Earlier this fall, we surprised the kids with an incredible trip to Butler County, Ohio. We packed up their suitcases and picked them up from school, and off we went!

You can read about the first part of our trip here:

But today, I’m focusing on the most exciting part to me… the Butler County Donut Trail!

Started in 2016, the trail spans 80 miles and covers 12 donut shops. Start at any one of the shops and you can snag a passport that each store will stamp as you go. If you visit 11 of 12 shops, you even get a free t-shirt at the end!! Along the way, you can try every kind of donut you can imagine. Some of the unique flavors we saw were Fruity Pepples, Maple Bacon and S’mores. Y U MMMMMM.

Our first stop on the donut trail was Holtman’s DonutsThis shop was very close to our hotel, and so idyllic. We adored the interior design of subway tile walls, chalkboard menu boards, and teal leather seats. The kids devoured the donuts! We actually had to slow them down reminding them it was just the first stop of many…

Next up was Stan the Donut Man. This donut shop was completely different from Holtman’s. It’s located in a strip mall and doesn’t appear to have changed much in decades… but I LOVED it. The donuts were almost all picked over by 9:30 AM, CRAZY! The nice staff saved some donuts for us in a white paper bag. I don’t want to pick favorites here, but these donuts were INCREDIBLE. I couldn’t stop with just one! Stan the Donut Man was the kind of donut shop I went to growing up. Kind of a hidden gem. I highly recommend you not skipping over this shop.

Our third stop on the trail was The Donut House. Another hidden shop in a small stripmall. The Donut House had gorgeous pink walls and only a few booths. We were given a full dozen donuts here and these were some of the most unique offerings, including fill your own! Maple Bacon, Reese’s Cup and Cookies n Creme just to name a few. Plus, they had pumpkin Spiced donuts… which was perfect for fall. Okay, we were stuffed, but we trekked on…

Our forth and final stop was at Jupiter Coffee & Donuts. This donut shop is also filled with unique offerings. My husband had a banana filled eclair, and said it was the best donut he had all day! Needless to say, this may have been our last stop but it was just as delicious as the other three.

The entire morning was filling and gave our kids a sugar high, but it was so worth it. We’d love to go back and try some of the shops we didn’t have time (or an appetite) for. If you’re looking for a perfect holiday destination, close to home… give Butler County a try!

To read more about the trail check out the Butler County website here: https://www.gettothebc.com/

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Off to the Butler County Donut Trail

That chocolate mouth.

That chocolate mouth.

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Stan the Donut Man’s donuts were INSANE!

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Delicious.

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So many donuts, so little time.

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The Donut House

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Lisa’s Kitchen for lunch

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Wonderful family trip, indeed!

I recently decided to make a list of ways I de-stress and pamper myself. Sure, I’d love a spa day just like the next person…but that’s just not always a reality. I pulled out a sheet of paper and I wrote at the top: WAYS I TREAT MYSELF and then I set my pen down and walked away.

Truth be told, I don’t really treat myself often. I should. We all should! But the reality is a huge amount of us actually don’t, because we don’t have the time or bandwidth after a long day of work, laundry, cooking and butt wiping. When I’m finished with the day, I kind of want to curl up in a ball or stare at the wall. I kid. But not really. Anyway…

I refuse to make excuses anymore! Here are 7 ways to treat yo-self at home fo FREE!

  1. Take a bath. This is a given and the easiest way I treat myself. Often times I have an audience of three and a husband who wants to sit down and chat *eye-roll*. But sometimes I simply lock them out and enjoy a relaxing bubble bath.
  2. Go for a walk. We go on walks daily, sometimes twice a day. Not only is it great exercise, but it’s also great to get some fresh air and get the kids out of the house.
  3. Listen to a podcast or watch Netflix. Admittedly, I don’t get an opportunity to watch very much television…but I like listening to Podcasts. I’d love to hear what ones are your favorites! I’m currently working on one with one of my best friends. Stay tuned for that shiz…
  4. Reconnect with a friend. Sometimes just reaching out with a simple text to a long-lost friend is a great way to refocus your life. As you catch up with the person it’s helpful to see how great everything in your life really is…. even when it feels as though it isn’t.
  5. Declutter. Dudes, I realize this one isn’t for everyone…but sometimes, when I declutter an area of the home I instantly feel a sense of relief.
  6. Music. If you know me, you know my love for Bob Dylan. Everyone has a favorite artist…. crank up those tunes and get lost in the lyrics.
  7. Write. Or if you don’t enjoy writing, find a creative outlet and own it. Writing is a great way to de-stress your life, hence why you are reading these words.

