Red + Blue Giveaway from Thirty-One Gifts

I’m excited to be partnering with Thirty-One Gifts for my first giveaway on my blog!

The mission of Thirty-One is to empower women to run their own businesses. They do this through their direct sales program. They sell purses, totes, home organization products, jewelry, and more. Thirty-One also has a philanthropic side of the business, Thirty-One Gives. They partner with non-profit organizations that focus on building confidence in women and girls.

Check out my post, Tiny Purse from Thirty-One Gifts – Review, for more reasons to love Thirty-One. To find out about my giveaway, and how to enter, keep reading!

Thirty-One and I have partnered to give one of my lucky readers two of my favorite Thirty-One products. We’re giving away the Tons of Funds Wallet and the Large Utility Tote. I chose to review these products in colors that are near and dear to my heart. Red and blue are the colors of my high school and hometown, Piqua. These were the colors I wore when I ran cross country, competed in Science Olympiad and ran the school paper. My teammates and I even found red and blue mascara to show our school spirit!

Let’s chat about the items we’re giving away and why they’re fabulous!

Tons of Funds is my favorite Thirty-One Gifts item. It only has space for the essentials. I can fit my driver’s license, money, credit cards, keys and a few small items like lip balm, a small pill bottle or a pen. It makes a great wallet and an even better mini purse!

Tons of Funds comes in a lot of bright colors. I love my original Daring Cobalt Pebble (this color is no longer available). Very Cherry Pebble is starting to grow on me. Ever since I started using this purse, I’ve noticed this exact shade of red everywhere! It gives a nice pop of color to my outfits, I prefer to dress in neutrals: gray, black and dark blue. A bright little bag is the amount of color I want most days.

Thirty-One’s Large Utility Tote is a great option when you need to carry a lot! I have used it for family gatherings and a picnic in the park. I’ve been able to fit board games, slippers (I can’t be the only one who takes slippers with them to visit family… can I?) and food to family holiday parties.

It’d also be great for backyard barbecues and shopping at the farmers market. It has a ton of space – you could use it for toting towels, sunscreen and snacks to the beach or the pool. I’m sure it’d be helpful for corralling kids toys or baby gear. The options are endless with this much space!

Making a summer picnic with some of my favorite local foods is my favorite way to use the Large Utility Tote. I picked up a fresh loaf of sourdough bread from Bakehouse Bread & Cookie Company. Rosebud’s Ranch & Garden has delicious fruit butters. I grabbed Vanilla Cherry Plum Fruit Butter and Strawberry Rhubarb Fruit Butter. I packed a nice homemade salad with veggies from the Farmer’s Market and a little wine. Loaded up the Large Utility Tote and I had a simple and delicious summer picnic for two!

I have two Large Utility Totes right now. One in Charcoal Crosshatch and another in Blue Crosshatch. The Blue Crosshatch bag has custom embroidery on it. Check out Thirty-One’s online catalog to play with patterns and embroidery. Pick the product and pattern you want and click Personalize & Order. You can choose what kind of personalization you want, I went with my last name. Choose the style of your personalization, including font, text and thread color. Then click Preview Personalization to see your creation!

Enter to win your own Tons of Funds Wallet and the Large Utility Tote below! Fill out the Rafflecopter (not to be confused with ROFLcopter). You have a chance for 16 entries! Share this post with your friends! The lucky reader who wins will be able to customize their Large Utility Tote with embroidery of their choice!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

This Ohio Life giveaway is open to US Residents 18+ until 11:59PM EST on July 21, 2017. The winner will be drawn using Rafflecopter’s Random Number Generator. All entries will be verified, so play fair! I will notify the winner via e-mail and they will have 48 hours to reply before I redraw winners. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. This contest is not affiliated with Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram in any way. Participating bloggers are not responsible for prize fulfillment. If you have any questions, please contact Courtney at thisohiolife [at] gmail [dot] com. Good Luck!


Thank you Thirty-One Gifts!

ohio-120x120Thirty-One Gifts

Address: 3425 Morse Crossing, Columbus, Ohio 43219

Phone Number: 1-866-GIFTS31

Social Media: FacebookInstagramPinterestTwitterYouTube

Thank you to Thirty-One Gifts, a Columbus-based company, for sponsoring this post. All opinions are my own.

