Dayton Area Fall Favorites

It’s finally September, so if you haven’t gotten spooky yet – now is the time! I started decorating around August 1st because I was just too excited to wait. Would you be interested in some Fall decor photos?

Since moving to Dayton, Stephen and I have developed some favorite annual Fall events that we always attend. It’s been super exciting to share that with CJ as she gets older. We LOVE autumn. The tree changing colors, the welcoming fall decor, all of the mums, spooky decor, and the crisp cool air speaks to us.

Two weeks ago was the Fairborn Sweet Corn Festival and even though this is mid August, it really feels like the start of autumn for us. It’s held every year around the 3rd weekend of August at the Fairborn Community Park. The dinner is what draws us in – blackened chicken, corn fritters, lemonade, and fresh steamed & delicious corn!

Another favorite is Katie’s Pumpkin Barn. This is a small place and it is not a u-pick pumpkin patch. It is better because it is literally a barn full of every color, shape, and size of pumpkin you could imagine. The barn is always decorated for the spooky season and usually opens at the start of September.

They have a live stock that you can look at and sometimes pet. They even have a small corn maze that is super friendly for small children. I think what I love the most is the classic Halloween decorations. Katie’s is our favorite stop in Autumn!

Peifer Orchards is a new place that we explored last year. We went Apple Picking! Again, this venue isn’t huge, which is what we loved about it. They sell mums, baked goods, pumpkins, and apples. You can do your own apple picking, which is so fun! It’s a bit of a walk down the path, so if you have little kids make sure to bring their strollers. CJ got tired and just sat down in the middle of the trail last year after all of the excitement. This year, we will bring the stroller.

Honorary mentions –

Tecumpsah Land Trust for Sunflowers – its best to check their Facebook for updates about the fields.

Hiking at the smaller family friendly trail at Wegerzyn once the leaves begin to turn.

Apple Butter Festival in Enon in October 12th & 13th

Sauerkraut Festival, if you don’t mind give crowds! October 12th & 13th in Waynesville.

Potato Festival – get there early to beat the crowds. I recommend the potato ribbons! Happening on October 5th & 6th in Spring Valley

Ohio Renaissance Festival is a must! Now -Oct 27th on Saturdays and Sundays

Dayton Dragons

PLAY BALL!

Sitting on the lawn at a Dayton Dragons baseball game, watching pitches, swings, misses, and home runs…. you never really think about what goes on behind the scenes.

My husband was recently honored as a Hometown Hero at a Dayton Dragons game and with that comes VIP tickets, a swag bag, & a tour through the stadium. It was so eye-opening to see what goes on beyond the field.

We started with the main lobby – full of photos showing honored players who went on to play for big league and memorabilia collection of a record breaking sold-out game streak. Things I never really knew about the Dayton Dragons, even though I’d been to the games.

Next we headed on downstairs. The players were getting ready to play the Whitecaps, so instead of peek into the bustling locker rooms & gym, we were shown pictures of what they look like and why they wore different jerseys depending on who and when they were playing.

Up next? THE BASEBALL FIELD! I never knew how much I wanted to stand on the Dayton Dragons field until I was there. It was a totally different view. Standing there looking at the 6000+ fan seats I found myself wondering how the players even keep their head in the game when all eyes are on them. It’s truly impressive.

Standing on the field was a favorite, but closely following that was when we headed upstairs to see the media portion. Huge towers of servers, screens, buttons… lights, cameras, ACTION! It was so captivating to see all of the people that it took to create the optics of each and every game.

We saw a few more cool photos and heard some fun facts before we headed on down to our seats. I have to mention the food. The concessions at the Dayton Dragons Stadium is very well varied. I vote for the BBQ next time you visit. It was such a cool experience and we were so honored that my husband was chosen for that evening’s Hometown Hero.

Fun fact about the photo above! There are only two weeks in time difference between the last two photos! Can you imagine how much work was put in in those last two weeks?

If you live in the area and haven’t been to a Dayton Dragons game, you need to make it out there! Oh, and I almost forgot to mention the outstanding & hilarious mascots – Gem & Heater – our residential Dragons! They perform the best skits during the game and kids LOVE them!

