Wanderlust Wednesday: Local Eats and Treats (Cleveland)

westsidemarket

Another one from the old site that I’ve updated a bit. Many of the foods mentioned on this list were included in guest baskets my sisters and I made for Sarah’s (the baby sister) wedding in Cleveland last month.

I’m a fan of buying local. I also love to order products that are locally sourced from places that I have lived or visited. It is really fun to throw a dinner party with some food from Cleveland because chances are my friends in NYC haven’t sampled these treats before. Here are some of my favorite local goods from Cleveland that you can also purchase online if you aren’t in the Northeast Ohio area.  

Campbell’s Popcorn:  One of my favorite places in Cleveland is the Westside Market located in the Ohio City neighborhood. There you’ll find the city’s best produce, butchers, baked goods, and many other local treats. One of the most popular stands is Campbell’s Sweets. Here you’ll find an assortment of delicious candy and caramel apples, but Campbell’s is most famous for their popcorn. They have a wide variety of savory and sweet flavors from your traditional cheddar and caramel to the more unusual flavors of dill pickle and vanilla butternut. I am a fan of their chocolate mint…yum!  

Cotton Club Soda:  Okay so no one in Ohio calls it soda…it’s pop. While I don’t have soft drinks all that often, I am a sucker for Cotton Club’s Cherry-Strawberry.  They have a number of more traditional cola and non cola flavors as well. Another favorite of mine is their 50/50 which is a mix of lemon lime and grapefruit soda. This one is a little harder to get online, but some sites that specialize in regional soda do occasionally have it in stock.

Lucy’s Baked Goods:  Cleveland has a huge Eastern European population. My mom’s side of the family is Hungarian so the strudels and nut rolls at Lucy’s Sweet Surrender are the tastes of my childhood. I recommend the cherry cheese strudel and the poppy seed roll. They also carry Russian Tea Biscuits which are incredible. I don’t know the origin story behind this treat, but I imagine they’re not really from Russia because Cleveland is the only place I’ve ever seen this pastry. My sister Esther and I always end up splitting one when we visit The Cleve because it’s one of the few things we can’t find in NYC. 

Malley’s Chocolates: My all time favorite local establishment of my home town. Several of Malley’s locations have ice cream parlors so you can enjoy their famous hot fudge on site. I grew up down the street from the North Olmsted location which I always thought of as magical because you could sit on a slowly moving old carousel as you enjoyed your ice cream. Don’t worry if you aren’t in Ohio though aside from ordering their sundae sauce online you can also get your fill on their incredible confections. Some of my favorites are their Peanut Butter Royals, Bordeaux, and their Milk Chocolate Crunch bar.  

Stadium Mustard: I am funny when it comes to condiments.  I never have ketchup, but I’ll have at least half a dozen varieties of mustard in my fridge at a given time. Stadium Mustard is one of the best. There is no better mustard for hot dogs or burgers. It isn’t baseball season until I enjoy a foot long with some Stadium Mustard.  

Do you have a favorite food from your home town?

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Intro to Essential Oils


Among the various types of yoga classes I’ve been taking over the past 18 months one of my favorites has been aromatherapy yoga. This is a restorative class where one focuses less on flow and sequences and more on the connection between the mind and the body. Poses are often held for longer periods of time, minutes as apposed to seconds. Essential oils are applied to different pressure points on the body depending on the oil and the intention of the practice.

This had led to using essential oils around the house and during meditation practices as well. Here are some of my favorite fragrances and what I use them for.

Clary Sage:  This is one of the first fragrances I was exposed in aromatherapy yoga. It’s supposed to be good for helping gain focus and clarity so I use it in a defuser when I meditate.

Geranium: A friend recommended Geranium oil as a natural repellent for bugs and tics. After a few outdoor excursions this summer I can say that it seemed to work well.

Lavender: This is a calming oil. Sometimes I put it in the defuser if I’m having trouble sleeping. I also use it on pressure points like my forehead, outer ears, and heels to help relieve headaches.

Lemon: What is it about lemon that is so refreshing? I use it with coconut oil and vitamin E as a homemade lotion.

Peppermint: Like lavender this is good for relaxing. It’s perfect to add to a homemade foot lotion and to help relax sore muscles.

What’s your favorite essential oil?

 

Balance and Breathing

koi-pond

Here is another post from the old blog which I’ve updated a bit.

