Small Business Saturday Shopping Guide

Supporting our local small businesses, whether they be adorable boutiques, a coffee spot or favorite bakery, has never been more critical than it has been this year. Many of these businesses were forced to shut down, adapt and maneuver through new restrictions, cleaning requirements and much more. So, I’ve been trying to support my favorite spots as much as possible, whether it’s an extra $20 into the tip jar, or opting to spend a little more money at a boutique vs. going to a bigger box store. Luckily for you, I’ve put together a shopping guide to help support local Cleveland businesses this Small Business Saturday (November 28th) and throughout the holiday season!

Brewella’s is a neighborhood favorite for us because it’s so close to home and delivers delicious treats, like crepes, and always have incredible seasonal menus — I’m anxiously awaiting their Christmas menu to drop! Brewella’s is also home to an incredible vibe with lots of fun and unique collectibles available for purchase. When in doubt, a gift-card is always a great stocking stuffer and easy way to support local.

Home for the Holidays. This pop-up shop always makes a splash each year — and this year you can even shop online and do curbside pick-up! Home for the Holidays curates local vendors and goodies into one place, making it a shop small, shop on steroids. And they’re stocked with gifts for everyone including your furry friends. My personal fave is finding hand painted Cleveland-themed ornaments!

Meatboxlocal brings local, Ohio farmed meats to your front door. This is a great gift that you can ship to friends and family you might not be seeing this season. With a variety of beef and chicken options, this is the perfect way to stay stocked on those meats – while ordering from the comfort of your own home. Plus, the meat is hormone free, grass-fed with free deliveries made weekly within a 50-mile radius from CLE.

Two Cafe & Boutique is truly a treat, for more than one reason! First, it employs individuals with exceptionalities to help bridge them into local workforce. Two, its cafe is farm-to-fork, serving breakfast and lunch with seasonal menus and the freshest ingredients. Three, the boutique sources lines that are for a cause while supporting other businesses in the US. The boutique is also the perfect spot for that hard to get person, a show stopper gift and stocking stuffers.

I’ve been shopping at Lovely Paperie & Gifts and sister store Babycakes Children’s Boutique this entire pandemic — even more than previous years. Why? When I’ve popped in-store to shop, it’s never crowded like big box stores, making this a place I feel safe shopping at! Both of these stores offer special keepsakes, thoughtful gifts and the perfect card for any milestone, holiday or just because. Plus nationwide shipping, in-store or curbside pick-up are available!

Besides finding the perfect gift at any of these spots, grabbing a gift card is another super easy way to instantly support your favorite small biz, and gifting your favorite spot to your favorite people! I’m planning on grabbing smaller amount gift cards from a few other favorite local spots to gift to friends/family and stuff stockings like Nature’s Oasis, Milo & Me, and Mitchell’s Ice Cream. I’m also hoping to shop a few new local spots this year that I’ve been following on Instagram!

And if you’re shopping in person this season, don’t forget your mask, hand sanitizer and a little extra space to those shopping around you!

A Thanksgiving Table for Two

Anyone else staying home this Thanksgiving and keeping it small? B and I are planning to have a traditional feast for two! But we have this giant dining room table, and usually I’m prepping and styling the table for a larger family feast, but it’s different this year. So if any one else is having a dilemma about making a cozier dinner table for two, I’m sharing our transformed dining room, and a few tips to help create a more intimate space at your larger dining room table!

We are planning on cooking half of our meal, while also getting a little help from Whole Foods and a few other local small businesses with some pre-ordered food and desserts — which I’m super excited about! Ok, now to the fun, transforming your dining room…

Cut Your Table in Thirds. First thing I did, was took our pumpkin centerpiece and table runner and basically split the table in thirds. This gave me a smaller space to work with, while still enjoying our fall-centerpiece! This also allows for you to have some additional space for wine, side dishes and other treats, while creating a more intimate space for dinner.

Set-up Place Settings. Next, I set-up our table settings to help designate where B and I would be sitting. I utilized placemats, napkins, plates and silverware that I already had, so it was easy to bring these spaces to life. And of course brought out my new Monique Lhuillier Gabrielle Etched Flutes and coupes, to finish the space for our adult beverages.

Add Finishing Touches. From the gravy boat (so excited to finally use ours for the first time!), to fresh flowers in your favorite glass and candles sprinkled throughout — the only thing left for the day of is the bird and all the delicious sides! Set your radio to some Peggy Lee radio and you’ll be in for a nice, relaxing evening for two.

