Best of the City: City Life

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→ Sophomore Season

FC Cincinnati

It would have been easy to dismiss the success of FC Cincinnati’s inaugural season as a flash in the pan, especially considering the city’s checkered soccer history. Round two proved that it wasn’t a fluke. FCC broke USL attendance records, drawing the highest average with more than 21,000 fans per game to Nippert Stadium, and put an impressive product on the pitch. The team made the playoffs again and advanced to the U.S. Open Cup semifinal, besting two MLS teams along the way. Perhaps it’s a sign that FCC is ready for a step up in competition. Cincinnati is one of 12 cities that MLS is considering for four expansion spots, and with the odds for some of the other cities hampered by local politics, the club’s bid is looking up. Sure, it might result in a Cincinnati team playing in a new soccer-specific stadium in Kentucky (or Oakley or the West End), but no matter what, the club is here to stay. fccincinnati.com


→ Girlfriend Getaway

Floral Classes at Robin Wood Flowers

No spa robes or hot stone massage sessions here, just beautiful blooms and patient instruction from inventive florists. Make-and-take sessions include the materials you’ll need for the kind of lush, luxurious arrangements this shop is known for. Come on your own or make it a date with friends. To get the full flower experience, nail down a spot when Wood takes learners to Little Creek Valley Farm to clip the freshest blooms and arrange them on the spot. Evanston, robinwoodflowers.com


→ Do-Gooders

Junior League of Cincinnati

“I feel like I joined an army.” That’s how one Junior Leaguer explained her time volunteering with the 97-year-old organization. If you’re imagining an army of well-heeled ladies on a mission, you’re not wrong. But this isn’t your Great Aunt Muffy’s Junior League. They’re total pros committed to social justice via incubated nonprofits, starting with children’s health (MindPeace, GrinUp!); refugees (RefugeeConnect); and the arts (a little outfit called The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati), just to name a few. jlcincinnati.org


→ Neighborhood Farm

Turner Farm

You’d expect a successful farm to have a thriving CSA program, delivering veggies to shareholders. And Turner Farm has that—as well as CSAs for meat and flowers, which should be your first clue that this is not your basic green acres operation. One of three working farms remaining in Indian Hill, Turner Farm aims to “promote connections between people of all ages and the land that feeds them, in body, mind, and spirit.” The year-old teaching kitchen, with its classes and events, is the newest way for people to make that connection. Indian Hill, turnerfarm.org


→ Authors to Watch

Cincinnati YA Authors

Young adult fiction typically brings to mind vampire love stories or tales of teens competing to their deaths. What you might not know about the genre is its vast number of up-and-coming authors who call Cincinnati home. Local writer Shari Goldhagen attributes the uptick in local YA authors to nearby innovative creative writing programs, such as the University of Cincinnati’s Ph.D. program—ranked eighth in the nation by Poets & Writers in 2012. Pop into Joseph-Beth and check out their collection of locally penned YA page-turners or check out one of their ongoing YA author talks—cosplay encouraged. The Cincinnati YA community—or “C-YA” as Melissa Landers, author of Starfall, calls them—champions the bookseller for taking a chance on the tight-knit group of authors, also including the likes of Kristen Simmons, Mindee Arnett, Emery Lord, and Gwenda Bond. Norwood, josephbeth.com


→ Plumber in a Pinch

Halpin Plumbing

Ever notice that plumbing disasters have a penchant for occurring on nights and weekends? Halpin Plumbing, founded in 1951, is not only one of the city’s oldest plumbing companies, it’s also got a robust and experienced after-hours crew who respond in a very timely manner. They charge an extra after-hours fee, but—speaking from experience—it’s well worth it when your main water line konks out Saturday at 6 p.m. Bond Hill, halpinplumbing.com

Illustration by Gabriel Carbrea - Folio Art


→ Animal Therapy

Seven Oaks Farm Mini Horses at CVG

Between airport security, one-hour-layovers, and red-eye flights, it’s no secret that air travel can come with its own—ahem—baggage. Seven Oaks Farm helps relieve some of that stress with the help of particularly cute animals. Twice a month CVG transforms into a mini-horse therapy sanctuary where tot-size ponies welcome passengers pre- or post-flight. These unassuming horses may be the best way to ease flight-born anxiety since Cinnabon. therapyhorses.com


→ Non-Internet Cats

Kitty Brew Cat Café

Imagine with us for a moment that you’re sitting in a room where kittens run free, bounding around and into your lap… Now drive to Mason and make it a reality. Partnered with five adoption agencies, the café adopted out 277 cats in its first six months of business, with no sign of slowing down. Stop first in the café or order a beverage (sizes: kitten or fat cat), from the lounge side and they’ll bring it to you. Then settle in and get those cats a-playing. At $10/hour, it’s the cheapest therapy you’re gonna find. Mason, kittybrew.com

