Celebrating the Season

Warning- this post was written after a run, while listening to some holiday music, so it may be a little too cheery and full of holiday spirit.

What a great weekend! I really love this time of year and I definitely got my fill of holiday cheer this weekend.

Friday night I finally got to check out the lights in my neighborhood downtown. It was slightly warm and drizzly, but don’t they look great?

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Then B and I went out for a late dinner at Cowell & Hubbard. We enjoyed a few appetizers (including a cheese plate and clams with chorizo!), a great meal (I love skatewing …) and festive drinks (I had a spiced mulled cider with rum). I have leftovers too to enjoy thank goodness. My meal was amazing.

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Saturday, B and I went out for a 5 miler together. I hadn’t run with B outside of a race in forever – so I was so grateful to have him with me. He paced me the entire time so we were able to finish with a sub-9 minute mile pace.

After our run, we hit up the West Side Market. Again, it had been so long since we’d ben there – and the place was all decked out in holiday lights and even a live band playing holiday songs!

Then it was time for my monthly Ladies Craft Beer Society meeting. This week we were making holiday cards! Finally, a craft I could somewhat excel in. Earlier in the week I had seen this story on the Today show about a 6-year-old girl whose dying wish is to receive hundreds – or more – holiday cards. So sad – I couldn’t get it out of my mind. So LCBS made our cards in honor of Addie – I can’t wait to send her and her sisters all the cards next week!

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When I got home that evening, it was time for an Italian feast! Well sort of. B had bought all the goods to make sauce and homemade pizza and I finished making homemade limoncello while we decorated our apartment for the holidays and listened to Christmas tunes.  I told you – it was a festive weekend!

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homemade limoncello – almost done!

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We finished the night watching my favorite holiday movie – can you guess which one?

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Sunday, B had tickets to the Browns game with a friend, so I was able to spend the afternoon being somewhat productive – I did some laundry, cleaned up a little, listened to more holiday music and even caught up on some work. And since the sun was out, I had to get out for another 5 miler. Without B to pace me, I wasn’t sure if I could keep up the same pace we had done yesterday, but I decided to put on Serial (if you’re not listening to this podcast you MUST) and was able to get in the groove and get it done.

This used to be easy ... i've gotten slower this year!

This used to be easy … i’ve gotten slower this year!

Sunday afternoon we met up with B’s family for another Italian meal-this time in Little Italy.

After dinner, we all caught the Christmas performance by the Cleveland Orchestra and Chorus. What a great show – I always love to hear them perform Christmas music and it really gets me in the holiday spirit. As if I needed any help, right?

Severance Hall, home of the Cleveland Orchestra, lit up for the holidays

Severance Hall, home of the Cleveland Orchestra, lit up for the holidays

How was your weekend? Did you do anything to get into the holiday spirit? Yes, see above 🙂

What’s your favorite holiday movie? It’s a tie between Love Actually and Christmas Vacation and Muppet Christmas Carole 🙂

If you could eat only one genre of food for the rest of your life, what would it be? Oooh a tough one (not sure why I am asking this – I don’t like difficult questions!). I’d choose Italian.

Three Days To Celebrate the Fourth

As I recently (okay and more often than once before have) professed, I love three-day weekends. There are so many great things about them and I find that they allow me to do everything I want to do – be productive (meal prep, catch up on work, laundry and clean), bake, work out, catch up on TV shows, meet up with friends, go out AND relax. For some reason, a two-day weekend just doesn’t come close and the extra day makes all the difference!

This past three-day weekend was the same. It was full of good (and maybe a little too much) food and drinks. Sunshine. The beach. Hanging out with B’s family for the Fourth. Catching an Indians game. A few runs with friends. Lots of Orange Is The New Black (slowly making our way through the 2nd season!) and almost finishing the book I’ve been reading for the past few months.

Here’s a little peek at all that we were able to cram into our three days off!

