Cincinnati Engagement: A Born-and-Raised Cincinnati Relationship …

… The only thing I don’t have for you is which high school it went to.

I digress.

What started out as bonding over music (mostly Walk the Moon and Childish Gambino) and baseball, flourished over our mutual love and respect for our great city, going on adventures, sports, and each other. (Fine, and beer, too.) Brandon is my most trusted confidant; my best friend and partner in crime.

Our Great City

I am so thankful to have a companion with whom I can explore this great city. He is always up to try a new restaurant, check out a park, walk a route in a new neighborhood, peruse a museum, or drink a beer at a brewery in town (fine, I got that love from him). In fact, this blog was started in 2013, a mere six months after we started dating. Brandon motivates and inspires me, and it is because of him that this blog was created in the first place. Without him, I probably wouldn’t go on as many adventures and be a tourist in my own city.


Whether near or far, Brandon loves an adventure as much as I do. We love different cultures and cuisines, and especially learning more about both. We have been afforded the opportunity to not only take a deep dive into our own city and neighborhood (East Walnut Hills), but we have also explored other cities across the country. (We admittedly have a lot of work to do and we expect to expand our adventures abroad soon!)


Sports have always been something Brandon and I have had in common. We met at a Reds game, first started “talking” while the Reds were playing in New York (I was in New York for the occasion), had our first date at a Reds game, and have celebrated a couple of anniversaries at Reds games. We also went to Denver in 2013 to watch the Reds play. We both love soccer — he as a spectator and me as a player, and we’ve been to three US Men’s Soccer World Cup Qualifiers (2012, ’13, ’16). Before we started dating, I wanted to start watching the Premier League, so thankfully he came along before I officially took up fandom with City (what can I say, their kits are the best colors). Instead, our relationship intervened and I now fully support Liverpool, where we watch nearly every game with LFC Cincinnati at Rhinehaus and who we got to see during their 2014 US Tour in Charlotte — the team that has instilled in me that You’ll Never Walk Alone. We even have season tickets to Xavier men’s basketball and FC Cincinnati. I’m especially thankful for his being a trooper as far as seeing the NY Yankees play a Spring Training game in Florida (2015); the 2015 US Women’s Gymnastics P&G Championships in Indy; and for buying us tickets to see the Indiana Hoosiers play at Assembly Hall this past NCAA basketball season.

We love sports and what’s even better is loving them together.

Each Other

We started dating in June 2012. We moved in together in September 2014. We got a puppy in 2015. In July 2016 we got engaged. Here is the story:

About a month ago was Amazon Prime Day. I was all excited to get a new electronic toothbrush (because adult) and Brandon was excited to get some “surprises.” My first question was, “Is there anything for me?!” (Because adult.) His response: “Kind of.” When our goods arrived, he tried to keep one box a surprise, but me being the pushy human I am, I got him to open it. A GoPro with a harness for the dog! We’d recently gone to Hueston Woods and he’d been talking about how much he wanted a GoPro, so I thought nothing of it. Fast forward to the week of our engagement, I’d been asking him to get it out and give it a try. So when he had a half day on Friday, July 29, I suggested meeting him and Franklin at Washington Park after work and — again — thought nothing of it when I walked up and Frank was wearing the GoPro. Instead, I said, “Franklin is wearing the GoPro!” and even tweeted about how excited I was. Little did I know that, in a few short minutes, Brandon’s sneaky plan to buy a GoPro and propose at Washington Park in front of Music Hall would come to fruition — all while Franklin, the unknowing accomplice, got it on video.

I’ve always loved Washington Park, but this Cincinnati institution is even more special to me now that it is the place where we got engaged. I love this city and the best part is sharing it with the best person I know.

