It’s Not Too Late to Give to the 2014 ArtsWave Campaign

For the last couple of months, I’ve been blogging from time to time about ArtsWave and what it means to the Cincinnati area community. On April 22nd, they will be wrapping up their 2014 Community Campaign. As you can see in the message I received from them yesterday, they are very close to their goal. So they’re asking if you and I can give just $10 more. $10… that’s less than two craft beers at your favorite better beer location. Less than two glasses of wine too. I just gave $10 more. How about joining me in that $10 gift?

— Carla

In just six days, ArtsWave will announce the results of the 2014 Community Campaign.

Here’s some insider information… we are SO CLOSE to our goal of $12 million. Thanks to friends like you, we are almost there – the biggest campaign we’ve ever had.

BUT… we’re not there yet. And we need one last effort by everyone to make it.

We know many of you have already made your gift – THANK YOU SO MUCH!

Would you consider giving just $10 more? And asking 10 people to give $10 too? Your actions could create a wave of giving at the last moment that makes all the difference.

If everyone receiving this message gives just $10 more, we’ll make our goal. The beauty of this community campaign has always been that it is made up of tens of thousands of people – just like you – giving what they can to make our community an amazing place to live.

Your extra $10 helps connect neighbors at their local arts centers. $100 from ten of your friends brings arts into schools to help students succeed. It all adds up to $12 million invested in more than 100 arts organizations across the Greater Cincinnati region.

To sweeten the deal, if you give online between now and Monday, April 21st at Noon, you’ll be entered into a raffle drawing for either 2 tickets to the Cincinnati Ballet OR 4 tickets to a Cincinnati Symphony Lollipops Concert.

Please, if you believe in the impact of the arts in our community, click here to give $10 today. And then, please forward this email to 10 people and ask them to join you.

Thanks for believing in the power of the arts to change our community.


Your Determined Wave-Catchers and Friends at ArtsWave

Arts Angle: Macy’s Arts Sampler – March 15, 2014

Carla, ArtsWave WeDidIt Ambassador, reporting for duty once again! This weekend is the second and next to last Macy’s Arts Sampler in Cincinnati. This annual event gives folks free access to theater, music, dance, crafts, museum tours and more.

One of the highlights this Saturday’s Macy’s Arts Sampler is “Catch the Spirit” – a special concert at Music Hall, featuring Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Ballet, Cincinnati Opera, May Festival Chorus, Cincinnati Shakespeare Company and more.

In addition to the concert, you can experience other events with dance, Bach, silhouettes, Canstruction®, Hip Hop dance classes, hands-on arts experience for the whole family, eco-fiber, Americana, Celtic, jazz, theater, ballet, photography, writing, opera, bubble art, blues, Shakespeare, clay, tie dye, face painting, yoga, chamber orchestra and more.

Event sites include Memorial Hall, Alice F. and Harris K. Weston Art Gallery, The Cincinnati Ballet Studios, Elementz, The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County – Main Library, Behringer-Crawford Museum, Ballet Theatre Midwest, Manifest Creative Research Gallery and Drawing Center, Women Writing for (a) Change, The Grove Banquet & Events Center, Fairfield Community Arts Center, Fitton Center for Creative Arts, Otterbein Senior Lifestyle Choices and Middletown Arts Center.

For more information on specific events during the Macy’s Arts Sampler this weekend, check out this PDF file from ArtsWave with a complete listing of the free arts events available this weekend.


Arts Angle: CincySings Tickets Now On Sale

Tickets are now on sale for the first ever CincySings to be held Wednesday, April 9, 2014 at 7:00 pm at the Aronoff Center’s Procter & Gamble Hall. It’s a city-wide singing competition where up to 12 local company teams (plus there’s a community wild card team) compete for city bragging rights. Each team will perform their favorite song or mash-up. Drew Lachey will host.

Regular tickets are $20 per person. The $50 VIP tickets include a reception with a wine tasting, food, music and celebrity meet & greet. To purchase your CincySings tickets online, go to the Cincinnati Arts Association web site or you can call (513) 621-2787 [ARTS].

It’s a great way to support ArtsWave and local arts plus have some fun too. If you are unable to attend CincySings, you can also donate to ArtsWave by using my ArtsWave WeDidIt Ambassador page.

