Wednesday, January 30, 2013

father daughter

I'm not sure who was more excited when my husband was asked to the Father Daughter Dance last Saturday.  Me or him.

He was asked by 15 year-old Cerina whose own father passed away six years ago.  This was her first dance.  This was my husband's first dance, too (Baptist kid).  I volunteered to chauffeur and take pictures and be the giddy third wheel.  We bought Cerina a wrist corsage made of white roses and baby's breath, with white netting and vermillion-colored ribbon.  She and her mom bought Chris a boutonnière and a colorful Jerry Garcia tie (with matching tie tack), and gave me a bouquet of wild flowers.  

Seeing all of the men in suits, with their young ladies wearing pretty dresses (there were even a few sparkly tiaras), was so sweet. They each had their photos taken at the door, and were offered a variety of cookies and juice as the night went on.

Connie King, one of the moms in our church, is a professional dance teacher.  She used to teach students in California, some of whom went on to dance in the public eye.  Her most famous student is Universal Ballroom Champion, Victor Fung, who appeared on "Dancing with the Stars."  She is a talented instructor, and I was amazed at how she taught the dads/grandpas/uncles and daughters/granddaughters/nieces to swing, merengue and waltz in just over an hour.  By the end of the evening, each couple was smiling and laughing and dancing the moves they learned.

And twirling.  Lots of twirling.

Following his lead.

Chris was a perfect gentleman and Cerina beamed the entire evening.  We wanted her to feel so special and loved.  It was an honor to help make this night happen, and to be part of Cerina's history.  To quote my dad, "Chris proves that chivalry is not dead and wears a goatee."

Now, bring me those feet, Pops.  I haven't danced on them in years! 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


We were invited to a dinner party on Sunday, with this request: bring an appetizer to share.  I love requests like this because it makes me want to try new recipes.

This is the one I made on Sunday, found here.  I promise you the finished product looked prettier than my photo.

Also, I used romaine hearts (cut in half), instead of endive, and had the guests serve their own.  It was a light and refreshing starter that everyone responded well to.  I added salt, pepper and seasoned rice vinegar, and brought a bottle of sriracha hot sauce - adding a nice dab of spice for those who dared.

Shrimply delicious! 

Monday, January 28, 2013


Amanda has a bouncy head of curls.  People often compliment her for her natural waves.  They work well with her bouncy personality, but there is a little part of me that's wanted to see her hair straight.

Just once.

Well, today I got my wish.

After much protest, I finally wore her down convinced her to have it done.  This morning, she (willingly!) came with me to my hair appointment.  She was timid at first, but warmed up to the idea by the time Lisa put the flat iron away.  Amanda was  adorable during the process, fussing here and there, but seeing the styling to the end. The finished look is beautiful.

My cut was more subtle.  I just needed my layers sassed up and some swing put back in my mane.  Happy Monday!

“People always ask me how long it takes to do my hair. I don’t know, I’m never there.” 
- Dolly Parton

police blotter: 2012

Welcome to Ohio.

Friday, January 25, 2013

80s edition

Give me a theme and I will rise to the occasion, especially when it comes to my youth kids.  I'm an animated person normally, so dressing up in a costume isn't daunting for me.

Remember the Pink Lady and Evie Suave?

Our past two youth game nights (aka Sunday Night Live) were 80s themed.  If you're my age or older, you lived through the 80s with vivid recall.  I remember wearing off-the-shoulder tops and side ponytails as early as elementary school with big bangs and feathered hair befriending me in junior high.  I loved fashion back then!  In my memory, I had the coolest wide belts and mini skirts (mini = lower mid-thigh), and all of that clunky jewelry. Brand names were important to me, but my parents didn't have a lot of money.  So, I had my one pair of white Guess jeans, my one pair of white Keds, a pink Venezia sweater top, and my Esprit book bag that I carried everywhere until it wore holes in the bottom.

Between you and me, I thought I made up the word "dudical."  

Also, I'm not sure if you've noticed, but 80s fashion has returned to the mainstream (slouchy shirts cinched with woven belts, neon tees, leggings, button-down tops knotted at the midriff, popped collars, and denim!).  Seeing these styles come back is like doing a double-take with my pre-teen self.  Coolots, anyone? 