[Picture details: date to see Walk the Moon at Madison Theater in November 2012; on a date at one of our favorite restaurants, The Rookwood, in 2014; after a hike at Devou Park in 2014; Walking Cincinnati book we got in 2015, as pictured at the CAC; picture from our visit to the American Sign Museum in 2013; Brandon pictured at The Woodburn in 2016; Brandon at Ei8ht Ball during Cincinnati Beer Week in 2014; our neighborhood (and DeSales Corner), East Walnut Hills, in 2014; me in New York with a friend and Drew Stubbs, Brandon Phillips, and Jay Bruce, at the MLB Fan Cave (2012); photo from the Southgate Bridge on our walk from Newport to the Reds game on our first date, 2012; USA v. Mexico World Cup Qualifier at Mapfre Stadium in 2013; YNWA tattoo I got in 2015; picture from our season ticket seats at the 2015–16 Crosstown Shootout; photo from one of our marches to Nippert Stadium with Die Innenstadt, an FC Cincinnati supporters group, 2016; USA Women’s Gymnastics P&G Championship in Indianapolis, 2016; picture I snuck in to commemorate one of our early dates at The Lackman, 2012; picture from our neighborhood, 2014; Brandon and me with Franklin, February 2015; engagement photo from Smale Park, 2016; Franklin swimming at the dog beach in Hueston Woods, 2016; me tweeting about Franklin wearing the GoPro; Brandon and me with Franklin during one of many visits to Washington Park.]

Shop Local This Holiday Season

When you shop local, you help to build a better local economy, reduce environmental impact, put your taxes to good use, create jobs, get better service, keep the community unique, and you encourage local prosperity. “For every $100 spent at a locally-owned business, $73 remains in the local economy.” I am a huge proponent for shopping local, so if you’re looking for ideas regarding where to shop this holiday season, I have quite the list of some of my local favorites* for you:

Blue Manatee (Oakley)
For: the kiddos in your life — children, nieces, nephews, grandkids, etc.
I absolutely love this store and they have a fantastic selection of books and activities for children. Now through November 30, 20% of gift card proceeds benefit Reach Out and Read at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.

Chicken Lays An Egg (Northside)
For: the pop culture aficionado
This Northside gem is quaint, fun, and chock-full of various apparel, accessories, toys, games, and novelties from yesteryear.

The City Flea (Over-the-Rhine, 12/12)
For: all walks of life
A wonderful place to explore numerous vendors of hand-crafted, custom, and thrifted goods, all while eating delicious food truck fare as you shop (win/win).

Corporate (Hyde Park)
For: the men and women in your life who appreciate great shoes
You’d be hard pressed to find a more exclusive selection of sneakers and apparel in the city.

Covered Bridge Antique Mall (Mt. Healthy)
For: the crafters and DIYers
I have found many gems here for extremely inexpensive — everything from glass mugs etched with world maps to small vases to end tables, and all were great to re-purpose.

Crafty Supermarket (Over-the-Rhine, 11/28)
For: all walks of life
This is one of my favorite “holiday markets,” as there are a number of regional vendors who partake inside Music Hall’s ballroom, and it features a lot of holiday merchandise.

Elm & Iron (Over-the-Rhine)
For: those who love fine-crafted goods and artwork
From inexpensive textiles and mugs to pricier wall hangings, Elm & Iron has a variety of goods to be gifted this holiday season.

Findlay Market (Over-the-Rhine)
For: your local [food and goods] lover
Anything you need, from fine teas to herbs and spices, and food tours to mid-day treats and back, Findlay Market covers so much ground for this holiday season.

Hi-Bred (East Walnut Hills)
For: the vintage and consignment lover
If you’re looking for vintage apparel or accessories, check out Hi-Bred, located on Woodburn Avenue in East Walnut Hills.

HOMAGE (Over-the-Rhine)
For: men, women, and children who love t-shirts and comfy clothes
This place needs no introduction, especially if you like comfy, quality t-shirts and sweatshirts of your favorite local sports teams and pop culture icons.

MiCA 12/v (Over-the-Rhine)
For: those who love fine-crafted goods and artwork
A conglomerate of local and regional goods, MiCA 12/v features everything from home goods to framed prints, and t-shirts and coasters to “Drink Local” pint glasses.

Nest (Hyde Park)
For: those looking to give jewelry and unique home goods gifts
From knick knacks, paddy wacks, and giving your dog a bone, Poeme features just about all of the above.

Park + Vine (Over-the-Rhine)
For: environmentalists with good gifting taste
Whether you’re looking for a sandwich or cookware, this eco-friendly “green general store” is your go to for anything and everything from t-shirts and baby products, to books and hand-made greeting cards.

