November 4, 2014

PS - It's still Autumn

Halloween is officially over and apparently that means autumn is as well - at least it seems that way when it comes to all things pumpkin, which is strange to me as pumpkin pie is a Thanksgiving thing and still a month away.  It was weeks ago that stores sold out of pumpkin and Octoberfest beers and replaced them with Christmas ales.  You couldn't even get fall beers for your Halloween parties!

Well I have news for you, big conglomerates pushing Christmas on me…I'm not done with fall yet so please stop pushing mocha and peppermint on me, stop with the snow filled Christmas commercials and absurdly loud Christmas music.  I happen to enjoy autumn and everything that comes with it and plan to draw it out for as long as possible…or at least through Thanksgiving.

With that said I'd like to write about something I find perfectly autumn-ish…apple picking.

I thought it would be a fun date to go apple picking, so Brad, Maggie and I headed up to Erie Orchards.   (My favorite places to go are places that Maggie can tag along too!) It was so funny to hear all the kids yell with glee “look at that dog!” especially since Erie Orchards has a petting zoo full of cute baby goats, which aren't typically seen in everyday life.

Along with the petting zoo, there is a pumpkin-shaped bouncy house, pony rides and a playground for the kids.  There are several craft shops, you can purchase pumpkins, and there is food for sale including apple pastries (the doughnuts are delicious!) and cider.  We went for the apple picking though.

When we inquired about the apple picking, we were told “it’s the end of apple picking season” and out of 12 varieties of apples, there were only 3 varieties left to pick (who needs 12 varieties of apples anyway!)  They were slim pickings near the front of the orchard but the deeper we went, the more apples we found.  We picked about 1/4 of a bushel.

1/4 bushel of apples is a lot of apples for 2 people to eat so of course we cut them up and made dessert!  We started with an apple crisp. I found this recipe at

  • 2-1/2 lbs Apples. Peeled, cored and sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 2-3 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, separated
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup uncooked rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons, COLD, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

  • Heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat an 8x8 inch baking dish with butter
  • Combine apples, sugar, cinnamon and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Toss to coat and place in baking dish.
  • Mix together brown sugar, oats, flour and remaining salt until combined. Using your hands, blend in the butter pieces until small clumps form and the butter is well incorporated.
  • Sprinkle the topping over the apples
  • Bake for approximately 50-60 minutes.  Let cool 30 minutes before serving.

This dish was amazing and it's perfect for autumn…or any other time of the year!

Happy Halloween! (a little late)
Dorothy and Toto…Huge THANK YOU to my husband for drawing an amazing OZ

October 23, 2014

Glass Blowing

About a month ago, Brad and I attended the last Art Walk of the year here in Toledo.  For those of you that don’t know, Art Walks are held on the last Thursday of the month, usually during spring and summer months and take place in downtown and uptown Toledo.  Local vendors line the streets selling art, jewelry, clothing, etc. and many of the shops open up their doors as well.  One of the shops we entered along the way was Gathered Art Gallery, a glass blowing gallery and workshop.  We looked around the shop and stopped for a while to watch as they did a demonstration.

I went home that night and like Gathered’s page on Facebook.  I’m so glad I did!  It was just a few weeks ago I saw in my Facebook newsfeed that Gathered was offering glass blowing classes!  I saw a class to make pumpkins and I signed myself and Brad up immediately.

The class consisted of approximately 20 people and 3 instructors; Ian, Mike and Adam.  They first made their own pumpkin, demonstrating what they would be doing as instructor and what they would be asking of each student.  Then they took students one at a time and created glass pumpkins. 

You get to choose from the selection of any color you want to use; I chose vanilla for my pumpkin and amber for my stem.  After the instructor gathered the hot, clear glass from the container I got to step in and help; adding color and helping shape the pumpkin using different tools to make the glass round,  adding ridges, blowing air into the center, and affixing and curling the pumpkin’s stem.  It’s quite actually a pretty interesting process.

Brad adding color to his pumpkin
Brad blowing air into his pumpkin to shape it
Ian shaping my pumpkin
Adding the stem
 Ian, Mike and Adam were great instructors! They were helpful, patient and extremely knowledgeable.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions about any part of the process!

