Reasons Why Fall is the Best Season

fall is the best season

I try my hardest not to complain about the summer. I spend the majority of the winter bitching about it being too cold. I feel like I can really only have one season I’m allowed to hate or else it’s just me being miserable 50% of the time. Summer is long and hot but it’s the lesser of two evils when compared to winter. But I’d rather do without summer as well. It’s the ending of August. Fall is right around the corner and it cannot come soon enough.

Fall is the greatest season by far. If you don’t agree with me, then you’re wrong. This is one of those rare cases when opinions are also facts. My girl Wendi, over at This, That and the Other Thang knows what’s up. She recently went over all the ways that fall is infinitely better than summer and I couldn’t agree with her more. Here are 25 of my own reasons why fall is the best of the best.

1. Football season. Football is the best sport to watch and the beginning of fall also coincides with the beginning of football.

2. Baseball playoffs. Football may be the most fun sport to watch but baseball will always have my heart. Nothing, and I mean nothing, is better than a game 7 between two equally matched teams. And not to get all superior Yankee fan on everyone but being a fan of the pinstripes means that I’ve enjoyed plenty of playoff games in my lifetime.

3. I lose weight. There’s this myth that people lose weight in the summer and tend to gain more weight in the cooler months. I’m not buying it. For the past few years, I’ve packed on an extra 5-10 pounds in the summer months. Pounds that I gradually lose during the fall. I blame it on all the bbqs and beer in July and August.

mean girls halloween

4. Halloween. Christmas may be number one on my list of favorite holidays but Halloween is the most fun. What’s better than a holiday that lets you dress up and eat tons of candy?

5. Thanksgiving. Halloween and Thanksgiving are tied for second on my list of favorite holidays. I really, really love Thanksgiving. Between the parade and tons and tons of food, Thanksgiving is the best!

6. The cooler weather. I want a dollar every time I use the word crisp when describing the weather in fall. I’d have a whole lot of dollars. Fall is a great season to be outside and enjoy the crisp weather. *places a dollar in the crisp weather jar*

Fall leaves

7. All the pretty colors. Oh man is fall beautiful. Like, really, really beautiful. I prefer my leaves to be more than just different shades of green.

8. Boots, sweaters, and leggings. That is my go-to uniform throughout fall. It’s comfy and adorable. And it conceals those extra pounds before I fully lose them.

9. Apple and pumpkin picking. This activity is not just for kiddies. Going to a local farm for some apple and pumpkin picking is a great fall activity, and when you get home you can bake a fresh apple pie and carve some pumpkins.

10. Staying inside without feeling guilty. If I spend all day or all night inside during the summer, I feel a little guilty. Don’t get me wrong, I still do it. But there is a sense of guilt that I should be outside enjoying the warm weather. Fall is made for staying indoors with a hot beverage and your favorite book or movie.

11. The start of winter aka the only time it’s tolerable. Winter technically starts on December 22nd but we all know that the cold, winter weather starts way before that date. But when winter weather seeps into fall, it’s not a bad thing. We’re not at that point where we’re sick of snow and digging our cars out. The first snow fall usually happens in November (October if winter wants to be a real bitch) and it’s still exciting and fun to see snow at this stage.

12. Haunted houses and other Halloween-related festivities. I love getting scared. I’ll gladly pay $40 to have someone jump out of the bushes and scare me to death. Haunted houses, haunted corn mazes, haunted hay rides. You add the word haunted in front and I’m down.

13. Scary movies. Scary movies are my favorite genre. I will watch them no matter the season but curling up under a blanket during the fall while watching a scary movie is oh so satisfying.

14. Bugs go back to their rightful place in this world. And that place is hell! It’s no secret that bugs are my biggest enemy and that I hate them with a passion. They come out swinging when the weather gets warmer and it’s one of the main reasons I can’t be fully down with summer. But during the fall they make their descent back down to the fiery pits of hell where they belong.

15. Comfort food. Give me stews, pies, casseroles, pot roasts! Give me it all! Fall is made for comfort food.

16. No shaving. No more summer dresses, bikinis, or shorts means that I can let my legs get as hairy as I want. It’s a beautiful thing.

dark fall nail polish color

17. Dark toenails, fingernails, and hair. My default color for my nails in the summer is pink. But dark reds, browns, and even black are so much cooler. It makes me, the least hardcore person you will ever meet, feel a bit edgy.

