Giuseppe’s Neighborhood Pizzeria / Covington

Restaurant.com had a certificate for this place and I have to say, I am so glad I went. It is located pretty far down Madison rd in Covington, almost to Independence. The store itself is in a strip mall and looks small from the outside. Inside however, it seats a fair amount. Giuseppe’s is nothing fancy to look at, but the food was surprisingly good.

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We started off with the Mac and Cheese bites. They were ok, but you could tell they didn’t hand make them. Frozen bites that were just thrown in a fryer to warm up, I think. They lacked the gooey factor I wanted.

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The rest of the meal was great. I ordered the Hot Sicilian (hot and dirty). The bread was garlicy and full of flavor. There were plenty of delicious toppings and by getting it “dirty” they flat topped the cheese that gave it all a crispy deliciousness. I would come back for this in a heartbeat. I can’t wait to try their other sandwiches.

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Lauren ordered a pizza with bacon, pineapple, and banana peppers. They were very liberal with the toppings. The cheese ratio was perfect. You know it is good when the first bite you get that long string of cheese that pulls away from the pizza. Lauren said it was one of the best she has had.

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I think this place has massive potential if they would just staff better. Our poor waitress was running her butt off. She was the only waitress, so she had all the tables; on top of being the sole person to answer the phone and take delivery orders. That phone never stopped ringing. I felt so bad for her since she never got the chance to check on any of her tables. It clearly was not her fault as the delivery phone never ever stopped ringing. She was nice, upbeat, and apologized to everyone; but some customers weren’t as forgiving. They had three people in the kitchen and a busboy. Not once did anyone come to her aid.

Get more help and keep your waitress off the delivery phone and this place will do well. I’m interested to see how it is on another visit.

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Ocean City MD

I love the beach. I can’t wait until Lauren graduates high school so we can move to the beach. We went to DC on a trip and a friend told me about Ocean City MD. Its only 3 hours from DC, so we changed our DC trip and switch half of it to Ocean City. So glad we did, it was great.

After hours of online research, I found the Francis Scott Key resort. It wasn’t right on the beach, but only 5 minutes away. The price was spectacular and this place was PHENOMENAL. You really get your bang for your buck here. The grounds were awesome. There were two pirate pools, mini golf, and indoor pool, volleyball, nightly movie screening, and playgrounds all for free. Then a kick but bar and hot tub for adults. Our room was just regular. Not great, not bad; but it worked to sleep in. These grounds though floored me. Check out the pictures. You would have thought I paid a fortune for this place. It was hard to drag Lauren away to go the beach and boardwalk.

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The food in Ocean City was great, but a little pricey. Seafood is always expensive though. My favorite place was the crab bag. And you have to go to the fractured prune doughnut place. Ridiculous.

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The beach was gorgeous and the water was a good temperature. We didn’t swim much though due to the two shark attacks just two hours away those same days we were there. We got in about calf high. Everyone seemed to do the same thing, because not many people were in the water.

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There was plenty to do on the boardwalk though to keep us occupied. Lauren loved the boardwalk. It wasn’t my cup of tea. It seemed to be the same 5 stores over and over again. Loads of arcades and amusement “parks” that reminded me of fair rides. These are not cheap. It costs a small fortune if you have kids. Lauren wanted everything and I could only let her do a few things. Take LOTS of cash and be prepared to spend it. Thankfully after I went half broke, the hotel had enough to do that we didn’t have to go back again to the boardwalk.

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I’m so glad we stopped in Ocean City. Had a great time at the Francis Scott Key resort, and chowed down on some yummy food. Bummer about the water, sharks, and the boardwalk money pit. I think I’ll stick to the Caribbean although Lauren’s already talking about how its her favorite place and she can’t wait to go back.

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Washington DC

Lauren will learn about the branches of government this year in school so I thought it would be educational to take a trip to Washington DC. Gives her a little headstart and will make it easier to understand when they start learning. Plus I’d never been and always wanted to go!

I did a lot of research beforehand and found a great deal on Hotels.com for the Country Inn and Suites in Camp Springs by the Andrews Airforce Base. It was a fabulous location, seconds from the Branch Ave Metro stop that took us straight downtown. The hotel was very clean and the staff was beyond helpful. I was expecting the worst due to the price and not the greatest reviews; but it was great and looked remodeled.

