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Family Friendly Destination Hocking Hills State Park: Cabins by the Caves

 

Cabins by the Caves  - the Lincoln Cabin 

Traveling to Hocking Hills is one of my favorite drives from Northern Kentucky. We usually take the scenic route and travel through Washington Court House and Circleville, OH.

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During our trip late in the evening, it was refreshing to hear my phone ring and hear from the owner of Cabins by the Caves. She gave us a call to make sure we were OK and to let us know that she had left the porch light on for us. How often does tour hotel call to check on you to make sure you're O.K.? That's the kind of hospitality that I look forward to when traveling.

 

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If you're like our family, traveling with small children can feel like you've packed a weeks worth  of work into one day of preparation. No matter how much you've planned, you almost feel like there is never enough time. When you truly want to get away, Cabins by the Caves' Lincoln Cabin gives weekend of  true peace and quiet. Check in was at 3:00, but we didn't make it in until late Friday evening. All of our photos are from Sunday around 11:00 during check out time. Some of the beds aren't made up, as we stripped them for cleaning.  

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This was the kitchen. Big enough for our family of five to sit at the table and enjoy a family dinner. My favorite part, the dishwasher! Who wants to wash dishes on vacation with your children. It is the little things in life, isn't it? Most importantly, above everything else in the kitchen, is that it was clean. The oven, sinks, refrigerator, and toaster oven were all very clean. That is important to us when we're traveling. 

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The rooms were very spacious and fit all of us very well. This cabin is 3 bedrooms and two baths, sleeps 8 with 3 queen sized beds and two twins. My boys wanted to "camp out" in the same room so they chose this one with the queen and two twins. 

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Same room, different view. 

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Another spacious 2nd floor bedroom. Single queen bed. 

(We didn't use this room)

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1st floor bedroom, queen bed. Sorry for the dark photo. All of our luggage and everything was in this room.  The beds were firm and comfortable. I truly enjoyed that there were plenty of  blankets. I get so cold while everyone is hot. 

 

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Upstairs bathroom. Clean, clean, clean! I love it when you stay somewhere and the shower is inviting, and the toilets and sink are clean. 

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1st Floor Bathroom. It was also clean, clean, clean! 

 

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Although there was a lovely fire pit outside, with the baby and the chilly evening we decided after a long day of hiking that we would build a fire inside. The boys didn't miss out on roasting hot dogs or marshmallows for s'mores. Wood is provided dry and in bundles for you for $6.00 if you forget to bring your own. 

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Finished Basement with a Foosball table was a big hit. The kids absolutely loved having their own space. We brought a couple of parent approved movies for them and they spent most of their time, when we weren't outdoors, in the basement playing with the foosball table. We even had a few kid/parent challenges. The noise from the basement was rather quiet. My husband and I were quite surprised on how quiet it seemed when the kids were playing.

 

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When baby decided to take a nap and the boys were happily playing, hubby and I caught a few minutes in the hot tub. There is nothing like warm bubbles and a cool spring breeze to sooth your spirit. I only wish we had more time!

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Last but not least; the cozy living room in the Lincoln cabin. Perfect for cuddling by the fire.

 

 

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Our minivan made it up the secluded driveway just fine, but if it were to rain or snow we may have struggled a bit. We suggest 4 wheel drive or all wheel drive if it is a winter season.

 

It seems that Cabins by the Caves has thought of everything in the Lincoln cabin. We didn't find ourselves needing much of anything. We thought the utensils could use updating, but there were plenty of appliances, blender, coffee maker, toaster oven, and pots and pans. We prefer cast iron in our house, so I usually travel with our own skillet.  Overall we loved our stay at the Lincoln cabin and hope to make it up there again.

 

 

 

Truth in Review: The owner of this cabin, provided us with our stay in exchange for our review.  We were not paid for any contents of our review or required any certain text within the review. We speak truly from our hearts and hope that you and your family will gain trust from Vintage Indie Family Travels Column so that you may enjoy your vacations, and find the right place for you and your family to stay.  All reviews posted by me are truthful in content and not bought. Gabreial Wyatt, Editor in chief. 

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Kid Tested: Homemade Tomato Soup

Never go back to the high fructose corn syrup tomato flavored soup again. I have a super easy and delicious homemade tomato soup recipe for you. Kid tested, and enjoyed! 

