A Weekend With Family in NY

This past weekend I got to travel – by myself – to New York! My brother was in town from Berlin and somewhat last minute I decided to get on a plane to see him and my parents.

It was such a good decision – I hadn’t been home since Christmas and it was great to see my family and also get in some quality time.

The weekend started with a quick stop in the City to see  Jane. We were able to grab a quick lunch and catch up before I caught the train up to Albany with my brother.

Friday started off with a run around my old neighborhood. I saw cows and even caught my brother who was out for a bike ride!

That afternoon, we went to the Hyde, a nearby museum and old house. It was a GORGEOUS fall day in the area, but chilly.

And the museum was really cool – they had a Picasso exhibit going on, but you also get to see the interior of the house, which is preserved since the family lived there in the early 1900s.

Friday night, we went out to dinner in Saratoga Springs. I had an AMAZING grilled octopus dish.

Saturday, we decided to escape town and go for a hike in the Catskills. My brother, mom and I got in the car and after a kinda long car ride, got to the bottom of the trail at the mountain. After hiking up, we saw some amazing views.

The trees were all yellow and orange.

Then, we climbed up even further — you can see the house down below right where I took the picture above.

That night, we had tickets to the Albany Symphony Orchestra! It was a great performance at the beautiful Palace Theater downtown.

Unfortunately, that was the end of an amazing weekend. I hadn’t spent time with just my parents and brother in several (8? 10?) years, and it was just what I needed.

Questions for you:

  • When was the last time you traveled by plane?
  • Do you live near your parents? Siblings?

The Family Visits CLE

What a wonderful weekend.

My family was in town. That’s right, my parents AND Greg were all in Cleveland for the long weekend, and it was glorious. The weather was gorgeous, we had some good eats and we got in some quality time.

Some highlights from the weekend …

Greg got into town Thursday, so we had dinner and ice cream together.

ice cream

Friday, my parents came in. We had dinner in Uptown – starting with an amazing meal at L’Albatros and then dessert at Coquette Patisserie.

pre-dinner with the parents in Uptown

pre-dinner with the parents in Uptown

dessert at Coquette!

dessert at Coquette!

Saturday morning, we walked to Hingetown for tea and coffee. Then it was off to the West Side Market to pick up groceries.

tea place

kombucha on tap=happiness.

Saturday also included a walk down to the lake and dinner along the river.

fam photo by the water

fam photo by the water

pre-dinner drinks along the river

pre-dinner drinks along the river

My parents left Sunday after brunch, but Sunday afternoon, I went with Greg, his friend Zac and his friend Christie to a winery.

brunch. because this post doesn't have enough food photos.

brunch. because this post doesn’t have enough food photos.

Winery!

Winery!

After the winery it was time for the closing night at Blossom! Another great performance by the Cleveland Orchestra AND fireworks.

The group @ Blossom

The group @ Blossom

Fireworks!

Fireworks!

For Labor Day, we did as any good American and did NO Labor. We hit the beach!

beach day

And for dinner, we celebrated B and his brother’s birthday. With cupcakes, of course. (These were made by my niece and nephew – how cute!)

cupcakes

Tuesday was our last day off before Greg and Zac left. Naturally, we started the day with a run. It was 81 degrees, something the San Fran boys were not used to, so I could actually keep up with them! We finished 5.6 miles at under a 9 min/mile pace, so I was pretty pleased.

bridges

We had a low-key last day. We enjoyed some Restore for breakfast (my fave acai bowls/smoothies/toast) and then spent the rest of the day chilling at a coffee shop in Tremont.

smoked salmon toast. BEST.

smoked salmon toast. BEST. (and I love acai bowls with almond butter!)

 

 

All in all, it was a great weekend in Cleveland. The weather was great (I don’t mind 80s :)), and it was fun to show my brother and Zac around and see my parents. Why can’t summer never end?

Some questions for you:

  • Almond OR peanut butter? If you had to choose one …
  • Do you like kombucha? Ever had it on tap?
  • What’s something great you ate over the holiday weekend?

Thankful Thursday: For Family

My brother graduated this week from college. My brother, whom I remember being born (we’re 7 years apart) is graduating from college. How does that make me feel?

It makes me feel so grateful, lucky and so thankful to have such an incredible family. So for this Thankful Thursday (perhaps my first one?) I want to thank my family. Warning – a short sappy post follows.

