2016, blog, columbus, debbie, july

Topiary Park

I’ve lived in Columbus since I was in 7th grade and I’ve done a lot of stuff here, in terms of things-to-do main attractions or tourist stops. I was browsing Google Maps (okay yes, to find potential Pokestops) when I stumbled upon this green spot labeled “Topiary Park.” I thought, “Oh, the Franklin Park Conservatory has been mislabeled.” But no, it was something different. I texted my friends and they hadn’t heard of the park either. Sp after work, I booked it over to the park. I had to see it for myself. 
At the Columbus Topiary Park there’s plenty of street parking and parking lots nearby. My meter was free after 6pm. There’s even a gift shop for visitors. All proceeds go to the topiary garden. Unfortunately it was closed when I went. (Meaning I’ll have to go back!)

There’s walkways around the park and benches and tables scattered around. I was most impressed with the small body of water in the middle that boasts topiary boats, a small fountain and gorgeous plants.

The highlight of the park can be seen from upon a small hill. This is where you get the best angle and can fully see how the topiarys come to life to become the famous painting.

This has always been one of my favorite paintings and I think topiarys are so neat so I was so excited to find out this existed in my backyard and that it was so nice. Also, the park was dedicated the year I was born. Coincidence?

Such a Columbus gem!

2016, blog, cookies, debbie, july

White Chocolate Blueberry Oatmeal Cookies

These cookies were baked because Kroger had blueberries on sale. 
I wanted to do something other than blueberry muffins so I found this recipe on Pinterest. 
If I were to make these cookies again, I’d add more flour to make them less mushy. The dough was very wet and the cookies came out really moist, almost too much. I’m not sure if I added too many blueberries and that’s why they came out so moist. 
I brought them into work on Tuesday and people seemed to sort of like them. One co worker doesn’t like any oatmeal cookies so she didn’t try them. 
White Chocolate Blueberry Oatmeal Cookies
Yields 24
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 1 -1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1-1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and brown sugar until blended. 
  3. Add the vanilla and egg until light and fluffy. 
  4. Mix in oats, flour, baking soda and salt. 
  5. Stir in white chocolate chips and blueberries.
  6. Drop dough onto lightly greased baking sheets. I used wax paper and that worked. 
  7. Bake 12-14 minutes or until golden brown.
2016, blog, debbie, july

Comparing Staged Rooms with Real Rooms

Mostly for my own amusement, I wanted to compare and contrast the pictures of how the rooms were staged and how they looked on Saturday.

First off,

I love being so close to the North Market 
Staged Bedroom
My Bedroom (I need to hang my diploma up)
Staged Kitchen 
Kitchen (Bags on the counter)

The staged living room
My living room (Blankets piled up on the couch)

I feel like the take-home message is that things are messy and out of place and that’s okay.

The staged home didn’t show the mess on the counter tops but that’s real life.

2016, blog, columbus, debbie, july

La Chatelaine French Bakery and Bistro

One of my favorite places to stop in for a pastry and coffee before work is La Chatelaine French Bakery and Bisto.  I go to their location on Lane Ave in Upper Arlington but they are also in Worthington and Dublin. I like this bakery because it’s open early enough that I can pop in before 8am and there’s such a wide selection of delicious pastries that it’s always tough to choose just one. I’ve had three or four of their pastries by now and I’ve never been disappointed.

 The staff is incredibly friendly and helpful. I went there this morning and a woman recommended the apple turnover as her favorite and wow, it was amazing.

I asked her what they did for Bastille Day (I couldn’t help notice the red white and blue balloons still up) and she said they had a big turnout for their $17.90 dinner. Then we both agreed that the tragedies in France recently have been awful and made the world a scary place to live in.

 I’m happy Columbus has such a nice French bakery and bistro.


