best kind of christmas party with a side of the browns

Another weekend down, another 30th birthday party attended and the close to Browns home games!

This year is literally the year of the big 3-0 and we all love a birthday celebration, don't we??? With mine one month away from today, the festivities are in the process of being planned, ideas pinned and the invite list has been sent out. Now, let's hope there's just not a blizzard to stop the dance party!

Friday night we controlled the music with the handy app of "MyTouchTunes" at the Firehouse Grille and Pub way east near Willoughby Hills. If you don't have this app, you MUST download it now because there is nothing better than booting songs out of the que so you can play Michael Bolton or Justin Beiber.

Katie on her 30th - a skull cake fit for her!

the best of Katie's past - glamour shot included!

four amigas established in 2001 at Kent State

After putting off most of my Christmas shopping, I made an extra large green smoothie to fuel a shopping excursion at the outlets (and get through all the crazy shoppers) to make it only a little late to one of the best un-xmas parties of the year.

Now, this isn't just any un-xmas party hosted by my friend Michelle - it's a party made up with people who somehow have equally sick senses of humor. The kinds of friends with whom you make up a game with a red solo cups called "fisting" but where it's actually more like "blading" because that's the shape of your hands as you toss the cups to each other. Then you break into songs where you replace key lyrics with "blades or blading" and you blame it all on the pudding shots and sparkling tequila shots.....

Alexa rocking the best new party game to hit Cleveland - blading

fun with signs (and yes we aren't 15)
After having two late nights in a row, I really (swear I did) had high hopes of staying in for the afternoon, watching the game with my brother at his friend's house and maybe even wrapping some Christmas presents. Well, that's before Tabitha and I decided it was a great idea to "tailgate" from the Barley House with friends and before we thought fireball shots were a great idea and even before Christmas ale was magically delivered to our table....

extra points if you can spot the natty light!

somewhere in the first quarter....

Sometimes you need to say "peace out responsibilities and to-do lists" and spend time with your brother, his and your friends and have an impromptu dance party in Dive Bar, wearing only slightly more clothes in December than you did for opening day in early September because it was a record high of 57 and sunny all day.

And with that, the home Browns games are finished so we can go back to regularly scheduled Sunday brunches and Christmas is only ONE WEEK away.

2012 you were undeniably amazing but where the hell did all the time go?

Gifting the ladies in your lives

Considering we are only two weeks (I seriously can't believe it) away from Christmas, it's about time we all started our shopping if we haven't already!

If you are like me, you only have two gifts sitting on your floor but at least my list is complete - I just need to get to the stores and then poorly wrap all the gifts because my wrapping is a sight to see...... Let me tell you! I have so many friends who wrap these beautiful gifts with perfectly taped sides and add bows like Martha Stewart made them herself! My presents look like I had my friend's kids help me cut the paper and even tape the corners.....

For the mother, sister, girlfriend, cousin or BFF in your life, here are a few gift options for you to consider this year for that incredibly-hard-to-buy-for female in your life if you are struggling for ideas.

Want gift yourself or someone with something they will continue to buy? Let me introduce you to the only body lotion you will want to buy once you use this for a few weeks. Classy Chaos introduced me to it over a year ago and it is literally life changing during the winter.

Just the best body creme a girl will ever want - Kiehl's Creme de Corps for $30

Last year for a friend's , I gave her a few pairs of my absolute favorite underwear from Victoria's Secret - the Lacie Thong. While you may be thinking, "You bought your friend underwear?" Why, yes I did because these are one size fits all and when does that ever happen?? They come in a wide variety of colors (even ones with sparkles on them) and I truly believe they are for all body types.

The Lacie also comes in a hip hugger - 3 for $33.

Everyone could always use some protection for their electronic devices and there are so many stylish and creative options out there now. Kate Spade makes some of the cutest and fun iPhone and iPad cases for the professional girl that are totally work and play appropriate.

Keeps your iPad safe at all times - Kate Spade at Nordstrom for $85

Ladies - we can never have TOO many iphone cases - Kate Spade at Nordstrom $26 on sale

For the beauty product obsessed, she will love to try as many beauty products as she can at once and Birchbox is a fabulous idea. A year subscription will run cost $120 for 4-6 sample size products each month. Sometimes the boxes are themed like the Goop one I received where I absolutely loved each product and some are more seasonal - I can't wait to get my December shipment to see what I have!

Love checking my mailbox for this each month!

