Archive for the ‘ShopScenes’ Category

we do most of our grocery shopping at biggs. not all of it, but enough of it that it seemed worthwhile to sign up for their gas program with sunoco. it works like this:

every $10 dollars you spend at biggs earns you a discount of 1¢ per gallon on gas at (participating) sunoco stations. some items earn you additional savings: for example, last sunday every gallon of milk purchased earned you an 15¢ discount per  gallon .

now, i wasn’t sure how this would add up when it came down to it. i didn’t want to be tempted to buy things i don’t usually buy, or eat, or need, and i don’t usually buy gas at sunoco.  (in fact, up until a few weeks ago i couldn’t even have told you where one was located.) but it seemed worth trying, so i signed up.

and! last sunday i filled our tank for the first time using our accumulated discount. as i watched the digital numbers flip past on the led screen i thought something was wrong. it took a few moments for me to register what was up (or rather, down): for the first time in my gas-buying life, the numbers showing the gallons purchased was lower than the numbers showing the cost to me. that’s right, folks: gas under a buck. actually, gas at 79¢/gallon.

i dunno where you buy your food or your gas. but if you’re looking for a discount, and there’s a participating sunoco station near you, this just might be your deal of the week.

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and his name is sam hill.

i am a difficult woman to please. i have lived in this fair city for almost 20 months, and while this blog makes it look like i’ve spent most of that time eating out, i have actually spent most of that time scouring the city for a new hairdresser, taking friends’ recommendations and trekking as far out to kenwood to find that special someone. c’mon, girls — i know you know what i’m talkin’ about: not just someone who gives a good cut but someone you connect with. someone you want to sit down and talk to, someone who makes you feel your best when you’re in the chair and look your best when you stand up and get out of it. 

sam is that person.

i learned about sam in cincinnati magazine’s 2008 “best of” issue, where he is voted best of … for being “super nice.” you’d think i’d be drawn to kristen kuelber (at christopher george salon), who won kudos cutting short hair — but she’s out in milford, and i was looking for someone closer to home.

to say that sam wins for being “super nice” is some kind of polite understatement. he is nice, that’s true. but he’s so much more. he has a truly winning personality. he is warm and funny, genuine and edgy, hip and yet caring. the kind of guy you invite to dinner parties to help ensure that conversation is interesting and invigorating. the kind of you guy would be thrilled to take home to introduce to mom (although sam’s wife and child would not be too happy with you).

i called sam to make an appointment back in december when i decided that i just had to get myself a decent cut before the holidays. his win in the mag had brought on a rush of popularity that meant he was booked until now, but he gave me a very good recommendation to tide me over in the interim. and that cut — from rae at tanya’s wellness salon in hyde park — was quite good. but back in december i had made last thursday’s appt with sam and even though i was no longer desperate for a new ‘do, i intended to keep it.

i’m so glad i did. when i sat down, we talked about what i did (and didn’t) like about my past and current cuts, what i’m willing to do (and not do) with my hair, what my hair (by virtue of its length, texture, and general orneriness) seems inclined to do, and what i want on the top of my head. all i really wanted, i told him, was a hip cut that is easy to style and maintain but that is also, well, a little girly. i need some femininity goin’ on up there. he listened, tousling my hair as we talked about pros and cons of various choices. he moved things around, showed me options, and then gave me the hands down best haircut i’ve had since moving to cincinnati. 

no lie. hands down. and this from a girl who is hard to please.

so aside from the perfection that is an hour spent with sam hill (i could wax rhapsodic about the mirrors in his salon and the perfection with which they are strategically placed; about the great music that was playing; about everything, perhaps, except for what i think might have been a dead goldfish in a bowl in a room i only saw from a distance), my favorite thing might be that he’s in my ‘hood. right now he’s in temporary digs in hyde park above arthur’s (have a burger, get your hair cut, your day is complete), but he’s moving soon to a new location in oakley, right on madison road. look for him there this spring in the space that used to house de la art. even if oakley is not in your neck of the words, it’ll be worth the trip. i promise. just leave an appointment open for me.

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kona leaves oakley

good-bye to all that: kona leaves oakley

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ah, the pleasaures of joseph beth booksellers: quiet music piped in to soothe as you browse a wide selection of books, magazines, gift items, music and movies, soft light perfectly reflecting off the blond wood shelves, fresh coffee, a pastry, or even a full meal available at the adjoining brontë bistro. Such a calm, adult refuge from the cold and noise outside.

but that’s not what we’re here to talk about. if you walk in the front door, take a right and keep on walking, you’ll hit joseph beth kids, one part playroom, one part library reading hour, and two parts diabolical retail masterpiece.

they’ve got a whole set of thomas the tank engine tracks and trains for kids to play with; each item also availbable for sale. they’ve got a melissa & doug kitchen console (the particular favorite of a certain member of this family) for pretend baking, or egg-frying, or pizza-making; yours for $199, not counting accessories. and they’ve got thrice-weekly story hours for kids, featuring (natch) readily available books from their shelves.

don’t get me wrong: i love the place: it’s a five-minute walk from home, and actually closer than our public library; it’s a chance to get your kid around other kids on those stir-crazy at-home days, and it somehow manages to be both kid-friendly and still have the same calming atmosphere that’s so inviting throughout the rest of the store. but it took a few visits before i recognized that i was regularly getting played by a two-year-old who would go in, amuse herself for thirty (precious peaceful blissful calm lovely and did i say peaceful?) minutes, then walk up and say, “daddy i want,” holding out train/ball/book/stuffed animal/you name it. and i’d be so grateful for those thirty (precious peaceful blissful calm lovely and did i say peaceful?) minutes that, before i knew what was happening, my wallet would open itself. nowadays, more often than not i say “maybe next time,” or just “no” and — in the face of protestations and crumpling faces and tears and collapses on the floor — tell myself it’s practice for later on when she and her brother are asking for more substantial purchases.

so go, and play, and enjoy … but be forewarned. you will be tested.

