Friday Five: Five Things I’m Smiling About

Phew – TGIF! This is one of those busy weeks where I really feel grateful that it’s finally Friday. Not that it’s been a bad week- quite the opposite. It’s actually been a GREAT week filled with stuff I love. Here are 5 things that were awesome this week and what kept me so busy (and smiling):

1. Learning About Some New Businesses With My DCA City Advocates: Tuesday was a great DCA City Advocates meeting! for those of you that may recall, the DCA CA program is a civic engagement group I’m involved with. It’s a program that fosters civic engagement among individuals who love living in, working in, or just visiting Cleveland. This month’s meeting we got to meet and hear from the winners of the recent 5th Street Arcades grant competition:

  • Sushi 86– This is actually my go-to downtown sushi restaurant. B and I had a stint where we were going there once a week anyway, so I’m excited that they can get some funds to increase their space and start offering sushi-making classes, meetings and so on.
  • Soulcraft Woodshop– This is a furniture gallery that will showcase and of course sell work by the woodshop’s local designers and furniture makers.
  • Bright Green– This is an organic and natural products store – they feature products for children (like organic baby blankets), candles, tea, home supplies and more. Many of their products are actually made on the west side!
  • POUR Cleveland– This hand-crafted coffee shop hasn’t opened yet, but I’m SO excited for it to arrive. They will be working with Counter Culture coffee shop, where one of my good family friends works in North Carolina. They will also have tastings and classes, plus pastries.

They each told us about their business plans, why they chose downtown Cleveland, challenges of being entrepreneurs, and so on. If you’re in Cleveland I definitely recommend checking out the 5th Street Arcade at some time and seeing all the new shops!

Informal interviews with the winners

Informal interviews with the winners

2. Half Marathon Training and Running with Friends: Okay, so I finally started training for the half marathon I’m running in October. Yes, I’ve been running like 25-30 or even more miles a week so I know I’m in fine running shape, but I haven’t been following any sort of schedule or doing any long runs so it I guess it’s time to actually get back in training mode. Training means that for the time being my weekly mileage will be cut down (the first few weeks are pretty lame in terms of mileage and I won’t be running every day) but I will be focusing on some speedwork with tempo runs, and also allowing my body to heal during rest days. Imagine that! And don’t worry, the longer runs will come soon enough so I better enjoy the lack of intense time-commitment while it lasts. AND not only did I decide to start half marathon training, but I ran with friends twice this week! That’s right, I ran with people before work on Wednesday AND Friday. This is a new thing for me – but I enjoyed it. Cari and I ran Wed. morning – she had 2 miles on her schedule, so I ran 2 without her and 2 with her. Friday, I ran with Nicole, who I met through Bridge Builders. She’s training for a marathon and I hope to keep running with her as she trains and maybe even get in some longer runs with her.

3. My PB2 Arrived! Not only did I run out of PB2 a few weeks ago, but I also ran out of regular JIF peanut butter and am down to the last spoonful of our Smucker’s Crunchy supplies. Can you imagine that? Thank goodness, Amazon came through and my supply of PB2 came earlier than I anticipated. AND I ordered even more than last time – so hopefully I’m all set for a few weeks.

<3 this stuff. Seriously addicted.

4. Patio Drinks @ Parnell’s: I love Parnell’s downtown. It’s one of those low key bars where I always feel welcome. There’s no need to dress to impress, and there’s almost always room on their patio. And it’s more than likely you’ll get a bartender with an Irish accent. #Justsaying. Anyway, this week I enjoyed patio beverages with Laura, Chris and Victoria, my old DCA City Advocate cohort. We haven’t all been together in a few months and we definitely need to start getting together more regularly – we used to see each other more than once a month! Not only was the company and beverages good, but I also got to meet a Twitter friend I’ve had for more than 5 years but never met in person. Being a social media person, I’ve gotten used to the fact that there are some people I know all about but have never met in real life, and vice versa — but meeting in real life is still super awesome!

Patio Drinks @ Parnell's Pub Downtown - Barrels as tables!

Patio Drinks @ Parnell’s Pub Downtown – Barrels as tables!

