Cleveland Recap – Day 1

Disclosure: I was invited on a two night/three day blogger tour of Cleveland in exchange for writing about my experience. Opinions in this and other related posts are 100% my own. 

I was thrilled to be contacted by Positively Cleveland to participate in their Blogger Buddy Initiative where they pair a visiting blogger with a Cleveland blogger to tour Cleveland. I’ll be honest, I didn’t really have an opinion of Cleveland before this trip, other than I knew that’s where the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame was. I had been there twice before for Yankees/Indians games and had gone to the game and immediately back home, not taking time to explore the city.

In a lot of ways, Cleveland reminds me of Detroit, we are both underdogs, but are full of great people that want to see the city succeed. Speaking of great people, I want to introduce my amazing tour guides for this Cleveland trip. These women were fantastic and are true ambassadors for their city.

Gina Prodan Kelly

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Gina launched Unmiserable Cleveland after Forbes published an article in 2010 naming Cleveland as America’s most miserable city (Detroit was number four in case you are wondering). From what I saw during this weekend was nothing could be further from the truth and with people like Gina, Katie and Stephanie championing the city soon everyone will know it. Check out Gina’s mission statement here.

Katie O’Keefe

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Katie is a wonderful lover of art, culture and life. She is a fantastic tour guide and lover of Cleveland. If you want to know more about the real Cleveland then she is the one you should talk to. Katie has a blog called Forest City Forever if you want to know more.

Stephanie Sheldon

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Stephanie is the founder of the Cleveland Flea, which is sort of like an urban flea market, maker faire and food truck rally all wrapped into one. I got to experience a mini flea during my trip and it was so much fun!

Now that I have introductions out of the way, I want to share my first night in Cleveland with you.

Gina and I started our night by taking a walking tour of the city:

viewWe then headed off to a great restaurant that is known for farm to table style food, called Spice Kitchen + Bar to meet up with Katie and Stephanie.

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The food was delicious, in particular the Polenta Chickpea fries were so good! I loved the atmosphere of Spice, this would be a great place for dinner and drinks with girlfriends.

cleveland collage 1I had a blast getting to know everyone!

Cleveland collage 2After dinner, we decided to hit Mitchell’s Ice Cream, which is this delicious handmade ice cream made right in the store! It was so delicious! You also get to see the inside of the factory – they have a little viewing area where you can watch the magic happen.

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I had a triple scoop of vanilla, rocky road and birthday cake:

ice creamOn the way back to the hotel, we got to drive around the city and I got to learn more about the city. We drove over the Hope Memorial Bridge where I got to see the Guardians of Traffic. There are eight figures carved into the bridge that represent the technological advances in transportation. Each guardian holds a different type of vehicle and they look like they are modeled after Hermes, the messenger of the Greek gods known for his speed. We drove by them so quickly I didn’t get a picture, but I was able to find a picture for you:

Image courtesy of Cleveland State Library Special Collections

Image courtesy of Cleveland State Library Special Collections

We made one more pass through Cleveland’s Playhouse Square in the theater district so I could see the giant outdoor chandelier. According to Guinness, at 20 feet, this is the world’s largest chandelier. This is brand new – they just lit the chandelier on May 2.

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playhouse square Collage

I had a great first night in Cleveland and I can’t wait to share the rest of the weekend with you! Stay tuned for the Day 2 and Day 3 recaps.

For more information on Cleveland, visit Positively Cleveland.


Traverse City Wedding Recap – Day 3

Day three of our Traverse City trip, was the day of the wedding. The girls had to be up early for hair and makeup. We weren’t that impressed with the salon that we went to and our bride wasn’t very happy with her wedding day makeup. She asked me if I wouldn’t mind doing her makeup and I was so honored! Wedding makeup is a big deal and I wanted to make sure and do a good job.

I was glad I had an extra pair of lashes and brought the good stuff, whew!