5 Tips for the Three Rs

Every Wednesday, Layla from Lettered Cottage does a segment called “Let’s Go With Layla” on her Instagram and she shares 5 tips, ideas, or cool finds that she spots out and about. A few weeks ago, she decided to open the floor up to anyone who wanted to participate and host their own Let’s Go With Layla!

Stepping WAY out of my comfort zone, I decided to hop on Instagram and share a few of my favorite five tips in the topic of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

So let’s go (with Layla!)

Tip One: Cutting out the plastic water bottles! I’m actually super guilty of this. I’m very weird about drinking water from the sink – I always have been. So up until about March, I was buying water bottles by the 24pack. Between my husband and I, we would put out 60-70 bottles a WEEK!

I finally had enough so I just dove in and bought a water filter while I was at the grocery store. It has reduced our recycling waste by a bunch and I feel much better about our smaller impact on plastic use.

This is the one I purchased from the grocery store Classic 18 Cup Dispenser

Tip Two: Ditch the plastic shopping bags! I invested less than $7 in reusable grocery bags from my local grocery store and haven’t looked back since! I always take them with me! Pro Tip: buy a clip to hang them from the cart, so you take up less space inside the cart. It’s so nice not bringing all of that one use plastic into my home. Luckily lots of stores now recycle their plastic bags, so you can just bring them back to the store if you’ve got a collection or forget your reusable bags.

I want to add that I just switched to using mesh bags for my fruits and vegetables instead of those super thin & hard to recycle plastic bags in the produce section. I love them so much! Click here for the Mesh Bags I bought on Amazon.

Tip Three: Regifting Books/Library Card! I joined a challenge in January on Facebook where if you shared the post, you agreed to send one book each to the first 5 people who commented, as long as they also shared it and committed to the challenge.

It got me thinking – I tend to read books and just leave them sitting on a shelf for… well, ever. So now aside from this challenge, I’m also making it a habit to regift these books. I’ve also stepped up my library book borrowing game up.

Tip Four: I try to be really smart about buying CJ toys. I tend to buy less toys that have batteries and buttons because they break easier, creating more waste. I also look for toys made from recycled items. Bonus points if those toys are second-hand, but I always deep clean them when I get them that way. Don’t worry – she has plenty of new loud and bright toys too.

Tip Five: Reusable straws & cups are a favorite in this house. I purchased some reusable straws on amazon and have collected an assortment of reusable water and coffee cups over the years. Most places don’t mind you using your own – some even encourage it.

The straws came in a carrying pouch, so I can keep them in my purse. The cups are harder to carry around, but they do encourage me to just fill up at home. That ultimately saves a little bit of money – especially at the coffee shop!

So there you have it! 5 easy ways to Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle! What are some of your favorite 3R Tips?

Florida Mural Trail

CJ and I went to Florida for the month of May and though it was full of family time, we headed out for adventures of our own. I grew up in Vero and though she may not remember this trip, I wanted to show her my hometown.

One thing that Vero Beach didn’t always have was the mural trail. Florida has this huge mural trail and it was nice to see Indian River County join in on the fun. We made it to all but 3 murals in IRC. We didn’t make it to the ones in Sebastian, but we hit up all of the others.

We broke the adventure up over a couple of days to keep from being overwhelmed…. because you know, toddlers. A lot of them are located right in downtown Vero and down Old Dixie Hwy. There are a couple on the beach side and one down the dirt road part of Oslo, towards the river.

It was nice revisiting some of my favorite spots, but it was especially nice doing it with my daughter. She had a lot of fun taking walks and posing in front of the murals. She had so much fun at the bird mural that she didn’t want to get back into the car.

Click here if you want a quick list to IRC’s mural trail *or* keep reading my version for recommendations of what to do in those areas! Almost all of them are done by different art clubs, schools, and artists. They are credited on the link above!

Audubon Center, Oslo Road

Audubon Center on Oslo Road – The first one I want to share with you is this gorgeous mural full of Vero’s wildlife! Check the hours before to go – we did show up when they were closed, but you can still walk in and see the mural. They also have a little wildflower garden in the back! Afterwards, head on over to the Oslo Shopping Center for ice cream at Smiley Riley’s. Totally kid friendly, but if you are over 21 they have a special menu for you!

