Thursday, February 27, 2014

Maize Valley Market & Winery

Photos by OHventures

Maize Valley Market & Winery
6193 Edison St NE
HartvilleOH 44632
(330) 877-8344

On my quest to visit 10 new wineries in 2014, I thought it most appropriate to find the closest winery to my home and travel there first! That winery happens to be Maize Valley Market & Winery, located in Hartville in Stark County. I traveled here on a whim (the best time to go on any adventure) one cold, Friday night in January. I was unsure of what to expect, but found that the place was certainly a hotspot!

Live music could be heard playing right when I walked in to the establishment. In front of me was an array of produce (all grown locally) and retail racks full of wine bottles (all made locally, of course). This definitely screamed out as being equally a market AND a winery! As I traveled through what felt like a grocery store, I soon found myself right where I needed to be: the bar!

The bar sits in an original barn from the 1860s with sandstone walls and wood beams on the ceiliings. The bar area had a number of patrons wining and dining at tables throughout an open area, where the live music was set up. Like all of my wine excursions, I opted to do a sampling session of various wines in order to get a good overview of what kind of place I was visiting (and at 25 cents per taste, you can't not do that)!

First on the list for me - due to its hilarious name alone - was the "Big Red Pecker." How can you not giggle when you hear that name? Nonsense aside, it was a great wine - a dry red. Most of the wines were very sweet, which isn't quite my style, so I took a quick liking to the Big Red Pecker (wow, that sounds pretty bad if you take that in the wrong context). The most popular wine - a sweet concord wine - also had a funny name: Redneck Red, which tasted just like a fresh picked grape! 

Some of the bottles on the shelves jumped out at me as well because of their designs: Mad Cow, a white wine which has black and white cow-spots on the bottle, for instance. There was also a wine available that had a pink ribbon on the bottle, due to the fact that the proceeds go toward breast cancer research (a cause that I can definitely get behind).
In the food department, you can find freshly made pies, cookies, and bread all baked on site. And you can choose from a wide variety of tasty entrees, including roast beef sandwiches and tasty quinoa, for starters.  

And if you want to have some fun that goes above and beyond wine and music, Maize Valley is a great spot to do so! There are tons of seasonal events that are fun for the whole family: wagon rides, corn mazes, pig races, and MORE! You have to come out to Maize Valley. And if you do, make sure you message me because I don't live far! 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Monday, February 17, 2014

Cupid's Undie Run Recap

Photos by OHventures

If there is one thing I learned this Valentine's Day, it's that there should be an undie run every weekend.

I threw out my inhibitions and set aside my clothing in order to participate in Cupid's Undie Run on Saturday, February 15. Hundreds of fellow scantily clad runners joined me in the frigid streets of Cleveland, while thousands and thousands of others joined in 30 other cities across the globe: from Atlanta to Washington, and everywhere in between (including two cities in Australia)!

I had the time of my life bringing the hilarity to charity, individually raising $150 to benefit the Children's Tumor Foundation, which is seeking a cure for neurofibromatosis (a genetic disease that causes tumors and chronic pain). This was a part of the greater total of nearly $250,000 raised by Clevelanders, and just under $2.7 million raised worldwide!

Donning my "bedroom best," which consisted solely of the red "I'm With Cupid" boxer briefs I received in my swag bag, I made my way to the neighborhood of Tremont with my pal Nadine (she was not running, but merely there for some much needed moral support)!

This event was certainly not for the timid or modest, so luckily I had no problem dropping trou and joining the rest of the ridiculously dressed personalities in the heated party tent (located just outside of the South Side bar). In fact, wearing clothes into this tent would make me feel more awkward than wearing just my under guchies!

For those who were a bit more reluctant to practically get naked (even though they should have known what they were signing up for), there was thankfully plenty of liquid courage available inside the tent - loads of Mich Ultra, Shock Top, and Valentine-themed cocktails! In fact, you could not be under 21 years of age to participate in the Cupid's Undie Run - that's how hardcore this party was!

Nadine was definitely a bit shellshocked by the spectacle of exhibitionists drinking, dancing, celebrating, and gearing up to run (see her priceless reaction in the photo above). I, on the other hand, was having a BLAST, making new friends and running into old friends from the dorm days of college (which, ironically, this reminded me of).

Seeing all of the crazy costumes - cupid wings, suspenders, hats, boas, capes, masks, accessories, body paint, and - ahem - creative undergarments, made me feel UNDERdressed (if that is possible!). and had the wheels turning in my head to come up with a better get-up for next year. I mean, there was even a dude wearing an American flag mankini, for cryin' out loud!

As you can tell, the party itself was the main event. The "run" portion of the Cupid's Undie Run was just a small interruption to the excitement taking place inside the tent. Had it been just a smidge warmer, that might not have been the case. But, then again, the "freezin' for a reason" aspect of the event was part of the challenge! While the skies were a bright blue, it was still extremely cold outside (maybe 15 degrees and very windy).