One of the many products I received and want to give to every girlfriend - Dr. Jart Beauty Balm at Sephora - $34

So what gifts did I miss that should be included? And, more importantly, what are you buying for friends and family this season?

the one where it still doesn't feel like December

Remember when you kicked off your weekends on Thursday night back in college? My friends and I chose to kick off our weekend the same way with dinner and drinks at Bac in Tremont because we were all the mood for Pho. It was a mix of a little pre-holiday gathering and just simply getting together where we were the loudest table in the restaurant. Of course. Always.

sake bombs; dirty girl scout pudding shots at our favorite dive bar

In the winter, there's nothing more than I love than noodles, dim sum or pad thai and I have literally eaten Pho a handful of times the last two weeks because nothing cures a sickness like a good bowl of pho in my book.

This weekend also started my annual holiday baking with my lovely aunts who are masters in the kitchen. Absolute masters when it comes to recreating something one of them saw in Martha Stewart magazine or seeing on TV. Although I have to admit that it was a bit weird to have the door open to let in "cool" air because it wasn't freezing out.

just using a 70s style christmas tree cookie mechanism like a pro!
Can I bake? Of course I can!

Do I always want to? Nope. Only on special occassions where I have some serious help from the experts. Obviously the goal is for people to actually eat the cookies.....

But what I absolutely love about the whole afternoon is that you can clearly tell by how large the cookies come out which ones I made and by the sheer amount of toppings versus how my aunts delicately decorate each one. I just simply throw around the sprinkles on each little tree or scoop a generous teaspoon from the bowl while we chatted and I entertained them with what has been happing in my life for the past few months.

snow balls pre and post baking and my favorite chocolate drop cookies

Later that night, we took our talents to the Q arena where we cheered on the Cavs to what we were hoping was a victory but not this time around. Next time! Somehow it was the first Cavs game of the season for all the girls so I will need to make sure to make it to more this season.

Total vampire eye photo of the group and a big thank you to Matt and Jeff for invite!

On Sunday, my friends and I had high hopes of actually getting up and going to the Browns game but we decided against standing in the rain to watch the game and stayed dry, watching the win from a few blocks away and wrapped up the weekend with burgers and beers at Buckeye Beer Engine.

burgers, onion rings, strongbow, blonde ales - finish out the weekend healthy!

mimosasing around the neighborhood

As we officially entered the month of December a few days ago, one of my favorite other times is upon us that's not Christmas. It's brunch time.

Brunch hosted by I heart Cleveland this past weekend. She can host, cook and entertain!
Now, I'm not one to turn down a brunch any season of the year but there's something about brunch in the winter that makes rolling out of bed, throwing on your Hunter's and winter coats extra special. Maybe because sometimes it literally takes a village to get you to your car, brush it off, then it's a whole other journey to actually get to your brunch spot.

But, in my opinion, there's nothing better than spending a Sunday Funday with your friends holed up in one of your favorite brunch spots to discuss all sorts of hot topics like each person's individual weekend antics or what to drink at the next stop on your Sunday adventure.

A photo from a past brunch sans food

Here a few spots I'll be posted up with friends this winter -

Soho Kitchen & Bar - A few weeks back, my friends and I hung out here for a few hours. My recommendations - the s'uthern benedict and passion fruit mimosa. Be warned - these people know their drinks and they go down quickly!

Market Garden and Brewery - Now that I think about it, I'm not sure that I've ever actually eaten brunch here but rather taken advantage of their bottomless mimosa on Sundays.

Deagan's Kitchen - While I've been here for taco Tuesday plenty of times, I've only eaten here once and was completely satisfied with my poached eggs and mimosas.

Lucky's Cafe - I've celebrated a few birthdays here with a latte and the waffles 'v', but my mom swears by the shipwreck though. Oh, and you must try one order of pecan bacon.

Touch Supper Club - Bloody mary anyone? One of my very first weekends living downtown, I met an NY friend here for brunch and holy amazing. Because there were so many choices, I'm pretty sure I couldn't concoct the same version twice. For food, I'd go with the chicken and waffles or stuffed french toast.

Clearly I have some places I need to add to my brunch eating - what am I missing and what should I be eating and drinking?

running with bells on

As I sit surrounded by endless tea cups of green tea, honey, lemon and a strange concoction of cough syrup and cold and flu pills, I'm pretty sure my immune system let its guard down with all the crazy weather changes we have had this past week in Cleveland.

some combination of this will work

Call me crazy but without fail, I get a massive head cold every time there is a weather change. Seeing that the temperatures have been 35 to 60 degrees over the past seven days, I'm looking at mother nature for this one.....

When I could breathe clearly through my nose over the weekend, I ran with a friend as she crossed her first finish line of her first race in the 13th Annual Reindeer 5K run.

Erin conquering her first 5K

We were NOT prepared with the right amount of flair for the race because there were people in tutus, blinking antlers and Rudolph noses and even someone running in a full-fledged Santa suit. Next year, we will wear more than just the bells on our shoes and maybe even covered in twinkle lights but we'll need someone's help with that get up for sure.

