Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Photo Year in Review 2011

"Wordless Wednesday" Post
*All photos taken by JAM*

Winter 2011
Cloud 9

Spring 2011
Beachwood Park
Became an "Auntie..."
To beautiful twin girls!

Summer 2011

Surprise of the decade? Check!

Birthday Festivities
Father's Day

Post jet-skiing in Outer Banks

Outer Banks Sunset

Kayak in CLE!

Rockin out in the Flats

Lake Erie Double Sunset

9/11, 10 years later...Freedom Tower
Fall 2011
Dusk along Chagrin River
Go Brownies!

I'm not the only one going for an evening run in the park...

Voinovich Park

"Ales on Rails" train ride through Cuyahoga Valley

Kate who? THIS was the royal wedding of the year :)
60 degrees in November at Edgewater Park

Winter 2011

Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Buon Natale

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Holiday Season in Cleveland

5 Holiday Family Traditions I Can't Get Enough Of!
As the holidays creep up on us like Santa's sneaky little elves, I've been thinking about all the reasons why I really love this season (particularly in Cleveland). Take a few minutes and come up with a quick list of holiday traditions you can't get enough of. No matter how kooky, crazy, heart-warming, or totally vanilla your holidays are, you will be sure to relive some good laughs and memories.

5) Winterfest
I kicked off the holiday season with my family starting a new tradition, Winterfest. There was tons of activities, food trucks, live music, and the lighting ceremony of Public Square. (Kudos Big Sis!) Bonus factor, it was about 60 degrees that day! My favorite part, however, was going up to the observation deck in Terminal Tower. I've lived in Cleveland my whole life, and have never seen the city from this vantage point. One word: SPECTACULAR. Here are a few photos I snapped:
View of the West side

Key Tower, Browns Stadium, Rock Hall, Science Center

Once we ventured back down to Public Square, we watched the lighting ceremony. This year, the lights donated by GE were LED lights, and wowzer, they were bright! "The display this year will only consume about 21,000 watts, as opposed to 134,000 watts that incandescent string lights would consume." Read more here. Way to be green CLE! I highly recommend this holiday tradition that is fun for all!

4) Traffic
More this
Yeah, betcha didn't see that one coming! But seriously, my commute time is drastically reduced during the last two weeks of year. I want to thank the lucky-ducks who were smart enough to save up their vacation time and use it all at once. You have saved me numerous brake tapping, wheel smacking, head pounding, dead stop on the highway, road raging commutes because you have stayed off the roads. 
None of this
Less that

It's just me cruising along that glorious stretch of highway we know as 
I-90, listening to NPR, happy as a clam. 

3) West Side Market
The West Side Market is certainly a family tradition, and I've been going since I was a little nugget. The fresh meat, cheese, bread, hustle and bustle, chopping, cutting, sizzling, fresh-in-your-mouth-goodness make the West Side Market a holiday staple. Good people working hard to bring you the best food Cleveland can hand you. Our tradition is grabbing a brat from Frank's Bratwurst. My Grandfather, who has since past, was a jovial, talkative, straight from Italy, loved to market shop, and eat like a king kind of guy.  He always brought us to this stand for a brat, then we'd go up to the balcony to look out over all activity in the market and chow down. (He also gave me the gift of being a good eater!) Great memory, and I'm one of probably few people who stop at the crepe stand first, but get my Frank's Brat for dessert (at 10am). Gramps would be proud! 

The best stand at the market: Frank's Bratwurst

Speaking of delicious food...
2) Christmas Eve Dinner -Gram's homemade pasta
Once a year, my grandmother makes pasta from scratch. (Yes, she was married to the Italian, bratwurst loving, grandfather described above. She had to have awesome cooking skills!) She spends all day prepping in the kitchen, cranking out these spaghetti noodles old world style. I can't get enough of this stuff! Here's a picture of us making it as proof:
This lady right here-- heaven-sent pasta making skills
As our sprinkled snowflakes of parmesan cheese melt into that mound of carb-heaven plate of pasta, it's as if God is plump with that holiday spirit too and whispers, "Sweet Baby Jesus, this is good!"

1) Christmas morning mass
The church we grew up in closed a few years ago so we started going to Our Lady of Mount Caramel, little did we know last Christmas was that the mass time we chose was... all in Italian. It was awesome, even though none of us speak a lick of Italian. The message was universal though, because even as the Gospel was read, I was able to follow along since I've heard the story a few times before. I kid you not, during the homily, the only English word he said was... "donkey" -- we couldn't help but chuckle a bit in our pews. And, I learned how to say Merry Christmas in Italian:

Donkey though...I'm still not sure how to say in Italian....

Although the holidays can be a whirlwind, I encourage you to let your hair down and enjoy the sleigh ride. It's a time to enjoy your family traditions and create new ones with the ones who matter most. Spread that JAM! And sweeten up! It'll be over before you know it!

