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Going Over the Side of a Building

July 10, 2014

Since I know there are many people who would throw me over the edge of a building if given the chance, I thought I’d make it easy for them and do it myself! 

First, a quick bit of background, for those just joining us. Bob and I have settled in quite well here in NE Ohio, including me finally landing an amazing job. I’m the new Events Manager for Hattie Larlham, a non-profit organization that provides care to children and adults with developmental disabilities. I work in the Development department, and I am officially a professional fundraiser, tasked with raising money through events. I am truly honored to work for an organization that does such meaningful work, and it’s wonderful to actually look forward to going to the office every day!

One of those events we’ve got going on now is called “Over the Edge”, where individual fundraisers work to raise enough money to earn a spot to rappell down the side of the PNC Bank building in Akron, OH. Funds raised support the work of Hattie Larlham. If I can raise $1500 before the event on August 30, I will be one of those lucky (?) people who will strap on a harness and a helmet, and make my way down a very scary-looking building. I’m looking at this as a way to be more adventurous, and to step waaaaaay outside my comfort zone to experience new things. Perhaps skydiving is next. But I’ll start with rappelling.

So, here’s where you come in.

I’m asking you – my loyal readers – if you’d be willing to help me achieve my goal of raising $1500, by donating to my fundraising page. Any amount – large or small – will help me reach my goal, and will support the incredible work done by Hattie Larlham. Want to know more about what Hattie does before donating? Click here

Want to just jump on over to my page and make a tax-deductible donation? Click here.

I’m also working on putting together a little fundraiser with my sister Kristen, who is an independent rep with Premier Designs, a direct sales jewelry company. She has offered to donate 25% of any sales made through me to help my efforts. If you’re familiar with Premier Designs, you know their jewelry is trendy, nice, and high quality. More on that little endeavor coming soon (we’re trying to figure out how people can view their catalog online). 

Thanks in advance for your generous donation. August 30 is only 7 weeks away, and I’ve only raised $200 so far. I’m quickly running out of time to reach my goal – please consider giving me a “shove” so I can get over the edge.

There’s a very good chance this whole thing will be live streamed – so you can actually witness my descent. I’ll keep you posted about that as well. But, I don’t go over unless I raise the $$$.

Here’s a funny little aside, courtesy of Bob: I was excitedly telling him of my plans to go down the side of a 22-story building on August 30, the day before our anniversary. He helpfully told me, “I guess I’ll hold off on making dinner reservations, then.” 



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This Firecracker’s a Dud

June 23, 2014

Firecracker Red Label BackRecently, Heinen’s was running a special on wine, and I was intrigued. Mostly by the price, because I’m a cheapskate.


Memorable, yes. Delicious, not so much.

On first pour, I could detect a familiar scent, but couldn’t quote put my finger on it. It was not a typical fruity red aroma, so I was puzzled for a bit. Until the next night, after I’d made waffles for dinner. That aroma was pancake syrup! That’s an aroma that does not belong in red wine. Upon a re-read of the label, I now see the “maple notes”. This was definitely not maple. This was good ol’ Aunt Jemima.

Thick and syrupy, with an overwhelming pancake syrup aroma and flavor. Blech. Now I know why Heinen’s was trying to unload the stuff at a quarter of its original retail price. It’s awful. There should never be “natural flavors” or “caramel color” added to wine. Just terrible. Who is the winemaker? Willy Wonka?

It made me say, “WOW! This is awful”.

Another awful selection? Firecracker’s White blend. Tastes like pineapple-flavored corn syrup, accented heavily with Sweet Tarts. Just terrible. I want my $8.00 back (that was for two bottles). Not a bargain at all.

Firecracker REd





Call a Greek a Greek

January 29, 2014
Now this is just getting stupid.

Now this is just getting stupid.

No, I’m not referring to my Greek friend. Or that ridiculous sour cream I saw an ad for recently. I am referring to the newest dustup in the Greek yogurt world.

Greek yogurt manufacturer Fage recently sued NY-based yogurt maker Chobani in the UK, demanding that Chobani refrain from calling their product “Greek Yogurt” because it’s made in the USA. A lower court ruled in Fage’s favor, and Chobani appealed the ruling. But an appeals court once again ruled against Chobani, upholding the lower court’s injunction against them using the term “Greek yogurt” to describe their US-made product.

Hold up. Something smells bad, and it isn’t the moldy yogurt that Chobani was selling recently.