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She looked SO beautiful and I got a little emotional (shocker to anyone who knows me, ha!):

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The wedding was on the beach and so much fun. Their vows were so sweet and I couldn’t be happier for my friend! This picture is of the bridesmaids watching Tracy walk down the aisle:

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This is a picture of all of us with Tracy:

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John and I had such an amazing time in Traverse City! I think John’s favorite part was the Moomer’s ice cream sandwiches they had at the hotel (they were pretty amazing):

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So ladies and gentleman, that concludes Weddingpalooza 2014! We had such a blast and are so happy for all of our friends.

If you missed the first and second day recap, click here.


Traverse City Wedding Recap – Days 1 & 2

I know it was about a month ago, but I wanted to recap my fourth and final wedding of the season. It was a great way to kick off the summer and we had a blast. I’ve mentioned my friend Tracy on the blog before and I was so honored to be part of her special day. If you’ve never been to Traverse City before, hopefully this will convince you to take the trip.

On Thursday, Tracy and her fiance (now husband) treated the bridal party and their dates to a wine tour around Traverse City. We went to some of our favorites and a few places I hadn’t been before. Traverse City is special because the wineries fall on the 45th parallel, which is the halfway point between the Equator and the North Pole.

John and I started our trip with breakfast and a mimosa (because there’s always time for a mimosa).

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We started our tour at Blackstar Farms, which has its own inn and winery. If you like sweet wines, this is the place for you. I didn’t find a ton of wines that I liked, because I usually prefer wines that aren’t so sweet anymore. I ended up settling on the 2011 Isidor’s Choice Pinot Noir. If you’ve been following my wines you will probably laugh because I am a sucker for a good Pinot Noir. As I was reading the tasting notes I noticed that this wine will age well for 5-10 years, so I will have to get this in the wine fridge.

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Our next stop was 45 North, where I am a wine club member. We set it up to pick up our wine shipment while we were there and I couldn’t help but get more of the Unwooded Chardonnay. They don’t even have this one on the website, so I wonder if it is already sold out. It was definitely my favorite and I would share a picture, but I already drank both bottles.

Our third stop was at Blustone Vineyards, which was a new one for me. The tasting room was beautiful and very open with lots of glass walls. I chose the Pinot Noir Rose, which our host told me they nicknamed the “porch pounder.” I also got some of the 2012 Naked Chardonnay. I am a huge fan of these unoaked and unwooded chardonnays that are popular right now. This is a picture of us outside of the tasting room:

blustone

Our next stop was at L. Mawby, which I’ve featured before here. Their tasting room is a ton of fun and the presentation is great! You get to pick what wines you want to try and they give you a tasting plate. I tried the Jadore and Domaine and got them both – so good!

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Our last stop was at Chateau de Leelanau, where I settled on the 2012 Peach Fizz. It’s like a Bellini in a bottle!

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We had a great time on the wine tour and it was such a lovely gift from the bride and groom!

On Friday, we recovered from the wine tour and went to the rehearsal dinner, which was a bonfire on the beach!

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John and I got a great picture and we were photobombed by the family of geese that were hanging around all weekend:

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Stay tuned for the wedding recap!

Have you been to Traverse City before? What are your favorite places to visit?


Washington Wedding Recap – Day 3

Day three of our trip was the day of the wedding so we were jam-packed with fun activities. First up, I had a little fun at the Willow’s Lodge spa with a heavenly massage. This was their outdoor jacuzzi:

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After my massage, I met up with my gal pals to tour more wineries (yay!). We started at the Alexandria Nicole tasting room. I have to give a big shout out to my cute preggo friends for being such troopers and going wine tasting with us even though they couldn’t have any.

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At Alexandria Nicole, we got the 2013 Roussane, which will make the perfect summer wine for our deck.

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Next up was the Bookwalter Cellars, which I loved because of the book theme. We got the 2012 Subplot 28 which was a great red blend.

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There was a food truck right outside of Bookwalter’s and we were able to get some lunch and enjoy more of Bookwalter’s wines! We had a great time:

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Our final stop for the day was Patterson Cellars. I got the 2012 Forbidden White and the Due Anni Red Blend.