Pet Wants (Over-the-Rhine)
For: our four-legged friends who are part of the family
Have a pet in your life who would love gifts this holiday season? Check out Pet Wants, located on Vine Street and in Findlay Market — both in OTR.

The Spotted Goose (Oakley)
For: micro-fashionistas (boys and girls)
One of my favorite shops in Cincinnati proper, The Spotted Goose is a purveyor of fine apparel and accessories for infants and small children. There are even Spanish classes on Saturdays.

Beer-related gifts:
Cincy Brew Bus, Craft Connection
The Growler House

Jungle Jim’s, The Party Source
Or individual brewery tours

Gift shops:
Cincinnati Museum Center
Coffee Emporium
College Hill Coffee Co.
Contemporary Arts Center
Fort Thomas Coffee

Season passes:
Cincinnati Metro
Cincinnati Museum Center
Cincinnati Zoo
Coney Island

Kings Island

What are some of your favorites? Happy shopping!

*These are places I’ve personally been and like to frequent, but are in no way the only places around the city to check out.

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Weekend Recap: All the Sports Edition

I had off on Friday, so this past weekend was a three-day one. Thursday night meant hanging out at Moerlein Malt House while BK played trivia and I sat at the bar to watch the Bengals (8-0!). What I didn’t accomplish around the house while napping on Friday, I spent my time off enjoying Cafe DeSales for breakfast, then The Rookwood (Fryday!) for dinner and drinks before heading to The Growler House for our 7pm night cap (being 30 years old partnered with the time change are really doing wonders for my ability to stay away until any respectable time).

moerleinFlight of beer from Christian Moerlein

rookwoodTruffle fries with parmesan from The Rookwood (y’know, in honor of Fryday)

Saturday we got breakfast and coffee from Coffee Emporium, tired Franklin out at Washington Park Dog Park and stopped by Eden Park since it was such a nice day (I love a good photo op). We then had lunch at Gold Star (new on Xavier’s campus this year) before checking out the All For One bookstore, BK giving me a campus tour, and heading to Cintas Center to see Xavier’s first men’s basketball “game” (exhibition vs. Northwood) in our second year as season ticket holders. Between all the Betta’s and Listermann (and Gold Star and Gordo’s and the bookstore) visits that are on the horizon, in addition to craft beer at D’Artagnan’s Deck, singing the National Anthem with my choir at the home opener on November 13, and the Crosstown Shootout on December 12, I’m pretty jazzed for the 2015–16 season.

franklinatmusichallFranklin checking out the beautiful Cincinnati architecture before playing at the dog park

frankedenparkTaking in the beautiful Cincinnati scenery and fall foliage at Eden Park

goldstarEating Gold Star at Xavier’s University Station before the Xavier game

campusGetting a campus tour from distinguished alum, BK

xgameEnjoying the view of Remy Abell from where we moved down to sit at the Xavier game

Because we were going to be gone for most of the day, we decided to take Frank to the dog park again on Sunday. While we were at the park, we got to see the Cincinnati Streetcar making its inaugural test trip around the tracks. What a cool moment that was, to finally see this long-awaited project come to fruition. Considering all the time we spend downtown, we will certainly put that thing to good use. Too bad it’s not dog friendly …

streetcarCincinnati Streetcar making its inaugural “dead pull” around the tracks

We were fortunate enough to have gotten tickets to see the Columbus Crew play against Montreal Impact in a playoff game. When we got to Columbus, we ate at CBC (Columbus Brewing Company) before heading to the stadium to see the Crew come back from a 1-1 tie to defeat the Impact 3-1, and advance to the Eastern Conference, finals thanks to the 111′ goal by Kei Kamara. Of the sporting events I’ve seen live, that game was so good it earned a spot in the top five best.

cbc1Flight of Ohio beer from Columbus Brewing Company

cbc2Cheeseburger and garlic fries from CBC (not pictured: ranch dressing)

crewgameEnjoying a great Crew game with BK

We ended the weekend one of the best ways I know how: by ordering takeout from LaRosa’s. Their breadsticks with cheese (with ranch, pizza sauce, and garlic butter) are some of my favorite guilty pleasures, and with my regimen re-starting every Monday, a weekend cheat meal finale is a must.

