Friday, May 19, 2017

I Feel Old & Haggard & It's Not OK

Warning: This is a post all about vanity & aging. Please be kind - & please also tell me I'm not the only struggling with this. Please? I hope?

I used to like the way I looked, for the most part. I used to get compliments on the shape of my eyebrows & the natural wave of my hair & the precision of my signature winged eyeliner. Not every day was a great day, of course, & I certainly didn't feel beautiful every day or even most days, but I  felt like I was trying, & I usually felt like I was at least sort of succeeding. Overall, I used to feel good about the way I looked, even when I didn't.

Until I didn't.

It happened slowly, when I wasn't paying attention - & probably because I wasn't paying attention. I like to think I still take care of myself, but do I? Only sort of. Lately, it seems like I've been putting in the bare minimum - the same minimalist routine, the same makeup look, the same sense of style, the same haircut. But I'm getting older, & my face & my body & even my hair are all changing, & what used to suffice just doesn't anymore. Today, I realized that I can't remember the last time I got a compliment on my eyebrows, which are now thinning, or anything related to my hair.

Oh God, my hair. I haven't colored it in months, haven't had it cut since October. It's frazzled & greying. It's become a strange, brassy blonde color that doesn't flatter me. It's too long, too tangled, too damaged. It's a little bit humiliating, truth be told, but I tend to tell myself, "Hey, it's long! Long hair is always pretty!" - but dude, not when it's gross.

And then there's makeup. The only thing I know how to do, makeup-wise, is my signature winged eyeliner - & even that seems to be suffering these days. At 32, am I too old for it? Every time I try to do a more subtle look, I end up looking like I have a black eye. And while I know that YouTube is full of tutorial videos, they all bore me to death; I can't sit still long enough to learn a damn thing.

There's also my sense of style, my forever-black-and-white style, literally. The other day, I tried on an adorable yellow floral number from Old Navy, & it looked smashing. I knew it did. So cute! But I also knew I would never wear it. It felt too form-fitting, showed too much skin, was too bright a color. It went back on the rack, & while I was proud of myself for not wasting my money on a style I knew I wouldn't wear, it also left me a little disappointed in myself. Have I become that boring?

I guess that when it comes to my looks, it just feels obvious to me that I'm aging, & I haven't yet figured out how to properly make the transition from naturally young & nubile (ew, j/k) to whatever it is that mature women do to keep themselves looking good. As a result, I just feel very gross & in-between, hoping that eventually, things fall into place.

But that's not how it works is it? If I want to look better, I'm gonna have to work for it. It's not like I'm suddenly going to become young again, with elastic skin & shiny hair & a body for crop tops (OK, I never had that). As we age, looking good becomes harder, not easier - even if we do become more comfortable with our natural looks (& I have).

I don't know where to start, though. I got a haircut today, one I scheduled at the very last minute, because I felt like I couldn't bear my stringy, split-end-ridden hair for another hour (literally, I went in 45 minutes after I called). The stylist, who was young & gorgeous with a head full of curls, was really nice & helpful - but she also made clear to me that, yes, my hair is very damaged, & the color is super weird, & OMG, I need help. She gave me a great cut - but I still left feeling sort of awful.

So now what? I just don't even know what to do, but I know that I don't want to go into the rest of my 30s feeling like I'm destined to just get old & look sad. So many older women - far older than me - look gorgeous & age with grace, & I want to learn how to be one of them. But where do I start? No, really, where do I start? Can you help? Because I don't know how to do this.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Skinned Knees, Bruised Egos, and the Kindness (Or Not) of Strangers

White balloon emblazoned with a red First Aid cross floating against a bright blue sky

I've had jury duty all week, & though I haven't (yet?) been chosen for a jury, I still have to show up every day & sit in this huge room & waiiiiiit - until Friday or until I get called, whichever comes first. We're dismissed for lunch from 11:30am-1:15pm, which is a welcome breath of fresh air, literally, after hours spent in a very large, very crowded, very florescent room with but one window.

The other day, I grabbed a solo lunch at Noodlecat because I wanted to try their new menu (which actually isn't online yet). I budgeted enough time for a quick stop at the CLE Clothing Co. (but sadly struck out) & the Starbucks at Public Square (because jury duty requires caffeine) on my way back to the courthouse. Unfortunately, halfway between the two pit stops, I took a spill - a hard spill - as I crossed Euclid Ave., a busy street in the heart of downtown Cleveland.

