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Plates & Places


Get the unexpected at Fangboner Farms
–by Jennifer Ruple


 Jennifer Ruple

Jennifer Ruple







1179 S. Crissey Rd.
Holland, Ohio

They say that opposites attract which seems to hold true when you meet the creators of Fangboner Farms Jan Aguilar and Roland Richardson. She’s a midwestern gal; he’s a southern boy. She’s urban; he’s rural. She’s spicy, and he’s sweet. Although, I think they are both pretty sweet.

Jan Aguilar and Roland Richardson with their 1944 Farmall tractor at the entrance of Fangboner Farms.

The all-natural herb farm, located at 1179 S. Crissey Rd. in Holland, Ohio, was planted in 2009. It’s the perfect blend of the couple’s passions – Aguilar’s love of cooking and growing culinary herbs and Richardson’s love of landscaping and farming. Their desire to meld the two created a truly unique and unexpected business.

Cynthia and Jim Nowak check out the candles at the Fangboner Farms open house.

“We’re not really sure how we came up with the idea, but we think it was over a bottle of wine,” laughed Aguilar. “We try to set ourselves apart from everyone else. Our personalities are very different too, and we take a different approach to our business,” she added.

At Fangboner, you will find dried herbs, spice blends, tea blends, soy candles, natural care products and unique gifts, as well as herbs and perennials for sale. “We have close to 40 varieties of perennials and everything is grown in our organic compost,” explained Aguilar. “We call it our Cosmic Compost because it makes everything grow out of this world,” added Richardson.

Soy candles are available in seasonal fragrances such as eucalyptus and lavender; sweet orange with hot chili pepper; and rosemary, mint and lavender

Fangboner Farms is open one weekend a month.
Each month features a different theme and delicious food and tea samples.

Upcoming dates are May 13-14 and June 10-11.
Hours are Saturday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Sunday noon – 5 p.m.


Spice blends and dried herbs such as basil and chives line the shelves at the farm.

Lemon Rosemary Loaf
Yield: 1 loaf (12 slices)

“I love the contrast of sweet and savory. And I love lemons. And sweet loaf breads. Add it all together and you get a yummy sweet and savory lemon loaf,” said Aguilar.

½ cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
⅛ teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon ground rosemary
½ cup 2% milk

½ cup confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Heat oven to 350 F. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, lemon juice and peel.
Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and rosemary; gradually stir into creamed mixture alternately with milk, beating well after each addition.
Pour into a greased 8×4-in. loaf pan. Bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

Combine glaze ingredients. Remove bread from pan; immediately drizzle with glaze. Cool on a wire rack. Serve warm.

Snickerdoodle Cookies
These warm sugar cookies with cinnamon remind Aguilar of her grandmother. “I decided to change them up just a bit – Fangboner style. Lavender gives them just an extra special touch – perfect with a cup of tea.”

1 cup butter, softened
1 ½ cups sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon ground lavender
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Cream together butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla. Blend in flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, lavender and salt. Shape dough by rounded spoonfuls into balls.
Mix the 2 tablespoons sugar and the cinnamon. Roll balls of dough in mixture. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets.
Bake 8 to 10 minutes, or until set but not too hard. Remove immediately from baking sheets.

Jennifer Ruple is the author of the blog



Sharing the IKEA experience
–by Jennifer Ruple


 Jennifer Ruple

Jennifer Ruple







Four hours and nine minutes to be exact, is the amount of time co-editor Mary Helen Darah and I shared meandering the aisles of the mother-of-all home furnishing and accessories stores known as IKEA. With no time constraints (for once) and no regrets about it either, we donned our most comfortable walking shoes and set out to discover the latest in design trends, gather decorating ideas for spring, and enjoy a relaxing lunch.

Founded in 1943 in Sweden, IKEA is in 48 countries. The closest one to the Toledo area is just a little over an hour’s drive north in Canton, Mich., which makes the destination perfect for a day trip.

Colorful flags mark the entrance to home furnishings store IKEA in Canton, Mich.

