Celebrating FW

Wow, what a fun-filled jam-packed weekend. We packed so many activities into two days! Why? Because FW turned TWO on Saturday. So, we made sure to do as much fun things we could to celebrate him. It was great to make him feel special, especially since he now has a 1-month-old sister and he has to share the attention with!

Saturday morning we started the day with his favorite – pancakes!

They even brought out in muffin with a candle on it to blow out and sang Happy Birthday. He loved it!

After breakfast, we headed to the zoo. FW gets a membership from one of his uncles for his birthday and it’s such a perfect gift!

Francis LOVES animals, especially giraffes and elephants. So, the zoo was pretty much his ideal birthday location.

We even checked out the new Asian Highland’s exhibit.

We were there for several hours, and I discovered that they even have a nursing room for moms! It has two rockers, a privacy partition, children’s books and more. Yes, we may have spent some time in there.

At night, we all headed to the Indians game. FW seemed more interested in the mascot and music than the game. He did love “the baseball song” of course.

My parents also came in town to celebrate the birthday! They got in Saturday night, and we started off Sunday with a walk to breakfast.

That afternoon, we had people over to celebrate FW. B grilled, and my mom and I helped with the sides.

B’s mom made a great birthday cake – it was a bear with a soccer ball! FW loved it.

I know I had a good time – and I hope FW did, too. I can’t my little buddy is already 2 years old!

Some questions for you:

  • Do you like zoos?
  • What is your favorite kind of cake?

I’m linking up with the weekly wraps!

Sprinkle, Sick and Spring?

Happy Monday! We had a schizophrenic weekend in terms of weather. We started off with some sunny and 70 degree weather and ended with 30s and rain. Thus is Cleveland’s spring!

With the warm weather on Friday, it was the perfect day to enjoy a brightly colored smoothie.

Our carefree Friday ended early though, with a call from daycare to pick up a sick FW. So we spent time on the porch with a sick toddler — at least we spent the afternoon outside enjoying the warm weather.

We continued with pizza for dinner on the porch.

Saturday morning started with a trip to the lake to watch the fish and the geese. FW seemed to be feeling a little better.

FW loved looking at the fish, but here’s a picture of the geese.

Then, it was time for brunch for me!

My friends are the best; they threw me a little sprinkle to celebrate baby #2, and I am so grateful.

That afternoon, we had plans to go to an Indians game. B and I were going to drop off FW and go out, just the 2 (or 2.5) of us. But things changed when FW’s fever turned into a stomach flu when he threw up while sitting on my lap. Toddler sick with a stomach virus and fever does not make for a good combo. We hung out with him the rest of the afternoon and he seemed to be feeling a little better by nighttime.

Since B’s mom already had plans to watch FW she came over after we put him to bed and B and I went out to dinner. It was our first grown up date in a while and it was fun! We had a pretty good meal at Trentina, followed by some ice cream.

This was our dinner – see that candle? It was made of beef – so when it melted you dipped your bread in it!

Of course, I had room for dessert. Cookie butter ice cream – even though it was 30 degrees (B thought I was crazy).

Sunday was a pretty lazy day. It involved lots pouring rain, so we stayed inside with FW while he recovered. We did do a little shopping and I finally got to take advantage of this!

That evening, we had dinner at B’s parents’ house and celebrated his sister’s birthday! FW loved singing happy birthday – it’s one of his new favorite songs!

We also watched the Cavs game … sadly, they lost, but FW had his gear on.

Some questions for you:

  • Are you watching playoff basketball?
  • Did it feel springlike near you?

I’m linking up with the weekly wraps!

Training Tuesday: Cleveland Marathon Kickoff Run (And Discount Code!)

Happy Tuesday! It’s actually a special Tuesday over here – it’s my birthday, woo woo!

And like any runner, I was looking forward to starting the day semi-early and going for a run.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Here is how last week’s runs went:

It was mostly an indoor week, but I did get in one outdoor run – Saturday was the Cleveland Marathon kickoff run! B and I did a 5k or so with FW in the stroller. 

It was a nice size group of people – you can’t see me in the group photo (just the top of my head- I’m in front of B and FW and behind the girl with the big pink hat) because I’m too short it seems! I should be closer to the front next time. I’m an ambassador for the race, so I hope to get out to another group run soon!