Show your CLE pride for the Cavs

Friday, November 30, 2012
It is officially basketball time in Cleveland with the Cavs season kicking off a few weeks ago. I don't know that I could pick football over basketball as my favorite sport to watch but I could pick football over basketball as my favorite "social" sport.  Between my breakfast of champion pre-parties and tailgating, I am sold on football.

Back in my childhood days, I did grow up watching a hell of a lot more basketball and even poorly played a few years myself in junior high. My dad and brother are diehard college basketball fans, both played in high school and my dad even used to referee high school games for as long as I can remember.

So, if I were to be quizzed, I would know a hell of a lot more about traveling versus being offsides......

To help you guys get yourselves to the game, the kind people at Key Bank have provided me with 8 tickets (2 sets of 4) to giveaway to the 12/5 game against the Chicago Bulls.

Who wants to go?

1) To enter, simply tell me who your favorite Cavs player of all time was/is in the comment section below. Leave your email address or Twitter handle so it's easy for me to contact you!
2) Want a second entry? Tweet "I want to win Cavs tix for the 12/5 game from @allisonpeltz #KeyLegLamp

And at the game, keep your eyes out for all the A Christmas Story themed prizes including any pink bunnies or fragile crates around the Q and all attendees can take home a bobble leg lamp to add a little fun to your holiday decor.

Want the chance for your own trip to the house? Key Bank is hosting a sweepstakes where a grand prize winner will win a private suite for the Cavs vs Hawks game, special VIP tour of the A Christmas Story House, limo pickup for dinner at Bac and $500 giftcard.

What are you waiting for?!

Disclosure: KeyBank provided tickets for my randomly chosen winners with no compensation. Unfortunately I won't be attending the game because I'll be rocking out to Grace Potter instead. Tickets will be picked up at will call on 12/5. Drawing will be on 12/3, winner announced on Twitter on 12/4.

13.1 miles take two

Last week, a friend and I crossed the finish line of our second half marathon in 2012 on a brisk Sunday morning for the Strongsville Fall Classic.

Runners unite.
Instead of sleeping in, we were up early to join the all the runners while there was frost still on the ground and the sun was shining, making us think it was a lot warmer than it actually was.

After meeting who I'm going to call "Ruth," she shared that she was 76 and has ran 55 marathons in her lifetime. Fifty-five marathons, people! She was this absolute ball of energy who was so excited to be up with everyone to start what was probably her 56th half marathon if not more.

The only one her age bracket....
I started to think about why I started running (I'll use that term loosely) because I don't actually consider myself much of a runner. My reason is simple -  I started to run after my dad was diagnosed with cancer over five years ago and signed up for a half marathon that supported Multiple Myeloma research.

As a kid, I have memories of my dad leaving for a run with his Asics and navy hooded sweatshirt for what felt like forever, but in all actuality it was likely 40 minutes. But let's be real here - when you are kid, forty minutes feels like an eternity and my brother and I knew we could stay out that much later or get in trouble before he got back to yell at me for likely beating up my little brother.

Posing on front porch post summer run. Socks and jellies - the only way to go!

Fast forward to six years ago, my dad's "running career" was cut  a bit short because of his bionic leg surgery so I sort of thought, "Well, I guess I should start running because he can't anymore " and that's how I found myself signing up to run my first race. At the time, I was incredibly out of shape and needed some kind of motivation to get me moving again and regain focus that I had lost, so a friend and I signed up for our first half marathons. Plus, I didn't want to look back and think, "I wish I would've done that" or had any other regrets.

Let's get this show on the road!
A few years later, I find myself testing my physical and mental limits, to run faster and farther while bonding with friends during long runs or attending a weekly hot yoga session on Saturday mornings.
crossing the finish line
Considering I have three races under my belt, my goal for next year is to run two half marathons again, get my mile time down (because my dad said so) and join a team to complete the Tough Mudder in April. Who doesn't think a little electrocution, jumping off a 15-foot cliff into freezing cold water and crawling under barbed wire isn't fun on a spring afternoon?

So if you are thinking of starting to run, box, join Crossfit, sign up for a yoga retreat or take that bootcamp class, what are you waiting for?

If you need an extra boost of motivation, head over to my friend Kristina's blog, Strong and Glamorous, for her own personal transformation to competing in her first fitness competition while sharing healthy recipes and workout routines to get a behind like J.Lo. Like woah is right.

no sleep till brooklyn

For my Thanksgiving break, I spent it like most of you did by meeting up with friends who were out of town, catching up with family over an amazingly delicious Thanksgiving dinner and enjoying every minute of my time off from the daily grind of work and being present with everyone I spent time with for five days.

Did I sleep enough? Of course not.

Did I mind? Nope because I consumed copious amounts of tea to keep me going.

Did I laugh endlessly and take too many pictures? You better believe it.