No matter what strikes you, find a way to pamper yourself. Because, dangit…you freaking deserve it, mama!

Cheers! xx

Treat yo self

Every once in awhile I score a bath without an audience.

Treat yo-self

Pampering yourself while juggling it all isn’t for the birds.

I grew up here. I know every single house on the main stretches of the road. Many of the homes have been torn down to make way for new developments, but I can still recall who lived where. I can drive my exact school bus route from elementary school. I still frequent the neighborhood pizza joint. And twice a week, I drive to the same preschool I attended as a child to drop off my kids. So much has changed, yet so much is the same in my new, old home.

When I was 18, I left my hometown of New Albany, Ohio and never looked back. I moved South to attend college at the University of Kentucky in Lexington. From there I took my first job in West Virginia, only to move to Birmingham two years later. I stayed in Alabama for several years before moving back to Lexington. We then made our way to Savannah.

After 15 years of job shifts, career changes, and multiple moves…our family packed up one final time to come back to my hometown. We moved to be closer to my family and to raise our children in the Heartland.

Coming back to Ohio didn’t happen without a fight. To be completely honest, I didn’t want to move home. I had been gone for 15 years, so the fear of “failing” was long gone. But in those 15 years away, I fell in love with the South, the culture and lifestyle, especially in Savannah. Slow-paced, heat and humidity, palm trees, the beach. Just a completely different landscape than the one I knew.

Three years later, we are still here in New Albany, and we couldn’t be happier. It’s funny how it takes a couple of years to settle and to fully embrace your new home, even if it is your old home, as well.

I follow so many of you on social media. Many of you live in beautiful places like San Diego, Utah, Arizona, Naples, Charleston, Australia…and I’m envious of the beauty in the places you call home.

But, there is so much beauty and charm in the Midwest. SO MUCH BEAUTY. My husband isn’t from here, so he’s able to see it when I don’t. The truth is, sometimes we miss the beauty when it is right in front of us.

In Ohio, you will find barns. Lots, and lots and lots of barns. You will find dairy farms, white fences and old worn out silos encased in ivy. There are many corn fields and some of the most stunning sunsets a person could ever hope to see. There are big cities, and little hidden country gems nestled in rolling hills and the plains.

Midwesterners are wonderful people. They are wholesome and friendly and hardworking. They are America. It’s no wonder that so many companies use Ohio as a test market for new products, especially in the food and beverage industry.

The most beautiful part is I finally have peace. I can finally find peace within my new, old home. I’m thankful for the time I spent away from Ohio, but I’m even more thankful to be back here raising my children in the same corn fields I originally called home.

 “If I were giving a young man advice as to how he might succeed in life, I would say to him, pick out a good father and mother, and begin life in Ohio.” – Wilbur Wright (Wright Brothers)

Home is where the Heart (land) is.

Farms, vintage finds, country living.

Home is where the Heart (land) is.

Lemonade stands and simple living.

Home is where the Heart (land) is.

Old Blue is part of our family, and has been for years.

Home is where the Heart (land) is.

A little Joan Baez (not from Ohio).

Home is where the Heart (land) is.

Ohio is the Heartland.

Zac walked across the living room, passing his father with a brief message.

“I’m just going to run down to a friend’s house, I’ll be right back.”

Andy almost said, “Be careful.” But he didn’t. He knew his 18-year-old son Zac was always careful on his motorcycle. He always wore a helmet. He never sped. He was a safe, responsible young man who just celebrated his birthday. Instead, Andy said, “I love you.”

