The Week Where I Do More Than I Do On a Typical Weekend

Happy Friday! How was your four-day week?  Hopefully nearly as good as mine. Somehow I found myself doing some pretty fun stuff this week – (and we all know that typically fun stuff is reserved for the weekend) and hope you did too! Here’s a snapshot at some of the awesomeness that hopefully continues to the weekend.

DCA City Advocates Meeting and Happy Hour

I love my City Advocates class. They’re so excited about improving the city we live in and spreading the word about the great stuff happening in our neighborhoods. This week, the Director of Economic Development, Tracey Nichols (a fellow east coaster!), spoke to our class about all the super exciting things happening in Cleveland and all we can look forward to in the coming months and years. I’ve said this before, but it’s an exciting time to live in Cleveland! Post-meeting, our group met for drinks. I typically have to travel for work after our meetings and miss out, but this week my travel didn’t coincide with my City Advocates meeting! Score!

team awesome

Part of my City Advocate cohort (named .. Team Awesome). Disclosure – this photo is not from this week…it’s from when we were in the Diamond Lounge of the Horseshoe Casino so it’s still pretty awesome.

U.S. vs. Belgium Soccer Game and Tailgate

That’s right, Team U.S.A. played in downtown Cleveland this week! So naturally, B, Dave, and a large group of Dave’s friends (seriously, how does he know so many people?) got tickets to the friendly match against Belgium. The occasion started with tailgate on Dave’s roof followed by some pretty awesome seats at the game – and glorious, beautiful, summerlike weather through it all. Although we didn’t win, it was still a really fun night.

Despite the awesome attire, we didn't win.

Despite the awesome patriotic attire, we didn’t win.

20130529_201022 (0)

fun fact – in college I tutored a guy that used to play on the U.S. men’s team! 

CAUSEMOB to Support Breakthrough Charter Schools and Happy Hour

This week also included a happy hour slash CAUSEMOB to help assist the awesome local Breakthrough Charter Schools. If you don’t know about them, here’s a super recent segment from CBS News about this Cleveland organization that is changing the way we look at education. It’s really interesting to see what they’re doing and some of their amazing results.

Sidenote – CAUSEMOBS are run by a few of my fellow Bridge Builders classmates. They’re monthly … more to come because you should definitely consider attending the next one if you’re in town:

What is a CAUSEMOB? Think cash mob for a nonprofit. The idea is to expose lots of people to lots of different nonprofits, raise funds for a specific need of the nonprofit and provide a vehicle for networking and socializing with other intelligent, caring, compassionate people. Like a cash mob, each participant commits to donating at least $20 – of which 100% goes directly to the nonprofit.


Captain America Filming (don’t worry, there’s no “and Happy Hour” to follow this one)

This whole week (and beyond) the streets of Cleveland have been shut down as they’re turned to scenes from DC for the filming of Captain America. It’s been fun, loud, distracting, etc. And probably a nuisance for those that drive into work. Thank goodness I walk!

scene from my window at  work. The car chase scene is getting ready!

scene from my window at work. The car chase scene is getting ready!

Wait ... where am I? (DC Metro sign outside my office)

Wait … where am I? (DC Metro sign outside my office)

AND two films of them filming. Sorry for the horrible quality, shaky hands, dirty windows, etc. That’s why I’m not a videographer.

And this one has some gunshots, I swear.

How has your week been? Hopefully just as awesome. Cheers to an even better weekend!

A few questions for your Friday:

  • What’s your ideal week? Do you prefer coming home after work or having plans? I hate being bored … but I’m looking forward to coming right home after work ONE day next week!
  • Have you ever heard of a CAUSEMOB? Been to one?
  • Did you go to a public or private school growing up?
  • Are you involved with any fun civic engagement activities?
  • Any exciting weekend plans? Yes! An Indians game (Dollar Dogs and fireworks!) plus I have an event Saturday for a nonprofit I’m working with, a project for work that will need to get done on Sunday, AND B and I are babysitting his niece and nephew! 