 Share your holiday traditions with me, I'd love to hear!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Upcycle Christmas

So when I found out that the area in which I currently live does not recycle, I started thinking of ways I could try to reduce my waste. I began poking around online about creative ways to upcycle items--taking no longer used items and repurposing them into a new good. Pretty cool stuff. So I decided that I could contribute my tiny part and turn my copious amounts of empty wine bottles into something crafty for the holidays. (See I knew red wine was good for the heart and the environment!) You can turn your empty wine bottles into an assortment of repurposed household goods. (Who would've thought!?) Here are some awesome examples of the snazzy ones I found:

I decided I would start the easy route and create some holiday vases with my old bottles. So I emptied my cupboards and holiday decorations, then began crafting some easy to make holiday gifts. All you need is a little bit of patience, a Sunday afternoon, and a glue gun; you'll be able to whip these great hostess gifts up in no time!

Materials used: fake flowers, ribbon, white rice, holiday spray

fake flowers, ribbon, scented pine combs, glue gun

These are very easy to make-- you can make them as fancy or as simple as you like, you can use fake flowers to last the whole holiday season or give fresh flowers to brighten someone's day! There are so many products we encounter on a daily basis that we simply dispose of after one use. Use your creativity and upcycle the holidays with a green gift!
Another easy and fun craft to make with your gal pals (or by yourself) are homemade candles! Lord knows, I am a candle fanatic, but they can certainly be pricey (cough, Yankee Candle). Try making them yourself. Again, a very easy craft for any beginner. I picked up a kit first to learn the ropes (about $15 at Michael's) and had a blast! You can choose your own wax preference, candle oil scents, and even candle dye! Check out these cool holiday gifts I made by using my old spaghetti sauce jars and glass jars. It's a manageable project and fun to customize to your exact liking! Slap some ribbons, ornaments, and foam stickers on there and it is a thoughtful gift for family, friends, or co-workers.  
Keep me posted with any upcycle ideas or gifts you have! You begin to look at products in a new light, you turn on the creativity and turn up the arrows!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Me Love You Long Time

Said rockstar in Venice Beach
Last night, I got to hang with a long time gal pal that I haven't seen in years! She is a total rockstar and one of those people who has a contagious spirit; you can't help but be in a good mood around her. Have you ever encountered someone like this before? You know, someone you feel like you've known a life time, get along with great, and has an effervescent personality-- full of positivity and good laughs.

Anyway, I got to hear all about her latest adventure-- teaching abroad in South Korea. I envy her bravery and how she is able to fly by the seat of her pants, and yet it all works out for her (good karma!) What an incredible experience she's had being in a new country, meeting other young people from all over the world-South Africa, Scotland, South Korea, all while teaching kids. Double awesome. She is full of adventure and you can read about it on her blog here: Choose Your Own Adventure. I would love the opportunity to travel abroad, and I was able to live vicariously  through her while she recounted her time overseas. You can read about more her dream job in Women's Adventure Magazine. So last night, we caught up, laughed, sipped some vino, and recalled our own mischievous adventures during our college days:

In the meantime, my spirits are refreshed by another Cleveland gal pal who still has a down-to-earth attitude but has had the chance to better herself by broadening her horizons, figuratively and literally. (I'll be saving my pennies for my own adventure soon! I've got the travel bug! Now where to begin............)

That private jet would come in pretty handy right about now...
So many exciting memories to create when you expose yourself to a whole new way of life! There are sweet people all over the world, and we're sending Cleveland's best to you, South Korea! Keep jammin girlfriend!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Grey poupon is out, JAM is in! Spreading the CLE love

Several bloggers, family, and friends have been encouraging me to start a blog for years. Not because my life is a sitcom (although occasionally it turns into one) or because I've got the coolest style since "the business in the front, party in the back hair cut" (and yes my sister and I both had one at some point in our lives, but I'll post those pics on a later date), mainly I've been encouraged because I love to write, and have experienced incredible brain drain the past few years. But I'm finally picking up my pen (well keyboard in this case) and setting out to tell all about JAM Land. I am a poetry nerd, admitted wino, wannabe crafter, lover of life, and Cleveland gal, through and through. And, I am a firm believer that good things will circle back to you. (Why you always gotta give love to your hometown too--despite the "fact" that we make the "Most Miserable City List," and countless other insultery lists. Good things ARE happening in our city, people! Look on the sweet side)

Believeland Cleveland!

Although the midwest can be as plain as white bread, often, we have good wholesome people here who sweeten up daily life. Well get ready for some JAM (Jessica Ann Morris that is) because I'm finally slapping my thoughts on this blog sandwich and I'm ready to spread the JAM all over Cleveland and the blogosphere!

Spread that JAM!

We're from the "Rust Belt" we don't do that uppity Grey Poupon stuff here.

Clearly, He's about to barf all over his fancy suit...
So eat up boys and girls! Enjoy the journey with me of rants, raves, & revelry ... And I hope you like JAMmin too!

Mmmm beefy!