In the words of BK (a man of few words otherwise), “I think we had a pretty awesome weekend.”

Have a great week, everyone!

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Sugar n’ Spice

If you like being up early, this place is for you.

I had Sugar n’ Spice, a Cincinnati institution, one time about six or seven years ago and really liked it. It wasn’t until recently I got to have it again. BK and I tried going about six months ago around 9:30am and couldn’t even get in the door, so we turned right back around and went home. A couple months later we were up around 7:30 on a Saturday morning and decided to give it another try. Around 8am, we waited just short of 10 minutes for bar seating, which ended up being pretty perfect.

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We decided on Sugar n’ Spice’s famous “wispy thin” (I put that in quotation marks because I grew up eating actual wispy thin pancakes, and these are more accurately a mix of your standard fluffy pancakes and the crepe-like thin ones I grew up with) pancakes — original for me and chocolate chip for BK — with a biscuit and gravy and goetta to accompany them on the side.

The food was as outstanding as I remembered, and pretty reasonable, too, and there was plenty of parking in a lot out back even though the place was pretty small and packed with people both times we went. Service was fine and the place is obviously busy at most times during the day (open daily from 7am until 3pm), so I recommend going as close to when they open as you can.

Fortunately for me, I like being up early.

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It’s National Sandwich Day!

What better way to celebrate than to dote over some of my favorites in the area?*

C’est Cheese (Food Truck)
Bee Sting – This mozzarella, pepperoni, and basil-infused honey on tuscan pane with chili-flaked butter is one of the best takes on grilled cheese I’ve ever had. For more from Emily Frank, C’est Cheese’s owner, keep an eye out for
Share Cheesebar, which will be opening soon in Pleasant Ridge.

The Eagle Food & Beer Hall (Over-the-Rhine)
Fried Chicken Sandwich – A fried chicken breast topped with cole slaw, spicy mayo, and house-made pickles gets better with The Eagle’s truly awesome spicy honey.

eckerlinEckerlin Meats (Findlay Market)
Goetta, Egg, and Cheese sandwich – Eckerlin has the best goetta around and, with as highly regarded as goetta is in Cincinnati, that’s saying a lot.

elisEli’s BBQ (East End)**
Two smoked all-beef franks with bbq sauce, cole slaw, and pork crispins – Some argue that hot dog-style eats aren’t “sandwiches,” but given this particular hot dog’s adornments, it is my favorite take on a barbecue sandwich.

gilpinsGilpin’s Steamed Grub (Downtown, Clifton)
Doritos – The “Doritos” (steamed turkey sandwich with melted cheddar, and lettuce on a pretzel bun) is awesome, but it’s the peppercorn honey mustard that makes it that much more delicious. Even better, Gilpin’s can be enjoyed while drinking a beer at its first micro-franchise at The Growler House in East Walnut Hills.

mgomMardi Gras on Madison (East Walnut Hills)
Shrimp Po’ Boy – Known as Cincinnati’s “home-a-raunt,” Mardi Gras on Madison serves fantastic New Orleans-style fare; specifically a fried shrimp (tossed in spicy honey glaze) po’ boy.

Moerlein Lager House (CBD)
Beer Can Chicken Melt – I’ve never been big on chicken sandwiches, but this is one of a couple of show-stopping chicken sandwiches in the area: a chicken sandwich topped with bacon, onion, roasted tomato, and cheddar with honey mustard on a French roll.

nsycNorthside Yacht Club (Northside)
House Short Rib Grilled Cheese – One of the best grilled cheeses I’ve had, NSYC’s take on the American classic features braised short rib, American cheese, and arugula on Texas toast, served with horseradish sour cream on the side.

phoPho Lang Thang (Findlay Market)
Banh Mi – I get mine with marinated beef, and it is served on a baguette with carrot, cucumber, and cilantro.

senateSenate Pub (Over-the-Rhine)**
Trailer Park Dog – As I mentioned previously, the hot dogs as “sandwiches” debate is a controversial one. But when an all-beef, bacon-wrapped dog is topped with American cheese, cole slaw, and Grippos, it becomes more about toppings and less about the hot dog.

soapmSon of a Preacher Man (O’Bryonville)
Sunday’s Best fried chicken sandwich – This thing is served on a fresh buttermilk biscuit. And with Pimento Cheese Fritters served as a precursor, it’s fantastic meal all around.

