shaken or stirred is the most important question

Next Thursday marks an important day for Clevelanders looking to attend one of the best parties of the winter on February 22.

Jump Back Ball is really the party that gets my friends and I through the long winter months. You have the lovely Christmas then New Years and then a big break of emptiness. No events (except if you could my birthday), staying indoors gets a little redundant and sometimes you just need a party.

Enter the Jump Back Ball. It is the event that leaves you looking forward to something at the end of February. Let's you get dressed up, attend with friends, meet new ones and party in the legendary theater district for a Saturday night.

Why do we all get so excited about this event?

Well, please scan through photos from last year's event to see what an amazing time we all had. Or, you can read about my take on the the past three year's event - Passport to Party in 2011, Through the Looking Glass in 2012, and Jump Back Two Spaces in 2013.



What: Jump Back 0023: Shaken Not Stirred Kickoff Ticket Party

Where: Cibreo Privado (Private Dining Room) 1438 Euclid Ave., downtown Cleveland

When: Thursday, November 7 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Cost: $150 each, VIPs $200 each (Limit 2 tickets per person) VIP tickets allow earlier entry with a private menu provided by Dante Boccuzzi this year. For Partners, tickets are discounted to $115 each.

What to expect: Complimentary appetizers, drink specials and a lot of people AND for the first 250 people who purchase tickets will receive a long sleeve t-shirt that says "Will you be shaken or stirred?"

At the kickoff event, tickets are the lowest price and available for one day only. The price will increase $15 PLUS handling fees after the kick off party.

As if you need more reasons to get your ticket early, this event will sell out. Each year, the event continues to sell our earlier and last year it sold out by December 7.

Don't be the person stalking Twitter looking for tickets. Get yours early.


Disclaimer: I'm partnering with PlayhouseSquare to promote the event in exchange for ticket compensation.

you can spell fall with c-l-a-m-b-a-k-e

Some people check off their fall season by visiting pumpkin patches, drinking apple cider and hopping on a hayride but I can't ignore the obvious-right-in-your-face activity that you must do - eat your face off at a clambake.

Way back in my younger years, I attended a very memorable family clambake where I had an encounter with an angry dog who didn't like me, any of the people around it or maybe the dog simply wasn't a fan of clams. Well, whatever the case was, my face was fixed up nicely with a few stitches and lots of nightly applications of vitamin E oil.

Even a few stitches can't shake my love for a Fall food party!

Get in line early!

guess how much I actually ate?

For an awesome price of $30 at Sokolowski's, friends and I feasted on half a chicken (yes, seriously), sweet potatoes, red skin potatoes, clams, clam chowder, corn and extra clams if you really needed to add anything else to your already overflowing lunch tray.

we took up a table for 6 with only 4 people
Sokolowski's is the place to go in the fall and winter months when all you really want to do is eat what I consider soul food, which is Polish or Hungarian cooking that reminds me of my grandmother. The woman knew her pierogies, goulash and chicken paprikash like no one's business and luckily my dad has perfected her recipe over time.

Word to the wise - if you are in a rush and not at Sokolowski's before 6 p.m., then I suggest you pick a different restaurant in Tremont on a weekend because you can wait a long time if you hit the rush. But, you can always grab a beer or two, stand in line and prepare to be immobile after eating  this comfort food for the next few hours.

Not a bad way to spend the last weekend in October if I do say so myself.

there's a new studio in town

In the fitness realm, there are very few things I wouldn't give a try once or twice for the sake of testing. I'm a huge advocate of running and hot yoga because it allows a person to clear their mind. Well, at least it does for me. You can totally clear your mind by losing yourself running and during yoga poses, even if there is music blasting in the background. I have only tried spinning twice and both times I have loved the energy of the room lit by candles and how intensely sweaty you get only minutes into the workout.

Cleveland has a new cycle studio opening up soon in Hingetown - Harness Cycle - just over the Detroit Bridge at Detroit and W. 29th. As the finishing touches are put on the actual studio space, riders can visit the Cycle LAB set up at 1810 W 25th (almost across the street from Nano Brew). Having met the owner over a year ago at a Bad Girl Ventures class I was speaking at, I'm happy to see all her hard work and spinning dreams finally come to life with her very own studio. And, it doesn't hurt that I can get to her studio with an easy 1.5 mile run from my apartment. That's of course IF I'm feeling up to running there and back AFTER I cycle my J.Lo off for an hour.