ArtsWave CincySings

Arts Angle: The Art of Food at The Carnegie

As part of my role as an ArtsWave WeDidIt Ambassador, I want to include more posts on the arts here on and this inaugural one is really cool. Every year, The Carnegie hosts The Art of Food. They describe it as an “annual exhibition of artistic culinary creations by visual artists and top chefs from the area.” Some of the artists use food as their inspiration for their work and some actually use food to create their pieces. Some of the artists include Brazee Street Studios, Pam Kravetz, Zachary Herrmann, Janet Berberich, Chris Voorhees and Eric Brass.

The Opening Reception is tomorrow (Friday, February 28th) from 6:00 – 9:00 pm and tickets are still available. The cost is $25 for Carnegie members or $40.00 for non members. The chefs and restaurants participating include:

Jean-Francois Flechet - Taste of Belgium

Taste of Belgium – Chef Jean-Francois Flechet

Jean-Robert deCavel - Art of Food

Jean-Robert’s Table – Chef Jean-Robert deCavel

Coffee Emporium - Art Of Food

Coffee Emporium – Tony Tausch

Other restaurants and chefs include Alfio’s – Chef Alfio Gulisano, Eat Well – Chef Renee Schuler, Fireside Pizza – Chef Mike Marschman, Jeff Thomas Catering – Chef Steve Waddell, Wunderbar – Chef Nathan Chambers, Fresh Table – Chef Meredith Trombly, Otto’s – Chef Paul Weckman, The Rookwood – Chef Jackson Rouse, Virgil’s Cafe – Chef Matt Buschle, Metropole – Chef Michael Paley, Senate – Chef Daniel Wright, Chocolates Latour – Chef Shalini Latour, La Poste Eatery – Chef Andrew Mersmann, The Metropolitan Club – Chef Kelsey Yerger, Bouquet Restaurant & Wine Bar – Chef Stephen Williams and Cupcake Crazy – Chef Lisa Ebbert.

You can order your tickets by calling 859-957-1940 today and tomorrow from noon – 5:00 pm. Or you can order online.

All photos by Joe Simon and courtesy of The Carnegie

Review: FitBit Flex

Wearable computing is one of the hottest topics in technology right now and the health & fitness segment of this area is one of the biggest within that sector. Lord knows I love a gadget, but other than the occasional pedometer (which usually didn’t work correctly), I always passed on the various version of fitness wearable computing because they didn’t work in water where I do the majority of my fitness training. Until now, that is. FitBit recently released their new Fitbit Flex Wireless Activity + Sleep Wristband and it’s water resistant! Finally, a fitness gadget for me!

FitBit Flex Tracker

I first got to check out the FitBit Flex when my friend Julie let me check hers out. I was a bit worried about the actual wristband fitting my larger than average wrist. Not to worry! Each FitBit Flex comes with both a small and a large wristband. And, if the large still doesn’t work for you, FitBit will send you an XL wristband just for asking (you do have to send them a copy of your receipt). The wristband comes in black or slate when you buy the initial FitBit Flex and you can buy additional wristbands in teal, tangerine, and navy as a three pack or individually online at the FitBit Store. The actual tracker (seen in the blowup circle above) can be easily moved from wristband to wristband. The tracker needs to be charge about every five days using the USB dongle provided.

For a while, it was hard to find the BitFit Flex in stores due to high demand. I wanted mine before a trip I had planned and it was quite the search to find one. Luckily, my local Verizon Wireless store had just got in two of them when I called so I snagged one up for $99. I also learned to check the Verizon Wireless store for more than just cell phones.

My trip was a travel agent training at the Disneyland Resort. Having previously done one in 2005, I knew that we would be walking A LOT so I knew it would be a great time to try out the FitBit Flex.

You can see how you are doing towards your steps goal by tapping the wristband twice. You can also put it in sleep mode by tapping it quickly five or so times. I have problems with that myself so I just mainly use the FitBit app (available for iOS and Android).

FitBit Flex App

By default, the FitBit app shows you your steps, distance, calories burned, weight, very active minutes, sleep and water. You can modify these as you prefer. One of the benefits of the FitBit Flex is that you can add non-walking/running activities on the app. Again, perfect for someone who does water aerobics like me. Yes, you need to enter your weight for the app to be able to correctly calculate how many calories you have burned. It will also track your weight if you enter it on a regular basis.

