Road Trip: Hocking Hills

We were lucky enough to take a couple of days off and head to Hocking Hills. Neither Larry or I had been before - so we were both looking forward to it! 

Before we took off - we had our best ever pet sitter (my mother-in-law) come with her pooch to watch our dogs. This is Chewy - isn't he adorable??!!!

Then we headed off on our road trip - we had a quick stop at Dairy Queen for ice cream. You should have seen the look I got when I jumped in the drive thru lane to take this picture.

The folks at Old Man's Cave Chalets provided us the Romance in the Ravine cabin to stay in for the night. It's awesome - and not just saying that because it was free - everything was updated and it was EXACTLY like the pictures (that doesn't always happen).

The Chalets are great - they have a play area and a large office. Not all cabins have this nice of a facility - this provides security and comfort - knowing there's people to call if you need them. There are cabins of every size - from these super cute A-frames to a giant lodge for 10.

Photo courtesy of Old Man's Cave Chalets
The photos on their website are really good - it's not always easy to take photos of rooms - but they did a great job. And they are all right on - 100% identical - which is super comforting. The cabin is super peaceful - you pull into your driveway and it's your own private oasis of comfort.

Photo courtesy of Old Man's Cave Chalets
I loved the bedroom - it was a loft that overlooked the living room. The bed was SUPER comfortable and the comforter was so cozy. We were a bit warm so we opened the door that you see to the left of the bed - it's a screened in porch! The air from there was nice and cool and cooled off the upstairs nicely. (We didn't feel like turning the central air on - but they do have it.)

After a quick nap - we headed out for a bite to eat. One of the staples that seems to be a requirement is the Olde Dutch Restaurant. It's mainly a buffet but also has a menu to order from. I loaded up with onion rings, fried chicken, sauerkraut & sausage, mashed potatoes & corn and finished up with a huge piece of homemade chocolate cream pie.

Some people aren't fans of a buffet - but I love 'em and so does my hubby. We can always find something we both are hungry for and there's always enough egg-free food for hubby. I really loved the sauerkraut & sausage - it wasn't real strong. The pie was great as well and there were so many dessert choices. I'm not kidding when I say there were probably 10 different pies on the dessert table!

We would definitely go back - don't let the rating scare you. I would say though - only go if you like a buffet - it's not going to change your mind if you're already pre-disposed to not liking. And...

Olde Dutch Restaurant on Urbanspoon

...they have a petting zoo and mini golf course! The petting zoo is mainly just some goats - but they're cute goats. Be sure to take change with you for the snacks!

Then we went to Old Man's Cave - it's a free park with multiple trails that are of varying degrees of difficulty. We puttered around for an hour or so on the trails. They were easy and beautiful. The best thing about Hocking Hills is that all the parks/caves/trails are free! So really your main cost is a place to stay and food (and our cabin had a full kitchen).

And now - it's just pretty picture time - these were all taken on my iPhone in Old Man's Cave:

Love this shot of this uprooted tree...the roots are amazing. 

We were arguing over what lived in the hole...

So beautiful.

After all that hiking - we were hungry. There's a little store right next to our cabins that has all the last minute items you'll need. We grabbed some tasty root beer and sandwiches.  
A photo posted by Heather Johnson (@foodhussy) on
And then that night - into the hot tub! 

As we were packing up in the morning to leave the cabin - I did a quick video tour for you - check it out! Be sure to like them on Facebook to keep up on their specials. 

For breakfast - I turned to Urbanspoon and found the M&M Family Diner and it did not steer me wrong. The place is a little too Buckeye-happy for this Hawkeye fan but that is the only complaint I had.

We each got biscuits and gravy - and you know I'm an expert - and they were delicious. Creamy with lots of sausage and a bit of pepper - slathered on top of light and fluffy biscuits. Larry got bacon and toast - while I got sausage patties. The server told us they make their own sausage! I'm normally a link girl but these homemade sausage patties were REALLY great.

I would highly recommend M&M - it's right in downtown Logan and is only a few minutes from the caves - so it's a quick drive and well worth it!

M & M Family Diner on Urbanspoon

After a hearty breakfast - it was time for shopping!

