePics.com Custom Photo Phone Covers


I have the HARDEST time picking out a phone cover. It's just such a major decision - I mean - I have to carry this and look at it every day for YEARS! I realized that I think I just need to customize one...and as kismit would have it - I got an offer to customize one! 

CasePics.com has customizable covers for iPhone 4/4s/5, Galaxy S3 as well as iPad 2/3. They cost $19.99 for phones and $24.99 for the iPads.

The process to customize is very simple - you just upload a picture - or you can link to your Facebook or Instagram and get one from there. Once uploaded you zoom in/out and rotate to fit the photo onto your mocked up phone cover. You can also upload a few different pictures so you can choose your favorite.

Once the photo is all positioned the way you want it - you can put a film over it for greyscale, sepia or vintage. I decided to stick with the original. I was happy to finally have a phone cover I knew I would like to see every day! Who wouldn't love that face?!
My cover came really quickly and looked great. The picture isn't quite as crisp as the original but it looks good. It popped on my iPhone really easily and definitely fits in my pocket more easily than the OtterBox type covers.



The price is great for a custom cover - but there's one thing I didn't love. The edges of the case on the top & bottom are pretty sharp. I always kind of wonder if I'm going to snag it on something.

Also - the style of case they give you is really for looks - it doesn't do much of anything to protect the phone. I tend to drop my phone and have already with this case - it hasn't broken - but I feel a little better with the thicker rubberized cases.

If you're in the same boat as me and can never find a case you like - you can order your own case from CasePics.com and get a 20% discount now through November 15!

Discount code
FH20

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.









Thursday, September 26, 2013

Product Review: Newman's Own Organics Pet Food & Treats

So as many of you know - I have a veritable zoo at my house - 2 dogs, 5 cats, 2 fish and 1 Larry. All of them are hungry beasts at one time or another during the day. I was recently introduced to Newman's Own Organics line of pet foods and treats - and I'm always happy to feed my "kids" things that are organic and better for them. 

First up: DOG! This is pretty much what I see every day - morning, noon, night. Mysty is a bottomless pit - only once has she been "full". And that was only because she knocked over her food container and ate all she could until she made herself sick. She's so happy though - how can you not love that face?!

She's not picky at all - but my other dog Wiener (yes - his name and breed are one and the same) - is pickier about food. Both of them really enjoyed the wet and dry food that Newman's Own Organics sent. I don't usually do wet food for my dogs - but it was a nice treat for them.

If you're wondering what does "USDA Certified Organic" mean in re: to pet food - it means that it's gone through a 3rd party verification process that validates that at least 95% of the ingredients are organic. The manufacturing facilities and procedures are also inspected.

And now for the good part - according to Mysty & Wiener - the treats! The dogs got to try the Snack Sticks - they have no wheat or corn, no artificial colors or preservatives and come in a resealable bag. These did not last long in our house. Their favorite treat is a Meaty Bone - but these were appreciated and gobbled up just the same. Mysty takes them down in less than 2 bites but they do last a little longer with Wiener.

They also liked the Peanut Butter cookies but I would moreso recommend these for smaller dogs. They're about the size of a quarter and a big dog like Mysty just inhales them like her dog food (She's a 65 pound German Shorthair Pointer mix).

And then the kitties - this is baby Ivy. She's the senior member of the household at 13 years of age - she's so pretty (and fat). She's what I affectionately refer to as a "Chicken Head". She has an amazing nose - if there is chicken in the car - she knows! So what would Chicken Head and her cohorts say about the Newman's Own Organics line?

Well - as you can tell - she's a voluptuous kitty - but just the same - she loved it all. They were all so excited to hear the can open - they came running and nobody snubbed their nose. Which in a world where there's not a Dr Doolittle to be found - I take as success and happiness! 

