8 Things You Do During the Holidays (with a 6 month old)

I have been lucky enough to have time off from work during the holidays and have been enjoying the days with B and FW, celebrating with my family, B’s family and some friends.

It’s going to be hard to go back to work this week; I had such a great time bonding with FW – who is now 6 months old! – during our time off and I love love LOVE the holidays so much.


our little 6-month-old boy!

Speaking of the holidays, here is how we spent our time – I should have written a few posts about them by now, but B, FW and I have all been sick on and off (mostly on) this week and my brain has been too fuzzy to put down thoughts.


1. Spending time with family. We went to NY and saw my family, some of whom had not yet met FW! We also spent time with B’s family in Cleveland when we returned after Christmas.


meeting cousin Max


Uncle Greg!


cousin Annette

with B's aunt Patty and cousin Meghan

with B’s aunt Patty and cousin Meghan

2. Seeing friends! While in NY, FW got to see my friends Katie and Jane. They had both met him before, but of course were excited to see how big he had gotten. 20161226_102003 20161226_144230

3. Running. Because how can I have time off of work without running? I started the week off with a 7 miler on the treadmill but after getting sick have been struggling to keep up my workouts. I got in 2 runs in NY (including one stroller run with B!) and I also started off 2017 with a 3.5 sloooow treadmill run/walk.



4. Going shopping. We hit up the West Side Market several times … I just can’t get enough of shopping there and having time off to do it during the week was great.20161230_135901

5. Eating lots of good food. Not just B and me – but FW is trying out some real food too!


how FW feels about most food



the meat and cheese platter we put together for New Year’s


love it when B makes me breakfast!


date night east – Vietnamese cabbage salad

5. Relaxing. Being sick, we didn’t get in nearly enough relaxing – or sleep – but it was nice to read and spend time with one another. I finished the book, Nightingale and loved it!20161223_145428

6. Dressing like one another. We couldn’t help it – one day FW, me, my dad and our cousin’s dog were all in similar attire! And another day, FW and I both wore navy sweaters and corduroys (and B was in his navy too!). Guess that’s what happens when you spend a lot of time with one another. img_20161224_223109_300 20170101_171926 20161224_132444

 7. Enjoying the great outdoors. We lucked out with some great weather in NY and in Cleveland and got in a few outdoor walks and runs over the time. I think FW likes being in the burbs 🙂


New Year’s Day walk with FW and B – such blue skies!


FW loves looking out the window / doors

8. Going to the movies! B and I hadn’t been to the movies in FOREVER and it was so great to finally be able to enjoy a movie – in fact, we went to TWO during our time off! I highly recommend La La Land!


Some questions for you:

  • What was the last movie you saw? Did you like it?
  • Did you get some time outdoors during the holidays and nice weather?

I’m linking up with Katie and the weekly wraps.

Weekend Update – Cleveland Marathon Weekend

I’m still feeling the endorphins from a great half marathon weekend and my second sub-2 hour half marathon for this year. That’s right – even though I didn’t plan on running too fast and just wanted to take it easy, Sunday morning ended with me running another 1:58 half marathon race during the Cleveland marathon. (Mostly because of B’s sister, Mary, but I’ll get to that later)

I knew I wanted to take it easy this weekend – I was just getting over a cold and a few late nights, and I realllly wanted to feel good and rested for my Sunday morning race. That’s code for “I was really boring this weekend.”

Friday night B and I went to the movies for the first time in forever. After an amazing (as usual) dinner at Superior Pho, we hit up the movie theater with all the teeny boppers in Cleveland to see Neighbors. Don’t worry, the teeny boppers were seeing Godzilla or something else. The movie was actually pretty good – I didn’t have high expectations but I had a few pretty good laughs out of it. The previews don’t do it justice – it was more than just a stupid movie I promise!

Summer rolls = happiness

Summer rolls = happiness

my favorite salad at Superior Pho

my favorite salad at Superior Pho

Saturday was another lazy day. We walked to brunch at pHuel cafe (yes, again…I know this is two weeks in a row) where I had their granola (yes, again) and B had their pancakes (again … but with banana this time).