 

Homemade Tomato Soup (with a little kick)

   Kid Tested HomemadeTomato Soup

What You Will Need: 

2T Olive Oil 

1 Large White Onion Diced

2 Large Carrots Diced

4 large cloves of garlic minced

1 Can of Tomato Paste 6oz

2 14.5oz cans of Diced tomatoes

1 Can of Diced Tomatoes with Jalapenos (don't worry it is just a little kick)

1T of Honey (omit if vegan)

2T Basil (fresh would be yummy, but I only had the dried)

1T of Oregano

4 Cups of Chicken Stock (use veggie stock if you want to keep it vegetarian)

1/3 Cup of Heavy Whipping Cream (use cashew cream for a vegan option)

Salt & Pepper to taste

 

 

Step One: 

Add the olive oil to a medium to large cooking pot or dutch oven. Add diced onions and carrots and begin to sweat and cook the veggies until they are translucent or softened over medium heat. 

Step Two: 

After your veggies have become soft, add the garlic and continue to soften a few minutes longer. Be careful not to burn the garlic. 

Step Three: 

Add your tomato paste (the whole can, no need to waste any), oregano and basil to the onion and carrot mixture. Cook the mixture until the tomato paste is warmed through and the veggies are coated with the paste. 

Step Four: 

Add remaining ingredients (except for the heavy whipping cream and chicken stock) to the pot and bring to a simmer for about 15 minutes until the flavors have melded together. 

Step Five:

Blend your soup mixture in batches in your blender (be careful not to trap the steam in your blender or you will have a big mess on your hands) If you have an immersion blender, you could use that as well. 

Step Six: 

Return the mixture to the pan if you used a blender. Add the chicken stock until your desired consistency is achieved. I ended up adding about 5 cups total. Next, add the heavy whipping cream. Allow everything to come to a gentle simmer.

Step Seven:

Add pepper to taste and enjoy!   

 

Reheat Tip: The next day your soup may have become a little thick. Add chicken stock to thin it out a bit and you'll have even more soup. I added about 1.5 cups the next day, warmed through and it was just as delicious. 

Freezing Tip: Make a double batch and freeze the soup in quart freezer safe jars! Thaw in the fridge for an easy warm up meal for lunch or dinner any time! 


Amazing waffles, but so much more at The Taste of Belgium

Taste of Belgium Date Night

It isn't date day until you take a table-side selfie right? That right there is my better half #theabeardedhunk (look him up on Instagram). We like to do date "days" instead of night quite often if we can get them. We find that we can hit up lunch menus to save on our bill, and enjoy some time away together without being exhausted, if you know what I mean. #thirtiesproblems

We recently hit up a new to us spot, The Taste of Belgium at Rookwood. 3825 Edwards Road. Cincinnati, OH 45209. It's across the street from Rookwood Commons. Taste of Belgium is known for their waffles, and rightly so; they're delicious. Crunchy on the outside, and soft and fluffy on the inside. What started as a 120lb cast iron waffle maker, touted all the way from Jean-François Flechet's hometown in Belgium, is now a successful group of Belgian-inspired eateries.  

We've tasted the fluffy goodness a few times during our visits to Findlay Market. This time however, we branched out and tried a few new things at this swanky location. 

Taste of Belgium Rookwood

My craft beer enthused husband was impressed with the taps at Taste of Belgium, and I was impressed with all of the specialty drinks they offer. From cocktails, to specialty espresso sips and wines, they have just about anything you could want to drink. You can tell from the details in the setup of the restaurant and the food flying out of the kitchen, that quality is important here. From our seat, we watched as the chefs, and line cooks were adding final details to plates. Each one seemed to have been checked over with care. 

Taste of Belgium Crepes

This was my vegetarian crepe, with roasted red peppers, spinach, goat cheese, balsamic glaze. It was gooey in the the middle, and the veggies were perfectly crunchy. If you're gluten free, they offer those as well. 

Taste of Belgium Goetta Hash

This was hubby's choice, Goetta Hash. He enjoyed it very much and said he would get it again. It smelled absolutely delicious, and this veggie loving momma, may or may not have tasted a small bite of goetta. 

Taste of Belgium Rookwood

Sitting directly in front of us, was their market, filled with fresh waffles, pastries and delicious macarons. If you have any room left after that hash, you might have a hard time decided what to indulge in. Everything looked so good. 

As far as date days go, this is a hot spot, and a great place to unwind and reconnect. Our server was on the ball, and didn't miss a beat. The place was buzzing with people in and out, and though it was busy, we felt cozy and comfortable. The decor and brightness of this location are top notch, you just feel good while you're there. If dining alfresco is your thing, they also boast a nice outdoor seating area with umbrellas. Let us know if you've ever been to Taste of Belgium, and if you dared to branch out from those tasty waffles, we need help decided what to order next time we go.

 

 

 
 

Start a new tradition! The Great Pumpkin Fest at Kings Island!