That run was the highlight of my week. I had been feeling in a slump, just trying to run on the treadmill lately and not really feeling it, but getting outside felt GREAT.

ALSO – exciting news! I have a 10% discount code if you are interested in registering for ANY of the Cleveland Marathon events. Use MCCLE10 when registering herehttps://www.clevelandmarathon.com/runners-info/registration.aspx. You can register for the Kids’ Run, 1 mile, 5k, 8k, 10k, half OR full marathon!

Some questions for you:

  • Have you gotten to run outside lately?
  • Do you do group runs?

Linking up with My No-Guilt Life, Marcia’s Healthy Slice, and MCM Mama Runs

It’s My Birthday!

I had a somewhat big birthday this past weekend. That’s right – I officially am no longer in my twenties.

me at 20

me at 20 with my friend and roomie Cait at BC. Look the same, right? Ha!

I don’t know if it has hit me yet – I know a few of my friends who had minor freakouts when they hit thirty. Other friends at 29 set up “30 before 30” checklists and in a year tried to check everything off their list. Maybe it was the fact that we just got back from a big vacation and I honestly hadn’t had time to think about it, but none of that happened to me. In fact, I somewhat forgot about my birthday (I know, yipes!) until about a week before and then didn’t really have the chance to process it and then it was here! Don’t worry, if I have a freakout or something I’m sure I’ll share it with you. Maybe when I hit 31?

Anyway, thank you to all the friends, family and coworkers that made my birthday celebration SO special. B originally wanted to plan a trip somewhere warm and while I wouldn’t normally turn down a weekend warm weather getaway, we had just gotten back from Asia and I was happy to have the weekend to spend in Cleveland. And it was a pretty fabulous weekend! Some highlights:

Going out to dinner at Flying Fig. B and I split their bread board, bacon wrapped dates, a goat cheese salad and homemade fig ice cream. We also had our own dinner entrees. Needless to say, I was stuffed!

Going out to dinner at Flying Fig. This was my stuffed acorn squash. It was amazing.

Going out to dinner at Flying Fig. This was my stuffed acorn squash. It was amazing.

Grabbing drinks with friends and coworkers downtown.


drinks! part of the group

A trip to the West Side Market and Soupermarket. Pretty much my favorite way to spend Saturdays and I’m so glad B knows this 🙂

soup and bread at Soupermarket!

soup and bread at Soupermarket! (not pictured- apple fritter from the West Side Market)

Some shopping, getting my nails done AND seeing a movie! We saw American Sniper which was SO good but not the best birthday movie to see … it was sad on so so so many levels.

freshly done nails and tea!

freshly done nails and tea!

Enjoying my favorite salad at The Stone Oven. Yes, more food-related highlights. Confession: I’ve had this twice in the week we’ve been back … It has feta, couscous, tabbouleh, amazing croutons, roasted red pepper and chicken. And comes with more bread!

Jaina's Salad at The Stone Oven

Jaina’s Salad at The Stone Oven

Some runs, of course! I started off my birthday with 5 indoor miles (it was too icy and cold to be outside alone in my opinion) and realize I am slowly getting back into my running groove after our vacation. Because it was my birthday, B ran with my TWICE this week. An easy 3.75 mi run and then a not-so-easy (but should have been) 6 miler on Sunday. It was icy, there were patches of snow, and it was windy and cold. I was not having it and actually asked B if he wanted to turn around after 1 mile and try indoors, but he made me keep going. I had planned on doing 5k fast (as part of the Runs For Cookies Virtual 5k) but that didn’t happen. I still made it 5k+3 so I was happy in the end.

This week's  runs, courtesy Dailymile

This week’s runs, courtesy Dailymile

Enjoying a suite for the Cavs game – and they brought home a [big] win against the Charlotte Hornets.

20150123_193556 20150123_211601

We ended the weekend with some reading and relaxing at a local coffee shop, a brisk (brr) nature walk (anything outside of downtown=nature walk) and then Sunday family dinner with my in-laws.

beautiful and snowy day for a run and walk

beautiful and snowy day for a run and walk

Some questions for you:

  • Do you make lists of things to do before a certain date/time? Or perhaps a list of things to do in a year? Or a bucket list? What’s on your list?
  • Any other winter babies? How do you spend your birthdays?
  • Tea or coffee? Both! Sometimes. I like coffee drinks if I need a boost, otherwise I just drink herbal tea.