Its a little over 8 hours to get to DC so I left about midnight and drive straight out. Basically two interstates all the way there, so that was simple. We couldn’t check into the hotel until noon so we stopped at the National Zoo. They open at 6am to walk around, but most of the exhibits open at 10am. It was a decent zoo. Smaller and less exciting then the Cicninnati Zoo I’m use to, but the national zoo is also free since it’s part of the Smithsonian museums. (All those are FREE in Washington DC!) They did have a giant panda though and that was rare. There are only 4 in captivity in North America, and they are endangered. The thing to remember with the National Zoo- yes it is free- but parking is a flat rate- of $22!!!! Oh well, we killed enough time before our hotel.

Our first meal was at the Texas Ribs & BBQ of Clinton. Our hotel told us it was on Diners, Drive-In, and Dives, so of course we went. The food was massive in size and super tasty. One of the better BBQ places I’ve ever been to. My only grip is when I asked for onion rings instead of fries for Laurens chicken, the waitress didn’t tell me it was $7.99 for the onion rings. I think I ate like 1 because I was full. Had I known i was $8 to swap them out, I wouldn’t have. I mentioned it, but she just shrugged her shoulders, so I ended up paying for it.

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After that we hopped on the Metro and went to explore all the famous DC sites. I wont go into too much detail because they are pretty self explanatory. We hit everything up. The Mall, Washinton monument, the Capitol, the white house, the world war memorials and the Korean war memorials, Iwo Jima memorial, MLK memorial, and the Lincoln Memorial. Lots of walking but well worth it. At the Arlington Cemetery we were lucky enough to stumble onto Marine graduation and meet a lot of the brave men. We also saw a very somber funeral that made us both cry. It was a very emotional and exciting day.

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The second day was the Capitol Tour. You can go up to the capitol and pay for a tour but I arranged ours through my state senators office. They also arranged a White house tour for us. (Mitch McConnell) I’m so glad I did, because the aide/guide was amazing! We got to see so many things not on regular tours like the burial site made for Washington that he refused. She let us walk down the steps that every president has walked down to give their inauguration speeches. Then as a giant bonus she let us onto Speaker Boehners balcony. Its in the front of the capitol and the view is AMAZING!!!!!

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We ate at the historic Bullfeathers. I got a Pastrami Burger which kicked butt. Lauren got wings of course, but then a bacon pancake milkshake. I thought it was gross, she loved it.

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The White House tour was neat because it was the White house! How cool is it to say that we’ve been inside. However, there is only a few rooms they will let you in, and you can not take pictures. It is swarming with Secret Service men so I couldn’t get any. (Believe me I tried.) Everything was behind rope so we weren’t able to touch and the important rooms were all off limit. We saw old rooms that aren’t used anymore. I was really hoping to see the oval office, but that was a HUGE no. It was nice to be in there, I just expected more I guess.

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Our last night day in DC we hit up the Space and Aero museum. (FREE!) It was really neat. I wish we had another day so we could have went to the other 6 free Smithsonian museums but we didn’t . The Space museum had a real part of planes she got to go into. As well as real shuttles and space rovers. It was awesome. We could have spent the whole day just in there! She was beside herself because she got to touch a piece of the moon. (a rock)

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Last stop was Chinatown. Totally different than NYC chinatown and honestly a little disappointing. Everyone said to go to Matchbox but it was pizza. I couldn’t get pizza in china town. You have to get chinese food. So we went to Tony Cheng Seafood restaurant. Kinda sketchy upstairs from a Mongolian place. But the Walnut honey shrimp we shared was BANGING! These were the biggest shrimp I had ever seen and there were a lot of them.

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Dc was great. I think we saw most of what we wanted to see. I wish we had booked maybe an extra day or two to get through all the museums and food. On the way back from Ocean City (3 hours away) we stopped and went to the National Harbor and ate at the Top Food truck in DC. The lobster sliders were so damn good. I could eat them everyday. And the harbor was sweet too. Lots of restaurants, a big outdoor TV we watched the soccer game on, a ferris wheel, and giant sand playgrounds.

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Bonefish Grill / Hyde Park

My favorite kind of food is seafood. When I had the craving today before work I went to Bonefish due to location. I have never been there and I can honestly say I was pleasantly surprised. It was a very random meal with all the craziness (more on that later), but still a really good one.

The location is kind of odd. Its in a strip mall next to a bank and a few other restaurants. Parking was a bear so I ended up parking in the banks parking lot. The decor was steakhouse elegant. It reminded me of Mitchells Seafood restaurant or any white tablecloth, low light, classy joint.