Let the fun begin
As we approached the store, the large groupings of flags and the massive lettered parking lot evoked memories of childhood theme park visits. Only this time the thrills would be choosing which counter stools to buy. Upon entering the store, we each borrowed a big yellow bag to carry smaller items that we wanted to purchase while perusing the home furnishings department on the second floor. Up the escalator we went.

After a few runners’ stretches, we were ready to embark on our journey. Along the winding path, we were treated to vignettes for every area of the home from living rooms and kitchens to office spaces and bathrooms. There were even full home displays that show you how to live large in very small spaces. We checked out sectionals, ottomans, computer desks and armoires.

Lunch break
At the end of the path on the second floor is the IKEA Restaurant. Halfway through our adventure, it was time for a quick break. I opted for the iconic Swedish meatball platter with fresh veggies, mashed potatoes and a dollop of lingonberry jam, while my colleague chose the smoked salmon salad. We each selected a bowl of corn chowder which ended up barely lukewarm after one of us felt the need to capture the perfect photo of our lunches. The dessert bar was stocked and tempting, but we turned it down for other options later.

Swedish meatballs, lingonberry jam and mashed potatoes are served at the IKEA Restaurant.

The Marketplace
After refueling, we headed downstairs to The Marketplace where the accessories are located. Like two kids in a candy store, we filled our carts with pillows, tape dispensers, wooden spoons, napkins, candles, clocks and plants.

Jennifer Ruple looks over accessories in the garden section at IKEA.


Mary Helen Darah checks out a modern light fixture at IKEA.

Swedish Food Market
Our last stop before departing was the food market. Here we found items such as Swedish meatballs and salmon fillets, jars of lingonberry jam and mustard-dill sauce, and potato fritters and Swedish pancakes. Good thing we passed on dessert because it was time for a warm and gooey cinnamon roll. Two for the road, please.

If you go…

  • Visit on a weekday to avoid crowds and strollers.
  • Restrooms are conveniently located in the store’s entryway. Use them – it’s a long way till the next ones appear.
  • Wear comfortable shoes – the place is huge!
  • Secret passageways allow you to skip some areas of the store, but it’s best to stick to the path. You could become confused and lose all sense of direction.
  • Pick up a catalog. More than likely, there will be a few things you wished you had placed in the big yellow bag.
  • BYOB (bags). The only bags available at checkout are for purchase.

Jennifer Ruple is the author of the blog


An almost-spring getaway to Greenville
–by Jennifer Ruple


 Jennifer Ruple

Jennifer Ruple







At this time of year, we have those days when we can smell springtime right around the corner. And then there are those days when it feels like old man winter will never check out. Fortunately for me and my husband, we picked a somewhat sunny Saturday to scope out the quaint town of Greenville, Ohio.

A barn along SR 127, 10 miles north of Greenville, pays tribute to Annie Oakley.

Approximately a two-hour drive south on I-75 and another 30 minutes west on SR 36, the town of Greenville is the county seat of Darke County and is loaded with small-town charm. From its cozy downtown with coffee shops, restaurants and boutiques to its historical gems like Bear’s Mill and The Garst Museum, Greenville is full of treasures waiting to be discovered.

Bear’s Mill, one of a few operating water-powered mills in Ohio.

As you make your way into town, plan to stop at Bear’s Mill, located at 6450 Arcanum-Bear’s Mill Rd. Named Best Historical Site for Ohio Magazine’s annual “Best of Ohio” contest, the mill is one of only a few operating water-powered mills in Ohio today. Built in 1849, Bear’s Mill rests beside Greenville Creek, which is the source of power for the mill. Through a self-guided tour of the mill’s four floors, you’ll find antique machinery, art exhibitions, and the mill’s store which sells stone-ground flours, pottery and handmade items.

Once in Greenville, head to Annie Oakley Park located just south of the center of town. The park features a plaque and a larger-than-life bronze statue dedicated to the famous sharpshooter. Oakley, born in Ohio, was dubbed Little Sure Shot for her remarkable shooting talent and later toured with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. Although Oakley was born outside of Greenville, the city has adopted her as one of its own. There’s also a special exhibit about her at The Garst Museum, which is mentioned later in this article.

