Red, White and Blue Dessert Inspiration for Fourth of July

Next week is the Fourth of July! I can’t believe we’re already nearly halfway through summer and it’s time to celebrate Independence Day. Can you? Usually, Fourth of July means spending the evening with B’s family, BBQ and beers, and watching the fireworks over Lakewood Park. This year, however, B and I won’t even be in the country! But that doesn’t mean I can still leaf through baking magazines (or Pinterest) to still find some drollworthy recipes! Here’s a list of some of the things I’d make if I were around:

Red, White and Blue Trifle (from Betty Crocker)

Flag Cake (apologies for the photo -it’s from my Tumblr – I made it last year)

fourth of july flag cake

Red, White and Blue Cheesecake Bars (from Recipe Girl)

Patriotic Oreo Pops (from Makoodle)

Firecracker Cookies (from Cookin’ Cowgirl)

Red, White and Blue Chex Mix (from Betty Crocker)


Patriotic Rice Krispies Treats! (from Lil Luna)

Do you have any fun plans for Fourth of July? What are you making?

Tunes Thursday: Pre-Vacay Edition

That’s right – I’m leaving for vacation (AGAIN) in less than a week. While work is pretty crazy right now, I’m finally getting excited for my trip! So this week’s Tunes Thursday (sorry I couldn’t get my act together in time to make this a Tunes Tuesday post) is full of some of my favorite light, fun summertime songs that keep me working, bopping my head at my desk and getting excited for my next trip. As always, listen to the playlist, here.

Rita Ora – How We Do

Owl City and Carly Rae Jepsen – Good Time 

Cher Lloyd – Want You Back

MGK – End of the Road

Okay, this song is neither new nor light-hearted … but it’s been on my playlist this week anyway.

Grouplove – Tongue Tied

The video is wild.

Nicki and Bieber – Beauty and a Beat

Across The Universe – With A Little Help From My Friends

Last, but not least, an oldie – but something I’ve been listening to again this week. Enjoy!

Super Easy Peanut Butter & Fluff Bars

This week, my office hosted a bake sale during Walnut Wednesday to support Pelotonia, a bicycle event in Columbus that a few of my coworkers are participating are in (as you know, my lack of bike riding skills make it a little hard for me join) and I was looking for something new to make. I wanted to bake something delicious and unique – but also easy, because I knew  I’d be short on time this week. Betty Crocker’s website offers a variety of cake mix and cookie mix-inspired recipes, and of course I found exactly what I wanted there. I introduce you to, what I’m calling, Easy, Crunchy Peanut Butter & Fluff Bars.

peanut butter and fluff cookie bars

Easy, Crunchy Peanut Butter & Fluff Bars (from

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 pouch (1 lb 1.5 oz) peanut butter cookie mix (I told you it was easy!)
  • 3 tbs vegetable oil
  • 1 tb water
  • 1 egg
  • 3 c mini marshmallows
  • 2/3 c light corn syrup
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 2 tsps vanilla
  • 1 bag (10 oz) peanut butter chips
  • 2 c Rice Krispees
  • 2 c salted peanuts

The ingredients – not pictured, the corn syrup. She was shy.

Here’s what you do:

  1. In large bowl, mix peanut butter cookie mix, oil, water and egg until soft dough forms. Press dough in 13×9-inch baking pan prepared with Pam or another cooking spray.
  2. Bake  in a 350 degree preheated oven for 15-17 minutes or until set. Immediately sprinkle marshmallows over crust and bake 2-3 minutes longer or until marshmallows begin to puff.
  3. In a 5-quart saucepan, cook corn syrup, butter, vanilla and chips over low heat, stirring constantly, until chips are melted.
  4.  Remove saucepan from heat; stir in cereal and nuts. Immediately spoon cereal mixture evenly over marshmallows.
  5.  Refrigerate 30 minutes or until firm. When cooled, cut into bars or triangles.
  6. Enjoy!