Once the pumpkins are created you have to leave them at Gathered to cool down overnight.  I picked our pumpkins up the next afternoon. 

I love my pumpkin and plan on taking more of these classes in the future! 

You can sign up for a class or get (at least) 8 of your friends/family together and book your own private workshop.

Here is a list of upcoming classes (All classes are from 6-9 pm)

Oct 30 - Ghosts $45
Nov 6 - Pumpkins $45
Nov 7 - Mini Pumpkins $30 or Snowmen $40
Nov 13 - Mini Pumpkins $30 or Snowmen $40
Nov 14 - Pumpkins $45
Nov 20 - Pumpkins $45
Nov 21 - Pumpkins $45
Dec 4 - Ornaments $35
Dec 5 - Snowmen $40
Dec 12 - Ornaments $35
Dec 13 - Snowmen $40


August 27, 2014

Project iAm at Toledo Pride

Sometimes I get a great idea for a blog, but then when I sit down to actually write it, I realize I have no beginning, middle, or end…just a project.

How about I start from the beginning…

T-shirt I found on Pinterest
My nephew, Matt, is autistic and awhile ago I came across this really cute shirt on Pinterest. I thought it would be great to have one, but at $25 plus S&H, I figured I could just make my own. You can buy one here. I pinned it on Pinterest and quite frankly forgot about it.

Skip ahead awhile, my friend, Heather, asked me if I was free and wanted to volunteer with her at "HoHoHo on Monroe."  You volunteer for a few hours and then get into the event for free. I'm down for free entrance.  It wasn't until the day of the event that Heather told me about the charity, Project iAm,  we were volunteering for.  Project iAm is a charity that gives scholarships to children living on the autism spectrum in the Toledo area.  Suddenly, I was more excited about the volunteering than I was about the free entrance to HoHoHo on Monroe.

I spent most of the night, even after my volunteering shift was over collecting donations in exchange for one of these Project iAm bracelets.

My next opportunity to volunteer for Project iAm was this past weekend at Toledo Pride.  Heather and I started coordinating outfits which included rainbow…basically everything but my favorite part were the tutus and suspenders.  However, as Pride got closer and closer I still hadn't decided on a shirt to pair with my tutu and suspenders.  The rainbow clothing was obviously to support Pride but I had nothing showing that I was also there to support Project iAm. That's when the memory of the autism shirt that I had pinned so long ago came back.

I went out and bought a white v-neck shirt, a large pieced children's puzzle (the kind where they place the puzzle into the board) and this set of fabric spray paint.  You can buy fabric spray paint at any craft store, but I got mine at JoAnn Fabric's for around $20.  I did this project out in the garage and I started with an old white tank top to practice on.  I wanted my puzzle pieces up the side of the shirt similar to the one I saw on Pinterest so I laid the shirt on it's side and put a towel INSIDE the shirt.  The towel is very important, it keeps the color from bleeding from one side of the shirt to the other.  Then I flattened out the towel and the shirt and laid out my puzzle pieces where I wanted them.  Like I said, I practiced on an older shirt first, there isn't a special secret way to spraying around the pieces, just pick your colors and do it.

Luckily, for my friend Whitney, I did the practice shirt first because she didn't have a shirt to wear either. I wore the tank top and she wore the v-neck.

I'm very happy with the way they turned out, and now I have two autism awareness shirts for the next time I volunteer for Project iAm.

Oh, and Pride was pretty amazing too :)

My amazing (and autistic) nephew Matt

Maggie believes in equality too
Volunteering at Pride

August 13, 2014


It was about a year ago when I came across GISHWHES (the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen.)  I don't recall where I found out about GISHWHES but I do remember that it was right in the middle of the 2013 hunt.  I was so bummed out that I couldn't take part but I added my email address to the mailing list so I was sure to not miss it this year.

When the 2014 GISHWHES hunt arrived, I managed to get my husband and 4 of our friends to join my team "Toledoans".  Each team, however, has to have exactly 15 people; luckily if you don't have 15 people, Gishbot will combine you with another team and/or add individuals to fill out your team.  Team "Toledoans" was combined us with a team from Great Britain and became officially known as team "RedBeardLovesToledoans".  Meeting my new teammates (via basecamp) was the first task that GISHWHES required of me, that was out of my comfort zone.