Because of this, the run organizers opted to cut the course seemingly in half. The funny part about this is that we had no idea that the course would be significantly shorter than the 1-mile run we were expecting until we found ourselves at the finish line! If I had to guess, I would say that the course was roughly 0.5 miles - at MOST! It was a pleasant surprise, to say the least! The cold was pretty unbearable, even for those in more than just their undies.

Thus, the party continued! And I have to say, this was one of the most fun parties I have been to in a LONG time! Maybe it was the fact that we have all been couped up indoors for so long, maybe it was the freezing weather that has made us all so slaphappy, or maybe it's the joy of knowing we have raised so much money. Whatever the reason, I know for certain I will be doing the Cupid's Undie Run again next year - and you should too!!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Sledding In Ohio

Photos by OHventures

Depending on where you are from, you either call it sledding or sledriding. You might even call it toboggoning. Either way, the thought of flying downhill on a sled will most definitely bring back childhood memories. But this activity is not for children only! It's intense, thrilling, and downright adrenaline-pumping. IF you find the right hills, that is! We used to go sledriding (that's what we called it) at my Aunt & Uncle's house in their backyard, where they had a pretty gnarly hill to zoom down. But there are plenty of other hills around the state that are sledriding hotspots, many of which located at state parks.

You can find a list of state parks with great hills thanks to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. Of course, OHventures was looking to plan a couple of sledding trips this winter,and we picked the nearby Quail Hollow State Park as our destination of choice. My friend Kyla came along for the ride. Even in the bitter cold of the polar vortex in Ohio, we were bound and determined to conquer some hills! 

While the scenery at Quail Hollow was nothing short of spectacular, we couldn't seem to find the sledding hills. So, we asked one of the many cross country skiers in the vicinity if they knew of any hills. Our efforts were yet again fruitless so we entered the visitor's center at the Manor House to ask the park officials. They pointed to the hills that were right outside the window, which were really not much of a sight to see. Despite the measly looking hill, Kyla and I decided to have at it! The park officials insisted that many people use the hill, even if it didn't look too massive! 

Our sledding experience was nothing short of hilarious! I don't think there was a single moment that I was not  smiling from ear to ear! Even without the highest quality of sleds (do yourself a favor and don't wait until the middle of winter when all the sleds have been bought out - I had to buy cheaply made sleds from Target that were sufficient but not preferred), we managed to get some decent speed on the decent hill at Quail Hollow!

The worst part of sledding is of course the long trek back up the hill you zoomed down. It takes you four or five times longer to get back up the hill you sped down! After racing down the hill and trying different techniques, Kyla and I were ready for a challenge. We had a tip from a friend to try out a different hill in nearby Canton: Tam O’Shanter Golf Course Sledding Hill located at 5055 Hills and Dales Road NW.

This hill was a MONSTER! Unfortunately, photos do not do it justice, as it is hard to photograph a hill when it's covered in snow. But this thing was 10 times steeper than the last and made for some extreme thrills! We had an epic time flying down this mountain - even tumbling and barrel-rolling off of our sleds! It was worth it!
Sledding is definitely be an adult sport again - we will just leave the snowman-building to the kiddos. See below some links so you can find some great hills nearest you!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Cupid's Undie Run

On February 15, 2014, nearly 20,000 scantily clad runners in 27 cities across the United States and three cities in Australia will be raising awareness of Neurofibromatosis (NF) and donations to the Children’s Tumor Foundation (CTF) through Cupid’s Undie Run. Sponsored by MeUndies and recognized as the world’s largest organized underwear run, the event requires participants to strip off the usual workday wear and show their support for research of NF in just…their undies.

“Kids with NF have to overcome challenges on a daily basis,” says Chad Leathers, Cupid’s Undie Run co-­founder. “This event puts people in an uncomfortable situation while putting some hilarity in charity.”

The idea for Cupid’s Undie Run was born in February 2010 with the desire to help a friend in need. In 2009, Drew Leathers became paraplegic during his battle with NF, spent 183 days in the hospital and was bedridden for the remainder of the year. Determined to help Chad’s brother, friends Brendan Hanrahan and Bobby Gill rallied alongside Chad to create an event that would support research efforts to the CTF. After just 30 days of planning, the first Cupid’s Undie Run was held in Washington, DC with more than 650 runners in six-­‐feet of snow.

“What started as a small event to help a friend has grown into a national effort that includes the support of the entire NF community with a mission to end NF,” said Gill, Cupid’s Undie Run co-­founder.

The event’s success in raising awareness and funding research culminated in December 2012. After giving a speech at the CTF Gala, and with the assistance of Chad, Drew lifted himself out of the wheelchair that he had been restricted to for nearly four years. To date, Cupid’s Undie Run has donated nearly $2 million and is a nationally recognized 501(c)(3) non-­profit, operated by dozens of volunteers throughout the country. This year, Cupid's Undie Run will be held in Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Boise, Boston, Charleston, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Denver, Detroit, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Louisville, Mason City, Minneapolis, Nashville, New York, Omaha, Orland, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Raleigh, Seattle, Silicon Valley, St. Louis and Washington, DC.