Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Goodbye FOX19!

Farewell, FOX19 viewers!
It’s not without some sadness that I find myself writing my final blog for FOX19.

Wow. It's hard to believe this is my last day. It went by so fast. I guess that's a sign I enjoyed my five years at FOX19.

It was a little more than five years ago that I signed on as a WXIX reporter, coming from Ft. Wayne, Indiana. I was so thrilled to be able to come to Cincinnati and live in a big city. Living and working here has been all that I hoped it would be and more. That may sound cheesy but it's true. I have met so many great people and formed lasting friendships.

Me with my new co-anchor, Pete Scalia

Reporting for FOX19 allowed me to cover an important breaking news story one day and hang on a trapeze to showcase a circus in town the next. It's a job that's hard to leave. But being a morning anchor is an opportunity I couldn't pass up. I am excited to join the ABC22/FOX45 team in Dayton where I’ll co-anchor alongside Pete Scalia.

I want to thank everyone so much for watching my colleagues and me at FOX19 the past several years. Live TV can certainly be an adventure, but we enjoyed our jobs and worked hard to deliver a quality product every day. I hope it showed.

Top 10 things I’ll miss (and a few I won’t – you’ll have to guess which are which):
  1. My close friends on the show and my main photographer Dale.
  2. The camaraderie behind the scenes, like chatting with Sheila while we put finishing touches on our makeup.
  3. Rob’s cornucopia of strange morning foods like beef jerky, watermelon, Greek yogurt, and popcorn.
  4. Frank’s annoyingly chipper attitude at 3:30 AM.
  5. Live shots at GABP when Reds fans camp out for Opening Day Tickets, and Opening Day itself.
  6. Getting out of the warm FOX19 truck to do a live hit in the cold – 8 times per morning!
  7. Setting up at our four favorite live locations: the courthouse, CVG, the police station and… the salt pile.
  8. Watching countless salt trucks get refilled during bad weather at the aforementioned salt pile.
  9. Dressing up in a German Dirndl for the start of Oktoberfest.
  10. All the viewers who got up with us each morning and especially those who were so nice when I saw them around town.
Thanks everyone. I will really miss being on the air here in Cincy. I really appreciate your support. Remember I'm not too far away. You could buy a really strong antenna to watch me in Dayton!  :)  Best wishes and Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

I love CrossFit!

I may like high heels and mascara, but I am proud to say that I can also do pull-ups. :)

Box jumps!  Man, I'm moving fast! :)
Have you ever done a workout where after six minutes you are out of breath and the sweat is dripping off? If you've tried CrossFit, you'll surely say yes. For those who haven't, let me explain.

CrossFit is a mix of strength and conditioning, combining weightlifting, sprinting, and gymnastics. The goals are cardiovascular/respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, agility, balance and coordination. CrossFit athletes run, row, jump rope, climb ropes and carry odd objects.

I've been working out at CrossFit NKY in Florence three times per week for two years. All CrossFit gyms are linked and there is always a prescribed workout of the day which changes every day. Here's an example from Wednesday:
- 5 dumbbell push jerks (25 lbs)
- 7 box jumps (2' box)
- repeat, completing as many rounds as possible in 15 minutes.

Sounds simple, right? Well, I went non-stop and completed 25 rounds. That means I did 125 push jerks holding 50 pounds and 175 box jumps in 15 minutes. It was exhausting (it always is) but I feel a exercise high and a sense of accomplishment afterwards.

Luckily, Lucas is a better trainer than he is a photographer. :)
CrossFit is for anyone and everyone who wants to work hard. I've been in classes with people of all ages and all skill levels. This picture is of me, Laura and Stephanie doing pull-ups. Laura is in college and has worked super hard to become one of the instructors. Stephanie is pregnant! Yes, it is hard to tell. She started recently and does a workout tailored to moms. You can see she is also using a band to do pull-ups. Adjustments are made based on a person's strength and skill. I should know, it took me a year to get rid of the band and start doing pull-ups on my own!

I highly recommend trying CrossFit. There are at least 4 different locations in the Tri-State. Of course, I'm partial to Coach Lucas and all the great people and athletes at CrossFit NKY:)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Landor Project

I have never claimed to be an artist.
Okay, that may be a bit of an understatement. I really can’t draw at all. So when I was approached about being part of the Landor project, I was a hesitant at first. Especially because the assignment was kind of abstract and artsy. But after Micah Paldino from PB&J explained it as a unique way to journal for a week, I decided to give it a try.

