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Franklin Park Conservatory - a tropical getaway in our backyard

franklin park conservatory 
Spring has only just started, and in Ohio, that could still mean snow in the forecast.  But after a long winter, some times we just want to get away!  A tropical vacation sounds perfect until you see how much it costs.  But lucky for us, we have a little tropical getaway spot right in Columbus and it only costs $13!

Franklin Park Conservatory opened in 1895 as part of the city beautiful movement.  It was inspired by World's Fair designs and includes 88 acres of public park with gardens, a lake, paths, and of course the beautiful greenhouse!  Step inside and you'll forget it still feels like winter outside... in fact, you might want to check your coat at the door because you'll be down right hot!

franklin park conservatory 
franklin park conservatory franklin park conservatory franklin park conservatory 
Every time we visit the conservatory the orchids are always in full swing and are incorporated into every room.  There's the mountainous region, desert, tropical, palm house, and a rotating exhibit, currently Blooms & Butterflies (one of my favorites!).  

franklin park conservatory franklin park conservatory
We seriously thought about having our wedding in the Palm House when we looked for a venue.  The room was under renovation though and it worked out for the best because I imagine it gets pretty toasty in June in a greenhouse with tuxes.  :)

franklin park conservatory franklin park conservatory
franklin park conservatory franklin park conservatory franklin park conservatory
Although one of the smaller rooms, the desert is always fascinating to me.  How such large plants can survive on such little water... and can also produce things like aloe and agave nectar... amazing!

franklin park conservatory franklin park conservatory franklin park conservatoryfranklin park conservatory franklin park conservatory franklin park conservatory 
As someone with their own butterfly garden, I could have stayed for hours in the Blooms and Butterflies exhibit!  (I also never wanted to leave after being in the warm humidity again.)  We stayed long enough to hear about some of the species they collect for the exhibit and saw the twice-daily release of more butterflies (recently escaped from cocoon status).  I think butterflies are just so interesting in general... changing from a mere bug crawling slowly on the ground to a beautiful butterfly that can fly many miles.  

franklin park conservatory franklin park conservatoryfranklin park conservatory franklin park conservatory
Besides an escape from Ohio weather, Franklin Park hosts several events including Asian Festival, fundraisers (like Hat Day), kids activities, plant sales, and field to table events.  Definitely a fun place to visit and forget how cold it is outside!

franklin park conservatory

Weekly Menu

Hope everyone had a great weekend!  Can't believe April starts in a few days and it looks like it will be quite the busy month.  I always love Spring when we all come out of hibernation mode and all we want to do is get outside and do something.  I mean, it was still below freezing all day today, but we were out and about at Franklin Park Conservatory and it was "warm enough" for some Jeni's.  Earlier in the week, it was still above freezing when I got home from work... so of course that meant it was great weather to take Snoop for a walk!

ohio fairgrounds cardinal go for a ride

Spring also brings strawberries... I love when they are so red that the juice stains your fingers a bit.  That level of ripeness, you hope the bowl never ends!  Also... El Vaquero opening in Pickerington is going to be a bad idea for us since we have already been there a couple times and I think they have only been open a month now.  Oops!  We love Mexican food too much!  I'm still making enchiladas and tacos at home every week on top of these incremental trips to El Vaq.

homemade granola el vaquero franklin park conservatory jenis bexley

Blooms and butterflies started at Franklin Park Conservatory which is always a fun trip.  They are having their orchid weekend next weekend, so definitely something to check out!

Alright, on to this week's meal plan...

cauliflower tacos
creamy shrimp bowties with garlic bread
sloppy joes
veggie calzones
chicken and veggie fried rice

What are you planning to make this week?

Streusel Muffins - total time 40 minutes

Cinnamon sugar!  I love it!  I was seriously in heaven at all of the bakeries in Switzerland... streusel everywhere!  Okay... I was pretty much in heaven at every European bakery we stopped in while on vacation, but streusel is something I can make at home (I still plan on making those Italian Nutella tarts someday).  

These muffins are somewhere between a muffin, a cupcake, and a doughnut.  They are a little too sweet (and maybe a little too much butter) to be considered an ordinary breakfast muffin.  This is definitely a treat.  Pair it with some fresh fruit for breakfast, add it to your brunch buffet lineup, or as a sweet snack to satisfy that annoying sweet tooth.  Since I love cinnamon, there is cinnamon throughout... even in the muffin!

