June 2022 Create Date – Pandora Bead Class at Glass Axis

In April, I tried to set up 3 months worth of Create and Adventure dates. At that time, we were supposed to take this Pandora Bead class at Glass Axis in May, but it got postponed to early June. That left us scrambling a bit for a May date, but it made things really easy this month as I was at a dead end with the company I tried to work with for June. So, we made the trip over to Franklinton for our class. We were pretty excited to find out that we were the only ones signed up, so we got a lot of attention and tips from our wonderful instructor, Helen.

To get us started, Helen explained the tools and supplies we would be using. Neither of us had worked with a flame so closely before, so I know there were definitely nerves involved. We chose our colors and got all set up.

After we had our colors in front of us, Helen gave us examples of a couple of techniques we would be using. Then it was trial by fire to create 5 beads each.

After we finished each bead, it was labeled and then placed in the kiln to safely cool over the course of a week. We were able to pick them up about a week later, and I am so very proud of both of us! I think they turned out fantastic and I can’t wait to maybe wear some and give some as a gift. There was one bead that broke, but everything else turned out better than expected. πŸ™‚

All in all, I found the process of making the beads pretty meditative. You had a lot to think about (preheating, always rotating, keeping things hot but not too hot, mixing colors, etc…) but it was also easy to get into a rhythm. I would definitely do this again, and I’m pretty sure Keith feels the same.

Have you ever done any flame work? What did you think of it? Let us know in the comments below! πŸ™‚

May 2022 Create Date – Sweet & Savory Grilling Class at Sur La Table

We did it! It was the last few hours of the month. It was the day we had to be up at 3:30 to take Charlotte to the airport. But we totally did a create date for May. Originally, we were supposed to make Pandora Beads at Glass Axis a week ago. That class was moved to next week by Glass Axis, though, so I was scrambling a bit to find something we could do. Then I remembered how much we liked out last cooking class at Sur La Table. After checking their website last week, I signed us up to do their Sweet & Savory Grilling class because it was definitely a new technique we’ve not tried. We don’t even own a grill anymore, but we have been toying with the idea of getting a new one. So, I thought this would convince us one way or the other.

Our class tonight was small – only 4 students – but it was really nice because I feel like we learned a lot and got to try everything. We started by chopping and prepping all of the ingredients for our dishes. Once everything was prepped, we were given a demonstration of how easy it is to make homemade whipped cream – and we got to try vanilla paste for the first time. I loved that we put cinnamon and cardamom in it – so yummy! That was quickly put into the fridge to wait for dessert. Our first creation was sweet pea and mint puree in a small food processor. We spread that on grilled bread and then topped with parmesan cheese, radish slices, olive oil and salt/pepper. It was amazing – I can definitely see us doing that again.

The next thing we did was chargrill corn, cherry tomatoes, and red onion slices to make a refreshing salad/salsa. A little basil chiffonade, olive oil, red wine vinegar, and salt/pepper mixed in and it was one of my favorite parts of the meal. We ate it with the grilled salmon, and it was a really refreshing combination.

The final part of our meal was grilled nectarine halves. The nectarine halves were soaked in honey and Grand Marnier before being grilled. We topped it with the whipped cream we made earlier in class and it was divine. I would seriously recreate this entire meal – and it wouldn’t even take that long.

Overall, we give this class 5 out of 5 stars. The chef was very knowledgeable and I feel like we learned lessons that we can use to make variations on the recipes. We also learned a lot about grill pans and knives, which I appreciated. Last of all, she gave us the best idea for a gift for my Dad – but I can’t reveal that before Father’s Day/his birthday this month.

Have you ever taken a cooking class? Where was it? What did you learn? Leave any and all ideas in the comments – we are always looking for new things to try. πŸ™‚

May 2022 Adventure Date – Wicked at Ohio Theatre

We have had a rough month in our house in a lot of ways. Our youngest daughter is involved in theatre at her high school, and we are heavily involved in volunteering for the theatre program. The musical this year had some hiccups that resulted in 2 weekends of shows 2 weeks apart. In between, we had COVID in our household (I am still fighting a cough and fatigue). Add in all the regular end of school year celebrations and events and you can see how we didn’t get a lot of time for dates. On top of that, both dates that I had scheduled for this month got postponed by the event coordinators. So, we are making lemonade and counting our Wicked experience as our adventure. We have been to the Ohio Theatre for many shows the past few years – we’ve had season tickets since the 2018-2019 season that included Hamilton. We also saw a couple of shows and a few symphony concerts in this beautiful space. These tickets were different, however, as we were able to get seats in the second row! We were one row away from the pit and it was a totally different experience.

