October 13th marked my 10 Year wedding anniversary with my husband! We decided to wait till November to take our anniversary trip due to hurricane season interfering with flights and weather and an excuse to get away from a chilly Ohio fall!
This was our second trip to Aruba and much longer than the previous trip as well! This trip honestly felt like a dream in so many ways, our resort was gorgeous, everyone on the island was friendly and outgoing, the water was a clear turquoise blue, the food was impeccable, the weather couldn’t have been better (which is the usual according to the locals) and we got a full week away from life to reconnect and celebrate 10 years of wedded bliss!
We stayed a total of 8 nights in Aruba and packed it full with relaxation, walks on the beach, couple’s massages and facials, a snorkeling excursion, a trip to the Butterfly Farm, hanging out on Renaissance Island (AKA Flamingo Island) and lastly an off-road excursion that I consider a highlight of the trip for many reasons!
So instead of trying to pack everything into one post I thought it’d be better to make a few posts to share everything instead! For those of you planning a trip I hope that you find yourself one day on the world’s happiest island, you won’t regret it!
The kiss after saying I do’s on Long Boat Key, Florida
In homes all across the world before a meal is served a prayer is said. So before starting this chapter in my blog about cooking, food, preparation and etc I find it fitting to start with a note about prayer.
Growing up prayer was always said before meals whether in our home or visiting family. My brother and I knew that no matter how hungry we were; the prayers were said first!
My German grandmother or Oma Z would prepare meals that looked as if they had come out of the pages of a European cuisine magazine or cookbook-she seriously gave Julia Child a run for her money! Oma Z would also take the dinner prayer as an opportunity to make it more than just about food. Her prayers were known to include family members back in Germany by name, or thankful that she was able to have all of her children and grandchildren around the table at one time (a rare feat), sometimes it was also keeping us kids in check by praying that we focus more on our studies. Nevertheless, Oma Z was looking out for us in more ways than one and looking back it makes me thankful because it also shaped the way I would pray when I needed help or guidance in my life.
At home I didn’t know it but I was one of the few children in America to grow up with all members of the family sitting around a table for dinner every night. Prayer was there also, usually shorter but just as genuine as Oma Z’s. Looking back I am so thankful for those meals as they not only strengthened our family bond night after night but also appreciation for mom and dad cooking every night and making sure we were all together.
Sharing a few of my favorite prayers growing up and today-
I keep this book (gifted to me by my Mom) on the counter in the kitchen reminding me to be thankful for our blessings.
The Johnny Apple Seed Prayer
Oh, The Lord is good to me,
And so I thank the Lord
For giving me the things I need
The sun, and the rain, and the apple seed
The Lord is good to me.
Earth Water Air and Fire combined to make this food
Numberless beings gave their lives and labor that we may eat.
May we be nourished that we may nourish life.
Thank you God, for the food before us,
The friends and family beside us.
And the love between us.
Bless Our Home Father
that we may cherish
the bread before there is none,
Discover each other before we leave,
And enjoy each other for what we are while we have time.
Do you like a good deal? Who doesn’t right? Because of couponing I have turned into that person who whips out a coupon for food and activities because well…why not and who doesn’t like to save money?
But I didn’t always! I remember that in the past I would go grocery shopping or make a Target run, I would plan a grocery list or even better yet cut out coupons from the Sunday paper and then be oh so happy when I would use them or even remember them! But I found that I could not find a way to really stick with couponing or using them before they expired and then finding them at the bottom of my purse after I had left the store.
Columbus introduced me to store competition that Florida lacked and I also discovered fuel perks and doubling coupons (say what?!) and that’s how I got sucked in. Suddenly there were over three different grocery stores for me to shop and price compare at. Each store had its own policy (which can sound daunting to conquer) but over time I found a way to get the best prices and not feel overwhelmed! I look back to my Florida days and think about how easy it was “back then” but then again, no fuel perks!
When I am out shopping and using my coupons I am stopped at least 2-3 times in the store and get asked everything from “what are you doing?” “Oh couponing, is that like on that T.V. Show?” “Oh I could never do that-I don’t have enough time!” and a personal fave which I got asked again yesterday “Do you actually save money doing that?” I totally get it-it seems intimidating seeing my coupon binder and me meticulously checking my coupons against products trying to get the bottom line dollar for a product but at the end of a shopping trip and I am paying 25% to 50% less than the person behind me for the same products-well then folks-it is totally worth it!
Here is what I have learned:
Organize, Organize Organize! If you don’t know what coupons you have-you will be less likely to use them! Trust me! It took a while to find a system that worked for me but this is another reason why people stop me in the stores because they always tell me what a good idea my coupon book is and that they would probably use coupons more because they always forget them and wish if they knew about this first trick! Try my coupon book idea-if it doesn’t work out for you there are other ways-important thing is to know what coupons you have and when they will expire!
The Sunday paper is where you will find most coupons and I try to buy mine with a Groupon. I like to start saving money from the start because you can find that subscriptions with Groupon there is usually a 25-50% savings over going through your newspaper company sales! Sunday coupons will have new products and seasonal products and sometimes old favorites too but this is great because who doesn’t like to try the new stuff first and for less?
You can also print coupons online from coupons.com This is my favorite online resource for extra coupons especially while you are filling your coupon book or looking for items that you normally buy or something you want to try.