Everything In My Pantry Cookies

I’ve been wanting to make cookies all week. It’s been too long. But last weekend we traveled, and I was super busy slash sick last weekend, so baking has been on the backburner (is that a pun?). Anyway, this weekend we celebrated Memorial Day with B’s family and I was keeping my fingers crossed that we’d be assigned desserts, so I could make some of my favorite Red, White and Blue Desserts, or even some new truffles that I’ve been dying to make. Long story short, we were assigned appetizers (which made for some cooking adventures – we brought Buffalo Chicken Dip and Garlicky White Bean Dip, recipes coming soon!), so I thought I’d go another weekend without baking. That didn’t happen. Sunday night, after dinner, B took a nap, so I decided to see what I had in the pantry to bake something. Who doesn’t love waking up to the smell of freshly baked cookies?

I found a whole lotta stuff – oats, pretzels, white chocolate chips, mini chocolate chips, Butterfinger bars, M&Ms, Rice Krispies (leftover from the Nutella Rice Krispie Treats) and more – so I decided to bake with all of that. Some people call these Garbage Cookies, others call them Compost Cookies … I’m just calling them Everything In My Pantry Cookies. Because if you find something that sounds like it would be good in a cookie – why not?

everything in my pantry cookies -cookies with white chocolate, chocolate, pretzels, rice krispies and more

Everything In My Pantry Cookies

Here’s what you need:

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 ¼ c brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs (I used ¼ c Egg Beaters plus 1 organic egg)
  • 1 tbs vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ c flour
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 ¾ c oats (I had Instant on hand)
  • ½ c butter pretzels, crumbled
  • 1 handful M&Ms
  • ½ c mini semisweet chocolate chips
  • ½ c white chocolate chips
  • ½ c peanut butter chips
  • 5 Fun Size Butterfingers, crushed
  • 2 ½ c Rice Krispies

Here’s what you do:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Mix butter and sugars until creamy. Add vanilla and continue mixing. Then add eggs and beat well.
  3. Combine flour, baking soda and baking powder. Add to creamed mixture and combine well.
  4. Add in oats and pretzels, and then add in whatever you happen to have on hand. I added the m&ms, chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, crushed Butterfinger, and then the Rice Krispies last (so they stayed crispy, not mushy).
  5. Keep the batter in the fridge for 1 hour, or 30 min in the freezer to help them from spreading when you bake them. I’m not 100% sure that they’d spread because I didn’t try baking these without this step, but they didn’t spread and I froze them so I’m going with it.
  6. Use a fun cookie scooper to scoop balls of dough onto a cookie sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes or until golden brown, then allow to cool on a rack.
  7. Enjoy!
everything in my pantry cookies -cookies with white chocolate, chocolate, pretzels, oats, rice krispies and more

here’s what I used!

monster cookies, garbage cookies, everything in my pantry cookies -cookies with white chocolate, chocolate, pretzels, oats, rice krispies and more

Enjoy! I promise they taste better than they look.

The Formula for a Perfect Three-Day Weekend

I had the perfect three-day weekend. Despite the lack of warm, sunny weather (thus squashing my plan to just sit on my patio or at the beach with a book all weekend), I enjoyed every second of it. It was my ideal weekend – partially productive, partially lazy, and partially fun/partying.  That’s right – I have created the formula for the perfect 3 day weekend:

perfect 3day weekend

1 Part Productivity

How was I productive? Let me see. I cleaned our bathroom, our kitchen, and one of my drawers (I even got rid of 2 shirts!). I finished two books I was reading. I baked cookies, made two appetizers for our Memorial Day bbq and even cooked dinner one night (which shouldn’t be a big deal, but we hadn’t planned on eating in at all this weekend). I got a haircut AND a pedicure (this may go into the laziness section, feel free to disagree). I ran each day of my weekend, including one day when I ran 6ish miles TO Starbucks, where I met B and them we went grocery shopping. Oh yeah, so we also went grocery shopping – both Giant Eagle AND the West Side Market, so we’re stocked up on fresh produce for the entire week.

