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Tips and tricks on how to decorate your home for Thanksgiving

Mitch Hooper

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There’s not quite a holiday season like the one that occurs from November to January. By and large, nobody’s decorating their house in all green for St. Paddy’s Day, and have you ever seen a pine tree decked out in lights for Fourth of July? Not a chance. When it comes to creating a festive home, the winter holidays reign supreme. It’s one of the few times in the year where your home becomes a hosting hub for your extended family, friends, and the occasional work party.

But where does one even begin when diving into decor? Anyone who has tried to take on a DIY project from Pinterest has learned one thing: it’s harder than it looks. And that’s why (614) reached out to Nicole McCollugh (@littlehouseinthecity614) for some advice and tips on the fall decor trends. She’s the queen of her own space and her Instagram page is full of crafty designs, earth tone color palettes, and a litany of good ideas. While she can’t help you not ruin the turkey this year, she can at least make sure your home looks IG-ready while the bird burns. With Thanksgiving on the horizon, let’s jump in before the in-laws arrive.

HONING IN ON YOUR HOLIDAY HOME

(614): What are some trends you are noticing with decorating your home in fall?

NM: I feel like this year the trend is a more simple and natural look. Real pumpkins and mums and very realistic faux pumpkins, floral arrangements and garlands are things I’m continually seeing more of this year.

(614): Where are some of your favorite spots to get decor for your home?

I tend to just go to the stores that are convenient to me and where we are located in Grove City. I go to Hobby Lobby, Target, and Michaels a lot because they are very close by. I also love to go to local vendor markets. I just went to the Country Living Magazine Fair and the Vintage Market Days event. Local markets are great for finding more unique decor.

(614): What are some affordable ways to spice up your living room?

For a quick and cheap little living room makeover try switching out some accessories with other ones you may have in storage, add bits of greenery, get some new throw pillows and blankets, and try to repurpose furniture or go thrifting for furniture to repurpose for a fun DIY.

(614): Do you have any tips for when house guests visit for Thanksgiving?

I just try to have a tidy house when we have guests over and I always have fresh towels and fresh sheets. To make them feel a little more special putting some fresh flowers in their bedroom or bathroom is a nice little touch.

(614): Do you have any tips or tricks for first time Thanksgiving hosts?

I hate cooking so I say just keep it simple and pick of few of everyone’s favorites and stick with that. Also if people offer to help or bring a dish, let them!!

(614): What are some cliche decorations that people should avoid? And when is cliche okay?

I mean I say if it’s a decoration you like then do it! It doesn’t matter if it’s cliche or not. When it comes to decorating I say do what makes you happy.

(614): What’s a good starting budget for someone looking to decorate this season?

You just need to realize it takes a few years to build up your collection for the seasons. I say start with $100 and get some pieces you like and then keep adding to it each year.

BROUGHT TO YOU BY

SETTING THE TABLE

(614): What are some ways people can change up the typical centerpiece for their Thanksgiving dinner table?

Don’t just focus on the centerpiece—focus on the whole table. From the table runner to the napkins, focus on adding textures and dimensions to the whole thing!

(614): What are some relatively easy DIY designs people could use this season?

You can find a lot of cheap DIY fall projects on Pinterest. You can spray paint faux pumpkins from Dollar Tree or make pretty floral arrangements from Dollar Tree.

(614): Is it better to go with fresh options, or fake plants and such for a centerpiece?

I like to use faux plants because I set the dining room table up early. I do like to throw fresh flowers around the house though to spruce things up, especially sunflowers!

(614): What are some other ways to decorate the table beyond just a centerpiece?

Some smaller things to focus on that make it more professional looking are place cards for the individual table settings, napkins, and tableware.

(614): How are you decorating your table for Thanksgiving?

This is actually my first year really going all out and setting the table up for Thanksgiving. I got a table runner, new dishes, two types of garland, some candles, and a pumpkin I already had to complete the final look!

(614): What are some fun ways to decorate the kid’s table this year?

My husband and I have an only child in the family on both sides and she is only two so she sits at the table with all of us. But one day when there are more kids I think it would be fun to do a paper table cloth that they can color on or write what they are thankful for and put small pumpkins at each place setting with stickers for them to decorate it with. Basically just keep them entertained for as long as possible so the adults can enjoy some conversation!