What would Fourth of July be without some red, white and blue goodies? Of course I couldn’t let a three-day weekend go by without some baking!

blondiesandbark

We enjoyed the Fourth of July and some fireworks with B’s family. They live right next to a park on the lake so we got to enjoy a BBQ and a great fireworks show on their front lawn!b and me on the fourth

I love BBQs as is evidenced by my plate. I ate everything on it minus the beans and the hot dog because I’m weird like that. My eyes were bigger than my stomach. plate on fourth

Saturday included a much needed relaxing beach day. I managed to get in some time on the elliptical before we headed to the beach with Dave and Anson and then back to their house for some pizza and beer on their porch. This time of year I really miss having a porch!20140705_161445

Sunday started out with a nice run with a friend that lives downtown. The weather cooled down during the run (started mid-70s and then got to low 70s) which made for a much more enjoyable run then the past few we’ve had together! Running in sunny, 80-90 degree temps < windy 70 degree temps7 miler with nicole

Then, B and I headed to the afternoon Indians game – and caught a win! We also had amazing club seats, which meant more good food (it’s all you can eat!) – as if my weekend needed it.20140706_153939And speaking of food, Sunday night included roasting a chicken (it’s the third chicken I’ve roasted – and this one was already cleaned and giblet free. I think I’m getting spoiled), prepping some lunches and other meals for the week and catching up on our TV shows. Meaning 24, Damages (we’re on season 3!) and Orange Is The New Black.IMG_20140706_212458

Yup, it really was the perfect weekend – great weather, food, friends, and more. Here’s to hopefully just as great a week!

Some questions for you:

  • How did you celebrate your Fourth of July holiday?
  • Do you like fireworks? Did you catch more than 1 show? Yes! I caught the free show downtown with the Orchestra earlier in the week and then the show at the park on the Fourth.
  • Do you like traditional summer bbq foods like hot dogs and burgers? Actually, I’m not a burger fan. Something about ground beef that gets to me every time. Yes, I tried a little piece of burger on Friday, but they’re still not for me! 
  • If you had three days off, what would you do? Do you like to relax? Be productive? Go out? All three and more?

 

Groundhog Day Cookies!

Today is Groundhog Day! It’s a holiday that my employer celebrates (no, not with a day off, sadly) with pancakes, games, and more. Last year we watched Groundhog Day (probably one of my favorite movies) and played pin the tail on the groundhog (I didn’t win). Anyway, I’m celebrating with these cute groundhog day cookies. The’re super easy (all you need is brownie mix an some frostings) and come out looking super adorable. I used the same brownie cookie base as these football brownie sandwiches and they came out perfect.

groundhog cookies for groundhog day - i crashed the web

Groundhog Day Cookies

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 box of brownie mix
  • Ingredients required to make brownies (according to the box) minus the water, I ended up needing 2 eggs and 1/2 c vegetable oil
  • Vanilla/white icing for the eyes and teeth
  • Chocolate frosting for cheeks
  • Black icing for nose and pupils

Here’s what you do:

  • Mix together ingredients for brownie batter according to package, WITHOUT the water. If your brownie box has options for “fudgelike” brownies v. “cakelike” follow directions for “fudgelike.” Place brownie batter in a piping bag, and cut  a small slit at the end of the bag.
  • Create a round-shaped stencil, or use a cookie cutter. Draw a circle, or the outline of groundhog’s faces on parchment paper. Be sure to leave space between each circle so that the circles don’t run into one another – they will spread some when baking.
  • Line cookie sheets with the parchment paper.
  • Pipe the brownie mix to fill in the circles (see photo).
  • Bake brownies at 350 for 10-12 minutes. Since they are thin, watch to make sure they don’t burn.
  • Cool completely before frosting! Use the white frosting to make the eyes and the teeth. Then use the black icing to draw on pupils and the nose. Then use the chocolate frosting and make the cheeks. I used a piping bag to make them extra cheeky. Get it? Hehe.
  • Makes about 2 dozen groundhogs.
  • Enjoy!
groundhog cookies for groundhog day - i crashed the web

batter on the cookie sheets

groundhog cookies for groundhog day - i crashed the web

finished product

groundhog cookies for groundhog day - i crashed the web

Aren’t they super cute?