We are used to being in the balcony and not being able to see any details. From the second row, we could see the stage details so much better – it was amazing. I loved being close to the special effects, makeup, and costumes. However, we were in front of the speakers and next to the pit, so there were times when we couldn’t clearly hear the actors on stage. And we did see a lot of spit sitting that close.

Overall, I am really glad we had this experience, but we will be trying to move our season tickets to the Loge, not the Orchestra section. We prefer to be a little above the action and have a clear view of the whole stage. I would definitely recommend trying it at least once to anyone, though. Especially for anyone interested in theatre tech of any kind.

Have you ever been to a show in the Ohio Theatre? Have you ever seen Wicked? Let me know in the comments what you thought of either one.

April 2022 Create Date – Bicycle Spin Art Columbus

Last Sunday, we finally had a chance to do our Create Date for April at Bicycle Spin Art Columbus. The Columbus location opened April 9, 2022, so they don’t have a sign outside yet. You have to enter through Columbus Axe Throwing which was a little bit confusing. I went in just to ask where we needed to go, and that’s when we were directed down the stairs by the bar – after getting a couple drinks, of course.

Upon arrival, we were asked to cover up in coveralls and boots which they provided. We also had to sign waivers and create our name tags. There was a list of artists, a list of bike manufacturers, and then you added the name your kindergarten teacher called you. Keith and I were just called our names, so our tags aren’t the most creative ever…

Our Bicycle Spin Art host, Brooklyn, gave us a run down of how the process works, and then we were set free to experiment. Since I am, by nature, the more chaotic and experimental creator, I went first. I decided to mask the center with letter stickers to spell CREATE, and then I did just that. It was really fun to experiment with how fast or slow to pedal, how to pour the paint, and which direction to spin.

Keith went with a lot more negative space in his painting, and he was a lot better at directing me on the bike. He also had the advantage of all of the experimenting I did, so I think he was able to be a little more precise with his choices. Either way, I think our paintings are pretty much polar opposites. LOL

We really enjoyed this experience! We have even talked about going back as a family to make more. We are planning to add our art to the front room of our house, but it is not a project we are taking on right now. Here is what our final products look like – I love them so much! πŸ™‚

Have you ever done any spin art? Would you love to try it? Let us know in the comments. πŸ™‚

April 2022 Adventure Date – Hanami (Cherry Blossom Viewing)

This is the inaugural year for the Columbus Cherry Blossom Festival, but the history of the cherry blossoms in Franklin Park dates back 10 years to a the gift from Japan – 20 cherry trees to celebrate the Bicentennial of Columbus. It echoed the 1912 gift from Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo, Japan to our nation’s capital. Over the last 10 years, the Columbus Recreation and Parks Department (CRPD) and the International Voluntary Organizations (IVO) have worked to obtain 82 additional trees to bring to Franklin Park.

When I heard there was going to be Hanami, I was a little bummed that we had other plans during the actual festivity times last weekend and this coming Sunday. We LOVE cherry blossoms, and they are actually something we got to experience a little bit the first time we went to Japan together. I was completely thrilled when we were able to sneak over at lunchtime today. The weather was less than ideal, so the color is not as pretty as it would be against a blue sky, but it was still really beautiful. I would say, as long as the rain and wind don’t take them, the blossoms will actually peak sometime in the next week, so you still have time to check them out. We started by walking around the lower pond, but I do have to warn you that there was a bit of a stench at one end of that pond. It cleared up as we walked around towards the upper ponds, though, and you could smell blossoms in the air. Here are a few of the photos I took.

I also dug out a couple of photos from our trip to Japan in 2001 to show the beautiful cherry tree at the temple on our friends’ wedding day. It was such a gorgeous and joyous day!

Of course, as any good mid-day date does, our time end at Starbucks for a very Japanese combo of a pink drink and a matcha latte. Definitely highly recommended to enhance your hanami pleasure. πŸ™‚

Someday we will make it to Washington DC or even back to Japan for hanami, but this year we are content with this experience. Have you ever been anywhere for cherry blossom viewing? Let us know in the comments!

March 2022 Family Game Night – Deadbolt Mystery Society Box

One of my favorite things, something that actually helped me stay slightly sane during quarantine, is subscription boxes. Getting surprises in the mail is the best! So, I had a wish list on Crate Joy (a subscription box website) for Christmas 2020, and we were very lucky to be gifted a subscription to The Deadbolt Mystery Society. Keith and I have been doing the boxes for a little over a year at this point, and we really enjoy them. We even have a system of solving them so that we can pass the box on to someone else – minus the collectible sticker that comes in each one. (I LOVE stickers – that is my other subscription box obsession….)