Mr. Smokes, 20th Street

This one is close to downtown, but set off from the others. It’s such a cute mural and it’s located right on the side of the Mr. Smokes on 20th Street.

Downtown Vero

The next collection of murals are all located on 14th Ave and Old Dixie Hwy. The Vero Beach Mural is across the street from Southern Social. The Native Indian/Citrus Mural and the Firefly (first pic of the blog post) are in the alley next to Southern Social. The mermaid is on the entrance to the amazing Kilted Mermaid restaurant – great place to grab a beer and some roasted olives. They also have cheese AND dessert fondue. The hibiscus mural is located next to the railroad tracks, right across from the Blue Octopus (great place of unique artwork & furniture). The floral mural is on the side of The Hazel House. Another great home decor store. And last, but not least, the restaurant mural is located across from Kountry Kitchen.

Downtown Vero has a lot to offer – shopping, food, beer, and businesses. I totally recommend walking around some time and checking it all out.

Riverside Park

This one was by far our favorite! It’s located in Riverside Park right by the tennis courts. Charlotte had a blast here. We actually saw a blue jay and a wood pecker in the trees approaching this mural! There is a walking trail right in front of this mural, so it’s a great place for a walk with a view!

Sticking with the beachside for a second! Here are two more murals located in East Vero. These are so close to the beach that you’d be totally missing out to not make this apart of a beach day. The first is located on azalea lane, between cardinal drive & ocean drive. Fun fact! The second mural, the beach scene, is located at Bethel Creek House – where my husband and I held our wedding reception back in 2009!

There were several murals by Christopher Sweeney and they are all similar to this mural. This one is located on 14th Avenue in Vero, right near the FLC. He has several other murals located up and down Old Dixie Hwy and I believe I even saw one in Ft. Pierce. Keep a look out for these in Vero! If it isn’t a heart, it may be a cute little robot.

I’m throwing in some honorable mentions that weren’t on the list provided by VisitIndianRiver.com.

Hidden Valley Orchards

The sunshine was working it today! It has been a whole week of clouds, thunderstorms, and dreary days, but we finally woke up to total sunshine this morning. I immediately decided that CJ and I needed to get out of the house for an adventure that didn’t involve a grocery store.

So we headed out to Hidden Valley Orchards, which has been one of our favorite places to visit since we moved to Ohio. HVO has changed a lot since the beginning, but it’s still an amazing family adventure.

During the summer, they host holiday events, Fruit festivals, petting zoos for kids, and u-pick events. Everything from grapes to apples! They also sell small home decor, fresh fruits & vegetables, baked goods, and canned items. They also just opened a bar and huge patio area this year!

So today CJ and I headed out to pick some blueberries! We got a pint sized buckets for five bucks and ventured out to the fields in search of something yummy.

I love to do stuff like this with her. We went strawberry picking last year at HVO and apple picking in the Fall at another orchard in Yellow Springs. Much like last year and my tomatoes though, she picks the ripe berries AND the tiny little green ones too.

After we filled up our pint-sized bowl of blueberries, we headed inside for lunch. Hidden Valley Orchards has a huge and delicious menu! Burgers, sandwiches, salads, flatbreads, and so many delicious baked goods.

I got CJ a burger with a side of fresh fruit and I got a bacon grilled cheese with green beans. We also got a buckeye brownie, which is less of a brownie and more of a small sized cake.

It was a gorgeous day and totally something we needed after such a gloomy week. We’ve been having a hard time getting back into a routine since we got back too, so even though it’s quite opposite of routine, the spontaneity of today was just what we needed.

And now we’ve got some delicious and as fresh as they get blueberries for the weekend. I’m thinking blueberry pancakes? Muffins? Cake? Or all of the above!

HVO is located at 5474 OH-48 in Lebanon, Ohio 45036

Click here for their Facebook for more info

Doing Dayton

One thing I’ve always loved is exploring & experiencing a new place. My husband and I are the same way – we adapt to wherever we live or visit. After 4 years though, we’ve slowed down on exploring the near by city of Dayton. We’ve stumbled into revisiting our favorites.

