Winter Weekends Aren’t All Bad

I’ll be the first to admit it – I don’t really like winter.

I don’t like the cold weather. I don’t like snow and ice. I don’t like the dark days and nights. I prefer warmth and the ability to hang out outside, enjoy some sunshine and run when it’s light in the morning and at night.

BUT – I have to admit it. Not all winter weekends are bad. And I had a pretty good one this past weekend! Some of the highlights:

A flight of beers at Hansa House. My first time going to this new brewery and it did not disappoint.  Especially since FW slept while we were there 🙂

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A trip to the West Side Market for some ham hocks. B made me one for dinner (to continue our Germany theme) with some piergoi and sauerkraut. And spicy German mustard.

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A walk around Ohio City with FW in tow. I love wearing him, even though he’s getting too big to be in this baby k’tan much longer!20170114_152727

A group run! Fleet Feet hosted a kickoff run for the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon and I got a chance to wear my new Cleveland leggings AND meet up with some fellow marathon ambassadors for 4 miles. (check out the photobomber in the back !)

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A birthday party! It was another weekend with a first birthday party for fellow LCBS baby Jack.

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And then a short walk around some lakes. It was somewhat a beautiful (but cold) day.20170115_165618

And finally, dinner with B’s family and BIRTHDAY ICE CREAM cake for dessert! I love ice cream cake. We celebrated our nephew’s birthday – I can’t believe he’s turning 7 – and my almost birthday!

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See? Not an entirely bad weekend 🙂

Some questions for you:

  1. Do you like winter?
  2. What flavors of ice cream would you have in your ice cream cake?

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

My Weekend: Surviving 10 Degrees (and Sub-Zero) Temps with a Baby

We had a COLD weekend in Cleveland. I’m not talking the return of the Polar Vortex (remember that?!) but it was barely 10 degrees each day with wind chills making it even COLDER. So, what’s a mom to do with a baby when its freezing outside, we live in a teeny tiny apartment, and I go stir crazy very easily?

Well, we started off with homemade pizza Friday night. Courtesy of B. He makes the BEST pizza.  Oh yeah, and we started with a cheese/meat plate. Because preheating the oven to 500 degrees takes a while and I was hungry.

img_20170106_182457Side note – most of the meats and cheeses were from Gallucci’s and Ohio City Provisions, two of my FAVORITE places.

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Attempt to make baby food (bananas and carrots) and then feed said food to baby. We’re working on it. FW enjoyed some of the banana better than the sweet potato I think.

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Go OUT to dinner! B and I took a very short cold walk Saturday night and got beers and buffalo chicken salads. YAY!20170107_173330

Go for a walk inside our building, wearing FW. We live in a building with a coffee shop so I was able to walk over and pick up coffees and donuts Sunday morning. Without going outside! 20170108_085716

Spend time reading! Okay, I spent time working/napping, and B read as did FW, but we can’t always do everything as a family.

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AND enjoy some delicious New Mexican food with friends! Because friends who cook for you and feed you when it’s their birthday are the best.

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

A LOVEly Weekend

I’ll admit it – I like Valentine’s Day. I like any holiday that celebrates love – how can you not? I consider it a day to celebrate ALL love – love of your family, friends, significant others, etc. That’s how I was brought up (yes, my parents still send me a Valentine’s Day card and I send my brother one!) and I LOVE it.

That being said, I’m not one of those people who expects to celebrate myself all weekend long – with Christmas in late December and my birthday being in late January, there’s hardly a reason for me to expect any gifts, a big celebration, etc. BUT I do enjoy celebrating in other ways … like good food, good company, good drinks and well – goodness all around! Luckily, that’s how the weekend turned out.

Friday night was cold and snowy, so B and I decided to stay in, watch the Interview, and get takeout Vietnamese to eat with our new chopsticks we’d bought in Vietnam.

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Saturday morning I woke up somewhat early to get in a little treadmill and elliptical action at the gym. I had thought about doing the Chili Bowl 5k (last year, B and I ran it after doing a 9 mile training run) but the weather was cold, super windy (20+mph winds), and snowy so I was happy to stay inside and run while B slept. And of course the elliptical and treadmill helped me work up a hunger for brunch! That’s right, B and I went to Phuel for brunch – I got my favorite (granola, fruit, yogurt and honey) and B got his standard order – banana chocolate chip pancakes.

