Running and Feasting – Another Fun Weekend in the CLE

Any weekend recap post that includes “running” and “feasting” in the title has to be a good weekend, right? I mean, what else is there?

Here are some highlights from the weekend.

Okay, the weekend may have started with a little bit of working late. But check out the view from our office as the sun sets – how gorgeous is that?

working late sky

AND I still got out in time to enjoy some patio beverages. I know summer is coming to an end so I am savoring all the remaining patio days!


B and I went for an 8 miler on Sunday. And it was a beautiful day! I love days like this:views on running

And I got to try out some of my new running gear! Like the hot orange shorts? (please ignore the orange lighting in my hallway)
new running clothes

After our run we headed to the West Side Market to pick up some fresh veggies, chicken and a snack (or two). We made sure to stop at Ohio City Farm to get some SUPER local produce, including a huge yellow squash (which prompted B to say, Do you even know what to do with that?).

west side market ohio city veggies

Check it out – it’s Ohio City Farm! Their stand is open next to the West Side Market on Sundays.  They also have a CSA which I want to try – the program goes to support the refugees who live in Cleveland work there. I highly recommend you stop by their location on your next visit to the market.


Sunday included a short recovery run and some more weightlifting at the gym followed by Nike Training Club activities. And some baking. Because Sundays and baking seem to go hand-in-hand don’t they?

homemade biscotti! (recipe posted soon)

And while I was baking I caught the movie, Something Borrowed, on TV. Which was pretty awesome because I read the book years ago and forgot that they had made it into a movie. Who doesn’t like baking AND a chick flick? (PS – I think Kate Hudson plays the same character in nearly every movie)

B and I were also invited to my City Advocate friend Laura’s house in Little Italy to celebrate the Feast! So Sunday afternoon we hopped on the bus and found ourselves in the crowded streets of Cleveland’s Little Italy neighborhood. One of my favorite festivals in Cleveland is the Feast of the Assumption. I ❤ everything Italian and it’s probably the one festival where I could (and try to) eat everything in sight. Give me a cannoli, gelato and some Italian sausage and I’m a happy girl 🙂

The Feast!

Laura even had green, white and red-themed food at her house!  (not pictured – her delicious green white and red flatbread and pasta salad)


Laura is awesome. The veggies came from her CSA and the basil was from her patio herb garden!

We still of course had to stop for a meatball sub on the way back.


B bought this. But he graciously let me have a bite.

And that was it! How was your weekend?  Some questions for you: (and my responses in italic because I know you’re dying to know even more about me) i’d love to hear about you!

  • What’s your favorite type of ethnic food? My favorite – Italian! And then sushi, Mediterranean, and Vietnamese tied for second. 
  • Least favorite type of ethnic food? English. Or German. Or Irish. Not a fan of any of those foods! 
  • Do you go to cultural celebrations in your city? Which ones? We most frequently attend the Feast, Oktoberfest and then the Irish festival. See above for my thoughts on the food at the other festivals 🙂
  • Do you have any Sunday or weekend routines? Lately my Sundays have involved waking up somewhat early and then lifting weights and baking/watching a girly movie while B is at softball. I could get used to that!
  • Do you have any idea what type of squash that is? 

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.

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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! 

Weekend Update: Last Minute Trip Home

I had big plans for this past weekend. B was going to be out of town and since it was going to be our first weekend apart in more than a year, I had a big to do list. Lay on the couch, catch up on the DVR, perhaps run the Cleveland 10 Miler (I had done 9 no problem last week), sleep late, eat some Easter candy, bake, read on my porch, go shopping, clean the bathroom and maybe grab drinks with friends. See? BIG plans for when B was rocking out at his post-wedding bachelor party for Mitch (who got married last year). SO when B messaged me on Tuesday that he had seen a great flight deal to New York and asked if I wanted to plan a last minute trip to see my parents, I realized it was a no brainer. I had been missing my family for some time and I’d still get to sleep in, wouldn’t have to clean the bathroom, and  as my brother reminded me, I’d get to enjoy some home cooked meals. AND with the weather due for sunny and 60s both days, I would definitely be able to get in a little running.