18. You can actually chill outside. When summer really kicks in, you cannot just chill outside unless you are by water. When winter really kicks in, you cannot chill outside period. The only time I spend outside in the winter is the walk to my car, and even that makes me want to cry. But fall, fall is amazing. Throw on a big sweater or a light jacket and you can sit outside all day!

19. Bonfires and s’mores. You know what helps warm you up if the fall weather gets a little too crisp (another dollar for me)? A warm fire. Add some chocolate and marshmallows to that fire and it’s a party!

20. Back-to-school sales. Even if you’re not going back to school in the fall, you can still take advantage of back-to-school sales. It’s the perfect time to stock up on all the extra highlighters you need in your life.

21. It smells great outside. This is one that I can’t even fully describe. Fall just has this certain smell to it that’s amazing. I wish I could bottle it up and wear it all year round. With less sweaty bodies and hot garbage outside, the air just smells cleaner.

22. Scarves and hats are great ways to accessorize. Fall clothing really is the greatest. Throwing on a colorful scarf or hat before you walk out the door can turn a mundane outfit fashionable.

dog playing in leaves

23. Crunchy leaves. That dog is having so much fun and I want to play right along with him. Whether you’re eight or eighty (or a dog), nothing is more satisfying than playing in crunchy, colorful leaves.

24. An extra hour of sleep. Sure it is a little depressing the first time you step out of work and the sun has already set, but that extra hour of sleep you gain during daylight saving time almost makes up for it.

25. The best of the holiday season. Technically the holidays are in the winter, but the holiday season occurs during fall. The majority of “the most wonderful time of the year” happens before winter ever really begins.

The Internet is a Strange Place

That's just weird - jeremy renner

I was in California last week. It was really nice to get away but I am glad to be back home. I missed the East Coast. I can bitch and moan about New York all I want, but anytime I leave, I can’t wait to get back. The only thing that makes me sad about coming back is that it signifies the beginning of the end of my summer break. My summer Fridays are officially over and I go back to school this Thursday! I can’t believe it’s already almost time for school again. I’m excited to start my final semester but also a little nervous. I wish I could get another week or two without the stress of school.

The return of school means that I’m going to be posting even less frequently than I do now. I know this is very sad news. Try not to cry too much. I’m sure I’ll have plenty of papers that I’ll need to procrastinate on. Writing a post will be the perfect distraction. But for now, before school really starts to kick my ass, I’m bringing you a new post. Yay! A new post where I talk about how confusing I find the Internet sometimes.

The Internet is a very confusing and weird place. Of course, it doesn’t confuse me as much as it did Katie Couric and Bryant Gumbel back in 1994. I obviously know how the Internet works and what it’s for: Porn! But there are plenty of times I find myself shutting down the computer and saying, “That’s enough Internet for today.” Here are just a few things that have me scratching my head.

1. The comments section on any article ever written. If you want to lose your faith in humanity on a regular basis, just read the comments on any article. It doesn’t matter what the subject is. There could be an article about firemen saving babies and puppies from a burning building and commenters will somehow find a way to be despicable. The comments usually have to do with the gays pushing the gay agenda on innocent children or women being shameless whores. Want to know the quickest way to be told you should be raped and killed? Be a female (or pretend to be a female) and disagree with something in the comments section. It’s that easy.

2. The Humans of New York FB page. Remember what I just said about commenters on the Internet? Well, when you visit HONY, it’s the complete opposite.  Humans of New York is the single most beautiful area on all the Internet. If you aren’t familiar with HONY, you need to familiarize yourself immediately. The posts and the comments from readers is reason enough to keep your FB account active. You will laugh, you will cry, you will have your faith in humanity restored.

3. Benedict Cumberbatch. We all know that I’m in love with the Internet’s number one boyfriend. But there’s another geeky, tall British lad that everyone seems to be in love with and I just do not get it. Sorry, but I just do not get the obsession with Benedict Cumberbatch. Sure he’s a good actor and makes a great Sherlock but is he hot? I’m gonna have to pass. This is one thing about the Internet that I’ll never understand.