B and his pancakes. He's probably thinking "Please take the picture so I can eat these soon"

B and his pancakes. He’s probably thinking “Please take the picture so I can eat these soon”

Glorious homemade granola. Not quite as good as my mom's recipe - but the closest thing here :)

Glorious homemade granola. Not quite as good as my mom’s recipe – but the closest thing here 🙂

After brunch it was time to get in some of our weekly shopping at the West Side Market. We picked up some treats too – a cannoli for the night’s dessert. We had plans to cook a homemade Italian dinner and I of course wanted my favorite Italian dessert.

So many types of cannoli!

So many types of cannoli!

After the Market, B stopped in Hingetown for a coffee/tea stop. I decided to try a new tea at Cleveland Tea Revival – not my standard Ginger or Ginger Turmeric – and I wasn’t disappointed. Their Shark Week Tea may be a new favorite of mine.

Shark Week tea. I just googled what that meant and whoops! I'll still drink it.

Shark Week tea. I just googled what that meant and whoops! I’ll still drink it.

cleveland tea revivial

We also were able to stop off at Gallucci’s to pick up some supplies for dinner. I wish I had taken a photo of my cart – Gallucci’s is like Target to me. I go there with the full intent to buy 3-4 things and come out with 10+ items.

I <3 Gallucci's - and not just for their wine.

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For dinner, B and I prepared an Italian feast together. My favorite way to spend the night! We prepared homemade pasta, sauce and chicken cutlets. With some bubbly and cheese and meat as an appetizer and I was in heaven.

love me some cheese!!!

love me some cheese!!!

Pasta making experts.

Pasta making experts.

Prosecco and crystal. Because why not?

Prosecco and crystal. Because why not?

I love going out to dinner – don’t get me wrong, but there’s just something about spending the time making a meal together – B and I made the pasta and chicken together, so instead of having a 1-2 hour meal at a restaurant, it turned into a whole evening activity. And it was delicious!

Dinner.

Dinner.

The pistachio cannoli from the West Side Market

The pistachio cannoli from the West Side Market – and homemade limoncello

Sunday was another COLD day. And I’m talking super cold – I woke up to -1 degree temps with 15mph winds meaning it “felt like -25”. So of course B and I decided it would be a great day for a “Lazy Sunday.” Which for me meant doing as very little as possible – but enough so that I wouldn’t get bored. I decided to play it safe and run inside again, bringing this week’s mileage to 36!

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After the workout, I wanted to do some meal prep for the week. I roasted a chicken (usually B’s job), sweet potato, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and acorn squash.

A bit of meal prep

A bit of meal prep

Then it was time for dinner with B’s family. We were celebrating my niece’s birthday (can’t believe she’s SIX!).

my contribution to the dinner - salad!

my contribution to the dinner – salad!

The gorgeous red velvet birthday cake B's mom made

The gorgeous red velvet birthday cake B’s mom made

blowing out the candles!

blowing out the candles!

We go over there almost every week, but this week was special not only for the birthday but it was also a goodbye dinner for B’s brother. He’s is traveling abroad to Germany so we had a big family meal before he leaves this week. I’m so jealous – I loved studying abroad and hope he has as much fun as I did!

A throwback to my days in Ecuador - at a futbol game!

A throwback to my days in Ecuador – at a futbol game!

Some questions for you:

  • Love or hate Valentine’s Day?
  • Did you study abroad?  If not, where do you wish you would have visited?
  • What’s your favorite type of meal to prepare?

 

Refusing to succumb to Blue Monday.

Last Monday was the infamous “Blue Monday.” You know, that day in January deemed the most depressing day of the year? And why not? It’s cold, dark, everyone is sad, feeling the aftereffects of the happiness of the holidays and of course feeling the aftereffects on their credit card and waistline.

I’ll be the first to admit it – I get in a funk from about January through the end of March. Rough for someone having a January birthday. But this year, I decided that I wasn’t going to be “blue” on Blue Monday. I can’t do much about the weather, the icy roads (which make it SO hard to run outside), or the dark days, but I CAN get excited and embrace all there is to do and enjoy in Cleveland this time of year. Yes, even in the winter. How can I be blue when I’ve done all this fun stuff since the holidays have ended?