Friday night after work, my friend Samantha and I headed to Porcelli’s for Happy Hour. My Downtown Cleveland Alliance City Advocates group was hosting a Guest Bartending Event, with tips going to the DCA Ambassadors (you know, those amazing men and women that clean our streets, walk you to your car at night, give you directions, say hi to you when you’re running and ever offer you umbrellas when it’s raining and you’re working to work). It was a good event and I’m glad my fellow City Advocates put it on – I don’t know how much we raised but Porcelli’s was more crowded than I’d ever seen it (confession – I’ve only ever gone there for lunch, not for drinks on a Friday night). Plus, Samantha and I got to meet a few new people that we probably wouldn’t have met otherwise.

guest bartending

Drinks = Tips for DCA Safety Ambassadors!

Drinks = Tips for DCA Safety Ambassadors!

Saturday morning, I woke up EARLY (4:45 a.m. … which is still later than I woke up Monday morning, ick!) to get in  quick run before heading out on an early flight to NY. I’m still trying to make sure that I make my 1,000 mi in 2013 goal (I’m almost halfway there!), so every little run counts. Yes, I’m crazy for choosing to wake up before 5 am to run .. but at least I know I’m crazy.

As soon as I got into NY, my parents picked me up at the airport and before I even unpacked or brought my bag upstairs, we went for a walk. When the weather’s nice (which it was – sunny and 60s both days!), my parents go for longish walks on the weekend, and they asked if I wanted to come with them – of course! Their 6 mile Saturday morning walking route is nice – through some neighborhoods and a park. There was even a dog-friendly Relay For Life going on in the park, called Bark for Life , so we saw tons of people with their dogs.

Bark for Life

Bark for Life

After our walk, it was time to walk Queenie. She’s another reason I love coming home. LOOK at that face! How can you be stressed out when you’re hanging out with her?

Then it was lunchtime. My mom made an awesome veggie soup with zucchini, potatoes, tomatoes, carrots and celery that we all enjoyed. I also got to have some leftover homemade pizza. For dessert, we had some of the caramel, peanut butter, chocolate oatmeal cookie bars that I had snuck on the plane (shh!).

mom's homemade vegetable soup!

mom’s homemade vegetable soup!

After lunch, my dad put me to work. He had to install a new mailbox. If you know anything about me, you know I’m not the handiest person. I don’t fix things. I don’t install things. There’s a reason I rent our apartment and can easily submit work orders (which reminds me … our tub has been clogged for a few weeks …) as opposed ot fixing things myself. Still, it was fun! I basically watched my dad do the whole thing and then helped him put the new mailbox on, but of course that’s more than I typically do. Then, I watched my dad plant. I didn’t feel like getting dirty but I was a great supervisor!

remnants of the old mailbox

remnants of the old mailbox

Yes, I'm doing handy work ... I helped my dad install a mailbox!

Yes, I’m doing handy work … I helped my dad install a mailbox!

new mailbox is installed!

new mailbox is installed!

After relaxing outside on our deck all afternoon and dozing off for a little, my mom and I went to Saturday afternoon Mass. I haven’t been to Mass with my mom in a while, and it’s something i definitely miss. Then, we decided to go to Saratoga to walk around in the nice weather and grab dinner. We ended up going to one of my favorite casual places in downtown, Ravenous, for delicious fries and crepes. We left with clean plates … but of course after walking around a little managed to make some room for frozen yogurt. I gobbled up mine (vanilla, cake batter and coconut with too many toppings to count) before thinking of snapping a photo.

Crepes and fries!

Crepes and fries!

After dinner, we watched The Life of Pi. Confession – I haven’t read the book, but I thought the movie was good, although somewhat sad at times and I may still be slightly confused at the ending.

Sunday morning, I slept in and then decided to go for a run. My parents did their 6 mile walk, so after my run, I decided to run to meet them. I ended up running 7ish miles and then walking about 1.5 mi with them, which put me over my 20+ mile goal for the week and put me at ease knowing I wouldn’t be able to run on Monday before work (I had to get up at 3 a.m. just to make my flight).

After my run/walk, it was time for some more homemade vegetable soup, cookies, and then of course, more baking! My mom, knowing how much I love to bake asked if I could make some blondies for her to freeze.

freshly baked blondies!

freshly baked blondies!

Of course I happily obliged … and then spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing outside.

How I spent most of the weekend ... outside!

How I spent most of the weekend … outside!

For dinner, my mom made an awesome quinoa, cauliflower, chickpea salad, to go with the salmon and asparagus my dad had cooked. I love my parents’ cooking and miss it on a nearly daily basis!


For dessert we enjoyed some of my blondies, plus ice cream.