Also - the sale of Newman's Own Organics generates money for the Newman's Own Foundation. Paul and his wife, Joanne Woodward, were big philanthropists and the foundation has a motto of "Let's Give It All Away" - not a bad way to live. :-)

Thanks to the folks at Newman's Own Organics for the dog & cat gift boxes for my kids. 






Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Restaurant Review: Bar Louie: Revisited

A couple of months ago - I headed over bridge for lunch one day to Newport on the Levee and went to Bar Louie. Unfortunately - I didn't love it. But the social media friendly manager reached out to me and wanted me to come back to give it another shot. 

They're big on tots at Bar Louie - so much so they recently broke the World Record for most tater tots eaten simultaneously!

My friend Lauren came with me and tried their Turkey, Ham and Brie with a plethora of tots on the side. The tots were great - the sandwich was meh - the bottom piece of bread was soggy and the top was a bit hard. It was a large sandwich and you definitely don't leave hungry.

I took a cue from my coworkers last trip and tried the Fried Louie - bacon, cheddar and a fried egg along with a side of loaded tots. This just looks a lot better than last time. Lauren was extremely jealous about my loaded tots - the cheese sauce was made with REAL cheese rather than that thick gloppy "nacho" sauce you see many times. It was also loaded with bacon, jalapenos and carrots (???). These were delicious - she stole a few and agreed.

Then there's the burger - holy mackerel. Clinically I have a small mouth (yes - nobody believes me - but dentists will verify it) - so a burger this ginormous isn't easy to eat. That said - I made my way through it. It's a GIANT burger so when you combine it with that big a** bowl of tots - it's a lot of food. Good stuff though - this was a much better burger than I had the last time.

Why Should You Go? Last time - I said don't bother. That said, this time was a lot better. I say try it for yourself - especially because tonight (Wednesday) is $1 burgers from 5pm to Close. Hell yeah - it's even better for a buck! If beer is more your speed - they have $1 beer on Tuesday.

Bar Louie on Urbanspoon








Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Road Trip: Museum of Art & Tommy's Restaurant - Cleveland, OH

We're up to Part 5 in my series of Cleveland Rocks blogs - thanks again to Positively Cleveland for the amazing trip. I had so much fun - not only did I find so much to do in Cleveland - it gave me a greater appreciation for all the cool stuff we have here in Cincinnati too! 

Our next stops were the Cleveland Museum of Art and Tommy's Restaurant in Coventry. These were voted on by fans of Positively Cleveland on Facebook as things we HAD to do. After - I could not disagree! 

First up was the Museum of Art - it's HUGE!!! After going through the first area - there's a huge open space (with a roof) that is so pretty and is a park in the middle of a museum - but a park with a roof! And in open area - they have these huge animal heads on pedestals. I thought this one looked most like me in the morning! Or at least what my breath probably smells like.

Next up we went out to the garden and there was an amazing piece of art - Rodin's The Thinker. What I didn't realize until just now - there are actually 28 of them made from the one cast - around the world in museums. I had no idea - I always thought there was just 1! And when you see something this iconic - you have to imitate it.

Inside their special exhibit right now was all about armory. If you happened to see my Ren Fest blog post - you'll know I love jousting - so this was fun to look through.

I don't consider myself "art educated" - I don't know much - but I know a little. I loved just walking through the museum seeing ICONIC pieces and feeling really smart saying, "That's Mondrian!" (which I learned from Trading Spaces). How many of the 6 artists can you name? (answers at the end of the blog post)

Beyond the amazing - there's always that one - that one that completely creeps you out and follows you no matter where you go. Yeah - this girl creeped the bejeebus out of me!

Cleveland's Museum of Art is also free - like Cinci - so a great stop for families. They also have some interactive exhibits. There was just so much there - it was a great stop! Then, after we toured as much of the museum as we could in 2 hours - we were HUNGRY! So we headed off to Tommy's!

Tommy's is the kind of place you'd find in Northside if it were transplanted to Cincinnati. It's a little hippy - or maybe even Yellow Springs. Tommy's sources a lot of it's food locally from produce to breads to the ice cream in their famous shakes - all from Cleveland.