Thumbprint Cookies with Jam

Let the countdown begin – Christmas Eve will be here in just a week! If you’re looking for a great cookie to add to your holiday cookie collection, look no further – here is a keeper.

Thumbprint Cookies with Raspberry Jam are a staple in my household and one of the cookies we have nearly every year during the holidays. When my friend Melgar, who typically joins us for dessert during the holidays (but sadly won’t be there this year), asked me to share the recipe, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t already posted it here! So here you go – enjoy!

Thumbprint Cookies with Jam - i crashed the web

Thumbprint Cookies with Jam

Here’s what you need:

  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 egg yolks, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • about 1/4 c jam of your choice – I love raspberry!

Here’s what you do:

  1. Cream butter with sugar in large bowl of electric mixer until fluffy.
  2. Beat in egg yolks and vanilla, stopping machine as necessary to scrape down sides of bowl.
  3. Add flour and continue beating just until mixed through; do not overbeat or cookies will be tough.
  4. Refrigerate dough for 30 minutes for firmer cookies that will not spread very much.
  5. Shape dough into 2 tbs. size balls* and flatten with your palms. Transfer to cookie sheet.
  6. Smooth and round cookies using knife (or your finger) dipped in cool water. To make a simple filled cookie, press thumb into formed cookie to make an indentation. Fill with jam.
  7. Transfer to greased baking sheets.
  8. Position rack in center of oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake cookies one sheet at a time until edges are brown and centers are just firm to touch, about 8-10 minutes. Cool on racks.

Makes about 2 dozen or so cookies.

Thumbprint Cookies w Jam - i crashed the web

*Feeling crafty and have extra time? Feel free to roll out dough and cut into cute, festive shapes instead of shaping dough into balls, before putting thumbprint onto dough.

Plus, as always, some questions for you:

  • Have you made these before? What do you do that’s different?
  • What’s your favorite type of jam?
  • What’s your favorite holiday cookie?  I love these! And Buckeyes, do they count? 

And here are two more of my favorite holiday cookies:

Super Easy Peasy Tuxedo Cookies - i crashed the web

Cherry Almond Chocolate Kiss Cookies - i crashed the web

 

Friday Five: Five Things To Do In Cleveland for the Holidays

I LOVE THE HOLIDAYS. Yes caps lock is intended.

great holiday sweaters and sweater vests

Okay, I know I’ve said it enough. And the picture above probably says it all anyway. But seriously – it may have been 60 degrees yesterday (and it was amazing – I went for a run in shorts) – but don’t let the weather fool you – the holidays are here. So you missed the Holiday Flea, Winterfest and the Public Square tree lighting ceremony? Don’t worry, there’s still so much more to do in Cleveland to get you in the holiday spirit!  I know quite a few people have shared their favorite holiday activities – here are 5 things that I’m looking forward to:

1. Checking out the holiday decor and lights downtown

I LOVE living downtown – it seems like suddenly overnight the festive lights, trees, and even store windows popped up, all to get us in the holiday spirit. Want to feel the holiday spirit? Start in Playhouse Square (and see a show while you’re there! Spoiler alert – check out #3) at Euclid and 14thish and take the E line trolley until you arrive at Public Square. All along Euclid you’ll see various stores with lights, flower pots overflowing with wintry decor, and more. And when you get to Public Square, get ready to be in awe of all the lights – it’s gorgeous! And don’t forget to check out the big tree, as well as the Holidays at Higbee displays. Not had enough? Head into Tower City to check out Bruce the Talking Spruce, as well as the holiday shows in the food court featuring the Toy Soldier and Fairy Godmother (and more – the whole Tower City list of events is here).