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After the last stop it was back to the hotel to prepare for the wedding. John and I were finally able to take our third anniversary photo since we were all dressed up:

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The wedding was beautiful and I couldn’t be happier for my dear friend Amanda and her new husband Michael. She was just stunning. This was one of her photos from C2 Photography.

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We had a great time in Washington and would love to visit again.

A note of warning to anyone who decides to visit Seattle wine country – this isn’t like Napa, where the hotel will ship your wine for you. If you don’t get it to a special shipping facility during the week you will have to take it back in your suitcase because UPS/FedEx won’t ship it back for you. So keep that in mind if you are going on a wine shopping spree.

If you missed Day 2, click here for the recap.

Washington Wedding Recap – Day 2

On Day Two of our Washington Trip, we visited a few wineries in Woodinville. We started with the infamous Chateau Ste. Michelle:

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The winery was located in its own estate, there was a beautiful chateau and it was a very scenic area. It would have been a great place to picnic at or sit outside and enjoy some wine. We had a tight schedule that day, so we didn’t have a ton of time to hang about. Chateau Ste. Michelle is famous for its Rieslings. I used to be a huge Riesling fan, but lately I don’t like some of the really sweet stuff. We did buy some of the Sauvignon Blanc from the Horse Heaven Vineyard. We may have purchased more, but I think we drank it during the trip, so this is the only bottle I have left.

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In the back of Chateau Ste. Michelle, there is a winery within a winery. This was intriguing to me because it was in this little room made entirely of glass. This picture doesn’t really do it justice:

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Our hostess at Chateau St. Michelle was telling us about this winery run by the Antinori family who has been making wine since 1385. I am a sucker for a good history lesson and we had to go check this one out. The winery is called Col Solare and runs in partnership with Chateau St. Michelle. They only have three wines available, the 2008 Col Solare, 2009 Col Solare and the 2009 Shining Hill.

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This wine was amazing and if they would have had a wine club I probably would have joined it. We bought one of each at this winery and I am excited because they are a number of restaurants in my area that carry this wine, plus it is available at one of the local markets by our house.

After our visit to Chateau St. Michelle, we stopped at Airfield Winery, where the wedding would be held, to get a sneak peak. This tasting room was PERFECT for our friends’ wedding. He is a Marine and a pilot and she is a Navy Physiologist. One of the hosts at the tasting room gave us a little history about the winery. The vineyard is located in the Rattlesnake Mountains in the Yakima Valley within three miles of an airbase used in World War II.

Throughout the course of the weekend, we purchased the Pinot Noir, Bombshell Red, Ruby Rose and Flygirl White. We also joined The Officer’s Wine Club so we could have a great memory of this weekend.

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After this tasting we drove out to Seattle to meet John’s fraternity brother for a Mariners/Tigers game at SafeCo field. I was so happy to see these guys reunited. Plus this added to our list of baseball fields that we can cross off the list.

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We had a ton of fun on Day 2!

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Stay tuned for Day 3 of our Washington Wedding!

If you missed Day 1, click here for the recap.


Washington Wedding Recap – Day 1

I may have mentioned in a previous post that we had four weddings to attend this spring. This is the third wedding we went to a few weeks ago for our friends Amanda and Michael. It was a big one as we got to travel to Seattle, Washington for the first time.

John and I had a few extra days before the wedding to check out some sights, so as soon as our plane landed we decided to check out Pike Place Market in downtown Seattle. We had fun checking out the marketplace and trying fresh fruit. I even tried a Plout (Plum & Apricot) and it was delicious!

We had lunch at the famous Pike Place Chowder, a.k.a. “Nation’s Best Chowder.” I tried the Southwest Chicken Corn Chowder and I could definitely see why they are known for their chowder!

pike place chowder

After lunch and exploring, we headed out to Woodinville, to check in at Willow’s Lodge, our home for the next few days. This resort was gorgeous! Our room was amazing with it’s own fireplace and balcony.

willows lodge

Our room turned out to be right next door to a few friends that we hadn’t seen since our wedding. We had a great time catching up over some wine while we were waiting for the rest of the group to arrive.

