Weekly Recap

This weekend has provided yet another weekend recap … which is awesome, but that also explains why I’ve gained each of the last two weeks I’ve weighed in at Weight Watchers. Is this what qualifies as a First World Problem? I digress.

Regardless, this past weekend was yet another fantastic one spent with Date and friends.

Having had the day off for Good Great Friday, I got to get some things done and to do some fun things. After researching the cost of tanning around the area, I found myself at City Limits Laundry and Tanning in Clifton because it was—by far—the best deal. While I don’t advocate gratuitous tanning (fake or otherwise), I will be in Florida for a friend’s wedding in less than ten days, and 1) don’t want to appear so milky in my bridesmaid’s dress, and 2) don’t want to fry on the beach. City Limits provided the best alternative, and I got five visits for $20. DEAL, I tell you. If you must go tanning in the future, I recommend this place. The facilities are clean and the service is outstanding. (There are other locations, too.)

After I got my Tan Beauty on, I met my friend at her place, where we enjoyed listening to the Reds game, some bourbon on the rocks, and the beautiful weather. To follow, we found our way to Knockback Nat’s to enjoy the night with friends. And chicken wings! And a surprise appearance from Date!

Saturday we went to the Reds Hall of Fame and Museum. The weather was unbelievable and provided a wonderful landscape for photographing a deserted Great American Ball Park (Reds are currently on a road trip). The Hall of Fame and Museum were pretty incredible, too. The Reds, being the storied franchise that it is, proved to be a fantastic subject, and it was fun and informative to have the opportunity to be briefed on its interesting history and the longevity of the organization. My favorite part was the “sports den” where a Highlights and Blooper reel plays on loop. But more on this later!

Saturday night we checked out Spinning Fork in Fairfield with Date’s family, and we went home to go to bed early so that we could be up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for a Premier League game viewing at Rhinehaus at 7am on Sunday. Liverpool beat Norwich City in a 3-2 thriller (a little too close for comfort), and Date and I enjoyed brunch at Taste of Belgium immediately following. Since Findlay Market was closed for Easter, it was a pretty decent consolation prize. Especially since it’s one of our favorite brunch spots. To close out our weekend tour of the greater Cincinnati area, we ate at the Barleycorn’s Five Mile House for Easter brunch.

This past weekend was awesome.

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Week 14 – Birthday Date

As previously mentioned, Date purchased tickets to the Cincinnati Museum Center thinking it was something I would really enjoy for my birthday. He knows me well.

Instead of boring you with the entire play-by-play of the day, I’ll give you the rundown as concisely as I can. Although the entire day consisted of many great Cincinnati-centric events, Date’s birthday date for me took place in three main parts: the Museum Center, Neon’s, and Wunderbar.

Cincinnati Museum Center

What we didn’t realize was that the tickets didn’t include the Diana, A Celebration exhibition and, considering that’s what I was most looking forward to seeing, Date was a real trooper and added it on to the rest of our tours. Admittedly, I didn’t spend the time reading everything and we got through the exhibition in about 1/20 the time it normally takes. Despite that, I found Diana to be extremely emotional. On more than a couple of occasions, I was near tears thinking about the woman Princess Diana was and the legacy she left beyond her untimely death. My favorite part of the exhibition was the home videos from when she was a child. A wonderful, nostalgic touch to an overall wonderful, yet emotional experience. Diana will be at the Cincinnati Museum Center until August 17, so if you  have the chance, I highly recommend checking it out.

The Cincinnati History Museum is so awesome, guys. The scale models of the city are truly incredible and well worth the cost of admission alone.

Union Terminal is otherworldly beautiful, if you weren’t already aware.

Union Terminal exterior.

Union Terminal exterior.

Union Terminal exterior again. This time with Date.

Union Terminal exterior again. This time with Date.

Union Terminal interior. This time featuring the train station.

Union Terminal interior. This time featuring a sign to the train station.


The Famous Neon’s Unplugged

To be fair, I planned this part. But it was an integral part of the day Date and I had together, and any event with him involved is kind of the best.

I am fortunate to have not only had Date celebrating my 29th birthday, but so many wonderful people came out to join me as well. I am eternally and infinitely grateful for these people, and I’m even more thankful that someplace as wonderful as Neon’s is available for such celebrations. The weather was nice, there was plenty of room to socialize, and the drinks were—as usual—aplenty and delicious. I also bought Holtman’s Donuts in lieu of having a birthday cake, so that was pretty awesome, too.