Wordless Wednesday: Weekend Collage

I had such a great weekend – from a homemade Italian meal (thanks to Gallucci’s) Friday night, to Marine Week festivities (including checking out their live invasion of Lake Erie) and a Saturday night on the rooftop, to a Sunday Indians game with friends (thanks to Cari for the photos and Devin for taking/asking people to take them) and then Fathers’ Day celebrations.  It was so much fun, but I’m still too tired to write about it. So instead? A semi-wordless Wednesday post with a photo collage instead.

Bootless in Cleveland

I can’t take credit for the title of the post – which I got from my Uncle B. – but hopefully it gives you some idea of what the post is going to be about. As you may know, I recently was given the wonderful (sarcasm) prognosis that I had two stress fractures – one in my tibia and the other in my metatarsal region – and would have to wear a walking boot, or aircast, for a few weeks while my bones healed.

Boot on the water in P-town, Cape Cod

I had a follow up appointment with the doctor last Friday and received great news – no, I can’t run a marathon anytime soon, but I did get permission to remove the boot!  I wore the boot throughout vacation (minus one tandem bike ride and one walk on the beach …. and maybe a wedding) and went back to the doctor last week for another XRay of my metatarsal region. After viewing the Xray, she said that it was healing nicely and couldn’t even see the fracture anymore! So what does this mean? She said I’m officially okay to not wear the boot, as long as I’m not in pain, and I’m good to start slowly get back into running. The key word there is SLOWLY – I have a physical therapy appointment in two weeks and before then she said I can do run/walk intervals, so like 5 min walking and then 1-3 min running. She said by the PT appointment I can work up to running a full mile – which I’m excited about !  On a less exciting note, she said she doesn’t want me running more than a 10K in the fall and it wouldn’t be until next spring until I get up to half or full marathon distance.

I’ve done 3 run/walk treadmill workouts thus far and am feeling great! My first workout is below (yes, I took a screenshot of the treadmill. I WAS that excited).

No, it’s not the same as a run outside with B, or a run through the metroparks, but I never would’ve thought I’d be missing the treadmill so much! I’ll have to remember this in a few months when I’m back to calling it a dreadmill.

Happy Father’s Day!

Earlier this week, I came across the article, Rules for Dads Raising Daughters,  and found myself getting teary-eyed when I went through the list and thought of my dad. It’s a long list and as B said “filled with all sorts of good stuff that you should already know and/or that should be common sense,” but I couldn’t help but think of how my dad raised me. In honor of Father’s Day, I’m sharing some of the tips for fathers with you and thanking my dad for meeting this criteria, set up by the Good Men’s Project:

Let her play in the mud.

Okay, maybe I played in the sand more than in the mud, but my dad always let me get dirty and play however I wanted. Yes, I played with Barbies and My Little Pony, but I also played softball – with my dad as my coach. I had no idea at the time how time-consuming and emotionally draining a job that could be – but I know now that coaching a girls’ softball team is no easy feat.

Remember that the way you talk about and treat women will have a lasting impact.

For as long as I can remember, my Dad has called my mother names of affection, held her hand in public, and acted in small romantic ways – even today, after 30 years of marriage. I’ve never heard him use the word b**** or other derogatory terms toward women. My mom definitely chose a keeper.

Cry when the family pet dies.

Thank goodness I’ve never had to face a pet dying but if I did, I know my Dad would cry. I’ve seen my Dad cry or tear up countless times – he has never once felt like he had to hold in his emotion to “be a man.” In fact, it became somewhat of a joke in the family that I had to stop making him handmade cards in elementary school because it seemed that no matter what card I made him, he would tear up!

Read her books with great heroes — both boy and girl heroes.

This is another area my dad excelled in – reading books to me. I think most parents stop reading to their kids before bed after they get old enough to read to themselves – or at least somewhere in elementary school. Not my dad. I’m not talking about Dr. Seuss – sure we read those – but we made our way up to books like Nancy Drew, To Kill a Mockingbird, Lord of the Rings and Fahrenheit 451.I think he read to me until I was in late junior high school and eventually had to stop because I was spending the nighttime doing homework and talking to boys on the phone.

Share music with each other.