Anne jen and me

john and stefan

For dinner we all walked right next door to Redhook Brewery and we were able to meet up with another one of my husband’s fraternity brothers that we hadn’t seen in about five years. I was so happy that we got to meet up with them! I tried the Blonde Ale of course, YUM!

Redhook

Stay tuned for the next recap including wineries and the wedding!

For more travel posts, click here.


My Vegas Style Challenge

I was recently challenged by Vegas.com to create my dream day and wardrobe at the Aria Resort & Casino. For those of you who know me, you know how much I LOVE Las Vegas! This was right up my alley and I had so much fun putting this together. I usually take an annual trip to Las Vegas, but I haven’t taken my 2014 trip yet. This was a fun opportunity to get some ideas for my next trip.

The Aria is a beautiful luxury hotel. I’ve never stayed there, but I did get the opportunity to check it out two trips ago when we saw Cirque de Soleil’s Zarkana.

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If I was staying at the Aria, here is what a typical day might look like for me and the girls:

First up, we need breakfast, and the Aria Cafe is the perfect choice. It is open 24 hours and is casual with a variety of different foods (including breakfast). The cool thing about the Cafe is that the stones that decorate the walls are from the old Boardwalk hotel that used to be there.

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For breakfast, I would go casual in a crocheted back maxi dress from Felicity & Coco ($78) with this Coach Metro Eyelet Leather Tote Bag ($269.99) and these Michael Kors Sondra Sandals ($99):

Aria Cafe Breakfast

After breakfast, we would hit The Spa at Aria.

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To lounge at the spa, I would wear this Badgley Mischka Dip Back Maillot Swimsuit ($114):

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We would grab some lunch at Five50 Pizza Bar followed by shopping at Crystals.

five50

crystals

After shopping we will have to get glammed up for an evening out on the town. I would love to wear this Guess Cap Sleeve Bandage Dress ($158) with the Badgley Mischka Harvey II ($235), Tory Burch Reva Clutch ($375), my Teardrop Chandelier Earrings ($22.95) and Pave Bracelet ($52):

Dinner at Aria

For dinner, I’m getting a steak at Jean Georges Steakhouse and we would end the night dancing our hearts out at Haze Nightclub:

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Before passing out for the night, I would slip into this Body by Victoria Supersoft Lace Trim PJ Set ($55):

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What would your perfect night out in Las Vegas look like? Share your looks using #MyVegasStyle.


Five on Friday: Luggage Edition

It’s time for another edition of Five on Friday with A Liz AdventuresThe Good Life BlogHello Happiness and Carolina Charm.

5 on Friday Logo - Final

The hubby and I have been traveling a lot lately and we need new luggage! We sort of have a mismatched rag tag gang of bags that we use for our trips. This last trip my bag was much bigger than it needed to be, but that was the only nice one we had. So I decided that for today’s Five on Friday I would find some new luggage that I could get for my next trip.

1. Nine West Luggage Fast Track 3 Piece Hardside Set ($359.99)

I’ve never had hardside luggage before, so I would love to hear what the pros and cons are. I loved that these were hot pink on one side and black on the back.

nine west

2. Jessica Simpson Snake Twister Hardside Collection ($509.97)

I love this collection. So girlie and definitely noticeable on the luggage carousel. There are three pieces, a 20″, 24″ and 28″.

jessica simpson

3. Nicole Miller NY Animal Instinct Luggage Collection in Burgundy ($349.96)

This might be my favorite collection and the prices are very reasonable. There are four pieces, a 16 inch field bag and 20, 24 and 28 inch expandable spinners.

Nicole miller

4. GUESS? Logo Affair Spinner Luggage ($1,920)

I liked the look of this luggage and there are six different pieces available, a 19 inch tote bag, shopper tote, 20 inch rolling duffel, 21 inch carry on spinner, 25 inch spinner and a 29 inch spinner.

guess

5. Michael Kors Signature Carry On ($798)

I had to add one splurge piece, which is this Michael Kors Signature Carry On. You could even get the matching bag!

michael kors

What are your favorite luggage pieces?

