Monday, January 31, 2011

Making Change

You don't have to go far in Over-the-Rhine to know the community is thick in the middle of a renaissance.

From Washington Park on the west side of the neighborhood, to the Bridging Broadway casino effort in the east, dramatic opportunity and progress are marching full speed ahead in this neighborhood I proudly call home.

It takes many hands to make this change. Many organizations to reach out and lead the effort.

Emanuel Community Center is one of those organizations.

Originally founded to help German immigrants transition to life in America, Emanuel now focuses on other strategies that make Over-the-Rhine and its neighbors stronger and more successful.

Emanuel is committed to programming that helps children succeed in kindergarten. I love this concept because it jives with my employer's top priority, which is to help prepare children for kindergarten so they grow into strong young adults who can succeed in school and life (disclosure: Emanuel is an agency partner and receives funding from my employer, United Way of Greater Cincinnati).

The organization is recognizing three of Cincinnati's most accomplished and dedicated leaders in the community at Wednesday night's Triumph Awards. The evening will recognize Herb Brown, retired senior vice president of Western and Southern Financial Group; Paavo Jarvi, music director of Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and Ellen van der Horst, president of the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber.

These folks are truly outstanding Cincinnatians and well deserving of the recognition.

Former Cincinnati news man Nick Clooney is the evening's keynote speaker. I am told his wife, Nina, will also be in attendance, and there's a rumor their movie star son, George, will be in town for work related to the movie he's shooting here. There's a possibility George could attend the Triumph Awards as it might be the only opportunity he has to see his parents during this trip to Cincinnati.

George Clooney. Netheland Plaza. Wednesday Night. Need I say anything else?

You can still buy tickets for the event. Your ticket price will go to help Emanuel continue the work its doing in the community I call home.

And you will help more of Cincinnati's youngest students strive for success and stability.

That's the real star in this whole scenario.

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Kate's Random Musings by Kate the Great is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Friday, January 28, 2011


I was in third grade.

There we were, packed into a classroom at Maple Dale Elementary in Blue Ash, waiting to watch a moment that would be made indelible in history.

Teachers bubbled with excitement; one of them had transcended beyond the classroom to an experience of uncharted proportions. Experiments in space. The captive attention of millions of school children.

The Challenger mission was truly an opportunity for inspiration.

Since that day, it has continued to be one of the greatest palls on a space program that fizzles like a dying star.

Lined up on a rough, burnt tangerine rug, we sat Indian Style and watched the countdown. Rocket boosters flaring. Smoke billowing from the launch pad.

The pool camera feed shot back and forth between the space ship and Christa McAuliffe's parents, who stood with spectators gathered to celebrate the historic moment for teachers. The historic moment for NASA.

The historic moment for America.

Moments later, the shuttle burst into a cloud of bright orange fury, splitting apart and incinerating the lives and dreams that sailed on that fateful voyage.

Seven lives lost.

As third graders, we did not understand the magnitude of the moment. Loss of life is an incredibly difficult concept to fathom at 30, much less at nine years old.

I retreated to facts and figures. Every morning, I'd pour over the Cincinnati Enquirer, searching for any snippet of information about the explosion. Tiny, child-safe scissors in hand, I'd clip every story I found and save it in a manila folder my mom let me keep in our kitchen.

Grasping to understand the prominence of the tragedy, I read about fellow Ohioan Judy Resnik's achievement as the second American woman in space. I poured over diagrams of O-rings and rocket boosters.

The fascination gave seed to my own dream.

Absorbing news - both print and broadcast - became a pastime for me. I developed an insatiable appetite for learning about current events at home and abroad, reading beyond the columns about the Challenger explosion, digesting pieces about Corazon Aquino and Haley's Comet.

The dreams of so many were dashed among the stars that fateful January morning.

But they illuminated the possibilities of my own, and for that tiny gift, I'm grateful.

Today marks the 25th anniversary of the Challenger explosion. Where were you?

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Kate's Random Musings by Kate the Great is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Suzy Homemaker

I've said it before and I'll say it again - I love wearing stilettos with an apron.

There's something about clicking-clacking around the kitchen that makes me feel one with the universe of domesticity.

When I'm not slaying dragons at the office or in my volunteer efforts, it's nice to know I can kick ass and take names in my own home, too.

I recently added a KitchenAid stand mixer (the Professional HD series, thankyouverymuch) to my collection of culinary accoutrements, and a friend of mine said I needed a cute apron for my baking endeavors, sharing with me the wonder that is Flirty Aprons.

A little bit Donna Reed, a little bit Bree Van de Kamp, these designs are just the thing when you need to channel your inner domestic goddess.

I picked up the Cherry Blossom design - it matches perfectly with the red and black decor in my Over-the-Rhine loft.

This particular apron was on sale, $26.50 down from $29.95. I thought about buying it but initially decided against it. That's when Flirty Aprons emailed me a coupon code (SAVE20) to get 20 percent off my next purchase.

The extra savings of $5.30 pushed me over the edge. I had. to. have. it.

I can't wait to get cooking in the kitchen.

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Kate's Random Musings by Kate the Great is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Hi all.

I am alive. I promise.

I am house sitting for a dog in Finneytown, which has made for an added adventure as far as the car-free lifestyle goes. Needless to say, I am getting in some great reading time on the bus and am adding a few extra steps to my daily pedometer count.

Speaking of books, right now I am flipping through the pages of Holy Cow. It's a Western World woman's take on India after she moves there to live with her boyfriend. I leave for India in less than four months and am immersing myself in as much as I can about the country before I depart. Next up, India Unbound by former Procter & Gamble India CEO Gurcharan Das.