See, Fage’s main complaint here is that if it’s not made in Greece, it can’t be called Greek yogurt. Much like sparkling wine not made in the Champagne region of France is not eligible to be called Champagne, and meatballs not served in an Ikea can’t be called Swedish*. The fact is, Chobani manufactures its products in its New Berlin, NY (and also Twin Falls, ID) and this is Fage’s complaint – it ain’t made in Greece.

BUT – remember a few years back, when Fage constructed a ginormous yogurt manufacturing plant in Johnstown, NY? You don’t recall? Read this to refresh your memory. Then, please understand that Fage makes just about all of the GREEK YOGURT that it sells in the United States…wait for it…IN THE UNITED STATES. From the FageUSA website:

Our U.S. facility, located in Johnstown, New York, which started commercial production in April 2008 and is the largest of our facilities in terms of production capacity, manufactures yogurt products for the U.S. market and the rest of the Americas. We have three facilities in Greece that serve all of our markets outside of the Americas and have the capacity to expand their production to accommodate expected increases in demand in the United Kingdom, Italy, Germany and other international markets.

So I don’t understand their argument here, unless I am completely missing something. Why didn’t Chobani’s lawyers bring up the fact that Fage continues to call its product Greek when it’s made in NY? Should I call Chobani’s legal team? Should I go to law school?

*This may or may not be true. I’ve actually never set foot in an Ikea. But I do make some mean Swedish meatballs, courtesy of my Swedish mother-in-law.

Snow Rollers!

January 28, 2014

Freaking Cleveland just gets weirder every minute. Today I learned about another wacko thing around here: snow rollers.

There is this strange meteorological phenomenon known as “snow rollers” that seems to be part of the winter landscape in NE Ohio. Basically, strong winds scoop up a bunch of icy snow and blow/roll it into a hollow cylinder that resembles a jelly roll. Or one of the tires from the Flintstone’s car. Just freaking weird.

Conditions have to be just right, though: the ground must have a crusty layer of ice; the ice must then be covered by wet, loose snow; the wind must be strong enough to move the snow rollers; and there must be some sort of incline to the ground. Once the snow roll gets so big that the wind can’t move it anymore, they stop rolling. And the winds around here have been absolutely brutal, so I wouldn’t be surprised if there were some snow rollers around that are as big as cars.

Now, I haven’t seen any of these oddities with my own eyes, but I’m on the lookout now. I hope some form in my back yard, though, because it’s too damn cold to leave the house. I’m also hoping the wind picks up enough to blow some of the dog poop out there into my neighbor’s yard.

Here’s a photo of some rollers, from today’s Akron Beacon Journal:

Snow rollers spotted in Akron. Photo credit Akron Beacon Journal.

Have you seen any snow rollers? Share your photos with me, so I don’t have to go outside but can still pretend I’ve seen some.

Normal-Size Muffins are Anti-American?

January 15, 2014


So this is what Spain* thinks of us. JUMBO silicone muffin cups are called “American Muffin Cups”.

Luckily the baking cups themselves are Delicious!, because we gluttonous Americans will likely just eat the cups too, in the mad frenzy to shove the giant American muffins in our giant American faces.

*Lékué is a Spanish manufacturer of silicone bakeware and microwave cookware. I used to like the company.

Blame It on the Polar Vortex

January 8, 2014


There’s no bread, but I am grateful to the folks at Heinen’s for creating a sign with no spelling or grammar infractions only one spelling mistake.

Today’s temperature is sitting around 20 degrees. Feels like the beach.

Cleveland Observations

January 7, 2014

Many things have struck me about Cleveland and Northeast Ohio, since I moved here in May.

