Sunday, September 30, 2012

YP Pantry, Pizza for the Soul, Aurora Farms Shopping Spree, & Predicting My Future with Turkish Coffee Grounds

I kicked off my weekend a tad early on Thursday night at our first (and SELL-OUT!) social event of YP Pantry. I am a council member of the newly formed Young Professionals group that focuses on the Cleveland Foodbank mission and engaging young CLE professionals in nutrition, community giving and networking.

The event took place at the Grovewood Tavern (ah-dorable). We had an awesome turn out of people and I met old friends and new ones there too.

IRL meeting with friends, yay! Crystal of Eat*Drink*Cleveland and Katrina of BiteBuff
Considering I've only been blogging for under a year--I was astounded and humbled when I (finally) met some friends in real life who recognized me from my blog! What a terrific feeling of connecting with my readers and fellow bloggers in real life--and all for a good cause!

YP Council Member and fellow blogger, Amanda of ClueIntoCleveland, Sarah of CookerGirl, me, Crystal of Eat*Drink*Cleveland, Julie of WearingMascara, and Katrina of BiteBuff
Friday rolled around and I stopped over my bff, Catie's house. Not only is she an awesome friend, but she is also an OUTSTANDING cook! Her trade by day is a nutritionist and it surely shows in her ability to whip up the healthiest version of a fresh pizza. Yummm.
Chef Catie approved!
Freshly made whole wheat pizza dough, artichokes, fresh basil from her garden, garlic, black olives, and fresh broccoli. Deeeeelish! 
Gabbing with your besties (Catie & Jules) while eating homemade pizza, glass of vino, and decompressing is some serious nourishment for the soul!
C'est la vie!!
I also scooped up some sweet dollar deals from The Exchange, and provided some reminiscent tunes from our high school days for the evening! Totally JAMmin!
Clockwise from top left: Romeo Must Die Soundtrack, No Doubt, Incubus, The Allman Brothers, Phish.
Good times!
After dinner, I headed back to Lakewood to meet up with fellow sister duo, Stacy and Kelly. We decided to try out the Brother's Lounge based on other's recommendations despite never going there before ourselves.

"It's whatever. It's a hair flip!
Happiness is only a hair flip away!"
It was an eclectic crowd of people along with a live band playing. Think we would have experienced a much different evening had there been a different band playing. Maybe not. Either way--we had a good goofy girls night time...and had the pleasure of meeting this interesting fellow:

Nuff said.
Saturday morning arrived quickly. And I headed out to do some retail therapy with my mom and sis at Aurora Farms. It was a gorgeous fall day and I was totally in the mood to add some snuggly fall apparel to my wardrobe. I love fall fashion!!!!
Birds of a feather, shop together!
At Aurora Farms
The three of us always have a blast shopping together & haven't gone in far too long. Who will snag the best deal!?! Well I scored: 2 fall sweaters, 1 versatile jacket, 2 dressy work tops, a pair of flats, and a bracelet for...$150.00!!! Wooo! My best deal was a to-die-for swing two toned jacket from the Banana Republic outlet. Originally $120.00 for $35.00! Don't mind if I do, Banana.

After our afternoon of power shopping, we decided to take it easy. My sis and I headed over to her bf's (Danny) family's house. His family is so sweet and genuine. His Mom, Noha, cooked up a feast of Lebanese food (we all know my love for Mideastern food!!!) including baby eggplant, stuffed with beef and spices, served over rice,  Man, I am so lucky to have such great cooks in my life :)
From left to right: Noha the multi-faceted woman (Danny and Gizelle's mom, phenomenal cook, and coffee ground reader,) me, Danielle, my sis, Gizelle, and Mrs. K with our coffee cup fortunes
After dinner, Noha made Turkish coffee for everyone out of these outrageously cool golden cups straight from Egypt. (I WILL get there someday!)
G sipping her Turkish coffee
 We had so much fun together. Gizelle, Danny's sister, asked her mom to "read our Turkish coffee grounds." I had never heard of this tradition before--but it is SO COOL! It's a Mideastern tradition specific to Turkish coffee that allows you to "read your future, by examing the images and shapes left in your coffee grounds." After drinking your cup, you flip it over, and wait for the grounds to dry. Then someone trained in the tradition (Noha, in this instance) uses the coffee grounds as a method of fortune telling by determining images in the grounds.