This month, we did not get a family game night. It felt like we were just really busy, but I really don’t recall what we were doing… Anyway, Keith and I did do the Blackout box from Deadbolt Mystery Society. I am not going to give away any of the clues or anything, but I will show you a little about the boxes. We always use a separate notebook or my reusable Rocketbook Notecards to keep all of our notes and ideas in one place. This is what we see when we first open the box:

The Start Here page has all sorts of helpful information, including a link to make sure that you have everything you are supposed to have in your box. We have never been missing anything, but you never know. When we spread everything out, it usually looks like this:

There is always a Beginning Brief, at least 1 large envelope to be opened at a specified time in the mystery, and then there are usually suspect cards of some sort. The rest varies wildly. We look through everything to try to figure out what we should be doing. There are always QR codes, so we like to use an iPad because we are older and so are our eyes. You could also use a phone or anything else that you can use to read QR codes. Sometimes there are audio clues, there was a virtual room once, and there are often pictures and cyphers when you scan QR codes. We have been pretty happy with the different types of clues – there is truly something new in each box. There are also hints available, but I think we have only used that one time.

Overall, we would definitely recommend The Deadbolt Mystery Society. We would not recommend all boxes for all ages – some can be pretty dark, so be aware of that if you are wanting to do these with kids. Have you ever done any mystery boxes? Do you have any that you recommend? Let us know in the comments!

March 2022 Adventure Date – German Village Mystery Picnic

Last weekend we had a chance to do a double date with some friends of ours. We had been talking about doing a Mystery Picnic since last summer, so we were really excited that it finally worked out. We booked the experience through a company called AmazingCo and we chose the German Village option. We were hopeful that booking the end of March would be warm – you know, March comes in like a lion and out like a lamb and all? Well, it ended up being super chilly. Like in the 20s. But, we persevered and took advantage of the warm businesses we got to patronize.

To start the adventure, we were emailed a link to the clues the night before our adventure. We separately solved the first clue and compared notes to find out where we would be meeting the following morning. I am not going to ruin any surprises because we do recommend this experience to others. I can tell you that we were happy to be given hot drinks at our first stop.

When you book, they tell you to bring plates, cups, a cooler bag, and a knife with you. We had all of that, but because of the weather, we really only needed the bags. We were allowed to “picnic” inside our last stop, so that worked out really nicely for us. Here is a shot of our “picnic” set up.

We had clues that led to 4 different destinations in German Village to pick up food. Everything was pre-arranged and all we had to do was tell the people at the businesses that we were doing a mystery picnic with AmazingCo and they had our orders ready pretty quickly. We would then solve our next clue and we were off. If the weather had been warmer, I am sure we would have explored some more. We did find a few interesting things along the way, though, so I will include those photos below.

Overall, it was a great experience. We enjoyed a variety of foods, tried some new places, and got to spend time with our friends. I would give this 4.5 out of 5 stars – there was a little confusion at the last stop about where we would be able to eat, but once that was solved, we were very well taken care of. I think this is because of a little miscommunication on the part of AmazingCo, but it was very minor.

Have you ever done a food adventure? This is our second – you can read about our first here. So far, our food adventures have been double dates, and we have very much enjoyed that. We are definitely on the look out for the next food adventure – tell us your ideas below! πŸ™‚

March 2022 Create Date – Glass Axis Sushi Date Night

We recently had the opportunity to take the Sushi Date Night class at Glass Axis. We had been to Glass Axis in 2019 to make Glass Sculpted Shamrocks, but this class is a totally different way to work with glass – glass fusing. Basically, we got to make a picture on glass with glass and then it was all melted together. The evening started with sushi and drinks, but I did not take any photos of that part. We were also given instructions on how to use several glass cutting tools and what types of glass we had at our disposal. Alex was a really helpful teacher and we enjoyed learning from her. After a talking through a few ideas for our design, we settled on a sun and rainbow motif.

Keith worked on the rainbow for the main sushi plate while I worked on the dip bowl. I think that Keith’s idea to make the rainbow a little fractured was brilliant, and I enjoyed doing just a little mosaic work for the sun.

We were told that we needed to wait 2 weeks to pick up our pieces because of the kiln schedule and COVID, so it was really exciting when I got to pick up this week. We love how they turned out, but we definitely have ideas for how we would do things differently if we were to do it again sometime.

Bringing home our pieces inspired an impromptu family sushi snack time, and I am totally here for it. Look how gorgeous this spread is (sushi is from Kroger – I can make it, but chose to buy it this time).

Family sushi snack time!

Incidentally, we will be heading to our favorite local sushi restaurant, Mr. Sushi, this weekend to celebrate our youngest daughter turning 17. Time can slow down a little bit… Do you have a favorite sushi restaurant? Let us know in the comments!