We headed up one exit to the Hocking Hills Market - there are stores, restaurants and flea market vendors. There were all the usual suspects: antiques, Amish and t-shirts. We even visited Larry's Shirt Shack (had to - right?) and next door was a jewelry store. My sweet hubby even bought me a necklace that goes really well with my wedding ring! Yeah for me!
A photo posted by Heather Johnson (@foodhussy) on
Finally - after petting these guys - our trip was coming to an end. :-(

And on our way back home - we never take the interstate - so on our back roads - we came across this beautiful barn in the middle of a field. It's just peaceful and heavenly.

Thanks again to the Old Man's Cave Chalets for the cabin and thanks to Hocking Hills for the beauty!

Restaurant Reviews: The Gruff, Covington KY

I'm always in search of a pizza that I love in Cincinnati. I'm not sure why but I just never find one that I like that much. 

We found out about a new pizza place in Covington and decided to check it out. It's called The Gruff and it's across from the Big Blue condos by the Roebling.
Inside there's a little delicatessen and store with lots of liquor and the basics like milk, bread, beer. There are a lot of tables as well as bar seating.

Outside there are some tables and umbrellas and this guy was enjoying lunch with his pop-pop! I really wanted to pet him but decided I would try to remain as appropriate as possible. Ugh - why can't I be a 5 year old? They get away with everything!

They also painted an actual Gruff on the side of the bridge they are next to - you know - the 3 billy goats gruff!?!

We were deciding between two places and checked out the menu for The Gruff and saw they had PICKLE FRIES!!!! That sold us on The Gruff. We had to try the pickle fries ($6) - they came with a yogurt dill sauce.

They were pretty good - I still think the pickle chips at Toots are better - these were a little soggy and the yogurt dill was okay - but a nice thick homemade ranch would have been better. I think they're going more hipster - and that's fine.

For the pizza - we chose to get a half & half ($15) of the Margherita (olive oil, tomato, basil & mozzarella) and Meat & Potatoes (made-in-house sausage, parsley, thyme, yukon gold potato, mozzarella & goat cheese).

The crust is great - it's thin and crispy. The toppings were fine but all in all these pizzas left us all craving a little flavor. The Margherita probably was suffering from under-ripened tomatoes - it was fine but not much of a punch of flavor - garlic would have helped too. The Meat & Potato was my idea - I had a pizza with potatoes at Mellow Mushroom and loved it - so I went for it here too. Unfortunately - the sausage was bland, the potatoes were bland - just bland. More goat cheese and maybe some peppers? It just was all the same texture and not much flavor. :-( It's pretty though!

The delicatessen side has booze - big ol' vats of it and lots of sandwich & side options. The business for that was booming - there are a lot of law offices nearby with the courthouse there too.

Why Should You Go? I would give it another shot and try a sandwich or a pizza with a little more flavor. The restaurant itself is very nice and open and has a nice feel to it.

Gruff Pizzeria & Delicatessen on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Review: Siam Orchid Thai, Bellevue KY

My coworker and I were exploring Bellevue & Dayton KY and tried to go to Buona Vita Pizzeria but unfortunately - it wasn't open for lunch! So there we were driving along - starving - with nowhere to go! 

Luckily for us - we came across Siam Orchid - there was a parking spot right out front which sold us. And lucky for us - Dawn likes Chinese food. Now this says Thai but every Thai place in Cincinnati has Chinese food.  

Inside - it's very bright! It's the yellow of my old truck - SO BRIGHT! There are two rooms and you just seat yourself.

Our lunches came with an eggroll. It was fine - nothing out of the ordinary but tasty and a good bite before lunch.

I got the Chicken Pad Thai ($9.95) - it was REALLY good. I'm not actually that big a fan of pad thai normally but for some reason it sounded good and it was.  I love those flat noodles, the scrambled eggs were great and the chicken was moist. The peanuts added a nice crunch. If you've never had Pad Thai - you should try it out. There's a bit of a sweetness in the taste of the sauce - so it's sweet & crunchy and chickeny (is that a word?). Loved it

Dawn got the pineapple & shrimp fried rice ($11.95) which made me super jealous once it came out. Thankfully she's a wonderful person and gave me a bite. It was really good - the shrimp were really large and butterflied. You know how most times the shrimps are the minuscule tiny ones - but these were BIG! 

Why Should You Go? Service was a little slow but they had a very large party out front. Those women were eating cake - I really wanted cake. :-( But - instead of cake - I had good food and that I can handle. We were both happy with it and would definitely go back!  