Another Saturday, another pHuel Cafe breakfast

Another Saturday, another pHuel Cafe breakfast

Ginger Tea from Cleveland Tea Revival

Ginger Tea from Cleveland Tea Revival

After brunch we headed to the West Side Market to pick up some snacks (Apple Fritters FTW!), but not too many groceries for the week since I’ll be traveling. After the Market it was time for my favorite ginger tea and then laziness time. That’s right, aka Melissa watches several episodes of Damages while waiting for her dinner. We had dinner plans with Mary and a few of her friends at my favorite pre-race dinner place, The Flaming Ice Cube. I swear – they have the perfect pre-long-run dinner and I live by their kalebouli wraps before a race.

Flaming Ice Cube Kalebouli Hummus Wrap

Flaming Ice Cube Kalebouli Hummus Wrap

We came home after dinner to a surprise – my Go Vox Box from Influenster arrived! It was such a perfect pre-race surprise – I can’t wait to try out the orthotics (for walking, I’m not messing with my existing running orthotics) and the protein powder and shaker. B and I have protein we use already, but I’m always up for trying out new ones! And BLUEBERRY almonds? Anyway, I digress.

Check out all these goodies from Influenster!

Check out all these goodies from Influenster!

Sunday morning was race day! I was not looking forward to my 5 a.m. alarm – but Mary and I met up before the race so we could start together. Mary was running the full and I was just planning on running the first 10 easy with her before the half marathoners split up from the full marathoners. Mary had other plans – to aim for a sub-4 hour marathon, a PR of about 20 minutes from her last marathon time (Mary is a beast and this is her third race). And she asked if I’d run the first 10 with her – how could I say no?

Mary and I at the starting corral

Mary and I at the starting corral

So out the door went my “easy, enjoying the sights” half marathon plans .. and instead, I ran with Mary for the first 10, trying to keep up with the 3:55 pacers. We did it, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I breathed (or huffed at this point) a sigh of relief when the marathoners broke up for their final 16 as I finished my final 3ish.  Mile 11-12 was all up hill and in the sun, and I was dying. I felt like I was going at a snail’s pace and don’t know how but I managed to somewhat spring the final mile to the finish. The end result:

A surprise - under 2 hrs!

A surprise – under 2 hrs!

post race photo op with the medal

post race photo op with the medal

Post race, we met up with some of the members of the “Ladies who run in the morning” club (yes, I just came up with that name) for brunch. I know – two weekends in a row, four brunches. Who am I?

Ladies who Run in the Morning together

Ladies who Run in the Morning together

Some questions for you:

  • Drinks at brunch – yes or no? If yes, what’s your drink of choice? Mimosas? Bellinis? Beer?
  • Morning runner or evening workerouter (that’s a word)?
  • What was the last movie you saw?
  • Clevelanders – how did you do this weekend? Did you like the new course? Congrats to all you who participated and thank you to ALL who came out to cheer. It really does make quite a difference in how we feel.
  • Runners – what’s your evening-before-a-race meal of choice?


Another year, another amazing Cleveland International Film Festival

As I share each year, I LOVE the Cleveland International Film Festival. I love the crowds at Tower City, the people-watching, the food, and of course the films.

This year, for various reasons (aka extremely busy schedules) B and I only had time to fit in 2 films at the festival. We opted for two pick-me-ups, or at least humorous/happy films (so often we see somewhat upsetting or more educational movies when we go to film festivalst) which proved to be a good choice. The films were both different from one another yet both absolutely incredible, however, so I wanted to share some info about them with you in case you have an opportunity to see them! AND since the festival is not over (it ends the 30th) so you have some time to catch some films yourself!

Hopeless Hopeful (La Espera Desespera)

The film opens when Jorge, a pretty ordinary guy, learns that his wife Lisa is in need of a life-saving heart surgery – and a surgery he can by no means afford. Yes, I said we saw humorous/happy films – and I promise you this movie is just that. Because Jorge decides to go about getting the money in a somewhat funny way – robbing a bank. Check out the trailer:


This movie is playing TONIGHT so you should definitely go see it if you haven’t been to the festival already.

The Ballad of Shovels and Rope

This movie follows the story of Michael Trent and Cary Ann Hearst, husband and wife duo that formed the band Shovels and Rope. I had never heard of the band – but I guess they’re pretty well known in the Americana music circle – so it was fun watch where they came from, how they started playing with one another and watch them put together an album.  Oh yeah, and the music was good too!


