Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Joy of Grocery Shopping

I already knew that grocery shopping was easier in Ohio than in New York. What I wasn't expecting was how much more I would enjoy it.

I've never liked getting groceries. I hated it even as a kid -- the refrigerator aisle was way too cold, I thought. As I grew older and was forced to buy my own groceries, I saw it as a chore to be completed as fast as possible. Make list, grab items, find shortest check-out line. In and out.

In New York, of course, grocery shopping was different by necessity. We often walked to the store, carrying back only the groceries we could carry in our own hands. And the store we typically visited was small. Few items, little selection. In one way this was good -- no choices meant no time pouring over what to buy. But the aisles were slim. Heaven forbid my stroller and I meet someone in the aisle coming toward us.

Now, back in Ohio, I fully appreciate the wide aisles, large selection and low prices. But what has really made grocery shopping more enjoyable is taking Edith. She sits up in the cart, fully taking in everything and everyone around her. I show her how to choose the best bananas, she waves to the other shoppers. It's fun.

I still wouldn't call grocery shopping the highlight of my week. And I still make a list, grab the items and find the shortest check-out line. I think the difference is that my long-detested chore is now a learning lesson for Edith. That's turning lemons into lemonade.

Monday, February 24, 2014

The Difference 3 Months Makes

Happy birthday to my nephew Wyatt, who turned 1 yesterday! I love that Edith has a cousin so close in age.

Edith is a mere three months older -- she turned 15 months on Friday. Yet it seems as if so much has happened in the last three months! She gained almost 2 pounds, to 20 pounds, 1 ounce. She's longer, too: from 29 inches to 30.5 inches long.

She can stand without holding on to anything, although walking is still elusive. But the girl who hesitantly began to wave a couple of weeks before her birthday now waves to everyone in sight. When we sat by the door at Qdoba on a recent Sunday, she greeted everyone who walked by.

Now she points, eats off a plate and tries her best to use a spoon. She can make choices: which cup to drink from, which book to read. She can climb up stairs or to the top of a chair -- although coming back down is another story.

She loves the Itsy Bitsy Spider, especially making the hand motions for the spider. She's on her way to learning the parts of her body. Her belly is a popular choice, with her toes and head not too far behind.

I know there are things I'm missing. It's all happening so fast, it's sometimes difficult to keep track. I can't wait to see what the next three months bring.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

My Surprising Love of the Olympics

The most strenuous game I actually enjoy playing is a rousing round of croquet. Maybe badminton. That being the case, it's surprising how much I love watching the Olympics.

Nevertheless, our TV has been on nonstop each evening with coverage from Sochi -- a big change, since I generally only watch an hour or so of television each night. But over the last week and a half, NBC gets flipped on when Edith goes to bed at 8:30, and it doesn't come off for the next three hours or so.

I love the figure skating, of course, but I also look forward to watching the ski and snowboard events. For a few minutes, at least, I get just as nervous for the U.S. competitors as I ever do for the Ohio State football team. That's really saying something for a central Ohio resident.

What I haven't enjoyed is hearing about the weather in Russia. Often, it's been colder here at home than it is there. Seeing all that snow both there and at home only makes me yearn for spring ... and maybe the summer Olympics.

Monday, February 17, 2014

The Annual Presidents Day Update

It's Presidents Day today, so it must be time for my annual plug of Paul's blog, Presidents by the Book, and an update on our project to read biographies on every U.S. president.

Although Paul added to the blog a couple of times last year, our reading schedule has fallen woefully behind. I last finished a presidential biography, on Woodrow Wilson, shortly before 15-month-old Edith was born.

But we're trying to get back on track. I got the same Wilson biography I read in Brooklyn for Paul at the Columbus library, and I started a book on Warren G. Harding just this past weekend. Hopefully I'll have more to report in next year's update!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

When Will Winter Disappear Already?

January is my least favorite month. February is second from the bottom. But this year, the two months have merged into one awful, cold, mushy mess.

As much as I hated trudging to work in weather like this in years past, looking back on it I think it was good for me. I had to get outside, even if it was just from the apartment to the subway or the car to the office.

Now I not only don't have to go outside, I actively avoid it if the weather is below freezing. That's mostly for Edith's sake, but I'm not very motivated to do so on my own account either.