Landor is a consulting and design firm. A little while back they decided to try an experiment.  They asked their employees to stop whatever they were doing every day at 1:10 PM and document exactly what they were thinking and feeling at that very moment. Workers used this experiment to inspire and get creative. Landor created a window display to show off the creativity of the finished projects. It was such a success that the company wanted to share the idea and let the people of Cincinnati express themselves. That's where I come in.

Last Friday I got my journal book. That's picture of it. I'm kind of embarrassed to show off the sketches, but it's kind of funny to see how bad I am at drawing. I was also instructed to choose a word, pick a color, and take a picture. This all had to be at 1:10 every day for a week. I have to admit I was sometimes napping at that time, so I had to wait to "get creative."

My work and that of the other participants will be made into one big window display.  If you want to see it, just head to the corner of 7th and Race at the Shillito Building.

Now that it's done, it was interesting to flip through and remember where I was at that moment throughout the past week. Another thought I had was maybe I should take an Learn to Draw class, you know for any future pictionary games. :)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Cyclones Take the Ice

Hockey is back in Cincinnati. Hi, it’s Meghan:) If you like beer, fighting and intense action then you're going to love watching a Cincinnati Cyclones hockey game. I know I do. More on that later. But first the team.

The Cyclones are the defending Kelly Cup Champions. This season they're off to a slow start. But the games have come down to one or two goals and are still packed with action. The Cyclones are the minor league affilate of the NHL’s Florida Panthers and Nashville Predators. Nine players are returning from last year’s team (Aubin, Ehgoetz, Robinson, Pierce, Reynolds, Sheahan, O’Hanley, Krantz, and Roeder). They're skating under a new head coach, Jarrod Skalde. He has put together a team that's bigger in stature but still quick and skilled.

You can catch me at some of the games either watching or serving as your fan cam hostess. That means I walk around with a mic, like I was on Tuesday night when that picture was taken, and play games with fans in the stands or during periods on the ice. The crowd is a lot of fun. It can get kind of rowdy with people booing and yelling insults at the opposing team. But I guess that's what happens during $1 and $2 beer night.

Oh, did I mention that yet? Yes, Big Beer Tuesday means $2 24 oz. Labatt Blue and Molson. Wet Wednesday means $1 12 oz. Miller High Life and PBR. There are ton of other promotins going on through the season. A few highlights include Kids Eat Free Nights, Santa Bobblehead Night, Kids Jersey T-shirt Night, Pink in the Rink and Child Abuse Awareness Night. The next big one is Saturday, November 13 with Throwback night. The Cyclones will be throwing back prices to $8 tickets, $1 pizza, hotdogs, and soda. The Clones will also wear retro jerseys.

Definitely check out a game. You'll have a fun, inexpensive night. Go Cyclones!!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Tricks and Treats

It’s almost time for one of my favorite holidays, Mongilloween! Hi, it’s Meghan. :) When I was a child, my mom would go all out for this spooky holiday. Each year she decorated the house, made our costumes and would dress up as a witch and chase us around the house yelling, "I’ll get you my pretty."  I must admit I’ve inherited her Halloween enthusiasm. I even hid a fake rat in the shower to scare my sister one morning this week! (it worked)

Since early September, orange and black has dominated my decor. There is a little cobweb craziness and monster mania going on in my Norwood home. If you check out the picture you can see floating monster heads hanging from my chandelier and scary creatures sitting around the dining room. In the vases I arranged sticks that I spray painted black and added fake mice and snakes.

Besides creating tricks around my house I also love making treats. Caramel apples, Reese's Pieces peanut butter cookies, iced cut-out cookies, orange brownies and Oreo eyes are waiting my ghostly guests. If you aren’t a baker, no problem.  The Oreo eyes were super easy. I bought football shaped Oreo’s at the store, dipped them in white chocolate and used icing and an M&M's to complete the look. Yummy!

As for costumes, I actually have two this year.  One night you can just call me Supergirl.  Another night I’m going to dress-up as Medusa, complete with snakes entwined in my hair.  Here's wishing you a safe and Happy Halloween! :)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

And they're off!

In the paddock
before race #12
There is something I look forward to each fall besides football games, Halloween and my favorite coats. It's an idyllic horse track in the heart of the Bluegrass State called Keeneland. Hi, it's Meghan. :)

I’ve been to Keeneland many times, but each time I am still awed by the experience. Considered one of America’s most beautiful tracks, Keeneland is known for its historic architecture, meticulous landscaping, and top notch horse racing.