The Merchant House is a “Best of Ohio” winner in the casual dining category.

Next, take a stroll along Main Street (actually Broadway Street) where you can explore the many shops and boutiques. For lunch or dinner, take a seat at The Merchant House, also a “Best of Ohio” winner in the casual dining category. Located at 406 S. Broadway St., the eatery specializes in smoked meats such as beef brisket, sausage and chicken (pair them with Bacon Mac and Cheese and BBQ Green Beans).

Or, indulge in an authentic Detroit-style, deep-dish pizza, cooked to perfection in the restaurant’s stone oven.

Smoked bacon pizza rolls are a treat available at The Merchant House. i>


KitchenAid artifacts are on display at the KitchenAid Experience in downtown Greenville.

After lunch, head across the street to the KitchenAid Experience retail center where you can view an original Model H KitchenAid Stand Mixer and other KitchenAid artifacts in the center’s museum on the lower level. Upstairs in the retail center, enjoy shopping the complete collection of KitchenAid countertop and culinary products. There are even refurbished appliances available at a fraction of their original price in the center’s outlet store. And, to learn tips, tricks and techniques of the trade, cooking classes are offered in the center’s kitchen. Call 888-886-8318 for information on classes and times.

Darke County history is on display at The Garst Museum.


And finally, don’t miss The Garst Museum, located at 205 N. Broadway St. The museum, operated by the D­­­­arke County Historical Society, is a 35,000-square foot campus that houses over 300,000 artifacts relevant to the history and culture of Darke County. There you will find The National Annie Oakley Center and exhibitions highlighting the Treaty of Greenville, Lowell Thomas and Ohio Native Americans. The museum is open Tuesday – Sunday and admission for seniors 60+ is $9 per person. Visit for times and information on special exhibits.

For those of you who feel like you’ve been cooped up way too long, keep a close watch on the weather, and hit the road to Greenville. You can always do laundry, work around the house or grocery shop on those “other” days.




Toasty spots to warm your heart 

–by Jennifer Ruple


 Jennifer Ruple

Jennifer Ruple






Baby, it’s cold outside! Stay cozy this Valentine’s Day, and the rest of the month, in some of the warmest spots in town. Whether you’ll be spending time with your sweetheart, your dad, your daughter, or your best friend, here are some toasty spots to take the chill out of your bones and warm up your hearts.

Glassblowing demonstrations are held at the Toledo Museum of Art Glass Pavilion.

Glassblowing demonstrations are held at the Toledo Museum of Art Glass Pavilion.

Feel the heat at the Toledo Museum of Art Glass Pavilion. Free glassblowing demonstrations are held in one of the Hot Shops Thursdays through Sundays throughout February. Demonstrations include gallery seating and narration of the process and techniques. Check the calendar for specific dates and times at

Delectable treats at Sweet Shalom Tea Room.

Delectable treats at Sweet Shalom Tea Room.

Enjoy a spot of tea at the Sweet Shalom Tea Room,
located at:
8216 Erie Street in Sylvania.

The warming effects of tea are only part of the healthy benefits of drinking a hot cup or two. Tea is full of antioxidants and is one of the great superfoods. Formal teas are held four times a week with two seatings on Friday and two seatings on Sunday. While sipping, enjoy Cherry Scones, Cucumber and Herbed Cream Cheese Sandwiches and Chocolate Lava Cakes…
just a few of the delectable treats on the menu created by the talented Chef Krissy Kruse.
For reservations, call 419-297-9919.

Snuggle up and enjoy a classic movie while basking in the grandeur of the Valentine Theatre downtown. Silver Screen Classics are shown on Friday nights throughout the year including To Catch a Thief on February 17 and Groundhog Day on February 24. Both movies begin at 7:30 p.m.

Cold, tall drinks, a full bar and popcorn are also available.

Admission is $5 per person,
and if you purchase any four films together, you can save $1 on each film.