5. Volunteering @ the National Senior Games: The National Senior Games are in town! What’s this you ask? It’s like the Olympics – it’s a multi-sport event but actually boasts MORE athletes! And just like the Olympics, it’s always held in a new city – and this year it’s in Cleveland! So right now we are hosting some insane number of athletes (like nearly 11,000), all ages 50+, and their families. Pretty cool huh? Tonight I’m volunteering at the Celebration of Athletes, which happens to be hosted by Olympian Scott Hamilton! I’m so happy to be not only volunteering with a few of my fellow DCA buddies, but also to help out (even if it’s just  a tiny bit) with such a cool event that brings visitors to Cleveland.

Scott Hamilton (center) will be at the event tonight. Pretty cool huh? He was an Olympic figure skater. And clearly also in Blades of Glory.

Scott Hamilton (center) will be at the event tonight. Pretty cool huh? He was an Olympic figure skater. And clearly also in Blades of Glory.

Hope you had a fabulous Friday as well! Some questions to ponder (leave your answers in the comments if you can!):

  • Are you a fan of Olympic figure skating? Honestly, not really. I don’t NOT like it, but it’s not my favorite winter sport. I LOVE watching the luge and bobsled races. 
  • Are you on Twitter? How long have you been on there? YES! Obviously. I’ve been on apparently for more than 5 years.
  • Do you have  “Twitter friends” or friends that you haven’t met in real life?
  • What is your peanut butter supply like?
  • Do you prefer running with friends? Solo? Both! 

The Friday Five: What I’m Looking Forward To This Weekend

Phew! WHAT a week it’s been. I was in town all week, which usually means a pretty easy/carefree week, but for some reason it was crazy! I’m so happy it’s Friday and am looking forward to the weekend.

Do you have any plans? Here are five things I’m looking forward to:

1. Happy Hour With Friends

Friday after work B and I will be joining some friends for drinks, and then going out to dinner. I cannot WAIT for a glass of wine, some conversation and dinner out!

vino anyone?

vino anyone?

2. Indians Game – Social Suite!

Saturday, B and I are heading to the Indians Social Suite to watch the Indians take on the Chicago White Sox. It will be my first official game of the season and with weather calling for temps in the 40s, I’m glad we’ll be watching from the warmth of a suite! Plus, I can’t wait to meet a few of my fellow suite members, including a few people I follow on Twitter but haven’t met in real life.

Don’t laugh – it’s me and Slider at the Indians Home Opener back in the day – at the original Social Deck!

3. Boston College Alumni Day of Service Event at the West Side Catholic Center Women & Children’s Shelter

B and I are service chairs of our local BC alumni group chapter. One of the things we do each year is plan and organize our chapter’s Alumni Day of Service Event – which is this weekend! For the past few years, we’ve worked with Moriah House, with the West Side Catholic Center, cooking and serving breakfast. I will be up a little earlier than I typically am on Saturdays, but it’s so worth it.

Cooking up some breakfast at last year's Day of Service

Cooking up some breakfast at last year’s Day of Service

4. More Cleveland International Film Festival Action!

B and I somehow ended up with 4 more tickets to the film festival – and I couldn’t be happier! We have two full days now to get some more movies in. My recap of the first films we saw is here. Any suggestions on what to see next?

5. DOING ANYTHING I WANT.

Maybe it’s going to the West Side Market again for fresh produce. Maybe it’s going for a long run outside on Sunday, or checking out my much neglected (on my behalf) fitness membership. Maybe (well hopefully because I have a huge urge) it’s baking. Maybe it’s FINALLY finishing Gone Girl and paying my $2 overdue library charge! Maybe it’s all of the above. Because despite having some things already planned, and some work and non-related items I need to cross off my to-do list, I am SO ready for the weekend!

my fave produce stand at the market. B and I typically buy 90% of everything we need for the week there.

my fave produce stand at the market. B and I typically buy 90% of everything we need for the week there.

What are you looking forward to this weekend?

Even more holiday fun in the CLE!

I’m officially off to celebrate the holidays and get some rest after a few super crazy busy weeks – but before I jet off to New York, I wanted to share with you a few other ways I’ve been celebrating the holiday time in Cleveland.

The Tremont Santa Shuffle

This past weekend, B, a few friends, and I participated in the Santa Shuffle – the annual running of the Santas and bar crawl in Tremont.  What a great event! It was my first year doing it (B had to convince me – I told him a 1-mile fun run wasn’t a race and I’d rather run a real Santa Race) and I think we’ll definitely be participating again in the future. Now that I live downtown, I hardly make it to the neighboring areas, including Tremont – so it was great to check out a ton of the local bars, enjoy a few cocktails with some Santas, and dress up in our holiday best.