I started out with the Bang Bang Shrimp since it was their signature appetizer. Albeit a little spicy, it was delicious. You get a good amount, and it wasn’t over sauced. I’ll get them again next time I’m there.

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Now to the funny part. After I order the police came barreling in the restaurant. Apparently the bank (that I parked in) had been robbed! They wanted to see if the guy was in there. It must have just happened before I pulled up! This is a picture of the police still there when I got to my car! HOLY SMOKES!

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Due to the disruption, the manager bought us all an appetizer. Very thoughtful. So my shrimp was free! Yay for free things.

After that I had the crab and corn soup. It was decent. I ate the crab off the top, then boxed it up. It was just way too thick for me. I thought it would be a bisque instead of almost like a potato soup consistency. So it was a miss for me.

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I finished my meal with the crab cakes. Now these were good. Not the biggest, but they are appetizers. Chocked full of actual crab and no pepper fillers or anything like that. I hate when crab cakes have peppers and crap so they don’t have to use as much actual crab. But these were lump crab and seasoning. Very yummy.

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This was a satisfying meal; and because of the free appetizer- a cheap one. Next time I get the hankering for seafood at work, I know where I’ll go. We’ll at least until they bring the Oceanaire back. (I can dream, cant I)

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The Wilds

We decided to do a daytrip to The Wilds in Cumberland Ohio. Its a Jack Hannah African wildlife safari place. Located about 45 min east of Columbus (3 hrs from Cincinnati), its far enough were you need to make a day out of it to go.

The drive wasn’t bad and the directions are pretty simple. I would recommend going super early so you are on the first few open air safaris. I read that online. They said once it gets hot in the day, the animals aren’t active and hit in the shade. Since this land is all conservation land, they don’t guarantee you see them all. The workers do not get the animals to come to you. They just let them do their thing and don’t bother them; which I love. It’s really being in their natural habitat. Besides getting there early, I also recommend renting binoculars ($5) and seeing the animal encounter ($5.) The binoculars came in clutch for animals that were farther away like the bison, zebra, and cheetahs.

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The land is huge and they have lots to do there including zip lining. We didn’t do that but we did do the animal encounter. It lasted about 1/2 hr and for $5 was a steal. The workers brought out smaller animals that they let us pet while talking about the animals. It was a really cool experience. And I got to pet one of my favorite animals- the anteater!

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After that we boarded the open air safari bus ($30) for a 2 1/2 hr ride around the super large property. We saw so many cool exotic animals. It was amazing and something we will definitely do again! Being so close to these animals without anything separating us really was fantastic. And going from section to section in these big jurassic park type gates was pretty cool too.

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Volunteering

I try to tell Lauren that it is super important to volunteer and help out people that need it. I found a few opportunities this summer packing food so kids wouldn’t go hungry without school lunches. This is an awesome thing to do that is age appropriate for children her age. The first Thursday was at the Freestore Foodbank. They do an assembly line and you put in the foods your assigned to. Easy peasy and we packed hundreds of boxes in four short hours. Afterwards we sat down and had a talk about poverty and why to be happy about what we do have. It was one of the best talks we’ve ever had. Afterwards she said she wanted to do it again. image

So the next week we did the GO Pantry in Florence Ky. Its an organization that does pretty much the same thing but on a smaller scale for Boone county families. Lauren colored and fill treat bags while I hauled boxes of food items upstairs. It was just 2 1/2 hrs of setting up for the fill later that night.

These little things really are wonderful to bond with her. She said she can’t wait to do it again. That makes my heart soooo happy.

Cheesecake Factory / Kenwood

There are few things in the world I love more than cheesecake. I’m all about eating local and avoiding chain restaurants, but Cheesecake factory is one that is just always on point for me. I’ve yet to have a bad meal or any issues there in like 10 meals. When its good, its good- and they are.

I took my little lady there on Friday and she loved it. Besides the obvious cheesecake, their menu is HUGE! Almost overwhelming for me, but it made Lauren happy since they had edamame.

I got two small plates. The dynamite shrimp and the macaroni balls. Both were great. The macaroni balls were super heavy though. Not meant to be for one person. I should have just ate one instead of all four! That shrimp though was amazing. Next time I’m just going to get two orders of that!  On past visits I’ve had the chicken bellagio and its great too.

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Then for the best part- THE CHEESECAKE! We went with our all time favorite flavor, red velvet. It was so big both of us couldn’t finish one piece. But it was so delicious.

Like I said, I hate to admit how much I love this chain restaurant, but I do! Theres always a little bit of a wait, but its worth it.