For information regarding upcoming films in the series, visit:

Sherri and Donald Frazier of Toledo share a cozy moment at Ciao!

Sherri and Donald Frazier of Toledo share a cozy moment at Ciao!

Warm your inside and outside with a romantic dinner in one of these cozy area restaurants: Enjoy classic country Italian cuisine at Ciao! in Sylvania. For authentic Lebanese and fine Italian fare, family-owned Byblos on Reynolds Road is a classic. You can’t go wrong with their famous Shish Tawook.

The ever-elegant Georgio’s Café International downtown is always perfect for that special occasion date. Enjoy the house-made pâté. For fine steaks and seafood in an upscale atmosphere, visit Rockwell’s Steakhouse and Lounge in the historic Oliver House.

Find a peaceful spot in The Cloister at the Toledo Museum of Art.

Find a peaceful spot in The Cloister at the Toledo Museum of Art.

Join friends or make it a date night with Wine by the Glass Pavilion on Friday, February 17, 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Toledo Museum of Art Glass Pavilion. Enjoy four wines from the theme Best Bordeaux Beverages: Wines from Bordeaux, France and light snacks during It’s Friday!

Tickets are $25 for members
$35 for nonmembers
and are available for purchase during museum hours by phone at:
419-255-8000 ext. 7448
or at the information desks.


Indulge in a spa day for couples.

Indulge in a spa day for couples.


Relax and invigorate, along with a friend or significant other, with an hour-long, side-by-side massage at Rêvé Salon and Spa
5633 Main St., Sylvania.

Or for the ultimate indulgence, schedule a Spa Day created specifically for couples. The intimate experience includes a 60-minute massage, essential facial, dream pedicure, almond manicure, and shampoo and blow dry.
The package includes a $100 gift certificate to Ciao! for a romantic dinner.

To schedule a Spa Day call:

Stay warm out there!

Jennifer Ruple is the author of the blog


Rediscover the 419 – Downtown Toledo
–by Jennifer Ruple


 Jennifer Ruple

Jennifer Ruple





Downtown Toledo is happening! If you haven’t been there in a while, you’re in for a pleasant surprise. The landscape continues to evolve as new opportunities to dine, sip, shop and be entertained are popping up all over.

Toledo Farmer's Market

Toledo Farmer’s Market

If you happen to be visiting downtown on a Saturday, begin your trip at the Toledo Farmers’ Market located at 525 Market Street. The market is enclosed and heated during our frosty winter months and a great place to shop for local items. Each week, you’ll find homemade pies, breads and pastries; jams and jellies; seasonal produce; honey, syrup, coffee and cheese; as well as unique handcrafted soaps, candles, mittens and more. Winter market hours are 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. (Dec. – April).

Middlegrounds Metropark

Middlegrounds Metropark

Next, bundle up and take a stroll along the banks of the Maumee River at Toledo’s newest urban park. Middlegrounds Metropark is located at 111 Ottawa Street and offers a 1.5-mile walking and biking path that begins at the Anthony Wayne Bridge and meanders along the river with scenic views.

Brooke and Grant Perry of Rustbelt Coffee

Brooke and Grant Perry of Rustbelt Coffee

Afterwards, warm up with a signature crushed espresso or a cup of chai latte at
Rustbelt Coffee
119 N. Ontario St.

Open since August, the coffee shop has quickly become a trendy hangout for families, college students, and the downtown business crowd. Its massive interior is decorated in sleek, urban industrial style but remains cozy with its leather couches, comfy throws and seasonal decor. While there, spend some time browsing at Cream Living, which is located toward the back of the coffee shop. The boutique offers new, vintage and repurposed treasures for the home. Also located within Rustbelt is a small gathering room that can be rented by the hour for meetings, showers or other special events.

Pam’s Corner

Pam’s Corner

When it’s time for lunch, head to the Davis Building, 151 N. Michigan, where you’ll find Pam’s Corner.
Owner Pam Weirauch has been cooking breakfast and lunch for downtown diners for decades. The bright and cheerful space serves a variety of salads, soups and sandwiches and offers specials like the Crabby Abby salad with crab balls. The macaroni and cheese is incredible. Tip: get there early.