Some questions for you:

  • Do you watch independent or foreign films? Any favorites? One of my favorites still from a past festival was Primos. Such a fun, humorous Spanish-language film!
  • Subtitles or dubbing for foreign films? Subtitles all the way! I much prefer to listen to the natural language. But it makes it hard to multitask during a movie.
  • What was the last movie you saw?
  • What are you looking forward to this weekend?
  • Clevelanders- have you been to CIFF yet? Which movies have you seen?


Cleveland International Film Festival 2012

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! No, I’m not talking about the holidays or Christmas (but those are wonderful times of year as well) – but I’m talking about the time of year when downtown and Tower City comes alive with activity – when people who don’t normally make the trip downtown spend hours at a time strolling around – when it’s socially acceptable to sit for hours in the dark and eating popcorn. The Cleveland International Film Festival!

Each year, B and I see one or two films. This year, now that we’re finally living downtown, we got to see even more! We saw 5 total, but I would’ve loved to see a few more. One of these years we are going to get a pass and take off of work and see all the movies we want – but until then, five movies in one week will have to do. Here’s a quick review and summary of the films we opted to see. DISCLAIMER: I was not paid to see or review any of these films. I’m also not a professional film critic (far from it!) so take these as the opinions of an average mid-late 20-something female.

Superthief: Inside America’s Biggest Bank Score

Summary, from Clevelandfilm.org:

If a Bank Burglar Hall of Fame is ever built, it has to be placed in Collinwood, OH. The Cleveland neighborhood is home to some of the U.S.’s most prolific and daring bank robbers of all time—the most famous of whom is Phil Christopher, who pulled off a bank job in Laguna Niguel, California for a record-setting $30 million in 1972. SUPERTHIEF is a documentary about the men who put together one of the most enterprising and remarkable bank burglaries of all time, as well as the men tasked with bringing the crooks to justice …

My thoughts:

Overall it was a good, entertaining film. Kind of like Ocean’s 11 meets that History Channel show, I (Almost) Got Away With it. The Northeast Ohio connection made the film even more enjoyable.  It was fun to hear from Phil Christopher himself bout how he committed the crime, the mistakes he made that got him caught, and where he is now. It was also amusing to hear from the police officers and other enforcement that were interviewed – any of them spoke very highly of him, almost as if he weren’t a convicted criminal.

My rating: 3 out of 4 stars

The Trailer:


Summary, from Clevelandfilm.org:

SACRIFICE, an adaptation of Orphan of Zhao (the first Chinese opera to become known in Europe), dominated Chinese theaters upon its release and is sure to impress American viewers with its dramatic performances, alluring ancient Chinese scenery and absorbing Shakespearean plot. It is a complex tale of betrayals and revenge, as the jealous court official Tu Angu (Wang Xueqi) seeks to eradicate his prosperous enemies, the Zhao clan. Weaving together traps, poisons, sword fights, and all out warfare, Tu almost succeeds with his devious schemes, but the upright physician Cheng Ying (Ge You) has mercy on the infant child carrying the last remaining Zhao blood …

My thoughts:

Meh. It wasn’t a bad film – in fact the first hour or so captivated me as I got a great look into ancient China. I think any fan of Chinese films, especially those that involve fighting, would appreciate the film. I have never been a fan of the genre, however so I don’t think I’m the right audience. B enjoyed the action and I liked viewing the beautiful scenery.

My rating: 2.5 out of 4 stars

The Trailer:

Missed Connections

Summary, from Clevelandfilm.org:

Neal is a good guy pushed too far in MISSED CONNECTIONS, a comedic romance for today’s internet savvy dating scene. He’s recovering from a gruesome breakup and a banal job, but rather than confront his problems head on, with the help of some loyal friends Neal finds the perfect distraction on the Craigslist Missed Connections page. Lonely women write posts describing details of chance encounters, a little eye contact, or a passing glance that could have been their knight in shining armor, only he got away. Now they are hoping he’s searching the same internet back pages. What could be easier than swooping in to the rescue as a woman awaits a date who you know won’t show …

My thoughts:

I really enjoyed this film. I’ve been a fan of Craigslist’s Missed Connections for years (come on, don’t tell me you haven’t scrolled through the pages just to see who was writing what, and to whom?) and it was fun to see a movie about the site. The characters were likeable, and relatable, and the plotline followed that of a predictable romantic comedy. If you’re looking for something, light, funny and entertaining, this is it.