Siam Orchid on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Review: Fast Food Breakfast Showdown

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and I've become a bit of a connoisseur to the fast food breakfast. I'm not hungry when I wake up - or when I leave the house - as a matter of fact - food sounds gross at that point. But then 30 minutes later when I'm at my desk? STARVING!  

So I often times stop on the way at any of the myriad of breakfast options that are at every path of my drive to work. I decided it was time to do a review and comparison. I realized on day 3 - I probably should have ordered the same thing at each place for a true comparison but I went with what my belly was craving instead. :-)

We're going to start at the bottom. Poor poor Taco Bell. I tried their "Biscuit Taco" when it first came out and it was awful. I couldn't even finish it. This time I went for the AM California Wrap - it's got a hash brown, scrambled eggs, bacon, guacamole, cheddar cheese & pico de gallo. 

It was kind of dry and very bland and - not surprisingly - the guac wasn't great. All in all it was just meh and I didn't finish it. The guac was the best part. Just because it's breakfast doesn't mean it HAS to have eggs - this would be better without them. 

Next up - White Castle. I normally am a big fan of Whitey's breakfasts. The eggs on their sandwiches are REAL eggs! But there was something new on the menu so I decided to try it - the Chicken & Waffle Slider - with country gravy & bacon crumbles. 

This was pretty damn tasty. The chicken was moist - the gravy was sauce and the bacon was mapley. I think their waffles might have some syrup in them because I definitely tasted syrup. While I did like this and it was very unique - it gets a B for its sheer size - it's a big breakfast sandwich - a little too big. If you're really in the mood for chicken & waffles - it's pretty good - and hearty! 

Next on the breakfast quest: Arby's! This is the closest to my house but I've never been there for breakfast. I went with a straight-forward Bacon, Egg & Cheese Biscuit.

The biscuit was good and the whole thing was probably twice the size of a McD's equivalent. I liked it - but again - too much too finish. Bigger isn't always necessary - but a very solid option.

And now - my #3 selection for best fast food breakfast - McDonalds and their Breakfast Burrito. It's got sausage nuggets (that's a kind word - looks like rabbit poo - but tastes delish - and I mean delish in a completely crappy bad for you but way that I love), something red (tomato? pepper?) and cheese.

These are super cheap - only $1! I know - most people would hate them - but I absolutely love them. I keep thinking I'm just going to make my own and have them all ready and pack them - and then - I just keep ending up in their damn drive thru. They get an A- solely because they range in quality from fantastical to disapppointing depending on hotness and amount of cheese. 

A new addition came up to the #2 spot - Dunkin' Donuts. I went for the cheap option - the Wake-Up Wrap which you can get with bacon or sausage. Day 1 I got bacon, day 2 - sausage. Yes it was so good - I went back again! And - at $1.49 - it's a great deal!

These are definitely microwaved because they come out super hot but it was still good. I like the spot of the DD because I it's on the corner - going the way I go - so it's super easy to do the drive thru.

My #1 Fast Food breakfast was, is and always will be the Croissanwich at Burger King. When I buy frozen breakfast sandwiches - the sausage, egg & cheese croissant is always my go to. 

This is #1 because the croissant is soft and buttery, the sausage is never overcooked, the scrambled eggs are fluffy and the cheese is melty. I love it. 

So - after all of this terrible-for-me food that I ate - what do you think? What is your favorite fast food breakfast? Is it weird that I don't feel comfortable packing milk to just have cereal? Talk to me! 

Product Review: Macy's Fashion Show with special guest Emme

Recently I got invited to a Plus Size Fashion Show with guest host Supermodel Emme at the Columbus Macy's. I've never been to a fashion show and I've only been to Columbus a couple of times - so I was pretty psyched! (I was compensated to do some social media for the event - but the excitement was au natural!)

Since I got there early - I actually got to head backstage and meet Emme! Emme is an author, speaker and one of the first plus-sized supermodels! We chatted about so many interesting things - especially the modeling industry and how size factors into it. She has a great POV and such a calm and soothing head on her shoulders. We all LOVE LOVE LOVE the Lane Bryant "I'm No Angel" campaign going on. Love it!

Then it was time for the Fashion Show!