Me with the Desperate
Housewives of Delhi
It’s kind of long story as to how and why, but I ended joining a bus trip organized by the Seton High Athletic Boosters Club, despite no prior connection to the organization. Luckily the group was very welcoming and a ton of fun. The Seton Boosters were a lively and passionate group that took pride in their school and their Westside community. We traveled down in a nice bus and our tailgate surely was the envy of the parking lot. One group of ladies referred to themselves as the Desperate Housewives of Delhi – check out my picture with some of them. Oh, and a special thanks to Lou and Michelle and the others who did all the work to organize the trip.

By mid-afternoon, it was time to watch the ponies! You may be surprised to learn that I know enough horse racing to know that the horse with the best name usually wins. So that is how I came to win $30 on a $5 show bet on Sun Bear in race #3. I know that’s not much money, but a win is a win! :)
with super trainer Mike Maker

My friends Brandi and Jeff are part owners of a horse so we got access into the paddock, the prep area where the horses are paraded just before a race. Getting an up close look at the muscle and strength these animals posses is amazing. On the very last race their horse Twinspired lined up in the #12 position and surprised everyone with a first place finish!!! We all rushed to the winner’s circle, where I got my picture taken with famous trainer Mike Maker. If you’re wondering, no I wasn’t smart enough to place a bet on their 12:1 long shot. Darn it!!

You still have time to create your own Keeneland memories. The fall races run through October 30th.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

One More Reason to go to Findlay Market

Hi it’s Meghan:) If you’ve never been to Findlay Market, why not? It’s a very unique and interesting place. A variety of vendors sell an array of meats, cheeses, produce and spices. Now there is a brand new business.

Fresh Table just opened inside the market house. When you get to the green lights hanging over a glass case of beautifully displayed dishes, you are there. The business is the creation of Chef Meredith Trombly and Chef Louis Snowden. They previously worked together at Bigg’s and recently decided to create something on their own.

Think sustainable, local and organic. That’s the concept behind Fresh Table’s freshly prepared food. Customers can look into the case, pick a few of the tempting bites and take a box home for lunch or dinner. The menu is always changing because the chefs buy from vendors at the market and around the city, which also keeps it seasonal and fresh.

Ever tried an Eggless Egg Salad? I hadn’t either. But you can now. It’s made from tofu, soy mayonnaise, dill and turmeric. Yes it is yummy and actually tastes like eggs! My favorites are the savory bread pudding, marinated mushrooms and fennel salad. There was also the corn pudding adapted from a Shaker recipe that dates back to the 1700’s.

There are other cool things about Fresh Table too. Everything is recyclable or compostable. The kitchen scraps are composted and the take home containers are biodegradable.

The walls are about to get a fresh look too. What are now plain white walls will soon be a showcase of Rookwood Pottery tile. Another cool design element of Fresh Table is the digital signage and live video stream. The two TV monitors can show the ever changing menu or give customers a live look at what’s cooking. I know I’ll make it a point to stop on my trips to the market. Enjoy!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Who wants to be a movie star?

Ever dream of being a movie star? 

Well, tonight your dream can come true, at least sort of.  The feature film The Black Dove has been shooting in Cincinnati.  The producers want extras to show up at Memorial Hall in Over-the-Rhine on Elm St. at 8pm tonight.  You'll be in the audience for a concert.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

It's Only One Game

Yes, it was a let down.  Yes, Roy Halladay had an amazing game.  But let's put it into perspective, it's only one game! Hi, it's Meghan.

Our Redlegs still have a lot of baseball to play.  I know Reds fans are ready to keep cheering them on.  When we win Friday, the Natiboys will be back at home Sunday and the hometown crowd will give them a boost.

Even though the game didn't go as I would have liked.  I still had a lot of fun supporting our team. I wanted to blog this week to give you a look at my activities on Wednesday, Oct. 6th, also known as the day that the Reds started their first post-season baseball in 15 years!

4:00 AM - Heading from the studio to Fountain Square to tell our viewers about all the food and drink specials I found at local bars and restaurants for the Reds game.  I'm also planning my own "pub crawl" later to see how different fans around Cincinnati cheer on their team!

Cream cheese, anyone?
8:10 AM - "My Mom Calls Me George" of KISS 107 FM has created a voodoo sculpture of Philly legend Rocky Balboa out of Philadelphia brand cream cheese, and he is going to destroy it using a Reds t-shirt cannon in the middle of Fountain Square!  Well, we learned a little about MMCMG's sculpting skills (2nd only to Michelangelo's) and the viscosity of cream cheese at 50 degrees (low enough to stop a speeding t-shirt apparently).  Nonetheless, the bust of Rocky clearly lost this fight, and the momentum and karma is surely going to help our Reds KO the Phillies in the NLDS!