You know, cinnamon has several health benefits including many antioxidants and having anti-inflammatory properties, so it can keep you healthy.  Too bad sugar and butter aren't health foods too!

Weekly Menu

Happy first weekend of Spring!  Hope you were able to enjoy the sunshine this weekend. We definitely were out and about... so tired of being inside!!

101 beer kitchen
101 beer kitchen 101 beer kitchen
101 Beer Kitchen opened their second location in Gahanna last week.  There is always a long wait at the Dublin location, and the Gahanna location appears like it could be the same way.  Of course there is good reason for the wait!  A long beer list, seasonal menu, and tasty appetizers.  We had the fried cheese curds, I had the mahi mahi tacos, and he had the shrimp po' boy... all very good!

forno pizza kitchen forno pizza kitchen
We also spent some time in the Short North this weekend since the weather was quite nice and we needed to get outside.  Our first stop was Forno for some lunch.  Of course, as the name suggests ('oven' in Italian), is known for the giant pizza oven... so we needed to try the pizza.  But the appetizer we got (because he was starving) was a baked ricotta and peaches spread with bread... almost had a dessert-like sweetness.

laughlins bakery 
laughlins bakery laughlins bakery almond croissants
We finally went to Laughlin's Bakery after hearing about their croissants amazing likeness to the ones you expect in Paris.  I was totally ready to be taken back, if only through my taste buds... and we got the last two almond croissants available for the day!  So if you want what you want, it's best to go early for the largest selection of delicious French pastries.  

homeage jenis splendid ice cream
Then some wandering around high street enjoying the local shops and treats.

pine quarry park pine quarry park
Today was filled with a family get together and a walk in our neighborhood park.  Love being able to walk to pine quarry park from our house.  :)

This week's meal plan...
shrimp fajita tacos
stir fry
catfish po' boy
creamy dijon chicken and asparagus
cauliflower tacos

Spicy Chicken and Potato Waffles - total time 40 minutes

You know, there are a lot of fun kitchen gadgets out there!  I mean, you could have the world's largest kitchen and still run out of space if you bought every gadget that might be useful.  That's why I try to limit myself to gadgets that have at least a few uses and I see myself using at least once a season (here is a list of must haves).  So I must pass on that mango pitter despite how useful it would be that one time a year I break down and need some mango in my life (how far did that mango have to travel to get to my plate again?  ugh).

Introducing the waffle iron... used only for making waffles, right?  It's also good for making waffle sammies and potato waffles.  Potato waffles are great way for using leftover mashed potatoes!  I always make soooo much mashed potatoes because it's one of my favorites (I was once known to eat an entire plate of mashed potatoes at buffet-style dinners) so we always have some left.  Potato waffles are great for breakfast (they're like one big hash brown), a side, or with spicy chicken!

The traditional southern comfort meal of fried chicken and waffles gets a little twist.  Take out the fryer and add some potatoes for a gluten free waffles!

Weekly Menu

The weather is finally starting to feel like Spring... some rain... some blooms... now some sunshine!  And tomorrow is supposed to get near 70 degrees!  Hopefully we can maintain the Spring weather, but I fear another cold snap before winter is finally finished with us.  

This weekend marked the home opener for the Crew... lots of changes this year with the stadium sponsor, food trucks, local beer selection, and... a parking price increase.  :(   At least we don't have to find somewhere to eat before the game with Hot Chicken Takeover, Schmidt's, and Jeni's now available!  :)  (Oh, the Crew won 2-0!)

spring flowers hot chicken takeovergreen bean bins snoop dogg

All summer we were waiting, trying to catch a glimpse of what was going on inside the old Reynoldsburg fire department building.  A few months ago, Prost Beer & Wine Cafe finally opened and we just got a chance to check it out this weekend.  They have a nice rotating beer list... I'm sure the wine list is good too, but we didn't really look at it.  There are flight options for both beer and wine.  And then they do have some food which includes a variety of bruschetta and paninis.  All in all, one of the few good beer lists in Reynoldsburg with some decent food.  :)

prost beer and wine cafe
prost beer and wine cafe prost beer and wine cafe

Meal planning time...

burgers (because it's going to be warm enough to grill!)
sour cream enchiladas
grilled asparagus with poached egg and crispy potatoes
alley doughs (calzones)
salmon burgers and brussel sprouts


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