Those were the last words he would say to Zac. It was the last time he would see his son alive. Zac was killed on his motorcycle less than a mile from their home two years ago.

When Andy went with Zac to get his driver’s license, Zac asked his father if he should be a donor. Andy didn’t hesitate, he simply explained to Zac that he had been a donor his whole life. So Zac agreed.

By saying ‘yes’ to being a donor, Zac was able to save 4 lives – his kidneys, liver and pancreas were donated along with his corneas and tissues.

I had the honor to sit down with Andy Gillespie this month at Lifeline of Ohio to listen to his own words about his son’s bravery. Zac was a very unique young man who thought outside of the box. He had a serious girlfriend, a loving father and a younger sister. Through his loved ones, and his decision to become a donor, he still lives on.

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Did you know more than 14,000 people are currently on the national waiting list for a life-saving organ transplant? One donor could potentially save 8 lives. There are a lot of myths surrounding organ donation, such as being too old or too ill to be a donor. Another myth people have heard in the past is a person will not get good medical care if they are a donor and that’s simply not the case. Medical professionals are most concerned with saving lives and donation isn’t discussed until doctors have made every effort to save the person’s life.

It’s easy to become a donor. Anyone who has a state driver’s license, permit or state issued ID can register.
– It’s a minors decision at 15 1⁄2
– Until the minor is 18, a parent/guardian can amend/revoke decision at the time of death
– At 18, the decision becomes a legal authorization
• In Ohio you can register by saying “yes!” at the DMV or BMV, filling out an enrollment form, or visiting https://lifelineofohio.org/.
• Anyone out-of-state can go to www.registerme.org to register.

April is national Donate Life month. Spread the word.

Are you a donor?

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Andy Gillespie stands outside the Lifeline of Ohio Memorial where Zac’s name is engraved.

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I enjoyed meeting Andy and hearing Zac’s story. 

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Zachary DT Gillespie saved at least 4 lives two years ago. 

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Zac and his longterm girlfriend.

Okay, we all search for the ultimate thing to give to our loved ones. And if you’re like me, you may even struggle to find something to “ask” for. My husband always wants gift ideas for me, and I never really know what to tell him.

This year, we are not going the traditional route of toys…rather practical gifts. For example, all three kids are getting new lounge chairs and a book shelf. Lucky them!

I’m not alone in this school of thought on purchasing more practical or “experience” type items. There’s just something really magical about purchasing something that will create more lasting memories.

Goldfish Swim School has put together a remarkable gift basket this holiday season. It’s such a great idea for that hard to buy for individual. Check out the list of Columbus-based goodies included:

  • $193 Family Credit at Goldfish Swim School
  • 2 Family Swim Passes at Goldfish Swim School 
  • Bundlet from Nothing Bundt Cakes 
  • 2 Kids Meals from Texas Roadhouse – Polaris 
  • 2 Child Admission Passes to ZipZone Outdoor Adventures Kids Park 
  • 1 Large One-Topping Pizza from Jets Pizza 
  • 1 Jar of Pure Peanut Butter from Crazy Richard’s 
  • 1 Preview Class at Gymboree Play & Music 
  • 1 Half Dozen Donuts from Duck Donuts 
  • 1- 5 oz cup from Menchie’s 
  • 2- 30 Minute Passes to Sky Zone 
  • 1 Child’s Nail Polish from Sweet & Sassy 
  • 1 Philly Sandwich from Charleys Philly Steaks 
  • 2 Ice Skate Rentals from The Chiller 
  • 1 Kids Meal from Matt The Miller’s Tavern 
  • 1 $50 Gift Certificate from Aaron Taylor Photography 
  • 3- Two Hour Play Passes to Recreations Outlet 
  • 2 Adult Admission Tickets to the Arnold SportsWorld Expo for Kids & Teens 
  • 1 Class at Barre3 in Powell 
  • 1 Attraction Pass to Magic Mountain Fun Center 
The basket is sold for $205 and the value is well over $500, and it can be purchased at Goldfish Swim School in Dublin or Westerville. But they won’t last…stop in to purchase yours today!