The fall took my breath away, the kind of immediate, searing pain that had me feeling nauseated & dizzy as soon as my knees hit the pavement. To top it off, I was on all fours (in a dress) in the middle of a crosswalk in a busy street without a stoplight, which meant that at any moment, a car could come barrelling toward me. I was in a hurry to get out of the way - & apparently the folks around me were, too. Would you believe that, of the four people in the crosswalk at the time I fell, not a single one asked me if I was OK?! I heard two women gasp... & then they kept walking.

I actually kind of wasn't OK, either. I'd twisted my left ankle & skinned the hell out of my right knee, which was bloodied & raw - & still, I had to hoist myself up & drag myself out of the street. I was so embarrassed - lots of people saw, & lots of them kept staring at me, which made it seem even worse that no one asked if I was all right. Head down, I  hobbled over to a Starbucks & tried to clean out my wound, which was full of gravel & grit, & then, slowwwwly, I made my way back to the courthouse.

When I got to the courthouse, I asked a cop at the security desk if he had a first aid kit, & he gave me two antiseptic wipes & a packet of Neosporin while apologizing profusely that he didn't have any Band-aids. When I got to the jury holding room, the woman next to me saw me cleaning out my wound & offered me Advil, urging me to ask the bailiff for a Band-aid. When I approached the bailiff, he gave me not one, not two, but four Band-aids. And when an elderly juror saw me limping back to my seat, she asked, "Honey, did you fall? Do you need anything? I have Band-aids & Advil!"

At first, I was both upset that I'd hurt myself and really peeved that no one said a damn word when they all saw me fall. This is the Midwest, land of the perpetually friendly, yet everyone was too busy to say a word. When I changed my perspective a little bit, though, I realized I was just so grateful to be surrounded by so many kind individuals afterward. Heck, even as I limped back to the courthouse, I sneezed on the street & a passerby told me "Bless you"; surely that woman would've reached out if she'd seen me fall! I just happened to wipe out in the company of duds.

The morals of the story, then, are as follows:
  1. Don't be a dud. If you witness someone injuring themselves, offer a kind word. Even if you can't provide actual assistance, you can do more than gasp & walk away.
  2. Lots of people are duds, but lots of people aren't. Focus on the latter, & wish the former well when they're the ones who get injured in public.
  3. Save yourself the pain & humiliation by throwing away your old shoes, no matter how much you love them, as soon as the over-worn soles too unstable for safe walking.
And maybe carry around some damn Band-aids.

When's the last time you ate pavement in public? Did anyone stop to help?!

Monday, May 15, 2017

9 Cleveland Events I'm Reaaaally Excited for This Summer

As the weather finally begins to warm up here in Northeast Ohio, there’s plenty to look forward to. Of course, there’s always the eating-stuff-outdoors factors, from sipping a beer in the sun on my new front porch to eating tacos & pierogis on the patio of my favorite bars. But there are also a few specific events I’m really excited about, ones that can only happen when it’s nice out.
Here’s what’s on my list of highly anticipated summer events in the CLE.

This warm-weather event is well underway in its 2017 season, with the April & May events already over. Describing itself as equal parts “urban treasure hunt / culinary adventure / maker center,” the Flea is a hipster heaven full of food trucks, vintage finds, original artwork, handmade jewelry, & as many screen-printed Cleveland T-shirts as you can imagine. Plus booze.

Hosted at Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, this annual Memorial Day Weekend event is about as old-world Greek as you can get, with gyros, baklava, Greek beer & wine, Greek dancing, and authentic Greek shopping. It’s all Greek to me… in a good way, of course. Last year, I got a gyro every day for the entire weekend. Oops.
My favorite summer event in Cleveland! This summer event series in Asiatown brings together local Asian restaurants of all varieties, along with makers, creators, & entertainment options. Asian food is easily my favorite genre of food, so I take this opportunity to gorge myself on steam buns, in particular, while enjoying the parades & entertainers. 

Held every Tuesday night in Lincoln Park, just around the corner from my apartment, the weekly Tremont Farmers Market is my favorite opportunity to swoop up fresh produce and other locally made goods, including homemade bread & pasta. On days when we’re really lucky, there’s a food truck at the party, too.