 

If you're looking to start a new family tradition, why not check out The Great Pumpkin Fest at Kings Island. Aside from all of the fantastic rides and games at Kings Island, you can visit the Great Pumpkin Fest over at Soak City.  You will get more bang for your buck when Soak City closes for the winter season, just by attending this event.  

Great Pumpkin Fest Kings Island

The Great Pumpkin Fest presented by Hershey™ and Kroger® is just a hop and a skip from Plant Snoopy, past Snoopy's Barnyard Friends Petting Farm. You can also get there by taking the train. 

Snoopys Barnyard Friends Petting Zoo

Great Pumpkin Fest Kings Island
Follow the signs to the Great Pumpkin Fest

The Great Pumpkin Fest activities start at noon and last until 6pm. Be sure to pick up a map when you arrive, as there are so many activities to do once you get there. Follow the Candy Corn on the map and you can search for treats at candy stops located throughout. Visit the pumpkins on the map for other Great Pumpkin Fest activities. 

The Great Talking Pumpkin
Sit down and have a talk with The Great Talking Pumpkin



Beginning at 2:00pm every Saturday & Sunday join Lucy's Holiday Fashion Show an Costume Contest. Another great event to get one more use out of that costume! 

Great Pumpkin Fest Kings Island

The Great Party Zone is loaded with singing and dancing fun. Join Snoopy, Charlie Brown and other members of the PEANUTS™ gang. 

The Great Party Zone Kings Island
Dance and sing at the Live Party Zone

 

Great Pumkin Fest

Follow the sign for so many activities. Peppermint Patty's Tall Tales is a great show and story time. Visit this at 1:00, 2:00, 3:30 and 4:30.

Great Pumpkin Fest Kings Island

Check out the Linus' Labyrinth and see if you can make your way through the maze. 

Kings Island Great Pumpkin Fest

Franklin's Game Zone Kings Island

If you like games, Franklin's Game Zone is just another fun activity for you and your family. Kids will love testing their skills at all of the carnival themed games. 

Great Pumpkin Fest Kings Island

The Great Pumpkin Fest is sure to be a fit for your whole family. It's a great way to slow down just a bit at the park for some great family photo opportunities, and a non-scary way for families to trick or treat.

Keep in mind that Halloween Haunt is Not Recommended for children. The rides and attractions in Planet Snoopy begin to close at 5pm on Saturdays transforming the park. We visited on a Sunday and there were a few decorations throughout the park, but they're open until 7pm and none of the highly graphic stuff comes out on Sunday. 

Have a great time, and if you go, please use #vintageindie on Instagram, I want to see how much fun you had! 

 

Disclaimer: Thank you to Kings Island for providing the tickets for our recent visit. As with all of our reviews here at Vintage Indie, the opinions expressed are our own, and can not be purchased. We find it very important to bring you truthful as well as informative travel reviews. 


Organic & Whole Living: Tuscan Vegetable Beef Soup (slow cooker version too)

It is soup season, can I get a whoop whoop!  One of my favorites! It's so easy to just prep everything, toss it in the slow cooker and be on your way for the day. I love the fresh flavors of summer, but with recipes like my Tuscan Vegetable Beef Soup, it's easy to get healthier food on the table for my family more frequently. This soup is versatile, and can be made vegetarian or vegan if you'd like. Just omit the beef, or beef broth. 

Tuscan Vegetable Beef Soup

For this recipe you will need:

1lb of Stew Meat (cut even smaller into small bite sized pieces)

1 Large Onion diced

1/2 Head of Cabbage (use the other half to make cole slaw) slicked into thicker pieces

3 Large Zucchini halved and sliced into 1/2 inch chunks 

4-5 medium-large carrots

2 Cups frozen (not canned) green beans 

1 Can Diced Tomatoes

1 Small Can Tomato Paste 

3 Bay Leaves 

2T Basil

2T Oregano 

1T Thyme

1T Dried Garlic or fresh 

4 Cups of Beef Broth or Vegetable 

4 Cups Chicken Stock or use all vegetable or all beef. (it is what I had on hand at the time)

Salt & Pepper to Taste 

1T Butter

1T Coconut Oil 

Directions:

1. Begin by browning your beef in the melted butter/coconut oil on medium/medium high. I like to use both, I find that the coconut oil, doesn't taste like coconut when I add a little butter. 

2. Add your diced onion and continue to brown the beef until it is no longer pink. 

3. Add your cabbage and carrots and cook this mixture down until the cabbage has softened a bit, the carrots will continue to cook throughout the process. 