February 2022 Family Game Time – Jackbox Games

It is the last day of February today, and I am coming in just under the wire with this post friends. We had a bit of a crazy February with weather and car shopping and dinner theatre at our high school and auditions and classes and two birthdays and a wedding. I wasn’t sure this was going to be a month where we hit this goal. It wasn’t looking good. And then, yesterday we found a pocket of time in the afternoon to play a few Jackbox Games together. It wasn’t a long pocket of time, but it was enough. I think we all walked away feeling a little more connected to each other. And that’s really the point, isn’t it?

We started our time playing Drawful 2. We have usually been big fans of this one, and it did not disappoint this time. Keith and I actually tied for this round – something that has not happened before, but I think we all had some pretty funny/interesting drawings. To get into the game, you have to go to Jackbox.tv on your phone or tablet and enter the code shown on your computer. Once everyone has done that, you can start playing. When the game starts, every player is given a prompt to draw. Then everyone is shown the drawings and writes what they think the prompt could have been. In the end, everyone tries to guess which is the true prompt for each drawing. It really is a lot of fun! Here are a few highlights:

The next game we tried is Quiplash. For this one, you are given prompts and you write funny quip – like a witty description or summary. The game pairs up two players for each prompt, and you blind vote for the quip you like best. This one is harder for Charlotte because of the writing and her dyslexia, but I think she ended up in second and I lost big time. Maddie was the big winner of this one. Here are a few highlights:

The final game we played this time was Guesspionage. For this game, each player gets a turn each round. You are given a question that involves a percentage of people – like “What percentage of people like Jackbox Games?” You set the percentage to your best guess, and then everyone else gets to guess if the real answer is higher or lower. Some of the questions are pretty obviously high or low, but some are really difficult to guess. The answers come from polling people online, so that is always at least in the back of my mind because I think it does narrow down which people would be answering. The big winner for this game was Charlotte, mostly because she was just really good at guessing the percentages on her turn. Here are some of the questions we had:

I know that we will definitely play some Jackbox games again – either as a family or with our friends. It is enjoyable for larger groups and can be done completely online, so it was our go-to for a while during quarantine.

Have you ever played any Jackbox games? Which is your favorite? Let me know in the comments below!

February 2022 Create Date – Columbus Cookie Academy

When everything shut down in March 2020 and Keith was suddenly home for lunch, we started watching television together while we ate everyday. We started with rewatching Community, we’ve watched every season of Taskmaster we can find, we went through as much of the Goldbergs as we could stand, enjoyed Schitt’s Creek, and I’m sure I’m forgetting a few. Over the holidays this year, we went through all 5 seasons of the Christmas Cookie Challenge. We loved seeing the techniques the contestants used, and Keith mentioned that he would love to take a cookie decorating class. You know that I was all over that!

After searching a bit on Facebook, I started emailing back and forth with Molly from Columbus Cookie Academy. Keith and I seem to have a lot of meetings these days, but eventually we were able to find a date that worked for us to go try our hand at some icing techniques. That date then had to be pushed back due to the ice and snow storm the beginning of this month, but we were finally able to make up that class this week. We made the drive up to Galena very excited to decorate some cookies.

Molly was so personable and easy to talk to. She had an amazing way of explaining things so we could understand, and she was very sweet to answer any questions we asked. The first thing she did was demonstrate making the royal icing that we would use. She included that recipe and her cookie recipe in the goodie bag we got to take home after the class, and she made sure to walk us through it step by step so that we can replicate it at home. The next thing she helped us with was getting the icing to the right consistency and colors to decorate our cookies.

Next it was time to learn to flood the top of the cookie with icing. We then learned some wet on wet techniques. She seemed to think that Keith and I were naturals – I did volunteer that I have taken cake decorating before, so I wasn’t exactly a beginner. But Keith was definitely excellent at this from the start. I am so proud of him!

In between steps, the cookies went in the dehydrator so the icing could harden a bit. It was fun to decide how to divide each cookie for decorating and what techniques to use.

In the end, we both decorated 5 cookies. Molly also gave us some quadruple chocolate cookies she had made – mine had sea salt on top and was divine. Yum! We were thrilled with the box of cookies we got to take home – and so were the kids. πŸ™‚

Our finished cookies – can you guess who did what? There are clues in the photos above. πŸ™‚

We both left this experience feeling really positive – Keith is already planning to make cookies for the Spring musical cast party in May. I think we should choose a slightly smaller project for our first one, but I like his enthusiasm. We definitely recommend Columbus Cookie Academy if you have any desire to learn to decorate cookies!

Have you ever done any cookie decorating? What is your favorite royal icing technique? We’d love to hear in the comments.