A Relaxing Birthday Getaway To Vermont

Sunday was my mom’s birthday! She’d kill me if I told you how old she is, but since it was a somewhat milestone celebration, my dad, brother and I wanted to do something special. She is definitely not a surprise-party person (she’d probably also have killed me if I had planned one of those) but she does enjoy the occasional surprise. So, between my dad, brother and I myself we managed to surprise her with a weekend getaway to Vermont.

Being from NY, Vermont is only a short drive away (hour or so) and growing up we often spent long weekends at the various inns, B&Bs, and so on in the beautiful state. Unfortunately, the inn that we so often stayed at was booked with a wedding for her birthday weekend, but we managed to find another great Inn (the Inn at Ormsby Hill) not too far away in Manchester. So we booked the Inn, made Saturday night dinner reservations, and waited hoping that she wouldn’t find out. She knew I was coming home for the weekend and spending three days home (Sat-Mon) but that was it.

I got in from Cleveland around 11 pm Friday night and just relaxed with my family before heading to bed somewhat early. Saturday morning I got in a quick run, and then it was time for the surprise. During breakfast, we handed my mom a birthday card. Inside the card was a picture of the Inn. She was confused, obviously. She didn’t know why the photo was there or what the picture was of. After we explained everything to her, she was pretty much in shock. She had no idea that we had planned her weekend away and even had planned a quick meeting in her office Monday morning (that she was able to postpone).

Me and the birthday girl!

Me and the birthday girl!

What a great weekend in Vermont! Not only was she surprised but we had a wonderful time relaxing, reading, drinking wine, trying Vermont cheese, sight-seeing and eating. My flight back to Cleveland got delayed a day – and while somewhat an inconvenience, it meant spending an extra day with my family and celebrating my mom.

Breakfast at the Inn. This was a polenta egg bake and it was amazing.

Breakfast at the Inn. This was a polenta egg bake and it was amazing.


Another Inn breakfast. We all had our own minim omelets!

Another Inn breakfast. We all had our own mini omelets!

So easy to relax with chairs like this.

So easy to relax with chairs like this.

WWe drove to the top of the Equinox.

We drove to the top of the Equinox.

Great view from the top!

Great view from the top!

Beautiful parents before dinner

Beautiful parents before dinner

Dressed up for dinner in downtown Manchester

Dressed up for dinner in downtown Manchester

We also drove to a museum that ended up having a bunch of land and tons of crazy buildings (including a boat!) on site.

We also drove to a museum (the Shelburne) that ended up having a bunch of land and tons of crazy buildings (including a boat!) on site.

They also had a merry-go-round

The Shelburne also had a merry-go-round

Enjoying some local Vermont cheese.

Enjoying some local Vermont cheese.

Thai for dinner one night

Thai for dinner one night

Surprise! Birthday candle @ the Thai restaurant

Surprise! Birthday candle @ the Thai restaurant

Happy Birthday to the most wonderful woman I know … my mom!


Some questions for you:

  • Any July birthdays? I feel like everyone I know is born this month! Okay maybe not everyone. But quite a few people!
  • Have you ever been to Vermont? What’s your favorite place to visit in the state?
  • Have you ever had a birthday surprise? Or surprised someone for his/her birthday? How did it go?



Friday Five: My birthday week!

I’m off on a mini-birthday weekend getaway (don’t worry, I’m not going far – still staying in SNOhio right now), but before I left I wanted to give a quick birthday week update. I was traveling for work 3 days this week, meaning it was a busy, productive, and speedy week! Still, here are five things I am pretty excited about:

1. So much good food.

I’ve definitely been taking advantage of the “it’s my birthday week” excuse and eating all my favorite meals. Which include some awesome salads from Rothschild Farms, sushi from Sushi 86, Janea’s salad from Stone Oven (not pictured because I gobbled it up too fast), and the Super Salad and some steam buns from Noodlecat (not pictured because the lighting was awful).

Salad from Rothschild farms and quinoa

Salad from Rothschild farms and quinoa

<3 Sushi 86

What? That's not food? You're right. But they are the January shot of the month, which seemed very birthday appropriate.