2016, blog, columbus, july


I went to Mozart’s for the first time last night. It’s this upscale bakery, piano bar, Austrian restaurant in Clintonville off N High St. 
I went there during Happy Hour and enjoyed a Madtree PsycHOPathy which they have on draft. I’d never had this IPA before and I would totally order it again. It’s bitter and hoppy like an IPA but smooth and tastes of grapefruit. 
I also ordered the Smoked Salmon Plate which is smoked salmon served on toasted baguettes with cream cheese, capers, red onion, and a side of creamy horseradish sauce. It was delicious. The salmon was phenomenal and the baguettes were soft. I’d order that again for sure. 
Even though it’s not yet November, I “cast my vote” by buying a donkey shaped cookie at Mozarts. They have this cute election themed Cookie Poll where, since it was introduced in 2000, they have correctly predicted the results of the presidential election every four years.
There is a live person playing smooth piano music and the waitress was very attentive and friendly. 
2016, blog, july, nails

Patriotic nails

Usually I don’t do much for the Fourth of July but I was feeling festive this evening so I painted my nails Red, White and Blue. 
I added light sparkles and used a special white nail polish pen to add dots on the blue nails. Some of the dots came out larger than the others but that’s okay. I thought I wanted to add white stripes to the red nails but only put stripes on one thumb. I thought the white dots and sparkles were enough.  
2016, blog, columbus, july, myblog


I admit that freshman year in college, I was in the Gaming Guild. We met Saturday nights in a nice big classroom and played games. I’ve always liked playing board games, card games, etc so I had a good time.

Kingmakers, in the Short North, reminds me so much of my Gaming Guild days.

They have an entire wall of floor-to-ceiling games available. The best part is, a staff member aka Board Game Sommelier will teach you any game. That’s my favorite part of Kingmakers. I’m floored at how these intelligent staff members can know how to play 200+ games and can clearly articulate how to play them.

Recently, I tried three new games from Kingmakers. 

I wasn’t a fan of this game because I generally don’t like games that are too fantasy or mystical related and that have a lot of complicated cards. I thought I would like this game because it involves buying and using cards but it’s more complicated than that. Even by my last turn, I was still stumbling through the motions and unsure what I was doing. I’m told this game is similar to Dominion, which I assume I also would not like, but hey, I haven’t tried it so who knows.

I’d like to play this game again. It was simple, challenging and fun. Each player gets 4 cards and the cards feature a significant invention or event in history (Invention of sign language, Les Miserables publication, invention of the wheel, etc) and the date of that event listed on the back of the card. There’s one card in the middle with the date of the event already revealed. You have to decide whether the cards in front of you came before or after that event out on the table. So it really quizzes you on how well you know history. I could see a trivia buff or history nerd excelling at this game. I beat my partner almost every game. It helped to ask myself questions like “Was this before or after the Renaissance?” or “Did this invention need to already have been invented for the Industrial Revolution to occur?”


This game is like Tetris but not played on a computer screen. You have a wide variety of colorful Tetris style shapes, ranging from one to five blocks. You can lay down a piece as long as it touches diagonally to any of your existing pieces. It can’t touch the side of any of your existing pieces. My partner didn’t explain the rules very well to me so I kept trying to lay down pieces next to my own and they would say “No! You can’t do that!” (That’s why it’s better to let the Kingmakers staff member teach you, instead of letting your partner teach you.) Since I didn’t know what I was doing, my partner almost blocked me into a corner. Even Rose, a Board Game Sommelier said something like, “Hey, why are you doing that when it’s her first time playing?” That left a sour taste in my mouth so I didn’t really enjoy Blokus but I would be up for trying to play it again, as long as it’s with a better partner.

 When you go to Kingmakers, keep in mind there is a flat $5 per person Library Fee. I like to think of it as I’m paying for the Board Game Sommelier’s expertise and to borrow games I’d otherwise wouldn’t be able to play. If you don’t want to pay the Library Fee, you can sit out on their patio upstairs and play games there.

One last reason to go to KingMakers is they have a nice selection of 8 beers and 4 wines on tap and they serve food. Their Happy Hour is every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 5 to 7 pm and it is $1 off domestic beer cans and $2 off tap wine and beer.

When you go:

17 Buttles Avenue
Columbus, Ohio 43215
(614) 223 -1358

Tuesday – Thursday 5PM – 11PM
Friday 5PM – 1AM
Saturday 1PM – 1AM
Sunday 1PM – 8PM
Monday – Closed

2016, blog, july, myblog

My Fourth of July

I had a nice Fourth of July weekend that consisted of so much eating. It was like my summer Thanksgiving meal.

I went to West Milton, Ohio (a small town near Dayton) with my best friend Emily. Her family lives in West Milton.