See, I cleaned the bathroom!

See, I cleaned the bathroom!

monster cookies, garbage cookies, everything in my pantry cookies -cookies with white chocolate, chocolate, pretzels, oats, rice krispies and more

Cookies made out of pretty much everything in my pantry …

Said books I finished. Thank you Cleveland Public Library!

Said books I finished. Thank you Cleveland Public Library!

Impromptu cooked dinner - roasted chicken with veggies and pinto beans

Impromptu cooked dinner – roasted chicken with veggies and pinto beans

1 Part Partying

Saturday, B and I went to the wedding of one of his coworkers. It was a beautiful outdoor ceremony at the Glidden House in Cleveland. Of course, like most weddings, the night involved lots of dancing and imbibing. Congrats to Sean and Danielle!

B and me at the outdoor ceremony

B and me at the outdoor ceremony

gorgeous outdoor ceremony

gorgeous outdoor ceremony

first dance!

first dance!

1 Part Laziness

The morning after the “partying” part, I felt like just laying in bed all morning. So that’s what I did. I made myself breakfast, then went back to bed to watch some glorious TV. A few minutes of Extreme Couponers? Why not. The Sex and the City movie? Perfect! The beginning of that J-Lo movie where she wants to have a baby and gives up on finding her perfect man so she has artificial insemination and becomes pregnant and guess what – that’s when she finds the perfect guy – sure! I even caught part of an old Hillary Duff movie, The Perfect Man, which had some awesome cameos of stars I watch now, including a girl from Glee AND a guy from Mad Men! And I made a new running playlist, so that when I DID get out of bed, I’d have the perfect mix to run to.

See, that guy is from Mad Men. How cute is he as Hillary Duff’s admirer? (sorry for the weird subtitles, it’s the best clip I could find)

Cheers to a wonderful weekend!

Some questions for you:

  • How did you spend your three-day weekend? Were you lazy? Productive? Both?
  • What’s your idea of a perfect long weekend?
  • Did you get in any runs this weekend?
  • How long do you typically go between haircuts? The haircut gods wont like this, but my last haircut before this weekend had been May 2012, after marathon training. Yes, it had been JUST over a year since I had gotten my hair chopped off last. 
  • What’s on your running mix?
  • Do you have any plans for the four-day week? I’ve got something in store for each day – from a happy hour, to a Cause Mob, to a DCA City Advocates meeting, to an Indians Game, to the U.S. Belgium Soccer Game, it’s going to be a great week!

Belated April Running Update!

This week is the Cleveland Marathon Week! It’s crazy to think about where I was this time last year. I had just finished my last long run and was ready for the race … and then found out that I couldn’t run because of the foot and tibia stress fractures.  As you may recall, this year I did not sign up because I’ll be out of town – but I do plan to run this week AND give you all a running update. It’s been a while since I gave a running update – I have no idea where May has gone. I am embarrassed that May is halfway through and I haven’t told you all about how I’m meeting my goal. Spoiler alert – I am!

Last year on this date ... My parents had come to watch me run the marathon and instead I had the boot for 2 days.

Last year on this date … My parents had come to watch me run the marathon and instead I had the boot for 2 days.

My goal is to get to 1,000 miles this year. I won’t tell you where I am now (since we are in the middle of May) but April was a good month, as you can see by my training screenshots (thanks Dailymile!). It’s actually even my best month thus far – I beat January by 3 miles.

Year To Date Monthly Miles:

January 136
February 111
March 113
April 139

Some April running highlights:

  • I can’t claim the weather helped me too much this month – April 1 it was flurrying out and later that week it was in the 20s. Which isn’t my happy running weather. I’ve decided my happy running weather is 55-65 – that’s the weather I enjoy the most to run in.
  • If I bring my phone, I can’t stop taking pictures while I run. I love it. As long as I’m not running for time, I don’t mind stopping and taking a photo.
  • The week of the Boston Marathon was rough for me. I had a few days where I just felt really down, emotionally, as a runner, a former Bostonian, and a human. Still, I made it my goal to run at least 26.2 miles that week (my typical goal is 20 mi/week), a goal I met easily.
  • I got in a few longish, unplanned runs – about 9 miles – over the weekends. I tend to only do these sorts of runs when I’m training for something, but with the weather being nice (toward the end of the month) and my motivation being high, I couldn’t help myself.
  • I did NOT run the Cleveland 10 miler. And, go figure, the weather wasn’t rainy and chilly as it had been in years past. I was out of town that weekend, but still was able to run 12 miles that weekend on my own.
A view from one of my runs. Yes, I stopped to take a photo.