Paula Brown of Paula Brown Shop

Paula Brown of Paula Brown Shop

For an eclectic and one-of-a-kind shopping experience, step into the

Paula Brown Shop
912 Monroe St.

and just across the parking lot from Pam’s, offers a wide variety of products including home accessories, stationary, jewelry, linens, beer, wine, specialty foods and gifts for everyone including children and babies.

The Pub, a full-service bar located within the shop, is always open during shop hours and on Thursday-Saturday evenings. Live entertainment and special events including wine tastings and tap takeovers are held weekly. For current events, check The Pub calendar at

Don’t let the wintery weather keep you cooped inside all month. Go out and get some fresh air and take in some new scenery in our own hometown.

Jennifer Ruple is the author of the blog


Get the party started with hearty holiday hors d’oeuvres 
–by Jennifer Ruple


 Jennifer Ruple

Jennifer Ruple








The gathering season is upon us, and chances are you’ll be hosting a get-together or two this month. Instead of a traditional sit-down dinner, try an hors d’oeuvres buffet. The following three recipes, from my grandma, my mom and me, are substantial enough that your guests will feel satisfied but not overly full. Pair them with an assortment of cheeses and some crudités and you’ll have a meal that’s just right for the occasion. Happy hosting!

Tangy Cranberry Meatballs













Tangy Cranberry Meatballs
This recipe has been in my family for years. I can remember my grandmother rolling hundreds of these scrumptious little meatballs for her parties. Just a warning – they go fast! Makes approximately 4 dozen meatballs.

3 pounds lean ground beef

2 eggs

1 cup unseasoned bread crumbs

Salt and pepper to taste

3 tablespoons chopped parsley


12-ounce jar Heinz Chili Sauce

14-ounce can jellied cranberry sauce

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

Squeeze of a lemon

In a large bowl, combine meatball ingredients. Roll into 1” balls. Bake at 350 F for 15 minutes or until no longer pink. Drain on paper towels.

In a saucepan, combine sauce ingredients and cook over medium heat, stirring to break up jellied cranberry.

Add meatballs and simmer 30 minutes.

(Recipe from Ann McGrath)

Meatless Stuffed Mushrooms

Meatless Stuffed Mushrooms









Meatless Stuffed Mushrooms
Each time my mom serves these hearty hors d’oeuvres, she is asked what type of meat is in them. Surprisingly none! Instead of discarding the mushroom stems, they are diced and mixed with spices to create a savory filling. Makes 6 appetizers.

6 large white mushrooms

2 tablespoons butter

¼ cup onion, diced

½ teaspoon minced garlic

Salt to taste

Italian bread crumbs

Parmesan cheese, shaved

Snap off the stems of the mushrooms. Set aside. With a teaspoon, scoop out a bit of the mushroom cap to create a larger hole for the stuffing. Dice the stems and extra mushroom scooped from the cap.

In a frying pan, melt butter. Sauté onions until they begin to soften. Add garlic, salt and diced mushroom pieces and sauté until soft. Add bread crumbs and heat until mixture thickens.

Fill each mushroom cap with stuffing. Top with Parmesan cheese shavings. Bake at 425 F for 20-25 minutes or until mushrooms are soft and cheese forms a crust.

(Recipe from Carol Alexander)

plates and places _2994

Sausage Polenta Rounds









Sausage Polenta Rounds
Finally, here is my contribution to the trio of holiday munchies. I was excited to find pre-cooked polenta at Sautter’s Food Center in Sylvania, which sped up the process considerably. Also, feel free to get a little spicy by using sweet, mild or hot Italian sausage.

¾ pound bulk Italian sausage

1 cup marinara sauce

24-ounce tube pre-cooked polenta

Olive oil for frying

Grated Parmesan cheese

Fresh basil for garnish

Heat oven to 350 F. In a frying pan, cook sausage until no longer pink. Stir in marinara sauce. Set aside.

