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Review: How I stepped up my sock game with Keep It Simple Socks

Mike Thomas



I recently realized that my summer sock game needs some work. For the winter, I have about fifty pair of these generic grey wool jams, which do the trick for keeping the tootsies warm while looking presentable in the highly professional environs of the (614) office (ha).

With warm weather approaching, it’s back to the drawer to the winter-weight-woolies. But as far as summer socks go, I’m working with business-unfriendly Nike-swooshed ankle socks, and these:


Frankly, I’m as appalled as you are. These rat-bitten Gold-Toe dad socks have got to go, so I reached out to the experts at Columbus-based company Keep It Simple Socks to help me level up – and they delivered. Literally. It’s a sock delivery service, y’all.

With a combination of style and comfort, Keep It Simple’s socks could be just the thing to kick start a style revolution in this city, one sock drawer at a time. The folks at KISS were kind enough to hook me up with a few pair, and I spent part of the past week trying them out.

Upon unboxing, I was immediately struck by the socks bright colors and vibrant patterns—from wacky 80’s looks to a pair in Scarlet and Grey. Could I pull these off? I wasn’t sure, but I was willing to give it a shot.

After slipping on the first pair, I almost felt sorry placing my cool new socks into a blown out pair of Vans. A shoe makeover should probably be the next area I address, but that’s for another day.

At any rate, initial impressions of the socks were good. They fit comfortably, and the patterns didn’t look stretched out on my size 13 feet. As anyone who wears larger sizes can attest, finding a sock that fits correctly can be a headache. With Keep It Simple Socks, everything was where it belonged, and my feet never felt choked.

These things fit well, and they look cool, too. While wearing them, I caught myself looking down to admire the pattern more than once, which is more than I can say for any other sock I’ve worn. If I noticed, I’m sure other people did too. It’s a nice touch that tells people you pay attention to the little things.

Wearing these socks for the better part of a week was not a life-changing experience. They’re just socks after all. That said, I believe there is truth in the name of this company. The whole experience was simple – the way such a basic item of clothing should be.

If you want to step up your sock game and support local business in the process, check out Keep It Simple Socks for yourself. With bundle deals and a monthly sock subscription option, you’ll never again feel ashamed to flash a little ankle around the office again.

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There’s a construction equipment playground just 40 minutes from Columbus




“Touch-a-truck” events are always a hit with the kids. The way these things usually work is your little one can get up close and personal with a fire engine, maybe even donning a helmet and sitting for a photo opportunity in a parked vehicle.

Been there done that? Have we got the thing for you.

On Saturday, July 20, Lancaster’s Festival Fair Day wants to give kids (and kids at heart) the chance to operate heavy construction equipment—we’re talking earth-movers—and even push some dirt around, move scrap metal with a magnet, or excavate/drive around in one of the machines.


The “Operator for a Day” event will run from 10am-5pm at the Lancaster County Fairgrounds, according to information on the event’s Facebook page. While the event is free and open to all ages, there is one stipulation – no sandals or open-toe shoes allowed!

For more, visit or call (866) 262-4181.

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Food & Drink

Restaurant Review: Alqueria puts twists on American faves

Mike Thomas



Bringing a new restaurant to market is an undertaking notoriously fraught with peril—in most cases.

Scroll down to win dinner for 2 during Restaurant Week July 15-20!

“We took the keys the last week of October, and we told everybody we wanted to be open by the middle of January,” chef Patrick Marker says of Alqueria Farmhouse Kitchen, which he co-owns with his business partner, chef Jacob Hough. “The way these things usually work out, there are tons of setbacks, and I think we were really lucky.”

There may be some luck involved in avoiding red tape and construction delays that accompany the typical opening, but the smooth sailing enjoyed by Marker and Hough is also the result of countless hours of hard work
and preparation.

As the former home of The Angry Baker, the University District space Marker and Hough chose for their restaurant was already fairly well-suited to their needs. When it came to executing the renovations necessary to bring their concept to life, the duo did much of the heavy lifting themselves.

“It was a lot of long days of us and our bar manager Michael [Marsan], the three of us in here together, just kind of squirreled away,” explains chef Hough of the construction process. “We know everything about each other now,” he adds with a laugh. “There are no more secrets!”

After 10 years working together in the tight confines of a kitchen, it is hard to imagine that any secrets would remain between Marker and Hough. The two met at upscale German Village staple Barcelona, where they spent a decade working together as sous chefs. 

Prior to their shared stint at Barcelona, the two chefs each forged their paths in the culinary arts in their own way. Hough’s is the classic story of learning from his mother and grandmother in the kitchen as a child, often using ingredients plucked fresh from his grandfather’s garden. He attended culinary school at the Pennsylvania Culinary Academy in Pittsburgh right out of high school and has never looked back.