MMCMG puts the final touches on CC Rocky, and the Reds Cannon of Destruction.

So maybe it didn't explode quite like we thought, but Philadelphia definitely got creamed. :)

4:00 PM - After my lunch, a nap, and a workout, I am ready to start pre-gaming!

4:20 PM - The In Between, Downtown
I was actually hoping to make it out to Maloney's Pub in Delhi, but I got a late start and didn't want to fight traffic.  Unfortunately, In Between didn't have any specials and only had about 8 people in the bar.  Disappointing.

4:25 - 4:45 PM - Skyline Chili, 4th & Sycamore
Got a free cheese coney!  Yum!

5:00 - Fountain Square, Downtown
Pretty decent crowd, food, drinks, and great weather, but the sun was setting right behind the big screen making it pretty difficult to watch the game.
5:05 - 5:30 PM - Rock Bottom Brewery
Bad start for Edison Volquez and the Reds.  And I didn't even like the beer I picked. :(  Good crowd of after work folks though!
5:55 - 6:45 PM - Brothers Bar & Grill, Newport
Hung out with lots of Reds staff members, my sister, and my friend Amy.  
The Reds didn't perform too well, but the day was still a lot of fun!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

What's there to be afraid of?

Boo!  Did I scare you?  Hi it’s Meghan:)

Fall vegetables are ripe, the air's getting cooler... and 'tis the season for ghosts and goblins!  I love fall and I really love Halloween.  Just ask my sister, who came home on September 15 to find that I had already decorated our dining room with fake cobwebs and spiders!  I also love haunted houses, and my favorite place to get scared is Halloween Haunt at Kings Island.

Some friends and I went last Friday and we all had a blast.  We didn’t make it through all 14 haunted attractions, but we did venture through about half.  Of course we checked out the newest one, Wolf Pack.  It’s a werewolf-themed maze that will make you think twice before taking that next hike in the woods when there's a full moon (which there actually was that night).  The actor working the front door even had this amazing ability to produce a growl just like a werewolf.  Wolf Pack is near Flight Deck back in the Action Zone.

Outside the entrance to Club Blood a sexy vampiress greeted us by saying, “don’t touch my girls and they won’t touch you.”  That should have given us an idea of what type of “club” we were about to enter.  Frankly, the guys all seemed like they'd be willing to risk a bite on the neck just for a chance to meet one of the Club Blood dancers:)  My favorite though was Trail of Terror.  As you might guess, this one is through the woods, where I did more running than walking.  I discovered there’s something terrifying about a guy dressed in a long black trench coat and hat, dragging a stick.  The sound and sight of that really gave me the chills.

Kings Island goes overboard to turn the park into a fright fest.  Coffins, cobwebs, monsters and skeletons are everywhere!  Plus most of the rides are open and – here’s the best part – the lines were short.  Everyone wants to go into the haunted attractions so we were able to walk right on to rides like Diamondback and Delirium.  There's nothing quite like riding The Beast in the dark with flashing lights and smoke in your face.

For thrills and chills this Halloween season, Kings Island is the spot.  It’s open 7pm to close on Fridays and Saturdays in October.  If you aren't afraid of a few nightmares, you should check it out… I dare you!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Beer Buffs Discover Cincy's Brewing History

I went underground this past weekend. Hi it’s Meghan. :) Zinzinnati’s rich German heritage wasn’t just celebrated at Oktoberfest on 5th St., but in Over the Rhine as well. I went on a walking tour of the old breweries and WOW was it cool!

If you are on Vine Street today you might not give these industrial looking buildings a second thought or glance. But knowing and imagining what once was there is amazing.

One of the stops was the old Crown Brewery (also known as the Schmidt Brothers Brewery).  It was kind of strange to walk into the basement of the building with all the modern day clutter and then travel down handmade steps deeper into a sub-basement that was once used to store barrels of beer. To get around a Civil War tax the brewers had to have the malt house and lager house in two separate buildings. They got around this by building tunnels to connect the two. The picture is of me and my sister walking through one of those tunnels (we teased her that this was her good side - haha).

We also went into the just opened tunnel that connected parts of the old Kauffman Brewery. The 1856 building now operates as the Guild Haus, and the above-ground industrial space has been converted into artist studios and apartment lofts. Recently, the owner discovered the original blueprints and saw that there were 4 not 3 levels as first thought. So he broke through the concrete floor only to find that 40 feet down is a enormous lagering cellar.  It’s 200,000 square feet! 