Nicole McCollugh can be found on Instagram at @littlehouseinthecity614. Follow her for more ideas and DIY projects.

millennial | writer | human

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Hunger Games: Wendy’s tabletop RPG is a fast-food fantasy feat

Mike Thomas

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Distracted by the raucous sounds of the festival beyond the garden walls, you almost don’t notice the shrouded figure emerging from behind the old statue. You and your companions turn to leave, but hesitate when the mysterious man calls out to each of you by name. When pressed, the stranger warns of a malevolent force known as “Hunger,” which is gathering its power somewhere deep in the nearby forest. He knows you and your stalwart party of adventurers will do what must be done...

If you’ve spent any time with Dungeons & Dragons or its various progeny, you can probably guess where this is going. A journey into the enchanted forest, traps, treasures, attribute checks and plenty of scribbled notes on pieces of scratch paper. But even if you’re an old hand at the tabletop stuff, odds are your campaign never included golden chicken nuggets and sentient cheeseburgers.

Dublin-based fast food chain Wendy’s has never shied away from the improbable. When nearly all of burgerdom had settled on circular patties, Wendy’s went square. Competitors hocking frozen meat? Wendy’s tackled logistical challenges to serve “fresh, never frozen” burgers. Even in the new frontier of social media, the brand was an early standout in the trend of corporate-tied accounts adopting sassy, comical voices.

The trick with innovation is that it’s hard to stay ahead of the curve. With a Twitter war raging between two Southern-style chicken sandwiches, or Colonel Sanders launching a finger lickin’ good dating app, a witty online presence can only take you so far. In the increasingly polarizing and absurd meta-conversation surrounding fast food online, how’s a brand to stay above the fray? If you’re Wendy’s, you swing for a critical hit by launching a comically overwrought, burger-themed D&D-style table-top game.

Photos: Brian Kaiser

At first blush, the rulebook for “Feast of Legends: Rise From the Deep Freeze” seems like nothing more than a marketing campaign disguised as an absurd extended joke. Upon cracking into the 91-page tome, (made available by Wendy’s as a free downloadable PDF) would-be adventurers will discover that this game actually packs some beef.

If that last pun caused you to cringe, this is probably not the game for you. The adventure depicted here takes place in “the realm of Beef’s Keep,” located in the kingdom of Freshtovia. Ruled over by the good queen Wendy, Freshtovia is locked in an eternal struggle against the wickedness of the United Clown Nations and its Jester king (a thinly-veiled allusion to Ronald McDonald).

In spite of never letting the user forget the Wendy’s angle, the Feast of Legends rulebook is every bit as thoughtful and detailed as many traditional, non-burger-based RPGs. Before tackling the main adventure, the reader can peruse around 25 pages explaining everything from gameplay mechanics to character creation and the various “orders”— think classes in D&D—that a player can elect to join. OK, so maybe the weapons sheet includes sporks and spatulas for your warrior from the esteemed “Order of the Chicken Sandwich” to wield—the fact remains that this RPG seems like it might have some real potential for fun (in addition to the fun of mocking its very existence, that is).

Eager to put this theory to the test, an enterprising group of (614) staff set out on a quest to explore the realm of Freshtovia. Our goal? To put the playability of this bizarre game to the test, and to perhaps uncover why, if for any reason, Wendy’s made the damn thing in the first place.

From the beginning, some members of the party were less than enthused at the prospect of playing a tabletop RPG, let alone one with references to Frostys and spicy nugs jammed in at every turn. By the time the group was confronted with its first puzzle—a riddle scrawled on a statue of the late Wendy’s founder Dave Thomas—all trepidation had subsided. Marketing ploy or not, the players were consumed by the game world.

Playing through an early level of mazes, the absurdity of the French Fry Forest or stumbling upon a golden baked potato was all but moot. By the time the party encountered the game’s first boss—a dreaded monster called “Hunger,” the supplied character sheets had all been personalized with care, complete with detailed portraiture of each player’s imagined warrior. The buy-in was complete. We were actually invested in an imaginary land populated by Wendy’s foodstuffs.

Without question, the minds at Wendy’s marketing department had crafted a game that could hook players and keep them hungry for more. The only nagging question that remained was, why? The intricate rulebook and campaign, complete with countless maps and professional illustrations, was surely the work of hundreds of hours of effort. Would anyone really go to such lengths for a joke with no punchline? Is Wendy’s really that desperate to target the tabletop gaming crowd?

One possible answer comes via the rulebook’s explanation of “buffs” and “debuffs,” or powerups and hindrances that will affect characters during gameplay. According to the rules, eating Wendy’s products in real life will yield various advantages to your in-game character (+1 strength for any cheeseburger item) while consuming competitor’s food produces an undesirable effect.