Greg and me at his high school graduation

Greg and me at his high school graduation

So thank you to my brother — I’m so proud of him – for all he’s achieved in college and beyond … and so excited for him – to start this next chapter of his life, because we all know that life out of college is not easy, but the challenges it presents us really makes us who we are. Despite being nearly a decade younger than I am, there are so many ways in which I look up to him and am inspired by all that he does.

7 years apart - Greg at my college graduation

7 years apart – Greg at my college graduation

And of course my parents – for always supporting me and my brother, despite how difficult our decisions have been for them. It is thanks to them that my brother and I are who we are today. I could write a post all about how thankful I am for them – and I know I’ve done it somewhat before – so this post will end with that.

This year - my brother's graduation

This year – my brother’s graduation. We all look the same, right?

Hope you’re all having as much of a great week as I am and are feeling thankful today as well.

Some questions for you:

  • What are you thankful for?
  • Any graduations coming up or just happen? Congrats!
  • What day of the week was your graduation on? Mine was on a Monday – Greg’s was on a Tuesday and Wednesday!
  • Where is your alma mater? Do you stay involved? Boston College – Go Eagles! Not as much as I’d like to -B and I are both part of the local alumni association but we haven’t done much with the group in some time.

 

Chicken Sausage, Quinoa and Goat Cheese Stuffed Squash

When my brother Greggypoo came and visited for the weekend (he loves when I call him that) we decided to spend some time cooking a dinner together. Of course, since it was a Saturday, we went the West Side Market to pick up fresh produce first and see what would inspire us. The only request from my brother? He wanted something fall-like, and delicious, of course. Something fall-like? What says “fall” more than squash? And since B and I have been eating quite a bit of roasted squash lately (2-3x a week), I decided to try something different – stuffed squash.

greg cooking the meat

Greg cooking!

This recipe was really good. Both B and Greggypoo cleaned their plates and declared they were full. I served the squash with some sweet cornbread, which I made for the second day this week. Because the cornbread recipe really is that good. I may have to share it soon!

Chicken sausage quinoa and goat cheese stuffed butternut squash

Chicken Sausage, Quinoa and Goat Cheese Stuffed Squash

Here’s what you need:

  • 2 medium butternut squash
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 1-2 tsp vegetable oil
  • 4 ounces fresh italian chicken sausage, casing removed
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 cup chopped Spanish or yellow onion
  • 1 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely diced
  • 3 ounces goat cheese
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder

Here’s what you do:

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Cut squash in half lengthwise and remove seeds; place cut sides facedown in a baking pan filled with 1 inch hot water. Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until squash is soft or done.
  2. While squash is cooking, prepare stuffing. First, make the quinoa. Boil the chicken broth in a medium saucepan. Once boiling, add quinoa. Simmer over low heat for 15 minutes.
  3. Remove sausage from casing and add to a nonstick pan. Cook sausage for 5-7 minutes, using a spatula to evenly cook and break up the meat. Once meat is no longer pink, add Italian seasoning, onion, pepper and garlic. Cook 5-7 minutes or until onion is translucent. Stir in quinoa and put heat on low, cook for another minute or so.
  4. When squash is cooked, remove water from baking dishes and turn squash so cut side is up. Mix filling with goat cheese, and fill each squash with the same amount of filling. Sprinkle squashes with cumin and chili powder. Bake squashes for another 15-20 minutes.

collage - Chicken sausage and goat cheese stuffed butternut squash - i crashed the web

Chicken sausage and goat cheese stuffed butternut squash - i crashed the web

Something about Siblings – A Weekend in CLE with My Brother

This past weekend my brother visited me in Cleveland. The last time he came to see me on his own was more than 3 years ago – I was living in Lakewood, had somewhat just moved to Cleveland and well, it was WAY too long ago. I try to go visit him and stay with him on campus (he goes to Columbia) pretty much once a year – but I’m getting too old for his college lifestyle. The last time I visited him we didn’t go out until nearly midnight – I’m almost 30, which is waaay too old to be going out that late. I had to seriously rally and drink a Diet Dr. Pepper just to pull myself off the blowup mattress in his dorm room.

Greg and me the last time he came to see me on his own

Greg and me the last time he came to see me on his own

Anyway, this weekend turned out to be a pretty a relaxing weekend with my brother. We both had work to do (he more so than I – a thesis plus hundreds of pages of reading … oh college!) so there wasn’t much going out. But it was great to just hang out with him and do everyday things with him. I hope he had a good time and it’s not another 3 years before he comes back to Cleveland!