I don’t spend nearly enough time out in nature, but this year, I’d like to do a little more of it. Luckily, Cleveland makes it compelling, with 18 reservations spanning more than 23,000 acres – & all of it absolutely beautiful. This summer, I’d like to get my hike on & do a little bit more outdoor exploring.

Last year, we lived so close to the site of this annual event that we ran home to our apartment to use our own bathroom instead of the Port-a-Potties in the park! AleFest, held in July, is the best place to sample craft beers & big-name brews alike, though there’s very little food available on-site – which can mean trouble for lightweights like me!
I don’t work in downtown Cleveland, but it’s an easy trip, if I want to work from a coffee shop in the middle of the action – and on Wednesdays in the summer, I do. During Walnut Wednesdays, held each week, 41 food trucks gather around Perk Park at lunchtime, with musical guests who provides midday entertainment to the masses.

Edgewater Live

This will be a new one for me this year because weirdly, I've never been - but this summer, I'm committed to getting to making it at least once! This summer concert series, hosted by the Metroparks, takes place nearly every Thursday of the summer at Edgewater Beach, overlooking beautiful Lake Erie with a gorgeous view of the Cleveland skyline. Why haven't I been to this yet?!

Formerly the ArtWalk, the Walkabout is now about a year old, taking place the second Friday of every month. Local businesses – bars, restaurants, & retailers alike – open their doors with discounts, art exhibits, live entertainment, street performers, & other fun opportunities to see some of this neighborhood’s highlights.

What are you looking forward to this summer, in Cleveland or elsewhere?

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Finding Dora: Meet Our Second Cat!

Mother's Day weekend seems like an appropriate time to finally introduce you to my second furbaby - even though she's been a part of the family for awhile now! 

The day after Christmas, Mike & I went on a mission: to find a second kitty. We stopped by the Cleveland Animal Protective League, just down the street from our apartment, but they were nearly cleaned out of cats. I hope a bunch of 'em got good homes for the holiday! We were going to come back another day, but I convinced Mike to drive to the PetSmart in Parma, an APL partner.

And that's where we found Dora!

OK, her given name was Diamond, but no way were we making her keep that. We'd been planning to adopt a male cat & name him Sherlock, but Mike decided our new girl was too delicate for such a rough-&-tumble name. Instead, he chose the name Nymphadora, after Harry Potter's beloved Tonks (RI.P.), suggesting that we call her Dora.

Dora had come to the APL after being severely neglected. Her owner's mother brought her in, saying her daughter wasn't taking proper care of the cat. In fact, when she arrived at the APL, her fur was so matted that they had to shave her back, so when we met her, she was a little sad-looking; her fur was wiry & slick, & it was a missing a big chunk! The APL also removed several of her teeth, which were rotting from neglect - but they told us she was still able to chow down on hard food.

In other words, this baby was in serious need of love - & we were amazed that even after such poor treatment, she was friendly & sweet & cuddly. We knew she was the cat for us as soon as we walked into the adoption center & she bumped her head against the bars of her cage to be petted. All the other cats were sleepy & quiet, staying far away from visitors, but Dora was all up on us

She turned out to be the perfect addition to our little family. While she & Helo were wary of one another at first, they're now BFFs, cuddling & fighting like cat-sibs. Since she's been with us, her fur has become shiny & soft & way more pettable, & her bald patch has grown back, never to be matted again. She is happy & pretty & healthy & wonderful.

And she has so much personality.

Her meows sound, as Mike describes it, "like a velociraptor being born," which earned her the nickname Dora Dinosaura. Since her adoption, her meows have become slightly more robust, but she still sounds sort of dweeby & dinosaur-like. And she meows a lot, trying to tell us she wants food or an open window or to be petted. Opinionated little girl!

She's obsessed with plastic water bottle caps, meow-screaming whenever she sees me drinking out of a water bottle so that I'll remember to give her her favorite toy. She carries them around in her mouth like prey & bats them around the hardwood floors until she loses them. They are, presumably, hidden all over both apartments, stuck in little nooks & crannies we didn't know existed.

She's super cuddly, snuggling right up in the crook of my arm when I'm on the couch or behind my knees when I sleep. She'll headbutt us to force petting, slipping under our hands & looking just so darn happy about it. She regularly tries to lay atop my hand when I work, plopping right on top of my mouse - & she loveslovesloves her papa. I think she knows that he picked her out.