20121215_160212 20121215_164332 great holiday sweaters and sweater vests

Decorating!

I love everything about Christmas decorations. And now, with Pinterest, I have even more decorating ideas (that I don’t actually do) at my fingertips. B and I aren’t allowed a real tree in our apartment, and since I head to NY so soon, we decided just to put up a few decorations this year. SO, when B’s parents invited us over for their annual tree decorating evening, I immediately said yes. Decorating a tree, plus tons of yummy appetizers for our dinner? I was in. And this is my first year in B’s Christmas family photo – check it out:

carney family

Playing Dress Up

Just because you don’t have an ugly sweater party to go to this year (or you’re missing it because of your travel schedules), doesn’t mean you shouldn’t find an excuse to parade around in it one Saturday … whether it’s in a bar crawl, or just for when you’re sitting around your fire, it’s one great way to get in the mood for the holiday spirit.

Holiday Happy Hours, Parties and Tweetups

The past few weeks have included a holiday happy hour/bar crawl through Ohio City with B’s coworkers, more than a handful of holiday themed happy hours and parties, and even a recent tweetup. There may be too many to share details with you, but here are a few shots of my faves.

cari and me at tweetup

Cari and me at the Channel 5 Meet & Tweet at Hodges

BC alumni at our holiday party at one of my fave restaurants - TAZA!

BC alumni at our holiday party at one of my fave restaurants – TAZA!

Enjoying A Surprise Lunchtime Performance 

Last week, B decided to meet me for lunch and we headed over to the Ameritrust Rotunda on E 9th and Euclid to check out not only the gorgeous building, but also some holiday music. Are you around tomorrow for lunch? If so, I encourage you to check out what they’re calling Circle In The City. B and I caught a great Christmas Brass Quintet featuring musicians of The Cleveland Orchestra. Not only was the music great, but it was so cool to see the inside of a building I walk by nearly every day. It’s beautiful –  definitely a hidden Cleveland gem! They also had food trucks outside on 9th and Euclid serving up some food for those visiting.

Ameritrust Rotunda

Holiday Traditions

For the past few years, B and I make sure to take the time to enjoy a quiet meal on our couch and watch Love Actually. This year has been so much busier than usual that we almost didn’t get there – but B made sure we did! Even after a night of a holiday happy hour and a different holiday party (we made both!), he found time to make us pepperoni bread and queue up Love Actually.

Despite all the hustle and bustle, and nonstop rush and craziness of this time of year – I love it more and more each year! What’s your favorite thing about the holidays? Do you have any holiday traditions you just can’t miss?

Tuesday is the new Friday

I don’t know what it is, but it seems like every Tuesday I have happy hour plans this summer. Not that there’s anything wrong with happy hour on Tuesday (or Wednesday, or Thursday, or Friday), but lately, Tuesdays seem to be rocking. Taco Tuesday? $1 Burgers? Bogo Burgers and trivia? It seems like Tuesday’s where it’s at. Looking for something to do tomorrow night? Here’s a quick roundup of some of the fun things I’ve been up to and hearing about Tuesdays:

Hodge’s: Happy Hour specials (like every other day) PLUS Tuesday is 2 for $40 (1 starter, 2 entrées & bottle of wine)

Zocalo: Taco Tuesday! Stop by for $5 margaritas (all night!) and $1 tacos. They also have a whole specialty taco menu that’s slightly more than $1 but so delicious!

Tacos and Margaritas at Zocalo!

Bar Louie: Tuesday means $1 burgers at Bar Louie! Toppings are extra, but it’s easy to still get a decent burger for under $5. Another plus? You can sub chicken breast or turkey burger for beef with no added charge!

Bob Golic’s: Tuesday is Trivia Night at Bob Golic’s! It’s free to play and other specials include $3 large domestics and buy one get one free burgers. There are two trivia games, starting at 7 (and finished by 9:30), and two winners of the $15 Bob Golic gift card. Guess who won game #2 last week?

Trivia Champs – Half of Team Airplane

What’s your favorite way to spend Tuesday evening in downtown Cleveland?

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

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

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

Happy Hour 

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

Catching a Summer Blockbuster

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

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

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

Checking Out the Guys Outdoor Exhibits at Marine Week

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

Patio Dining

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

Crew before Fun concert

Live Music

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

Great view of the band rocking out.

Ali’s caption: “Having fun at Fun.!”

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

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