Trying out Dave and Anson’s deep fryer, eating homemade fried chicken wings and watching football:

fried chicken

Baking mitten cookies. Because when it’s cold, who doesn’t love mittens?

chocolate dipped mitten cookies

Attempting to sew mittens. I don’t have an “after” picture because the one mitten I tried to make didn’t come out. I’ll stick to baked cookie mittens (see above):

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Shopping at the West Side Market. Because it’s somewhat warm in there and if it’s not you can always get a hot beverage and your groceries:

my favorite stand at west side market

my favorite stand at west side market

And then cooking some fantastic vegetarian dishes with Ali. I love this girl (my former work-spouse) and don’t see her nearly enough – and it was SO good to spend a day cooking with her!

Ali making samosas

Ali making samosas

the recipe for these awesomeness is coming soon.

the recipe for these awesomeness is coming soon.

A few outdoor runs when the weather “warmed up.” And a few hot beverages from Rising Star.

almond milk latte from rising star

And seeing Chicago – with the oh so talented Peterman John O’Hurley! Thanks to B’s parents for the awesome tickets as our Christmas gift.

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And then wrapping up a fabulous weekend with sushi from Sushi 86, the Golden Globes and tea and Downton Abbey.

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OMG can you believe about Anna?

OMG can you believe about Anna?

And that’s just for the first few weeks of this month. What are you doing to keep yourself entertained this month?

Healthy Comfort Food: Beef, Lentil and Spinach Stew

We all have those days – especially this time of year. We work late or we’re out late doing errands (hello last minute holiday shopping!). It’s dark out when we get home. We’re cold. We are craving the warmth, and sunshine of summer. And we’re also craving some comfort food – and a warm blanket – to get us through the night.

That’s where this soup comes in. It may have taken about two hours to cook (but less than 30 min prep time really), but it was well worth the time. I’m not a huge fan of beef, and B’s not a huge fan of lentil soup or spinach – but we both loved this stew! Hearty, healthy, filling and comforting – what more could you ask for on a wintry night? (Besides ice cream and a glass of red wine that is … yes, I love ice cream in the winter with red wine. Try it.) And as a bonus, the leftovers froze well – B enjoyed them even 2 weeks later out of the freezer!

beef, lentil and spinach stew - i crashed the web

Beef, Lentil and Spinach Stew

inspired by Aggie’s Kitchen (vegetarian recipe) and Food.com (uses ground beef, which I am definitely not a fan of, thus the substitution here)

Here’s what you need:

  • 2-3 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 lb grass-fed, organic beef chuck – cut into 1/2 inch chunks
  • 1/2 c. dry red wine
  • 1 c. chopped celery
  • 1 c. leeks, finely diced
  • 1/2 c. thinly slice onion (I used about 1/2 whole red onion)
  • 3 large carrots, chopped
  • 3 c. beef broth
  • 3 c. water
  • 1 14.5 ounce can diced tomtoes
  • 1 c. dry lentils (I used the brown kind)
  • 4 c. fresh baby spinach

Here’s what you do:

  • Heat 2 Tbs olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add beef and cook until browned on all sides.
  • If skillet dries up, add another tablespoon of olive oil. Add celery, leeks, onion and carrot and cook, stirring often. Cook vegetables until soft, about 5-7 minutes.
  • Add broth, water, tomatoes, lentils and wine to pot. Cover and cook for 1-2 hours or until lentils are softened.
  • Just before serving, add spinach and stir until wilted. Enjoy!
beef, lentil, and spinach stew - i crashed the web

Yum! Can’t you just see the comforting-ness?

A wonderful Cleveland holiday

I love the holidays. The lights everywhere. The baked goods. The cookies. The music. The Christmas Ale. The overall warmth and jolliness that everyone seems to espouse (especially after a few cookies and Christmas Ale!). And even though it’s not even the middle of December yet,  I’m already in full blown holiday spirit!

Cleveland public square at night - all lit up

Cleveland during the holiday times is great. Public Square is lit up and there’s so much going on! In addition to a few holiday parties (not mentioned below), here’s how I’ve been celebrating  – with 15 days left until Christmas!

Baking … and more baking!  

Yes, as if I need an excuse for baking … but so far this year I’ve made Oatmeal Scotchies, Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies and Cherry Almond Chocolate Kisses.  When I get back to NY, I’ll likely make some more – probably some lemon bars, thumbprint jam cookies, peanut blossoms, Tuxedo Cookies, and much much more.

