Meow Meow Monday: Meet Porter

Time for a new feature – Meow Meow Monday! In this first installment, you get to meet Porter.

Back in August of 2012, we adopted two male kittens. They were born a week apart, but never really knew life without the other one in it. Being the better beer fans we are, we named them after beer styles: Bock and Porter. And we call our house Beer Cats Manor (yes, they have their own Facebook fan page).

Porter is the slightly younger and smaller of the two. To paraphrase the line from “Star Wars”, the adorable is strong with this one. He’s almost a tuxedo cat and he’s so cute. Especially when he’s sleeping.

Porter of Beer Cats Manor

Porter loves sunbeams and being warm. And twist ties. He loves twist ties. He only sleeps with us on occasion. And when he does, he sleeps down by my feet. When I roll over during the night (which is often), he moves closer until I’m left with only about six inches of room on the edge of the mattress. If I try to (gently) move him over a bit, he can get huffy and sulk away to sleep somewhere else.

Porter is like the cat Mooch in the comic strips “Mutts” when he channels the Big Leboswki (“The Dude abides”). But, he’s also a talker and a bit neurotic. He’s meowing like crazy right as I’m writing this.

And that’s our Porter.

Saturday Sayings: Respect


In many ways, this saying (or, to be more accurate, song lyric) was the inspiration for my Saturday Sayings feature. For years, I have loved The Staples Singers’ song “Respect Yourself”. It has a R&B / Memphis soul sound that makes you have to get up and dance when you hear it.

A few years ago, I actually took the time to listen to the lyrics:

If you disrespect anybody that you run in to
How in the world do you think anybody’s s’posed to respect you
If you don’t give a heck ’bout the man with the Bible in his hand, y’all
Just get out the way, and let the gentleman do his thing
You the kind of gentleman that want everything your way, yeah
Take the sheet off your face, boy, it’s a brand new day

Respect yourself, respect yourself, respect yourself, respect yourself
If you don’t respect yourself
Ain’t nobody gonna give a good cahoot, na na na na
Respect yourself, respect yourself, respect yourself, respect yourself

If you’re walking ’round think’n that the world owes you something ’cause you’re here
You goin’ out the world backwards like you did when you first come here yeah
Keep talkin’ bout the president, won’t stop air pollution
Put your hand on your mouth when you cough, that’ll help the solution
Oh, you cuss around women and you don’t even know their names, no
Then you’re dumb enough to think that’ll make you a big ol’ man

Respect yourself, respect yourself, respect yourself, respect yourself
If you don’t respect yourself
Ain’t nobody gonna give a good cahoot, na na na na
Respect yourself, respect yourself, respect yourself, respect yourself

Respect yourself, respect yourself, respect yourself, respect yourself
Respect yourself, yeah yeah respect yourself, respect yourself

yeah, respect yourself
You oughta you oughta respect yourself yeah, respect yourself

According to Wikipedia, “The song was written by Stax Records singer Luther Ingram and Stax house songwriter Mack Rice. Ingram, who was frustrated with the state of the world at the time, told Rice “black folk need to learn to respect themselves.” Rice liked the comment so much that he built a funk groove around it, then gave the song to the Staples”.

The entry goes on to say that the “confrontational song had resonance for a burgeoning self-empowerment movement for African-Americans during the post-civil-rights-movement 1970s, as well as women demanding more respect during those same years.”

The song “Respect Yourself” is probably one of the best examples of what Rolling Stone calls “the Staples’ commitment to making secular music with a message“. For me, I have even more respect for the group knowing that they always remembered where they came from (gospel music).

— Carla

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.


Saturday Sayings: Einstein or Not?

Einstein quote

A friend of mine sent me this quote many, many years ago. It’s been so long that I don’t even remember who exactly it was so I can’t ask them where they got the image from. I pinned it on Pinterest over two years ago and it’s been re-pinned over 300 times.