29th Birthday Celebration at Neon's.

29th Birthday Celebration at Neon’s.

Wunderbar

We followed Neon’s up with Covington’s Wunderbar (translation: “Wonderful”). Date is German (see: second-generation American; not just Cincinnati German). I also love pierogies and I’d been jonesing to try a new local restaurant to add to my arsenal. And to have a good, worthwhile birthday cheat meal amid my Weight Watchers journey, if I’m being honest.

My best friend and her husband joined us, as we ordered and got to try pierogies; a giant soft preztel with the mustard sampler; pretzel dumplings; Date got currywurst with potatoes; and Best Friend’s husband got a different kind of wurst and potatoes (truth be told, I didn’t try his). The pierogies were good. Not amazing, but they were good and had bacon on top. Could have been much worse. My favorites were the giant pretzel and Date’s currywurst. Next time I will be sure to get beer cheese with the pretzel instead of mustard, and I’d love to try the potato pancakes instead of having pretzel dumplings. Overall I was very happy with what I had, and look forward to going back to have the things I loved and things I’ve yet to try.

29th Birthday Dinner at Wunderbar.

29th Birthday Dinner at Wunderbar.

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Week 13 – Neon’s Brunch

Like we needed a reason for Neon’s to be any cooler on a nice, sunny Sunday afternoon.

I think a lot of people can agree that Neon’s has become over-saturated by Cincinnati’s bro population. At least on Friday and Saturday nights. Maybe I’m just old. I digress. Enjoying day drinks on the patio is still tops in my book, as I had my 29th “birthday party” during happy hours on Saturday evening. I guess I couldn’t get enough of the place, because after we watched some Premier League at Rhinehaus on Sunday morning, we found ourselves heading right back to Neon’s to try its newly-instated Sunday brunch brought to us by @taste513. Date said, “We’re going to have every kind of OTR brunch possible before the end of this Premier League season.” I hope he’s not wrong.

We were both impressed by MOTR’s brunch that we had recently, and because the burgers are so good at Neon’s anyway, we thought brunch may end up being really delicious. We weren’t wrong. I opted for the Burger (infused with bacon, and with an over-easy egg, arugula, and tomato) since I was in the state where greasy food was entirely necessary. Date got the Chorizo Tacos. One of our friends got the same as Date, while the other opted for the Croissant Sandwich with bacon (egg, cheese, and your choice of bacon, sausage, or goetta, on the softest, most delicious croissant I’ve ever sunk my teeth into). My burger was awesome, Date loved the Chorizo tacos (the best he’s had, he claims), and we all agreed that the Croissant Sandwich was tops. I cannot wait to get my hands on the Eggs Not Benedict (English muffin with two over-easy eggs, local bacon, and IPA cheddar sauce) next time I have Neon’s brunch.

Because, oh, there will absolutely be a next time. What a fabulous way to start a Sunday and to bring your weekend to a close.

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Weekly Recap

This past weekend was another one of those where I got to do and see so many fantastic things around the city. Being that my birthday was last week, April 1, we decided no fooling around on how to celebrate. So celebrate we did.

Saturday morning, my friend and I started the day off by going to Washington Park‘s free Boot Camp. Every Saturday until May 31, WP will host a series of various styles of Weekend Workouts. It was a little tough (I am so sore!), but what better way to start the weekend than by working out in the midst of our great city with Music Hall (and more outstanding architecture) serving as a backdrop? From Boot Camp, I decided I deserved a Holtman’s Donut. The place was packed! I opted for my go-to cake donut with chocolate icing, and thought that I would get a dozen to share for my birthday festivities to follow. The cake donut with chocolate is still my favorite after trying so many different kinds (sugar twist, glazed, maple bacon, and glazed fudge cake; the latter serving as my birthday cake). Have I told you guys how much I love that place?

For my birthday, Date bought us tickets to the Cincinnati Museum Center, where we spent a few hours perusing Diana, A Celebration exhibit, the Cincinnati History Museum, and the Natural History Museum. From there, we made our way to late-afternoon drinks and patio sitting at The Famous Neon’s Unplugged. The weather was wonderful—the sky clear and a bit warmer than we are used to (this winter was just brutal), even though the chill was pretty real after the sun went down. Soon after that happened, we planned to go to Wunderbar in Covington for dinner. I’d heard the pierogies were tops and Date is German, so it seemed necessary. (More on this place later.) After dinner, we found our way to Newport on the Levee to watch basketball and hang out with Date’s family.