Illustration by Matthew Billington


→ Social Media Powerhouse

Curtis (Bob) Burns, TSA

Army veteran Curtis (Bob) Burns joined the TSA in 2002 as a screener with no experience. “I realized if I wanted to make this work, I would have to volunteer for everything,” he says. That landed him on a national advisory council reporting to the agency’s head, who chose West Chester resident Burns to launch a blog in 2008. His Instagram experiments led him to start a TSA feed in 2013. Jimmy Kimmel mocked it immediately, and Insta-fame followed. A mix of oh-no-they-didn’t images and useful info keeps the feed entertaining for its more than 800,000 followers. @tsa


→ Informal Co-Op

DIY Printing

During normal weekday business hours, more or less, Aaron Kent operates DIY Printing as a standard screenprinting operation out of Essex Studio, crafting handmade prints on T-shirts, posters, and packaging for clients and local art organizations. But in the evenings, the studio becomes an informal co-op and training ground for local screenprinters, whom Kent allows to use the space and equipment free of charge. “That encompasses what DIY is all about,” he says. “Keeping a place for artists, helping people out.” Walnut Hills, diyprintingshop.com


→ New OTR Meet-Up

Ziegler Park Pool

There was some consternation over the park’s redevelopment, but Ziegler is now the site of spray grounds, a shiny new pool, Ping-Pong tables, and a baller playground (with Ping-Pong paddles and other play items available to check out from the pool services building or parking garage office right across the street, depending on the season). Colorful café tables make it a great lunch or coffee break, whether you’re watching your kids or escaping the office. There’s something there for everyone, and judging from the crowds, we’re not the only ones who think so. Over-the-Rhine, zieglerpark.org


→ Cooking Class

Artichoke OTR

In the back of married retirees Brad and Karen Hughes’ curated cookware store—just steps away from Findlay Market—is a small kitchen used to host one-hour weekday and two-hour Saturday cooking classes. Gather around the countertop with an intimate group, and learn the ins and outs of preparing a themed set of dishes from a seasoned chef. Fancy an autumn brunch? Prepare Amish oatmeal and brandied apple compote with Daniel Tonozzi that will make you wish it was fall all year long. Just don’t forget to pick up a bottle of wine from nearby Market Wines—hand selected to match each class’s menu. Over-the-Rhine, artichokeotr.com


→ Manifestation of Li’l Sebastian

Fiona

Parks and Recreation gave us so much, but chief among its gifts was Li’l Sebastian, the mini horse that even the town’s most cynical dearly loved (looking at you, Ron Swanson). It seemed only a fiction until Fiona was born at the Cincinnati Zoo and had groupies tweeting out animal videos, rabidly following the zoo’s daily Fiona updates, creating Fiona T-shirts and other gear. Sure, some among us are the Bens of the world who just don’t quite get it, but even we must admit: She’s like 10,000 candles in the wind. Avondale, cincinnatizoo.org


→ New Age Relaxation

Tao Float

When yoga isn’t enough to harness your chi, try one of Tao Float’s sensory deprivation pods. They may look like something out of The Jetsons, but the space-age vessels are filled with water loaded with more than 1,100 pounds of Epsom salt, enough to float for up to an hour and a half with ease. Hop in (au naturel or with a bathing suit), close the latch, and float your troubles away. West Chester (open soon in Mariemont), taofloatloft.com

Photograph by Wes Battoclette/Model courtesy Heyman Talent


→ Neighborhood Explosion

Pleasant Ridge

The Ridgeassaince is officially upon us. Old hands like Gas Light Café are still going strong (praise be!), but there’s been an influx of new dine options in Pleasant Ridge: C’est Cheese foodtruck owner Emily Frank opened Share: Cheesebar on Ridge Avenue in July, serving choice meats and cheeses, including a burrata that will change your life. Around the corner on Montgomery, Grand Central Deli opened in March. An homage to New York City’s Grand Central Station, owner Sheelah Parker and chef Jeff Strong—an east coast native—offer sandwiches made with Boar’s Head meats and cheeses and Sixteen Bricks bread, plus signature sides and salads, specialty burgers on Monday, pasta dinners on Wednesdays, and a full bar. Catty-corner from Share, Casa Figueroa opened in April in a three-story, erstwhile VFW Hall next to Everybody’s Records. The colorful Mexican spot has a gorgeous outdoor seating area and indoor bar, plus a wide selection of tacos and salads. But the real winners are the chips-and-queso and handcrafted margaritas.

Illustration by Gabriel Carbrea - Folio Art


→ Wellness Focus for Pets

Argos Pet Food Delivery

All-natural pet food and supply shop owner Elisabeth Mayer dedicated much of her life to helping dogs and cats before leaving the corporate world to run Argos full-time in 2011. Whether it’s providing discounted food for shelters like Save The Animals Foundation, having homeless cats available for adoption in-store, or simply offering up nutrition-packed food to your doorstep, Argos puts pet wellness first. East Walnut Hills and Madeira, argospet.com


→ Wedding MVP

Marmalade Lily

One part event venue, one part garden center, one part floral workshop. Wedding packages include flowers (grown on-site), seating, an outdoor ceremony chapel and tent (plus a wedding arbor!), and a party barn hits that perfect rustic-fancy note. Loveland, themarmaladelily.com

 

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