FitBit Flex Sleep

The sleep function is one of the best parts of the FitBit Flex. Ever wake up and feel like you didn’t sleep at all even though you don’t actually remember waking up? This will try you why that is. As I mentioned before, you can put Flex in and out of sleep mode by tapping it briskly about five times. When it is in sleep mode, two separated dots on the wristband will move from side to side. Warning! You can put your Flex into sleep mode during normal daytime activities by hitting against things like walls. Check it throughout the day and be sure to take it out of sleep mode as soon as possible.

The sleep monitor diagram shows you your periods of sleep, restlessness and being awake. It uses that information to tell you how much actual sleep you got the night before. This side view (just turn your iOS or Android device horizontal) gives you more information than the standard view.

The food portion of the FitBit app isn’t the best. But, because you can link your account with your SparkPeople account, I just let FitBit log my fitness minutes on SparkPeople and enter all of my food intake using the much more robust SparkPeople app on my phone. There are many other applications that you can link with your FitBit account. You can also add friends who have FitBits and see how they are doing each week. The web dashboard on is very nice, but honestly I mainly just use my iPhone.

I thoroughly enjoy using the FitBit Flex. It encourages me to park farther away and walk a little more each day. I even bought one for Tom so now we often compare steps and sleep patterns. I finally found the fitness gadget for me!

— Carla

The Problem with Diner en Blanc

I remember last year when I first heard about Diner en Blanc (or if you prefer, Dîner en Blanc), it sounded interesting. A pop-up picnic where everyone wore white. This year’s Cincinnati event was described on their Facebook event page as “This très chic picnic, imported from Paris, is equal parts mystery tour, pop-up feast and je ne sais quoi.”

Then we learned more about it. For the cost of $35 a person, you got the “privilege” of eating your own food and drink (that you brought with you) plus you had to bring your own table and chairs (only white and certain sizes, of course). And you had to bring all of this on a bus and then haul it to the secret location. Okay…

But it raises money for a great charity, right? So it’s worth it, right? Guess again. The FAQ on the Diner en Blanc website lists the following information:

Is the Dîner en Blanc associated with a humanitarian or social cause?
What makes the Dîner en Blanc so popular is that it’s a “distinct” evening. There are no sponsors, no political or ideological agendas. Le Dîner en Blanc is simply a friendly gathering whose sole purpose is to experience a magical evening, in good company, in an environment which is both unusual and extraordinary.

It’s that last part that got me: “in an environment which is both unusual and extraordinary.” Last year’s Diner en Blanc surprise location was Lytle Park, right outside the Anna Louise Inn. This year, it was in Washington Park in Over-the-Rhine. It’s a wonderful park, but it’s also a stone’s throw away from people struggling to survive and barely able to afford food. Someone I know who attended Diner en Blanc later said, “What bothers me… is that I didn’t leave feeling like, ‘Wow! What a great event!’ I left feeling like, ‘Wow. I feel really dirty and shallow.'”

I made the decision not to attend mainly because it sounded like it was going to be a royal pain in the butt. But, looking back, I decided I needed to do something about how I felt. So today, I made a donation to the Drop Inn Center in the amount of $35. And in the Dedication section of the online form, I wrote this:

“Instead of going to Diner en Blanc, I’d rather see the money make a difference in Cincinnati.”

By that one simple act, I am experiencing a magical evening knowing that I am making a difference in Cincinnati. I would love it if you joined me.

[By the way, while researching this blog post, I discovered that there’s also Dîner en Blanc – Haïti. Wow…]

Cones for a Cure Returns in September

Graeter’s Ice Cream has announced that their annual Cones for a Cure campaign is returning on September 4, 2013 and running through September 16th. Participating Graeter’s locations in Cincinnati, Columbus, Lexington and Louisville will again be serving Elena’s Blueberry Pie Ice Cream with proceeds from sales of that ice cream going to cancer research through The Cure Starts Now. The flavor was created in honor of six year old Elena Desserich who lost her fight with cancer in 2007 and was the inspiration behind The Cure Starts Now.

During Cones for the Cure, guests that visit a Graeter’s store during the campaign period have the opportunity to donate a $1 or $5 “Cone for the Cure.” Graeter’s will also offer a $15 savings booklet for every donation of $5 or more to The Cure Starts Now.