A view from one of my runs. Yes, I stopped to take a photo.

And now, the moment you’ve been waiting for – the mileage charts:

First week in April: 26 miles total

week of apr 1

Second week in April: 37 miles! Holy cow. Not sure HOW that even was possible without a training schedule?

week of apr 15

Third week in April: 30 miles

week of april 8

Fourth week in April: 35 miles

week of apr 22

Last week in April: 38 miles. Some of which will go in May’s mileage number.

week of apr 29

Some thoughts to ponder:

  • Are you still keeping up with your resolutions or goals for the year?
  • What’s your happy running weather? Do you have a certain temperature that you prefer to run in? Yes- 55-65 degrees. I don’t even mind a little drizzle. 40-70 degrees isn’t that bad, but once it gets colder or warmer, I don’t enjoy it as much. Plus it depends on the time of year – 40 degrees in December is much more enjoyable than 40 degrees in June!
  • What do you to track your mileage- a Garmin? A running app like MapMyRun or RunKepper? Or do you measure it out after the run? I do it all! B has a Garmin that he uses when we run (I bought it for him). I tend to just measure after the run using Dailymile unless I know I want to go out for a certain distance – then I use MapMyRun.

PS – Not running related, but HAPPY ANNIVERSARY MOM AND DAD 🙂

Toffee Nutella Rice Krispie Treats

As I mentioned earlier,  when I found myself with a brand new jar of Nutella last week, I knew there was only one thing to do  – eat it with a spoon – bake with it!

Since B isn’t a huge Nutella fan, I chose recipes with only a hint of Nutella. The second (and sadly, last) of my Nutella baking bash (aka the jar was finished) was borrowed from one of the best bloggers in the entire world … The Pioneer Woman! When I saw her Nutella Krispie Treats, I knew I had to try them. I admit, I was a little nervous – I had never made Rice Krispie Treats before. But I felt a little better when B informed me that “rice krispie treats are the easiest things to bake in the world and even children make them” (yes, he instills confidence in me).

Here’s my spin on them. It’s a little different, and includes my FAVORITE CANDY in the world (besides Reese’s .. and cookies and cream bars … and white chocolate … and jelly beans) – Heath Bar!  Enjoy.

heath bar toffee nutella rice krispee treats

Toffee Nutella Rice Krispie Treats

Here’s what you need:

  • 5 tbsp butter
  • 1 10-oz bag marshmallows
  • 1/3 cup Nutella
  • 1-2 tbsp milk (I used almond milk because that’s what I had on hand)
  • 6 cups Rice Krispies
  • 1 1/2 cup Miniature Marshmallows
  • 1  c  crushed Heath Bar
  • 1 c. semisweet chocolate chips

Here’s what you do:

  1. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add marshmallows and salt and stir until melted. Halfway through the melting process, add Nutella and milk. When smooth, turn off heat.   
  2. Meanwhile, melt semi-sweet chocolate over a double boiler, until smooth. Remove from heat and let it cool quite a bit. 
  3. Add Rice Krispies to the saucepan. When the Rice Krispies are well covered, add in the  mini-marshmallows and continue folding until everything’s combined. 
  4. Immediately press mixture into a thoroughly greased 9 x 13-inch pan. Sprinkle with the Heath Bar candy and then drizzle the melted chocolate over the bars. 
  5. Allow to cool and set completely before cutting.  Enjoy!! They go well with other Nutella baked goods … including these Peanut Butter, Nutella, Chocolate Pretzel Bars. 