My dad (and mom) have always shared their favorite music with me – and vise versa. Family car trips included tapes and then CDs and singing along to whatever my parents were listening – from Allman Brothers (I was named after Melissa) to The Who to the Beatles to Jackson Brown to Billy Joel.  My dad even attended my first concert (well, he chaperoned) and put up with Third Eye Blind and Eve 6 – from the back of the room of course – without complaining.

my dad, my newborn brother, and me

I was supposed to be spending Father’s Day with my dad this year  – but due to work schedules and travel time (the drive from NY to Cleveland is never easy) I’ll have to wait another week. Until then – thank you Dad for all you’ve done!

Reason #2142 I love Cleve – Going Out On School Nights

Summer in Cleveland = Concerts, patio dining, happy hours and beautiful weather. What could be better?

This week included all of the above – and yes, I’m referring to the week, not weekend.  It included:

Happy Hour 

Tuesday, me and some coworkers/non coworkers headed to Zocalo for Taco Tuesday – half off margaritas and $1 tacos! Nothing says summer quite like an icy margarita.

Catching a Summer Blockbuster

After margs, I saw The Avengers with B and a few other friends. It was awesome! We saw it in 3D and it was great to see the streets of Cleveland in the film. Some advice if you haven’t seen it yet – while not necessary, it does help to see Captain America and Thor beforehand. I was glad to understand what was going on as the movie picks up where the two of them leave off.

A photo from my walk to work – E 9th turned into NYC during Avengers filming last summer

Remember the explosion during filming? (Shot by B’s coworker from their office – explosion happens 30 sec in)

Checking Out the Guys Outdoor Exhibits at Marine Week

It’s Marine Week and this year the marines invaded Cleveland! Well, tomorrow’s the actual invasion – but this week Public Square and Voinovich Park were closed for some Marine Week activities, expeditions, and more. Which means that I live exactly in between where the Marines are staying and where they have to walk to for their daily activities – it’s okay to be jealous!

Patio Dining

Pre-Fun concert, we sat outside and enjoyed some Mediterranean Happy Hour specials at La Strada. This is the 12th attempt at a photo, so pardon the silly faces. The old couple next to us didn’t know how to take a photo with a phone!

Crew before Fun concert

Live Music

Last night was the Fun. concert at House of Blues. It was amazing, incredible, awesome, unbelievable – insert another exciting word here. They put on an AMAZING show and we had great spots to watch. And best of all – my aircast is officially off so I could dance, jump (carefully) and enjoy a concert the way it should be enjoyed!

Great view of the band rocking out.

Ali’s caption: “Having fun at Fun.!”

And just a few seconds of the show – sorry, my longer video disappeared

If that’s what this week had in store I can’t wait to see what the weekend holds! Here’s to another great summer in Cleveland! What fun have you been having? (No pun intended)

Wordless Wednesday: Powerful Photographs

A dog named “Leao” sits for a second consecutive day at the grave of her owner, who died in the disastrous landslides near Rio de Janiero on January 15, 2011.

Eight-year-old Christian Golczynski accepts the flag for his father, Marine Staff Sgt. Marc Golczynski, during a memorial service. Marc Golczynski was shot on patrol during his second tour in Iraq (which he had volunteered for) just a few weeks before he was due to return home.

Two photos from 40 Of The Most Powerful Photographs Ever Taken. If you haven’t seen them all, you must check them out. I got goosebumps and even teared up at a few photos.

Tunes Tuesday – FUN Edition

This Thursday, I’m excited to be going to see one of my favorite bands, Fun., at the House of Blues Cleveland! It sold out right away but I was able to snag tickets for me, a coworker, Cari, her boyfriend, and my former coworker Ali.  In honor of the awesome band and their amazing music, this week’s Tunes Tuesday will feature some of my favorite Fun. and old Format songs. Enjoy! And for some more Fun. and Format songs, here’s my Spotify playlist.

Walking the Dog

This was the first Fun. song I listened to – my brother introduced it to me a few years ago!

All the Pretty Girls

Some Nights 

This is the official video, but the sound doesn’t start until like a minute or so in. It’s my favorite song off their new CD. I get chills every time it starts!

It Gets Better

Can’t find the official video on YouTube, but this live version makes me SO excited to see them!

Carry On

Another acoustic that is just unbelievable. In my opinion.