Tiny Purse from Thirty-One Gifts – Review


Until recently, I always carried a big purse. My purse was my safety blanket and it had to be big enough to hold a snack, a book, my reading glasses, my sunglasses, my iPad, paper and pens, and the things I actually needed to have in my purse: my wallet and keys. I was always anticipating “disaster,” going somewhere for dinner that didn’t have enough gluten-free foods for me to eat or being stuck somewhere and getting bored. I felt safer having an emergency snack or book to read, just in case my day didn’t go as planned.

My first purse that I really used wasn’t an actual purse. It was a deep green army bag I bought from a vendor at the Heritage Festival in Piqua while I was in high school. It was perfect for my big purse needs: nice and roomy, a separate compartment for a water bottle, small pockets on the inside for pens and pencils and an adjustable strap. I was able to carry EVERYTHING in this bag. I even decorated it by sewing on fabric patches I had collected from attending birding events. I loved this bag so much – it even went off to college with me.


Once I graduated from college though it was time for more adult looking purses and bags, sans the birding patches. I’ve had black bags with space for a portfolio and cream-colored bags with room for an iPad. They always had room for a book, a snack, anything I might need and plenty of things I didn’t. Just in case.

Just in case items get heavy, though. I was constantly switching my bag from shoulder to shoulder, or carrying it one hand, then the other. I usually had neck and shoulder pain on the days I was out and about, large purse or bag in hand. I also could NEVER find what I was looking for in my bag. All that stuff and I never had what I needed quickly. Something needed to change.


Let me introduce to you, my new tiny purse! This little gem is made by Thirty-One Gifts and has changed the way I carry my essentials when I leave the house (I just carry the essentials). I love the bright cobalt blue color of this purse (technically it’s a wallet) and the zip around closure. It’s super small so I can’t carry anything with me that I don’t actually need.

When I was asked by Thirty-One Gifts to partner with them for a review, I chose this wristlet (it’s called Tons Of Funds in Daring Cobalt Pebble) thinking it would be my “travel purse.” Which is what I initially used it for and it was perfect! Plenty of room for cash, credit cards, keys, and an emergency tube Burt’s Bees lip balm (some habits are hard to break).

I couldn’t fit my original glasses case for my reading glasses in this purse, but I found a fabric case which fit perfectly (and my glasses are still intact six months later!).  I also found a pair of sunglasses that fold fairly flat and fit in this purse. Both pairs of glasses do not fit at the same time, but I’m usually wearing one of them so it works. If I pack the purse correctly, I can even fit my phone in it! After my last trip to Seattle, I didn’t feel like swapping everything out of my blue purse to go back into my bigger bag. I just kept carrying my tiny purse, which has become my go-to bag.


Thirty-One Gifts is a direct sales company that sells purses and wallets, bags and totes, home organization products, thermal food storage products, jewelry, and accessories. Most of their products can be personalized with names or initials. The mission of the company is to empower and support women by giving them the opportunity to run their own business.

Thirty-One was founded in 2003 by Cindy Monroe in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The company is based out of Columbus, Ohio today and has been recognized as one of Columbus’ most giving organizations. In the past four years, Thirty-One has donated more than $100 million to nonprofits that share their mission. Last summer, they donated $10,000 to a local women’s nonprofit during their national conference.


I like that Thirty-One has a variety of unique products, I mostly browsed purses and handbags and they have everything from cute little wallets and tiny purses to gigantic purses that could double as my overnight bag on my next trip!

The aspect I like most about Thirty-One, though, is Thirty-One Gives. Thirty-One Gives partners with non-profit organizations that focus on building confidence in women and girls and strengthening families. This year, Thirty-One Gives will donate approximately 5% of their net total sales in product and cash to support organizations they work with. Some of the organizations they have worked with include Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Girl Talk, World Vision, Girls on the Run and the Salvation Army of Central Ohio. In 2013, Thirty-One Gives established the Cindy Monroe Values & Vision Endowed Scholarship to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of Thirty-One Gifts. Each year one girl in the Chattanooga area of Tennessee, where Cindy Monroe is from, is chosen to win a $12,400 scholarship to support her college career.

Thank you Thirty-One Gifts!


ohio-120x120Thirty-One Gifts

Address: 3425 Morse Crossing, Columbus, Ohio 43219

Phone Number: 1-866-GIFTS31

Social Media: Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, YouTube

Thank you to Thirty-One Gifts, a Columbus-based company, for sponsoring this post. All opinions are my own.