Fact: Cookies tastes better with ice cream

Fact: Cookies taste better with ice cream

Monday morning meant getting up at 3:30 a.m. – not to work out, but to catch an earlier-than-should-be legal flight back to Cleveland. I hope I wasn’t too grumpy (little sleep+no workout=grumpy Melissa) at work, but I will be bringing in some cookies this week to bribe my coworkers just in case.

All in all, a great, relaxing weekend at home. This weekend should be a busy one filled with a few activities with B’s family (his cousin’s first communion and party, plus his brother and sister-in-law’s annual Kentucky Derby Party), so I’m glad I got some time in with my family. Hope everyone has a great week!

Some questions:

  • What’s your favorite dessert combination? (I love cookies and ice cream. Or white chocolate and peanut butter and pretzels. Or white chocolate and ice cream. Or anything with ice cream.
  • What’s the earliest you’ve had to get up for a flight?
  • Did you get outside and enjoy the warm temps this weekend?
  • Are you handy? (I’m not!)
  • Did you get in a run this weekend? (Yes – I did 11ish miles between Saturday and Sunday, despite not running the Cleveland 10 Miler)

DCA City Advocate Applications Now Available!

Love Cleveland? Wanna Do Something About It?  Want to meet others who love Cleveland? I highly recommend you apply for the DCA City Advocate program. It’s a two year program that fosters civic engagement among individuals who love living in, working in, or just visiting Cleveland.

I may be biased – because I’m in their current class – but I definitely recommend you apply. What’s cool about it? Each month, we meet for an hour as a large group, either for a working session or to hear from a local Cleveland speaker. We’ve heard from LAND studio about all the cool projects they’re working on in the community, Councilman Cimperman, and more. Not only has it proven to be educational (just ask my coworkers, I always know what’s going on in Cleveland!), but it’s also been great to meet so many other people passionate about Cleveland and doing something about it!

A two year program, the DCA City Advocate program also encourages its participants to work on a project with a small group. The project can be anything – that’s right, anything – that somewhat helps better our community. Stay tuned for more details on my project – I’m almost ready to share it with you and I hope you’ll be as excited as I am when it’s ready!

Got questions about the program? Visit the website OR ask me! Deadline to apply is February 3rd.

Hope to see you in the program with me this year!

PS – I also just learned the applications for the Class of 2014 Bridge Builders are coming out in early February! I’m also a member of the CBB Class of 2013 and doing some great things as part of the program. If it sounds like something you may be interested in, keep checking the website for the application.

I’m a DCA City Advocate!

A few weeks ago I got an email from my sister-in-law. All it said was, “Thought you might be interested in this:” I opened the link and was so excited to read about the Downtown Cleveland Alliance City Advocate program. The program description started:

Launched in 2009, the DCA City Advocates Program serves to provide civic education and fosters active engagement for rising leaders in the Downtown Cleveland community. Through this unique program, participants gain access to Downtown Cleveland Alliance’s staff and board and engage in open dialogue with many established leaders in the private, public and non-profit sectors. In addition, participants work collaboratively on self-selected projects that support Downtown’s quality of life and ability to attract residents, businesses and visitors.

It seemed to let me do what I already enjoy and do on a daily basis – sharing my love for Cleveland – but in a more organized fashion and with others who share the same love. I filled out the application and anxiously awaited a response. After hitting send I got nervous. Would I be accepted?  What if they wouldn’t take me because I wasn’t a lifelong Clevelander? The short responses weren’t difficult but what if I didn’t show my passion for Cleveland in 250 words?

My dad did a similar program about ten years ago in Albany, called Capital Leadership. I’m so proud of him – he was working full time, had two kids and managed to graduate the program. He was supposed to choose one or two projects and we did about five of them – painted a men’s shelter, cleaned up a ball field, painted a women’s shelter, conducted a clothing drive for free distribution and more. Surely a program like this was in my genes?!

Well, I’m excited to say that I’ve been accepted! I’m so excited for the program to begin, and to get more involved with the city where I live, work and love! Some of the past projects that have been done include:

  • Working with the City to get a playground built for residents and visitors with children to use.
  • Working with property owners to place temporary art and/or informational displays in empty storefronts.
  • Creating viral marketing videos and posting to YouTube; creating content for Downtown Cleveland’s Wikipedia page.
  • Researching the potential for a public/private partnership to create free transportation on Saturday nights connecting four major hubs of activity in and around Downtown.

Doesn’t that sound great? I’m SO excited to start. I can’t wait to share some of the great things we’ll be doing!

Like Father Like Daughter? (and of course, my Grandma)