Review: Huffman Park – Fairfield, OH

A couple of weekends ago, my mom and I went to a new park in Fairfield to make some rain barrels. I’ve been wanting a rain barrel for a while. We have well water at The House, so water isn’t a challenge here, but I really want to be a better steward of the resources God has given us. Rainwater is one great resource.

But before I get going on how great rain barrels are and how we made ours, I want to share about the park!

Huffman Park

2100 John Gray Road
Fairfield, OH 45014
513.867.5345 (Fairfield Parks & Recreation)

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left: rock at the entrance with benefactors of the park. right: windmill used to aerate the pond through an underground tube.

This park has a very cool back story. I remember hearing about it a year or so ago, and now, having seen the finished product, I’m very impressed.

The Huffmans owned the property, 22 acres, and maintained the property as natural open space for their kids to play in. When the couple died, the family donated the property, land and buildings, to the city to be turned into a public park. The two conditions were that it had to be a learning park for families and all the materials in the house had to be repurposed (whether in the park or through the Habitat for Humanity Restore facility). I believe the park staff said that 92% of the house was salvageable and repurposed in some form or another. Even if that’s not the right number, the percentage was very high. Some of the trees on the property were repurposed into playground equipment.

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clockwise from top left: tunnel with an overhead viewing spot in the center; wood balance beam and a rock circle; bumble bee monkey bars (there is some metal on this but even in the hot sun it was cool to the touch); pond with native aquatic plants to attract waterfowl.

Not only is there play equipment for recreation, there are quite a few places for learning more about nature. The property includes several learning spots like a butterfly garden and a fruit and nut orchard. We even saw a persimmon growing on one of the tiny trees growing there.

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clockwise from top left: orchard learning station; tiny persimmon tree with fruit; more playground equipment and tree steppers; beautiful flowers to attract butterflies.

Last year, I took a community garden class down in Cincinnati. At one point I stopped attending (I’m not sure if we were done, or I pooped out), but I learned so much about natural gardening techniques. I would love to take more classes like that (especially for the free price) in the future, but I was so excited to hear that they would have community garden plots at Huffman Park. I had to check them out while I was there. They are completely self-service, so if you don’t maintain them yourself, they will die. But it’s a great idea and there was some good stuff to see.

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This was late in the summer and the plants were already getting brown and scorched in that heavy heat, but I bet it looked great during the growing season!

Baby corn and some peppers. Yum!

Baby corn and some peppers. Yum!

Ok, back to the rain barrel class. Sara was our teacher and there were 6 of us there making 5 barrels. My mom wanted to make one and I have wanted one for a while, so we both made our own. She ended up giving hers away, but ours is proudly out front in its bright, bright blue (that will soon be remedied with some spray paint…it is kind of an eyesore right now). We quickly went through the process and started at it. The hardest part was the hole saw. We had it figured for either not enough torque or too much. One of the men came over and helped stabilize the saw for me while I guided it because it was just too strong for me. I have two little snags in my t-shirt from where it shot off the top of the barrel towards my stomach. I was not harmed. I felt like wonder woman!

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clockwise from top: two of the “students” and our teacher Sara on the right; mom snapped a pic of me in action!; cutting the big hole to sit under the downspout.

We had a great time and learned a lot more about the park and made a couple of friends. Sara is the first naturalist on staff with Fairfield Parks and she is very enthusiastic about her job. She is looking for more ideas of things to teach Fairfield/Butler County residents.Β The classes are open to anybody, but they are a little more expensive if you live out of the area. Costs seem to be primarily for supplies. They have concerts, painting and photography classes, yoga, bird watching/learning, stargazing, etc. There are tons of activities for kids. Call or visit the city website (above) for more information. has a lot of great information about other activities throughout all of Butler County. It’s a definite must-visit for the local tourist.

In the meantime, I’m going brainstorm how to paint my new rain barrel and get it ready for next year’s growing season!

Yes, I realize that the spout is too close to the ground. We're working on that as well. :)

From start to finish!Β  Yes, I realize that the spout is too close to the ground. We’re working on that as well. πŸ™‚

Getting Married: 34 Weeks – Combining Forces

This is more of a question post.

Matt and I decided that we wouldn’t talk about combining our regular finances until we absolutely had to. We both seem to have a good handle on the bills that we have and why add extra stress before the wedding by jumbling up our financial systems until necessary.

That said, I’m curious about when you all (the sparse readers) started combining the different aspects of your lives together with your spouse. Was it before the wedding? Was it after? Was it at random times, depending on the aspect? Like…I’ve taken over one or two boxes to The House of my things – decorations and such that I’ve gathered through the years until I had a place to display them. Matt also signed up for AAA, so he added me on as part of his household and now I have my own card. πŸ˜€ That was nice. Still has my current name on it. We also went ahead and opened a joint checking account just for the money we get together for the wedding. That seemed a very logical and not very invasive thing to do.

There was one thing that did come up that I was on the fence about: a return address stamp. I was hoping that I would have got the one I decided on in the mail by the time I wrote this entry, but alas, it’s taking its dear, sweet lovin’ time. A return address stamp might seem like a fairly innocuous thing. BUT, sometimes small details can really trip up a brain. By the way, I got a discount for an address stamper through Groupon, which is what brought on this whole ordeal. And a mental ordeal it was…you’ve been warned.