The kids who attended our game nights were mini Don Johnson and Madonna lookalikes with a splash of Flashdance.  Even the Atari game system and Steve Urkel (circa 1989) were there!

My costume for last year's 80s SNL was Punky Brewster:

© photo credit: Emily Deck

This year I showed up as Smurfette:

Other participants included the gang from Napoleon Dynamite and Rainbow Brite:

© photo credit: Emily Deck


© photo credit: Emily Deck

We almost ended both events without injury, until the last half hour when someone broke a light fixture and someone else sprained their wrist.  Good thing we have a sense of humor, a nurse on-hand, and liability forms.

Like, totally.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

fresh starts

It has been a momentous 48 hours.

First, Chris replaced our church's grand piano with a fancy keyboard. The piano was old and constantly going out of tune.  It was a well-loved instrument that represented ten years of history.  But the scenery on our church stage is changing (smaller pulpit, fabric panels, musicians rearranged), and I think our ability to embrace new things as a congregation is changing.

Surely, there will be stories told about that piano as years goes by, namely all of the times showman, Randy Estelle, came and put it through its paces.  He had a way of turning a classical piece into something out of a rock concert or Broadway musical.  My husband doesn't have that same kind of flair when he plays, but he does play well, and he got to initiate the new keyboard during both services on Sunday.

Second, we got more snow!  Today we are predicted to have a high of 9 (single digit!) degrees.  Shiver me happy.

Thirdly, did you watch the inauguration?

I was with a client during the event, but I've watched pieces of it online, and listened to commentary on the radio.  I thought the president gave a beautiful speech.  He stated that a second term represents a "fresh start."  I like that.

Plus, I'm crazy about the First Lady (her new bangs are adorable!).  I also admire Obama for being publicly inaugurated on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.  When I heard that he placed his hand on two Bibles while renewing his oath (one belonging to Abraham Lincoln and the other belonging to Dr. King), I cried.

Fresh starts.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


Our neighbors came over last night and brought us drinks from Starbucks.  They also brought us their "Save the Date" card for an August wedding.  We had fun reminiscing about their engagement on Valentine's Day.  They surprised us that night with the news and we toasted them with prosecco.  Aren't they cute?  We adore Josh & Kelly, and consider ourselves lucky to have them next door.  Hubby is actually officiating the wedding!

By the way, they found a home for Earl's stray cat they named Pearl.

Love is a grande order of sweet, don't you think?  With whipped cream and a drizzle of chocolate sauce on top.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

bless your heart

You knew it was coming: the phrase, "Bless your heart."

It seems to be the expression that comes to mind whenever I describe the midwest to folks who've never lived in the midwest.  Not meaning to sound condescending, it's a phrase that says so much with few words.  The people we've met here are generous and kind, hardworking and gracious.  They bake a lot, and the food they cook keeps your insides warm for a whole winter.

We experienced this over the weekend, as the dinner guests of Tom and Erva Perz.  Every December, they invite each of their family member's families and the pastors and their wives over for dinner, all on separate nights.  I imagine this takes up most of the month (with a few stragglers - like us - coming in the new year).  Erva cooked us Shepherd's Pie, a layered salad with Miracle Whip, followed by a Chocolate Eclair Cake and flavored coffee for dessert.  Erva says the Shepherd's Pie is tradition.

I call it "Bless your heart" food.

Their house was decorated floor to ceiling in Christmas swag.  Even their pet dog wore a red and white dress to greet us.  They had a ceramic nativity set displayed on the wood burning stove and a life-size version lit up on their lawn.  Their Christmas tree was adorned with twinkle lights, beaded garland, and an assortment of snowflakes and teacher-themed ornaments from various decades, thanks to Erva's 35 years as an educator.  Holiday globes lined the foot of the stove, a "Happy Birthday Jesus" sign draped over the fireplace, and various snowman and holly patterned pillows lined their couches. Apparently, we were the last of their holiday dinner guests, so they kept the decorations up just for us.  

Erva found me at church today, thanked me again for our company, and gave me a bag with her homemade fudge inside and a handwritten recipe card for the eclair cake.

Bless her heart.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

surprise party

The last time I threw a big surprise party for my man was the year he turned 30.  We were newlyweds, so I didn't actually believe him when he said he didn't like surprise parties.  I thought he was just being cute.  I thought everything he did back then was cute.

