The Stylish Blogger Award: Favorite Things

Last month, blogging friend Debra Kristi honored me by awarding me the Stylish Blogger Award. Thank you, Debra! She actually posted this on Nov. 5th, but I had other posts booked already, and Stacy McKitrick had awarded me the Versatile Blogger Award just a few weeks earlier, so didn’t want to post something similar so soon.

The Stylish Blogger Award works in much the same way: post seven random things about yourself, then name four or five blogging friends you’d like to pass the honor on to. I’m posting seven of my Favorite things:

Favorite drink: Mountain Dew. I love this stuff. I could drink it all day, but in the interest of health (and my waistline), I limit myself to one per day. Among the many cool things we saw when I went to China a couple years ago with my daughter’s choir, was finding Mountain Dew at the Terra Cotta Warriors museum in Xian. Being made with cane sugar, it tasted like our Throwback Mountain Dew, which is the best!

I will use this photo on my blog whenever possible, because it’s that awesome

Favorite car: Camaro – especially the new ones, but I like them all. This probably started with my earliest memory: going to get my dad’s new car when I was two and a half. It was a red, ’69 Camaro with black stripes, and my brother still owns it.

Favorite children’s book: Black and Blue Magic, by Zilpha Keatley Snyder. I was probably twelve when I read it for the first time, and I still remember it. It’s the story of a lonely, geeky boy who lived in a boarding house in the 1930’s (I think), where a boarder gave him a special, magic ointment that would make him grow wings for the night. You can imagine the trouble this kid got into! It’s gone through several different covers since, and when I searched, none looked familiar until I found this on a book collector site. The book was first published the year I was born, and this was the original cover. It gets a lot of blame for the book’s initially low sales.

Favorite band: Rush. Actually, I’d be hard-pressed to choose between them, Front Line Assembly, KMFDM, and Emerson Lake and Palmer right now, but Rush has been a favorite longer than any of the others. Please don’t ask me to pick a favorite album or song! I got my first Rush album, Exit Stage Left, when I was in ninth grade. What’s funny is my teen daughter is into vinyl records, and has been listening to all of my old Rush albums! I now have them all on MP3s.

Favorite movie: Beavis and Butthead Do America. I really can’t explain why, but almost all of my favorite movies are comedies. Maybe it’s because I can’t write funny to save myself. So imagine how excited I am that MTV brought them back last month, and I can now watch every Thursday night at ten PM. Only now, instead of making fun of music videos, they make fun of other MTV shows, like Teen Mom and Jersey Shore. Suddenly two shows I can’t stand are funny!

Favorite place to shop: Amazon. That goes double during the holiday season, because I HATE crowds. Amazon has just about everything I want or need, and I can get free shipping on orders over $25, which isn’t hard to do.

Favorite holiday show: The Grinch who Stole Christmas. Yes, I can be one, and once I actually was one, in a play. It was a choral reading rendition, and all the actors were girls. I got to play the Grinch, because I was the only one who had a suitably dark voice. My favorite scene in the original TV special is where the Grinch is slithering beneath the Christmas tree like a snake, collecting stuff. This is also my family’s favorite.


And now for the Stylish Bloggers to whom I’m passing the award! To accept, all you need to do is save the award image to your computer, then include it on your blog (or a post) where you list seven random things about YOU, and then pass it on to four or five other fantastic bloggers!

Samantha Warren: The author of fantasy novels like Blood of the Dragon and the Vampire Assassin series shows that generosity is never out of style. Samantha’s 30th birthday is this weekend, and to celebrate, she’s giving away free books every day this week, and a Kindle as a grand prize! Be sure to stop by and check out her Blog Scavenger Hunt for details on how you can search, answer, and win!

Karen McFarland: Karen blogs about odd yet uplifting things in the news, and hosts a bunch of cool guest bloggers. Whatever the topic, it’s about people – the fascinating, the positive, and sometimes just strange, but always a fun read.

Deborah Dale: Deborah’s Making the Most of a New York Minute blog touches on a variety of topics that include a four-part series on her and her family’s brush with the supernatural during their visit to Gettysburg.

Michele Stegman‘s Thoughts from a Writers’ Block covers all things writing, with an emphasis on things readers who also aren’t writers can find of interest too.


So check out those blogs, and in the meantime, pop in and share – what are some of your favorite things? Do you have a favorite scene in The Grinch Who Stole Christmas?

My (Friends’) Town Monday: Schmidt’s Sausage Haus in Columbus

The other day, my husband, daughter and I rode our Harleys up to visit some friends in Columbus, and had the chance to partake in some tasty history there at Schmidt’s Sausage Haus. Located in historic German Village, Schmidt’s is a well-known foodie landmark, thanks in part to the Travel Channel’s Man vs. Food. This is what led us there as well.

We arrived at Schmidt’s around 2PM, hoping such an off time would result in an easy in. We had a half hour wait for our party of five, so we went and checked out Schmidt’s Fudge Shop, across the street, where an integrated paging system would alert us to our table being ready. Once we were seated a half hour later, to the minute, we learned that a half hour wait time at any time on a Saturday was short. Our server told us the typical Saturday wait time, even at 2pm, was two hours!