Noha reading the grounds

Us girls were all for the good fun and decided to do it. Results: shivering, baffling, and spot-on! Laughter, tears and hopefulness.
Coffee ground reading
Mine is the far left cup
So what did Noha see in my grounds? That I am going through a period of sadness and turmoil, but based one the whiteness on the top of my cup--the period will pass and open up to peace soon. Also, saw Jesus. I was ready to stop right there--pretty tough to beat that one! Lord knows I have been praying! And it surely brought me comfort. Then she saw this:

Two roosters in my cup. Top left hand side. That is a symbol of two similarly stubborn people who are fighting or ready to battle. Not good. And in the middle--a tall, dark, handsome man extending his arms to comfort me. Wowzer. But--I will turn away towards something better for myself. Pretty crazy. It was all in good fun though, and all open for interpretation. I am usually not into that kind of stuff, but Noha seemed to be pretty accurate with each of our readings and we definitely had a good time doing it. What a great evening and entertaining hostess! I love the opportunity to learn about other cultures, food and try new things! Be open!

Today, I really kept it low-key...and think I am beginning to battle the flu bug everyone has had. Bummer, but I am so happy for all the nourishment and love and new experiences I had in CLE this weekend. What did you do? Have you ever scored big at Aurora Farms? Has anyone ever read your coffee grounds or told you your fortune? How did it turn out? Keep JAMmin, CLE!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Epic Fail Day? Here's a Pick-Me-Up!

Today was just an all around epic fail. I could complain and moan, but I'm sure you can already relate. And besides, it's way more fun to tell a story of a crappy day with a good sense of humor. So in light of an epic fail of a day, I always like to visit my beloved sites such as, and the hilarious boards I find on Ridiculous stupid popcorn for your brain humor always is the BEST pick me up for a fail of day!

Let me share my story in case you had a super craptastic day like this too :)

The day started like this:

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So then I got up and got dressed:

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Then I went to go put on my socks and shoes annnnd had no clean socks so I thought:
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That would explain EVERYTHING!
So after stumbling out the door, this happened:

I felt completely unprepared for the crazy weather today kind of like this:
Thanks for the heads up, Miss Meteorologist
So my commute to work felt like this:

By the time I made it to the office I was like, look yall:

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Technology was not working with me, probably would have been more constructive to use my computer like this:

There we go, washed the bugs right outta there

I definitely called to mind one of my favorite scenes from the movie Office Space:

Yeah, we've all been there

 I kept trying to look at problems differently but:
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Shit, squinting gives me a headache
I totally had one of these awkward cries on my drive home:

Let the crazy out, Brit
By the time I got home, I felt a lot better and got comfortable:
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Luckily, the day is almost over. What will tomorrow bring?
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Well, Mr. Roker says:

sunny with a  chance of crazy.
I will take it, Sir. Please bring back my sunshine!
Tomorrow is a new day, kids! Feel better already, huh? Hope so! Hope this epic fail of a day was a good pick-me-up for you too!
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Monday, September 24, 2012

Monday Meditation: I Choose!

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Let me share with you a little something that I think we all struggle with all too often: I HAVE THE POWER TO CHOOSE MY DECISIONS! Yes, reread that last sentence again. I choose to make positive choices, others choose self-destruction. I choose to tell the truth, while others choose to deceive. I choose to slow down and watch a beautiful sunset, others choose to lose themselves in the daily grind. Life is ALWAYS about the choices YOU make. This is THE only choice you DO have CONTROL over.

I often CHOOSE to take on the role of "caregiver, problem-solver, free therapist" etc. I choose to expend my energy by helping others--and sometimes, others don't choose to respond with empathy, gratitude or integrity. Believe me, I am certainly not claiming to be a saint, since often the first response that runs through my mind when someone disappoints me or hurts me is usually somewhere along the lines of, WOW:

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We are keeping it real here, ok? We get hurt because we choose to invest the power in something or someone else. We hand over our self-loyalty and let something or someone choose FOR us. Best realization I've learned over the years--CHOOSE YOURSELF!