Sunday was a bit more low key, but we still got to enjoy time watching soccer at Rhinehaus, then got brunch at Neon’s. After even more relaxation (read: three-hour nap), Date and I treated ourselves to one of our favorite Indian spots, Shaan Indian Cuisine. Guys, this weekend was awesome.

I still struggle to see how people think there isn’t anything to do in this city. What are some of your favorite things?

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Week 12 – MOTR Brunch

Date, his friend, and I spent a recent Sunday morning at Rhinehaus watching our beloved Liverpool Reds dominate Manchester United 3-0. After having a few beverages and speaking with one of the bartenders and a couple of guys who got it during halftime, we decided to give MOTR’s brunch a try.

I’d heard wonderful things about it from friends, so I was very excited to try it. I opted for the Special, which was a BLT with egg on an everything bagel; served with tater tots. (TATER TOTS!) Date decided on Breakfast Tacos, which were also good. I was extremely impressed with our brunch at MOTR and, most importantly, it was super reasonable.

I will absolutely be recommending this to everyone I can. And, hopefully, I will be back soon, too.

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Week 11 – Knockback Nat’s

I love me some chicken wings and recently found myself invited to Knockback’s for March Madness and wings with, ahem, girlfriends.

I’d been to the bar a number of times, but had never tried the food, and had been dying to try the smoked delicacy I’d heard so much about in Knockback’s wings. I decided to order eight with medium sauce and ranch on the side (of course). Not 20 minutes later, the food arrived and I was more than happy to dig in.

My wings were good enough. I’m not sure the medium variety lived up to the local and nationally acclaimed accolades I’ve ready so much about, but they were good. The ranch rubbed smoked chicken wings were pretty phenomenal, and I will absolutely be getting those next time. And, speaking of ranch, the side that accompanied my chicken-y fare was top notch—the real standout of the meal. I was especially thankful for the ranch because those wings were spicy. Even the ones with ranch rub.

What I loved most about Knockback’s was that it was a place where I could simply order at the bar for my food to be delivered to my table as soon as it was ready. Not many bars have such great food. I will be back.

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Week 10 — Spring Grove Cemetery and Arboretum

According to Wikipedia (which is 100% fact all the time), “Spring Grove is the second largest cemetery in the U.S. and is recognized as a U.S. National Historic Landmark.”

But Spring Grove is more than just a cemetery. It is a beautiful compilation of 700+ acres adorned with botanical scenery, unique architectural landmarks, and serene bodies of water.

In high school, our photography classes came on field trips here; senior pictures are often taken here (mine were, too!); and brides and grooms use its lovely scenery for wedding photographs. Spring Grove is extremely photogenic, and this past Saturday—in its Spring-like glory—the sunny skies and warm-ish (okay, it was 45 degrees) weather provided the perfect scenario to get out of  the house to peruse and document one of Cincinnati’s most picturesque and expansive landmarks.

One of the ponds at Spring Grove.

One of the ponds at Spring Grove.

Gothic Revival Dexter Memorial

Gothic Revival Dexter Memorial

Gothic Revival Dexter Memorial

Gothic Revival Dexter Memorial

Mausoleum

Mausoleum

 

 

 

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Week 9 — Green Papaya

When I refer to my “best friend” it usually begins with “one of…” and there are a few ways I can mean:

1) My best friend. The ultimate. The best friend I’ve known since I was born.
2) “My two best friends from high school.” Graduated with them. Still best friends. Self explanatory.
3) “One of my best friends from college.” Friends became family members in college and I am still very close to a select few.

This particular best friend has been one of my closest friends throughout middle school (okay, the tail-end of 8th grade, but still), high school, and college, where we attended Bowling Green State University together and even lived with each other for a short time (she’s a year older than I am). She currently lives in New York, so whenever she comes home (not often enough), it’s important to go to a restaurant that can pony up and compete with the NYC scene. She also has pretty strict diet restrictions, so we typically opt for Asian food (unless we go here).

Green Papaya was my first choice. Not only was I extremely impressed my first go-around with this Thai delicacy, but it is concurrent with my new lifestyle, and it catered to NYBF’s (New York Best Friend) dietary needs as well. NYBF’s sister, who joined us, was happy with the decision as well, despite not having dietary restrictions. Worked for everyone!