For more Five on Friday posts click here.

Weekend Recap: Chicago Anniversary Trip

For Memorial Day weekend, we took a little jaunt to Chicago to celebrate our anniversary and spend some time together. We had a blast and it was so much fun to get away!

We decided to drive down – it’s about a five hour drive – and had a great time on our little road trip.

We made it!

We made it!

We stayed at the SpringHill Suites Chicago Downtown/River North and they were great! They comped us a free bottle of wine because we were celebrating our anniversary and made a great reservation for us at Flemings.

Flemings did a great job and gave us a box of truffles and $25 gift card for our next visit! I have to say that on these anniversary trips people really roll out the red carpet for us. We are so blessed that people love celebrating our anniversary with us!

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After dinner we took a night cruise on the Chicago River through Shoreline Sightseeing at Navy Pier. I had never been to Navy Pier before and it was awesome! So much fun and the cruise ended with fireworks over an amazing view!

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IMG_5508.JPG-1On Sunday, we went to US Cellular Field to see the Yankees play the White Sox. Derek Jeter was on and the Yanks kicked some butt. I had such a great time at the game! After the game we had dinner at a Brazilian steakhouse called Fogo de Chao and it was delicious!

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On Monday, we had a great brunch at Eggsperience. They provided quite a spread (another awesome recommendation from our hotel):

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After the last trip where we forgot our leftover deep dish pizza, we decided to stop by Pizzeria Uno and pick up a deep dish pizza to go. It made for a great dinner after the five hour drive back home!

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We had a wonderful time on our little getaway and I can’t wait for our next few trips this summer!

We can’t wait to go back to Chicago! What are your favorite things to do in the Windy City?

5 on Friday: Road Trip Edition

It’s time for another edition of Five on Friday with A Liz AdventuresThe Good Life BlogHello Happiness and Carolina Charm.

I was challenged by Relay Rides to participate in their Road Trip Essentials campaign and come up with my must have road trip items. Relay Rides is a really cool company. It’s a peer-to-peer  car rental service where you can rent other people’s cars instead of doing a car rental or you can make extra money on the side by renting out your car when you aren’t using it. What a great way to save or make some extra cash!

This could not have come at a better time because we are heading out to Chicago this weekend and we have a few additional road trips this summer. Here are some of my favorite road trip essentials:

polyvore travel

1. Smartfood White Cheddar Popcorn

This is my absolute favorite snack in the world. I could eat this all day and all night. I usually try to save it for a road trip, but it is delicious!

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2. Starbucks Refreshers

So John and I are terrible at road trips. We both get in the car and instantly want to fall asleep. I hope that bodes well for our future children that they will pass out in the car. Caffeine is extremely important for both of us when we are taking a road trip and my favorite is Starbucks’ refreshers. I don’t drink coffee or tea and these are the perfect beverage for me!

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3. Donna Karan Cashmere Mist

When you go on a road trip you spend a lot of time in the car. I have found that Donna Karan’s Cashmere Mist Deodarant is the best item to have on hand in these situations. It will keep you fresh and smelling amazing for the rest of your trip.

Donna Karan Cashmere Mist Deodorant

4. Coach Nylon Signature Duffle Weekender Bag Tote

I got a Coach Duffle Bag in black at the Coach Outlet a few years back and I LOVE it. It is durable and perfect for road trips. I was trying to find a similar one online and stumbled across one in fuschia! I may have to invest in this one too!

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5. RocketFish Lighted Cable

During a road trip I can’t put my iPhone down, whether it’s listening to my podcasts, playing my Oregon Trail game or checking Facebook, I need my phone to last for the whole trip. I just bought this new charger cable for myself and it lights up and is awesome!

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What are your favorite road trip items?

For more Five on Friday posts click here.


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