I’ve been taking quite a few Yoga classes since last summer when I started expanding my workout routine and trying new things. While my initial intent for introducing more Yoga into my life was to tone and increase my flexibility. But it has given me much more than that. It has caused me to slow down, breathe, and still my mind. These are things I want to do outside of the yoga studio too.

I’ve always been a busy bee/type A personality, but I am realizing the importance of slowing down and making sure that everything is in balance. I’m the type of person who throws myself into my job full throttle. Caring about your job and wanting to give it 100% is great, but after being laid off from my last job due to downsizing made me realize you can give something your all and still lose it. This makes having a good balance between your full-time job and your other passions important so that you always have a sense of who you are and what you’re worth. I want to make sure I’m balancing out work, wellness, friendships and writing projects out. When I feel like one or more of those areas are neglected I feel off kilter.  

The other side of balance is breathing. This is beyond physical breath. I mentioned in other posts that I wanted to purge unwanted things from my home and redecorate in the throughout the upcoming months. It’s a project I’ve slowly been chipping away at since last year. It is important to make your space an area that reflects who you are and allows you to breathe.  I’ve neglected doing that in the past and it left me feeling off balance, which is why I’m making it a focus now.  

What keeps you balanced?

Three Little Things: Part 1


So I’d been in a kind of a funk for the past few months. I felt like I was in a good place with my career, but was having a hard time seeing what possibilities lay ahead in the near and distant future. I was also feeling in a bit of a rut when it came to my life outside of work. It was a busy summer of family events so I wasn’t carving out a ton of me time which always throws me off balance. I felt writer’s block and demotivated when it came to this blog and to my freelance work. Healthwise I was feeling a bit lethargic. I found out I need to have surgery (not a big deal) but my insurance company is throwing a lot of hurdles in my way so I’m having to spend a lot more time and money on some preliminary things before I can get it approved. I wasn’t in a great place.

I decided to take a step back and try to focus on me and connecting to the activities and people that I love and find inspiring. I made three little changes and while it’s early it seems to be making a ton of difference. Today I’d like to talk about gratitude which is one of my focuses at the moment.

I just listed off a litany of woes in my life. While I would love to have a little pity party for myself I know that wouldn’t change anything. I wouldn’t see improvements in my health, writing life, or career. Instead I decided to try to bring back some things I love. I started rereading The Artist’s Way  because I remembered that the chapters were broken into weeks with assignments. Maybe it’s my background in academia, but I am a born student so setting up homework assignments is a great way for me to stay on track with something. One such task in this book is to write down three people who have been your creative champions. These are the people who encourage your passion and make you feel like your art is worth something. Art here is whatever your creative outlet is. For me that’s writing.

I decided to take this exercise a little further and write a thank you note to my three champions. I wrote to a friend I’ve known since college who is among other things a brilliant visual artist. Beyond that, Sarah is also an amazing cheerleader to all of her friends.  She is everyone’s biggest fan and her encouragement is sincere. I also wrote to my former undergraduate Creative Writing professor who is a beautiful poet and my former writing instructor and mentor who is a bestselling author and journalist.

I received a sweet text from my friend Sarah, a postcard from my undergraduate professor, and an email from my mentor inviting me to a reading she was doing later that week. That night was amazing for me.

Sue (my mentor) introduced me to her current students and they were so nice. Instead of a textbook on the art of writing, Sue gives her students a packet with clippings of published work and accepted pitch letters from her former proteges. Her students said they saw me in the packet. I was flattered…I made the book! I also ran into another author whom I had once written a profile about for a local NYC paper. I was sure he wouldn’t remember me. Not only did he remember me, but invited me to an event at the MFA program he is running.

Listening to Sue share her work was inspiring as I always find her work to be. What really got to me though was her responses to some of the Q&As after the reading. She was asked what advice she would give to people struggling to become writers. She said that you should have a job that you love that pays the bills and carve out time you’re not at work to write. This way you’re not dependent on making a living off of your art and you can write what you want.

That’s when it hit me that I’m in a great place. I love my day job and should be focusing my evenings and weekends on the writing projects I want to be working on. I got this much needed boost from writing some thank you notes. Who do you need to write a thank you note to?

 

 

 

Throwback Thursday: The Updated 90’s Denim Jacket

 

Okay if you’re part of the MTV generation (term for those of us on the cusp between Gen X and Millennial) you had the obligatory stonewashed jacket in the 90’s. It was probably from The Gap or Old Navy. Since fashion has a way of recycling itself every 20 years those mid 90’s looks are back in. I decided to use this moment in trendiness to display some neglected accessories that have been collecting dust in my drawers.