So when my brother, James, came to visit I got to dive back into being a tourist to show him around. We had 1.5 days to explore, so this is how we crashed into the Gem City in the short time we had.

Wednesday

I picked James up in Columbus at the airport around 1:30pm. After a quick stop at the house, we headed down to the Oregon District. I wanted to show him the heart of it all.

After a driving tour of historic buildings and landmarks, we parked at the Oregon District where we checked out places like Beck & Call, Bonnett’s Book Store, Omega Music, & Spice Paradise. We finished off our evening with the Gem City staple, the Dublin Pub.

What I love about the Oregon district is that you can find almost anything you are looking for, but also just park and explore. There are cute little niche stores, bars, restaurants, tattoo shops, and businesses. A good morning full of new things to find.

Thursday

We started this day out early! I wanted to treat him to one of my new favorites – St. Anne the Tart. We loaded up with a sweet tart, a cookie, a salted brownie and two delicious Mocha Lattes before taking a drive around the historic homes of St. Anne’s Hill. James loved all of the brick homes.

The Air Force Museum was what we conquered next. This museum is free and a great place for aircraft, military, & war related history. It will take 2-4 hours just to walk through, even longer to read every plate & sign. It’s an amazing place to visit.

We checked out Zombie Dogs and my brother was a HUGE fan of it. Since we were close, I took him for a drive around Woodland Cemetery for a view of the city. James is also a lover of anything game and comic related, so we checked out DK Effect – free games if you get a drink!

Lastly, we ended up in downtown Fairborn at the comic and toy stores. My brother is one of those people who can casually converse with anyone, so his trip into Time Warp Toys & Collectibles was exactly that! He spent at least forty minutes exploring and chatting with the owner while CJ and I hopped over to Lefty’s Eats & Espresso for an iced mocha & bagel.

It was totally refreshing to act as part tourist, part tourist-guide in a place I’ve lived for almost four years. It reignited my love for all of the tiny gems (pun-intended) nestled within Dayton.

If you’ve become comfortable in your hometown or wherever you live, I definitely recommend finding a few new places you haven’t been and working them into your favorites list. It just might reopen your eyes to your own surroundings.

What are your favorite places where you live?

It’s done. She’s two!

I’m sitting here on the couch with a heating pad shoved down my shirt because it is 16° degrees outside and with my daughter curled up on my lap under a blanket. All is right in the world. Why does this moment matter so much? Because she’s finally two and we conquered her birthday party on Sunday!

I’ve been planning her Bunny themed party since mid-January and my anxiety did not take a break. But alas, friends, it is done. She is two!

Some Bunny is Two was her theme! We had a garden of veggies, fruit salad, bunny t(r)ail mix, punch, and pizza. Oh, and those super cute cupcakes up above!

We had Peter Rabbit playing on the tv and coloring pages of bunnies and flowers out for the kids to color. I made a bunny bowling box will tissue paper. She and her little friends had a total blast running around. Her party was a success!

But I stressed about it hard. There were lots of 3am Pinterest searches because I couldn’t sleep. A lot of buying, returning, crafting, and creating games & decor that honestly…. two year olds don’t notice nor care about.

Moms, if you are like me when it comes to birthday parties, please stop, drop, and relax. It’s okay to want perfect and fun. It’s okay to do a little or a lot. Your kids will have a blast with their friends whether you nailed down those details or not.

Everything fell into place when her guests arrived. I immediately stopped worrying and joined in on the fun. I encourage you all to do the same! The moments that you are present for are all that matters.

Now does this mean I learned my lesson and won’t stress about future parties? Nope, not a chance. I do think I’ll be able to relax a little more though and make sure I’m present for the important stuff rather than stressing out.

Just remember to breathe and relax!

Here are a couple of cool things about my awesome toddler in celebration of her birthday:

  • She can count to 6
  • She loves to dance
  • She loves cars, trains, and planes
  • She can hear a candy wrapper 3 rooms away
  • She’s a professional tomato picker
  • She is obsessed with books.
  • Though she tried to blow out her candles, she wanted nothing to do with her cake.

It really is the little things. She is very loved by her friends and seeing the happiness on her face is something I’ll always remember – unlike the already fading memory of scrolling endless birthday themed searches.