Lights around the Theatre District

Lights around the Theatre District

higbee

storefront window in the Higbee building

2. Enjoying a holiday performance from the Cleveland Orchestra

Did you know that the world famous Cleveland Orchestra and their chorus perform a series of holiday concerts each year? The concerts feature a variety of holiday music in the beautifully decorated Severance Hall. I’m lucky to be married into an Ignatius High School family – the Orchestra performs a private show for Ignatius alums and their family and I look forward to the event each year!

Here’s a sneak peak – disclaimer, I found this video on YouTube, it’s not mine:

3. Seeing a show in the Theatre district

Seeing  A Christmas Carol at the Ohio Theater at Playhouse Square has become a tradition for B and me. This Great Lakes Theater production runs through December 22, and no matter how many times I watch it (or even A Muppet Christmas Carol), it never gets old. Interested in seeing the show? If you call 216-241-6000 or go to http://www.greatlakestheater.org/tickets/shows/a-christmas-carol to order tickets, enter GLT as your promo code for a discount!

Wine @ Gallucci's!

Wine @ Gallucci’s!

4. Feasting on local treats (going to Gallucci’s and the West Side Market)

OK, OK I know you can do this any time of year – but there’s just something SO magical about the West Side Market and Gallucci’s during the holidays. Stands are decorated in the Market, holiday food comes out, and the smell of the Italian food at Gallucci’s just seems more memorable (maybe it’s the fact that I grew up with an Italian mother and those cooking smells likely got stronger during the holidays?). Anyway, one of my favorite traditions that B and I have is going to the Market and Gallucci’s, buying supplies to make pepperoni bread and sauce, and then making the meal, decorating our apartment, and watching Love Actually. Try it. I dare you not to feel in the holiday spirit after doing that!

5. Local shopping

Let’s face it – the holidays wouldn’t be the same without shopping. This year, I’m buying a lot of stuff locally – if possible. The Holiday Flea was awesome, and there are so many other upcoming opportunities to get your holiday (or personal) shopping done:

Ohio City Festival (Dec. 7): Ohio City Festival is THIS weekend! So get your gift list ready and visit local shops like the Cleveland Bazaar and Made in the 216. If that doesn’t get you in the holiday spirit, there’s also photos with Santa, Christmas tree sales, horse-drawn carriage rides, holiday crafts for children, a photobooth, carolers, and mulled Christmas Ale from Great Lakes Brewing Company.

Holiday CircleFest (Dec. 8): Keep the festivities going all weekend long and stop by University Circle on Sunday the 8th for the Holiday CircleFest! In addition to shopping, the event in University Circle will feature horse-drawn carriage rides, ice sculpting, live music, a gingerbread house competition – and more!

Pop Up Shaker (Thurs/Sat/Sun through Dec. 15): Pop Up Shaker started last week along Chagrin Boulevard and I can’t wait to check it out! (Yes I do LEAVE downtown sometimes. See numbers 2 and 4 above) This festive winter pop up combines crafting, food, and shopping and will take place Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays through the 15th.

Tremont Holiday BrewHaHa (Dec. 13-15): In addition to stopping by the BrewHaHa weekend in Tremont for the famous Santa Shuffle (where the picture of  B and me at the beginning of this post is from), I can’t wait to check out the Pop Up Shop and Party on Dec. 13. AND there’s even a Tremont Holiday ArtWalk!


And now, some questions for you:

  • What holiday traditions do you have? Love Actually and holiday decorating. And pepperoni bread. And seeing A Christmas Carol. Use the discount code I shared and see it yourself!
  • Quick! What are five things you are looking forward to about the holidays?
  • What’s your favorite local shop?
  • Do you run in any holiday races?

A Runner’s Holiday Wish List

As I’ve gotten more and more into running, I’ve been finding myself spending more and more money on things I need want to satisfy my running addiction habit. So I guess it should come as no surprise that as I started putting together my holiday wish list (a.k.a. my 2013 Christmas List board on Pinterest), many of the items on it are running related. So I thought I’d share with you some of those items, as well as some other items to help you shop for the runner in your life!