Columbus Metropolitan Library – #newmain

#newmain library cake

Libraries. Are. The. Best.

I love libraries! Some of my earliest memories are of going to the library for storytime or the summer reading program in Piqua. I love reading and the best place to get new material to read (or books to reread) is the library. Everywhere that I’ve lived I’ve had a library card. For me, that’s eight library cards!

For a wonderful period of eight glorious months – I worked at a library! ? Shout out to my favorite library ladies at the Miami Township Branch of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County – you rock! ?

#newmain media preview

Since I love libraries – I was stoked to be invited to the Media Preview of the re-opening of the Main Library of the Columbus Metropolitan Library! When I lived in Columbus I frequented this library and a few other branches often.

I started reading my #1 favorite series: The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith while a patron of the Columbus library. I also borrowed a ton of educational materials for work. I’d request as many books on a topic as I could find online, then wait for them all to arrive and go pick them up in one fell swoop. I’d almost instantly regret requesting that many books at once, though, because I had to carry them to my car and then up to my apartment or to my desk at work. #booknerdproblems

#newmain tour

The Media Preview was held last week, just a few days before the library’s grand reopening this past Saturday, June 25th. After a quick introduction, and a request to share our photos and tweets with the #newmain hashtag, we were off to tour!

We were split into groups based on different literature genres. I was in the poetry group with lots of other bloggers.

#newmain view topiary park

I liked the main library before the renovation – but post-renovation library is impressive. The new layout is bright and open to encourage a sense of community and togetherness.

Some of my favorite features of the library are the gorgeous vistas seen throughout the building. The new floor plan is so open – you can see across the atrium to other parts of the library from all floors and at many spots you can look from one end to the other and see downtown Columbus. There are also lovely views of the new park plaza which connects to Topiary Park.

Another favorite is the library’s focus on sustainability. They’re working to achieve LEED gold certification and will be able to use the building to teach sustainable practices to the Columbus community. Nature Smilies

There’s a big focus on technology and making it accessible to all library users. Each floor of the library, near the elevators and highlighted with bright orange walls (the only bright colors used in the building to make them stand out) are interactive discovery boards. The huge touchscreen boards can be used to find out what events are going on at the library and where meetings are being held. It can even help you find a new book to read! Expressive Smilies

#newmain views

My group kept getting held up at the many windows, since we were all bloggers we were all stopping for photos! There are so many nice spots to stop and enjoy the view!

#newmain tour group

An area of libraries that I love to visit are the local history and genealogy departments. I dabble in genealogy from time to time and I love learning about history, whether it’s history of my home town, where I live or when I’m travelling.

The genealogy and history department at the #newmain has some awesome new features: a digital lab (with one of the largest scanners in the US), a discovery board for local history and genealogy and an all digital microfilm with some full text searching! The department is a digital hub for Ohio libraries and institutes and is able to put scanned materials online.

#newmain genealogy

The Atrium, the center of the library, is also very open and well-lit. I imagine I could spend an entire afternoon perched on one of the many chairs along the railings on any floor, just watching people come and go.

#newmain atrium

The library has a new area for teens – the theme of openness and community togetherness continues in this part of the building too. Our library guide told us the computers are oriented so the teens using them face downtown Columbus. The hope is that this view will help teens imagine themselves working in one of the buildings downtown. Study areas overlook the board room, another aspirational view for teens.

#newmain teen area

The library is also making an effort to showcase their collection of books. Displays feature front facing books with stacks of the same title available behind them. I love this look! I know the old adage is that we shouldn’t judge books by their covers — but there are so many gorgeous book covers and they can really draw you in. I read so many books when I worked at the library (and took home more than I could ever read before they were due back) mostly because I saw all of these lovely books every day at work. One of my favorite things to do at work was come up with new ways to display our teen collection — the cover artwork makes a big difference in whether or not the book will be picked up! ?

#newmain children's area

A very noticeable change at the #newmain library is the children’s area. Called Ready for Kindergarten, this new set-up is meant to help preschoolers, parents and families get ready for kindergarten. The storytime areas, book shelves and play areas mimic a kindergarten classroom — there’s even a few classroom fish in a large tank built into a bookshelf! Animal Smilies

The children of Columbus are a top priority and the library is making sure that all building renovations reflect this commitment.