4. Snapchat, Vine, and the newest social media app that probably came out earlier today. Things were much simpler when I was a teenager. It started with MySpace and then we gradually moved to Facebook. Not to get all back-in-my-day old lady on everyone, but these days a new social media app comes out every hour. Who can keep up with that? I have FB and Instagram, and that’s more than enough social media for me. How do teenagers have time for anything else when dealing with 500 different apps at once?

5. A person’s Internet personality. The persona some people take on while hiding behind a computer is very different from who they are in real life. And yes, this does have a lot to do with commenters. People say a lot of shitty things to strangers on the Internet that they would never have the balls to say in real life. But this also pertains to people on social media. You know what I’m talking about. You ever have someone you know in real life and actually like them but then see their posts on FB or Instagram and immediately want to punch a whole in a wall or their face? Social media can really bring out the worst in people. Even people you would normally like.

6. YouTube stars. So E! Online caused a shit storm the other day for having the audacity to question whether some of the celebrities at the Teen Choice Awards were actually celebrities. Naturally, people got angry because you cannot do anything these days without getting someone angry. E! Online was talking about the plethora of Vine and YouTube stars walking the red carpet. I’ve watched some Jenna Marbles videos before and she can be very funny, but I don’t think I could subscribe to several different accounts watching random people tell me about their day and show me how to put on make-up. I realize the irony of me saying that on my personal blog that I want people to read but I would never pretend that I’m a celebrity. Sorry, this is another thing about the Internet that I will never get.

7. Cats. And no I am not talking about the Broadway show. I’m talking about the devil’s children who will sneak into your baby’s room at night and steal its breathe (while this may or may not be true, let’s pretend it is cause it supports my case against cats). Now cats on the Internet are really cute. Like, really, really, really cute. What I want to know is, where are these cats in real life? Every cat I’ve ever come across either didn’t even look my way or looked at me and hissed like I murdered every member of its family. No amount of cute YouTube cat clips can convince me that they are better than dogs.

Every Day is Book Lovers Day

belle - i love reading

Today is Book Lovers Day. And while I don’t need a special day telling me to sit back and read, it’s nice to have a whole day dedicated to the love of books. I’m one of those people whose heart breaks when someone tells me they don’t like reading. I’m a firm believer in the saying, “If you think reading is boring, you’re doing it wrong.” I am convinced that everyone can learn to love reading with a little push and shove. All of us who love reading can remember the things that turned us into readers for life. A certain book or series that solidified our love.

For some the love for reading does come more natural than others. My mother loves to always talk about my obsession with books, even at a young age, reaching for books at the age of one over every other toy offered. I read my first book when I was three-years-old, Bears on Wheels. Sure most of that “reading” was just memorization but this is still one of my mother’s favorite stories to tell (brag about!). Between the ages five and seven, I probably went through every single book Stan and Jan Berenstain had to offer. Twenty years later, these books will always hold a special place in my heart, especially The Berenstain Bears and the Bad Habitas I still struggle with a nasty nail biting habit to this day.

After that I progressed to my Nancy Drew and Harriet the Spy books. It was nice to escape the reality of being an awkward preteen and pretend to be Nancy or Harriet. Needless to say I spent a lot of time “solving mysteries” in my house.

Matilda will forever be my one of my favorite books. The movie is also one of my favorites. It made me realize how amazing it can be to see your favorite literary characters come to life on the big screen.

matilda - i love to read

I remember reading Go Ask Alice, A Child Called It, and It Happened to Nancy. Stories about drugs, rape, AIDS, and abusive, sadistic parents. Thankfully they were horrors in the world that I otherwise would have been blissfully unaware of. I couldn’t get enough of these tragic stories, slowly realizing that life is not as easy as my 12-year-old self thought it was.

And Speak is probably the book that solidified me as a reader for life. I felt a connection with Melinda Sordino that I wasn’t able to fully get with any other character I’d read about before. I felt her pain and wanted to be her friend.

Sometimes finding your love for reading just takes some trial and error. Some people may not have any desire to ever read the classics, and that’s fine. As long as you’re reading, that’s all that really matters. Try out a few different genres to see what sticks. You’re never going to like every book you come across. If you find a book boring and think all reading is boring, then clearly you’re doing it wrong.

So in honor of National Book Lovers Day and because I am always looking for new books to add to me to-read list, what are some of your favorite books?

Note: This post originally ran in a blog I used to run about books and food. 