  • First of all, it can get cold here. I write this as the Midwest and much of the rest of the country is experiencing he record-breaking cold of the 2014 Polar Vortex. Temps here last night got as low as -11, with wind chills nearly reaching -40. And the winds are BRUTAL, Polar Vortex or not. My poor dogs could barely go outside to pee. On the plus side, I’ve learned a new meteorological term this week: FROST QUAKE. It’s not a breakfast cereal – it’s a real and frightening phenomenon.
  • We’ve found pitifully few places that serve decent Italian food around here. There are tons of places that TRY, but nothing comes close to what you can get in New York. I know that sounds snobby and elitist, but when you are a native New Yorker, you just come to expect 120327-pizza-590decent pizza and Italian takeout. I ordered a calzone from a place a few weeks ago, and it was merely some mozzarella stuffed inside some pizza dough. No ricotta! That’s not a calzone, my friends. We did find one place that was pretty good – D’Angelo’s in Twinsburg. The food was tasty (awesome risotto), and the service was fantastic. We even took my in-laws there when they visited in November.  But we haven’t found a delivery joint that slings NY-style pizza like the ones we used to order from in Clifton Park (La Bella and Inferno). Now, let me give credit where credit is due: Cleveland can do Polish, German…anything Eastern European. Fine. But unfortunately no one delivers galumpkis or sauerbraten. Because we’d totally order that.
  • Related: every delivery joint sells fried chicken. That’s just weird. And none of them – NOT ONE – offers raspberry sauce with their mozzarella sticks. Sigh.
  • Clevelanders are extremely proud of their hometown. Sure, the place has its detractors, but their voices are drowned out by the sea of voices singing the praises of CLE. It’s really nice to see how much people love the place where they live.
  • Clevelanders are extremely proud of their losing sports teams. They love the underdogs here, and there are no greater underdogs than the long-suffering Cleveland Browns. They wear the Browns’ losing seasons like a badge of honor. I think they’d more upset if the Browns actually won. Because then they’d have nothing to complain about. Reminds me of pre-2004 Red Sox Fans (who now just sound like Yankees fans with a dumber accent). Perhaps the best example of the Cleveland attitude towards the Browns is local comedian Mike Polk’s video about the “Factory of Sadness”:

  • Browns aside, having professional sports teams close by is great. Bob & I went to a few Indians games this season, and they were a blast. Wish we had enough $$ to get season tickets.
  • Beer is HUGE here. Ginormous. You can’t swing a dead cat without it falling into a fermenting tank. I haven’t been to any of them yet, but I have plans. Recently, we went to the West Side Market (more on that another time) and attempted to have lunch at the Great Lakes Brewing Company across the street, but that plan was thwarted by a two hour wait. But, we did visit the gift shop, so it wasn’t a total loss. Also, I am currently in love with GLB’s Christmas Ale. It’s kind of the local thing to drink.
  • Grocery stores here really suck. Giant Eagle is dirty and expensive, and Heinen’s is wonderful and expensive. I have since learned that there are other options for groceries (Marc’s, Acme, Aldi), but they all have vocal opponents who claim they are horrible. I haven’t personally visited any of them because I really like Heinen’s (even though it’s crazy expensive most of the time) and it’s really close to our house. We did manage to find a great butcher shop nearby: Mazzulo’s. We ordered our Christmas/NYE prime rib roast there, and have really enjoyed their sausages and steaks. Better prices than the chains, too. Win!
  • Related: Trader Joe’s manages to find the WORST locations, no matter what part of the country they’re in. One of the Cleveland stores (there are only two) is located in the most horrendous shopping malls I’ve ever seen: not only does this place have a North Face store and a Lululemon Athletica store (those two are enough to make you want to kill yourself right there), they have the smallest store-to-parking-space ratio I’ve ever seen. There is never a time when there is adequate parking for the demand. And it doesn’t matter if it’s Cleveland, Albany, or Danbury CT – no matter where, people turn into complete assholes once inside a Trader Joe’s. Self-important, elitist assholes. Except me, of course. I’m still as sweet and polite as always.
  • Small-town politics are just as dirty here as they are in NY. Awesome.
  • Everywhere you look, all you can see on the horizon is…nothing. Vast swaths of nothing. I didn’t realize how much I took the
    Look at that. I miss that.

    Look at that. I miss that.

    mountainous terrain of NY for granted. Up and down the Northway and Thruway, majestic mountains as far as the eye can see. Here? Empty sky. I miss the Adirondacks and the Catskills. The landscape here is boring (though looking at Lake Erie from the lakeshore is kinda cool).

  • The job market here is pretty tough. I still haven’t found a full-time job yet, and I’m getting discouraged.

Man, it really sounds like I’m complaining. I am, but I’m not. Problems are the same all over. The Capital Region may have good pizza and decent grocery stores, but it has cold snowy weather and a shitty Trader Joe’s parking lot, too. There are definitely things about Cleveland that are far superior to Albany: museums, zoos, theaters, professional sports, low taxes…but the Capital Region has one thing over on the CLE – Stewart’s. Damn I miss Stewart’s.


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