I can't imagine our lives without this sweet, soft, sleepy, meowy little girl. We feel so lucky to have found her!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Get to Know My Favorite Cleveland Bloggers

I haven't been a "Cleveland blogger" for long, if you can call me one at all. Yes, I'm a blogger who lives in Cleveland now, but I didn't start out that way, & I know a lot of my readers aren't based in Northeast Ohio. I try not to blog too much about Cleveland, lest I alienate the rest of you - but I still do my fair share of bragging on this city & sharing a look at my favorite parts of the CLE.

Long before I lived here, though, I read blogs like Cleveland's a Plum & Confessions of a CLEhabitant*, allowing me the opportunity to live vicariously through other Clevelanders. Though some of the blogs I used to love have since shuttered their proverbial doors, others have continued & new ones have cropped up - &, of course, Instagram has allowed for dozens of microbloggers, in essence, who raise up the CLE through photos & other means of visual storytelling.

In other words: There's a lot going on in Cleveland, & I love seeing the many ways social media helps us show it to the word. Here, a few ladies who are doing a helluva job of raising its profile & telling its many stories the old-fashioned way - on their blogs.

Jen at Why CLE?

Jen seems to know everyone, go everywhere, & volunteer with every organization in town - so what better person to run a blog about the "why" of loving the CLE?! Check her out for ongoing info about some of the best places & events in town, plus lots of fun giveaways.

Charity at iheartcleveland

Charity is the mastermind behind the colorful & creative Studio Chartreuse in Lakewood (one of Cleveland's best suburbas), & she's always ahead of the curve when it comes to the best new stuff in the city. Her posts are punctuated with crisp, colorful photos that show off the CLE at its best.

Crystal at Eat*Drink*Cleveland

Like to eat? And drink? Yeah, I thought so. Crystal always has intel on the best of both, all across Cleveland. Her blog is often the first to clue me into new bars & restaurants around the city - including the recent spate of breweries popping up all around the CLE. 

Rachel at It's a Hero

Rachel actually lives in my hometown, closer to Akron than to Cleveland, but she writes about activities & opportunities all over Northeast Ohio. If you're a mom of young children, in particular, you'll love her honesty, her relatability, & her recommendations for kid-friendly fun all over town.

Alicia at Poise in Parma

Yogi, wedding industry professional, & new mama Alicia is hyper-connected to the local community & is one of the best in town at single-handedly raising the city's profile. She's also got great behind-the-scenes looks at the CLE, including interviews with Playhouse Square actors & other bigwigs.

Kaylah at The Dainty Squid

Though Kaylah rarely blogs about the CLE itself, she actually lives in my neighborhood! She's definitely the biggest-name blogger in the city, though most of her views of it come in the form of amazingly spooky abandoned buildings, all around Cleveland & beyond.

Shibani of Bombay Taxi

After years of writing a shopping blog, Shibani pivoted to launch an online jewelry boutique... with a blog to accompany it. Perfect pairing! She's great at honing in on some of Cleveland's unique fashion opportunities, from fundraisers to museum exhibits to gift guides highlighting local vendors.

The Ladies of She in the CLE

Looking for a little bit of everything? This local blogger collective is "dedicated to driving conversations with purpose by women in the Cleveland area," tackling topics from parenting to pop culture to entrepreneurial guidance - all written by some of the smartest ladies in the city.

A quick footnote: Though Allison doesn't blog anymore, & Alexa doesn't blog much, they're both active on Twitter & Instagram & continue to be two of my faves. Find Allison at @allisonpeltz & Alexa at @clevelandsaplum for a look at two of the Clevelanders who first helped me fall in love with the CLE.

Tell me: Did I miss anyone? Do you know of any Cleveland bloggers I've yet to discover? Clue me in!

Monday, May 8, 2017

Somebody in My Neighborhood Hates Me

It was a sunny day last spring when I realized that the passenger-side door of my car had been keyed - one jagged, wandering line slicing through the bright blue paint. At the time, I was still living in my original Cleveland apartment, which came with a driveway parking spot - so, yes, my car was keyed while sitting in the driveway. Still, I wrote it off as teen vandals; I lived on the edge of a local park, not super populated, so I figured someone could've keyed me on the go & just disappeared into the dark. Jerks.