heath bar toffee nutella rice krispee treats 1

Weekends In My Second Home – New York (Part Two)

Friday night I had planned on staying with my brother in his dorm room. I did it last year, and post-dinner we had just hung out, chatted and gone to bed, which is kinda what I thought we were going to do this year. I was wrong! This year, Greg wanted to take me out with his friends. I’m clearly not in college anymore. His friends were meeting at 11 p.m. to go out … yes, 11, which is later than I typically go out now. We went to a bar only a few blocks away from campus, a bar that gave out free shots of anything (including tequila) if you friended them on Facebook. And then it started pouring out, and none of us had umbrellas. You can tell from those last two sentences how my night was. It was a good time – I enjoyed meeting my brothers’ friends, partying like a college student for one night and getting stuck in the rain.

this is what happens when Greg and I hangout... a photoshoot

this is what happens when Greg and I hang out

Saturday morning we woke up pretty early (sleeping on a dorm room floor isn’t easy, even if you have a blow up mattress), and Greg suggested we go for a quick, short run while he waited for his laundry. Another impromptu, unplanned run in New York? Score! After the run, we enjoyed breakfast and then it was time to say goodbye as my parents and B were on their way to pick me up to visit my grandma while my brother studied for finals.

Grandma, dad and me

Grandma, dad and me

My grandma lives in an assisted living home with a lot of other elderly people. It was SO nice to see her – it’d been a few months – but it’s always hard seeing her living there, as opposed to the apartment I saw her in when I was growing up. I hope that when I’m old and if I’m living in an assisted living home I take advantage of all the activities they have. Posted in the elevator I saw the schedule for the weekend included crafts, live music, a morning walk, and even some fresh-baked apple pie BEFORE dinner.

After visiting my grandma we headed back up to Albany and went out to a really delicious dinner at a Turkish restaurant. My parents went to Turkey last year to visit my brother who had an internship there over the summer (see how cool he is?) and I’m convinced that since then they enjoy Turkish food more. Anyway, I gobbled it all  up before taking any photos because I was so hungry after smelling the warm apple pie cooking all afternoon. I fell asleep on the couch at home (see, this time home means in Albany!) after a tiring but relaxing day.

Mother's Day Brunch

Mother’s Day Brunch

Sunday I woke up and my parents were getting ready to go for their usual hour and a half walk around the neighborhood. I decided to join them, but go on a run first and meet them halfway. For some reason (perhaps fueled by the amazing Turkish food?), I ran faster than I normally do – my MapMyRun app clocked me at running 4.75 miles in under 42 minutes! After my faster-than-usual run, I found my parents and enjoyed a leisurely walk home with them.

sunday run splits

Check out my splits for the run! I’m not typically this fast unless it’s a race.

After our walk/run, we went out to Mother’s Day brunch in downtown Albany. We had reservations at Justin’s on Lark Street, which had a great breakfast and live piano music. I enjoyed a latte, some cornbread and a great brunch of eggs over easy, french toast, bacon, potatoes and toast. I was starving (again!) and finished it all. Post-brunch, the weather looked nice, so we headed over to Washington Park where Tulip Fest was going on. The Tulip Festival happens every spring in Albany and features live music, food vendors, family-friendly activities during the day and other activities at night, and even the crowning of a Tulip Queen. We only had time to walk around for a little before it was time to head back home, pack and head to the airport.

mom dad me tulips

As always, it was sad to leave my parents and head back to Cleveland. But it was such a beautiful weekend and I had such a good time, which made leaving easier. I hope everyone had a great Mother’s Day weekend as well!

And since there are no food photos in this post, I’ll leave you with what B and I enjoyed for dinner after we got off the plane late Sunday evening for dinner – Vietnamese.