Edith and I aren't total recluses. At the beginning of the week we go to story time at the library, even if we have to drive instead of walk. Mid-week we have a playgroup meeting -- although I'm always pleased when we host so I can stay inside! And at the end of the week I try to plan some outing, even if it's just to get groceries.

This winter doesn't seem so exciting when I put it in black and white like that. And it really hasn't been. But we have managed to take short walks when the weather has cooperated, and my freelancing is keeping my fingers busy as least. Still, I can't wait to say goodbye to the snow and hello to the sun.

Monday, February 10, 2014

The Best Cookie of All Time: Northstar Cafe's Chocolate Truffle Cookie

When I buy a dessert, it is rarely a cookie. I usually go for a slice of cake or pie: something big, rich and dense. But Northstar Cafe's chocolate truffle cookie fits the bill and holds its own against almost
any other dessert I've ever had.

Northstar is one of my favorite restaurants in all of Columbus, and luckily one of its locations is only a mile from our house. I keep meaning to do a blog post about the place, but the food is so good that I always eat it before I remember to take a photo of it.

As you can see, that was almost the case with this cookie, too.

The cookie is soft and moist, with big chocolate chunks accenting every bite. I'm often so full from my brunch or dinner that I can't even finish the cookie. More for home!

The chocolate truffle cookie is $3 well spent, and I hear that they are even cheaper in the morning if the restaurant has any left from the day before. Truly the best cookie I've ever eaten.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Main Library Playtime in Downtown Columbus

Columbus is blessed with one of the best library systems in the country. We use it a lot -- both to check out books and for our local branch's story times.

What I didn't realize until we moved back here, however, is that the library also doubles as an indoor playground. In fact, the main library downtown has a large play area that I spied when we visited the holiday train display in December.

On Friday I decided that Edith and I would check it out for real. I'm glad we did. We went alone, but most of the time there were other kids for her to play with. And even by herself, she seemed to have fun exploring.

The miniature kitchen was just her size, and the light table also captured her attention. The large area also included a puppet show station, blocks, a train table and magnetic games. Toward the entrance was a large castle-like structure that you could climb -- I'm sure that will be a hit as she grows older.

I would say that the library's play area is like a miniature COSI, but less crowded and with more convenient parking. (The library has an attached garage that is free for the first hour and 50 cents for the second hour. We were there about 90 minutes.) We shall return.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Clintonville is the Williamsburg of Columbus

The results of the Gawker survey made the Facebook rounds last week: Clintonville -- the neighborhood we now call home -- was named the Williamsburg of Columbus.

I disagree.

Williamsburg is the hipster neighborhood of Brooklyn, where transplants to the city pay large amounts for small spaces in order to be surrounded by artsy shops and restaurants. The joke about Williamsburg is that Midwesterners flock to the neighborhood in order to experience the "New York" they've always dreamed about. The punchline being, of course, that they're surrounded by other Midwesterners.

Gawker asked its readers to decide which neighborhood in their own city is most like Williamsburg. The author clarified: in which neighborhood do  "the self-consciously arty creative-class would-be bohemians congregate"?

The votes were tallied, and Clintonville and German Village tied for the title in Columbus. I haven't verified a Facebook comment I read that stated that only five votes were cast for the city, but it's clear the results were far from scientific. It made for good conversation nonetheless.

My vote for the Williamsburg of Columbus would have been for the Short North, the art district of the city just north of downtown. It's much more consciously hip -- probably about as "hipster" as any neighborhood in the city.

Clintonville, on the other hand, is more down-to-earth. It has some of the same grittiness that Williamsburg is known for, but with a fraction of the destination shops and restaurants that both Williamsburg and the Short North are home to.

Clintonville, I decided, is the Fort Greene of Columbus -- close to downtown and growing in popularity. (Another comment I read made a case for Ditmas Park. Its combination of walkability, drivability and general food-co-opiness also makes it an acceptable answer.)

However much fun it is to compare Columbus and Brooklyn neighborhoods, of course no one neighborhood is a replica of another. The biggest difference, I think, is this: nearly every Brooklyn neighborhood is urban, and very few in Columbus are. In that way, only a few Columbus neighborhoods -- Clintonville among them -- is in the least like any Brooklyn neighborhood. And that's why we chose Clintonville to begin with.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...