Just because it’s hilarious…

This was at Tower City in Cleveland, Ohio. Included are photos of the Cleveland Public Square Ice-Skating Rink. But the true comedy was the Choo Choo Train.

As a giant toddler at heart, I  wanted to ride the Christmas train with my kids.  My daughter is  a teenager, so I naturally had to force her. And…it went well…yeah ok. She’ll probably run away screaming the next time I ask.

Just keep replaying it…for some reason it gets funnier :D:D (For the record, that isn’t my kid in the back…I have no idea whose kid it is…but the whole thing was hilarious. Just a little guy, enjoying the trip!)

…the ENTIRE trip…. Click here for the Instagram Video. It will open in a new window. WordPress may not allow the EMBED feature without premium, but I still want you guys to see it.

If you don’t see the video below, just click the link above. And keep scrolling for the pics of Tower City and the Public Square Ice-Skating Rink.

#lmao @http.courtneyyy #video @towercitycenter #christmas #train 😁😁😁😁😁 The WHOLE RIDE!

A video posted by D.s. (@homefreekids) on Nov 27, 2016 at 12:24pm

Here’s a few more pics from that amazing day….

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She loved the view. At Christmas, Tower City is absolutely stunnin.

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Naturally, the little musician found her spot.

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He was in awe of the height.

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Of course….

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Large Jawbreaker…

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Tiny Jawbreakers

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My daughter & I

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He was dancing…

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Getting their skates on.

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Hallelujah! #coffee !!!!!

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A fabulous end to the perfect day!

 

To keep up with our travels:  #homefreekids @homefreekids

 

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Where did all the people go?

Somewhere between the rich and the poor, there was once a group of humans known as the middle. They were the balance between the other two, often feeding both.  But still …there was a balance. And as a general rule, they would fly their children off to faraway states. Occasionally   they took long trips traveling the country while their  children boxed it out in the backseat of the family station wagon. Think…Chevy Chase.

Education was largely coveted and revered. It wasn’t ruled by the ‘pay me for the ignorant ramblings’ group up on Capital Hill. You know….the arseholes who blather on and on about bill changes, policies, test scores and blah blah …vomit.

The government didn’t parent the children…or attempt to drug them in hopes of bringing  up those highly prized  test scores…(Ironically, creating a generation bent on substance addiction, because their little brains no longer produce what they need…without a damn drug).   The teachers having paid for and attended college, were presumed to already know what the hell they were doing…so it was a non-issue. Play was a given. Recess gave teachers a much needed time out, while the children got to run and stretch their little legs.

Guns were for cops, the free folk and the assorted bad guys. Problems between kids however, were solved with a boxing match behind the school. Zero bullets required, and  the children lived to see round two the following morning.

Food was actually …food. It could be easily pronounced. Human immune systems were pretty  decent…mainly because antibiotics…worked. They worked because people were not being fed antibiotic loaded meat. Antibiotic resistance, was almost unheard of. Actually….people didn’t take antibiotics for every little NAMBY PAMBY BOOHOO illness! Docs didn’t pass out drugs like candy, in hopes of competing with the madness of today’s giant clinics.

There was no excuse for bad behavior. A brat was a brat. They weren’t drugged and told it wasn’t their fault. They weren’t given free run out of pity for their mental conditions. (Which oddly enough… have grown exponentially with the growth of Big Pharma, single family homes, increased divorce rates, the need of some parents to work multiple jobs….ironically…to be able to afford the daycare…so they can work multiple jobs...which …probably contributes to the increased divorce rate...go figure).

People actually had decent paying jobs, paid by companies who actually built decent products. Of course, this also meant that stuff held up better. Oak was oak…not prefabricated half plastic/ half wood shavings….well….garbage. Dressers and tables were built to last. Unlike the Walmart specials of today with cardboard backing. Workers now are  being paid less or entirely outsourced, in order to build product quicker for the all consuming American public….. just to see it fall apart. At which point, a phone call is usually made to the company…and surprise surprise…the operator is located somewhere on a faraway continent and you have no idea ...I mean none...as to what they are saying. Of course, it would be NON PC of me, if I didn’t finish that sentence with….”It’s not their fault, they just needed a job” and “It’s the lazy Americans fault for not being willing to work for 3$ a day”…oh and “We surely can’t blame the CEO’s…because who doesn’t need a swimming pool in their living room?”

I’m sure I was going somewhere with this…oh right…..

Where did all the people go?