So, when I was working on this week’s Saturday Sayings, I thought of this quote. But, after last week’s Mark Twain misattribution, I thought I had better check Quote Investigator again. You got it… the quote (and many variations on it) were said by just about everyone but Albert Einstein. Though the Quote Investigator discussion doesn’t mention it, I personally believe that people are more likely to believe that Einstein said something to this effect because of the popular misconception that he had a learning disability.

The sentiment is nice, but thanks to a 2004 self help book author, it was woefully misattributed.

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

Recipe: Provolone Stuffed Meatballs

Provolone Stuffed Meatballs

One of my favorite parts of teaching public speaking is what I learn from my students. There are many times when I’ll tell my husband some fact I’ve learned and he’ll ask, “Student speech?” “Yep!”

The demonstration speech is one of the first big prepared speeches we have the students do. Because of the step-by-step nature of the speech, it’s easy to figure out how to organize it and it also has the benefit of giving the students something to do with their hands while speaking.

Over the years, I’ve seen a wide range of demonstration speeches from the mundane (how to balance your checkbook) to the unusual (how to shoe a horse). But, the food topics are always favorites with their classmates. As I tell them, an audience that knows it’s going to get fed is a happy audience.

This semester, one of my students, Brandon Dorsino, shared the recipe for his Provolone Stuffed Meatballs. He claims that everyone in his Italian family has their own recipe for meatballs and Brandon boldly claims that his recipe is even better than his Italian grandmother’s! All I know is that they are delicious and Brandon kindly gave me permission to share his recipe here. [NOTE: I did edit it a bit for clarity.]

Provolone Stuffed Meatballs

1 pound ground beef
1/3 pound ground pork
1/3 pound ground veal
1 stick butter
1 sweet onion, diced
1 whole garlic, minced
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese (divided)
1 cup Italian bread crumbs (divided)
1 handful parsley, chopped
1/2 handful fresh oregano, chopped
1 tablespoon pepper
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 tablespoon red pepper flakes (optional)
1/2 pound fresh provolone cheese, sliced thin
Olive oil

1. Place meat into a large mixing bowl.
2. Melt butter in a large skillet or saute pan and then add diced onion.
3. After about four minutes, add the minced garlic.
4. When the onion is translucent, remove from heat and add mixture to the bowl with the meat.
5. Next, add the eggs, 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, 1/2 cup bread crumbs, parsley, oregano, salt and pepper and red pepper flakes (if desired).
6. Fold together until mixed.
7. Roll into 1/2″ balls.
8. Take a half slice of the sliced provolone and roll it up into a ball. With your thumb, poke a hole into the meatball and insert the cheese. Wrap the meatball around the cheese.
9. Roll the meatballs in a mixture of the remaining Italian bread crumbs and parmesan cheese.
9. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet and sauté the meatballs until browned on all sides and cooked through. Change the oil between each batch of meatballs.

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

ArtsWave Toast “2” the Arts

I am so happy to announce that I was asked to be an ArtsWave WeDidIt Ambassador. Over the next few weeks, I will be sharing with you great ways to celebrate the arts in Cincinnati and how you can help ArtsWave. My first post is on a really simple way to help. Just enjoy a glass of a specially selected wine from the list of restaurants below and they’ll donate two dollars per glass to the ArtsWave campaign. How easy is that?

Cheers and support the arts!

— Carla


Area Restaurants Join in a Toast to the 2014 ArtsWave Campaign
Great for Valentine’s: Cincinnati’s First-Ever Toast “2” the Arts

Cincinnati, OH (February 13, 2014)– Twenty local restaurant and hospitality leaders are helping the 2014 ArtsWave Community Campaign get a little closer to its $12 Million goal with a Toast “2” The Arts, designed to boost the campaign’s audience as well as garner new contributions between now and April 22.