In addition, Graeter’s will be giving away free scoops of Elena’s Blueberry Pie to customers two separate times during the month of September. The two free ice creams will be “randomly announced” on various media outlets and social media. For the latest news about the campaign, go to the Cones for the Cure Facebook page at

Re-Post: Inspiration at the Pool

While I’m traveling this week, I’ll be re-posting some of my past work from our now dormant blogs (Diminishing Returns and Tag Team Tech).

Unless you are a regular member at the R.C. Durr YMCA, you probably don’t know that it is a designated training and testing site for the Navy SEALs. SEALs, which is short for Sea, Air, and Land Teams, are the Navy’s main special operations force. As you can see from the video on this web site, the training is rigorous and demanding.

Almost every day that we’re working out in the pool, we can see the SEAL wannabes being put through their paces by their military fitness trainer, a petite blonde woman with a pony tail. She is amazing to watch in action. One day, she’ll make them swim the length of the pool and then jump out to do about 50 or so sit-ups. Then, it’s back into the pool to swim back to the other end and then 50 or so push-ups, sometimes with lying on top of them to add more weight to their efforts. Today, she had two of them carrying what seemed to be heavily weighted bags. They had to run with them across their shoulders or do deep lunges down the hall way. Tom saw them on the way and mentioned that they didn’t look very happy about this exercise. I would imagine that some of these SEAL trainees have nightmares about blonde pony tails!

While the SEAL trainees are one type of inspiration, our pool buddy Nancy is another. When Nancy first started coming to the Y, she had to use a walker to get herself around. She couldn’t use the steps to get into the pool, but rather had to be lowered into the pool via a special chair they have for members with mobility issues. She told us that what got her to the pool was an incident where she fell in her home and couldn’t get up. I’ll always remember the look on her face when she told us that it took six firefighters to get her up. That was it. It was time for a change.
Change doesn’t happen over night and it didn’t for Nancy. First, she was able to use the stairs to get into the pool. Then, she was able to switch from the walker to a cane. Now, she doesn’t even need the cane. According to her last weigh-in at her doctor’s office, she lost 80 pounds. And she knows she’s lost more because she has recently needed a smaller size of pants. She’s taking less medication now too.

Change like that isn’t easy. She works out at the Y six days a week. She put her health first and it shows.

Whether it’s a young person training to be a part of one of the most decorated parts of the armed forces or an older person like Nancy (she always calls us “young uns”), there are so many stories at your local Y that will inspire you.

As we say at the R.C. Durr pool, come on in… the water’s fine.



When Posterous announced it was shutting down on April 30, 2013 (thanks a lot, Twitter!), it gave me reason to think about what I wanted to do with my personal blog It had started on Blogger and was more sports related (How about that win for the Cubs last night?) over there. When I moved it to Posterous, it became more generalized, but vague. I also shared lots of comic strips (I love comic strips).

The one thing I knew was that I wanted to switch to WordPress. Tom and I discussed it and then he installed it (and also moved his personal blog CrankyBear.Net to WP – Its re-launch is coming later). We also both decided to use the Responsive theme since we were using for the Rivertown Brewing web site and plan to move Hoperatives to it too.

We had gotten a back up of our Posterous sites, but soon discovered that there was some major clean up work to do after importing the back up. All images were there, but were not in the proper format so each had to be fixed one by one to show up correctly. There was also some extra HTML tags that needed to be removed. Personally, I decided to remove any post that was just a comic with no real commentary. That cut my posts from 162 to 61. (I told you I love comic strips.)

Design elements were next. Since the idea behind the Responsive theme is that your blog works on any browser (desktop, tablet or phone), I knew I wanted to keep the design very clean. The radio clip art came from (part of Creative Commons) and the background image is from a free Twitter background web site whose name I forget. I originally used it with my CinStateCarla Twitter account and decided it was too good not to be used more. And thank God for Google Fonts. They make such a big difference.

But what to blog about? As I was creating categories for my past posts, a theme of sorts began to evolve. I’ve been writing about the things I love: blogging, Cincinnati/NKY, comics, Disney (especially Disney Parks), craft beer, sports, teaching, technology, theater and travel. And so I’m going to continue that, but bump it up a notch. I’m also going to throw in some recipes and reviews and maybe something else. That’s the joy of a re-launch. You don’t know exactly where you’re going, but you kind of have an idea of the direction. As I was tweaking everything yesterday, I jokingly told Tom and some of my friends that I was going to add the tag line “Fat, Fifty and FUN!” I ended up not using it, but I still think it sums up my direction. So onward! And enjoy!