In no order – here are some gift ideas for your favorite runner!

Heart-rate monitor / GPS device like the new Garmin Forerunner 220 and 620. 

Look at this beauty … the Garmin Forerunner 620:

garmin 620

Seriously – look at that. Read about what it does – the thing automatically pauses when you stop running (like at an intersection), measures your cadence, tells you how long you should recover, estimates your VO2 Max, predicts your race time, and even makes you egg white omelets for breakfast! OK it doesn’t make you breakfast … but it pretty much does everything else, you see? I don’t have one, but if you’re looking for one, here’s a complete review from DC Rainmaker, including a 10% discount code.

Running headband

One of my biggest pet peeves when running is hair flying in my face.. Even now that I’ve grown my hair out long, I still have lovely flyaways that get in my face. That’s why I ALWAYS wear a running headband. My favorite headbands right now are by Owl Be Sweatin – they don’t slip AND they’re adjustable, which is great for me (I wrote a full review here, including a discount code). Anyway, I have 3 of them right now – one blue with polka dots, one pink chevron and one black sparkly.

whyilovemyowl be sweatin headband

Brightly colored running layering piece/jacket

I run in the mornings and at night, often when it’s dawn or dusk or it’s dark outside.  Wearing bright colored clothing helps me stand out – or at least feel like I’m going to be noticed. The majority of my running jackets are black, but a standout piece, like this one from Target’s C9 by Champion collection is a great option – and affordable!

Compression socks

Not on my wishlist this year (because I already have them), compression socks are a staple in a lot of runners’ wardrobes. I love my bright pink PRO Compression socks and wear them when my legs are tired, during a run, or even just in long car rides under winter boots. I don’t care if I look ridiculous wearing them (see below my way too pink outfit) – I love ’em! Oh, and one of my favorite bloggers, Skinny Runner, often posts discount codes so you don’t have to worry about buying them at full price.

These holiday PROCompression socks are 40% off this month!

Use the code SNOW for 40% off the Holiday Sock or Sleeves – codes often posted on FB.

Cute, comfy and functional winter gear

Some days when the weather’s cold, it’s windy and snowy, or in temps I’m not in love with, I don’t (gasp!) always jump out of bed to go running. Having cute and warm workout gear helps – sometimes just knowing at least I have a cute running sweatshirt or vest to wear helps (yes, apparently I am that shallow).

A hat that has a hole for a pony tail seems perfect – I haven’t tried this hat out yet but isn’t the Brooks Breakaway Beanie cute?

Foam roller

A foam roller can be a runner’s best friend – it can help you massage and stretch out sore muscles – IF you remember to use it. This one has been recommended by a few different runners I know, so I’ve added it to my wishlist!

 

What’s on your holiday wishlist? Runners, what have I missed? Do you have any of the above items?

Bacon Bombs, Bowling and More = A West Virginian Thanksgiving

And so it begins – the holiday season is officially here! Woohoo! I really do love this time of year – from the baking and holiday foods, to the festive lights decorating downtown to of course being able to spend time with my family – what’s not to like?

lights in the Arcade in Cleveland

lights in the Arcade in Cleveland

This weekend we celebrated Thanksgiving. And because we trade locations (NY with my family vs. here with B’s family) each year, this year we were spending the holiday with B’s family. And this year, B’s family had rented a cabin in Wheeling, West Virginia at Oglebay Resort. We would be in a cabin for three nights with about 20 members of B’s family and extended family – which meant lots of good meals, drinks, games, and we even fit in some even some runs and walks! Some highlights:

The cabin:

Here’s where we stayed- it was really nice and a short walk from the main lodge which meant just a short walk from the pool and fitness center! (yes, I got in a 6 mile treadmill run one day while the kiddos were splashing in the pool).