This building will be the new home of the Christian Moerlein Brewing Company. In April, owner Greg Hardman says beer will once again be brewed in OTR. It had become the old Husman Potato Chip Factory so not a lot of structurally work is needed. But as Greg told me, they have to buy, install and hook up $4 to $5 million worth of beer brewing equipment.

This is a huge deal for the Queen City because in 1870 there were 36 breweries in OTR and we were known for being the biggest and one of the best beer brewing cities in the country. Darn that Prohibition!!!

You can support this effort by clicking here to find out when more tours will happen or just buy Moerlein or another local beer. You can drink knowing you are taking a sip of Zinzinnati's past while supporting Cincinnati's future.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Attack of the Wiener Dog!

Is this ridiculous or what?
Hi, it's Meghan.  :)  This morning I was reporting live on Fountain Square in Cincinnati on the opening festivities of Oktoberfest Zinzinnati, the 2nd largest Octoberfest in the world (behind only Munich!).  I got into the spirit by donning a German dirndl dress and a chicken hat, symbolic of the World’s Largest Chicken Dance which takes place on Sunday.

Naturally, while wearing my dirndl and chicken hat I was assigned to interview Charlie, a dachshund wearing a hot dog bun costume, who happened to be the two-time defending champion of the annual wiener dog race.  So there I was, chatting with Charlie’s owner, minutes before going live on the FOX19 morning news, when Charlie transformed into Chuckie the Terrible.  It turns out that Chuckie the Terrible likes fingers, so much so that when he bit mine he wouldn’t let go for what seemed like an eternity but was actually more like 5 seconds.  Here’s the damage.  You can see his tooth mark and how he ripped off the skin.

The Show Must Go On! 
The skin on my finger was mangled, but Sheila and Rob had just started the intro for my live shot.  I started my live shot talking about the Oktoberfest events with my finger still dripping blood.  Halfway throught the shot, when we cut away to a screen showing the weekend's events, Dale, my resourceful cameraman, quickly tossed me a napkin to wrap around my bleeding finger.
Interview with the Vampire
My next live shot was 30 minutes later, and I was scheduled to interview Charlie and his owner, Cherie.  Believe me that I made Cherie hold Charlie as far away from me as possible and I didn't get the microphone anywhere close to him.  And so that's how I came to be wearing a drindl and a chicken hat, with a heavily bandaged finger, interviewing a champion wiener dog in a hot dog bun costume, minutes after he had held me in a death grip.  In Charlie's defense, I was told he was a rescue dog and is very protective.  (The picture below is NOT Charile, but an example of what he looked like while dressed in the hot dog costume.) 

Urgent care visit
After my reporting was done, I headed to an urgent care facility where I got antibiotics, a new bandage, and a tetanus shot.  The 2010 Running of the Wieners went on as scheduled, but Charlie was dethroned.  Justice is served!

p.s. Cherie was very apologetic and offered to pay for my medical bills and the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber of Commerce sent me flowers.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Go Blue Jays!!

Hi it's Meghan. :) Most people know me from the FOX19 morning show.  Unlike most people, the 7th grade girls volleyball team at St. Joe of Cold Spring in Northern Kentucky just knows me as "Coach." We had our best win of the season earlier this week and I wanted to brag about these girls.

In was a hotly contested match against St. Paul's and my girls showed a lot of character and spirit. We play three games, the first two to 21 and the third to 15, win by 2. We lost the first game but the girls didn't get down on themselves. We came out strong and won the 2nd game behind some great serving and defense. The deciding 3rd game loomed.

In the 3rd we came out strong again and scored the first 9 points off the arm of our first server Alexa.  It was really an amazing run and the match looked in hand.  But St. Paul fought back and one of their girls rattled off some ace serves as well. Finally we got the ball back and we were up 14 to 13 with Amanda back to serve. If she missed the game would be tied, but if we win the point the match is over. My girls put their nerves aside and focused on the pivotal point. St. Paul wasn't going to go down easily though!  I fierce rally ended in our favor and we won that point and the match!