4. Add the whole can of tomato paste, you want to cook it a bit and stir everything around coating it all with the paste. This helps to make the tomato paste taste even richer. 

5. Add your  zucchini and cook slightly, the zucchini will continue to cook throughout the process.

6. Add all of your spices, continuing to cook on medium for 30 seconds. 

7. Add your can of diced tomatoes and green beans and stir. 

8. Add your stock or broth of choice. 

9. Simmer the soup for an hour and let the broth reduce, check to-taste for salt and pepper. 

10. Simmer the soup until you are ready to eat, and add a little more stock if you find it is getting to dry. 

Serve hot with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. 

Slow Cooker Tip- You can make this in your Slow Cooker, but you should brown the beef and onions ahead of time for deeper flavor. If not, throw everything in the slow cooker together and cook on high for 6-8 hours. Be sure that there is always enough liquid in the pot to make soup. 

 

What about you, what is your favorite soup? 

 

 


Is your child a leader? Why teaching reading is so important.

If your household is anything like ours, when little ones figure out that they can't read, it seems like the race is on. They want to know how to read to themselves, and explore books themselves. However, this looks different for every child. I had one who learned how to read so easily at the age of three, and another who hasn't made the connections as easily. As a matter of fact, the one who did learn how to read so quickly learned the most from the Hooked on Phonics audio cds. If you have auditory learners, these cds are priceless, and can teach letter sounds in a few short days to weeks. 

 
COMPLETE 4 - Level Learn to Read Kit for $109 (Usually $299)

There are not many products out there that are worth spending a ton of money on. But if there is ONE piece of advice I have to parents: invest in your child's ability to read and write. It'll be worth every penny, and more. That's why I'm excited to share this deal with you. Why? Communication is key to success, and learning to confidently read and write is its foundation. The Hooked on Phonics Program is a tried and true program that's helped multiple generations of learners in my family master reading and phonics. It's so easy to use and follow along that children can even teach themselves to read with Hooked on Phonics. You may know the well known quote from Harry S. Truman,

HookedonPhonics

The world of literature also helps children build upon their imagination, become more empathetic, and improve emotional intelligence. So, if anyone were to ask me what the best reading/phonics program is, not only as a mom but as a learner, I would (and have many times) recommended the Hooked On Phonics Learn To Read program. This set is the absolute best deal I've found for beginners. It includes five levels from PreK-2nd grade. Other great programs by Hooked on Phonics are available for older children here on Educents, where I found this deal. Right now you can get free shipping with code CANDYCORN.  

 

Disclosure - Educents is an affiliate, with affiliate links. We may earn a small commission of the sales at Educents if you use our links. 


In the Kitchen with Katie: Pumpkin Granola Recipe

 Are you looking for a delicious fall treat for breakfast or an after school snack? Why don't you give Katie's pumpkin granola recipe a try. It's low on sugar too! 

Pumpkin Granola

 

Pumpkin Granola
 
2 Cups Steel Cut Oats (Do not use quick cooking oats)
¼ tsp Salt
1 ½ tsp Cinnamon
2 Tbsp Milled Flax Seed
¼ Cup Stevia in the Raw
½ Cup Raw Almonds
1 Tbsp Vanilla
¾-1 Cup Canned Pumpkin
¼ Cup Brown Sugar
¼ Cup Honey
3 Tbsp Virgin Coconut Oil
 
 
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put Oats, Salt, Cinnamon, Flax Seed, Stevia, and Almonds in a mixing bowl.
2) In a saucepan, combine Vanilla, Pumpkin, Brown Sugar, Honey, and Coconut Oil and heat until the honey and coconut oil is viscous and combined.
3) Pour the liquid mix over the dry ingredients and mix until its all combined.
4) Spread mixture onto a sheet tray and place in preheated oven for 20 minutes.
5) Remove from oven and turn the granola over with a spatula, making sure it will be baked evenly. Lower oven temp to 325, and repeat this process for another half hour, turning the granola over after 15 minutes.
6) Once done, the granola will be a dark amber color. It will not be crispy until completely cooled so allow to cool then eat away!
 
KatieKelleyMy favorite memories growing up always revolve around the kitchen, or cooking. Stringing green beans on the swing with my Grandma Sebert, making pie dough with Grandma Jo in the kitchen at the farm, or baking and decorating an array of cookies with my Mother.  So it came as no surprise to me when I quit nursing school midway to do what I loved most . . . Cook, and Bake!
 
Since I began Culinary School, I have undertaken an array of different venues from an Italian kitchen, a quaint local bakery, and most recently a cruise ship kitchen. My journey is only just beginning as I set out to learn, share and bake my way through life. - Katie Kelley