Cincinnati's digital lifestyle magazine, iSPYCincy, recently had the honor of being acquired by Sinclair Broadcast Group (Channel 12) undergoing an expansion to provide daily coverage of contemporary living and high society in the Queen City. Leah Zipperstein, editor of iSPYCincy, kindly reached out to me to contribute articles for the site. If you like what you're reading on CincyWhimsy, click on over to check out my columns on iSPYCincy.

With the re-launch of the new iSPYCincy website came a magnificent celebration to kick off a new era for Leah and her brand. Invitations were sent out instructing guests to dress their best and show off their latest posh seasonal attire. In the name of fashion, I rummaged through my closet to find something that would pass as hip and trendsetting and still be Paigetastic. My outfit evolved as the following:

A giant Cincinnati Streetcar themed bow, ala Melanie Martinez

My favorite pair of Beetlejuice tights, which doubled as chic
Robin Thicke "Blurred Lines" tights

With my wardrobe paying homage to two of this year's music icons (and one 1980s movie star), I was ready to paint the town pink... and pink it was! Arriving at 314 Broadway, the Old District 2 Police Station was illuminated from the inside out with the warm glow of fuchsia lighting, iSPYCincy's signature color.

Built in 1913, District 2 was first known as the Hammond Street Station and represents a beautiful Classic Revival era of architecture. Patrolmen referred to the area as the "Cincinnati bottoms" neighborhood along the Ohio River. Once home to a correctional facility, it merged with District 1 in the 1970s. What remains is a stunning historic venue perfect for hosting a few hundred guests.

Lining the three gigantic rooms were small plates from local eateries such as Holtman's Donuts, Bakersfield OTR, Kaze, and Embers. Bakersfield brought their signature Al Pastor taco and tortilla chips alongside the best guacamole in Cincinnati. Other savories included gourmet weenie tots, Kaze's pork bun sliders, miniature reubens, and seven kinds of sushi rolls (which I think were from Embers?) While I enjoyed the variety of rolls, nothing compares to the freshness and tastiness of the sushi I order at  FUSIAN. Its been my favorite since they opened in 2010 and I still hold it in the highest of praises.

Meanwhile, over at the dessert bar, guests had an assortment of mousses, cheesecakes, and tiramisus  to choose from, as well as donuts from Holtman's. If you've delighted in the sweets that are Holtman's, you'll understand why the tray was half empty by the time I reached it to take a picture. All dough aside, the portable dessert cups made it easy to cure a chocolate craving without carrying around a plate of cake. It was simple and elegant; perfect for a large social gathering.

In addition to all this, there was an open bar with endless champagne, Meier wines, Moerlein beers, and Bulleit bourbon. The servers provided speedy delivery to keep lines short, and other staff would collect empty plates from guests' hands instead of leaving folks searching for a trash bin. They even had servers bringing around trays of food! All I needed to do was stand around and have a good time. iSPYCincy sure knows how to throw a classy event!


Between sipping and socializing, DJ Matt Joy was spinning a custom iSPYCincy playlist featuring hits from the Top 40, including (you guessed it) Blurred Lines. Yep, the song I modeled my Beetlejuice Robin Thicke tights played as a group began line dancing. Did you know it has the same beat as the Electric Slide? I knew those sweet dance moves would come in handy again!

Dancing with my friends Maureen and 5chw4r7z

It was an evening to be seen and be scene as notable faces filled the room, rubbing elbows with distinguished Cincinnatians. Even superstars Stephen Colbert and Macklemore were in attendance. With a kick-off like this, I'd say iSPYCincy is off to a fabulous new start.

Stephen Colbert and Macklemore on the iSPYCincy dance floor


My absolute favorite drink in the city right now is the hot chocolate at Tucker's Restaurant. Known for their made-from-scratch breakfast and lunch menu, Tucker's also makes a fabulous beverage. Served in a 20-ounce takeaway cup, their milk chocolate cocoa comes topped with whipped cream, chocolate fudge, and rainbow sprinkles. The drink is served just at the right temperature, with toppings so bountiful, they last until the cup is almost empty.


Brand new to the coffeehouse scene is Newberry Bros., located in none other than - you guessed it - Newport. I knew I was in for a treat with all these puns. Arriving at my table was a huge cup bowl of hot chocolate overflowing with whipped cream. As foam balanced on the rim, it was clear that this was real whipped cream, a rare commodity in a world of Cool Whip. Thick and rich, the piles of sweet whipped cream complimented the milk chocolate beverage beneath. If you're in a rush, you can certainly get a takeaway cup of cocoa instead, but with Newberry Bros. quiet view of the Mansion Hill District of Northern Kentucky, why not sip and stay a while?


The holidays may have exhausted your stamina for shopping, but don't get too comfy. A little-known secret of the retail industry is that January is the best time for consumers to find the greatest bargains. Most national retailers have a fiscal year that ends annually on January 31. That means it's time to clean house to make way for a whole new accounting period in addition to a whole new selection of wares for spring. The end of the fiscal year allows stores to deeply discount products to avoid taking a loss on any unsold merchandise.In short, that translates into "any money is better than no money." Consumers can find prices anywhere from 60-80% off during January, with substantial markdowns occurring during Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend.

While the majority of inventory is being ushered out the door, it's important to remember that not everything in a store may be on sale. Electronics, especially those released within a month or two of Christmas, will not be marked down. Wait until after new gadgets announced at the annual Consumer Electronics Show hit shelves in March for deep discounts on last year's models.

Other things to wait on:
  • Exercise equipment and fitness clothes (on sale in the spring)
  • Luggage (on sale in September)
  • Grills and patio furniture (on sale in autumn)
  • Humidifiers (on sale in February)
  • Consumer electronics, such as MP3 players, DVD players, or laptops (on sale in spring)

So, what things can you find the best deals on in January?

Winter clothing (sweaters, leggings, fleece, scarves, gloves, coats, boots): pretty much any type of cold-weather fashion must go!

Designer handbags: making way for their spring color collection, end-of-year colors are now at 50-80% off

TVs: Traditionally, televisions go on sale two weeks before the Superbowl in February, but consumers can expect to find the best deals of the year as early as Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend.

Holiday decorations (Christmas trees, twinkle lights, ornaments, greeting cards, wrapping paper): stock up for next year with items 70-90% off. A friend recently purchased a giant pre-lit tree for $17 and got next year's box of 50 Christmas cards for $0.49

White Sale (towels, bed linens, pillows, blankets): A department store tradition that dates back to 1878,  linens are at their lowest price of the year in January. These sales originated to entice customers to go shopping during the slowest retail month of the year. Discounts average 60-70% off.

Winter sports equipment

Home furnishings: sofas, bed frames, bookshelves, storage

Mattresses: averaging 70% off

Tax preparation software: buy it now for discounts of up to 40% off; this deal won't be around in February

Take advantage of 25% off gift cards at (or sell your own unwanted gift cards from the holidays for cash.)

Another tip is to start searching for Valentine's Day gifts for your sweetheart amongst the Christmas sale leftovers. Jewelry, fragrances, and chocolate prices skyrocket during February due to the demand for the holiday, but right now, you can still find occasion-appropriate gifts at a fraction of the price. There's nothing more romantic than scoring the perfect present at a quarter of the cost... just as long as it's not a Santa Claus charm bracelet.

What are the best deals you've found this month? Leave a comment below!



Hyde Park or Central Parkway, Coffee Emporium locations are known for some of the best pick-me-up drinks in town. No different is their hot chocolate, available year-round and always amazing: a creamy blend of milk chocolate with the perfect amount of marshmallows piled on top. You can even get whipped cream swirled on the marshmallows if you so desire. With an assortment of flavorings for their coffee drinks, you can get creative with your cocoa by adding a squirt of raspberry, peppermint, hazelnut, or any of their other syrups on hand. With both small and large sized cups, the possibilities are endless.


A friend once told me, "It's not worth the effort to pick up any coin on the ground smaller than a quarter."

I've made a hobby of collecting wayward change since I was a child. No amount is too small. It all goes into a fishbowl and at the beginning of each year, I count and roll the coins. Quarters are separated into the "laundry fund" and everything else gets deposited into a savings account. I tend to pick up more pennies than anything else, but they add up.

My fishbowl was only one-third filled when it was time to cash in. I prefer to roll my own coins instead of taking them to an automated sorting machine, like CoinStar. Rolling only takes about 20 minutes and a bank can supply you with rolling papers for free. A CoinStar machine takes 11% of your total as a fee. Don't waste your found money; if your collection of coins grew too large to roll all of them at once, visit the bank periodically to cash in a portion at a time.

So, was my friend right to scoff at picking up anything less than 25 cents? In the past year, I found $16.50 in coins that were not quarters. I'd consider that an amount worth reaching down for.


Inspired by the recent snowstorm, CincyWhimsy is kicking off Frothy Fridays: a series of posts about the best hot chocolate in Cincinnati. Who can resist a warming up with a steamy cup of decadent cocoa?

While 1215 Vine Street may be better known for their wine bar, the other half of this operation dabbles in hot drinks and caffeinated beverages. On a chilly winter night in Over-The-Rhine, look no further for that comforting cup of cocoa. A creamy milk chocolate blend comes topped with a design created by the barista using milk. Commonly called Latte Art, these fun designs can jazz up a hot chocolate just as well.  It's all about the symmetry of the pour. You know you've had an excellent drink when the leaf design stays put all the way to the last sip.


Welcoming in the New Year comes with the challenging decision of selecting the perfect venue to celebrate. This made for an easy choice upon receiving an invitation to a party at the new Taste of Belgium on Short Vine.

It was our first time at the venue, and we were thoroughly impressed by the space. The Uptown location is twice as big as Taste of Belgium's OTR Bistro and has an abundance of seating for large groups. The restaurant's design, which was created by Cincinnati-based LPK, has an edgy, youthful vibe but with all the polished touches of the Taste of Belgium brand.

Complete with a live VJ spinning tunes from the 80s and 90s, our evening included a sampling of Belgian street food as well as an open bar of wine, cocktails, and any of the 24 craft beers on tap. A champagne toast at midnight capped off the evening, as we rang in the new year with friends.

Photo by FD Harper
Photo by Barbara Hauser

HAPPY 2014!


The Happiness Jar:
How I measured a year of my life in love

Throughout 2013, I wrote down the positive memories from each day and dropped the slip of paper into this jar. On New Years, I dump out the jar and re-read all of the great things that I experienced during the past year. I counted 392 slips of paper last night. Thanks to all my friends for creating some wonderful moments with me. Here are some of my favorite highlights:

Visited 2 New States and 6 New Cities

Celebrating our one year anniversary in Chicago

8 months campaigning with Mike Moroski for Cincinnati City Council

Being selected by the Cincinnati Regional Tourism Network as a contributor for Livin' In The Cin

Climbing all five remnants of Cincinnati's Inclines

A summer tour of local ice creameries that evolved into creating and Creamy Whip Tuesdays

Urban Campout at 9th and Broadway in Downtown Cincinnati

Premiered The Siege of Cincinnati documentary during Civil War Weekend at Cincinnati Museum Center

Held a showing of Cincinnati's Abandoned Subway at Cincinnati Museum Center that also played on OMNIMAX. Over 400 people attended.

Two nights of LumenoCity; one viewed from afar in Washington Park, one viewed up close while sitting on the streetcar tracks in the middle of Elm Street.

Tour of Friday Fish Frys during Lent

The streetcar movement, from the color reveal, to laying the first rail, to saving the project from cancellation for the third time.


LM&M Railroad Date Night

Urban Cincy Bikes & Brews

My birthday surprise box of donuts from Holtman's and their later opening of a store in OTR

Summertime adventures in Columbus with friends

My first-ever visit to the Krohn Conservatory Butterfly Show

My first article published in Domestica Magazine about rainy day hideouts

First time flying First Class

Seeing the Pacific Ocean for the first time

Touring San Francisco in a chartered 1928 Milan streetcar with the Cincinnati Railbuffs


Being part of a Historic Photograph taken with a 100-year-old Camera

...But best of all was realizing that be it streetcar, showing documentaries, or campaigning, I spent 2013 doing what I wrote on the Before I Die wall:

 Here's to a whimsical & wonderful 2014!