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recently we secured a babysitter and made our way out for an evening of holiday merry-making. our plan? grab a dinner out and head to a holiday party. once we recovered from the vertigo of not having children in our arms (or on our hips or heads or knees), we headed on a lark and several word-of-mouth recommendations over to tinks in clifton.tinks-interior

we walked in without reservations, and were welcomed to sit at the bar…tinks-wine

…and suddenly we didn’t care if we ever even made it to the holiday party.

maybe my impression was affected by the pleasure of dressing up just a little, or the holiday season, or an awareness of the rarity of such evenings out recently, or a combination of all of these, but all those together don’t dim the fact that tinks has a great atmosphere, with great food, and (in our case at least) great service.

the menu is inflected with  southern flavors, but by no means limited to them. we had the shrimp & grits and focaccia & olives to start. i think the focaccia & olives were good (i know they were), but i was busy gushing over the best shrimp & grits in town. hands down. how good? we almost ordered the entree portion after slurping down the appetizer, but then we would’ve wanted shrimp & grits for dessert, and breakfast, and — it wouldn’t have been pretty, so we had to break the chain early and diversify.tinks-sg

over our delicious entrees (kobe burger and gumbo) we chatted with our server and he introduced us to the chef and we praised his shrimp & grits and the rest of the food on the menu and the atmosphere and promised to come back and we meant it.

after dinner we wandered next door to paolo, a small jewelry and design shop. we were pleased to find another locally-owned shop producing beautiful, unique goods, and we’re intrigued by the growing trend for adjacent businesses to open their shared doors to each other (walk back and forth between lavomatic and metronation next time you’re in the gateway quarter). fun, too, to eyeball the servers’ jewelry (they often model paolo’s newer designs) and then dash through the door to see if you can find something that looks that good on you. (odds are you can.) priced somewhere between tiffany’s and your local art fair, paolo’s jewelry is now our go-to jewelry shop when we need a little extra special something. especially since we can get our shrimp & grits fix at the same time.

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many years ago — two different cities…two different lifetimes…ago — a friend of mine painted her new daughter’s nursey in low voc paint. at that point the paint was hard to come by, pretty expensive, and the range of colors was minimal.  last year sometime i got all hyped over benjamin moore’s new  low-voc line — auraonly to be told that “it was starting out in the west and slowly making its way toward us…it might be in chicago by now.”

well, i am happy to say, it is here and available at local retailer near you. at miller bros paint, in norwood, to be specific.

i stumbled upon miller brother’s after a failed venture last summer, when i went to ace hardware — my local carrier of  benjamin moore paints — only to be told that for the aura line i needed to go to sherwin williams in norwood. at s-w they had no idea what i was talking about.  a  little more scouting around landed me at miller brother’s, a small local paint store on montgomery.

i gotta say, the guys at miller bros have it all over the others for service. they are friendly and helpful and cooperative. they’ll talk color and tools and supplies with you, helping ensure that you have all of what you need before you leave. and they’ll even make sure that you know what you’re getting into before they mix up your paint. because if you’re buying the aura, you just may need to take out a 2nd mortgage to pay your bill. at $63 a gallon (yes, folks, that’s what i said) this is a serious painting investment.

but i’ve bought the paint in four colors and two different finishes and i am sold. having learned long ago from a perfectionist-painting type that you should buy the most expensive paint you can afford and you should apply it with the best brushes and rollers you can afford, i have learned not to skimp when it comes to the paint itself. try painting one wall with the aura and another with the home brand from lowe’s or home depot and you will see what i mean: the aura is thick and luscious, goes on beautifully with excellent coverage, and doesn’t smell, not one tiny bit.  and with color names like “jicama,” “turmeric” and “salsa dancing” it’s hard not to feel scrumptiously vivacious as you dip and roll and brush.

we have painted approximately half of our interior since moving into our house. only half of that has been low-voc paint. but i’m saving my pennies now, because now that i’ve gone green, there’s no looking back.

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today we present a last-minute plan for you last-minute shoppers. it keeps you centrally located (more or less) in cincy buying locally-made (or at least locally-purveyed) goods. best of all, it ends with a little bit of a personal splurge.

start out downtown (811 race street) at the artworks gallery’s winter yoo-hoo. they’re open special hours on saturdays (1-5) and feature warm drinks and locally-produced baked yummies — as well as the art, of course: locally-made cards, ceramics, collage, crochet, felt, glass, textiles, photography, and more. you know if 5chw4r7z went, you gotta go, too.

once you’re finished there, head up and out to northside (1712 chase avenue) where megpie vintage is holding a holiday trunk show from 12-4. recycled clothes were never so cool. afterwards, if you still haven’t found that perfect gift for your vegan bff head down hamilton (to 4044) to shoetopia for stylish, pocket-book-friendly finds like these. for the old-school music lover on your list — you know, the one who doesn’t yet download all her music — zip on up hamilton (to 4156) to shake it records.  recharge a few doors further up at sidewinder’s (4181 hamilton) and you’re ready for the last shopping leg.

and because by this time you’re likely to be on your last shopping leg(s), this final stop is for you. besides, you know  you want something new (or new to you) to wear to your last round of holiday parties. spend your last bit of shopping time in clifton at the mustard seed boutique (311 ludlow). TMSB brings on the charm with its warm, personal service and its ever-changing selection of hip new and gloriously select old/vintage/consigned clothes. and they’re open until 9:00, giving you plenty of time to shop, relax, and still make it out for your pre-party cocktails.

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