What? That’s not food? You’re right. But they are the January shot of the month, which seemed very birthday appropriate.

What are some of your favorite meals? Apparently I like salads a lot.

2. This birthday gift!

Not to gush, but I’m pretty pumped about this birthday gift that B made (as in he went to the store, bought wood, paint, hooks, etc.) for me. I’d been creeping on something to hang my bibs/medals on on Etsy,

bda gift

3. My longest treadmill run ever!

This week has been COLD. And snowy. Yes, I know it’s winter (warning, vent coming in 3….2…..1) but enough with the sub-zero temps and slippery roads! Anyway, when I woke up to “0 degrees, feels like -12, snow showers” the other morning, I knew my 9 miles probably weren’t going to happen outside before work. I told myself to just see what I could do on the treadmill, assuming I wouldn’t make it past 6-7 without stopping.

Did I go slow? Yes. Did I enjoy every minute of it? No. But did I do it? Yes. And here’s some proof:

9 mile nonstop run followed by .25 walk. DONE.

9 mile run followed by .25 walk. DONE.

4. Arctic Zero.

Okay, I know I’m late to discover this (it seems like my whole Instafeed is always pics of people enjoying their Arctic Zero), but B bought me 2 pints of it for my birthday and I am so in love with it. No, it doesn’t taste like regular ice cream, but it’s creamy/enjoyable/glorious/amazingnessinabowl nonetheless?

5. This video.

If you work in a corporate setting, you’re probably familiar with the dreaded awkward conference call. In fact, I had one this week – where I not only found myself talking on mute (and everyone else was confused), but at another point had one of those moments where we all talk at once and then have a “oh no you go ahead …” “no you go first” battle and then continue to all talk at once. Yes, those calls. If you’re familiar – enjoy this:


And of course, some questions for you:

  • What’s the longest distance you’ve run on a treadmill? How do you stay entertained?
  • Have you tried Arctic Zero? What flavors do you like?
  • Do you have a birthday coming up?
  • Homemade gifts – yay or nay?

Happy Friday and have a wonderful weekend!

Birthday Cake Batter Cookies

My brother’s birthday is in about a week and he’s turning 21! I can’t believe my baby brother is finally turning the big 2-1. So, to help him celebrate from afar (sorry Greg, I won’t be in NY with you for another month or so), I made some birthday cake cookies in his honor!

I’ve made “cake batter cookies” before – but the recipes I’ve found tended to be mostly just cake batter and came out thin and tasting a little too much like raw cake batter for my liking. This recipe is definitely a keeper- it’s a mashup between a regular chocolate chip cookie recipe and cake batter cookie recipe. The result is a delicious, chewy, perfect cookie.

Have a birthday cake coming up? Or just want an excuse to make delicious cookies that taste like cake batter? Here you go!

birthday cake batter cookies

Birthday Cake Batter Cookies

Recipe modified from Sally’s Baking Addiction

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 ¼ c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 ¼ c boxed yellow cake mix (I had leftovers from the birthday cake truffles)  
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 ½ sticks butter (3/4 c), room temperature – I used 1 stick of low fat butter and ½ stick regular unsalted
  • ¾ c granulated sugar
  • ½ c light brown sugar
  • 1 egg (I used ¼ c Egg Beaters)
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • ½ c chocolate chips
  • ½ c white chocolate chips
  • 1/3 c rainbow sprinkles (I had Christmas sprinkles that I used, plus added some stand alone blue sugar crystals) 

Here’s what you do:

  1. In a medium bowl, combine flour, cake mix and baking soda. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl of a stand mixer (like your KitchenAid), cream together butter and sugars on medium speed. Combine until well mixed.
  3. Add in egg and vanilla until creamed.
  4. Add the dry mixture to the wet ingredients, approximately ½ c at a time. Mix until evenly combined, careful not to overmix.
  5. Using a spatula, fold in chocolate and white chocolate chips and sprinkles.
  6. Refrigerate dough overnight, if possible. If you’re short on time, cover dough and place in a freezer for about 30-45 minutes.   
  7. After dough is chilled, preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  8. Drop rounded tablespoons of the dough onto a baking sheet, prepared with Pam.
  9.  Bake for 10-12 minutes until edges are slightly brown but centers are still soft.
  10. Cool cookies on baking sheet for 2 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. My batter made approximately 36 cookies. 

birthday cake batter cookies

birthday cake cookies 3

Birthday Wrap Up and Thank You!