Not every match has gone as well though -- right now we are right around .500 for the season. But sometimes it's the lessons a player takes away from a loss that makes them stronger. With each game I see more intensity, more hustle and more will to win. We still a lot of games left, and I know they'll continue to grow as volleyball players and as young women. So great job Alexa, Amanda, Cassie, Emma, Hollie, Jess, Katie, Katie P. and Madison. I've very proud of how far we've come and am excited about progressing even more in the weeks ahead. Go Blue Jays!!!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Ultimate Long Lasting Manicure

Polish that drys in seconds, doesn't chip, and stays on for two weeks sounds too good to be true, doesn't it? Well here's a beauty secret -- it isn't! Hi it's Meghan Mongillo. :)

The ultimate long lasting manicure is here. It's called a gel manicure. A number of salons are offering the service in Cincinnati. I got mine done at Mitchell's Salon and Day Spa. Nail technicians there use a brand called Shallac by The Creative Company.

This service is for clients with natural nails. First the nails are shaped, then the polish is applied, and then it gets different than a regular manicure. The base coat, main coat and top coat have to be cured. That means you stick your finger tips in a UV lightbox for 120 seconds. When it's done, it's done. The polish is completely dry. You can put your hands in your purse and pull out your wallet and keys without worrying about smudges.

There are some drawbacks. The polish has to be removed in the salon by a professional. Your fingertips are soaked in acetone and then the gel polish is scraped off. There are mixed opinions as to whether this weakens your nails or not. I thought it did a bit, but that could have been because my nails were dry as well. The salons recommend using cuticle oil once a day to keep them hydrated.

Look close at the picture. Do you want to guess how long that polish has been on? I know, I know - I'll never be a hand model, but focus in on the nail. That's the manicure I got 13 days ago. You can see as your nail grows the polish stays put. So towards the end you can see the off white of my natural nail tip peeking out under the white polish. Not a big deal and most people won't look that close.

Another downside is that right now the selection of colors to pick from is limited, but that could change. Also it's going to cost a bit more then a regular manicure. Though since it lasts for 2 weeks some might say it's worth it.

I would definitely recommend checking with your local nail salon and trying it. Let me know what you think. I give this new treatment an "A-." Isn't nail polish that doesn't chip every woman's dream? :) Watch FOX19 News at 6pm Friday, September 10th to see my story on this.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Time to Hit the Beach, Cincinnati!

Hi, it's Meghan Mongillo. :-) Labor Day weekend in Cincinnati isn't just about fireworks. This weekend you can also see Olympic gold medalists and the best beach volleyball players in the world, up close and personal, at the Pro Beach Volleyball Players Championship.

You may have been to the AVP (Pro Beach Volleyball Tour) before at the Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason. This year there are a couple changes. The annual event is now at a brand new, beach volleyball-specific venue called Hahaha Beach, and it no longer carries the AVP name. Tournament organizer Mario Cincchinelli says when the AVP folded recently he immediately contacted and signed the top 16 men and women for this year's tournament - not an easy task considering most were overseas playing in Europe. The good news is that all of them will be coming to Cincinnati, including top players like Misty May Treanor, Todd Rogers and Phil Daulhausser. The qualifiers are today – Thursday -- then there are day and night matches Friday morning through Sunday afternoon.

I’ve been out to Hahana Beach and can tell you that it is top notch. The quaint stadium only holds 2,000 fans so there are no bad seats, and the sand on the courts is nice and deep. The site is also home to a new bar and restaurant where surf boards hang from the walls to compliment the tropically themed menu. After the tournament is over the restaurant will be open year round and host local leagues when the weather is nice. So even if you're not a pro, you can still say you play on the same court as them. :-) Here’s how the owners are touting it - Hahana Beach: where the day is hot, the courts are hotter, and the nightlife is hottest!

Hahana Beach is on Wooster Pike in Columbia Township, just west of the Newton Bridge. Parking is limited, but tournament coordinators have rented lots from other businesses for this weekend and they tell me there will be police officers directing traffic.

One more thing – tickets prices start at just $10!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Local Art 4-Sale in Cool Place

What are you doing Friday night?  Hi, it's Meghan Mongillo. :-)

Some of you may have heard of ‘Final Friday’ in Over-the-Rhine. As part of the event, this Friday August 27, 2010 from 7-10 p.m there will be a unique artistic experience at Venue 222.

The urban event space will have local art for sale. It'll feature works by some of the artists who work at the Contemporary Arts Center (CAC).

Some might be surprised to learn that the people responsible for putting those CAC shows together are artists in their own right. You'll get to see and buy art from a diverse group of people who work in different media.
This picture is of the show being set up and two of the paintings for sale.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

I Scream for Ice Cream!

Which do you prefer, soft serve or hard scooped ice cream?
Hi it's Meghan Mongillo, AKA one of Cincinnati's biggest fans of soft serve ice cream. :-)

Don't get me wrong, I love scooped ice cream too. But not as much as a soft serve chocolate and vanilla twist cone. Mmmmmm. It's arguably my favorite dessert (and I do love desserts!).