That's what GISHWHES is though,  it's a scavenger hunt that asks you to break our of your comfort zone by completing strange, gross, funny, and charitable tasks that sometimes occur in public.  I must say, we got combined with some AMAZING teammates which made me much less nervous about the whole thing.  Everyone was very supportive and encouraging which unfortunately isn't something I experience everyday, and especially not with complete strangers.  I even commented to my husband, Brad, several times how awesome it was to have everyone commenting things like "great job"or "that's awesome".

My very first GISHWHES item ever was...
147. IMAGE. It's summertime and everyone loves a lemonade stand. But then again, every Tom, Dick and Harry is setting up a lemonade stand in the summertime and the market is flooded.  Respond to consumer demand and carve our your own niche.  Let's see two children manning a "Hot Pasta With Jam Sauce" stand.

Other than setting this up in front of my house with neighbors looking on, it wasn't too embarrassing for me.  I did have to ask for some outside help though (many GISHWHES items require your soliciting help from people who are not participating in the hunt).  Luckily, my brother, sister-in-law, and nieces stepped into help me with this one.  I was excited about how excited they were to help me.

This item was pretty quick and easy for my helpers though.  It took approximately 30 minutes, they got to wear whatever, and they left clean and dry.

Other items I requested of my friends weren't so easy…

I asked them to put on their Sunday best for a boat regatta at a public fountain

28. IMAGE. Stage a mini-newspaper boat regatta in a public fountain with at least four competing vessels.  We must see intense competitiveness and gambling.

We asked these lovely ladies to lie on the ground, and let us tie their hair in knot
55. IMAGE or VIDEO. Create the famous "Spider-hair-knot." Eight long-haired people lying on their backs with their hair tied all together in one big beautiful weave or nasty knot.  Photograph from above.

These amazing people came downtown, in business suits for a water balloon fight.  Several of who we called at the last minute because we didn't have enough participants.
11. VIDEO (slow motion). Set to opera music, stage a water balloon fight between 10 or more participants all wearing business suits.

Still, asking (and sometimes, even begging) your family and friends for help isn't nearly as awkward as asking a stranger for help.  We had to talk several strangers into helping us with this
25. IMAGE. Get all of the checkout employees at a supermarket to wear "Mishapocalypse" masks as they ring up customers.  They all must be working their individual registers when you take the picture.  There must be a minimum of four checkout workers.  The more cashiers, the more points.

We were asked to do a lot of strange and ridiculous things.  We were challenged to embarrass ourselves and hold our heads high.  Oh to see the looks Brad received while buying toilet paper was quite a sight.  The three of us with him, I think, were more embarrassed than he was.

99. IMAGE. Zombies need to buy toilet paper too, right? What does that transaction look like?

To be honest though, not one of those items was as difficult for me as this one.

13. IMAGE. Time flies like a Wooster gone wild.  There's someone in your life - an older family member or an older friend - that will someday be gone.  There's something you used to do with them that you enjoyed or have been meaning to do with them, but never have. Do it now, before it's too late.

This is me and my Grandma.  She has Alzheimer's and we had to move her into an assisted living home over a year ago, probably more.  I've not gone to visit her once even though I keep telling myself I will.  Instead of going though, I'd make lame excuse after lame excuse.  When contemplating writing this blog about GISHWHES, I'd considered not including this item.  To be honest, I'm embarrassed that it took an online scavenger hunt to get me to visit my own grandmother.  I should've gone before, but it's so hard to see her this way.  I decided to add it anyway because I'm grateful that GISHWHES pushed me to do something I was quite frankly, afraid to do.  I won't lie, it was hard visiting my grandma and I cried, a lot, but I'm so glad I finally made the trip to see her.

GISHWHES pushes you out of you comfort zone, but, like in this case, it has the most wonderful results.  My grandma was so happy to see Brad and I, and even though she couldn't remember my name, she knew who I was and she remembered that I was there.  I like to think that we both took something away from that visit.