Last week was my birthday. It was on a Wednesday, a day I happened to be in Toledo for work … so it should have been a normal, ordinary day/week/etc. not worth mentioning. But I have so many awesome friends, family members, and so on, that I have to blog about it.

I have to start by saying I don’t think I’ve ever been one of those people who declares a “birthday month” or “birthday week.” A birthday celebration, to me, always happens on your birthday – or the weekend around it. So, having my birthday on a Wednesday shouldn’t have meant much … but boy, what a birthday!

It started out with dinner at L’Albatros and tickets to see Joshua Bell perform with the Cleveland Orchestra. Joshua Bell. Yes, he really is as amazing as they say in real life (this was my first time seeing him perform) and he really does look 25 years old. AND L’Albatros was amazing as always. B and I started with a cheese plate (you MUST try the epoisses cheese!! My new fave) and fois gras (B’s favorite). For dinner, I enjoyed the vegetarian cassoulet  – I’d definitely recommend it if you like beans … and goat cheese!

Cleveland Orchestra and Post Fridays @ 7 Joshua Bell Performance

joshua bell post joshua bell fridays at 7 cleveland orchestra

I also was treated to quite a few more birthday dinners from friends and coworkers. I enjoyed a fabulous meal at one of the most underrated restaurants in Cleveland (and one of my favorite restaurants) Pura Vida, where I had a lentil pot pie and goat cheese & beet salad (I’m still drooling over them!) and another great meal at Bonefish with drinks, bang bang shrimp, awesome seafood and a surprise dessert. I can’t resist a birthday meal … or two! 🙂

That wasn’t all though. A few of you have been asking about my “Birthday Surprise.”  Well, life has been insane lately. I thought things would get less busy in the New Year, but with work and my other “extracurriculars,” they haven’t … and B has been witness to much of the stress I’ve been under. He convinced me to take the Fri after my birthday off for a Birthday Surprise. Now, in my head, I imagined sleeping in, working out, going shopping, seeing a movie, maybe getting a mani/pedi and then some froyo. OR even driving to Grandpa’s Cheesebarn. Those would have all been a welcome surprise for my day off. So naturally, what followed, was not only SUPER surprising, but pretty awesome.

just your normal January weather

just your normal January weather

B woke me up at 4:30 on my Friday off. Yes, 4:30 in the morning, his alarm went off. Let’s just say I wasn’t thrilled about waking up so early – but definitely intrigued. He told me to shower, put on jeans and sneakers, and we were leaving in 30 minutes. We got in the car around 5 a.m. and he gave me his winter hat to put over my eyes so “I wouldn’t see where we were going.” (Yes, this sounded like an episode of CSI to me!) When the car stopped a little while later, I heard the trunk open (cueing CSI music) and he told me to remove my makeshift blindfold. We were at the airport. I was speechless, not sure where we were going, why were at the airport, or what to do next. “Leave your coat in the car, you won’t need that where we’re going,” was all B said as he led me to security. FINALLY in line for security, he gave me my ticket – CLE to MIA. We were going to Miami. For my birthday.  

no big deal, just standing on the beach in January!

fruity birthday drink!

fruity birthday drinks

more fruity birthday drinks … our hotel may have had a free happy hour

I don’t usually use this blog to gush about B, but seriously – he deserves major husband points. He had packed a bag with all the essentials for a beach vacation, booked us a room just off the beach in South Beach, and planned a complete beach weekend getaway behind my back, because I’d been complaining how cold it was, how I wanted to change my birthday to July, etc.  We had a great trip, stayed at an awesome hotel, and I came back from my birthday weekend with a slight tan.

mandatory selfie on the beach

mandatory selfie on the beach

SO thanks again to all of you who called (yes, real live phone calls and messages!), tweeted, Facebooked, took me out to dinner, sent me cards and gifts for my birthday.  I feel so special! And of course I now have high expectations for my 30th in a few years 🙂

Birthday [Weekend] Wrap Up

Monday was my birthday! I know, Happy Birthday to me : ) Missed it? It’s okay, I’m still accepting belated gifts, flowers, fruit arrangements, etc. And it’s easy to remember next year – 1-23!