We started out with hummus (or homos as they call it) - which came with pitas and veggies ($8.50). This was delicious and delightful hummus. The added veggies piled on top were sooooo good! It was  a new way to eat it and was awesome! Restaurants that serve hummus - take a cue on this one!

Tommy's is known for their shakes - we were warned and prepped. I can't say I'm lactose-intolerant - but I can say - my stomach thinks I am. We got a variety and just all shared - which was great because we got to try different ones - there was cookies & cream, plain chocolate and...

...a Tofutti Chocolate Peanut Butter shake. Tofu - in my shake. Seriously?! But the girls from Positively Cleveland promised me it was good. They did not steer me wrong! While in a side-by-side comparison - I still preferred the real ice cream - but if you were to just drink the tofutti one - you really wouldn't miss the ice cream. It tasted like a milk shake! The texture was a little different - but mainly you just didn't get the lumpy ice cream part that sort of goes back together after a shake sits a little while. Shakes are $4.99 but Tofutti shakes are $6.99. $2 to skip an emergency trip to the lieu is a small price to pay.

Then I was introduced to the wonder of Tommy's pie. They have sandwiches, schwarma and so much more - but I was intrigued by this PIE. They had so many varieties - and the one that grabbed me was the IRS - spinach, mushrooms and cheese ($7.40).

This was as delicious as it looks - the "pie" was crispy, the cheese was melty and crispy where it needed to be and then the veggies were fresh and cooked to perfection. This pie is HUGE and I definitely couldn't finish it when combined with my shake mixture.

We also heard the fries were great - so we ordered a side of them (12 oz - $3.79) and I asked for my patented side of ranch. The fries were Penn Station-y and the ranch was just plain awesome! If the ranch is great - I always make sure to take a picture - so I remember to mention it. Penn Station-style fries with great ranch = Happy Hussy!

Why Should You Go? Tommy's was a great stop and the menu is huge - so I could probably go back every day for a week and try something new every day. It has a bit of a "granola" feel and also a heavy mediterranean influence. I wish I could get that pie again - it would definitely be something I would stop for again and again.

Tommy's on Urbanspoon

Disclosure: The trip to Cleveland was provided free of charge by Positively Cleveland but all opinions are my own.

answers:
top row - left to right: Picasso, Dali, O'Keefe
bottom row: Pollock, Warhol, Mondrian





Monday, September 23, 2013

Restaurant Review & Giveaway: Cumin Eclectic Cuisine - Hyde Park

This summer the folks at Cumin in East Hyde Park contacted me about trying their place out since they had a new executive chef. Matthew Cranert was new to Cumin and had previously been the Executive Chef at their sister restaurant M Wood Fired Oven. It took me forever to get there to try it but we finally decided that our 3rd anniversary was a good reason to go! 

Cumin is located in East Hyde Park in that cute little strip of restaurants, bars and shops. If I remember right - Cumin used to be an Indian restaurant but now they classify themselves "eclectic world fusion". You can decide what that means. :-)

We started out with bread and a flavored butter. It was a little cold and had a heavy olive oil/rosemary aroma to it. The bread was warm, crusty and very tasty.

I got an appetizer for us to share of the Summer Tomato Salad ($10). This was really nice - there was a ton of fresh mozzarella in the "salad" along with heirloom tomatoes, basil, olive oil and a blueberry reduction. We both enjoyed this one.

We also decided to sit outside - the times when you can sit outside pleasantly are so few and far between but this was perfection. Plus I love being right on the sidewalk - so many dogs walking by to say hi to!

Larry went for the Lobster with Butternut Squash Risotto. It's beautiful. Presentation was seriously spectacular on this - look at it. Gorg! Unfortunately we didn't love it. The lobster was undercooked and had this runny texture to it. Not a big fan of the risotto either...

