Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Blue Plastic Bag: My Spring Poem to CLE!

As I've mentioned in previous posts--I have a passion for creative writing and poetry, part of the reason why I started writing this blog anyway! I minored in creative writing during my college years and was recently going through my portfolio when I came across this spring poem I wrote about CLE almost six years ago to date... my how the seasons fly by!

Blue Plastic Bag

It was a windy March afternoon
when I spotted the blue plastic bag
flying above the Carnegie bridge
into the slate gray Cleveland sky. 

It whipped around the
steel beams,
and rose
and sank,
breathing in the air.

How did it get so high
up there?

Did somebody let it go
out their car window?

Did it leap from the garbage can
after somebody no longer used it
to carry their fresh bread from the Market?

Maybe, it blew in from Canada
after someone left it at the cold beach,
opting for a picnic indoors instead.

Or maybe it let out someone's crumpled bills
and shredded documents
for someone to find
and piece together.

Perhaps it was freed from underneath a stone
when some pedestrian hurried past.

Maybe, the leaves finally brushed off
when the wind came by
to scoop it up
and take it for a ride.

-JAM, March 2007

The infamous (white) plastic bag scene 
from "American Beauty"

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Weekend Recap: Last Call CLE Laughs, Wedding Shower and Spring Shopping Savings!

After a long week, I needed to start my weekend with some laughs...ridiculous, inappropriate, wholesome Cleveland laughs with Last Call Cleveland live at PlayhouseSquare!

Last Call Cleveland vs. the Asian Carp
Image source: www.lastcallsketch.com

This wasn't my first laugh-fest, in fact, I have seen the YouTube sensations and Cleveland comedy troupe, Last Call Cleveland at least four times before! From local "celebrity" impersonations, to the invasion of Asian carp, to saving Cleveland...these guys are always sure to get a chuckle and good belly laugh from any true Clevelander! Check out more of their hilarious videos on their Last Call Cleveland YouTube channel.

On Saturday, I headed out to Aurora for my college gal pal, Steph's wedding shower! The wedding shower was so elegant and beautiful! Her and her husband-to-be are fun-loving and always know how to have a good time! I had fun, laughed a lot, celebrated their happy future, and ate entirely too much!

Steph & Joey's Wedding Shower:
from top left clockwise:
1.DELICIOUS desserts and adorable party favors (wine cork keychains, I'm obsessed!)
 2. The happy couple.
3. Three cheers for wedding shower gifts!
4. First ribbon break, thanks to T.A. at least one baby...
5. The beautiful flowers he surprised Steph with, how sweet!
6. Excuse me, but I mustache you a question...
T.A. and I
The Official Papparazzi for the afternoon :)
Lovely ladies!

Congrats Steph! We <3 you!
After the shower excitement, I discovered that we were JUST down the road from Aurora Farms. Naturally, I had to venture over to check out some deals...and boyyyy did I get me some deals! Let's be honest, who else gets an awesome high from sweet shopping deals?

Ann Taylor Outlet Deals & Steals!

Pretty spring cardigan!
Originally: $64.99
Priced: $14.99

Can never have too many cardigans, especially at this price!
Originally: $64.99 each
Priced: $11.99 each!!!
Gorgeous silky spring top to wear out
for Steph's Bachelorette Party Weekend in DC :)
Awww yayuhhh!
Originally: $49.99
Priced: $14.99
Nearly $300 worth of merchandise for just around $60...woooooo! Bring on the spring weather and happy colors!
Polka Dot Flats from the Gap Outlet
Originally: $34.99
Priced: $19.99

More spring colors!
The Banana Republic Outlet
Perfect for layering!
Top orginally: $44.99
Priced: $12.99
Love this color combination!
Turquoise necklace originally: $29.99
 Priced: $16.99
Coral bracelet originally: $19.99
Priced: $5.99
Nearly $100 worth of merchandise for under $40! I'd say this spring shopping spree was a huge success and several hundreds in savings! Wooohoo! These warm colors make me so happy! Hope you had a wonderful weekend in CLE too!

How do you laugh off a long week? What's your favorite wedding shower tip or treat? Where do you go to get awesome spring deals? What trends are you looking forward to wearing in CLE this spring?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Weekend Recap: Holidays, Birthdays, Food & Fun in CLE!

