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Blame It on the Polar Vortex

January 8, 2014

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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.

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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.

Movie Mixology – the Quiz

January 2, 2014

Movie Mixology2

A hand-crafted quiz, mixed up just for you! Each answer is a blend of a famous film and a popular cocktail/drink – sometimes shaken, sometimes stirred, but always mixed up.

Example:

“A wealthy Southern family throws a Hail Mary and consumes a large glass of Cognac, Cointreau, and lemon juice.”

Answer: The Blind Sidecar

I’ll admit that was not my best clue. But you get it, right? Well, go on! Get started. And get the answers by clicking the link at the bottom of the post. Have fun!

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  1. A brilliant yet delusional mathematician hallucinates pretty much everything, and not just because he’s drinking Kahlua, lemon-lime soda, and vodka. Served with a Nobel Prize.
  2. When a Jewish prince is betrayed and sent into slavery, he decides to seek revenge – fueled by rum, passion fruit, orange, lime, simple syrup, and grenadine. Drinking and driving apparently wasn’t an issue in the days of chariot racing.
  3. Thinking of running away from your Southern husband and reinventing yourself in NYC? Work up your nerve with this mixture of vodka, Southern Comfort, amaretto, sloe gin and OJ.
  4. You had me at rum, eggs, sugar, brandy, and milk.
  5. Death takes the form of Guinness layered on top of Bass Ale.
  6. High school newspaper reporter interviews a new student and accidentally knocks over his whiskey and ginger ale. He then spends the rest of his day trying to avoid a late afternoon bar fight.
  7. Two detectives hunt a serial killer who leaves a distinctive calling card at every murder scene. Come on, what’s in the box? Whiskey and lemon-lime soda, of course.
  8. A couple of pot-smoking idiots are jailed as international terrorists after trying to board a plane to Amsterdam while carrying a refreshing blend of vodka, cranberry juice, and pineapple juice.
  9. A beautiful princess passes out after eating an apple washed down with vodka, Kahlua and cream. Can only be awoken by a handsome Dude.
  10. Walt Disney would not approve, but if you left some tequila, lime juice and sour mix out in the snow, you might end up with a new drink that could make you very animated.
  11. Shaking up a White Russian might earn you a lifetime stint on The Rock, but at least you can pass the time by raising sparrows in your cell.
  12. Remember the Rum! And don’t forget the mint, lime juice, and sugar, either.
  13. A Luddite British writer follows an American teen heartthrob to his home in Massapequa NY, intoxicated by the boy’s youthful beauty and odd scent of triple sec, rum, gin, vodka, tequila, sour mix, and Coke.
  14. A strangely dark Adam Sandler film, served in a giant bowl of unfunny.
  15. I like them French fried potaters, and maybe some gin, cherry brandy, lemon juice, sugar and club soder.
  16. Creme de Noyaux plus Creme de Cacao and heavy cream will have you exclaiming, “His name is Blane? That’s a major appliance, that’s not a name!”
  17. Natalie Wood and Warren Beatty star in this green and minty cinematic classic.
  18. A childhood imaginary friend reappears to wreak havoc in the life of a depressed woman, and the only way to make him disappear is a green pill served with a vodka, lemon juice and sugar chaser.
  19. Annette and Frankie sing and dance their way through a not-so-wholesome seaside concoction of vodka, peach schnapps, creme de cassis, and orange & cranberry juice.
  20. The first rule of this nonalcoholic drink? Don’t talk about it. The second rule? All it needs is a wedge.
  21. An intoxicating British cocktail of gin, sweet vermouth, and orange juice is at the root of youth violence in a futuristic dystopia.
  22. Two musicians witness a mob hit, don some women’s clothes, and sugary-sweet talk an all-female band into letting them hide out with them on the road and drink warm greasy beverages.
  23. Sad-sack bank robbers plan their getaway over vodka and grapefruit juice served in brackish highball glasses.
  24. You’ll need a few shots of top-shelf French liquor just to get through this new S&M erotic romance, coming in 2014. So to speak.
  25. A spoonful of sugar does not help the tomato juice and vodka go down.
  26. A young bride-to-be wonders which of three men could be her father. So she makes them each a drink of Kahlua, rum, coconut liqueur, lemon, and pineapple juice. Whichever man swallows the ridiculously contrived premise is her real father, and the winner takes it all.
  27. A young boy travels the world, viewing the scenery through his fuzzy navel.
  28. Tomorrow is another day to enjoy Amaretto, pineapple juice, and orange juice over ice, if you give a damn.

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few-good-men-jack-nicholson_480_posterYou want answers? You can’t handle the answers!

But, if you insist – click here to get the answers and your score.

AND – if you’ve got some Movie Mixology questions of your own, send them to me and I’ll add them to the quiz and give you all the credit!

My Triumphant Return

September 30, 2013

To blogging, that is. I know I’ve been slacking off. I’ve just been so busy setting up my new house, working two part-time jobs, and trying to find a full-time job, that the blog has gone on the back burner. But l believe I’ve finally settled into enough of a routine that I can find a few minutes every now and then to poke a few words out on the ol’ bloggarino.