Turns out, he doesn't like surprise parties.

Thankfully, I can chalk that one up to being love-blind.  On the outside, the party was well-planned and well-attended.  And well-received (by everyone else).  While my husband was blessed by all of the kind things people said to him and the funny stories and memories they shared, I'm pretty sure he had about nine different escape routes planned on the off-chance he was able to get away. Get away, he didn't.  But, he did stay married to me.

And I never threw him another big surprise party.  Oh sure, I surprise him with something for his birthday every single year (I don't give up that easily), but I give it at least ten months' worth of thought before the actual execution.

(Funny how the word 'execution' also means killing.) 

So, this time around, I planned a stay in Cleveland, including visits to touristy spots we'd both wanted to see.

Friday night included dinner in Little Italy with our friends, Dan & Rachel, and an overnight at the University Circle Bed & Breakfast.  A classy older lady named Martha was our proprietor.  The moment we arrived, she sat us down in her plush antiqued living room and wanted to know all about us.  She had her own stories to share about her travels, family, and Cleveland history.  She made us chicken & waffles in the morning and didn't mind my hugs.

While in Little Italy, we dined on stuffed banana peppers, steamed mussels, and an assortment of pastas at Maxi's.  I ate my first cannoli at Corbo's Bakery.  Now, I know what all the hype is about.  Give me another!  The next morning, hubby and I walked around the old historical neighborhood of University Circle, and ended at the Cleveland Museum of Art, where we absorbed the visual stylings of over a century's worth of creative talents.  They had one whole room devoted to Pablo Picasso's La Vie.  Our favorite pieces were constructed by modern artists, Damien Hirsute and Anselm Kiefer. You haven't breathed until you've sat in the presence of Bringing Forth the Fruits of Righteousness from Darkness (yes, those are butterflies) and Lot's Wife.

In case you were wondering, the fattest squirrels live in Cleveland.

Side note: I like to get up close to art.  This works fine until you run your nose into the glass encasing a sculpture, causing you to drop your phone onto the laminate flooring in a quiet room. Strange how I didn't notice that many security guards when we entered the building.

For lunch, we walked to Euclid Avenue for lentil soup and samosas, then checked in on the newly built Museum of Contemporary Art. The ticket prices were more than we wanted to spend that afternoon, which limited our visit to marveling at the design of the building and perusing the gift shop (we'll be back).  But, thanks to one of my clients, we had two free tickets to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, so we returned to the B&B, packed our things, said our goodbyes to Martha and headed downtown.  The facility itself was a sight to behold. Since meeting our friend, Dan (an architect), I find myself paying closer attention to the exterior of a building, as much as I do the interior. Coincidentally, my husband's favorite progressive rock band, Rush, was just inducted in to the Rock Hall for 2013, an honor that eluded them for over a decade.  Way to go, boys!

Our date came to a close with a walk through the animated Christmas lights of Public Square (where parts of A Christmas Story were filmed, remember Higbee's department store?) and ate dinner at our favorite vegan cafe.

For the record, I still think my husband is cute.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Monday, January 7, 2013


When I was eight, A Christmas Story was released in theatres.

Thanks to an advertisement at a local mall, my family got to attend a pre-screening of the movie.  I even remember filling out a questionnaire at the film's end and writing in all capital letters, "HILARIOUS!!"  True story.

Did you know that A Christmas Story was filmed in Cleveland?

You might recall me mentioning the house-turned-museum in an earlier post.  We've visited most of the other venues mentioned then, but have yet to make our way inside Ralphie's living room.

Last month we watched the comedy again on the big screen.  It was the first time I can remember seeing it that way since being in the test audience.  Oh, it was marvelous watching the story unfold and recognizing several of the featured landmarks.  Coincidentally, we received a dinner plate for Christmas that boasts an image of Ralphie in his pink bunny suit.  It was a timely gag and one we'll laugh about every time we use it for company.

Anyone want to try sticking their tongue to a flagpole?  It's 30 degrees outside, snow on the ground.

I triple dog dare you.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

let's do this

© photo credit:

Be generous.  Forgive others.  Hope.

Face fears.  Stay hydrated.

Believe in miracles.

Love well.