Catching up with friends who live in other cities on a night of a 1000 stars in our hometown

Spending time with family and teaching the youngest one to high five (I'm still sticking to that, Jess!)

Heading back to four of the most fun years of my life only to discover our house was condemned

Celebrating a friend and toasting to her and her fabulous new husband with a dance party

Rang in the 3-0 with a dear friend dancing to her favorite music - old school hip hop

Hosting friends for an indoor tailgating and celebrating a win all day long

After extended weekends like this past one, I almost require a vacation from my vacation to catch up and take a breather. Or, maybe a quiet and relaxing weekend should be ahead of me to enter the last month of 2012.

Celebrating my person

I pulled off my first surprise party this weekend for a dear friend to redo her 30th birthday party since she was pregnant this time last year.

"Allison, I don't need a surprise, I just want my friends at dinner with me."

Yeah, yeah - I've heard that before and her husband and I wanted to do something a little different this year because Erin always seems to find the perfect gift or throw the perfect party for her friends and family. And, it was about time we celebrated Erin for a change.

Celebrating my surprise 24th birthday, courtesy of Erin

Erin may be the best kind of friend a person can have and luckily I met her all those years ago in a speech class way back when at Kent State University. We joke we are each other's person a la Grey's Anatomy but she is truely someone I'm incredibly thankful for every day, pushes me when needed and is an amazing support system.

In the past ten years, we have been by each other's sides through an eventful spring break to Acacpulco, a Las Vegas trip that I crashed, a plethora of boyfriends, her beautiful wedding to her husband and many birthday celebrations that have only gotten better each year. She is the kind of girl who you answer your phone for at 3 in the morning and she's the kind of girl who offers her spare room for six weeks and stands up for you no matter how pregnant she is.

The birthday girl; a sampling of colossal cupcakes and the surprise party

Ripped his pants on his first bowl; birthday girl and Katie; Nadine with her fav ball; and the my lucky bowling shoes

Based on how late we celebrated, I'm going to guess that she loved every minute of our cupcake eating, wine drinking, bowling marathon kind of night spent downtown Cleveland.

Editor's note: Erin - I hope you know how much you inspire the people around you on a daily basis all the way down to that little girl we call BKE. I hope 30 take two was everything you hoped for!

I've never met a sequin I didn't like

It's that time again, Cleveland!

It's the ticket kick off event for Playhouse Square's Jump Back Ball "Jump Back Two Spaces" happening tomorrow.

Where: Market Garden Brewery
What: Jump Back Ball ticket sales
When: Thursday, November 15,  5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Ticket prices: $135 per person and $110 each if you are a Partner like me! (Two ticket minimum)

If you are thinking of going to the event on February 23, you want to scoop up your tickets tomorrow because this will be the lowest price to purchase tickets at for the event.

Don't wait - get them early rather than waiting until the last minute because tickets will 1) sell out by early January 2) be more expensive and you can use the money you saved on a pair of shoes for the event instead!

Never been? Take a look through last year's event here to get a feel for what it's like from start to finish.

Ticket kick off time means the start of a search for a perfect dress for the evening. With all the holiday sales coming up in the next six weeks, I'd be a fool to not take advantage of them for this event and I'm already thinking sequins for this year's event.

Wearing the color of the season - oxblood - in all sequins from Topshop at $130

Plum sequin dress from BCBG for $298

Rose gold + sequins = my dress...when it goes on sale....BCBG for $448

It's early (I know) but I'm already getting a head start on what I want to wear even though it will come down to a game time decision. Doesn't it always?!?

Party kind of weekend

The craziness of the fall season is in full swing. I can't tell you much I was looking forward to this weekend because all of celebrations happening from a surprise birthday/engagement party to karaoke with Alexa at Noodlecat to a Madonna dance party to an impromptu Sunday Funday while we enjoyed a beautiful 70 degree day in Cleveland. (Non-Clevelanders - this doesn't happen that often, so yes we were out in flip flops and sitting out on patios.)

Happy engagement and birthday, my dear friend!

Surprise to Katie!

Alexa holding the karaoke fort down at Noodlecat

Creepy glasses photo during karaoke - Ahmed wins!

How was the Madonna show?  Amazing. Fabulous. Of course I loved every second of the show just like I did when I saw her a few years back at the Reinvention Tour in Chicago, but I'm not sure the rest of the crowd enjoyed it based on the fact that it wasn't that crazy-I-can't-hear-myself-think kind of loud. Yes, it was loud at times (especially during her old school rendition of Like A Prayer) but as I looked around me, it wasn't the crazy kind of energy you would see at a Gaga concert. Just saying, Madge......

Dinner at Chinato before Madge's show - glitter all around

Just a sampling of the costumes at the show

Starting off Sunday with mimosas and bourbon

As Lisa said, "I'm so glad I pulled these from the lost and found from Old Angle."