Whether produced to sell burgers-as-powerups to a select group of fast food and RPG-obsessed basement dwellers, or simply existing as one of the biggest viral marketing flexes of all time, Feast of Legends provides a surprisingly immersive and enjoyable play experience. Will it bring gamers to Wendy’s in droves? Probably not. But if our office’s experience with the game is any indication, it might be enough to hook unlikely RPG players on the tabletop experience—one enchanted burger at a time.

To embark on your own adventure, download the Feast of Legends rulebook at FeastOfLegends.com.

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Getaways

4 cozy cabins in Ohio that’ll make winter your favorite season

Colleen Quinn

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Yes, winter is cold, but with cold comes cozy! 

Picture this: You’ve got your fuzzy socks on, a cup of hot coco in one hand, and a good book in the other. The sound of a crackling fireplace lingers in the background as you glance out to the snow-coated country side and realize…you are in your own little snow globe paradise!

Sounds lovely doesn’t it?

Oh, and let us not forget the best part…hot tubs! There is something so satisfactory about soaking in steaming hot water as the chill of winter wonderland beauty surrounds you, am I right?

No need for winter blues when you can create your own winter oasis at one of the many cozy cabins located right here in Ohio!  

Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls

A perfect place for a relaxing cabin getaway. The Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls is tucked away on 75 acres of woodland forest, conveniently surrounded on three sides by Hocking Hills State Park. Enjoy a secluded and relaxing weekend soaking in the whirlpool hot tub, snuggling up by the gas log fire, and enjoying the peaceful serenity provided by the wintery nature around you. 

Freshly-baked cookies always await your arrival here and all accommodations include a hearty breakfast, too.

Oakwood Cabins

Also located in the winter wonderland of Hocking Hills are the cozy log cabins of Oakwood. Each charming yet modern cabin is set in a secluded location, giving you the privacy required for a rejuvenating getaway. Feel the cold breeze on your face as you sink into the screened-in outdoor hot tub and relax away each day by watching old DVD’s. If adventure is calling your name, strap on some winter hiking boots to explore the nearby Ash or Old Man’s Cave!

Murphin Ridge Inn

Escape to the Amish country of southern Ohio this winter by visiting the quaint cabins at Murphin Inn. Marvel at the snow-coated views of the Appalachian foothills, spanning across 140 acres of rolling woodland and farm. Spend the day exploring the Amish-owned boutiques, antique shops, and bakeries in the neighborhoods nearby. Upon return, cozy up by the indoor or outdoor fire pits with a good book and great company. Come morning time, enjoy a bountiful country breakfast with freshly squeezed orange juice. 

Mohican Pines Cabin Rentals

Peacefully located on quiet country roads far from traffic or noise you will find the luxury cabins of Mohican Pines near Mohican State Park. The cabins are far from any town, allowing the stars to shine brighter than ever. Admire the snow covered pine forest and valley from the patio or steamy hot tub and enjoy your winter bliss. 

Grab your loved ones and make this winter extra cozy. Beware, you may find yourself so cozy that winter becomes your new favorite season!

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2 tiny Columbus Zoo babies bring big hope for endangered species

614now Staff

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The newest babies at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium may be small, but they bring big hope for one of the most endangered species on the planet.

On November 1 and 3, reptile keepers at the Zoo’s Shores region successfully hatched two rare yellow-headed temple turtles (Heosemys annandalii), the first ever hatched in an indoor zoological environment. The breakthrough is critical in efforts to boost the numbers of temple turtles, which are facing extinction, according to a release from the zoo.

Keepers note that the two hatchlings are "very active" and "very healthy." They are being cared for in behind-the-scenes habitats as they continue to grow stronger. Right now, the hatchlings are about the size of a racquetball and weigh approximately 80 grams–the same weight as a small tomato. They will grow to be up to about 2 feet long and weigh about 35 pounds.

These two turtles were the only ones to survive out of their mother's nest. Of five eggs, one turtle hatched on its own, and the care team helped another break out of its shell when it was experiencing some difficulties. Two other eggs did not contain viable hatchlings, and the fifth egg did not hatch.

“Our team is extremely proud of hatching these turtles, as well as being able to do so inside the Columbus Zoo’s Reptile House," said Becky Ellsworth, Curator of the Zoo’s Shores region. "This is a wonderful achievement as our Animal Care staff has been able to learn more information about this rare and important species, contributing significant knowledge to the zoological community working to help protect these turtles."

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