A couple months later, I'd moved into my second Cleveland apartment, which was in the same building as the first one but didn't come with parking privileges. While parked on the street just in front of my building, my car was keyed again; this time, it was the driver's side door, the same jagged, wandering line cutting a matching scar across the other side of the car. Who the hell was doing this? Was it just bad luck, or was I on the receiving end of someone's personal ire? I barely knew anyone in town!

Neither of the next two incidents were as serious or lasting as being keyed, but they were definitely weirder.

Once, my car was covered in mud & hay. It wasn't a job well done - farm materials just sort of tossed everywhere - but the weather than day meant that the mud was pretty seriously caked on. I scraped it off as best I could, then hit up a drive-through car wash to take care of the rest.

Another time, I walked out to find my car covered in... melted candy. Someone had tosses chocolates & gummy candy on it - again, haphazardly - & the hot sun had done a number on them, again caking my car is strange substance.

Who was doing this to me, & why?!

I will admit that, at first, I thought it was one specific person, someone who never liked me (& vice versa), but that individual soon moved out of the area - & a few of the incidents happened after that. Like I said, I barely know anyone in the neighborhood, so I didn't know who could be targeting me personally. If it was someone carrying out a personal vendetta, they were doing a pretty good job of not cluing me into it, because I had (still have!) no idea who it could be.

I'd nearly forgotten about these incidents, & then another one happened just last week, before I moved. It had been awhile since anything strange had done down, & then Monday morning, I walked out to my car to find that it had been egged. Egged! In 2017! What am I, 15? Luckily, the perpetrator only hit my driver's side window, & though the yolk dribbled down the body of the car, there was no real damage done (aside from my having to do some serious scrubbing to be able to see out my window again!)

As of this week, I've moved into a new place in a new part of town, & I have high hopes that all my car vandalism issues are a thing of the past - that they were all related to parking on a dark corner next to a wide open space, not to someone having it out for me, personally. I don't know how much more my poor car can take!

Monday, May 1, 2017

What I Read in April

I wish I had more time to read more books. People are always asking me, "How do you have time to read so much?!" The answer is that I don't watch a ton of TV anymore, & I spend a lot of my spare time with a book (or Kindle) in hand, but it still never feels like enough time. I want to read every book. My to-read list seems insurmountable, & it is; I'll never, ever get through it. 

Yet again, this month I struggled to read, & I hate the feeling that I've been wasting precious reading time. With everything that goes along with preparing to move (which happens today!), I've been working overtime just to keep my head above proverbial water; plus, we went out of town not one but two weekends. I've just been so stressed that when it comes time to relax & unwind, I've been turning to TV & the Internet instead of getting lost in books. It's not the best habit, but I know that once we've settled into our new place, I'll get back to reading.

I read five books this month, & everything got five stars, so this was, at least, a month of quality if not of quantity. What are you reading? Comment & let me know!

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach 

Yes, this book is just as weird as the title leads you to believe, but man, did I ever enjoy it. Mary Roach is an author who specializes in science with a humorous twist, which is a darn good thing when she's writing about topics like decapitation & medical experimentation. This book is all about how dead bodies have been used throughout history for various types of research, from scientific to religious & beyond. (I did not, however, appreciate her paragraph-long dig on Cleveland.) ★★★★★ 

For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf by Ntozake Shange

I know I'm not the target audience for this book - in her intro, the author writes, "for colored girls was & is for colored girls" - but I wanted to read it all the same. While some of it was over my head (poetry is usually a bit beyond me), I found much of it to be beautiful, powerful, & painful, a poetic telling of some of the biggest struggles women of color continue to face. ★★★★★

Working Out Loud: For a Better Career and Life by John Stepper 

I'm participating in a "Working Out Loud circle" with coworkers, & it's been a great experience so far. The whole thing is based on this book, which my colleague Larry has put into play in the workplace. We each set a goal & meet once a week to discuss & to support one another in working toward achieving our individual goals. Reading the book between meetings has helped keep my motivation high. ★★★★★   

Conviction by Julia Dahl 

This is the third book in Dahl's Rebekah Roberts series, featuring a young NYC reporter who has a complex relationship with the local Hassidic Jewish community - & this story takes a new angle, with Rebecca working to solve a case from 1992 in which a Black teen was convicted of murdering his foster family. I liked that this one was told from various angles, including the real killer's, but I felt like it was a little anti-climactic; both of the other two books had huge peak moments, & this one just... didn't. Still, I really love this series. ★★★★★ 