Some of the holiday cookies we baked for our office potluck/cookie exchange party

Some of the holiday cookies baked for our office potluck/cookie exchange party

Rocking it at the Cleveland Rocks! Awards

Each year, before the holidays, the Cleveland PRSA Chapter celebrates the best in the year’s programs and invites local PR pros to celebrate as well. This year, projects I worked on won several awards, including Best in Show! Plus, the Silent Auction I helped coordinate garnered a record number of funds to support the chapter’s scholarship fund. It was a great night and definitely wonderful to celebrate with my other coworkers and friends in the business.

Coworkers Goofing Off At Our Photo Booth at the Awards

Coworkers Goofing Off At Our Photo Booth at the Awards

Best In Show winners with our award - a guitar!

Best In Show winners with our award – a guitar!

Enjoying the Cleveland Orchestra’s Holiday Performance

Each year, the  Cleveland Orchestra puts on a performance for St. Ignatius as a fundraiser for student scholarships during the holidays – and it’s amazing! They play holiday concerts during the entire holiday season for the public, but I love the Ignatius concert tradition. We get dinner in Little Italy with B’s entire family (parents, siblings, aunt, uncles, grandma, cousin, etc.), then enjoy a performance in Severance Hall by the Cleveland Orchestra. It’s a great way to get in the holiday spirit – and I love it!

third row at the Cleveland Orchestra!

third row at the Cleveland Orchestra!

Watching A Christmas Carol at Playhouse Square

This weekend, B and I got tickets (THANKS CHRIS!) to see A Christmas Carol, put on by Great Lakes Theater. We made the evening into a date, and got drinks with his brother and parents before, saw the show, and then enjoyed dinner at Cowell & Hubbard. It was a great way to spend a wintry evening  – the show was great (although it made me really want to watch A Muppet Christmas Carol) and dinner was awesome. We enjoyed some beef ceviche, escargot, fois gras donuts and seafood dumplings — all food that I don’t normally order.

Escargot, beef ceviche, seafood dumplings and fois gras doughnuts @ Cowell & Hubbard

Escargot, beef ceviche, seafood dumplings and fois gras doughnuts @ Cowell & Hubbard

Giving Back with Caring Cubs

This weekend, B and I took ourniece and nephew to the zoo! Not only were we there to see some of the animals, but we were there for a Caring Cubs event. Caring Cubs is an organization I became introduced to through Bridge Builders- they hold monthly events for young children, ages 2 to 7, designed to teach various lessons of social responsibility.  We took Oliver and Sofia to the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, brought some new and gently used toys that were in turn donated to the Department of Child and Family Services, and then got to enjoy an animal show plus tour of the zoo afterwords. We finished up the afternoon in Little Italy, enjoying some pizza and dessert at  some of our favorites – Mama Santas and Presti’s.

caring cubs

Caring Cubs collected more than 500 toys!

sofia touching armadillo

zooo with children

hmm ... which cookies to choose?

hmm … which cookies to choose?

What about you? What have you been doing to get into the holiday spirit?

Running shoe experiment

I hate to admit it, but my running has gone down n the past few weeks. I haven’t been lazy (though with the icky winter weather I am definitely hitting the snooze more) or too busy- the weather has just been downright unfriendly for running!
I tried running outside last week, and didn’t make it more than .3 miles without slipping and nearly falling on my face. The sidewalks were all covered with ice and I’m clumsy enough as it is! (I’ve already fallen twice this past month without ice..just me kicking myself on the sidewalk)

I can’t stop running – I’ve gotten really in the groove of it and am even starting to almost enjoy racing (key word: almost). But how can I keep it up during the winter, without having to always hop on a treadmill?

I went to my local Second Sole to see what they thought. Our convo:

Me: How do you keep running in the winter?
Extremely Fit Young Man: I have been running for 15 years, so that’s 15 winters. What do you mean?
Me: Well, don’t you slip on ice and wet snow and leaves?
EFYM: No, you just learn how to run in it.

Boooo!

EFYM then showed me some shoes with little spikes in them, saying that they are good if you’re “not used to running in the winter.” They were similar to these and just as pricey.

I didn’t really feel like buying new running shoes, especially at that price and that style (Now if they were cute $120 running shoes, that’s another story!) so I returned from the store empty handed and asked around my office for some tips.

A coworker found this online and said if I supplied the shoes, she would be able to take care of the screws and labor. I some older shoes (about 400 miles on them) that I had just sitting in my desk, so I figured, why not?

screwy-shoes1

Well, here’s the end result! What do you think? How do you run in the winter?

I can’t wait to test them out and see how they work!