Slice polenta into ½ inch thick rounds. With a spoon, gently scoop out a bit of polenta from the center of each round, creating a shallow well. In a frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons of oil and cook polenta rounds a few minutes per side, in batches of 5-6.

Transfer polenta rounds to a baking sheet. Fill wells with 1 tablespoon of sausage mixture. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake for 10 minutes or until polenta is slightly brown and cheese has melted. Garnish with basil leaves.

(Source Jennifer Ruple)

Jennifer Ruple is the author of the blog



Fall naturally with neutral home accents
–by Jennifer Ruple


 Jennifer Ruple

Jennifer Ruple

November kicks off the season of entertaining and cooking for family and friends, so it seems only fitting that we give the ‘plates’ of this column the spotlight this month.

Over the past years, I’ve used many color combinations while decorating for fall – pumpkin and eggplant, pumpkin and sage, and my favorite pumpkin and turquoise. While I love rich color, I decided to give the natural, tone-on-tone palate a try this year. A neutral palate can be simple and elegant at the same time, and it can enhance any style of home – traditional, contemporary, country, and of course, the increasingly popular farmhouse style.

 Stacked single-hued plates create drama at the table.

Stacked single-hued plates create drama at the table.

 A large, chipped concrete urn corrals mini pumpkins.

A large, chipped concrete urn corrals mini pumpkins.

Here are some tips for incorporating neutrals into your fall or Thanksgiving table design.

Play with texture. An absence of color doesn’t mean an absence of excitement. Use a combination of textures like linen, rattan, metals, and earthy elements to provide interest and richness to your space.

Create a focal point. Bring in a large, birch bark pumpkin and embellish it with pinecones, leaves and acorns for a show-stopping centerpiece.

Colored glassware is back. Add a subtle pop of color to your neutral tablescape with colored glassware. Also abundant this season are colored glass candle holders and shimmering blown glass pumpkins.

Get personal. Craft something new from something old. Napkin rings created from vintage metal buttons I received from an Aunt bring a sense of nostalgia and sparkle to the table. Every time I use them, I think of her.

Create balance. Flank mini cotton topiaries on each end of the dining table to add natural texture.

Pile on the layers. Stack single-hued dishes to add dramatic appeal.

Be playful. Add a touch of whimsy with playful accents like miniature ceramic owl salt and pepper shakers.

Set the mood. Dim the lights and add softness with the glow of white or cream candles.

Don’t forget the sides. Don the buffet with a statement piece like a large, chipped, concrete urn filled with white, and a few green, pumpkins and gourds.

 Utilize items with texture in a tone-on-tone display.

Utilize items with texture in a tone-on-tone display. 

  Amber glassware plus golden preserved leaves provide a subtle pop of color in a neutral tablescape.

Amber glassware plus golden preserved leaves provide a subtle pop of color in a neutral tablescape.

Jennifer Ruple is the author of the blog:


Autumn excursion to Chelsea, Michigan

–by Jennifer Ruple

original pic of jens perfect hair_PC2

Jennifer Ruple








Autumn brings colorful foliage, crisp air and cozy sweaters; the perfect seasonal mix for strolling around the quaint, historic district in Chelsea, Mich. Located on State Route 52 between Jackson and Ann Arbor, Chelsea offers a myriad of shopping opportunities, world-class theatre, hip eateries and the 20,000-acre Waterloo State Recreation Area.

Begin the day by perusing the many gift shops and boutiques in the area. The Potting Shed features an eclectic mix of vintage and new items, including tableware, linens and holiday décor. Step outside into the shop’s courtyard and check out the assortment of art and decorative items for your garden. Violet and Moss are two women’s boutiques offering unique clothing, jewelry and accessories. For industrial-style furniture and home décor, visit La Maison. The shop also carries Annie Sloan® Chalk Paint®, brushes and other supplies. For a good read, visit the charming Serendipity Books. Find a relaxing chair, grab a complimentary cup of coffee or tea, and explore their vast selection of gently used books.