I <3 Vietnamese Food

I ❤ Vietnamese Food

Some questions:

  • Do you live in the same city as your parents/siblings? If not, do you visit them often? My family is all in New York, but I try to get out there a few times a year. I also love hosting them in Cleveland! 
  • What time is too late to go out at night? No time – but I think getting ready to go out at 11 p.m. is too late for me now. I guess I’m getting old!
  • Do your parents work out or have a work out routine that they stick to? Yes! They have for as long as I remembered. We would go to the YMCA as a family when I was young or go on long walks. Which is probably why I have always felt the need to stay active and get in a run or some other activity every day.
  • Do you enjoy brunch food? What’s your favorite? I typically enjoy the more savory brunch foods like eggs – I don’t really like pancakes, waffles, french toast, etc.

Weekends In My Second Home – New York (Part One)

I love New York. For those that don’t know, I was born in New York City and lived there until my parents moved up to Albany where I grew up before living in Boston, and eventually where I am now – Cleveland.

I always talk about “going home” when I go to back to New York. But when people ask me where “home” is, I say Cleveland. It sometimes seems like I don’t know where home is – but I’m fine with that. Having multiple homes makes it easy to feel at home at a few different places. And this weekend I had booked tickets to spend Mother’s Day with my mom at home – in New York City and Albany. Unlike my last impromptu trip home a few weeks ago, this time B was joining me!

Thursday night, B and I left Cleveland and flew into NYC. Right from the airport, we took a taxi to meet up with B’s friend Jared (who says he reads this blog … Hi Jared!) who was out with his coworkers and girlfriend, celebrating his last day of work. Jared has been working as a high-powered NYC lawyer pretty much since he finished law school, and his coworkers threw him a goodbye bash at a whiskey bar in Hell’s Kitchen, On The Rocks. The lawyers had been there for quite some time and were having a good time when we arrived, suitcases in hands. We stayed, had some drinks, and joined in the celebration before calling it a night and heading back uptown to Jared’s place.

On to Friday. B and I spent Friday sightseeing  It was great! Jared lives on Central Park West and I was able to start the day with a 3.7ish mile run (per my MapMyRun App as seen below) through Central Park, which was beautiful, as you can see. I knew that as soon as I laced up my sneakers and went outside that it was going to be a good day – days starting with runs are always better.

central park mapmyrun

Post-run, B and I walked downtown to Rockefeller Center to meet my best friend Jane for lunch. Jane is pretty awesome (obviously, she was my maid of honor) and after getting a degree in city planning/urban development, she moved to NYC to find a job – she’s now living in Brooklyn and temping downtown. We enjoyed some delicious sandwiches, walked around a bit, and then B and I left Jane to do some more exploring.

brian and me rockefeller

one of my bffs - jane!

one of my bffs who lives WAY too far away – jane!

From Rockefeller Center, we walked to one of my favorite places in NY, Eataly. We didn’t buy anything this time (too full from lunch), but I loved seeing all the people enjoying the gelato and smelling all the delicious food.

From there, we headed to One World Trade Center. I had been by there after 9/11 but before the memorial was being built so it was my first time seeing what had become of the area. We didn’t check out the memorial though – I don’t think I’m ready for that.

one world trade center

From there, we walked to South Street Seaport to get a view of the Brooklyn Bridge. It was a beautiful day and we sat for a little bit (my feet were tired!) and I bought a bag of candy to help enjoy the view (candy makes everything, even existing gorgeous views, better).

Pretty sure he doesn't like posing for photos but humors me :)

Pretty sure he doesn’t like posing for photos but humors me

Then, we headed to the Financial District so B could check out Wall Street. B had never been to Wall Street and enjoyed checking out where the original wall used to be (isn’t it crazy to think that NYC used to end all the way down there?!) and the Stock Exchange Building.

Look, it's a map of Ohio!

Look, it’s a map of Ohio!

After that, we hit up Chinatown. I was tempted to buy a bag of strange dried stuff (ginger, scallops, plums, unnamed fish) from a shop we stopped in, but we were on our way to dinner and I had just bought a bag of candy. It was such a gorgeous day and walking around was exactly what we wanted to do.