Cycle LAB in Ohio City


Instructor Charity setting up a rider before the ride begins

Instructors hosted a family and friends free ride last week and I even skipped a day of crossfit to ride with friends during one of Charity's classes. The next morning my upper body was sore from all the riding push ups and my legs needed some major stretching and H2O intake throughout the day after climbing all those damn hills. All signs of a solid workout.

If you are in the neighborhood or want to try a class because all your friends are doing it, check out the schedule and sign up here over the next few weeks until Harness shifts over into their final home base. I highly recommend all the instructors - you will find me at one of Charity's or Tiffany's classes - I highly recommend these women!



three days in Bordeaux

Bordeaux arrived at my doorstep last week in the form of 12 vibrant bottles of red and white wine from the Saint Emilion wine region.

special arrival from France

It was a pleasant surprise to have them arrive early and sent me back to that afternoon where my friends and I spent an hour in the most beautiful wine shop surrounded by Matt, our incredibly patient and impressive tour guide, and Hugo, the French version of Prince William. Tall, sort of quiet and shy with a full head of sandy hair and very soft blue eyes. I mean...he could be the new Christian Grey since it looks like the role is still open!

Tour guide Matt was right - he did have quite beautiful eyes that sold us three cases of wine and shipped across the Atlantic.

After three very touristy days spent in Paris, we arrived with Matt, our private tour guide, waiting to take us on our first day of wine tastings to the Medoc region, which was about forty minutes away from our hotel in Bouilac, just above the city of Bordeaux. Kudos to my friend Lindsay who suggested hiring a private tour guide because Matt was worth every s-i-n-g-l-e penny for his rich history knowledge of wine, Bordeaux and slow but stellar driving skills where he happily let us hop out and take EVERY single chateau photo we wanted along our drive.
Medoc region wine tasting

Chateau hopping in the Medoc region

A trip to France wouldn't have been complete if we left without taking cooking lessons from our hotel, Le Saint James, which overlooks the city of Bordeaux with the most breathtaking views at sunset. Out of all the hotels we stayed at, this was truly the most amazing one with impeccable service and an outstanding garden view that looked over the city with vineyards and twinkle lights when the sun finally went down over the patio.

Foie gras two ways and Lissa assisting Chef Ben



Celebrating Lindsay's birthday at our hotel restaurant

After spending five hours with us, tour guide Matt decided he could handle my friends and I for another day so he drove us to Saint Emilion for the afternoon with a guided tour in a 12th century church, catacombs, a leisurely lunch, the wine store with Hugo and a chance to sit on the steps of a medieval castle.

Touring a 12th century church in St. Emilion

The  most adorable and chic wine store

dream come true sitting in front of the castle

After three days, we wined and dined ourselves into the most delicious food and wine comas we could have asked for in Bordeaux. Next, we headed to the beach for the weekend to continue a little R&R in Biarritz, a small beach town along the coast of the Bay of Biscay that is NOT to be missed if you are in France.


Juice me for a day

I don't know about you, but I love the sample stations at my local grocery store, Heinen's, and literally slowly stroll by each station to see if it's worth trying as I peruse through the store picking up my weekly items.

After leaving the produce section, I passed by soon-to-be new juice friend, Keith, who was sampling, "would you like to try our mean green juice?" Instantly, I was interested because 1) what a cool name and 2) based on a quick glance of the products, packaging and display, I knew it was something super ridiculously healthy that likely needed to be added to my refrigerator. The juice extraordinaire also explained how the juice is raw (never heated) and cold pressed slowly to keep all the nutrients intact from the organic fruit and vegetables. Sold!

Let me introduce you to Garden of Flavor - locally produced raw juice made right here in Cleveland by a lifelong Clevelander sold in Whole Foods, Heinen's and Mustard Seed.


After sampling a few juices, I decided to put back my one bottle and go all in with a one day juice cleanse for $44 to kick start my week and blast my system with pounds and pounds of fruits and vegetables. Now, if you follow my blog closely, you know how I feel about any type of long-term cleanse after I miserably failed the Dr. Oz one two months ago. I'm just not that into them. Cleanses and I aren't friends - I have no will power for that type of thing.

However, a one day cleanse is the sort of thing I can get behind because it's just one day. Right? Well, that's exactly what I told myself Sunday night and Monday morning as I sipped on the first drink marked #1 in the six drink package.