My Jewish Year: 18 Holidays, One Wondering Jew by Abigail Pogrebin

The author is a Jewish writer, mother, & synagogue lay leader & the daughter of renowned Jewish feminist Letty Cotton Pogrebin. But despite a life of Jewishness, she wants to dig deeper, which leads her to a year of closely researching & personally observing 18 Jewish holidays, including two Shabbats & a few of the lesser-observed fast days. For me, it was a fascinating look at the many ways our diverse community observes its holidays - & it was cool to see some of my colleagues' names in print! ★★★★★

Comment to tell me what you're reading, then add me on Goodreads to keep in touch & see what I've read in months past.

Please note that my "What I Read in..." posts include Amazon affiliate links to the titles I discuss. If you buy a book using one of these links, I will receive a small percentage of commission. Please don't feel any obligation to use these links, but if you do, it will help me buy more books.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Best of Cleveland 2017: Where the City's Faves & My Faves Overlap
Cleveland Scene just came out with their Best of Cleveland 2017 results, voted on by readers (myself included!) I've always loved going through "best of" lists in the cities where I've lived, & now that I finally at home in this city - I know it, I love it, & I never plan to leave it - I was especially excited for this year's reveal.

I know lots of my readers aren't located in the Cleveland area, so I try not to write Cleveland-centric content too often - but this time, I couldn't resist! Here are a few of the Cleveland Scene Best of Cleveland winners that also happen to appear on my personal Best of Cleveland list - you know, the one in my head. Let's make it official, shall we?
  1. Mitchell's: Best Ice Cream
    Graeter's? Jeni's? Nahhh. When it comes to the battle of the Cleveland ice cream giants, Mitchell's has my heart. I already told you that their Vegan Salted Caramel Pecan Ice Cream is one worth eating in silnce to you can fully enjoy its deliciousness. Need I say more? (Fine: Their Ohio City location is in a cool old theater!) (multiple locations,
  2. The Grog Shop: Best Bar/Club for Underground Music
    In fairness, I haven't been to the Grog for ages, truly, but the nostalgia is strong with this one. This is where I fell in love with emo music, all the way back in 2002. Before we were old enough to get into shows, my late ex-boyfriend, Dave, & his best friend, Kevin, used to stand outside the back door & listen in. (2785 Euclid Heights Blvd., Cleveland Heights, 216-321-5588,
  3. Taste of Tremont: Best Street Festival
    Braggin' on my neighborhood! It's not just walking distance of home; for the next one, we'll be living right on Professor Ave., where the whole thing takes place. It's a perfect opportunity to try a little bit of everything Tremont has to offer - & to do some good day-drinking, of course. (
  4. Velvet Tango Room: Best Cocktail Bar
    Wanna get a little fancy? This is the place. Located in a super-weird little spot off the beaten path between Tremont & Ohio City, Velvet Tango Room serves innovative & immaculately crafted cocktails that are worth every penny - as long as you're not having more than one. (2095 Columbus Rd., 216-241-8869,
  5. CLE Clothing Co.: Best T-Shirt Company/Store to Find a Piece of CLE
    Is there anyone in town, at this point, who doesn't own a CLE Clothing Co. tee? Their downtown location is my favorite way to kill time (& lighten my wallet), & they regularly swap out their existing styles for new ones to keep things fresh. Show your pride & getcha some. (multiple locations,
  6. Great Lakes Brewing Company: Best Local Beer & Best Local Brewery
    There are plenty of great new breweries in town, but sometimes, the original is still the best - or, as Scene calls it, "the archbishop of Cleveland's microbrewery diocese."They've got a great patio, a lurky live-music basement, & a second floor that's home to my favorite trivia in town. (2516 Market Ave., 216-771-4404,
  7. West Side Market: Best Place to Take a Visitor
    If you're seeing Cleveland for the first time, you've got to see West Side Market. It's a beautiful, breath-taking, historic building jam-packed with vendors selling all things local & gourmet - cheese, meat, produce, spices, even homemade pasta. And cupcakes, of course. (1979 West 25th St., 216-664-3387,
  8. Best Local Jewelry Maker: Oceanne
    I've got a whole post in the works about my favorite Cleveland-area jewelry makers, but now's as good a time as any to raise up Oceanne, who's top of the list. Her minimalist style is both funky & chic, & her prices range from affordable to worth-the-splurge. Catch her at the Cleveland Flea! (2570 Superior Ave. East, Suite 403,
  9. Lucky's Cafe: Best Brunch
    This is my favorite brunch spot in the city, & even before Scene named it so, I knew it was everyone else's, too, given that you can barely walk through the door on a weekend. Everything is locally sourced, & some of it is even grown right there in their backyard garden. Get the pecan-crusted bacon & regret nothing. (777 Starkweather Ave., 216-622-7773,
  10. Cleveland Bagel Co.: Best Bagels
    No longer just available at the Cleveland Flea, these delightfully crispy bagels are now sold all around town, including at the company's brand new brick-&-mortar shop in Gordon Square. Their cheddar cheese & chive cream cheese it to die for, & the bagels themselves don't even need to be toasted. Take that, NYC. (4201 Detroit Ave., 216-600-5652,
  11. Rising Star: Best Coffee/Coffeehouse
    My new Friday ritual is to head to the Rising Star location in Hingetown, which is hip but laid-back, bustling but somehow also peaceful. I'm no coffee connoisseur, but I love their Promised Land Latter... & the days when they also sell Brewnuts booze-infused donuts. (multiple locations,
  12. Beet Jar: Best Local Juice Bar
    The other part of my new Friday ritual is to grab lunch at Beer Jar, just across the street from Rising Star. Their smoothies are healthy & delicious (I love the Phat Beets), & their Bravacado sandwich is seriously one of the best things I've ever eaten. Smoked coconut flakes?! Smoked coconut flakes. (1432 West 29th St.,
  13. Cedar Lee: Best Movie Theater
    This indie arthouse theater is an old favorite in Cleveland Heights, & it's the one reliable spot in town for indie films & oops-I-missed-it Oscar nominees. They also play Rocky Horror Picture Show once a month, complete with on-stage actors enhancing your viewing experience. And there's beer at the concession stand, of course. (2163 Lee Rd., Cleveland Heights, 440-528-0355,
What's your favorite spot in Cleveland? Do you agree with Scene's final results? Comment & let me know! 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