By then, it was time to meet my brother in the West Village. We headed back up the island and getting to the area a little early, sat down for afternoon drinks at Bobo. My brother joined us, bringing with him flowers! He had brought me tulips. How sweet, huh? Anyway, I had a lovely ginger mojito and my brother had a lemon-rosemary gin beverage. It’s still weird having my brother order drinks in bars – he just turned 21 and I’m not used to it.



After drinks, we headed to dinner, and B headed back uptown to meet up with Jared again. Greg and I had a great meal at a BYOB French restaurant, Tartine, in the West Village where we ate outside. We shared two salads – one warm kale with butternut squash, the other fennel and asparagus with avocado and ricotta salata – and then the special entree – an almond encrusted halibut with a creamy polenta and asparagus. And of course, since it was BYOB, we enjoyed a bottle of a French wine that B and I had picked up along the way.

As we were leaving dinner, I had one of my first celebrity sightings – we saw Hugh Jackman! It was awesome. We actually were about to head to the train and ended up following Hugh for a few blocks. I was literally one foot behind him and could’ve touched him at one point. It was surreal! I wish I had taken a picture … but you would’ve just seen the back of a guy in a white polo shirt and a blonde woman and a small pug dog, so you’ll just have to trust me. And instead, enjoy this photo that I did NOT take:

I did not take this photo. 😦

To Be Continued …

And in the meantime, some thoughts to ponder:

  • Do you enjoy impromptu runs? Or do you prefer to plan a route ahead of time?
  • Have you ever had a celebrity sighting? What did you do? 
  • Where do you call home? Do you have two homes?
  • Have you tried any of the dried scallops or other fishes from Chinatown?

Another Wonderful Weekend in the CLE

We had another wonderfully sunny, warm and beautiful weekend in Cleveland! Since I was out of town last weekend, I was excited for a few days of sleeping, a long run or two, and overall a relaxing weekend.

Friday night, B and I got a few invites to watch the Indian’s game or go out with friends, but we already had plans – a First Communion celebration. B’s cousin was receiving her First Communion and we were invited to the Mass and a dinner celebration after. It was great to see B’s family and we enjoyed some great food – including some homemade smoked salmon. I wish I had taken a photo – it was SO good! We got home somewhat late and since we had planned on a day full of errands and partying, for Saturday, we decided to stay in and watch up on our DVR and bake. I had my own mini Nutella bakefest – and made some awesome Peanut Butter, Nutella, Chocolate Pretzel Bars, along with some Nutella Heath Bar Rice Krispie Treats (recipe coming soon), while sipping wine. Definitely not a bad way to spend a Friday night in my opinion 🙂

a sneak peek at my baking - nutella rice krispie treats!

a sneak peek at my baking – Nutella rice krispie treats!

Saturday morning, we woke up early to cross a few items on our to-do list – mine included running, going to the West Side Market, laundry, finishing baking and going to Kentucky Derby Party. And somehow, I got it all done!  I got in 7 miles – the first 3 by myself, and the last 4 with B. Running with B is so much better than running alone!

running by the lake this week

running by the lake this week

After our run, B and I headed to the West Side Market for some groceries and samples. I LOVE the popcorn stand there and cannot make a trip there without trying my favorite flavor, Dichotomy (a mix between caramel and cheddar) and one new one, this time the spicy jalapeno popcorn. While we  were there, I checked my phone and saw that Market Garden Brewery was offering a Kentucky Derby special – buy a mint julep and get a special official Kentucky Derby glass!

market derby

So of course we had to make a stop and try out their juleps. For the free glasses of course. And a soft pretzel.

Mint julep at Market Garden Brewery

Mint julep on the patio at Market Garden Brewery

After stopping by the Market and enjoying some afternoon drinks, I finished my baking and did some laundry, and we got ready for the Kentucky Derby Party. Each year, B’s brother and sister-in-law host a Derby Party. There is plenty of food, lots of drinks, and even a little gambling. As always, it was a fun event – and this year, I even won! I somehow guessed the 1st place winner, and even put money on #3 to come in 3rd place.

B's niece in my hat

B’s niece in my hat

ladies with hats

ladies with hats

winning ticket!

winning ticket!