Hmm. Week highlights. I have an appointment with the eye doctor tomorrow, if weather allows. It's not a regular appointment - a dark spot appeared in my field of vision a couple weeks ago and the good folks on Twitter scared me into thinking it could be a detached retina, which could lead to blindness. Who knows if this is the case. Fingers crossed the symptoms don't get any worse.

Okay. I think that was probably the most boring paragraph I've ever written on this blog.

Exciting. Hmm. Well, I am well on my way to finishing a living room re-do, having reupholstered an antique chair cushion myself and acquiring a heap of crap stuff from Ikea. I like the way it's turning out (please hold comments regarding my archaic television set).

All I need is a massive clock to hang on the wall above the TV, a bookcase and a kick ass light feature and I think I'll be content with this part of the apartment.

Hmm. What else. Is this forcing it? Naaah.

Ahead on the blog (meaning, later this week... I promise), I'll tell you where you can dust off your best ping-ponging skills for a free meal, show you how to upholster a chair seat and give you the rundown on what every man needs to do before they strip down to their skivvies for a lady friend (hint: it does not involve waxing).

In the meantime, soak up a moment of zen and enjoy this beautiful, thought provoking piece from your friends at NPR. And my apologies for the lack of excitement. We're all sold out of that today.

But tomorrow... tomorrow is another story.

Thanks to my Facebook friend @zaczero for the heads up on this great piece.

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Kate's Random Musings by Kate the Great is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

New Boutique Open in Over-the-Rhine

You might say I have champagne taste and a Schlitz budget.

While Nordstrom makes my heart flutter, it elicits a direct opposite reaction where my wallet is concerned. Thankfully, a new vintage boutique has opened its doors on Vine Street, complete with designer pieces.

Mannequin Boutique at 1405 Vine (open Friday and Saturday) is chock full of brands you'll recognize. Prada. Georgio Armani. Kasper. Stuart Weitzman. Coach. Gucci. Boutique owner Moe Rouse has worked to fill its shelves and racks with quality, brand name designs - most with classic lines, but also several over-the-top pieces that are sure to make an impression.

The store, right next to Rohs Hardware, also has an excellent collection of vintage pieces dating back to the 20s. Flapper-style dresses, delicate kit gloves and antique handbags are just some of the fantastic fashions that await you.

My friend Tammy and I decided to take a spin through the store during its grand opening weekend and oohed and ahhed at the spectacular collection of vintage clothing. Stunning ball gowns, amazing handbags, hats, business wear and just about everything else to make your heart go pitter-patter.

All of the sales go to support several local non-profit organizations including Stop AIDS, Lighthouse Youth Services, Tender Mercies and City Gospel Mission - organizations that do a great job of serving the OtR community.

Moe told me most of the clothing are local donations, though she says she will make monthly trips to New York City to bring back jewelry and other pieces for the store.

The boutique has a great collection of shoes - they're all in great shape and affordably priced (where else will you find Ferragamos for less than $40 a pair?)

Mannequin staff volunteer their time to run the store, which takes up two storefonts in the Parvis Lofts on Vine. Developers have donated the space to Moe, rent-free.

I am a big fan of vintage fur. I absolutely detest new fur, but I think it's appropriate to wear older pieces and revere them for the animal they are. With that out of the way, I'll mention that Mannequin has a spectacular collection of vintage stoles, jackets and full length coats, many with tags from local furriers that closed their doors long, long ago. The stole above was priced at around $150.

If hats are more your style, then you will find that Mannequin carries style in spades. The boutique has dozens of classic hats with features including feathers, fur, and netting.

Next time you find yourself struggling with the task of dressing to the nines on a dime, head to Mannequin and find a classic piece that will wow a crowd.

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Kate's Random Musings by Kate the Great is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Mixologist Molly Wellmann To Open Own Place

It's really all about the experience.

That's the first thing out of Molly Wellmann's mouth as she talks about her new bar. Wellmann, who has a dedicated following of imbibers in Cincinnati, is opening a bar in the old Japp's space at 1134 Main Street in Over-the-Rhine in early summer.

She's keeping the name Japp's, but intends on bringing something different to the Queen City. "This is going to be classy but unpretentious," says Wellmann. "I won't have a single TV in the place. It's all about the liquor and the conversation."

Wellmann, who is partnering with the folks from Neon's Unplugged, says the new Japp's will be a great place to meet friends, take out-of-towners and have first dates.

"This is all about the cocktail. It's about the experience of watching it be made. You might wait a minute longer, but everything will be crafted with care." Wellmann says craft cocktails will run about $10-$12. Other drinks will have a lower pricepoint.

The mixologist has big ideas for the place. Wellmann says every drink will be classic or classic-inspired, complete with handmade mixers. The craft cocktail queen says she will be behind the bar Tuesday through Saturday and will rely on trusted bartending friends in the beginning. Eventually Wellmann plans on training a bar staff that will know the ins and outs of mixology, including the history of each cocktail.

Japp's, once an Over-the-Rhine wig shop, still has some remnants of its previous incarnation. Wellmann says the back case in the bar is the original wig case. Wellmann intends on turning it into a back bar. A front bar will complete the space, which features tall ceilings and a small outdoor patio. A back alley leads to Neon's. Owners also hope to possibly build a platform on a back wall that would allow guests to watch the action at the main bar.

"This is going to be historically inspired," says Wellmann. "Right now the space is a mess inside. We plan on keeping the old features and develop something Cincinnati has never seen."

Wellmann says she wants to someday host liquor tastings and serve unique wines. She also says she doesn't want to sell big, "corporate" beers, with the exception of local favorite, Christian Moerlein.

"I'm not trying to make a million dollars with this. If people want to go watch the World Series, they can go do that somewhere else. There are a million places for that. This is about cocktails and the art of making them properly."

Read my October 2009 interview with Molly Wellmann here.

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Kate's Random Musings by Kate the Great is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.