This weekend was a busy one! So much to do and so much to celebrate!

I kicked off my weekend by meeting some of my blogging gal pals, Jen and Sarah, for dinner at Deagan's in Lakewood. I got the mac & cheese (with gruyere, bacon, peas, chives)... I got mine without the bacon since it was Friday but it would have been tastier with the saltiness in it. The ladies and I had an awesome time chatting and they shared with me some very helpful blogging tips. I admire their styles of writing and years of dedication to the craft...thanks to these blogging beauties for the inspiration and insights :)

Blogging Beauties: Sarah from Our Journey and Jen from WhyCLE

After dinner, I headed over to 78th Street Studios in Detroit-Shoreway. The venue bills itself as largest fine arts complex in NE Ohio with over 40 retail galleries, studios, and other creative spaces all under one roof. And I've been dying to check out their monthly event which allows visitors to meander and explore the countless galleries.

Click here for more info about Third Fridays at 78th Street Studios.
The event was PACKED with people of all ages checking out the creative spaces. From ceramics, jewelry, paintings to installations, there was something for everyone to enjoy and appreciate. I'd definitely go this event again, especially when I am on the hunt for a one-of-a-kind gift!

On Saturday, the whole familia saddled up at our favorite restaurant, Bruno's, to celebrate my Gram's 86th birthday! The heaping portions of pasta, flowing olive oil, and heavenly tiramasu only added to the delicious meal and happy celebration!
Happy Birthday, Gram!
Like mother like daughter ..hope I inherit your good genes :)

After dinner we met up with friends to continue the birthday celebrations! Happy birthday, Ryan and Danny!
Photo: Happy Birthday Ryan Symonds
Awesome photo bomb, birthday boys...thaaanks

Sunday, I welcomed one of my favorite Cleveland holidays, St. Patrick's Day! (Yes, I am half Italian and half Irish...can't you tell?!) I started off the day with this little adorable nugget...meet Chloe!!! Kayla's newest addition :) I am obsessed with her!!!

Then we grabbed some Conway's Irish Ales and corned beef sandwiches at McGinty's in Lakewood and listened to some Irish JAMs.

 Photo: Happy St. Patrick's Day!

And I ended the green holiday festivities taking in this sightly view of the Terminal Tower lighting up Cleveland with the luck o' the Irish!

How did you celebrate St. Patrick's Day? What's your favorite CLE family restaurant? How do you celebrate your family's heritage?

Monday, March 18, 2013

Monday Meditation: Welcome Spring, Savor the Sunshine

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This Wednesday, we will usher in a new season...SPRING! The weather always proves to be unpredictable in CLE but I love this quote for Monday Meditation. Spring will finally pop its head here shortly and soon we will be trading snow squalls for thunderstorms and digging out weeds from the garden rather than digging out of snow. But we all know CLE weather is just as tempermental as the lake effect in our lives. Where will the storm hit, here, there, when, how long, how hard, how much? And on and on. It's easy to be sucked into impending storms or potential gloomy days. Well I say...

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The trials and tribulations in life are inevitable and will often catch us off guard; so how do we prepare? How do we shake the winter blues and renew our hope for spring? We store up the sunshine! Focus and invest in the people and events and love in life that brighten up the seasons of your life. The real question is, when you reflect, will you be counting your rainbows or your thunderstorms?

Will you let the figurative rain of life wash away your good days? Or will you store up some sunshine to cherish on the gray days?

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Do you feel an internal shift when the seasons change? How do you handle bad weather? Share your thoughts!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Sweet Treats at See's Candies

Last week, I was invited to attend one of the sweetest events in CLE! See's Candies recently opened their doors at Beachwood Mall.

See's Candies Media Preview Event at Beachwood Mall

Bring on the chocolate!
I was delighted to indulge in my favorite guilty pleasure... chocolate!!! Who doesn't love chocolate? I mean...c'mon. Savory chocolate displayed in pristine white glowing cases... ginger, almond, raspberry, butterscotch cream...the fillings and flavors were endless!!!

Since 1921, they've been serving up these preservative-free, wholesome chocolates (since all that high fructose corn syrup yuck wasn't used 90 years ago, they stuck with the GOOD stuff!)