4. Know your stores couponing policy-each store is different and knowing the policy saves time at check out! However, some cashiers aren’t familiar with their own policies and this is where kindness and patience goes a long way especially if they need to call a manager to your checkout to approve coupons!
Know your coupons verbiage and expiration dates and read the fine print-please don’t piss off cashiers and the people behind you in line-don’t be THAT person! Fortunately for the cashiers most coupons will beep when they are expired and the cashier is not able to override this-but it’s just easier to be prepared before using them! As far as fine print goes an example is: If a coupon reads “.50 off any two (2) products” Do not try to use this coupon on 1 item when it says you must buy 2 just because you only want/need 1 item it won’t work-read the fine print.
List of items to get started making your coupon book:
Coupon Sheet Labels to separate your type of coupons- for example: Dairy, Cereal, Medicine, etc. these can be typed out as shown below or use any paper and write them out based on your needs. An example of what I use:
I still advise using a grocery list so you don’t forget what you are shopping for. I put a C next to items on my list that I have a coupon for to remind me in the store!
And last but not least, just because you have a coupon doesn’t mean you must use it! To quote my husband “It’s only a good deal if you use what you buy.“
In the four summers that we have lived in Columbus, OH it has turned out to be the prime time for family to visit and I have made it my mission of sorts to turn their southern minds around about this midwestern state.
Before my husband and I moved to Ohio, I had only visited the state less than a handful of times but the summer we visited for a job interview the city of Columbus hooked this southern girl for a change in latitude and attitude. I fell for the constant summer breeze, numerous water activities and feeling of community with festivals and gatherings.
And like a good tour guide-I’ve listed out my fave things to do when someone comes to town!
The American Whistle Company: americanwhistle.com For less than $5 you can take a tour of the only manufacturer of metal whistles in the United States and come out with a freshly minted whistle to call your very own!
The Franklin Conservatory: fpconservatory.org A favorite of mine year-round is a place you can easily spend a day exploring with art collections by Dale Chihuly, Garden and plant collections, taking classes or walking the grounds-a must do for any gardener or outdoor enthusiast!
Thomas Anthony Chocolates: anthony-thomas.com Need to cool down from the heat-head here for a tour of the factory while chocolate bars and the famous Ohio Buckeyes are being made. A sweet treat for any age!
Ohio History Center and Ohio Village: ohiohistory.org This is on my summer list this year, because after close to four years of living in Ohio-I never really knew how much the state had to offer and learn about! Things that have peaked my interest about the state include: Mammoths and Mastodons roamed the state millions of years ago, how the state was shaped by the glaciers, or about how the state leads the country in the number of astronauts from any state.
The Book Loft: bookloft.com 32, Yes 32 rooms of books- a book worm’s dream come true and a true Columbus cool find! I could literally spend hours here and they also have a nice garden area outside which is lovely on a cool summer night or in the fall
Columbus Museum of Art: columbusmuseum.org This was recently renovated and when I visited again I felt like I had stepped into a museum in Europe. This museum has it all including art collections from Ohio artists and others from the United States to collections brought in such as last summer’s Picasso exhibit, a cute café with indoor/outdoor seating, a spacious gift store all while combining new and old architecture seamlessly!
Places to Eat:
NorthStar Café: thenorthstarcafe.com A Columbus based restaurant with 5 locations and a breakfast favorite that is requested every time family visits for their fresh biscuits, Cloud 9 Pancakes (amazing) and neat atmosphere!
Melt Bar & Grilled: meltbarandgrilled.com A Cleveland based restaurant that takes a grilled cheese sandwich up about 5 notches with 16 kinds of cheeses for a total of 29 different kind of grilled cheese sandwiches-there is literally one for even the pickiest eater!
Schmidt’s German Restaurant: schmidthaus.com Schmidt’s and Columbus are almost synonymous and have been since 1886 first as a meat packing plant then a concession stand at the Ohio State Fair and finally the restaurant it is today. Ask anyone and they’ll tell you the sausages rival a trip to Germany without the need for a passport! Oh, and while you’re there-please don’t forget the Cream Puff! The Cream Puffs are half a pound each-yes you read that correctly-each month they have a specialty one in addition to chocolate or vanilla!
Jeni’s Ice-Cream: jenis.com Jeni’s Ice-cream another Columbus favorite has been around since 2002 and Jeni is her name and ice-cream is her game! She creates specialty flavors that you won’t find in your grocer’s freezer (unless you live in Ohio) She now has scoop shop locations in 8 Cities around the country including Los Angeles! Favorite flavors include (but not limited to): Churro, Riesling Poached Pear Sorbet, Wild berry Lavender, and lastly Sweet Cream Biscuits and Peach Jam, Brambleberry Crisp.
Places to Shop:
Easton Town Center: eastontowncenter.com Imagine trying to decide between 60 places to eat, almost 300 places to shop, live entertainment, or catch a movie -then you’re at Easton if you’re in Columbus! The city knows shopping and has the headquarters for Victoria Secret and Express here and has even been known to have a Victoria Secret Model to make an appearance too!
Polaris Mall: polarisfashionplace.com If Easton Town Center sounds like too much ground to cover (literally) then check this one out instead-about half the size of Easton with 23 places to eat and over 100 shopping options Polaris Mall will make sure you find what you’re looking for without needing a day to cover it in!