Believe In Me

Light a Roman Candle With Me

She Doesn’t Get It – The Format

The First Single – The Format

A Week Off … Cape Cod 2012 (Part Two)

(continued from A Week Off … Part One) Wednesday we woke up to some clouds and sprinkles and decided that it may be a good day to check our email and see what other non-beach related activities we could do, pending the weather. We hit up Dunkin Donuts near town and plugged in for a few hours – yes, I know it was vacation but I’m glad I was at least able to check a few emails, send out a few tweets and Facebook updates for clients, and delete some (maybe about 400 or so. Not joking) emails. After Dunkin, we hit up our favorite French bakery for another delicious Parisian sandwich, some olive bread and Croque Monsiour. Yum!

I heart bread (PB Boulangerie)

After the bakery, the weather was still looking iffy (cloudy with some sprinkles) so B convinced me to join him at a bike rental place. I was petrified. I don’t ride bikes. I know, it sounds so simple, right? I run (or at least I was before my boot) but riding bikes? Never. So naturally, the thought of riding along Cape Cod’s bike path (the Rail Trail) frightened me. B had found a bike shop just off the trail that had tandem bikes. The guy who worked at the shop probably thought I was crazy as I told him I didn’t know how to ride a bike and didn’t want to die that day. As we tried out the bike around the parking lot (probably going 2-3 mph) I was screaming nearly the whole time. “You’ll love it!” the guy assured us as B signed the paperwork. And with that, we were off on the trail. For the first 10 miles or so I was so scared of falling off. B was doing all the steering but still – what if we hit a bump? What if my hands stopped holding the handlebars and I went flying? Surprisingly, nothing happened. I don’t recall when I stopped feeling scared and when I started having fun, but at one point B started timing our miles which went down from 5 min per mile to 4 min per mile to even quicker at the end. All in all, we ended up biking about 35 miles! Not bad for someone who hasn’t ridden a bike, right?

Smiling now .. much better than my look of fear beforehand

Wednesday night, B and I enjoyed some old-fashioned fun and headed to Wellfeet’s Drive In Movie Theater for a double feature – Men In Black III and 21 Jump Street. I hadn’t ben to a drive-in in ages, and it was B’s first time – both movies were fun and perfect summer entertainment. Plus, who doesn’t love a drive-in?

Wellfleet Drive-In

Thursday the weather was gorgeous and we spent most of the day relaxing at the beach and finishing our books. That evening, we invited an old friend from college to visit – he lives less than an hour from the Cape and we hadn’t seen him since our wedding! Our original plan had been to go to the infamous Beachcomber – but it was closed! We ended up hitting the Pearl (which wasn’t bad – I had lobster quesadillas) for our last night’s meal and then returned to PJ’s for dessert.

Friday and Saturday we were off early to head to Boston for our Boston College reunion! Well, not without another stop at our new favorite French bakery for some breakfast. After that, we drove to Boston and checked into reunion. While we were only around for about 24 hours (before heading to a wedding in Boston Sat. night), our time was fun and included re-living many BC memories, including:

  • Staying in Edmonds, my junior year dorm!
  • A lobster bake (yes, more lobster. I don’t know my total lobster consumption, I lost count after the 3 full ones, 2+ lobster rolls and ) – the same way our freshman year started off!
  • Walking around the Reservoir, the place where B and I first held hands and then later got engaged
  • Taking a walk into Cleveland Circle, grabbing Pino’s for lunch, a stop at Mary Ann’s, a Reservoir run, and walking by Roggies (with a quick stop in)
  • Walking up the Million Dollar Staircase to Main Campus
  • A stop in Hillside to smell the fresh Starbucks brewing, paninis grilling and homemade chips (Yes, even after living in the real world and experiencing real food, I still love BC Dining)
  • And of course seeing so many great faces, friends and wonderful people from college

my beautiful alma mater at night

3 outta 6 ‘aint bad – half of Mod 25B! (plus a photobomber)

The weekend ended with a college wedding which featured not only a ceremony in BC’s signature church but a reception downtown with rooftop dancing and gorgeous Boston views (congrats Matt and Kim!) and a high school graduation (congrats Ignatius grads!). And now we’re back in the grind … until my next trip – Ireland!