I am Going to Live Forever

Im so excited

Guys, I have some really great news! Like fantastic news! It turns out that I am going to live forever. OK, not exactly forever cause that’s impossible, unless you’re a vampire or Betty White (and I’m not intimidating enough to be the former or cool enough to be the latter), but I am going to be living for a very, very long time. This is great news for my anxiety-riddled self. I’m always convinced that I have some new disease that’s going to kill me suddenly. It’s one of the main reasons I can’t watch House, ER, Grey’s Anatomy, or any of those other hospital shows: it just gives me new illnesses to obsess over. I will never get over the House episode where Michelle Trachtenberg has a mysterious illness that turns out to be a tick stuck inside her vagina cause she had some sexy time in the woods. (This is a real episode and one of the main reasons I will never be going camping with my imaginary boyfriend.)

This is the other reason I don't ever need to go camping.

This is the other reason I don’t ever need to go camping.

Sorry I lost my train of thought for a second. I got distracted by camping and Betty White. Back to my great news and how I am going to live for a REALLY long time. So a story broke today that brought so much joy to my little heart! Normally stories on the Internet make me want to adopt 25 dogs, move to Antarctica, and never interact with humans again. But this one was different. This story is about a 110-year-old woman who says the key to a long life is beer and shots. Three beers a day and one shot of scotch a day to be exact.

I'll drink to that

All you fools with your eating kale and running marathons. You all feel pretty dumb right now, don’t you? Put the green juice down right now (no drink should ever be green unless it’s Saint Patrick’s Day anyway) and have a beer, or three! I am on the fast track to living a very long life and I didn’t even know it. Downing three beers and a shot every day is easy work for me. I wonder if I double it, will I live to 220-years-old? I’ll just quit my day job and make drinking a full time career. I can write a book about it and everything. I’ll be the Jillian Michaels for degenerates.

professional drinker

Besides letting you guys know that you can expect posts from me for the next 70 years, this post also served as a way to get this blog back on track. Between being sad over dumb boys and stressing over my anxiety, I lost my focus a bit. But I am back on track and happier than ever now that I know I’m gonna live forever!

 

My Sisters Are the Best Gift My Parents Ever Gave Me

Frozen - She's my sister.So yesterday was National Sisters Day and I totally think it’s ridiculous that they always seem to come up with a new day to celebrate something. It seems like just last week we were celebrating National Siblings Day. Now there’s a completely different day for sisters. (I just checked and it turns out that there isn’t a specific day set aside just to celebrate brothers. Somebody market that ASAP!)

So while I think that these random days celebrating something that you should be celebrating every day anyway are completely hokey, I’m still going to use it as an excuse to write about how awesome my sisters are! They really are the greatest gift my parents ever gave me. I have one older sister and one younger sister and I don’t know where I would be without either of them in my life. I am not nearly talented enough to put into words how truly grateful I am to have my sisters but I will try my hardest.

My Sisters

People always say how much we look alike. Three points to the person who correctly guesses which one I am!

1. They truly understand what you mean when you say one or both of your parents are crazy. My sisters grew up with my parents as well so they are fully aware of how insane they can be. If I try to tell a friend how annoying my parent is being, they will brush it off and tell me I’m being mean. My friends love my parents because they never had to live with them. If I tell my sisters how annoying a parent is being, they will just respond with, “Oh God, what did mom do now?”

2. Our fights are usually ridiculous and never actually end with “I’m sorry.” Anyone who thinks that brothers are the only ones who physically fight has never come across sisters before. My sisters and I fought constantly when we were younger. (Being the weakling of the bunch, I fully admit that 99.9% of the time it was me getting my ass handed to me by my older sister – and sometimes the younger one.) All these years later, we still fight. And it’s always over the dumbest shit possible. Most of these fights involve missing clothing that one sister swears the other borrowed and never returned. But these fights never last. We’ll get nasty with one another, call each other annoying, and then five minutes later be cracking up about something.

3. Nothing is ever actually just yours. This is has been the story of my life since day one. My older sister at least had five years of knowing what it was like to not have to share anything. My little sister and I weren’t so lucky. Food, clothing, rooms, toys. I had to share everything. And this hasn’t really stopped. Remember how I just mentioned that most of our fights are about missing clothing? At this point, we have some articles of clothing that have been passed around so much that we can’t remember who the original owner was. And food is never off limits. If you’re eating something that looks good, I’m taking a bite and no I will not be asking your permission first.