Our home for 3 nights

Our home for 3 nights

The food:

We arrived Wednesday night at the cabin to a dinner of what B’s family was calling bacon bombs. Bacon/meat-lovers rejoice – have I got the meal for you – imagine a giant meatloaf wrapped in bacon? That’s what this is:

bacon bombs!

bacon bombs!

And what would Thanksgiving be without all of the other glorious food?

dinner collage

Some of the fun:

Before getting on the road, we decided to do some pre-vacation pampering! I went with my niece and two of my sisters-in-law and we got our nails done.

manis

I brought supplies with me to make some candy turkeys I’d found on Pinterest – and they were a hit! The kids loved making them and trying to steal all the candy/cookies/frosting/etc. they could get their hands on.

turkeys

We went sleigh riding down what a local called “Suicide Hill.” I mostly watched and ran up and down the hill to keep warm, but couldn’t help but take photos and video of the fun. My favorite? Sending Oliver down the hill in a laundry basket that we had in the car.

Keeping the Thanksgiving morning tradition of running alive, we found a 5k in Wheeling and ran it – with a few of the other family members! It was tons of fun. I ran the whole race with B’s cousin who’s the girl in the front in the blue hat in the pic below – she’s fast and came in 4th in her age group (14 and under).

B and me post-race. B rocked and PRd with a 5k in 23 something minutes

B and me post-race. B rocked and PRd with a 5k in 23 something minutes

The whole gang who ran!

The whole gang who ran!

And of course just all around shenanigans and playing with my niece and nephew and cousins-in-law.

He's a pretty good reader for a preschooler huh?

He’s a pretty good reader for a preschooler huh?

Teaching her some of my favorite old hand-games.

Teaching her some of my favorite old hand-games.

Pirates are completely normal on Thanksgiving, right? Didn't they come over with the pilgrims?

Pirates are completely normal on Thanksgiving, right? Didn’t they come over with the pilgrims?

And Thanksgiving with B’s family wouldn’t be complete without BOWLING. That’s right, the Saturday after Thanksgiving, his dad’s side gets together for a bowling competition (the side of the family who gets together for softball competition each year). No, I didn’t win (for some reason scoring a 76 didn’t even get me into the finals!) – but there’s always next year, right? I’ll be seeking bowling coaches – you know where to find me! (kidding)

Cousins-in-law!

Cousins-in-law!

bowling!

bowling!

And that was it! From traveling to West Virginia and then to way out northeastern Ohio for bowling, I’m somewhat feeling I need a vacation from my vacation!

Some questions for you:

How was your Thanksgiving? Do you travel for the holiday?

What did you make for the holiday? B and I were in charge of desserts! We also were to make a vegetable – so we made roasted squash and Brussels sprouts!

Did you try any new foods? Yes! Shoofly pie, that B and I made, as well as a slice of a bacon bomb. 

Do you have any fun family traditions during the holidays? Bowling with B’s family the Sat. after Thanksgiving has become a great tradition!

Did you do any Thanksgiving day races / Turkey Trots?

What are you most looking forward to about the coming month or so of the holiday season? Love Actually, Christmas music and seeing my family again!

I leave you with this pic of B and me chopping veggies:

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A Canadian Christmas Getaway (Part One)

After spending the holidays with my family (which goes by waaay too fast), B and I had planned a little winter getaway. We had thrown around a few tropical ideas – returning to the British Virgin Islands, Hawaii, the Bahamas, and even Florida – but we ended up somehow in the complete opposite direction: Canada! B had never been to Montreal, a beautiful city just a few hours away from my parents – and I had never been to Toronto, “on the way” home from Montreal – so it was a perfect, easy trip to plan.