The traditional return address label is the bride’s family home, or the ones paying for the wedding. However, since Matt and I are taking care of the bulk of the finances for the wedding, this didn’t seem like an issue. For a practical aspect, there’s not a lot of room at my current home for lots of gifts and such that might come through the mail. At The House, there’s a whole spare room set aside for wedding things – to be converted to a project room once it’s all straightened up after the wedding. So, for things like gifts, or items we are buying ahead of time, having them sent to The House just makes sense. We’re also inviting out-of-town friends and guests to send postcards for our wedding guestbook and those will be sent to The House as well.

But, there’s still the question of the return stamp. Do we put both of our first names and the address of The House? Or do we just have the address with no names? I was really torn about it. I didn’t feel comfortable using Matt’s last name before our wedding date. I also didn’t want people to think that we’re living together already, even though most who know us would not think that. Equally important is the cost idea: I didn’t want to buy a stamp to only use for 8 months and then have to get a whole new one for after marriage. So, I made a compromise. A little out of tradition, I went ahead and ordered the stamp with my future address labeled as “The Martin House.” Yes, it’s a dumb thing to get all concerned about, but I do have 8 months, I might as well think about details like these.

So, what about you? Was there one thing about combining your life with another person that got you on edge or was a real struggle to work through? I don’t think there’s any real right or wrong answer, and our idea of a good arrangement might not work for someone else. I would love to hear your thoughts, though. Might as well learn from those who have taken this path already.


I’m getting married to my, you guessed it, best friend on June 1st, 2013! Matt and I are super-excited and since we have quite a bit of time to plan this thing, I decided it’d be fun to blog about it. Well, maybe not always fun, but at least informative and it might give me a welcome distraction. You can find all the posts by clicking the “Getting Married” tab on the right of this page, or by clicking here. Thanks for stopping by!

My Pinterest Wedding Board

Our Wedding Website on

Getting Married: 35 Weeks – Engagement Photos

Oh my word! Yesterday was such a gorgeous day! Anyone else have a great Saturday? I have to admit that I was a bit worried about it earlier this week. See, back in July, I scheduled to have our engagement photos done yesterday. No idea what the weather would be like, but I was so super hopeful. And then this week, it was cloudy, rainy, gross, cold…and when they said we would finally get some sunlight, we didn’t. I was doing my best not to get undone though, and I’m glad everything worked out great.

I am so fortunate to have a photographer as my matron of honor. Of course, I don’t want her to do my wedding photos, since it’ll distract her from other duties, but she was so excited to do our engagement photos. We’ve had her do some pics of the family (my mom, me, sisters, and their kids) and she’s done pics for friends and such. I’m thrilled to see what else she comes up with for us!

I love my Butler County, Ohio. There’s just enough city (and nearby Cincinnati) and country, that it’s a really beautiful place. The MetroParks have always been lovely, but it seems like this year, they have really stepped up and worked to integrate them into everyday life. There are quite a few parks just within a small radius of where I live, my favorite growing up being Harbin Park – which holds the highest natural point in Fairfield, maybe the county…I’m not sure on that last part. However, I think my new favorite park would have to be Rentschler Park. I had a dear friend who lived in one of the homes on the park, so I had some exposure to it while in high school. Honestly, I just didn’t appreciate it much. There’s quite a lot going on here. There are soccer fields, playgrounds, fishing pond, a creek weaving through the woods, indian earthworks (I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen these!), rustic gray barn, lots of walking paths, and a view of the beautiful Erie-Miami Canal. It makes for a beautiful time.

It also has a special place in my heart because it was here Matt first told me he loved me. Albeit by accident…but I heard it and acted like I didn’t, since I wasn’t sure if he really wanted to say it yet. Two days later, he did…and he meant it.

So, it was here that we wanted our pictures done. I’m glad that we could introduce it to Lanna and her husband, Matt. They didn’t even know it existed and I’m pretty sure they will use it again for future backdrops. Love first times! Can I just say how awkward it is getting pictures done? Especially when you’re trying to make them not look posed, but having to pose. Plus, there’s the whole kissing in front of people. Matt and I are NOT PDA kind of folks and the most we do is hold hands and sit close to each other. Other than that, it was a great experience! The weather was cooperating, except for a stray cloud that stole the sun away at an opportune moment, and we were with dear friends who we could laugh and cajole with.

So, when the shoot was done, we went separate ways and on with the rest of our evening. Matt and I headed over to my pastor’s house to practice some songs for Sunday morning worship and to see friends. While we were hanging out and then getting dinner, Lanna was busy editing away to get some preview shots up for us. I am so excited by what she has put out so far, I’m literally checking my phone every two minutes or less to see if there are any new ones. Alas, we have to wait for the CD for the rest, but here are the 6 she loaded for preview.

Can you say, “Awww?!?!” I have no more words. πŸ™‚

Oh, but if you are in the Cincinnati area and would like to book Lanna for your photos, you can contact her through email: lanna.hoffman [a] She’s pretty fab, and I’m not just saying that because she’s my best friend, matron of honor, and engagement photographer. πŸ™‚


I’m getting married to my, you guessed it, best friend on June 1st, 2013! Matt and I are super-excited and since we have quite a bit of time to plan this thing, I decided it’d be fun to blog about it. Well, maybe not always fun, but at least informative and it might give me a welcome distraction. You can find all the posts by clicking the “Getting Married” tab on the right of this page, or by clicking here. Thanks for stopping by!

My Pinterest Wedding Board

Our Wedding Website on