I mentioned earlier this week that slowly I’m going through categories of things in my home using the Konmari Method of tidying.  If something makes me joyful I keep it. If it doesn’t I thank it and donate it to my local thrift store. I had a stash of buttons and broaches that I don’t often wear anymore. I got rid of many of them, but there were some I just couldn’t part with. Since part of this system of organizing is displaying what you love I invested $25 in a new light blue denim jacked (I love my indigo jacket, but it felt like it wanted to be free of embellishments) and decked it out with all kinds of pins.


I have everything from college pins and buttons from travels, my moms and my girl scout medals, the Monkees buttons I found at a thrift store (I’m still looking for a Mike and Peter to complete the set), and my newly acquired Hillary button…because I’m with her! To top it all off I ironed on a Reptar patch to the back. I just need my Doc Martin’s from high school and I’m all set for a retro look that is very in.

Wanderlust Wednesday: Favorite NYC Mixology Bars

 

While I do enjoy microbrews and good wine my first love when it comes to drinks is the cocktail. I love old standards like sidecars, brandy alexanders, and gimlets, but the great thing about living in NYC is the access to mixology bars and speakeasies. They are great venues to try more unusual spirit combinations. Here are a few of my favorites:
67 Orange Street: Aside from loving that this Harlem speakeasy is in walking distance of my apartment I love the ambiance of this bar. Cloaked in deep red curtains this bar ushers you back to Harlem’s heyday in the jazz era. The cocktail lists are arranged by spirits. My personal favorites are Color Purple (gin, lavender bitters, blackberries, creme de violette, st germaine, lemon, and simple syrup), Smoking Geisha (mezcal, bitters, lime juice, raspberry, peach, sage, and agave), and April Flowers (benedictine, scarlet ibis, lemon, agave, and sparkling wine). The food menu is small, but you’ll love the updated twists on soul food such as red velvet chicken and waffles and lobster mac and cheese.

Bathtub Gin: If you want to experienced the romanticized version of a speak easy then head to this Chelsea bar hidden behind an operating coffee shop. Certain evenings they have live jazz and there is burlesque brunch on the weekends. Even if you go on a night sans entertainment the cocktails won’t disappoint you. You’ll feel like a Bond Girl with their Vesper Martini. I also enjoy their Jazz Saz which is an update on the classic sazerac.

Gallow Green: This is one of the few venues that combines mixology with the outdoors. This rooftop bar in Chelsea is a great place to cool down on a hot summer night. The house cocktail, The Sleep No More is mezcal, shrub, and ginger beer.

Little Branch: This Village speakeasy is so secretive that they don’t have a website. Don’t let that fool you though, this bar is usually bustling by late night. One of the best bar tender’s choice experiences I had was when the bar tender asked me what my spirit animal was instead of my spirit of choice.

Orient Express: I recently introduced a friend to this West Village bar, and that visit is what inspired this post. I love this little tucked away gem. The cocktails are amazing and you can also enjoy several absinthe drips if that’s more your style. The menu has plenty of small bites that are perfect for sharing.

 

 

Finding Your Shade of Green

Here is one from the archives of the old blog.

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Skin tone and coloring play an important part in finding the right shade of lipstick or the right eye shadow. The same is true for finding the right hues to fill your wardrobe with. Today we’ll look at finding your best shade of green.  

Dark Skin:  If you have dark skin you can pull off bright green shades that weigh more towards yellow undertones than blue. The colors would wash out many other skin tones, but if you have a rich complexion you can use lime, avocado, neon, and yellow-green to make a statement. I recommend pairing a top in one of these shades with white pants or capris for a crisp look during the summer.  

Medium Skin: It shouldn’t come as a surprise, but if you have olive skin then you can pull off olive green. Earthier tone greens tend to make people with pinkish undertones look yellow, but if you have medium skin these colors will complement you. Aside from olive look for army and moss shades of green.

Fair Skin with Light Hair: If you really want to make a statement kelly green is the perfect pop for blondes or red heads with fair skin. If you want a more subtle look try jade, shamrock, or mint.  

Fair Skin with Dark Hair:  Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t pull off green. Having this coloring myself (when my hair is natural), green was a shade I avoided till I discovered emerald green a few years ago. It is now a color I seek out. Another great shade for fair skinned brunettes is hunter.