My rating: 3 out of 4 stars

The Trailer:

Primos (Cousinhood)

Summary, from Clevelandfilm.org:

COUSINHOOD is an American-style bromantic comedy with an added dash of Spanish cojones. It’s the story of three party dudes, loyal cousins who have each other’s backs. When thirtysomething Diego is left standing at the altar, macho Julian has a remedy for his broken heart. They begin by drowning their sorrows and dragging their cousin José Miguel to the seaside town where they grew up. A boozy summer festival is in full swing, where they revel with childhood friends and begin reconnecting with local traditions. Diego rediscovers his attraction to lovely Martina, who lives in his former house. Julian finds that his old friend is now the town drunk and the father of a sultry prostitute. José Miguel, a hypochondriac perpetually out of his comfort zone, bonds with Martina’s young son over their mutual fears. As a new day dawns for these endearing buffoons, it looks like they might be growing up in spite of themselves.

My thoughts:

You MUST see this film. If you’re looking for a hilarious, heartwarming movie that is entertaining for girls, and guys, here it is. It  had me laughing, and crying (from laughing so hard) at parts. Seriously- any film that has cute Spanish men singing the Backstreet Boys is a winner in my book. It’s the best comedy I’ve seen since Bridesmaids and I’m not just counting international films, I mean best comedy out of all movies.

My rating: 4+ out of 4 stars

The Trailer:

The Heineken Kidnapping

Summary, from Clevelandfilm.org:

Rutger Hauer gives one of the most intense and powerful performances of his long career in this Dutch film based on true events from 1983. Hauer plays Alfred Heineken, president of Heineken International and heir to the family’s beer fortune. When Heineken gets kidnapped by four young men, he must bide his time in a small cell hoping his company and family pay the ransom. One of the kidnappers, Rem Humbrechts, has plans of his own and they involve revenge. An incredibly intense and dark crime thriller, THE HEINEKEN KIDNAPPING grabs you from the very beginning and doesn’t let go of its grip. Brilliantly directed by Maarten Treurniet, what begins as a caper film quickly becomes a film of deep-seeded vengeance. After being released, Heineken must deal with the trauma of his ordeal and the only way to get the horrors out of his head is to see them extinguished.

My thoughts:

I was pleasantly surprised with the movie (even though the word “pleasant” hardly belongs in a review of this intense movie) – I had seen a cleveland.com review of the film beforehand and wasn’t expecting much. Despite some slow parts, the movie held my attention and kept me on edge the entire time. I was so involved with the film, I ended up peeling off all the nail polish from my nails – that’s how insense it was!

My rating: 2.75-3 out of 4 stars

The Trailer:

Thursday = Fun Day in Cleveland this Summer

Downtown Cleveland is celebrating summer this year with the expansion of their Sparx Concert series. In addition to the free live Thursday night concerts, local restaurants will be offering promotions and other fun activities. The concert and promotions start today (June 4) and go until Sept. 11.

e4th Restaurant promotions will take place throughout E 4th, Playhouse Square and the Warehouse District each Thursday evening throughout the summer. According to Cleveland.com, lots of nearby restaurants will be hosting events on their patios, which is awesome. I love when the weather gets warm enough for us to enjoy some patio dining! Some of the highlights include:

  • Erie Island coffee is offering free samples of smoothies and coffee-bean roasting on its patio
  • Flannery’s Pub will be hosting a  patio barbecue
  • Pickwick & Frolic will open a bar outside on its patio

In addition to the free concerts and restaurant promotions, there will also be free outdoor movie screenings on the Thursdays between July 23 and August 13th. The movie showings include:

  • July 23: The Dark Knight
  • July 30: Casino Royale
  • August 6: Twilight (My obsessed-with-Edward colleague is super excited about this one!)
  • August 13: Iron Man

Food deals at some of my favorite places PLUS free music PLUS free movies? Count me in! The full concert schedule can be found here.

For more information, check out the Downtown Cleveland Alliance website and Cleveland.com.