After having a few mint juleps and  Black-eyed Susans (the official drink of the Preakness), I had planned on sleeping in on Sunday.  But when B got ready to go to his Sunday morning softball games, I decided to join him and even go for a run while the team was playing. The first few miles were tough – my feet were a little tired after a week of running, but after I got warmed up, it was great. The area where B plays softball is a mixture of suburbs and parks, so it’s definitely not boring. I turned on some tunes and even turned on my MapMyRun app  for motivation. And don’t worry, I took Monday off from running so my legs got some time to relax.

The rest of the afternoon was pretty relaxing – starting a new book, catching up on emails, preparing some meals for the week, and more catching up on the DVR. Slightly boring? Maybe. A pretty perfect day? In my mind, yes.

Some questions to ponder:

  • Do you make to-do lists on your weekends? 
  • Do you enjoy the occasional low-key (“boring”) weekend? Yes! Sometimes a perfect weekend for me is spending time just baking and running.
  • How did you celebrate the Kentucky Derby? Did you win any money?
  • What’s on your DVR? We have Mad Men, Happy Endings, The Mindy Project, Glee, The Voice and New Girl.
  • What’s the last thing you baked?

Awesomeness – Peanut Butter, Nutella, Chocolate Pretzel Bars

A week ago, a coworker mentioned she had some extra Nutella laying around – she had bought some a while ago but didn’t seem to be using it. I immediately jumped at the chance to take it off her hands – and of course try a few recipes I’d been eyeing.

When I found myself with a completely unopened jar on my hands, I wasn’t sure what to make. B doesn’t really like Nutella – but if it were a recipe that had just a subtle hint of Nutella , among other flavors, that may do. I saw a recipe for a peanut butter pretzel bar – and it looked amazing. Seeing that, I thought – what could make that better? Nutella! And these bars were born.

Peanut butter, nutella, chocolate pretzel bars

I have two warnings for you if you try to make them:

1. They are addicting. They are SO good and taste amazing.

2. The pretzel crust and peanut butter didn’t hold too well together, so they didn’t look too nice. but since they tasted amazing, I didn’t really care. That’s why I’ve added the following note:

NOTE: I need to make this recipe again, with the proposed suggestions:

  • IF I decide to continue with a pretzel crust, I would recommend making sure the pretzels are finely ground to help them stay. The crust didn’t stay as well as I wanted
  • I think next time I would prefer to have the bottom layer be peanut butter, middle layers be chocolate and then Nutella and then sprinkle pretzels or heath bar on top

Peanut Butter, Nutella, Chocolate Pretzel Bars

Here’s what you need:

  • 3 cups crushed butter flavored pretzels
  • 1 cup melted butter plus 1 1/2 c butter, softened
  • 6 tbsp sugar
  • 1 box graham crackers, crumbled in a food processor
  • 3 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 1/4 cup Nutella, divided into 1/4 cup and 1 cup

Here’w what you do:

  1. Crush the butter pretzels in the blender. Grind well, but not into a powder – it’s good with some texture. Mix the pretzels with 1 c. melted butter and 6 tbsp sugar. Set aside about 1/2 c. of the crushed pretzel mixture and spread the rest into a 9×13 well-greased pan. Bake for 12-15 min in 400 degree oven.
  2. While the pretzel crust is baking, mix together the rest of the butter, graham cracker crumbs, confectioners sugar, vanilla and peanut butter until blended and smooth. Pour the mixture over the pretzel crust when cool. Refrigerate for 1 hour, or until firm.
  3. In the microwave, melt the chocolate chips and 1/4 cup of Nutella, stirring until smooth. Be careful not to let the chips burn.
  4. Spread the chocolate Nutella mixture over the peanut butter layer, and refrigerate for another hour, until firm.
  5. Spread the additional 1 cup of Nutella over the chocolate layer, and refrigerate again. When the bars are firm, cut into squares.
  6. Enjoy!! I stored mine in the fridge to keep the pretzel crust crunchy.

nutella peanut butter chocolate bars