California Christmas Goodies from Ohio: The List (Part 2)....and a Giveaway!

A look inside Celebrate Local's Easton Mall shop in Columbus; they have
recently opened up a second location in the Cincinnati area at Liberty Center
The first half of my California Christmas Goodies from Ohio blogposts (link to the original post here) mainly featured food products from fairly diverse corners of the Buckeye State.  This second half of the series varies the product selection just a bit, reveals this year's gift to the family, and yes, we'll go into detail about our first official giveaway!

California Christmas Goodies from Ohio: The List (Part 1)

Celebrate Local, located in the Easton Town Center, is one
of my favorite places for all things local
By now, you've seen a tons of articles and blog posts covering the gamut of great gift ideas for the now past Christmas holiday.  I admit I've read my share of them myself since I've moved to the Buckeye State, often just simply to familiarize myself with what's out there.

Another big reason lies in what turned out to be an ideal family setup with my spouse: as all her family gathers at Thanksgiving at her parents' place in Ohio, we always spend that holiday here. Meanwhile, Christmas Eve has traditionally been the realm where all my siblings and numerous relatives gather at my parents' place in California, so December has meant travel time over to the West Coast for us two.

That yearly trip, coupled with the fact that no one else in my immediate family lives outside of California, I've started a tradition of bringing back a little bit of Ohio back for my relatives in some form as a little gift from the Midwest.  This has, in turn, created its own unique challenges for me in that I had to find gifts that met these unique criteria:
  1. Ohio-based products that weren't easily obtained in California
  2. Ohio-based products that weren't necessarily "Ohio-centric" (things like "Columbus 'Til I Die" t-shirts really wouldn't have any real meaning for my family members)
  3. Ohio-based products that would be mostly if not universally appreciated by all (that leaves out things like craft spirits and beer, for example)
With that in mind, I thought a summary of what I as a Buckeye State Santa Claus have toted to California would be both informative and a nice little plug for these Ohio-based makers:

Vinyl COHvers: A Very Worthi(ngton) Christmas

A view of Worthington's High Street during Old Worthington Market Day 2015,
the town's largest one-day festival featuring arts and crafts & food vendors
On last year's inaugural Holiday Edition of Vinyl COHvers, we found our selves in the Northeast corner of the Columbus metro in the suburb of Westerville.  In that post, we featured three songs from the Westerville High School Choruses and Orchestra, from a recording that had reached its golden anniversary (the album contained music from a Christmas music festival from December 19, 1966.)

This year's Holiday Edition of Vinyl COHvers moves only a few miles west along the I-270 beltway to another "W" suburb in Worthington.

Kahiki Kookaburra: Fukuryu Ramen

For those unfamiliar (or even semi-familiar) with the Columbus ramen restaurant Fukuryu Ramen, the restaurant's name translates to "lucky dragon".

If you look closer at how this restaurant's origins, you might think the name translated to "lucky kookaburra". Most people dropping by for a bowl of ramen these days probably don't realize that Fukuryu originated in the "Land Down Under" in Melbourne, Australia (one of the lands that are home to the previously mentioned kookaburra bird.)  Maybe even fewer realize that it wouldn't even have been a dining option here if it weren't for an individual with strong ties to a fondly-remembered Columbus dining institution.

'Ques and Brews: Viva Antiques! (Tallmadge, OH)/Madcap Brewing (Kent, OH)

With our journey into the Kent area for the first time, we figured we had to throw in a little bit of our favorite pastimes in antique- and craft beer-seeking into our journey. With plenty of fuel for the journey provided by the fun and kitschy joint that is Mike's Place (the subject of my last blogpost), we first dropped by into nearby Tallmadge for a visit to Viva Vintage!

Recently relocated from Cuyahoga Falls, the listed address for Viva Vintage is slightly deceiving (while it may be post office correct, it's almost better if you plug in neighboring Wire Wizards into your GPS system if you drop by for a visit.) 

The vintage silver Christmas tree outside was a good sign for this place's potential, and really it didn't disappoint for the size.  In a way, the size and decor reminded me of some of the vintage shops lining High Street to either side of North Broadway: just a little of everything organized in a relatively neat manner.

X-Wings and Random Things: Mike's Place (Kent, OH)

First off, the weather in Ohio has rated as supremely comfortable right now for the last couple weeks. While mid-fifties temperatures may not threaten any high-temperature records for Columbus (the highest high temp for the month is a ridiculous 76 degrees back on December 3, 1982), they are more than enough reason for my spouse and I to venture out on a whim to undiscovered parts of the state.

It really didn't take all that long to figure out where to go either. With all things Star Wars creeping into our minds with the impending release of the sequel, a suggestion by my spouse to head up towards the Akron/Canton area rang a bell in my head about some kitschy diner up with a mock X-Wing guarding its front. After quickly searching for a picture of it on my mobile phone to show her, the decision had been made: lunch date at Mike's Place in Kent, Ohio.