A List of 31 Things to Do & Worry about Before You Move

Look, everyone knows that moving is awful. I don't have to tell you that. But as I prepare for yet another move, I am again reminded that moving is awful.

Also, in the past, I've mostly moved into/out of apartment complexes, the kind that take care of the utilities for you so you don't have to call those companies yourself. Having to do so is an added layer of stress, for sure.

The good thing about all of this is that I've moved so many times that I know how to do this, & I am also comforted by the fact that, soon, the stress of moving will be over, & I will be moved - which is the best part of moving. I can't wait to settle into our new place, but in the beginning, here's how the last few days have looked. Sound familiar to any of you fellow frequent movers?! 
  1. Book movers for once because you're a real goddamn adult.
  2. Pack everything, obviously.
  3. Run to Target to buy more trash bags & packing tape.
  4. Continue packing everything.
  5. Sort of give up & just start throwing things into garbage bags.
  6. But make sure not to pack the cleaning supplies so you can clean the old place before you leave it.
  7. Load everything you've packed into one place so the movers have easy access.
  8. Make about a dozen trips to the trash.
  9. ...including throwing out your broken kitchen table & a massive rug.
  10. Load bags & boxes of giveaway items into your car to take to Goodwill.
  11. Take bags & boxes of giveaway items to Goodwill.
  12. Order cat carriers so you don't have to worry about an escaped feline mid-move.
  13. Call the gas company to transfer utilities.
  14. Panic because the gas company says they can't turn off your gas at the old place until a week after you've already moved out.
  15. Text your mother and your fiancé in a panic.
  16. Make an appointment within a four-hour window to wait for the gas company to come turn off service, figuring you'll sort it out later.
  17. Make an appointment within another four-hour window to wait for the gas company to come turn on service at the new place.
  18. Call the Internet service provider to transfer services.
  19. Call the electric company to transfer services.
  20. Call the new landlord to see when you can pick up the keys.
  21. Try to figure out how you'll pick up the keys at 9am if your movers are also arriving at 9am.
  22. Call the old landlord to see when you can do a walk-through of the old place.
  23. Feel really relieved when the old landlord says he'll have the gas service transferred into his name so you can cancel one of your appointments with the gas company.
  24. Try to change your address on the USPS website.
  25. Go to the post office in person because USPS doesn't recognize your new address.
  26. Email your neighbor to ask if your moving truck can use the driveway on moving day.
  27. Leave a note for your new neighbors to ask if your moving truck can use the driveway on moving day.
  28. Keep packing. 
  29. Stay up at night worrying about the details.
  30. Continue to stress out your significant other by sending frantic texts every time you think of a new potential complication.
  31. Hurry up & wait.
Did I mention that there's plenty of other life stuff going down right now, too? It's not like the world stops when you're getting ready to move! In the midst of all this, add the following:
  1. Confirm jury duty
  2. Confirm with your boss that you can't make your upcoming work trip to NYC because of said jury duty.
  3. Return your broken modem to your Internet service provider.
  4. Buy gifts for your fiancé's sister & cousin, who are graduating from college.
  5. Make a trip out of town for aforementioned graduation the day before moving.
Again: I know that the moving part will soon be over, & Mike & I will be settled into a place we already know we love. I just have to keep telling myself that it'll all be worth it. New place, we're comin' for ya, & I am about to relax so hard once this is all said & done.