To catch everyone up: I moved to the Cleveland area in May of this year to join my husband, who’s been living here since last September. We started building our house in May, and we moved in at the beginning of August. I spent two and a half months in a pretty-bad apartment kitchen, using kitchen tools provided by the rental furnishings company. Luckily I was smart enough to pack my own knives, baking stones, and 12″ skillet, so it could have been a lot worse. But – it was a royal pain the ass not having access to my favorite tools. I missed my stand mixer and my food processor most of all.

Anyway, it was all worth it in the end. I have a pretty amazing kitchen now, and all of my beloved kitchen accessories are here, nestled in the ample cabinet space. Here  are a few shots of my new cooking digs:

The wide shot, taken from the living room

The wide shot, taken from the living room

The view from the dining room

Kitchen4

I love my kitchen rug.

Kitchen3

You can peek into the dining room here

So, since I have a great kitchen, I have really gotten back into cooking. I’ve got a freezer full of goodies, and I am looking forward to sharing recipes with you all. The majority of the recipes I’ve been making are healthy – I recently joined Weight Watchers, and I am thrilled to report that as of last Friday, I have successfully ditched 10% of my body weight! More to go, but I am so excited about my success this time around.

For now, I will share a link to my most recent post for From Scratch Club, a regional food/DIY community that I started writing for when I lived back in NY. They’re happy to keep me writing, and I’m happy they don’t mind that I’m 500 miles away.  It’s a recipe for Slow-Cooker Apple Cinnamon Steel Cut Oatmeal, and it’s pretty fantastic!

I’ve missed you! How have you been??

Homebuilding, Day 35

July 3, 2013

On June 27 we met with our project manager, for our “Pre-Drywall Meeting”. Basically, just to go over where all of the electrical and plumbing was installed, to make sure everything is where we wanted it to be. A few days before, we met with the home security company, who will be installing our security system and SURROUND SOUND SYSTEM in the living room. I’m a little excited about that.

We are only about 5-6 weeks from completion at this point.

Next stop, drywall!

Interior wth Stairs 0615

Come on in!

Family Room_Small

Family room, with fireplace

Upstairs Guest Bath_Small

Upstairs guest bathroom
Stairs to Second Floor_Small

Stairs to the second floor

Morning Room Slider Door_Small

Morning Room (dining room) with view of eventual back yard

Master Bedroom_Small

Master bedroom, with a peek into the master bathroom

Master Bedroom Walkin closet_Small

This is going to be our walk-in closet – almost as large as the other bedrooms!

Master Bedroom Broken Window_Small

Oops! We already have a broken window in the bedroom.

Master Bathroom Jacuzzi_Small

Bob’s Jacuzzi tub, in the Master Bath. He will probably never leave this room.

Master Bath Shower_Small

The shower in the Master Bath

Living Room_Small

The front living room

Kitchen View to Garage_Small

The view from the kitchen to the garage

Kitchen Vent_Small

Kitchen stove vent. I’m sure you all find this photo RIVETING

Kitchen Morning Room_Small

The kitchen and morning room (dining room)

Kitchen Ceiling Recessed Lights_Small

Recessed lighting in the kitchen

Garage_Small

The garage drain. Pure excitement.

Homebuilding, Days 16-23

June 29, 2013

I am wofeully behind in posting these house updates! So many things have happened since the foundation was poured a few weeks ago.  It finally looks like a house now – framed and wrapped!

First, the lumber was delivered June 6 or so:

Lumber Delivery2 June8_Small

Lumber Delivery June8_Small

And before we knew it, the house was really starting to look like a house (this photo was taken June 15)! It’s amazing how quickly a dedicated building team can get a house constructed. This is a lot of the reason we decided to build with Ryan Homes.

Exterior June 15_Small

I cannot believe that I’ll be living in here in just a couple short months!

Next : plumbing and electrical start going in!

If you would like to get a peek at our home type (Venice) as well as some of the other homes in our growing neighborhood, check out Ryan Homes’ website for the Liberty Ledges community. I can only hope I can decorate our house as nicely as some of the home models in the photos.

Homebuilding, Day 9: Laying the Foundation

June 3, 2013

Lot 20 Official Construction Start Date: Friday, May 24

Bob and I stopped by the ol’ homestead on Saturday, to see the progress on the foundation. Look like the walls were poured, and things are starting to take shape. What I learned today: it is dangerous and dumb to try to walk on construction sites wearing flip-flops.

Foundation 1

Ground level view, from the future driveway

It's a bird's eye view of the eventual Man Cave. You can almost smell the pizza and hot wings, can't you?

It’s a bird’s eye view of the eventual Man Cave. You can almost smell the pizza and hot wings, can’t you?

Our project manager called last night to tell us that the lumber should be arriving either Tuesday or Wednesday, and they’ll start framing the house then. Almost time to start picking out new curtains!

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