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Photo by homefreekids.com

 

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Photo by homefreekids.com

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Photo by homefreekids.com

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Photo by homefreekids.com

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Photo by homefreekids.com

 

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Photo by homefreekids.com

 

 

Calamari Wontons

Calamari Wontons: Perfect for fall days, when the beach is a thing of the past…

Using sweet, spice and a touch bitter….the taste buds simply explode.


Ingredients:


  • Calamari
  • Feta Cheese
  • Kale
  • Butter
  • Coconut Oil
  • Bok Choy
  • Daikon (optional)

Start by preparing the Calamari. Thaw and dice.

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And prepare the Kale,Bok Choy,  Daikon and Feta….by dicing. I find a cheese grater is fabulous for Daikon.

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Using melted butter, coat and smooth out the wonton wraps.

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Spreading out one of the wraps, add a pinch of the veggies, cheese and Calamari….

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Using the butter to seal the edges, gently fold the wonton….

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Place on an oiled cookie sheet (I prefer coconut oil)…

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Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes….

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And serve with : Parsnips, Red Onions and  Sweet Peppers

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As always, feel free to modify…

Ozark Trail 10-Person 3-Room XL Family Cabin Tent: Review

As always, my reviews are unpaid.


Ozark Trail 10-Person 3-Room XL Family Cabin Tent


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If I had to give it a star rating….****. And I only say four, rather then five, just due to time it took to  set-up.  It’s better to have two people….one makes it a little hard. Especially when it’s it’s time for the rain fly….you’re pretty much at the mercy of where the wind takes it while you are throwing it over the rather large tent. Two adults, easily…..but I was only with my children…they’re shorter 😉

Cost: Depending on where you buy – 175$-200$

Weather proof: YES.  At least ours is. Being storm season around here and a week long down pour, the tent didn’t leak one tiny drop when we went camping last week! I did, however, spray it with a waterproofer prior to leaving.

All the poles are pre-essembled, so they simply spring together. And there are PLENTY of windows! You can even keep the fly off during a dry spell, and the whole tent would be extremely well vented.

Power Port: YES.

Again, this is a very LARGE tent! If you are intending to set up a canopy as well….better get a large site.

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Sleeps 10. We used the room dividers. The dog was in the center, my daughter and I shared one room (we fit both a queen size and single air mattress in there) and my sons (each on single size mattresses) had their own ‘room’ as well. We all had room to spare.

Storage: There are several pockets, located throughout the tent. They’re off the ground to prevent water damage to any items inside.

Would I get another Ozark? Sure.

Happy Valentine’s Day Fellow Bloggers

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(This was my gift from my husband this morning. I Love It!)


 

-Thank you for the wealth of information, creativity, emotion and inspiration. There’s nothing I look forward to more, than clicking on that ‘Reader’ link at the top of the page. The photography, the poetry, the stories of both sadness and joy. The recipes, the travel, the artistic creations….here’s to many more Valentine’s, filled with the immortality of written expression.

Olde Town Pizza in Small Town America : Amherst, Ohio

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~image courtesy of mainstreetamherst.org


One Word: Amazing


We  took the kids to Olde Town Pizza House tonight. It’s been a while for me, actually since before the add on. The remodel is incredible. Everything from the marbled design on the floor, to the full mural enveloping the outside walls,  is loaded with both fine and rustic charm. (I think one of my favorite decor elements is the sliding wooden ladder…although the tricycle wine rack is pretty nifty). With the fireplace and rather large beer menu, it’s rather hard not to feel at home.  Our waitress was vibrant, kind and prompt…all of those things are extremely welcome when seated at a table chalk full of kids.

Cleanliness is huge in my book. I mean HUGE! Yes…I look at everything from the windows to the doorknobs. It’s flu season and we’ve already had our share, thank you very much! This place was spotless and that’s hard to do in the slushy winter landscape.

The food? We ordered the family size chicken fold-over and the pepperoni/sausage pizza. (We’re a family of five and we have more than enough for lunch tomorrow). The crust was moist, the chicken was tender, the lettuce and tomato were crisp and the pepperoni/sausage pizza….I could go on for ages. And one beverage in the this place?… It’s actually enough No tiny cups in this establishment.

As far as the view…perfect. From the window we could watch the busy bustle of small town America. From friends and neighbors headed out for a Friday night at Ziggy’s,  to tiny fish keepers out for their first goldfish at Neptune’s Cellar. Only a stones throw from the Park Ave/Church Street intersection:  ‘Dancing On Main Street’ must be rather fun to watch from there.