In the morning, we ate a delicious breakfast, drank coffee and cheered on the runners in the 5k. This is the first year of the 5k and I hope they continue it next year. A lot of people participated, including Emily’s cousin, brother and his fiance.

At 11am, we went to the parade. It’s your typical small town parade. A lot of it is local council members driving their cars or the firetrucks blaring their sirens driving down the street.

A truck towing a truck, towing a truck, towing a truck, towing a truck
One of my favorite moments of the parade was the tow truck hauling five other two trucks. It was this amazing train of trucks. 
For lunch, we picked up applesauce chicken from the local Lion’s Club and ate it at Grandma’s house. 
In the afternoon, we went and bought fireworks and played cards. 
We went to the park to see the fireworks and played BINGO (also presented by the Lion’s Club).
Having a crazy good time. Wait no, we just look crazy. 
2016, blog, book review, july

Orange is the New Black Book Review

Originally reviewed on Goodreads 

I think if I had read this book first before I watched the Netflix show I might’ve had a glowing opinion of it but alas, I saw the Netflix show first and so I kept comparing it to the show. I also read the book after hearing Piper Kerman talk at my alma mater, Denison University, so I already had some pre-conceived notions of Kerman. The TV show and listening to her speak inspired me to pick up and read the book one weekend. 

 The book is a full frontal look at what it’s like in a low level security prison and a critique of the American prison and justice system. 
I appreciated how reflective and honest Kerman was. She wasn’t afraid to admit the things she did or admit that she’s flawed too. In that sense, it’s not so much an autobiography but rather a re-telling of this important time in her life. 
My main problem with the book was sometimes I felt the book did a lot of telling and not showing. It felt like someone was telling me about prison and I wasn’t there in prison with her. That was disappointing to me because I wanted to be in the moment with Kerman. 
 For fans of the tv show, like me, the book is so different. Some of the events in the book show up in the tv show but in new ways or out of order. Also, the names of the characters are different. 

One of my favorite parts of the book was the last chapter where Kerman shares resources and non-profits that are working on changing America’s prison system.

I admire that Kerman now volunteers at the Ohio Reformatory for Women in Marysville. She’s inspired me to apply to volunteer at that same prison. I completed all the paperwork and now I’m waiting to attend volunteer orientation. 

Overall, despite my criticism, I’d read the book again and recommend it to someone wanting an informative and enlightening read.
2016, blog, cookies, july, recipe

Super Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies

I love how these cookies look. So round, soft and most importantly, not burnt. 

These cookies all started because I had a bag of frozen raspberries that I wanted to get rid of. I looked on Pinterest for raspberry recipes and saw this recipe for Raspberry Chocolate Chip Cookies and one for Raspberry Yogurt Muffins 

I baked the muffins first and noticed the batter had somehow turned a yucky grey color. I tried some of the batter and it tasted sour. Perhaps it was sour from the frozen strawberries. I should’ve let them thaw more. So, fifteen minutes later when I was baking the cookies, I was nervous to add the rest of my raspberries to these cookies. In a last minute judgment call, I left out the raspberries and only added chocolate chips. #noregrets

I thought this recipe was pretty straightforward. I’ve made cookies with pudding mix before and I always like the consistency that it creates.  If I were to make this recipe again, I’d cut it in half because 3 dozen cookies is a lot. Also, I baked each dozen cookies one at a time in the oven and stuck the “waiting” cookie sheets in the fridge.

Super Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies 

Yields 3 dozen
Time: About 10 minutes prep and 10 minutes baking

1 cup butter, softened (Two sticks of butter= 1 cup)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 large box (5.1 oz) Instant Vanilla Pudding mix
2 eggs (best if they are room temperature)
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

2 of the 3 cookie sheets used to bake the cookies

  1. Preheat over to 350 degrees F
  2. With a mixer, cream together the butter and sugars 
  3. Add the pudding mix and mix until well blended. 
  4. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix well. 
  5. Add the flour and baking soda and continue mixing. (I gradually added the flour because the recipe calls for a lot of flour)
  6. Stir in the chocolate chips 
  7. Drop cookies onto a greased cookie sheet 
  8. Bake for about 10 minutes 
The cookie dough. Yum!