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.

February 2022 Adventure Date – Sistine Chapel Exhibition

This month found us traveling to Dayton to see the Sistine Chapel Exhibition. I was quite excited about this since I don’t know that we will ever travel to Vatican City to see the real thing. The advertising photos of the exhibit were amazing – darkened hallways full of perfectly hung and lit artwork. It looked very dramatic and like an almost intimate exhibit with a clear direction and lots of space.

Well, as we all know, looks can be very deceiving. I am sure that this art was hung somewhere like the pictures in the past, but for this exhibition, it was tilted against walls that were not really tall enough, so it all leaned away from you. It was bottom lit in a very bright, open room, so it really lost all of the ambience I was expecting. It was also difficult to navigate as there wasn’t a clear path, so people were going all directions. There was also an audio tour you could listen to, either on listening devices they provided or on your phone. The listening devices were not distracting – they were quiet and people held them to their ears to hear. The phones were very loud and definitely made it difficult to read or really get lost in the artwork.

In spite of the chaotic atmosphere, I was eventually able to “settle in” to the experience and really focus on the art. It was amazing to see up close – a very different view than you would ever get in person. You could see the expressions and light and shadows and movement in the paintings so well. It was all out of order, but of course the first thing was The Creation of Adam. There were also many other Old Testament stories in a sort of side passageway – these were the most dramatically lit, were actually mounted fully upright, and also felt the most secluded for viewing.

The bulk of the rest of the paintings fell into 3 categories – Prophet portraits, Sibyl portraits, and The Lineage of Christ family tableaus. The prophets and Sibyls were all people that had foretold part of the story of Christ, and they were all pictured with 2 messengers of God who seemed to be delivering inspiration or information. The lineage of Christ family tableaus showed ancestors of Christ as children with their fathers and mothers to evoke the holy family of Joseph, Mary, and Jesus. I thought these paintings suffered a little from the fact that they were leaned away from us – it would have been pretty amazing had they seemed to be looking down at us instead of fading away. We did think the implied movement and light in these paintings was really breathtaking. Here are a few favorites.

In the middle of the large room of artwork, there was a large reproduction of The Last Judgement. This is a very symbolic and interesting piece that I could have sat and looked at for a long time. I was also one of the youngest in the room, so the benches were not for me. Nevertheless, we did stand and ponder it for quite a while. It contains 390 separate characters, including Jesus, Mary, John the Baptist, saints, martyrs, angels, chosen ones headed towards heavenly bliss, and sinners headed towards eternal damnation. I did not get a good angle to get a full shot, but here are some closer photos of the figures. I find St. Bartholemew (who was martyred by being flayed and is pictured below Christ and to the right just a bit) pretty disturbing with his empty meat suit…

All in all, we walked out pretty happy that we had seen the art, but not fully pleased with how it was presented. We give it 3 out of 5 stars and have found that we hope to see the real thing someday if possible.

Have you been to any excellent art exhibits lately? Did you see the Sistene Chapel Exhibition? Or the real thing in Vatican City? Let me know in the comments!

January 2022 Adventure Date – The Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit (Columbus)

This week, Keith and I got the chance to attend The Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit in Columbus, Ohio. It is a traveling exhibit which will be in a different venue each place it goes, so it will most likely vary a little bit as far as your experience. This post is our thoughts an opinions – your mileage may vary.

We both went into this expecting something that it was not. We thought we would be walking through different rooms and interacting with the different spaces. Instead, we were ushered into a very large room that was 2-3 stories high and had 2 mirrored pillars. There were benches and circles on the floor to note where people were supposed to be in order to be socially distanced. We arrived with about 7 minutes left in the continuously running program (it is about 35 minutes long and has a very brief set of credits that roll before it restarts). The last 7 minutes might have been my favorite – we stayed to watch it twice. The Starry Night, Road with Cypress and Star, and The Starry Night Over the Rhone are featured and it is a lot like watching the moon and stars rise and reflect. It was mesmerizing the way that they edited the elements of the paintings together.

I really enjoyed a lot of the paintings featured in the presentation. I did have some trouble with the way it was edited at times. There were times my vertigo kicked in and it felt like I was going to fall. There were times I could not watch because my eyes couldn’t adjust fast enough. However, most of the time it was a feast for the eyes. I loved it when paintings seemed to build in elements or when one part of the painting moved and interacted in some way. There was always something to look at, and the music seemed to work really well with the presentation. The other part of the show that we stayed to watch twice was the sunflowers part. I did not realize how many different types of sunflower paintings he had done, but I really enjoyed seeing all of the different interpretations. I did not love how jarring the editing seemed at that point, but it went with the music I guess.

I am also a sucker for trees, flowers, and all things nature. Van Gogh seemed to agree because there were so many scenes with gorgeous natural settings. The trees that look like they are ablaze with Autumn color are, of course, my favorite. I also love the one that seems to be the woods with hundreds of fireflies.

Overall, it was not quite what we expected, but we walked out satisfied with our experience. We decided that it was 3.5 out of 5 stars – we were not blown away by the editing, but the beauty was overwhelming at times. I would definitely recommend the exhibit to others and we would love to go back and see the next one – we are told that there will be exhibits like this over the next 3 years. The next one appears to be Gustav Klimt starting in March, and we would definitely consider attending if our schedules are open.

Have you been to The Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below.

Love Letters and Seven Dragons – January 2022 Family Game Night

It finally happened. We were meant to have family game night the weekend of New Years, but everyone had horrible headaches because of the weather. So we postponed it. And then got our COVID booster shots the following week, causing another weekend of not feeling so great. It was not looking good for our family game night this month, but we pivoted and had family game day instead because we were all off of school and work for MLK Day. I made fondue, we snacked and played, and a good time was had by all.

We started out by eating fondue and playing Love Letters. Keith and I had played this at a game cafe several years ago now. We remember liking the game, so we chose it as this year’s “pickle gift” (the gift received by the person that finds the pickle on the Christmas tree first). Charlotte was the quickest pickle-finder this year, so it is technically her game. We will see how that plays out in a few years.

Chocolate fondue remains and Love Letters game

Although both Keith and I remember Love Letters as a quick game, it definitely took a while to get a winner. We all enjoyed it a lot, though, and some new inside jokes were definitely created. I was the biggest loser and Charlotte came out as our glorious winner in the end, although it was a tight race amongst everyone but me…

To finish off the afternoon, we played one quick round of Seven Dragons. This is a perennial favorite of ours and is definitely a go-to if we want something quick with not much set up. I was very, very close to prevailing with my black dragon goal, but Keith managed to swoop in and win at the last second. It was a tough loss, but a very fun afternoon.

Seven Dragons with background folded laundry to add to your viewing enjoyment…

We know that family game night is going to be changing as we continue this year. It might be only 2 or 3 of us at times, but we will definitely shoot for all 4 as much as possible. We are definitely on the look out for more 2 player games – do you have any favorites we should try? Please let me know in the comments!