Friday included some working at a coffee shop, some vegan food at The Flaming Ice Cube and some dinner at Noodlecat.

At Flaming Ice Cube

At Flaming Ice Cube

Some of our awesome food from Friday is below (not pictured – appetizers or main course at Noodlecat, pumpkin cookies, my PUMPKING beer, Buckeyes or zucchini bread):

From top left, corn chowder from Flaming Ice Cube, Soba Noodle Salad from FI, Braised Beef Bun from Noodlecat, Pesto Burger from FI

From top left, corn chowder from Flaming Ice Cube, Soba Noodle Salad from FI, Braised Beef Bun from Noodlecat, Pesto Burger from FI

Saturday, B and I started our day by going for a leisurely run outside. I was having a hard time breathing for some reason, but it felt SO good to just be having a relaxing run – no racing. Then we decided to head to Tremont for some coffee and pastries, and holed up in Loop to do some work.

A little work in a coffee shop

A little work in a coffee shop

We of course enjoyed the fall colors that are still here and took a few pictures in the park while we were hanging out in Tremont.

Greg in me in Tremont

Greg in me in Tremont

Then we hit the West Side Market to pick up groceries for dinner. We bought some butternut squash, chicken sausage, peppers and onions. And made an awesome dinner together of some goat cheese, quinoa and chicken sausage stuffed squash – recipe coming soon 🙂

Chicken sausage and goat cheese stuffed butternut squash - i crashed the web

The finished product.

Greg is cooking!

Greg is cooking!

Saturday night included some more studying (I’m an awesome study helper. Just ask Greg. He’ll probably remember 3 more Russian vocab words thanks to my mad studying skills) and some deep chatting / thoughts about the future and me passing out from a corn bread coma pretty early.

Sunday meant dropping my brother back off at the airport 😦 I was sad to see him go, but am so excited to see him in just over a month for the holidays! After the airport, B knew I was sad to see my brother go, so he took me to Starbucks and then to the park for a fiveish mile walk. It was another great fall day in Cleveland and it was great to walk among the colorful leaves.

Yes, I took a selfie.

Yes, I took a selfie.

weekend walk with b

Hope you had a fabulous fall weekend as well!

Friday Five: How Is It November Already?

Friday !! Friday !! YAY !! Can you sense my excitement? It seems like it’s been forever since I updated you on my life – and instead of spending a long time doing that I’m going to just show you FIVE things. And then go off and enjoy my Friday. Sound good?

Okay. Here’s what’s happening. Sorry in advance for the complete randomness.

1. I’m still LOVING the fall colors in Cleveland. Seriously – it’s NOVEMBER already and even though it was 65 degrees earlier this week, Thanksgiving is right around the corner. Anyway, just look at these trees. Oh, and my cute nephew too:

fall colors

oliver and the tree

2. B, Mary and me did a 5k last weekend and I got a PR! My goal was to finish in under 25 minutes – and sadly I didn’t make it 😦 My finish time was 25:23 and I finished first in my age group! Yes, it was a small race – but I got my first 1st Place medal!

PR and first place

3. My new favorite dinner slash food combo? Sushi and champagne / prosecco. Yum. WHY have I never had this combo before? Thanks to my fave Cleveland sushi place Sushi 86 for fulfilling my addiction.

Rainbow roll and Danny's BLT from Sushi 86. And prosecco

Rainbow roll and Danny’s BLT from Sushi 86. And prosecco

4. Do you know A Great Big World? Do you watch The Voice? They are two of my current favorite things – and they CAME TOGETHER this week. One of my favorite A Great Big World songs is Say Something. And Xtina performed it on The Voice earlier this week. If you don’t know A Great Big World, you must check them out. My brother introduced me to them / Ian Axel a few years ago (I found the email – January 2010) and they have been my jam for a while now. Enjoy!

5. Speaking of my brother – he is in town visiting me from NY! I’m SO excited to have him spending the weekend with me. What should we do? What should I show him in Cleveland? It’s been WAY too long since I’ve seen him.

Siblings :)

Siblings 🙂

Questions for you:

  • Clevelanders – what should I show / do with my brother while he’s in town visiting?
  • Anyone have any races this weekend? Recent PRs?
  • How often do you see your siblings?
  • Do you like it when your favorite bands from a few years ago hit the mainstream spotlight?

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.