I've been to soft serve ice cream stands all over the Tri-State. The Creamy Whip in Norwood is within walking distance of my home so it's one of my favorites. (That's where the picture was taken. I sometimes get my cone dipped in chocolate) Putz's Creamy Whip is also great -- there's a reason it's been a Cincinnati tradition since 1938!

I put on my investigative reporter hat to do some research on soft serve ice cream and found out some cool facts about this old fashioned treat. Not surprisingly, soft serve got its start at one of the most popular ice cream chains, Dairy Queen, back in the 1930's. What you may not know is that it's served at a higher temperature than scooped which gives it the creamy texture and allows your taste buds to detect the flavor better. I didn't know this, but when you eat hard ice cream, your taste buds are chilled to the point that the flavors aren't as easily detectable.

Oh and here's the best part -- soft serve is made with less butter fat, which makes it a bit healthier. That's just what I was looking for, another reason to enjoy this amazing summer time treat! :-)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Tennis Love

The top tennis players in the world are in Mason right now... and I’m excited! :-) Hi, it’s Meghan Mongillo.

Cincinnati is very fortunate to host the Western & Southern US Open Series. I was there Monday night when the ladies kicked off the event. "Wow" is the one word that comes to mind. These women are exceptional athletes. Watching tennis on TV is not the same as being there. We sat at the one end behind the players and watching the speed of the ball and how close it came to the top of the net was incredible.

I wasn’t familiar with either player I watched, but still I was really into it. Victoria Azarenka, who was the #9 seed in the tournament, took on unseeded Ana Ivanovic. Azarenka dominated the first set 6-2, but underdog Ivanovic won over the crowd. She stepped up big time, winning the wild 2nd set in a tie breaker and then taking the 3rd set to win the match. Azarenka had a bit of a melt down during that tight 2nd set, slamming her racket to earn a warning from the official and throwing her towel. Seeing her passion just added to the excitement! :-)

(By the way...Ana Ivanovic won her 2nd round match up as well. She moves on to meet Elena Vesnina in the third round today)

If you have a chance to go, do it. The tickets prices are from $24 to $44 and believe me, it’s worth it!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

It's Fair Time

Where can you see a goat show, a 5-year-old kissing a snake, and a demolition derby? The Clermont County Fair!

Hi, Meghan here. I grew up in a small town in northern Ohio, near Youngstown. Believe it or not, I was in 4H and every year my parents, sisters and I looked forward to the county fair. I miss those days, so last weekend I convinced my friend to go with me to the Clermont County Fair.

I really just enjoy the people, sights and sounds of a the county fair. We met several really nice folks, including Jacob of Newtonsville, OH who showed off this pig that won a grand champion prize. Check out his picture. He and his sister raised 11 pigs and sold some at auction.

After wandering through the stables of goats, pigs, horses, and cows, we stopped for a show by the Kent Family Magic Circus. The Kents tour four months of the year and both parents and all seven of the children get in on the act that includes magic, juggling, and several other random acts of skill -- like balancing a wheelbarrow on one's chin while climbing a step ladder (which, incidentally, was also previously balanced on the same chin).

Believe it or not, the highlight for me though was the goat show. Those goats were really stubborn about navigating the obstacle course! None of them seemed to want to walk across the seesaw or jump over the barricades. The competitors showed great poise, patience, perseverance and strength to get through it though.

We capped the night by witnessing a wild and crazy demolition derby in the grandstand. I'm not sure who ended up winning, but it was entertaining! That fair is over but the Boone County Fair is going on through Saturday. You should check it out!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Rubber Ducky You're the One!

It's time to pick your duck:) Hi it's Meghan.

Cincinnati's Rubber Duck Regatta is the largest and longest-running rubber duck race in the nation. Over 85,000 rubber duckies will be dropped from the Purple People Bridge into the Ohio River and swim quarter mile along the Serpentine Wall. This event happens on Sunday, September 5th at 3 p.m.

In a few days you can also get involved by buying a Celebrity Duck. Chose from over 60 ducks signed by local and nationally recognized stars. Sports legends Pete Rose, Johnny Bench, Chad Ochocinco and Kentucky Basketball coach John Calipari all have a duck. There's even Bieber Fever this year, music phenom Justin Bieber has one! The picture above is of the Carrie Underwood and Rey Maualuga duck (love all that hair)! The event is this Thursday, July 29th from 5:30 to 8:30 at Newport on the Levee's Jefferson Hall.