The courtyard at The Potting Shed offers garden art and plants.

The courtyard at The Potting Shed offers garden art and plants.

When hunger calls, look no further than Zou Zou’s Café and Coffee Bar, an intimate and artsy French-themed café offering gourmet coffees, crepes, salads and sandwiches. The café’s exposed brick walls are adorned with historic photos and local art. Breakfast sandwiches are available any time of the day as are five varieties of quiche. Before you leave, pick up a homemade raspberry white chocolate scone to go. Trust me.

While in town, don’t miss the opportunity to take in a play at The Purple Rose Theatre Company, which is located downtown at 137 Park Street. Founded in 1991 by actor, playwright and Chelsea native Jeff Daniels, the award-winning venue offers original American theatre performances. The 168-seat theatre’s interior is reminiscent of the 1930s and features art deco design touches throughout its lobby. Performances are 8 p.m. Thursday to Saturday, 3 p.m. Wednesday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday.
Ticket prices range from $22-$46
and can be purchased at:


Purple Rose Theatre Company _2041

The Purple Rose Theatre Company is celebrating its 25th anniversary!

There is no better time than fall to head outdoors. Just a few miles from town is Waterloo State Recreation Area, the largest park in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. The park features several campgrounds, beaches, picnic sites, mountain biking trails and 47 miles of hiking trails, many of which can be accessed from the Gerald E. Eddy Discover Center located at 17030 Bush Road. Unfortunately, heavy rains the day we visited kept us from the trails and from getting any decent pictures. However, we’re keeping the park on our list for future hikes.

There’s so much to experience in Chelsea, make it part of your fall bucket list.

 Jennifer Ruple is the author of the blog


Discovering the D – a visit to Detroit Zoo and Royal Oak

Discovering the D – a visit to Detroit Zoo and Royal Oak

–by Jennifer Ruple

It would be next to impossible to experience all that neighboring Detroit has to offer in a single day; however, it’s entirely possible to take in one of the city’s eclectic suburbs within that time frame.

A colorful water tower marks the Detroit Zoo’s location.

A colorful water tower marks the Detroit Zoo’s location.

Royal Oak, Mich. is filled with trendy eateries, breweries, record stores and boutiques, and is also home to the Detroit Zoo, which is where I suggest you begin your day trip.

A boardwalk meanders through a pond filled with waterlilies at the  Detroit Zoo.

A boardwalk meanders through a pond filled with waterlilies at the
Detroit Zoo.

Pack your sunglasses and walking shoes – there are 125 acres to explore and 2,400 animals to view at the Detroit Zoo. A must-see is the Polk Penguin Conservation Center, the largest facility for penguins in the world. While making your way to view the penguins, you’ll be treated to a 360-degree 4-D experience inspired by Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Antarctic expedition and heroic crossing of the Drake Passage complete with sea mist and blasts of arctic air. Once you’re in, you can watch more than 80 cute, frolicking penguins overhead from the tunnels at the underwater gallery.

Treat yourself to an award-winning dessert at Taste Love Cupcakes.

Treat yourself to an award-winning dessert at Taste Love Cupcakes.

Try to resist the urge to eat at the zoo though, even if the sweet treats are calling your name, because nearby downtown Royal Oak has a myriad of eateries, particularly along Main Street, to enjoy a relaxing late lunch or early dinner. Check out Ale Mary’s Beer Hall which offers an extensive bottle and tap craft beer selection and beer-eccentric cuisine. Or, opt for some Mexican fare next door at Mesa Tacos and Tequila. Afterwards, explore the shops in the vicinity. Don’t miss Burn Rubber, a hip and trendy sneaker and clothing boutique, which carries the latest in gym shoes and accessories. Satisfy your sweet tooth next door at Taste Love Cupcakes. A 2012 winner of Food Network’s Cupcake Wars and a three-year in a row winner of Hour Magazine’s Best of Detroit contest, the bakery has a gourmet flavor for everyone. Try a sweet potato cupcake with brown sugar cream cheese frosting or a cookies and cream cupcake with buttercream frosting.