In Marker’s suburban upbringing, food was viewed as a necessity more than a communal family experience by his busy, working parents. He discovered his love for cooking through a high school job as a dishwasher in a nursing home, where he was sometimes called upon to lend a hand preparing meals. A culinary degree from Johnson and Wales in Provincetown, Rhode Island followed, and Marker spent his twenties in kitchens in tourist destinations of the American South, before finding his way to Columbus’ Barcelona.

It comes as no surprise that the marriage of two distinct food influences is the defining feature of Marker and Hough’s new menu. At Alqueria, locally-sourced American comfort food classics are often presented with a Spanish twist, an homage to the duo’s shared history at Barcelona.


Pan-roasted Lake Erie walleye is paired with gnocchi in a Spanish-inspired green sofrito broth. The menu’s charcuterie offerings bring Spain’s meats and cheeses to bear, while charred octopus—a holdover favorite from the Barcelona days—encourages patrons to push their boundaries outside of the familiar.  

“It’s been freeing, because the constraint was trying to stay in the realm of Spanish cooking,” chef Marker explains of making the transition from Barcelona to his own restaurant. “There were some flavors that maybe we wanted to explore that we didn’t get the chance to. Here, we’re saying it’s American with some Spanish influence, but we feel like we can pull any ingredient in and make it successful.”

Twists on American classics help the fare at Alqueria stand out from its peers in the elevated comfort food scene. Nashville-style hot chicken, the ubiquitous menu item for any modern comfort food joint worth its salt, is here paired with a cheddar and pork-infused waffle. This lunch entree is served with a drizzle of buttermilk dill dressing and topped with horseradish pickle slices for a unique, deconstructed approach to the modern classic dish.

Marker and Hough take a farm-to-table approach to procuring their ingredients, which in their view means always sourcing local ingredients when they are available, allowing for some wiggle-room for creativity when necessary. (You won’t find too many Ohio-sourced octopi, after all). For the two chefs, the farm-to-table mentality extends to the design sense of the space, which is adorned with ample reclaimed barn wood and assorted antique knick-knacks.

Along with bar manager Marsan, who constructed the restaurant’s drink menu of locally-minded beer, wine, and signature cocktails, chefs Marker and Hough are excited to see what the next chapter of their culinary journey has in store. “If you’re seriously committed to a life in the culinary field, I think the idea is that you want to have your own place,” says Marker, with Hough adding of their experience so far with Alqueria, “It’s been a fun journey; we’re living a childhood dream.” •

Alqueria is located at 247 King Ave. Visit for a menu and hours.

Click here for a chance to win dinner for 2 during Restaurant Week!

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Hobbies 101: How and why to get hooked on knitting

Laura Dachenbach



Welcome to a series of articles to help you find your next hobby. Hobbies give us something to be passionate about, a creative outlet, and an alternative way to be productive. So stick around. Better well-being is just a lazy afternoon away.



“It keeps me from killing people.”

That’s a response I got from an actual knitter when I inquired about his hobby. It’s true that knitting literally helps you unwind. But knitting isn’t just a way to relax. (Or the above case, to serve as a public service.) It’s a way to be productive, because at the end of each session, you’ve got a unique, maybe slightly misshapen, full-of-love project to keep or pass off as a gift. And you’ll join a bevy of celebrities such as Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep, David Arquette, Ryan Gosling, and Amanda Seyfried who turn their cares to a pair of needles and yarn. 


Seriously, knitting promotes mindfulness through repetitive motion and rhythmic patterns. The effects can be similar to meditation. The movements your eyes make as you knit are thought to be a memory booster, and it’s a completely portable hobby that you can take virtually anywhere: the doctor’s office, the break room, a bar. No matter where you and your ball of yarn go, you’re sure to strike up conversation. “Watcha makin’?” Or in my case, “Do you have any anger management issues I should know about?”

If you didn’t get personal knitting lessons from grandma, don’t worry. A host of craft and textile stores are ready to help you get started on your next scarf, hat, shrug, or blanket.

614 Knit Studio | 4400 Indianola Ave.
A project-based approach (mittens, hats) to knitting for all levels. If you get hooked, join the Happy Hour Yarn Club!

Sew to Speak | 752 High St.
You’ll find beginner knitting for kids and adults (including finger knitting!) with suggested materials. 

The Yarn Shop | 1125 Kenny Centre Mall
An assortment of leveled classes and projects. 

Knitting Temptations |  35 S High St.
Knitting Temptations offers beginning and advanced classes in knitting and crochet, as well as groups that knit projects for charitable causes.

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