Whether you're choosing to fulfill an addiction to an image, drugs, alcohol, food, love, worry, friends, money, or shiney things means YOU are NOT choosing--you are letting other things choose FOR you. Stop! CHOOSE YOURSELF!
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Perfect learned experience: I once had a mentor. A good mentor. One day I shared that as a young motivated professional, my goal was to be a leader AND obtain a master's degree in 5 years. Thinking this would be a good CHOICE, I was greeted with hostility and a barage of overwhelming negativity from someone I deemed as admirable. Stunned, crushed, and manipulated. It would have been easy to believe this mentor's choice FOR ME. But after reevaluating the situation, I realized this IS MY CHOICE. So, I moved on, found a better fit and am happy to say I am taking the steps towards civic-engagement AND a higher education. Boo-ya!*
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Another learned experience: One of my best friends in college was diagnosed with a devestating mental illness.** He was suddenly deeply misunderstood by our friends and became more withdrawn as his health deteriorated. (Again, I'm not a savior here, nor a doctor, but I did grow up with a Dad as a therapist so I had a better knowledge of the disease as opposed to fear and judgment some people expressed towards him). In June 2010, my dear friend unforunately chose to take his own life. Tragic. Heart-breaking. Preventable. Upon hearing the news, I organized a get-together of friends. His favorite college pasttime was "Sunday Night Family Dinners" where a group of good friends got together, cooked a potluck and watched HBO. Deeming it as my own way to grieve, and feeling this is the way he'd surely want me to remember him in a positive light, as opposed to going to his funeral and remembering him as sick, some other people felt the need to express their discontent with MY choice. Please note while experiencing deep grief: the choice to grieve in your own way--is a PERFECTLY ACCEPTABLE CHOICE. Rumors spread that someone said I was a "bad friend" and of all people was expected to and should have attended the funeral. Really? Are we in 5th grade here? We all feel terrible enough losing a loved one, and here you go put on your judgey-pants pointing the finger. How is this helping? Wooo-weee.
It's not easy! It took me several months to "hug those haters," coupled with multiple panic attacks and some serious soul-searching, and awesome supportive family to finally get back on my feet. I struggled with this alarming and inaccurate characterization of me, compounded with the loss of a dear friend. Here's what I learned. I CHOOSE my own way to honor the life of a loved one. I CHOOSE my own integrity. I can NOT choose how others portray me. Besides, I know he's still got my back and is smiling down on me :)
Look at that contagious smile!!! :)

 We can not CHOOSE the family we are born into, whether or not we have a disease, who lives and who doesn't. So my CLE readers, I choose you-- to share, to develop, to grow, to write and to express. Thanks for choosing me too! A positive attitude IS a choice that you have control of! How you respond to life's unexpected events IS a choice. How will YOU choose to live your life? Choose wisely today, CLE! You ARE good enough! Love you and keep JAMmin!

*(Later on, I found out this person reacted in such a manner, not because I could NOT do it, or wasn't capable, or qualified but because I COULD do it, and this person--did NOT obtain a bachelor's degree. Is there anything wrong with that life choice? Absolutely not. I know several brilliant people without a college degree--but the CHOICE to attempt to destroy another person's dreams because you did not achieve your own IS a BAD choice. I choose to invest in myself, my career and my education. I choose MY future.)

**Mental illness is NOT a choice. How you cope with it is. If you or someone you know needs help--you are NOT alone. Please--choose to talk to an experienced professional, click here to find out how to get help TODAY. Or learn how to donate to the Dominique Fischer Memorial Foundation.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Surround Yourself Only With Those Who Lift You Higher

Aint that the truth? Sometimes we forget the awesome people in our life who really do lift us up, and focus too much on helping those who are bringing us down!

Put those hands up! Higher and hiiiigher!

Well I am so happy to say I had a VERY uplifting weekend in CLE. Friday I took a happy walk up to Happy Hour at the Buckeye Beer Engine (scoff--my very first time there--see what I mean about overlooking what's right in front of you!) And I met these AMAZING friends for dinner and drinks:

Gina, Justin, me, Sara & Ryan

Tuscan Burger: Applewood smoked bacon, rosemary goat cheese, roasted red peppers and caramelized balsamic onions.
Stopppp it!

After dinner, we headed back to Gina and Justin's home and had the most epic awesome dance party I've ever had the chance to participate in. It started with a few Buckeye Growlers to go--then playing Just Dance...

Clearly I was getting waaaaaay into my dance moves! Win!

The night got pretty silly/wonderful, and ended with a 1 AM hour long dance party finale complete with multiple strobe lights, a smoke machine, bumping bass and some serious sore legs the next day. Best. Night. EVER!

 On Saturday, I headed to brunch at this hidden gem in Tremont, Fat Cats (or as Jeff likes to call it, "The Tubby Kitty"). We sat outside and enjoyed the gorgeous first official day of FALL!

Zucchini and Chorizo Omelet-so tasssssty!
And obviously, when a girl needs a fool-proof pick me up....we headed over to the glorious heavenly place known as Lilly's Chocolates for dessert. Take note gentleman: a woman will NEVER turn down handmade chocolates from Lilly's
Meet the chocolates here
T.A. really pumped about her first Lilly's purchase and experience :)
How could this bubbly friend, adorable decor and smell of fresh chocolate NOT get you higher!?

Later in the evening I headed to my friend's birthday party (Tremont-loving Saturday!!)
Albin Sisters and me

Well played photo-bombing, sir.

Look who I found meow! :)

Celebrating the end of the night with the birthday girl and a giant pizza from Edison's!

Such a fantastic weekend. Definitely need to rest up after all that action, eating, dancing, and festivities! What did I learn about myself and CLE this weekend?