Montreal

B and I got to Montreal just before dinnertime and checked into our hotel in Old Montreal. How cute! Everything was in French and very charming. And of course B had found us the perfect hotel, just a few steps away from the Notre Dame Cathedral. We had plans to walk around and then meet one of his coworkers (Who is from Montreal) for drinks. After bundling up and going outside, it became apparent there wasn’t going to be MUCH walking around – I was frozen! We made it a few blocks, hit a coffee shop and decided to just sit inside for most of the time before meeting up with B’s coworker at Gaspar Taverne.

cathedral 2

montreal cathedral

in front of the Notre Dame Cathedral

The Taverne Gaspar was cute – we were greeted with a “Bon Soir” as we walked in and then an immediate “Hello – English?” as we both looked slight confused. Our bartender asked where we were from and began to immediately teach us some French phrases that would come in handy. B’s coworker and her friends arrived and we enjoyed a drink with them before heading off to find someplace close (Brr!) for dinner. Dinner was also in Old Montreal, as we opted for a place that served baguettes with brie and chicken, and poutine.

Inside El Gaspar

Inside Taverne Gaspar

poutine

Poutine. Aka fries with gravy, cheese and bacon.

Practiically the only drink I could pronounce on the menu

Practically the only drink I could pronounce on the menu

The next morning we woke up to snow. And not just a little snow – a blizzard! That day, the day we were supposed to walk around Old Montreal and downtown turned into the largest snowfall Montreal had ever had in 24 hours – yes, a record-breaking 50 cm or something like that. Needless to say we probably didn’t walk as much around as we would’ve liked. We walked a few blocks and grabbed crepes for breakfast (YUM!), checked out the indoor market in Old Montreal, and then trudged along a few more miles toward the downtown area to find the underground mall that Montreal is known for. We spent most of the afternoon walking around the snowy streets and moving back toward the underground city/mall (called RÉSO). While it wasn’t ideal (we would’ve gotten way more siteseeing done if it hadn’t been snowing so much), it was a fun way to spend our day in the city. A few blisters later, B and I grabbed an easy lunch – a baguette and some fois gras and then a three course dinner at a prix fixe French restaurant. Fun fact – the waiter called us “King-makers” when he heard we were from Ohio – because “we’re the ones that choose the king [President] in the U.S.!”

Crepes for dessert!

Crepes for breakfast!

2nd course of our french dinner

2nd course of our french dinner

obligatory love photo (in the snow)

obligatory love photo (in the snow)

The morning next we strolled, slightly easier because the snow had stopped and the streets were somewhat plowed) through Old Montreal one last time and visited their indoor market and a maple shop before heading out to Toronto!

record-breaking snowfall!

record-breaking snowfall!

 

Part two of this blog post is here.

Wordless Wednesday: Christmas Music

I’m officially on winter vacation! Despite a few loose ends from work I’m tying up, I’m back home in New York trying to work as little as possible, spend as much time with family and friends, and get into the holiday spirit. To help get in the mood for Christmas (while it’s 40 degrees out), I’m sharing some of my favorite holiday tunes for today’s (semi)Wordless Wednesday post. Warning – these may not be the traditional tunes you listen to year in and out. A playlist with a few of these songs, and some more, can be found here.

All I Want for Christmas Is You (Love Actually version … my favorite!)

One of my favorites from The Nutcracker – Pas De Deux  

Michael Buble – Baby Please Come Home

Last Christmas (The Glee version … only version worth listening to in my opinion)

Straight No Chaser – 12 Days of Christmas

Blues Traveler – Christmas

Transiberian Orchestra – Christmas Eve in Sarajevo (Carol of the Bells) (one of B’s favorite Christmas songs)

March of the Wooden Soldiers (from one of my dad’s favorite Christmas movies, Babes in Toyland)

Baby It’s Cold Outside (Colbie Caillat and Gavin DeGraw) 

It Feels Like Christmas (from the Muppet Christmas Carol)

The Chieftains – Il Est Ne (we would listen to this album each year when putting up our tree…  I swear hearing this song makes me smell pine needles!)

Weezer – We Wish You a Merry Christmas 

EPMBBKMVRRZB

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?