Obviously, I'd like team RedBeardLovesToledo to win GISHWHES, but on many levels I already feel like a winner. I made new friends and spent quality time with the ones I already had, I laughed a lot, made a fool of myself, and experienced life in a whole new way.   I got to enjoy a week of shenanigans with my husband. All that, plus finally, visiting my grandma, yep…I'm a winner already.


17. IMAGE. You are off to a most elegant formal evening gala. Disaster strikes! Your outfit is ruined! Dress yourself in an outfit for such an evening, using only items found in your bathroom. 

35. IMAGE. Suck blood from a doughnut.

47. IMAGE. Cavemen get a bad rap, but really, they're  no different from you and me.  They like to dine at fine restaurants just like us!

49. IMAGE. Make a 5-foot in diameter bird's nest on a sidewalk in an upscale neighborhood. Nest in it.

100. IMAGE. Provide visual evidence that unicorns really do fart rainbows. No Photoshopping!

109. IMAGE. Obviously, everyone's favorite Captain of the USS Enterprise was Jean-Luc Picard. Create a heroic Captain Picard using condiments (mustard, relish, ketchup, etc.) for paint.

116. IMAGE. Food trucks are all the rage, but I think they tend to be a bit speciesist.  Get a food truck to sell cat food.  It must be on the menu and we must see a cat placing the order.

133. IMAGE. Draw a New-Yorker-style cartoon for the caption "I told them he was half-elephant!"

164. VIDEO. Your friend is in bed, not feeling well.  Feed them a big bowl of warm (not hot) chicken noodle soup. One caveat: instead of feeding them with a spoon, use a leaf blower.

Thank you team RedBeardLovesToledoans for an amazing GISHWHES experience!
69. IMAGE (one image with 15 images edited into it). An image of each of the members of your team in Brady-Bunch style grid format. Photos should be mug-shot style with each team member holding a black and white sign stating their city and country of residence

Note:  These are only a portion of RedBeardLovesToledo's submissions.

July 28, 2014

DIY Tank 2.0

This summer has been so busy and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon!  Between festivals, concerts, vacation, 5Ks, baseball games, charity events, and just making time for friends and family my summer has been fully packed!  My busy schedule started well before summer though, it was way back in May that Maggie and I participated in Bark in the Park.

Bark in the Park is a fundraising event for the Toledo Area Humane Society.  People register, for a donation, to participate in a 1.5 mile walk with (or without) their favorite furry friend.  (I love any event which Maggie can participate with me, and when it’s for a good cause, it’s even better!) Registrants are encouraged to do some fundraising of their own, and those who donate or raise at least $25 receive a Bark in the Park t-shirt.

I’m pleased to say that Maggie and I, well mostly I, raised enough money that I could have gotten a few free shirts.  Let’s face it though, those t-shirts you get at charity events, 5Ks, and other places aren’t the most flattering on everyone.  I took my Bark in the Park t-shirt knowing I’d be able to alter it as to get the most use out of it.  Now, three months later, I finally did just that! 

Here is how you can easily transform your own t-shirt:


Cut across the top of the shirt, just under the neck ring and cut off both sleeves. (Save the sleeves for later.)

Take notice of the back of your shirt if there is any print!

As you can see, I had to cut through part of the print on my shirt.

Fold the top of the shirt over to form an approximately 1 inch hem and sew down.

Again, take note of the back of your shirt if there is any print on it.  I, unfortunately, had to lose the entire Toledo Area Humane Society logo at the top of the shirt.  I did however manage to use my hemline as an underline for the "Bark in the Park Sponsors" print.  I think it worked out well!

Now grab those sleeves you put aside earlier.  Cut the hemmed edge of the end of each sleeve off, careful to keep the hem intact.

Thread the "sleeve edge" pieces you just cut through the hems you sewed at the top of your shirt. 

Then sew the ends of the pieces together.

Move the straps around so these sewed ends are tucked into the hem and don't show. Now you have a cute new tank top!

Bark in the Park was such a great time.  Maggie was surprisingly good and did really well around all the other dogs.  She is usually terrified of large crowds and ALL other dogs, but as you can see in the photo below she walked well ahead of me without a care in the world!  I was such a proud mama! :)

Maggie even won this ribbon for second place in the talent competition!  This adorable little dog gives hugs and high fives! She won a teddy bear as her prize and as you can tell, she loves it!