If you’re in the mood for a little sole searching, check out Burn Rubber.

If you’re in the mood for a little sole searching, check out Burn Rubber.

If you happen to be in town over a weekend, stop by the Royal Oak Farmers Market for a sack of fresh, seasonal produce. The indoor market, located at 316 East 11 Mile Road, was established in 1925 and is one of the oldest markets in the region. Market hours are Fridays (May-Christmas) and Saturdays (year-round) from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. The venue becomes an Antique and Flea Market on Sundays year-round from 8-3 p.m.

Enjoy lunch and the view of Main Street from the patio at Ale Mary’s Beer Hall.

Enjoy lunch and the view of Main Street from the patio at Ale Mary’s Beer Hall.

There are so many wonderful neighborhoods to explore in and around Detroit, and they’re all just an hour or two away. So don’t delay, make plans soon to enjoy a day in the D!

Experience small-town lake living in Marblehead

Experience small-town lake living in Marblehead

By Jennifer Ruple

A true perquisite of living in Northwest Ohio is our close proximity to Great Lakes – we’ve got five of them to explore after all. Think sandy beaches, lighthouses, water sports, seafood restaurants and spectacular sunsets – all of this can be yours for the day after a one-hour drive east to Marblehead, Ohio.

The Erie Social Shuffleboard Club and Bar

The Erie Social Shuffleboard Club and

Marblehead lies along SR 163, and an easy out and back trip along this route will give you access to all of the town’s amenities.

The iconic Marblehead Lighthouse

The iconic Marblehead Lighthouse

Just prior to arriving, stop in Port Clinton and grab a cup of joe and a quick breakfast at Coffee Express. Located on W. Second Street, this eatery is popular for its muffins and quiche – try Blueberry Cream Cheese and Raspberry White Chocolate muffins and Farmer’s Quiche loaded with ham, cheeses and veggies. Once in Marblehead, visit East Harbor State Park and feel the sand between your toes as you stroll along the shores of Lake Erie. The park also includes picnic areas, beaches for sunning and swimming, and several miles of trails for hiking or running.

The tasting room at Rocky Point Winery in Marblehead

The tasting room at Rocky Point
Winery in Marblehead

When you’re finished beaching it, it’s time to get social and try your hand at shuffleboard – yes, it’s back! The one-year-old venue, The Erie Social, is Lake Erie’s first indoor shuffleboard club and bar. Delightfully decorated with a vintage meets industrial vibe, the club features regulation size shuffleboard courts and tables, old English style dart boards, board games and a full service bar. While there, order some lunch at the adjacent Sandwich Shoppe which serves fresh deli sandwiches like The Catawba – roasted turkey, Fuji apples, crème Brie on cranberry walnut bread and The Freighter – roast beef, red onion, sharp cheddar, arugula, and chipotle mayo on rosemary ciabatta bread. All sandwiches come with your choice of Chardonnay Potato Salad or Roasted Red Pepper Pasta Salad Next along the road through Marblehead, peruse the many gift shops, antiques stores and art galleries including Ferguson Gallery, which carries unique paintings, art glass, antiques and jewelry, and Christi’s Just for Ewe gift shop known for its fun clothing, jewelry and accessories. The shop also carries nautical-inspired decor, children’s toys, gifts for babies, and their famous handmade fudge.

Coffee Express in Port Clinton

Coffee Express in Port Clinton

Waves crashing along the Lake Erie shoreline

Waves crashing along the Lake Erie

When it’s time for a little wine tasting, head to nearby Rocky Point Winery, located in the historic Marblehead Schoolhouse. Owned and operated by Chris and Kim Redfern, this charming winery recently celebrated its first birthday and features native Midwest wines, small plates and a cozy atmosphere for hanging out with friends. Just upstairs from the winery is the Red Fern Inn, which offers four unique rooms for rent, perfect for a romantic evening away. And finally, round out your day with a visit to the iconic lighthouse at Marblehead Lighthouse State Park where you can relax for a moment by water’s edge and watch the waves break on the rocky shoreline.

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