With See's Candies delivery service and early establishment  in the fine chocolate business, it became a favorite amongst early Hollywood stars, including the beloved Lucille Ball of "I Love Lucy." As the story goes, Lucy loved the chocolates so much that she wanted to film an episode at  See's chocolate factory.  Little did they know it would become one of the most infamous and favorite scenes from "I Love Lucy."

 Click the image to watch the famous chocolate assembly line scene

So the folks at See's Candies Beachwood shared the neat piece of history with us and then "dared" us to compete on our own assembly line of chocolates as Lucy! They taught us how to properly cup the chocolate and package it (to Lucy's credit--it is harder than you think!) Then everyone raced as teams with hairnets and paper hats on full display :)

Thankfully, we were all winners that night despite our packing skills!

See's Assorted Chocolate Truffles!

"Giant chocolate Easter bunnies? Yes please!" Gina

My sis and I had SO much fun at the event. From the retro vibe checkered floors, to the rows upon rows of chocolates, to the fun activities throughout the evening--we left there with sugar highs and wide smiles :)

Super Sweet See's & Sisters!

So to all my crazed cocoa-loving Clevelanders...head on over to Beachwood Mall (in the center court second floor) to scoop up some chocolate Easter bunnies and other favorite treats at the legendary See's Candies! Three cheers for chocolate!

***Disclosure: I was invited as a Cleveland blogger to this store opening preview event. I was provided a bag of chocolates and samples by See's Candies. All opinions and thoughts expressed are 100% my own.***

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Downtown Cleveland Restaurant Week at Muse and XYZ Tavern & Sweet Moses in Gordon Square!

Friday night, I kicked off a foodie weekend in CLE by capitalizing on the 2013 Downtown Cleveland Restaurant Week! The 6th annual Restaurant Week was even better this year, why? Because it extended through two weekends AND had a delicious pierogi power theme! Needless to say, this Cleveland gal was salivating to embrace a tasty pierogi meal at a fancy restaurant for an affordable price!

First course: Wedge iceberg salad

Second Course: The Smoked Hog Pierogis with barbecued pork, brussel kraut and creme fraiche
Pierogi Power! Beautiful presentation and equally delicious!

Third Course: Oreo Cheesecake
That dessert was totally smirking at me...so I devoured it! ;)

The lit marble fireplace, ambiance, surprises, good company and wonderful meal only added to a great dining experience. DCA 2013 Restaurant Week was a big hit and satisfyingly good...proving the potent power of pierogis on every Clevelander's palate!

On Saturday, I hit up XYZ Tavern for girl's brunch in the Gordon Square Arts District. The brunch marked a special occasion as we celebrated my girlfriend's, Jenna's, first birthday as a Cleveland resident! Again, another savory meal in CLE! I had the BLT&A, mmm love avocado incorporated into a BLT breakfast sammie! Yum!
Cleveland is happy to have you, Jenna! Happy Birthday!
Pictured left to right: Julie, me, Jenna, Kayla and Gina

After toasting with some mango sorbet mimosas to Jenna on her birthday spent in Cleveland, we then strolled next door to sweeten the celebration at Sweet Moses. This retro soda fountain and treat shop is a nod to Cleveland's years past.
Learn more about all the goodies available at Sweet Moses!

Gina looking like a kid in a candy shop :)
I may have drooled a bit over that gorgeous glass case of goodies, but finally narrowed it down to milk chocolate pretzel bark and a small bag of melting pot carmel popcorn...wo0o0weee, that stuff was GOOD!
So many sweet treats to choose from at Sweet Moses

After a weekend of indulgence and spectacular meals... I maaaaay need to do some extra cardio this week! :) But what a fun weekend of celebrations at some of Cleveland's finest foodie places!

Did you participate in Downtown Cleveland Restaurant Week? Which Cleveland neighborhood is your favorite for a celebratory meal or dessert?

(My thanks goes out to the DCA team, fabulous participating Cleveland restaurants...and I must give a shout out to my talented sister who played a key role in orchestrating such a successful event and bringing back the pierogi power!) *All opinions and reviews expressed are 100% my own.* Just want to give them a big round of applause!