Taft’s Ale House (Over-the-Rhine)
Bacon Cheddar Sandwich (with chicken) – Taft’s is known for its tri-tip steak sandwiches, but this particular sandwich, when served with chicken, is one of the best chicken sandwiches I’ve ever had.

tom+cheeTom + Chee (CBD, Newport on the Levee, et al)
Grilled Cheese Donut – Tom + Chee’s famous grilled cheese donut sounds interesting, and usually not in a good way, but I assure you that this melty, crispy, donut is incredible. It just so happens to have cheese on it, too.

dojoHonorable mention:
Cafe DeSales (East Walnut Hills): Bacon Turkey Bravo on ciabatta and Breakfast Croissant
Carl’s Deli (Hyde Park): I’ve not yet had anything that wasn’t diet friendly, but I can’t wait to back and try more
Chili Empire (Food Truck): “Chili-dilla” quesadilla**
Dojo Gelato
(Findlay Market, Food Cart): Ice cream sandwich with churro gelato
Gomez Salsa (OTR): Any of the Turtles — brunch or otherwise**
Kaze (OTR): Pork Belly Bun
MOTR (OTR): Breakfast Bagel Special
Rascal’s NY Deli (Blue Ash): Whitefish Salad sandwich
Red Sesame (Food Truck): Mini Quesadilla**
Marx Hot Bagels (Blue Ash): Egg Salad bagel sandwich
Scherpies Produce & Deli (St. Bernard): Chicken Salad sandwich on croissant

Now I’m hungry. What are some of your favorites?

*Listed in alphabetical order
**Controversial “sandwiches”

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Weekend Recap: This Weekend Was Not As Low Key As I Thought Edition

On the heels of a pretty busy weekend last weekend (starting with taking a friend to Bamboo Kitchen for her first tryst with my favorite Thai restaurant, The Party Source to pick up goods for a day spent at Keeneland, Rhinehaus to watch soccer, and Krueger’s Tavern for a post-match lunch), sometimes all you really need is a low key weekend around town — just enough to eat a bit of good food and take in the beautiful sights around this city we are so lucky to call home. For that, this post will be more picture heavy than content heavy. You’re welcome.

kruegersBurger and fries from Krueger’s Tavern

Friday night meant meeting up with girlfriends from high school at Taft’s Ale House to catch up, have a beer (and a flight and another beer), and eat, and I even got to celebrate 1175’s arrival with Ryed the Rails, a delicious rye IPA brewed specifically for the occasion. After Taft’s, a friend and myself made our way up to Myrtle’s Punch House to see another friend from high school play with a few members in her band (tip: the full band has a show at The Drinkery on Friday, 11/6).

tafts1Ryed the Rails, Taft’s Ale House


“Senior picture” of me in my new glasses, Taft’s Ale House

On Saturday, we watched a great Liverpool win over Chelsea at Rhinehaus with our LFC Cincinnati friends, and picked up a snack (an assortment of savory and sweet pretzel twists with nacho cheese and vanilla frosting on the side) from Brezel to take to Washington Park Dog Park to tire out Frank before we went to my brother and sister-in-law’s to trick-or-treat with my nephews; after which, of course, we found our way to The Growler House to share a flight before calling it a night.


Enjoying the Liverpool win over Chelsea at Rhinehaus with LFC Cincinnati

Sunday, I was fortunate enough to have been asked to take family photos for a friend’s family at Smale Park. Partner that with an extra hour of sleep to nap, a Bengals win over the Steelers (7-0!), beer and dinner at Moerlein Lager House with BK, and a pretty bitchin’ sunset, I’d say the weekend was pretty great. And I got to try a whole lot of new [to me] beers.

smaleparkView of our beautiful skyline from Smale Park

roeblingJohn A. Roebling Suspension Bridge, as seen from Smale Park

pbsThe football gods shining down on Cincinnati and Paul Brown Stadium after the Bengals’ win over the Steelers, for Cincinnati’s first 7-and-0 start in franchise history

On second thought, maybe that weekend wasn’t as “low key” as I originally thought …

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Weekend Recap: after a week off edition

After a bit of a hiatus (a week, to be exact, as I spent a fair amount of the past week working on this), a weekend recap feels appropriate. Even better, this weekend synopsis gets an honorary evening added to its recap. You’re welcome.