4. There truly are no boundaries. I have absolutely no shame when it comes to my sisters. They saw me go through every single awkward stage that a person goes through while growing up. They are the ones who know that I wet my bed way longer than I should have. (And I guess now all of you do as well so congratulations!) There’s no acting like a prim and proper lady around my sisters. I need to change my clothes? This top will be coming off right in front of you without a warning. I have to fart? Not only will I not be going to another room for your sake, I may just fart on you.

5. Their friends become your friends and vice versa. I am not even sure when this transition happens but there comes a point where people will stop just being my sister’s friend and start to become my friend.

6. You always have a partner in crime to do all the stupid things you couldn’t get anyone else to do. I like some really bad movies. One of my favorite genres is cheesy, horror films. I know I can always count on my sisters to watch the latest film about killer zombie beavers. (This is a real movie and yes I did watch it last night with my little sister.) If there’s something I really want to do and I can’t get any of my friends to tag along, I know I can rely on one or both of my sisters.

7. When you’re down and need someone, they’ll be there for you regardless of what else they have going on. My older sister works, has a husband, and has two kids, yet if I really need her, she’s always there. Sisters are the best for when you’re feeling down because they are up for whatever you need. Whether it’s a giant cake, a shot of whiskey, or to just lay in bed watching cheesy movies, they got you covered.

8. There will never be a shortage of memories. When you have people that you’ve known since birth, you’re going to build a whole lot of memories. The inside jokes are endless and you can spend hours simply reminiscing about your childhood.

9. No one can tease you quite like a sister can. They know all of your secrets and they are not afraid to play dirty when it comes to teasing. They will have no problem bringing up the embarrassing things you did when you were twelve. (It was a weird age for everyone, just let it go already.)

10. They can give you adorable nieces and/or nephews. I am still on the fence about whether or not I want to have kids myself. But for now I have two of the cutest nephews in the world. They are my favorite little people in the entire world and I cannot thank my sister enough for making me an aunt twice.

Are these not the cutest little munchkins you've ever seen?

Are these not the cutest little munchkins you’ve ever seen?

11. No matter what you’ll always have someone there that will have your back. There aren’t many guarantees in life and I know you’re never supposed to say never, but I can’t imagine a time when I’m not close with my sisters. Through jobs, relationships, moves, or whatever life may throw at us, I know that my sisters will always be there for me.

12. Somewhere along the way they become more than just a sister. My sisters are so much more than just my sisters, they are my best friends.

 

When the Motivational Posters Stop Working

girls marnie - being inside my own head is exhaustingIf we see someone stressing out over something completely trivial, the first response is to tell them to relax and not worry so much. If we see someone unhappy and complaining about something that doesn’t seem like a big deal, the first response is to remind them how much worse things could be. They should be happy about all the good things in their lives.

We are constantly bombarded with “inspirational quotes” telling us that we are in charge of our own happiness. That if we cannot see the beauty in the world and appreciate the fact that we get to start a brand new day each morning, then there is something wrong with us. Just waking up and breathing is enough to be happy and carefree. By stating that happy people are choosing to live that way, it’s basically stating that unhappy people are making a conscious decision to be depressed or stressed about life.

What people fail to realize is that for some of us, it’s impossible to be completely happy. We want nothing more than to see the beauty in the life we are given and not stress about insignificant problems. Unfortunately, our minds will not allow it.

I suffer from mild anxiety. I refer to it as mild because it doesn’t affect my life on a daily basis and I have (thankfully!) never suffered from a full blown panic attack. But it is still a problem that I have had to deal with for years now.

Sometimes my anxiety will pop up in almost comical ways that my sister never fails to tease me about. Several times in the past I have had to call home to have someone reassure me that I have in fact unplugged the straightener. It’s gotten so bad where on days I straighten my hair, I will text myself stating that I did unplug the straightener. I have to include a picture of the unplugged straightener because a text is not enough proof, I need hard evidence that I will not be coming home to a burnt house after work.