Naturally, I decided to celebrate the birthday (it was a big one – I’m no longer in my mid-twenties… I’m in my mid-late twenties!) the whole weekend throughout Cleveland. It was a great time and involved a lot of food, surprises and more food.


Friday began the celebration! Our building had an event so B and I spent the evening enjoying Happy Hour drinks and free bowling at the Corner Alley. I didn’t take any photos because I really didn’t need any evidence of my poor bowling skills (I scored a 48 first round) or sexy bowling shoes (I got them a size up just so I could wear them comfortably with the swollen toe). Friday for dinner B let me choose what I wanted, so we enjoyed a simple feast of cheese (goat, brie and chipotle cheddar), meat (two types of salami) and bread!

Friday also brought the first of my gifts, cards from my parents and Uncle Mike and packages from Jane and my brother arrived. Jane’s gift ended up being a belated wedding gift and one of my favorites thus far – a homemade wedding photo scrapbook. Seriously, this thing is legit and includes our wedding photos, some bachelorette party and shower photos, our invitations, and more. Jane is amazing. My brother also got me an incredible package of a book, a homemade CD with specially-picked tunes (already loaded on my iTunes!) and TWO packages of my favorite ginger candies which I can’t seem to get here.


Saturday morning and afternoon involved two of my favorite activities – shopping and a manicure! I woke up early and got my nails done a fun navy blue color and then dragged B along shopping so I could find a perfect outfit for our dinner date that evening, which ended up being a fun plum colored sparkly dress!

After shopping, B went for his 6 mile run outside while I moped that I couldn’t run did the elliptical and got ready. When B got home from his run he excited me with #1 of the 2 surprises of that night – a new necklace, one I’d been eyeing for some time! Then we headed to Blue Point and enjoyed an amazing dinner dinner. I got the My Blue [Pointe] Heaven, a plate full of scallops (yum), shrimp (double yum), lobster tail (yum yum yum!) and lobster mashed potatoes. Jealous?

For dessert, I decided I wanted Ben & Jerry’s. So we walked to Constantino’s to pick up some ice cream to enjoy on our couch at home … or so I thought!

We walked back toward our apartment and decided to take a shorter, warmer route through Tower City. The next thing I knew, we were in the Ritz and heading up to our own room that B had secretly booked, checked in AND stocked with an overnight bag (including workout clothes!) for me AND champagne (all done while he was on his run). That was Surprise #2 in case you didn’t figure that out.


Sunday included a short workout (elliptical, still no running) in the Ritz’s pretty nice hotel gym/spa area, followed by brunch at the Diner on Clifton. I enjoyed a pretty awesome ahi tuna club sandwich and sweet potato fries (not the only fries of the day). After lunch involved relaxing and watching some Luther episodes (a new favorite show of mine!), afternoon mass (we got chosen to bring up the gifts … they must have known it was my birthday) and then the Greenhouse Tavern for the Chef Sawyer Iron Chef America episode watch/tweetup!

The Tweetup was great. While Chef Sawyer didn’t win :(, B and I enjoyed a night out, fun people and of course, great food. Being neighbors to the restaurant, it was really cool to see the Chef in person and even shake his hand. The chefs had specially prepared some of the food from the show and handed them out as the show aired. The secret ingredient was mint and we enjoyed a mint salad with lamb (I love lamb!) some zucchini – mint fritters and an amazing dessert, the Stoner Sandwich – a mint ice cream sandwich made with a waffle. We may have also splurged on some of the famous gravy frites before the event.


Monday was my real birthday! Finally, right? Monday involved work and then a homemade requested dinner by B. We tried out our pasta attachment for our KitchenAid (B made the dough, I just had fun putting it through the attachment) and B made sauce and turkey meatballs, one of my favorite meals by him.

Thanks so much to everyone who helped make my birthday a great one. I got so many calls, texts, cards, emails, Facebook messages, and so on, and felt so loved. Last year was pretty awesome (moved downtown, got a promotion, got married, went on a honeymoon to Tortola, BVI) and I’m excited about what’s to come. Here’s to another great year!