I got one of the specials that night - coho salmon with smoked fingerling potatoes. The schmear was a pine nut puree and the salmon also had a pepper maple sauce on the bottom of the bowl. For me the salmon was a little overcooked and the potatoes lacked any flavor. The saving grace for this was the maple sauce. My mom always used to eat syrup on fried potatoes and it instantly brought that flavor memory back to me.

Why Should You Go? Unfortunately - neither of us really enjoyed our entrees. We were provided a $50 gift card to try it but still paid an additional $40 for alcohol, tip and overage - so it was a $90 dinner. I don't know that we'll go back - but I would like to try M as I've heard really great things about their pizza. I'm sure other things at Cumin are great - they also have a 3 or 5 course tasting you can do as well. For us though - it's a bit pricey when neither of us really enjoyed our dinners.

That said - I do have another $50 gift certificate for you! Enter below on the Rafflecopter giveaway and hopefully you'll have better luck than we did. It's a really beautiful restaurant in a great spot - enjoy!


Cumin Eclectic Cuisine on Urbanspoon

a Rafflecopter giveaway





Friday, September 20, 2013

Road Trip: Friendship Flea Market - Friendship, IN

If you're looking for something to do this weekend - this might be just the event for you. The Friendship Flea Market ends this weekend in Friendship, IN. The flea market runs twice a year for a week at a time. They have vendors that camp there and it's open from 9a-9p every day for 9 days!

Yes - they have giant logo-emblazened underpants hanging up at the flea market - cuz it's classy dammit! 

The place is a veritable rainbow of colors - everywhere you turn! When we pulled in - the pink hairbows, purple cows (seriously - but not pictured) and bright orange pumpkins were pulling me in every direction! What to look at first?!

There are over 500 vendors on both sides of the highway - and it's literally on both sides of a highway. There were quite a few vendors selling things folks that make jewelry would use - strands of beads, etc... This one tent was quite large and had every precious stone you could think of. This table of geodes were really beautiful.

There were a few vendors with art (rather than crafts) - these were pretty cool but were pricey at $80 for the signs on the right.

Larry is a big fan of the Ford Mustang - so we were both pretty taken by the Mustang golf cart a couple people were driving around the market.

They also have fair-like food tents/vendors with elephant ears, swirly potatoes, tenderloins and pineapple soft serve. Good stuff.

There were a lot of guns - A LOT OF GUNS. The front had a couple of really pretty mum booths - which are perfect right now. And then just the randomness of it all. We came home with dog treats, a sign about our home having a bad ass dog and an Indianapolis Colts car flag. Um ok?! Random. 

It ranges from the type of things you see at Traders World (sunglasses, cleaning products, knives, tie-dye t-shirts) to garage sale to antique booths and everything in between. There are vendors from near and far - it's just this incredible mish mosh of everything under the sun. There's art, crafts, crap, sports memorabilia, hand-crafted toys, flowers, knick knacks, jewelry, food, clothing, and the list goes on and on - literally! 

These plastic lights were pretty cool - they came in all different colors - very Ikea don't ya think?!

This was a rather popular find as well - we found 3 booths with these in all different animals - holding wine and beer bottles. This little guy cracked me up a bit.

And then there's this. Read it. Admire it. Take it all in. Two words: Hillbilly Heaven. 

Oh the dogs!!! The top was a 1/2 wolf dog - not kidding - half wolf! So beautiful. The sign guy had this adorable jack russell that just hung out on his table all day. He was making the signs as you wait. And then - the big handsome bulldog - Larry is now obsessed with these guys - that is until he saw the amount of slobber they produced. Adoption averted. There were just a ton of dogs - it was fun! 

I will warn you - go early - or the line may drive you insane. You're literally driving along this road and then bam - traffic jam. Traffic comes in from both directions and the hold up is that there is one parking lot, with one little old lady collecting $3 from each car. We waited about 15 minutes - the line when we left was going to have at least an hour long wait.