The Rubber Duck Regatta is the Freestore Foodbank’s largest fundraiser. Last year, $550,000 was raised – that is equivalent to 2.2 MILLION meals. Click here for details.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

We Have Computers Now

Hi it’s Meghan:) No it's not 1987 and this is not breaking news. But I wanted to let you know about something you might have noticed while watching the show. If you look at the wide shot of the two anchors sitting at the desk you can now see little computers with the FOX19 logo.

Those are brand new Netbook computers. The anchors use them to read scripts, respond to emails and to watch for breaking news alerts. We had computers on set before, but they were slightly below the desk on a small table so they wouldn’t be seen. They were awkward to use and not helpful since they weren’t in front of the anchors. The Netbooks are a great addition they are smaller and easier to see and use. Plus it now gives Rob something to do during commerical breaks:)

The computer is just another tool we use to make sure the information we deliver is accurate and up to the minute. Thanks for watching!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Cool Roadside Joint in Newtown

Hi it’s Meghan:) I love to try eclectic new places and this past Saturday afternoon I found a great one. Corral 32 is on Route 32 in Newtown, OH, or "Main Street" as the locals call it. I just happened to drive by and thought it looked interesting (well, that, and I was starving!) so I decided to stop for a late lunch.

Corral 32 is a bit hard to explain or classify. It's an ice cream shop that's also a BBQ joint on weekends, but its atmosphere feels more like an old trading post. The house that was built back in 1836 has now been remodeled to look like a barn, and the porch and yard contain a hodgepodge of antiques, from Tonka trucks to a Magnavox record player that still works. The owner, Ted Gerrard, sometimes brings his animals down for a petting zoo. Other times they have live music performances. Ted says that July 31 is Open Mic Night for anyone who wants to belt out a song or play an instrument.

Phil (wearing the cowboy hat) smokes the ribs and chicken with real hickory wood for about 3 hours before transferring them to the grill and adding his homemade BBQ sauce. He says he messed up 100 different sauces before perfecting his current recipe, which I tried over both chicken and ribs. I also tried his "sagebrush beans" that have sage and apples cooked in. A soft serve twist cone was my sweet treat at the end, and it was all delicious!!!

Corral 32 is only open seasonally right now, so I'm glad I drove by when I did!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Really Getting Away

Hi it's Meghan:) I just got back from vacation. Every year since before I was born my family heads to Rehoboth Beach in Delaware. I love going..it's like a home away from home. This year was no different. Tennis, swimming, beach volleyball, reading and relaxing.

But the best thing I did was disconnect. I turned off my Blackberry and didn't watch TV for a week. It felt so good to have the real world disappear for a while. I didn't think about work or anything else important (Sorry FOX19 family - i am glad to be back.)

If you are going away... even for a few days, I highly suggest turning off the cellphone, TV and computer. Try just sitting and talking to the people you are with. I think in this technology driven society, the art and warmth you get from having a real conversation is missing. But the good news is...it's not hard to get it back - you just have to unplug.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Not Just a Walk in the Woods

I've been hiking before, but not like this. Hi it's Meghan:)

My friend is a avid hiker/climber and he's talked about his adventures. This past weekend I went with him to Red River Gorge. It was fun yet scary.

We hiked for close to 4 hours and climbed to an elevation of 1,700 feet. Oh and we weren't on the main trails! I guess there are side trials that only the experienced hikers know about. We were scaling rocks and squeezing through caves.

I defiantly didn't expect that level of hiking but I loved it and the views were amazing. I can't wait to go back.
But not sure if it'll be anytime soon. By now you've probably heard that a bear attacked a hiker there the same weekend I was walking the trails. Luckily all I saw was a lizard and a squirrel:) Hopefully the catch the bear soon!

(I'm super sweaty in the picture..what a workout!)

Friday, June 11, 2010

Covington Block Party

This Saturday, Covington will be the place to be. Hi it's Meghan:)

RoeblingFest will begin at 11 am and end with fireworks
shortly after nightfall. It's being held at the foot of the suspension bridge to raise money for repairs to the 144 year old landmark. About $300,000 is still needed.

Look for a petting zoo, tricycle and Segway races for adults, a moon-bounce, a corn-hole tourney, a dunking booth, face painting, and a farmer’s market. Entertainment will include several bands, karaoke, and bag pipers.

If your interested in learning....there will be guided tours of the bridge, the Roebling flood wall murals, and the statues along Riverside Drive.