Photos (clockwise from top left): Vortex at Kings Island; photo of the Zephyr at Kings Island at sunset; the Spicy Chorizo Turtle from Gomez Salsa; and Frank posing outside of Gomez Salsa.

Wednesdays (through October 29) feature Yappy Hour at Washington Park Dog Park from 6pm to 8pm. This past Wednesday was our first trip to the park for Yappy Hour, and it was a really happening event. I’d guess there were 30 dogs there (plus humans) at its peak time, which was a whole lot. Despite being pretty crowded, it was fun to check out, as beer and drinks were sold outside the gate to the dog park, and Purina goodies were available for purchase under the adjacent tent. (Visit the event page to learn more.)

Friday night was spent at a wedding reception at Cooper Creek Event Center, which is a pretty great wedding venue that always has great appetizers. Saturday morning, Liverpool had an early game (7:45am), so we went to Rhinehaus to watch with LFC Cincinnati as we typically do. There, we also got to have a Holtman’s Donut, as brought in from a friend. After watching Liverpool, we finally got to try Nation‘s brunch (Saturdays and Sundays from 10am until 2pm), where BK and I shared a Breakfast Burrito and Breakfast Tots. We both really liked what we got and agreed that: a) they always have a good beer selection, b) Breakfast Tots should be available all day every day, and c) we must go back soon for Bottomless Brunch.

After Nation (and a very short power nap), I spent the rest of my Saturday at Kings Island enjoying roller coasters and Halloween Haunt. I got to ride some of my favorites (The Beast, Diamondback, and Banshee), while I rode former staples and came to the conclusion that I could probably not ever ride them again. The best part of the day was eating Kings Island LaRosa’s because, as most Cincinnatians agree, it tastes best there.

Sunday morning we decided to order from the brunch menu at Gomez Salsa and take our goods to Washington Park Dog Park to tire out Frank before watching the Bengals game at The Growler House with friends, to where we brought a few Brezel pretzels to snack on before we ordered Fireside Pizza and had goodies from O Pie O (chicken pot pie and pear pie) and Busken Bakery (donuts).

This weekend was a gluttonous one — as usual — but at least I walked about ten miles on Saturday, right?

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Handcraft Tattoo and Gallery

I’d been thinking about my third (and fourth and fifth … ) tattoo for years. After the near-impulse decisions to get tattoos in college (I was pretty broke and they were on sale), I decided my third (and fourth and fifth … ) tattoo would come after a bit more thought. My first two are located on my feet and not easily seen, but the tattoos that would follow were sure to be a bit more visible and required more precision.

Handcraft Exterior

Handcraft Exterior

Handcraft Interior

Being a Graphic Designer — and hyper-particular and -observant by nature — it was of the utmost importance that I find an artist who could achieve the look and execution that I needed. I spent more than six months mulling over casually perusing local tattoo artists’ Instagram photos and Yelp reviews when I finally decided to go with Steve “Mondo” Mondary at Handcraft Tattoo and Gallery, conveniently located at 325 W. Fifth Street, an aesthetically appealing tattoo and piercing shop and art gallery that opened on June 1, 2015.


Tattoo in the works. Never mind that my arm matches the background of this page.

I would never trust just anyone with permanently marking my body and, despite being new to the profession and the industry, I knew that Mondo would satisfy my obsessive need for [near] perfection. To get a better feel of the short history behind Handcraft, he was nice enough to answer a few questions for me (edited slightly for content).

Is it just you and Jeff “JK” Kees who own and operate the shop?
JK is the owner, and I am the operating owner/resident artist.

What do you consider your expertise? JK’s? What is your favorite kind of work?
My specialties are American traditional, neo-traditional, lettering (script and freehand custom fonts — big and small), and realism. JK’s expertise is neo-traditional, illustrative work, and realism — his realism work is really strong.