A photo posted by Heather Johnson (@foodhussy) on

Emme was a great host - she travels around the country with the models and stylists to take these super cute plus-sized fashions to the people. This model was actually from Cincinnati so she had some other Cincinnati fans cheering her on!

The outfits were super cute. They were all size 12+ - so some of them I could wear (in the middle) and some - not so much - but that's ok. It was really great to see new looks that I wouldn't normally have thought of. The graphic tee under the jacket is super cute. The middle outfit is how I feel like I should be dressing as a 40+ year old professional in the big bad world of advertising - but alas - I'm a jeans and flip flops girl...

Um - and besides the clothes - the shoes were FIERCE! It was funny as Emme kept saying "booties" - new booties, cute booties, sexy booties - it was bootie-licious!

These were my favorite outfits - that dress on the left - in love (not in my size) and the one on the right - super cute!!! And who is that model on the left? Why it's Cincinnati's own Liz from! She got to walk her first runway - pretty cool! That dress was super cute too.
After the show some of the personal shoppers at Macy's (um yeah - they have personal shoppers and it's a free service) were helping folks. I had someone helping me - who I thought was a personal shopper - turned out - she was a celebrity stylist!!! What???? I have to admit - it was pretty great having Michelle help me. She picked out outfits and clothing that I would never have chosen. I know the next time I need an outfit for something - I'm going to make an appointment with a Macy's Personal Shopper and get some help!

Here's an outfit from the show and then my version on the right. I got the same bomber jacket (so much cheaper now!) and then had my own graphic t-shirt underneath and paired with some jeggings. Yes - I just bought jeggings. Oh my - the day has come. I don't look as cute as the model - but I like the outfit a lot.

I tried some of the pants similar to the models - but they weren't right for my shape. Here's a very similar pair to hers - they're great on her.

I also found a super cute top - they call it a dress but it's far too short for a dress for me. But over jeggings - I love it. I'm working on my smizing and modeling poses. I call this Dumpster Chic.

All in all - the fashion show was really fun and the experience with the celebrity stylist was great! It definitely opened my eyes about the cute stuff that the plus-size department at Macy's has to offer!

Restaurant Review + Giveaway - Cuban Pete Sandwiches, Downtown Cinci

My friend Jen over at Suburbinnati told me about a new Cuban place that had opened up downtown and a great experience her family had there - so I had to check it out. 

Cuban Pete started as a food truck but recently opened in the old Tom + Chee location on Court St. 

Inside is very similar to the old Tom + Chee - same layout & furniture - just with a new neon green & black paint job.

I went for the El Cubano ($7.95) - I wanted to start out with the purist approach. This is a traditional Cuban sandwich with ham, roasted pork, swiss cheese, pickles and mayo on fresh baked bread. You can add a fountain drink & a side for $2 at lunch. They also throw a smattering of kettle corn under the sandwich for good measure.

The sandwich was good - I like a Cuban sandwich but don't love it. This was a really good one and it was SUPER filling. I couldn't even finish the whole thing and that RARELY happens. You could almost split this with a friend - it is massive!

Dawn got a Chicken Salad - I think it was something Jamaican - it was a special that day. The salad was also very plentiful. The chicken was tender and had a really good seasoning on it.

She also took home this giant bag of Kettle Corn - it's from a Findlay Market vendor. I didn't think I liked Kettle Corn but I had a bite and it was actually good! All this time I've been missing out! It's like a light version of caramel corn!

I got a side of Plaintains with my sandwich (you can also choose croquetas, corn or fries). I had plantains once with an Ecuadorian family and loved them - which is odd since I hate bananas. These weren't as good as those - they had them thinner and fried - like pickle chips. These were good though - it's so sweet and does have a banana type of texture (which is usually my issue with bananas) - but I liked them. It's a very sweet rich food though and one was enough so I shared with Dawn.

Why Should You Go? It's a good sandwich and it's really filling! It's definitely worth a try!

Giveaway Time! That's right - I have 2 gift cards up for grabs. First chance is to check out their menu page and come up with a new sandwich idea that you think would be perfect on the menu! We'll pick our favorite sandwich and you'll get a $15 gift card (and might see your sandwich on their menu!) I'll also give a $10 gift card away to one person that randomly enters via any of the options below.

Cuban Pete Sandwiches on Urbanspoon

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