The Columbus Metropolitan Library is renovating or building 10 of their locations. You can read more about each project here.

#newmain lunch

After our tour, we were treated to a lunch buffet, catered by Two Caterers. We had a taco bar with beef, chicken, taco toppings, a corn salad and some sweet treats! It was all delicious and the little cupcakes were adorable!

#newmain cake

Lunch was delicious, but the fondant cake of #newmain really stole the show! The cake, made by Queen Anne’s Lace Cakes, was both the library and a stack of popular books. It was gorgeous and smelled so sweet! The cake wasn’t meant for eating, which is probably for the best — who would have wanted to cut up such a lovely creation?


I’m so glad I was able to tour the #newmain Columbus Metropolitan Library last week! I was really impressed with the renovations and more than a little jealous that this library is no longer a short fifteen minute drive from home for me.

The #newmain library officially opened on Saturday, June 25th with a dedication and ribbon cutting at noon. In the afternoon there were activities, entertainment and patrons could sign up for a commemorative library card. The festivities concluded with a special PBJ & Jazz concert in Topiary Park featuring the Caribbean Jazz Sextet.

Now through August 27th, the Carnegie Gallery will feature an exhibit called art unbound. Local artists were challenged to transform worn library books that would have been recycled into works of art. I’m planning to stop in and see this awesome sounding exhibit later this summer.

To learn more about the library renovation and to see more photos, check out this article in The Columbus Dispatch: Main Library Reopening. And be sure to visit the library yourself!

#newmain view downtown

Columbus Metropolitan Library
– Columbus

Address: 96 South Grant Avenue, Columbus Ohio 43215

Phone Number: 614-645-2275

Hours: Monday – Thursday 9am – 9pm. Friday – Saturday 9am – 6pm. Sunday 1pm – 5pm.

Social Media: Facebook, Instagram, PinterestTwitter, YouTube

The Kitchen – German Village


The Kitchen is a new kind of dining experience – instead of ordering and being served, diners get to make their meal with the chefs and other diners. This participatory dining experience brings people together and blurs the lines between patron and chef.

The creators of The Kitchen, Jen Lindsey and Anne Boninsegna, believe the best memories are formed around the dinner table so they developed a restaurant where patrons are actively engaged in the meal. Diners at The Kitchen aren’t thrown at a table of ingredients and expected to cook and create all on their own; Jen, Anne, and professional sous chefs are there for the whole event and guide participants.


My mom and I were lucky enough to be invited to one of The Kitchen’s participatory dinners last fall. I chose the themed meal I wanted to attend, and while the Harry Potter Potluck Dinner Party sounded amazing, I could not turn down the Gluten Free Dinner Party.

Mom and I left work early that day to drive to Columbus. We were both really excited and not quite sure what to expect. I had heard of The Kitchen when Kenneth and I still lived in Columbus but we never made it to one of the dinners (Taco Tuesday always sounded amazing to me) before we moved.


I was immediately impressed with the decor and layout of The Kitchen. The main room, seating area, and the dining area are open and warm with hardwood floors and exposed brick walls. Unique vintage decorations and mismatched chairs (all painted the same color) gave the room an eclectic, fun vibe.

While we waited for all of the guests to arrive, we snacked on the most delicious charcuterie board I’ve ever seen. Along with chocolate and coffee, cheese is one of my favorite foods. I definitely sampled each cheese, as well as the cured meats, dried fruits, nuts and gluten-free crackers! I’m never able to eat everything on a cheese plate (which I console myself with by taking seconds, thirds and sometimes fourths of cheese) so I was in gluten-free cheese lover’s heaven. Since I have a modicum of class and self-respect, I did not eat the entire platter by myself (but I definitely thought about it). Expressive Smilies


While enjoying our delicious cheese appetizer, my mom and I chatted with some of our fellow participatory diners. We met Morgan Lee, another local blogger. Morgan blogs at Columbus Living and went to the same university as my sister, Brittney. We had a nice chat with Morgan and her boyfriend and sat with them to enjoy our meal together at the end of the evening (check out Morgan’s blog post of our evening on her blog!).

Once it was clear everyone had arrived for the evening, Jen and Anne called us over to the prep tables and introduced themselves. They explained participatory dining and introduced us to our menu for the evening.