Will we return? You betcha!

All-In-All: Two thumbs up...and maybe a big toe or two…

never ONCE has she said “That’s What You Get!”

It’s funny how life typically winds up coming full circle.

As a child, I lived in this imaginary world that stood apart, just a bit to the left of reality. Tea parties with my dolls, often involved large discussions on my future travels. My dolls of course, always agreed with me and were generally supportive. My tea parties were very elaborate events. Every doll was in attendance, dressed in their Sunday best, while my mother would happily serve them little frosted cakes and tea….except for that one doll that scared the living bejesus out of me…that one ate on the top shelf of the closet…with the door closed. Every now and then, my brother’s G.I. Joe’s, would pop in for a light snack…or to blow something up.

During this age of ‘the world is my playground’, my mother, would listen to me chatter on endlessly about my plans. I wanted to do it all. Teacher, Doctor, Botanist, Writer, Marine Biologist, Naturalist, Photographer, Artist, Dentist, Psychologist, Engineer, Astronaut, Director…you name it…I was gonna do it! And my mother, bless this woman, she helped me explore them all. In fifth grade, she signed me up for an Oceanography course at Oberlin College. I discovered that when dissecting Sand Sharks…occasionally…there are babies in there! In eight grade, she signed me up to shadow a phlebotomist….blood is rather fascinating. Throughout my childhood, I was given a seemingly ENDLESS supply of paintbrushes, canvas, paints, calligraphy pens, wood burning tools and more. Microscopes were part of the overall decor, along with books on mythology, history, psychology, biology, anatomy and more. I’m pretty sure I’d read every book in the encyclopedia set, before I was ten. And always, quietly encouraging and never too far away, was my mother. At this stage, my mother was the center of my world, my endless supply of kudos, my anchor on rough seas.

As a teenager, I shifted to that ‘I’m not gonna’, ‘I don’t have to’, ‘I’ll do what I want’, ‘Go get bent’…type of thinking…which is of course normal. It’s how teenagers test the waters, stretch their wings and prepare themselves for the inevitable….life on their own two feet. During this period, I told myself, parents are generally annoying….have no idea what they’re talking about and they were just too ‘ancient’ to understand my way of thinking. Boys took center stage and always there was an undertone of ‘girly’ drama bubbling beneath the surface. My problems were the only problems in the universe and naturally, they were of global scale proportion in my mind, and therefore, I was to be constantly given center stage dammit!

Transitioning from childhood, to teen, then young adult….I’d shifted to the travel phase. (This is well known as the ‘give your parents a nervous breakdown’ stage). I went everywhere…seriously…everywhere! The World Trade Towers, New Orleans, Mexico, Biloxi, Canada, California, Arizona, D.C.,….I traveled by bus mainly and met MANY MANY people on my travels…I spent a good five hours on a bus, chatting with a fellow from Cork, Ireland. I met some fascinating ravers outside a club in New York…every inch of them glowed. I chatted with a guy living in a cardboard box, somewhere in California (hey, did you know, wheat grass makes fabulous dental floss?), and while attempting to get to Brooklyn….I wound up in Queens….oh and hey, did you know…the buildings in New York are so tall….it’s dark on the street at noon??? ~ Note: this is also the phase where I met a Skinhead named Boots, whose bestfriend Kyle said to me “shhhhh…I don’t think he’s noticed I’m black”.

During this phase, my mother assumed I’d probably be rolling home in the back of a coroner’s vehicle. Honestly, even I don’t know how I survived some of my travels. I was always alone, weighed about 100 lbs soaking wet,  backpack strapped on and ‘caution’ was a word not readily found in my vocabulary. I had a natural knack for street smarts. I simply knew what NOT to say and my instincts generally kept me out of trouble. And of course, in this stage, I was all the while thinking my future was travel…damn the boring monotony of small towns. Yet, all the while….surrounded by art, culture, the vibrancy of the outside world….predators lurked in the background. Drugs, alcohol, violence and generally less then savory charactors hid in the shadows. And to this day, I know, it was my mothers words that kept me from falling into those nasty pitfalls. I was there as a spectator only. I’d been well versed on the dangers of drugs, alcohol, creepy people and everything in between. And with my mother being a counselor, she had given me the gift of insight. I seemed to instinctively know when it was time to walk away. With my mother, always a phone call away…and this was prior to cell phones being so widely popular, I stood at the top of the Empire State Building and felt like I had the world by the balls!