Participating restaurants have agreed to donate two dollars per glass sold of specially selected wines to the ArtsWave campaign, which is being chaired by P&G’s Group President-North America, Melanie Healey. In conjunction with Mariemont-based distributor Cutting Edge Selections, partnering restaurants, hotels and bars to-date include:

The Anchor (OTR)
Bistro on Elm at the Millennium (downtown)
The Celestial (Mt. Adams)
Ash (formerly Cumin) (Hyde Park)
Daveed’s (Loveland)
Jeff Ruby’s Steak House (downtown)
Jimmy G’s (downtown)
Jean Robert’s Table (downtown)
Local 127 (downtown)
Mantra on the Hill (Mt. Adams)
Nada (downtown)
Obscura (downtown)
The Palace at the Cincinnatian Hotel (downtown)
Cricket Lounge at the Cincinnatian Hotel Palm Court at the Netherland Hilton (downtown)
The Precinct (Columbia Tusculum)
Prime 47 (downtown)
Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse (downtown)
Trio Bistro (Kenwood)
Zula (OTR)

“We are thrilled to be able to partner with so many excellent destination restaurants and local hot spots, and give the public a way to make a difference at the same time they are enjoying some great wines,” says Alecia Kintner, president & COO of ArtsWave. “With an ambitious campaign goal in front of us, we need new ways to involve even more people in supporting the arts.”

“It’s a win-win for our region’s restaurants,” says P&G’s Executive Meetings & Events Manager Holly Hehemann, who was tapped by Ms. Healey to direct the initiative. “Our restaurants and hotels benefit from thriving arts organizations in their neighborhoods, and Toast “2” the Arts offers an easy way to give back. They are also able to tap into ArtsWave’s large base of donors and fans through cross-promotional efforts.”

Through a combination of on-site advertising, social media and email, ArtsWave and its partner restaurants are getting the word out about this new collaboration. The Cincinnati Symphony and Pops Orchestra, which is among ArtsWave’s 100 grant recipients, is providing a complementary voucher to restaurant wait staffs as a thank-you for promoting the program to customers. The suggested price of the wines is an accessible $8 per glass.

“Two dollars as a donation from each glass sold will add up quickly,” says Mark Maher, president of Cutting Edge Selections. “We’ve chosen a very fresh, easy-to-drink red wine, Honora Vera Garnacha, and a lively, fresh white — the Tarima Blanco – for this year’s promotion. I’m optimistic that we will drum up a lot of support for a great cause.”

“We hope this is the start of an amazing new tradition of collaboration between ArtsWave and the region’s restaurants,” says Kintner. “I see this growing every year… but in the meantime, we hope that people this spring will choose the ‘ArtsWave wines’ as they are enjoying Cincinnati’s fine dining, arts and entertainment!”

To see the current list of participating establishments, visit /connect/toast2thearts. To find out how your restaurant can get involved, call 513.632.0146. Follow the campaign on Twitter at @ArtsWave #Give2ArtsWave and #ArtsWaveWine.

Review: FitBit Force

NOTE: On February 21, 2014, FitBit issued a voluntary recall for all FitBit Force units.

Tech Review FitBit Force

As the new year came along, there was a sudden surge in interest in some of my tech reviews, specifically my reviews of the UP by Jawbone and the FitBit Flex. But, wait! There is a new fitness tracking piece of wearable technology from the folks at FitBit. Behold, the FitBit Force. Thanks to Verizon Wireless, I was sent a demo unit to try out and compare.

For the most part, the Force has the same functions and capabilities as the Flex, but better. In addition to tracking your steps, distance, calories burned and sleep, it also tracks when you go up a flight of stairs. As you can see from the photo above, the Force is a bit wider than the Flex and has a watch built in. By pushing the button on the side (you can see it below), you can scroll through the information that you have to sync with your smart phone to get on the Flex. No more trying to remember what the dots mean. I was disappointed that the watch display wasn’t on all of the time, but I understand why. The battery life would drop dramatically if it was. But, I’d love to be able to make that choice myself. Perhaps on at work and off for night time. A toggle switch on the smart phone app would be perfect.