In October 2013, right after my grandmother passed away, I convinced myself that I had HIV. This was a less comical side of my anxiety that I did not reveal to many people. Despite the fact that it had been over a year since my last sexual partner (and we always used condoms), my mind latched onto the idea that I was infected and it wouldn’t let go. For weeks leading up to my test, I had a pit in my stomach that would not go away. When the results came back negative (like a deep part of me knew they would), my mind relaxed for a bit before it found something new to obsess over and analyze to death.

The worst part of anxiety is that there is a part of me that realizes how ridiculous I am being. I don’t want to spend my life stressing about things that are probably never going to actually happen. I don’t enjoy not being able to sleep at night due to shortness of breathe. I don’t like having a normal day and then all of sudden my heart start pounding and being overcome with a feeling of anxiousness for no real reason.

When I see quotes and people making it seem as though a happy, stress-free life is easily unattainable, it makes me feel as though there is something wrong with me. And not the “I may actually be suffering from a mental illness” wrong but the “I’m just a miserable human being who can’t appreciate what she has” wrong. We may have become a lot more accepting about mental illness but there is this underlying tone that people with depression or anxiety could just get over it if they really wanted to.

Even I feel like this sometimes. I grew up with a mother who suffered from depression and bipolar disorder. I myself have issues with anxiety and a brain whose thoughts I sometimes have no control over. Yet, I still sometimes think, “This is your body, your mind. You are the one allowing sadness and anxiousness to control you.”

But just how when I’m panicking over something that I know deep down is never going to actually happen, I also know that deep down my anxiety is something I will never fully be able to get rid of. There will never come a day I won’t be filled with dread anytime someone says they want to ask me a question or talk to me about something. I’ll never not think a friend or family member is kidnapped or dead if they don’t respond to my texts within a reasonable time. And I know I’m always going to live with the fact that every once in a while my heart will start racing and I will be short of breathe for no apparent reason.

So all those inspirational quotes and motivational posters are wrong, but they do have some truth to them. Sometimes we can’t just choose to be happy. Sometimes simply choosing not to stress isn’t an option. However, the only thing I can hope to do is control my anxiety. It’s always going to be there but I can work on ways to manage it. And I’m slowly working on ways to lessen my anxiety that don’t include wine and Klonopin (even though both are great options when things get too bad, as long as they aren’t abused).

Focusing on my breathing when I feel like my heart is about to beat out of my chest helps. Deep breathing is key to slowing down my heart rate. When I feel like I’m about to have a panic attack, going for a ride can ease the anxiousness. I think it has something to with my mind having a task to focus on instead of worrying.

The number one thing I’ve learned that helps with my anxiety (and maybe it can help any of you who also suffer with anxiety) is to try and pinpoint what it is that’s making me so anxious. Sure, sometimes I feel a panic attack coming on and it seems like it’s out of nowhere. But trying to focus on what’s making me anxious and what’s brought on the feeling of dread, helps to make me feel like I have a little bit of control over something that normally feels utterly uncontrollable.

Get to Meet a Blogger and Her City

Screenshot_2015-07-28-20-08-35-1This is something new that I’ve never done before on the blog but I think it’ll be a lot of fun. All credit goes to Julie over at Julia Goolia (check out her blog, it’s awesome!). This was all her idea. But I think it’s a great way to learn more about a fellow blogger and get a glimpse into the city she lives in. And now if you ever find yourself visiting Cincinnati/Northern Kentucy you can check out this post to get some advice from someone who actually lives there. Here’s my Q&A with Julie about where she lives:

Have you lived in Cincinnati your whole life? Did you grow up there?
I actually do not live in Cincinnati, I live in Northern Kentucky (basically Cincinnati but with more free parking opportunities). I consider myself a Cincinnatian because I currently live about five minutes away from downtown. I can see downtown from my window and I can hear the fireworks from the Reds Stadium every Friday. I have always lived in Northern Kentucky (NKY) but I didn’t venture downtown until I was in college. Cincinnati used to be a somewhat scary place, and while it still has its moments, the city really has taken a turn for the better. I love downtown; I spend most of my spare time in Over the Rhine (OTR).

20150624_211133(0)What would you say is the best thing about living there? What is the worst thing?
The best thing about Cincinnati/NKY is how you can still have a taste of downtown life. I’ve been to Chicago, and while Cincinnati is definitely not Chicago, I would say that Cincinnati is a pretend “large city” packed into a small space. There’s entertainment, bars and restaurants that are amazing but they’re not around every corner like New York or Chicago.