Monday, April 24, 2017

A Few Things I'm Obsessing Over Right Now (Pt. VIII)

It's been awhile since I've done one of these! A little bit of truth, though: I've had a hard time lately thinking of anything except staying afloat. Our big move is happening in less than a week, & our wedding is in about six & a half months, so I've been more than a little busy these days.

Still, there's always time to find a few new favorites, right? Here are a few things I'm loving right now. What about you? Comment & let me know!
  1. Elsie Larson's "Up Your Instagram Game" e-Course: I'm technically taking this online class for professional development purposes via work, but it so happens to be applicable in my personal life, too, & I'm really enjoying it. (Follow me on Instagram to see how I'm doing!)
  2. PopSockets: These expandable/retractable phone grips adhere to your phone or its case, making it easier for you to hold onto your tiny technology. No weird finger pain! They're $10 apiece & come in tons of designs. 
  3. Strappy Caged Bralette from Charlotte Russe: As a big-busted gal, I figured I had to opt out of the bralette trend, but then I realized I could this one over my regular bra. I bought it in black (of course), & it's a little edgy for me, but I love it under lower-cut blouses.
  4. Calm Balm from Lesley Saligoe Botanicals: I loooove this stuff, which I first got in a Self-Care Box (the one I once modeled for!). I rub it on my hands just after I crawl into bed, then I cup my hands over my face & breathe deeply. So relaxing.
  5. Crazy Aaron's Thinking Putty: I bought a tiny container of this at Off the Wagon in Kent, OH, & can't stop playing with it! It's like silly putty but less, well, putty - more of a gummy plastic feeling, really soothing when you're feeling stressed.
  6. Digit: I wrote about this a few months ago (check it out), but I'm still goin' strong with it. Yes, Digit recently began to charge $3 a month for their services (atop interest I assume they were already making off users' savings), but for me, it still feels worth it.
  7. Charmed: Inspired by Gretchen's rewatch, I've started watching this '90s WB fave while I work. It's so freaking cheesy but perfect for background noise - & it's so funny to message about ridiculous plot points with Lanny, who's also bingeing it!
  8. Lancôme Artliner: My IG friend Anna Marie recommended this precision felt-tip liner, which, at $30.50, is a little pricey - but also totally worth it. It doesn't stay on as well as my beloved, now-defunct Urban Decay liner, but it's the closest I've yet to find.
  9. The #sendcardspreadlove Challenge: All April, I've been participating in Pretty By Post's snail mail challenge, tuning in to her weekly to-send tasks. I already send out tons of letters to friends & family; this just gives me an excuse to do it for prizes!
  10. Mitchell's Vegan Salted Caramel Pecan Ice Cream: OK, this is a pre-Whole30 obsession (did you read my post about that?), but damn, is this stuff delicious. I told Mike we had to stop talking while we ate it because I needed to enjoy this stuff in silence.
So? Your turn. Tell me what you're loving!
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