Always there, ever present, her voice echoed in my head….a beacon saying ‘once you’ve seen what you need to see, it’s time to come home’.  Slowly I made my way back and it’s true what they say….life will eventually come full circle.

I wound up marrying and moving just a few minutes away from my mother.  As I settled into my adult life, and new milestones that come with age came to pass, my children started reaching their own. On so many occasions, I have seemingly forgotten my own adventures……on those days, when my normally delightful brood, has some sort of meltdown……on those days when I’m utterly convinced that one of my children has completely lost their damned mind…..on days when I’m ripping my hair out, wondering ‘where the hell did this kid get such a hairbrained idea?!?!’….on days when I’ve had it up to here with lego ‘big toe’ injuries and ‘my rooms not messy! It’s a work of art!’….on those days, who do I call? yep….that would be my mother.  I may cry or vent. I may dribble on for ages about my stress level and ‘I’ve had it up to here!’…..The whole time, my mother listens intently on the other end. Sometimes, she suggests I take a break and come to lunch. Or maybe I could try this or that. Sometimes, she can clearly hear by the overwhelmed sound of my voice, that it would be better to change the subject entirely.

But what I find strange, what is seemingly perplexing…what really gets me…is never ONCE has she said “That’s What You Get!”

Ways to SAVE at Cedar Point

Summers at the amusement park!

We’re on our fourth year of season passes to Cedar Point. There are days it can get a little tiresome with all the kids in toe. But every now and then we have a smooth kinda day.

This year, we finally discovered grilling! In the past I packed a couple sandwiches and off we went. Meanwhile, we’d smell the food all throughout the park and walk away due to there ridiculously high prices.

My pass is platinum. and it’s the ONLY way to go, for at least one of the drivers. Parking is free with a platinum pass. Otherwise, parking prices are off the hook! The kids get a regular pass. And it’s usually easier to do the payment plan. The days can get downright ‘SAUNA’ conditions! Hot cement, 90 degrees, crowds and chaos. However, Cedar Point does have a few other options for beating the heat, besides soak city.

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Breaker’s Beach is FREE to pass holders, so take advantage of it! They also have jet ski rentals, para-sailing, boats and more.

Food prices, as I stated earlier, can be overwhelming. For platinum pass holders, there are a few places to eat with food discounts. Otherwise, if you have a big family, bring a cooler and lots of charcoal.

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On especially hot days, we love to take in the FREE shows!

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Frontier Land always has something going on…

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All Wheels Extreme is Fabulous!

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Or check out the museum!

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There’s also a Petting Zoo….although, I’m not to thrilled about this one. It was so hot the day I took these pics. I can’t imagine what the animals felt.

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And of course…Roller Coasters abound!

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I have thousands of pics, way too many to upload for the purposes of this blog, but you get the idea. And so far  I’ve listed a lot of Pros. So how about the Cons? Well…

1. They need to have multiple pavilions throughout the park. They have one you pay to use…only feet from the entrance. And one that’s free, right outside the entrance. That means a long walk whenever the kids get hungry. But that’s the idea…right??? They want you to buy their over priced food.

2. MOST of the ride workers are utterly clueless about what’s going on in the rest of the park. They can basically answer yes and no questions and repeat only one they are trained to for that ride.

3. Some of the rides have gotten stuck for long periods of time in 90 degree heat. Been there…done that!

4. Those people who shove a camera in your face the MOMENT you step foot in the park??? EXCUSE YOU! Why would I pay you for a pic I can take myself, edit and print out on my own for PENNIES! It’s like being bombarded by telemarketers, only in PERSON! Knock it off!

5. PUT SOME CLOTHES ON! Some of the guests feel the need to flaunt what they clearly DO NOT have. Cover that crap up!

As the year goes on, I’ll update. For now I have to go pick up my son at his buddies house;)

Beach Bums

I think our overall plan for the summer is amusement parks and the beach. And so far, we’re off to a good start!

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I was seriously thrilled that the snow was finally gone! But the sand was soooo hot. I’ve got blisters on my feet 😦

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Lil T went tubing and did NOT fall off! OMG!

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My BFF, Charlene…who YES, works out CONSTANTLY! LOL

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Charlene’s husband, Shawn. Every year (and since they’re also neighbors in close proximity), they happily bring us along throughout the summer.

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The ships are always exciting for lil T. The waters right down the road, but it never gets old!

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My son M on the back of the ski. The guy in the back, is M’s best friend…son of my best friend 😀

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Lil T was getting a little impatient….lil guy had to wait his turn;)

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Summer’s off to a great start!