Starter: Zucchini Fritters
Salad: Roasted Acorn Squash, Apples, Quinoa & Kale with Maple-Tahini Dressing
Entrée: Chicken Pot Pie
Dessert: The Kitchen’s Best Flourless Chocolate Cake


Each course had its own prep table with cutting boards, knives and other utensils, as well as our ingredients and recipe sheets. To simplify, some ingredients had been pre-measured or were at least in a shallow dish ready to be added as needed. We were told that we would be splitting off into groups to make each course before rejoining the whole group to be served our creations for dinner.


Mom and I joined the salad group because (A) the salad sounded amaaazing and (B) I am horrible at making salads. I really enjoy salads, but for some reason if I have to make it myself, chop up veggies, decide on creative toppings and a dressing, I’m done. I just buy pre-made salad kits or eat half a bag of carrots because I can throw that in my lunch bag in two seconds. I’m always super impressed when we eat dinner at my parents because they make the best salads – they take the time to slice up cucumbers and onions, always seem to have cherry tomatoes on hand along with a variety of dressings and dried cranberries. I told Mom we need to join the salad group because my salad game is lame. Sad Smilies Because she’s awesome she agreed with me, even though it’s obvious that her salad game is on point!

The other half of our salad team was a couple who live in the German Village. We talked about Winans (because, Winans = chocolate + coffee) and then my Mom found out that the husband is a runner. The rest of our salad building was done over very detailed discussions of the The Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon course and marathon training tips.


The directions in our recipe were easy to understand and we were able to split up tasks and work together as a team. Jen gave us some direction on how to make our acorn squash easier to cut (you can cook them in the oven for a little bit to soften them up!). I showed everyone how to smash garlic with the blade of a knife to make it easier to peel (one of the many things I learned when I worked in Columbus and prepped food for cooking classes). I also learned how to make a very tasty salad dressing with tahini, lemon juice, garlic and maple syrup that I have made on multiple occasions since.


Everyone seemed to be getting along really well in their group and we didn’t have any kitchen disasters for the evening! The room smelled fantastic and our stomachs were growling, despite our charcuterie snack earlier. Once every group was finished with their course, we enjoyed some more cheese, more drinks and conversation. Jen and Anne, along with help from their Kitchen liaisons, plated up our creations which we served to each other, family style.

Roasted Acorn Squash, Apples, Quinoa & Kale with Maple-Tahini

Our salad was as delicious as it was beautiful. Look at that bright green kale and warm orange acorn squash! I think this salad could be a full meal on its own, with the very filling quinoa you have a great source of protein plus a large helping of veggies. Everyone else at the table seemed to enjoy our salad almost as much as we did (food always tastes better when you’ve made it with people you care about!). Happy Smilies

Zucchini Fritters

Next were the fabulous zucchini fritters – they were delicious! I don’t think you can have too many ways to prepare zucchini and this is definitely a recipe I need to make at home. This was hands down my Mom’s favorite dish of the evening.

The main course was gluten-free chicken pot pie. Jen and Anne are so sweet and accommodating, when I told Jen that my mom is vegetarian, they made her a separate pot pie with mushrooms instead of chicken. The Kitchen’s website says that they make their best effort to adapt for diners with food allergies.

IMG_9760 (1)
Chicken Pot Pie

My favorite dish of the evening was the amazing flourless chocolate cake! Made with almond flour and topped with a dollop of homemade whipped cream, this was the perfect way to end the meal!

In addition to the open participatory dining experiences (check out their calendar for details – they have so many fun sounding events coming up!), The Kitchen also offers private parties, catered events, corporate events and Taco Tuesdays where they have an al a carte menu and themed tacos from 5pm to 9pm. I think it would be a blast to cook a meal with your co-workers (and not have to worry about burning down your boss’ house because you’d have professionals helping you along the way)!

My Mom and I had such a great time cooking, chatting and eating with Jen, Anne and the other diners. We wish Columbus was closer to us, but it’s not too far that we couldn’t plan an outing in the Capital City, which ended with a participatory dinner at The Kitchen. Winking

The Kitchen’s Best Flourless Chocolate Cake


The Kitchen – German Village

Address: 231 E. Livingston Ave. Columbus, Ohio 43215

Phone Number: 614-225-8940

Social Media: Blog, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter

The Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato