Embrace this hare-raising experience

Pat Barron wants you to think of rabbits as companion animals, just like cats and dogs.

As a volunteer at the Ohio House Rabbit Rescue in Columbus, Barron spends a lot of time introducing humans to rabbits in the hopes that she’ll pair a hare with a forever home.

“We think they make great family pets,” says Barron about the 35 spayed and neutered rabbits that are currently up for adoption at the rescue. “They’re quiet, litter trained and you don’t have to walk them.”

Each year in Ohio hundreds of unwanted pet rabbits are surrendered to animal shelters or released into the wild. The Ohio House Rabbit Rescue seeks a better alternative for these abandoned rabbits – one that includes unconditional love, a proper diet and regular veterinary care.

More than 100 rabbits are adopted annually through the program at a cost of $40 per bunny.

“We’re the only adoption center just for rabbits in Ohio,” Barron says. “Other places, like the Humane Society, have dogs, cats and some bunnies, but we have by far the most rabbits in the state.”

The rescue opened in 2013 in a 4,000 square-foot-space that’s overseen by a volunteer staff. It includes an intake area, treatment room and lots of play space.

Each bunny has its own 4-by-4-foot pen containing a cardboard shelter, litter pan, toys and food. The staff is happy to tell you about rabbit ownership and match you to the rabbit that best fits your personality and home environment.

“We want you to talk to the rabbits,” says Barron to me and my daughter, Rosie, during a Saturday visit. “Your voice is a signal to them that you’re not going to hurt them.”

Barron hops over a side of an enclosure. Like a magician, she lifts the cardboard box, revealing a black rabbit with bright eyes and twitching whiskers.

“Hi, Ebony! How are you, sweetheart?”

Visitors are taught how to socialize the rabbits so they’re more adoptable. Volunteer opportunities exist, too, including the position of “bunny socializer” – people who simply spend time with the rabbits, talking to them and petting them.

Barron teaches us the proper technique for petting bunnies. We start at their foreheads and stroke backward, focusing our attention on their ears.

“Don’t pet their noses or their behinds,” Barron says. “They don’t like that.

We also learn that they don’t like it when people make cartoony rabbit sounds, wave their hands in front of their faces, try to feed them hay or play with their toys.

“Good bunny,” Rosie says to a gentle, brown rabbit named Cupid.  “You’re such a good boy.”

Ohio House Rabbit Rescue is located at 5485 N. High St., Columbus. Public visiting hours are 5:30-7:30 p.m. Wednesday; and noon-4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, or by appointment by calling (614) 263-8557.

Visitors who wish to interact with the rabbits should be at least 8 years old.

Learn even more about bunny ownership at the Midwest BunFest in October.

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Little Free Library: Give and take through worldwide, book-sharing program

Give and take through worldwide, book-sharing program

Little Free Library: Give and take through worldwide, book-sharing programSometimes family adventures can be found in your own front yard. Or, thanks to the Little Free Library, they can be found in the front yards of your neighbors, here and all over the world.

You may have seen a Little Free Library in your neck of the woods. They come in all shapes and sizes, but most look like a tiny house on a stick, perched in someone’s front yard. Open a front door to the box, and you’re treated to free books.

Founded in 2009 by Todd Bol in Hudson, Wisc., the Little Free Library is a nonprofit organization that promotes literacy and encourages community participation through sharing books. Its motto: “Take a book, return a book.”

Little Free Library: Give and take through worldwide, book-sharing programToday there are more than 65,000 registered Little Free Library book-sharing boxes in all 50 states and more than 80 countries worldwide.

We made an adventure out of little libraries in our neighborhood in the hopes that we could trade out some old, favorite books for new ones that were more age-appropriate for our kids.

We selected seven books and visited seven libraries that we found on the Little Free Library world map.

You can do this, too, no matter where you live. Use the search bar above the map to find book-exchange boxes near you.

The best part about this literary adventure is that it doesn’t require a library card, and you won’t incur late fees!

Learn more: littlefreelibrary.org.

Little Free Library: Give and take through worldwide, book-sharing program

Little Free Library: Give and take through worldwide, book-sharing program

Little Free Library: Give and take through worldwide, book-sharing program

Little Free Library: Give and take through worldwide, book-sharing program

Little Free Library: Give and take through worldwide, book-sharing program

Little Free Library: Give and take through worldwide, book-sharing program

Little Free Library: Give and take through worldwide, book-sharing program

Little Free Library: Give and take through worldwide, book-sharing program

Little Free Library: Give and take through worldwide, book-sharing program

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Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum: Find world's largest collection of comics right here in Columbus

Find world’s largest collection of comics right here in Columbus

Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum: Find world's largest collection of comics right here in ColumbusAs a teen, I delighted in snatching the comics from the Sunday paper before my older brother. I’d read through Garfield, Bloom County, and For Better or For Worse before settling on my favorite, Calvin and Hobbes.

The adventures of 6-year-old Calvin and his stuffed tiger, Hobbes, seemed to jump off the page thanks to the brilliance of Bill Watterson. The Chagrin Falls native didn’t confine his characters to rows of squares but let them roam in his allotted space.

I recently got to relive my joy for this beloved comic strip while touring the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum in Columbus with my 10-year-old daughter.

Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum: Find world's largest collection of comics right here in ColumbusThe 30,000 square-foot facility, located on the Ohio State University campus, houses the world’s largest collection of materials related to cartoons and comics, including editorial cartoons, comic strips, comic books and graphic novels – my daughter’s favorite.

The library and museum came to be in 1977 with the founding gift of artwork and papers of Ohio State alumnus Milton Caniff, who created the comic strips Terry and the Pirates and Steve Canyon. The museum is named after the Ohio cartoonist Billy Ireland.

Its primary mission is to develop a comprehensive research collection documenting American printed cartoon art and provide people access to these resources.

Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum: Find world's largest collection of comics right here in ColumbusAlmost everything in the archives is available upon request in the Reading Room. The museum has two galleries for exhibits, which change twice a year, and a permanent exhibit called the Treasures gallery.

The archives hold the largest collection of Japanese comics outside of Japan, some of the earliest cosplay costumes, and almost all of the original art from Calvin and Hobbes, which ran daily from 1985 to 1995.

I look forward to unraveling what’s inside this gem of a destination. In the words of Bill Watterson, “The best presents don’t come in boxes.”

The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum is located at 1813 N. High St., inside Sullivant Hall on the Ohio State University campus. Learn more at cartoons.osu.edu.

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The Seasoned Farmhouse: Build skills, confidence at recreational cooking school

Boost skills, confidence at recreational cooking school

In this fast-paced world where heads of lettuce are sold pre-shredded in plastic bags, it’s nice to slow down and crack an egg once in a while.

I recently did just that and more with my daughter, Rosie, thanks to a Christmas gift from my husband. It had us measuring and mixing ingredients to make cookies during a cooking class at the Seasoned Farmhouse in the Columbus neighborhood of Clintonville.

The recreational cooking school offers classes that help home cooks boost their skills and confidence with hands-on instruction.

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Tricia Wheeler, who graduated from the French Culinary Institute in New York City, opened the school in 2013. She and other local chefs can teach you how to make everything from pies and cakes to soups and salads to a five-course French meal.

Rosie and I took a daughter-and-mommy baking class over winter break. We made six types of cookies in two hours and got to take the goods home to share.

Wheeler said she found inspiration for the class from a box of child-sized aprons that she bought.

“I chose this age group because my daughter, Kensington, is 10,” Wheeler told our group of a dozen girls and their moms. “I picked age-appropriate recipes in the hopes that your girls will make these cookies on their own at home, too.”

Wheeler and her helpers created six stations for participants to use over two hours. It was amazing what we could accomplish when we put our minds to it.

We made sugar-cookie bars, chocolate chip cookies, no-bake caramel sea-salt cookies, pretzel toffee, Nutter Butter acorns, and polar bear marshmallows that we dipped into hot chocolate with homemade whipped cream.

When done, each girl received a basket that she filled to the brim with the group’s cookie creations. Since then, we’ve duplicated several of the recipes at home.

Most classes are geared toward adults, but kids’ classes occasionally are offered, such as a Valentine’s Day candy-making class. Otherwise adult classes are open to teen-agers with an adult chaperone.

Classes typically accommodate a dozen students and last up to three hours. Currently advertised hands-on classes cost from $65 to $150.

Classes fill up quickly. Learn about classes before they’re posted online by subscribing to Seasoned Farmhouse’s e-newsletter by clicking the “Be the First to Know” tab at the lefthand-side of the website at www.theseasonedfarmhouse.com.

The Seasoned Farmhouse is located at 3674 N. High St. Call 614-230-6281 to learn more.

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Sew to Speak: Find funky fabrics, learn sewing basics

Find funky fabrics, learn sewing basics

I loved to sew clothes for my toys when I was a little girl. Most of their fashions involved discarded socks. I could create three matching garments from one knee-high: a hat from the toe, a vest from the middle section and a tight pair of pants from the top. I swear I invented stretchy pants in the 1970s.

So, surprise, for Christmas my 8-year-old daughter received a sewing machine. The gift sat in a box for weeks as I read the manual, trying to decipher how to wind the bobbin and thread the machine. Meanwhile, Rosie pleaded, “I want to sew now!”

A friend told us about a local fabric store called Sew to Speak, which sells sewing supplies and offers lessons to children. One class, called “Kids Sewing 101,” is available for children ages 8 and up for $35. Participants learn how to operate a sewing machine and construct a pillowcase.

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We opted for a class called “Kids Plus One.” In the 2-hour lesson, Rosie and I learned how to operate our new sewing machine and make our own pillowcases.

The store is a destination in itself, especially if you’re into sewing. The fabric choices alone are enough to turn a wannabe like myself into a fashionista. I fell in love with a print of a little dog nipping at the heels of galloping horses. It appeared straight from the pages of an old children’s book. I used this print and another of horseshoes for my two-sided pillowcase.

Our instructor, Jamie Hevener, guided us with utmost patience and enthusiasm. I enjoyed constructing something I would normally buy without thought from scratch.

We learned how to use a simple pattern, properly cut fabrics with the grain of the material and use our machine to do basic stitching.

We’re quite proud of our handmade pillowcases and our newfound ability to use our machine. Look out, New York Fashion Week, here we come!

Sew to Speak is located at 4610 N. High St., Columbus. For more information, visit sewtospeakshoppe.com or call 614-267-3011.

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The Works: Head to Newark for interesting, inexpensive, interactive science museum

Head to Newark for interesting, inexpensive, interactive science museum

The Works is an interactive science museum in Newark that proved to us worthy of a 40-minute drive east of Columbus for a hearty dose of mental fun.

The museum offered the right amount of entertaining activities that challenged our kids’ knowledge of history, art and technology at a fair price. We spent less than $30 for our family of four to play for several hours.

We started our adventure in the Main Gallery, where we explored an exhibit called “Lines of Sight” that illustrates the connection between art and mathematics through hands-on displays. It was neat to see how a drawing on a flat piece of paper can appear three-dimensional.

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We then motored to the main section of the museum on the first floor where there are lots of interactive stations called “labs.”  Each lab focuses on a particular topic like motion, sound, electricity and light and gives children and adults an opportunity to experiment.

We dug our hands into bins full of wheels and colorful plastic parts to create cars that we then raced down a ramp. It was fun to see that some illogical-looking contraptions outperformed others that seemed to make more sense.

Upstairs, visitors will find a boatload of history and see the remnants of this old building that during the 1800s was used to build steam engines. Exhibits highlight history and economic developments in Newark and Licking counties from the Paleo-Indians to modern times. The kids enjoyed typing on manual typewriters and calling each other on rotary phones. It was funny to observe them trying to figure out the rotary dial.

We also saw blobs of molten glass blown and transformed into colorful works of art in the Glass Studio. Visitors can watch demos or pop into the open studio the third Saturday of the month to fuse glass into sun catchers or jewelry.

Cost is $5 for children, $9 for adults and $7 for seniors. Children ages 2 and under get in free.

The Works is located at 55 S. First St., Newark. For more information, call 740-349-9277 or visit www.attheworks.org.

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Doll Museum at the Old Rectory: Perfect place for a quick mommy-and-daughter adventure

Perfect place for a quick mommy-and-daughter adventure

Exploring Worthington’s Doll Museum proved to be more of a treat than expected for my daughter, Rosie, and me one Saturday morning. The museum, located in the Old Rectory, provides a fascinating glimpse of hundreds of dolls and, curiously, is linked to a fantastic consignment shop that had us digging around for spare change.

Run by the Worthington Historical Society, the museum is contained in two rooms that are kept locked until you pay the $2 admission fee. Several other rooms contain the consignment shop, where you’ll find quality antiques and collectibles at reasonable prices. Unlike thrift-store merchandise, these items appear to have one day been someone’s favorite things. They included teacups and saucers with pretty rose designs, well cared for dolls with pressed outfits, and lots of doll clothes lovingly crafted.

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  • Perfect place for a quick mommy-and-daughter adventure
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We started our adventure in the museum. Visitors are given a two-sided, laminated sheet with information describing the collection. They come from many sources, but most were donated by Mrs. George Brinton Chandler in 1968.

Some dolls on display once served as fashion models, shipped overseas from Paris donning the latest fads of the 1800s in doll-sized proportions. Their well-coiffed hairdos are made from human hair.

Other dolls depict famous royals such as Countess Dagmar of Denmark, who was married to Czar Alexander III, and Empress Eugenie of France, wife of Emperor Napoleon  III.

It was fun learning about the interesting materials used to construct some of the dolls, like paper mache for heads, pewter for hands and feet, and wood, rubber, wax and even a wishbone for the bodies.

I enjoyed the Shirley Temple dolls and a collection of ornamental dolls from Japan that represented an emperor, empress and their court.

Rosie’s favorites were two doll houses that were chockfull of furnishings and tiny, detailed decorations that looked fit to welcome a fairy.

We ended our tour by perusing the gift shop, full of enchanting merchandise that we felt propelled to consider. I bought a dainty glass poodle with pretty eyelashes. Rosie selected miniatures for her own doll house and a homemade lacy dress for her American Girl Doll. The shop accepts only cash or checks.

The Doll Museum is located at 50 W. New England Ave., Worthington. Hours are 1-4 p.m., Tuesday through Friday; and 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Saturday. Cost is $2 for a self-guided tour.

For more information call 614-885-1247 or visit www.worthingtonhistory.org.

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Kelton House Museum and Garden: Tour restored Victorian home that was once a stop along Underground Railroad

Tour Victorian-era home that was stop along Underground Railroad

On a frigid January afternoon, my daughter, Rosie, and I followed a costumed man through the Kelton House, a Victorian-era home and museum in downtown Columbus.

The historic home is open for docent-led tours on Sundays from 1-4 p.m. Our tour was the last of the day, as snow began to pile up outside, keeping other would-be tourists away.

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Mark Welch, a thin, gray-haired man in a long, black coat, led us through parlors filled with 19th-century furnishings and antiques that were once owned by the Kelton family. He showed us jewelry made from human hair and a bed where a member of the Kelton family had died. He also told us that some think the old house is haunted. He said that other docents have heard the voice of a little girl from behind a door. He then left us to explore the upstairs rooms on our own, as he swiftly departed down a spiral staircase.

Rosie and I followed Welch afterward and joked that he, too, was a ghost. Our exploration proved adventuresome and educational, as is the intent of the museum, which opened in 1976 and is operated by the Junior League of Columbus.

Built in 1852, the house was once home to Fernando Cortez Kelton and Sophia Langdon Stone Kelton. It stayed with the family for three generations until 1975 when the Kelton’s granddaughter, Grace, passed away.

Fernando was a prosperous wholesaler of dry goods and pharmaceuticals, but risked losing everything to help fugitive slaves as a conductor on the Underground Railroad. The Keltons took in a runaway named Martha Hartway, who remained with the family for a decade.

Our tour concluded with a visit to the Underground Railroad Learning Station, located on the lower level of the house, where visitors can see a replica of a secret hiding place that helped slaves attain freedom.

Fernando also was a pallbearer in Abraham Lincoln’s funeral procession that went through Ohio and ended up in Illinois. Fernando’s son, Oscar, fought in the Civil War against slavery and died in battle.

On the second Sunday of each month, the museum presents “Trails of Hope,” re-enactments of Underground Railroad stories about fugitive slaves and their protectors.

The Kelton Museum and Garden, 586 E. Town St., is first an educational facility, but also a popular wedding destination with a beautiful Victorian garden. For more information, visit keltonhouse.com or call 614-464-2022.

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