Anything else you want to add?
I am fresh out of my apprenticeship, but will not take on work I am not comfortable with. This ensures quality in each tattoo. JK has been tattooing for seven years, and he is comfortable taking on just about any style. We spent four months looking for a good location, and had a few places that were serious, but fell through due to zoning issues. We were both driving downtown one day and saw a “for rent” sign in the window of this place. We set up a time to check it out and ended up signing the papers the next week.

To check out more, visit Handcraft’s Facebook, Instagram, and website. You can also view the artists’ work on Mondo and JK‘s Instagram accounts.

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Lucky Dog Grille

To keep with the dog theme I’ve currently got going on (okay, my life is one big dog theme), my next review features a really cool dog-friendly restaurant where you can bring your canine companion AND there is a small doggie menu to order from as well.

We’d been wanting to try Lucky Dog for a little while, but seemingly never had the opportunity to drive to Mason to give it a go. Last week we finally got to change that.

We met my dad at the restaurant, which ended up being perfect, because he doesn’t often get to see Franklin. Best of all worlds!

Lucky Dog Grille

Lucky Dog Grille

At the recommendation of our server, we ordered bacon-wrapped jalapeño poppers to start. Although I don’t particularly like jalapeño poppers, they were bacon-wrapped, stuffed with cream cheese, served with ranch, and I’m a good sport. Verdict: They were fine, but I don’t feel this is my jurisdiction to judge. I will say that they were well received by the others.

For my entree, I opted for the smoked philly sandwich and cheese fries (with ranch); BK got the buffalo chicken wrap and onion petals; my dad got the steak taco plate (and fries, because I am my father’s daughter); and Franklin had the 1/4 lb. burger from the doggie menu (he is his mother’s son, after all). All items were a hit and it is worth noting that the ranch was awesome.

Lucky Dog had plenty of parking, delicious ranch, above average bar food, a pretty good beer selection, friendly service, and even food for Frank. What else do you need?

If we didn’t live so far, we’d be back more often.

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Weekend Recap: Chicago edition

One of the best things about Cincinnati is that it has many of the same things — great food, beer, events, and a robust arts scene — larger cities have, but for a fraction of the cost.

I love Chicago and was able to spend a long weekend there with friends from college. The food there is delicious, there is a lot to see, and the shopping is great. As the third most populous city in the US, Chicago is obviously on the cutting edge of all things trendy. It’s a really fun place to visit and explore, but it also makes me appreciate what we have at our disposal here in the Queen City.


Photos (clockwise from left): Do’ssant, Short Rib Benedict, and fresh cut fries from West Town Bakery and Diner


Photos (clockwise from top left): Chorizo Benedict from Kingsbury Street Cafe; heart “Ranch” necklace from Paperish Mess; group of us out for beer and dinner at Revolution Brewing


Touristy things, like taking selfies in front of Cloud Gate (“The Bean”) at Millennium Park.

During my visit to Chicago, I got to visit friends; eat a lot of really great food and drink good beer, including Short Rib Benedict and fresh cut fries from West Town Bakery and Diner, food and a flight from Revolution Brewing, Chorizo Benedict from Kingsbury Street Cafe, and a breakfast bagel from Chicago Bagel Authority; watch soccer at Cleo’s Bar and Grill; snag some awesome souvenirs from Paperish Mess, Paper Source, and Barker & Meowsky; and even do touristy things, like take pictures in front of Cloud Gate (“The Bean”) at Millennium Park*. And that’s hardly half of it!


Franklin posing in front of Music Hall at Washington Park


Sunset view of downtown Cincinnati from Newport on the Levee

Because my bus was due to return late on Sunday night, I decided to take off Monday. I’m really glad I did, too, as I spent the day reacquainting myself with the city I am so lucky to call home. (I know I was only gone for four days, but I missed Cincinnati, okay?) The day started with a Nati Crepe and Belgian Frites from Taste of Belgium, followed by a quick trip to HOMAGE, taking an epic nap, tiring Franklin out at Washington Park Dog Park, enjoying dinner at City View Tavern, then getting ice cream at Newport on the Levee with a view of this great city as the sun set.

My trip to Chicago was wonderful — as usual — but it also made me love Cincinnati that much more. I am so lucky to call this place home and to spend much of my time as a tourist in my own city.

*Despite having been to Chicago a number of times, that is something I’d never done before.

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