Goji Pineapple - Probably the best zing I have had in the morning with the ginger addition. Not too sweet, perfect substitute for your morning OJ with the pineapple and goji berries.
Rating: A+

Cucumber Refresh - This just has fresh written all over it. Clean, fresh taste and easy peasy to drink.
Rating: A

Mean Green - This was pretty good considering all it had was vegetables in it - romaine, kale, celery, cucumber, spinach and lemon. I definitely felt pretty damn healthy after drinking this one for lunch. Rating: B+

Twisted Roots - Look, I love a beet salad with walnuts and gorgonzola as the next girl but I would not normally drink my beets. But drink #4 called for me to do so and I did at 3 p.m. for my afternoon pick me up. It's a combo of straight beets and carrots with lemon. This was my least favorite but I'll try anything once for the sake of being healthy.
Rating: C+

White Knight - Like the dessert I was craving all day, I blended this with some ice and cinnamon after a fellow juicer suggested it and it was sweet, nutty, filling and may be my favorite one of the set. Rating: A+

Lemon Pepp - Remember how the Master Cleanse was made popular a few years ago? The lemon/cayenne pepper/agave combination reminded me of that and much like the Cucumber Refresh, this was very easy to drink at the end of the night and perfect after my hot yoga class to hydrate as well.
Rating: A

In my non-expert opinion, the one day cleanse is perfect for someone like me who doesn't want to do days of smoothies but can still eat fruit throughout the day if needed. Over the course of the day, I felt energized and never tired from missing out on my morning caffeinated green tea either.
 
While I'll likely try my hand at the day cleanse in the near future, I'll definitely add  a mix of Mean Green, Goji Berry and Lemon Pepp to my shopping list for next week.

Juicers - what's your favorite brand to use? Or do you just add the juices into your daily diet instead?



a little mix of this and that

My response to my friends who asked me what my plans for the past two days were simple - I wanted a "boring yet productive weekend." I was serious. It was go time.

Friday: an evening with fashion and fetish at the Western Reserve Historical Society

Who would really say no to this? After being emailed about the event from the social media coordinator, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to hear about fashion and fetish from Valerie Steele, director and chief curator of Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT). The chat lasted about 45 minutes where Valerie showed images of early fetish magazines from the 1920s all the way to the the 90s era where Gaultier brought corsets back from the Victorian times with Madonna and her Blonde Ambition tour.

Queen of Pop; 1920s festih magazine

Saturday: productivity like no other

An early crossfit workout and a three-hour brunch with my aunt, I escaped home just before it started to rain again to take on my to-do list. I crossed and checked off line items and kept my weekend plans true going to dinner with friends at Humble Wine Bar.

Have you been?

Get over there on a date, for happy hour or to meet up with girlfriends for a few bottles of wine and some of the most delicious neapolitan style pizzas. It's the perfect setting with a large and open floor plan, chandeliers with wine bottles and did I mention they have charcuterie plates?

a good looking charcuterie plates

can you smell the garlic from the quatro formaggio on the right?

Sunday: it's really not a Sunday Funday without a mimosa

Sunday morning was for the sweatiest hot follow-the-yogi class at Inner Bliss Yoga to sweat out all the garlic I ate the night before and to enjoy a grand marnier, angry orchard and raspberry mimosa at Market in Rocky River.


Namaste, yes, namaste.


Disclosure: I was contacted by the social media coordinator at Western Reserve Historical Society and offered discounted tickets to attend the Fetish show. And, yes, I'm so glad I decided to go because it really was amazing to see a fashion historian up close and personal.


the ultimate Sunday Fundays are really in fall

One of exciting thing to look forward to when I returned home to Cleveland was knowing that my most favorite season of the year would be in full swing. While I loved soaking up the last bits of summer on the beach in France and Spain, I was secretly longing to be in layers with scarves, sweaters and my Hunter boots at football games. (I know, call me crazy, right?!?)

Seeing as I missed the home opener, I knew my first Breakfast of Champions party needed to have an extra kick to it so throw in two friends who were having 30th birthdays and a mom who was more excited to be downtown than all your friends combined, and you instantly more fun reason to get up at 8 am on a Sunday to prep for the party.

Sam Adams getting in on the action; ladies sitting pretty; mel and me in matching shirts; Amherst families unite w/ birthday boy #1

patio holds at least 23 people; erin being fabulous; birthday boy #2 turning 30
Because of the beautiful 75 degree weather and intense games of beer pong, most of my party didn't make it to tailgating but we did make it in time to our seats to see kick off and the Browns pull out another win for the second week in a row.


But while observing my friends on Sunday, I think I've cooked up another few party ideas for the fall, knowing that I can fit about 25 people sitting or standing outside. Sure - I should have likely thrown more parties over the summer but I wanted to be anywhere but in my apartment - I wanted to be on the beach, playing volleyball or sitting on someone else's patio.

Apartment clambake anyone? This could be a winner!