DH and I pose in the photo frame stand outside the restaurant

However, once we were seated, the wait time was almost nothing. My husband, daughter, and both our friends chose the Autobahn Buffet, which featured four types of sausage, sauerkraut, chicken, potato salad, and tons of choices for traditional salads. The latter was especially appreciated by one of our friends who, in a twist of irony, is vegan. She’d insisted it was no problem to go to Schmidt’s, when we asked, as she’d figured she could get a side salad then something at home later, if need be. No worries – she found plenty to fill up on in the salad bar! Schmidt’s also has Mountain Dew, which is always a plus for me. 🙂

To my surprise, my meal arrived just a few minutes after the others had loaded up their plates at the buffet. I had the Hoffbrau Schnitzel, which was pork tenderloin with mushroom gravy. Yum! But the best part was dessert – our group minus my vegan friend split two of Schmidt’s legendary half-pound cream puffs, which were featured in coconut that day – my favorite! There were four impending food comas afterward, which we managed to shake off by going bowling. Good weather, good ride, good time, good friends, good food. Can’t ask for a better Saturday!

There are a couple other restaurants in Columbus that have been featured on Man vs. Food, which is one of my family’s favorite shows, so we plan to visit those in the future. Dayton has yet to be featured on a show like this. Has your hometown had any local eateries featured on a national TV show, and if so, have you been there?

My Town Monday: The Little Things

One of the fun things about writing (and reading) time travel stories is the whole fish-out-of-water aspect, especially when someone goes into the future. There is one scene in Time’s Enemy, my newly-released time-travel novel, where a character from the 1930s comes forward to modern times. When she asks for a drink and is handed a can of Mountain Dew, she’s understandably perplexed at what to do with it (and initially thinks it’s moonshine, LOL).

Anyone remember drinking beer or pop (“soda” for you non-Midwesterners) from a can like this? Younger folks might not, but in the sixties, seventies, and into the early eighties, this is what you got if you bought beer in a can, or got a Coke, Pepsi, etc. from a machine. Of course, I also remember pop in glass bottles – you know, where you bought a six pack at Kroger and paid a deposit of $.05 – .10 per bottle, which they returned when you took the bottles back to the store.

But back to the cans – before they were like this, they required a can opener, like is still used today to open larger cans of juice, although those are now mostly replaced by bottles. The can opener had a sharp point on it, and poked a triangle hole in the edge of the can. A second hole was needed to admit air.

Dayton inventor Ermal Fraze

The pull tab shown on the can to the right came about in the early sixties, after Dayton tool-and-die maker Ermal Fraze went on a picnic, and forgot to bring a can opener for the drinks. According to the stories, he ended up prying cans open on a car bumper (???), then went home and devised a can with a built-in opener – the pull tab.

The pull tab was eventually superceded by the now-familiar push-in top in the eighties, but it was the pull tab that helped push cans to edge out glass bottles in popularity as a beverage container. Fraze’s legacy lives on today in the form of full-top pull tabs that are still commonly used in canned snacks like peanuts. Dayton Reliable Tool (now DRT Mfg.), the machine shop he formed in the 1940s, is also still in business in Dayton today.

Do you know of any cool little details that we take for granted today, that originated in your hometown? Please share!

More at the My Town Monday blog


Photo of beer can via Wikipedia, public domain
Photo of Ermal Fraze via

Thirteen Things I Learned about Canada this Week

Car Show at Ontario Camaro Nationals

Camaros as far as the eye can see


My family and I just arrived home from Ontario yesterday. We’d gone to Oshawa, ON for the GM Camaro Homecoming & Camaro Nationals, hosted by the Ontario Camaro Club, and the Buyers & Builders Meet & Greet, organized by some of the people on the forums. After the Camaro events, my family stuck around for a couple days to do some sightseeing. Here are a few things we learned:

  1. There are plenty of people who are way more crazy about Camaros than I am. I already knew this, but only now do my husband and daughter get it.
  2. The GM factory in Oshawa is amazing! Even though we’d seen it featured in an episode of Amazing Factories on the National Geographic channel, the show didn’t do the place justice. Very automated, very high-tech, yet more work still performed by people than we thought.
  3. A Buick and a Camaro on the assembly lineNew Buick Regals are made on the same production line as Camaros – right in with the Camaros (about every tenth car or so).
  4. People are really friendly in Ontario.
  5. Black, red, yellow, white, and silver are much more popular Camaro colors than green, dark blue, orange, dark metallic red, dark gray, and aqua. I also already knew this, but the car show and factory made it much more apparent. Aqua blue was discontinued early on, and green was a limited edition, but I was surprised at how few dark blue Camaros there were.
  6. Mountain Dew is hard to find in Canada. There are Pepsi machines all over the place – and none of them have Mountain Dew!
  7. Toronto's Old City HallWhen you do find it (mostly in carry-outs), it’s caffeine-free. (WTF????)
  8. Stores close really early, at least in Oshawa. Everything pretty much shut down after 5 on Saturday, except for bars and restaurants.
  9. Traffic on the highway around Toronto is horrendous, but on the surface streets, isn’t that bad.
  10. Southern Ontario is about 10 deg. F cooler than Ohio.
  11. The building on Rush’s Moving Pictures album is Toronto’s Old City Hall. I don’t know why I didn’t know this before, but I recognized it as soon as I saw it. It’s an amazingly beautiful building, with ornately carved trim and a huge clock tower, flanked by four gargoyles.
  12. Casa LomaThere are a lot of record stores in Toronto, particularly on Queen St, which is an eclectic area rife with street artists and musicians. Yes, I’m talking vinyl records, especially old collectible items and obscure indie pop (which my daughter loves).
  13. There is a castle in Toronto. Casa Loma was built by Sir Henry Pellat, a turn-of-the-century entrepreneur and commander in the Queen’s Own Rifles. It’s absolutely amazing, and pictures don’t do it justice.