Green Papaya

What we got [clockwise from top left]: California roll; shrimp dumplings with”house special sauce” which is a really delicious version of—what I’d guess to be—Asian honey mustard; vegetable fresh roll wrapped in rice paper and served with peanut sauce; and grilled salmon with steamed mixed vegetables (YUM). NYBF’s sister got mango fried rice (not pictured here, but documented in my original post), which has chicken and shrimp and is so delicious. Thankfully she let me have a bite!

My opinion from my first experience remains the same: this food is seriously delicious. It may not usurp my favorite Thai dish of all time (Thai Garlic Chicken from Mekong Thai Cuisine), but it’s a close second. I want to make this place a regular, especially since I can have it on my diet.

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Midweek Must Mention — Chain Restaurants

*GASP!*

I’m only going to talk about this once, but I feel like I need to give credit where it’s due. I love going out to eat. It is something my family has always done a lot of, either out of convenience or as way to satiate our familial need to be social. It’s something I’ve continued to do throughout adulthood, and consider it to be a very hard habit to break.

Despite the fact that I go out to eat much less nowadays—what, with trying to stick to a stricter budget and now my Weight Watchers regimen—it is something I still like to do occasionally. Some chain restaurants serve a very real purpose for those who are incapable (geographically or mentally) of branching out and trying new, local places, or those who are trying to stick to a new lifestyle/diet. I know I’ve always preached about eating locally—and I still think everyone should—but I have a new-found appreciation for chain restaurants, albeit in moderation.

When I go out to eat, I typically try to find places that serve salmon and broccoli. For dinner, anyway. Here are some of the chain restaurants I’ve found to be very beneficial for my lifestyle and serve dishes other than the standard fish and veggies:

Breakfast
Bruegger’s Bagels (bagel with egg white and cheese; bagel with cream cheese)
McDonald’s (egg white delight and hash brown)
Subway (egg white and cheese on flatbread)

Lunch
Subway (6-in. wheat sub with chicken strips, veggies, and light mayo; apple slices)
Bruegger’s (bagel with light cream cheese and veggies; fruit salad)
Chipotle (bowl with brown rice, chicken, and corn salsa, with sour cream on the side)
Ruby Tuesday (Sliced Sirloin Petite Lunch Plate served with mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli)
Panera (You Pick 2 – caesar salad, hold the croutons; cup of low-fat chicken noodle soup)

Dinner
Multiple. I’ve gone to a number of chain restaurants that offer dinner plates and serve fish and vegetables. This isn’t hard to find from American restaurants, steakhouses, and the like. (Examples: Cheddars, LongHorn, Rusty Bucket, and O’Charley’s.)

I’ve learned that there are many great choices to make even while going out to eat. I don’t have to stop doing so entirely, and have grown to love the various “treats” I still get to have while on a diet. It just so happens that means going to more chains. Fortunately, I have also discovered a number of local restaurants that serve diet-friendly food, and look forward to sharing those with you as well.

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Weekly Recap

This past weekend was another one of those not awesome weekends, but it wasn’t too bad either. Cincinnati-wise it was awesome. Diet-wise, I’ve had better, but I still did pretty well considering.

Friday night I went to Milton’s Prospect Hill Tavern for a friend’s 30th birthday celebration. It was there I got to see a number of people I know—some I haven’t seen in a very long time. Being able to catch up with friends while patronizing a fantastic local bar was pretty great. After Milton’s I was fortunate enough to check out Cincinnati’s very own Roadtrippers. I’ll tell you more about that later.

With Date beginning his new regimen this week, Saturday we began our day by eating at our favorite Japanese restaurant, Kyoto, in Symmes Township. I figured I would support his indulging by going with him because I’m such a nice girlfriend. Also, it sounded delicious and I am all for a treat here and there. Later in the afternoon we were fortunate enough to secure tickets to the Xavier vs. Creighton game at the Cintas Center, which is one of my favorite sports facilities in the area. Being newer, it lends itself to great aesthetics and all-around practicality (except no cup holders). Plus I got to see Doug McDermott play, and Xavier beat the 9th-ranked team in the nation, which were pretty good, too. We followed up the XU win by getting a burger from Gordo’s. (Naturally. It’s kind of a tradition around these parts.) Gordo’s has one of my favorite burgers in the area, and it was well worth the indulgence.

Now back to my regularly scheduled programming of Weight Watchers until hopefully my birthday.

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