The worst thing about living in Cincinnati is what I mentioned above. I hate that we’re not really a “large city”. We only have so many options sometimes so you tend to frequent the same places and get burned out rather quickly. Hence why we sometimes go to NKY for bars/restaurants, you have to change it up once in a while and while smelling like smoke (since NKY still permits smoking in bars) is annoying, having free parking all the time is fabulous. Plus there’s this bar called The Crazy Fox Saloon which isn’t far from my house, so my friends and I like to hang there if we want a low key night.

Are you happy living in Cincinnati or is there somewhere else that you’d like to live?
I do love Cincinnati. When I was in grade school Cincinnati was dangerous, but now I’m proud to live in the area because of how much it has grown in the last five years. We recently had the All Star Game here and it really united the city. It was a great site to see. Plus, I’m in a city where beer and local breweries are aplenty, that’s kind of awesome. If I could live anywhere I’d probably choose London, England because I’m obsessed with their culture but I’d love to live in NYC for a year as well (even though I’ve never there before).

This is a personal thing but anytime I visit a new place I look for two things: a cupcake shop and a bookstore. What’s the best used bookstore and where’s the best place to get cupcakes in Cincinnati?
Oh this is a hard one. I’m a big library user, since I used to work at one for seven years, so I tend to not buy books as much since we have such a good supply. However, I do shop at Half Price Books a lot, it’s a chain place but each store is different. They have a myriad of DVDs, books, video games, comics and music. I noticed you don’t have one in New York, you are missing out! Sadly, independent bookstores are hard to come by downtown, though apparently there’s an Ohio Book Store and Duttenhofer’s Books that I still need to check out.

My favorite cupcake place is Abby Girl Sweets Cupcakery or Bon Bonnerie. Abby’s is right by Fountain Square (which is like the central icon of Cincinnati) so it’s easy to pick up and they switch their flavors a lot which is fun, but Bon Bonnerie is an overall bakery that will make you salivate upon entering their store. Both are good, but Bon Bonnerie would be my absolute top pick. Bon Bonnerie isn’t downtown though, which is unfortunate.

What is one of the most unique things to do in Cincinnati?
Ah, good question. That would definitely be our festivals. Our most notable celebration is our Oktoberfest festival which is held on Fountain Square. It’s the second largest Oktoberfest (Germany has the largest one) in the world! Also we have a Taste of Cincinnati festival, where all local restaurants have booths and you can try local food and drink and be merry!

What’s a food that Cincinnati is famous for and where’s the best place to get it?
We are known mainly for our chili, goetta and ice cream. I’m a weird “Cincinnatian” because I don’t like chili or goetta. However, people can have fights about what restaurant is better, Skyline Chili or Gold Star Chili. I personally don’t like chili or goetta. However, ice cream is like a second religion here. It’s incredible! We’re mostly known for our Graeter’s Ice Cream. It’s pretty much the best ice cream in the world. Yes, I am biased.

If someone wanted to relocate to Cincinnati, what are some things they should know before making the move?
If you’re moving to Cincinnati and you’re from a large city, you will either be relieved or completely distraught. We don’t have the best transportation system here, we are working on a streetcar right now, but we’re not the savviest with bus service. However, if you’re tired of big city life and want a tame taste of city life you are in business. The city is still a bit conservative (in the open to new ideas sense), but we’re working on that.

How bad are the winters?
It really depends. The last two were atrocious but three years ago there was no snow and it was the best! I hate winter so much that I try to pretend it doesn’t exist. It doesn’t work well, we had a lot of power outages, a lot of car wrecks and there were some days where we just stayed put for a weekend or so. However, many other states have it worse than us, I think we’re just terrible about organizing everything.

What are your top three favorite bars and restaurants?
Wow this is seriously tougher than I thought it would be. My top three in downtown Cincinnati (so this will be easier) are Shanghi Mama’s, because they are open ridiculously late and have good pad thai, Taste of Belgium has the best fried chicken and waffles and one of the best salad dressings I have ever tasted, and A Tavola has a yummy pizza (ask for the sea salt afterbake, you won’t be disappointed). Taste of Belgium and A Tavola can act as bars and all are reasonably priced.