FitBit Force Cord

To charge the Force, you connect the cord that’s included to the back. Unlike the Flex, you can’t change your wristbands. You have a choice of black or slate and that’s what it’s always going to be. But the battery life for the Force is about double that of the Flex. That’s a definite plus.

Because I already have a Flex linked to my account and my FitBit app, I tried something different this time. I created a new account at for the Force and used the wireless sync dongle to sync to an older Windows laptop we had. Conclusion? Unlike the Flex, the Force is a great option for people who don’t have a smart phone. You get so much information displayed on the OLED display that having the smartphone app is nice, but not a must have.

FitBit Force Back

So, let’s talk about the elephant in the room. If you’ve been on social media much or watching Good Morning America, you may have heard that some people are having problems with the Force giving them a rash. The issue seems to be with folks who have nickel allergies. The back connector where the charging cord connects contains some nickel apparently and is considered the culprit.

So, here’s my experience with the Force. First of all, I have skin problems to begin with. I’ve had eczema and acne all my life. I wore the FitBit Force on my left wrist for one week solid and never had an issue. In fact, because it was where I usually wear my watch, the skin on my left wrist was actually a bit better. Now, it may take more than a week for rash to show up, but I saw no irritation of any kind.

Recently, Time magazine did a ranking of 26 fitness trackers from worst to first. Of the three I’ve reviewed so far, the UP was ranked 8th and the FitBit Flex was ranked 6th. The top ranking fitness tracker? Yep, you guessed it. The FitBit Force. It’s that good.

I am actually getting my own Force as a hand-me-down from my husband soon. You know if I develop a rash later on, I will be sure to update this review. But, to be very honest, I’m really looking forward to having one of my own. Now, if they would only fix that watch issue…

— Carla

Round Up: Blog Posts on Disney Travel UPDATED

Posts On Disney Travel UPDATED

When I relaunched last May, my plan was to start blogging about Disney (especially Disney travel) a bit more here. But, I’ve been lucky enough to get several opportunities to blog about Disney travel on other blogs so I decided to share them here.

Last year, I started a five part series on Disney travel for the Family Friendly Cincinnati blog. Under the heading “Mouse Magic for the Queen City”, the first two parts were published last year and the final three will be posted soon. I’ll add the links when they become available. have been added now.

Guest Post: Planning a Disney Family Vacation – When to Go?

Guest Post: Planning a Disney Vacation – Best Ways to Get There

Guest Post: Deciding Where to Stay at Disney World, Part 3

Guest Post: Tips for Dining at Disney World, Part 4

Guest Post: Tips For What to Do at Disney World, Part 5

I’ve also written three blog posts for The Mouse For Less web site. A online Disney community that was originally called Disney Dollarless, it’s been my home community since 2001 and I’ve met so many great people there.

A Walt Disney World Trip… Without Any Attractions!

Surprises at the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival

Traveling Walt Disney World and the Disney Cruise Line on Oxygen

Most recently, I wrote a blog post for The Magic For Less Travel blog. TMFLT is the travel agency that I have worked for and I’ve been there over ten years now. I was very excited to be able to share my experience of sailing on the Disney Fantasy over the Christmas holidays this past year.

Celebrating Christmas on the Disney Fantasy

Finally, my main blogging time is spent blogging about better beer in the Cincinnati area. But some of our most popular pages on the web site are actually about beer at the various Disney travel locations. This past Tuesday as one of our regular Traveling Tuesday posts, I wrote a post talked about those pages and discussed bringing your own liquor (including better beer) on a Disney Cruise Line ship.

Traveling Tuesday: Beer and Disney

I can definitely see more Disney travel posts from me here on You never know when the Disney muse will strike me! If you would like a free, no-obligations quote, just contact me at and I can help you plan YOUR magical Disney vacation.

— Carla