I must admit, I’m super excited to have our actual Thanksgiving day… and weekend all to ourselves. We signed up to run our local Turkey Trot, virtually so we’ll be able to partake in a quick morning run, before lounging around, eating delicious food and sipping on drinks throughout the day. Then, I think we’ll be getting into the Christmas spirit!

What new traditions are you looking forward to this Thanksgiving?

Celebrating Three Years Married.

B and I are celebrating three years married today! We’ve spent 242 of the last 365 days together in our house, making year three together one to remember. And as much as I always love looking back at our special day becoming Mr. & Mrs. and closing my eyes bringing back those feelings of pure joy and happiness — I also like reflecting on the new year as husband and wife that we have under our belts.

This year has brought on new challenges, for all of us. B has stepped up in a lot of ways, and I’ve been so grateful for that. He’s also learned a bit more about the ebbs and flows of my anxiety, especially my pandemic anxiety. This year has also showed how resilient we both have been to change and adjusting well together over time with the challenges of the pandemic. And a big part of that has been, due to the fact that we’re on the same page, we talk, we ask each other when we need help, take breaks to catch up in the day, look out for each other and still surprise each other with little every day moments.

In this third year together, we’ve become unofficial co-workers, deeply invested in Bravo reruns, have played a lot of Yahtzee, taken more walks with Moz, have stopped setting our alarms on the weekend, we played a lot of golf, took a much-needed risk and jumped on an airplane together, rocked out to Lady Gaga’s Chromatica album more than either one of us may want to admit, and cook at home more than ever.

And as much as I hate the pandemic, and a lot of things about this year — I wouldn’t ever change my partner who I’m so lucky to have next to me day in and day out to talk about all this crazy with, forget about the crazy with, dance and laugh through this life together.

House Anniversary Tour: Our 2020 Projects

We’re celebrating six years as homeowners! Homeowners may be one of the ultimate adulting moves (besides having kids), as it comes with a mixed bag of unknowns that can be really great and really horrible. This year’s house anniversary tour is going to be highlighting the updates we’ve made this year both fun and not so fun, as we definitely tackled a few while we’ve been quarantined at home!

But, before then — I wanted to share a few of our not so great house moments, since homeownership isn’t always rainbows and unicorns. Before we even moved into our house, our refrigerator busted — that was an automatic couple hundred dollars right off that bat that we weren’t planning on! One of the first really cold winters, we came home to frozen pipes in our kitchen! Since then we’ve learned to run the water over night on those super cold days. Did I mention we live in a 100+ year old home?

Fireplace Hearth Makeover. This was a vanity project that we did pretty early on in quarantine, that was a quick weekend win, once we figured out what tile we wanted! We finally got rid of the original red tile and gave it a lighter update, see the fun before and after here.

New Furnace. This was a not so fun one, but something that B really wanted. The last two winter’s we’ve had to make significant finance repairs to our 25-year old furnace, and B had enough with it! He was able to take advantage of getting a more efficient unit for a decent price with the same company who installed our AC the summer of 2018.

Main Bathroom Budget Update. I loved this project — it was intended to be a temporary update on a space that we will most likely eventually gut and completely redo, so we wanted to make sure this was on a lower budget, while also taking care of a few of our pain points, which were a small, generic counter and sink and the yellowy tiles all over the room. My favorite transformation was painting the tile white, it completely transformed the space! Check out the full makeover here.

Sunroom Flat Roof. This was our least fun project, both from finding a company to do the work to the final price tag. But alas, it was definitely a necessity as we had a pretty decent and consistent leak from our flat roof into our sunroom. Long story short, apparently residential flat roofs are an anomaly and there is a variety of verbiage to describe how to fix these which is super confusing as a homeowner. Thank goodness for good friends with dad’s who are roofers 🎉. All in, we had about 6 different companies quote the project, and consumed about a month of our lives for approximately $2,450. But hey, no more leaks!

Backyard Makeover. Oh, I loved this project. It was definitely under estimated of how much of an impact this would actually make — I didn’t realize how much of a sad backyard we had until this project was complete! We added in some custom beds, edging and modern fences to help hide a few ugly things we don’t have control over. I love looking at our backyard now, it’s so pretty! Click to see the full makeover here.

Office Update. Since working from home has become permanent, my at home office definitely needed a little refresh to be a bit more functional for actually being a home office! This project was low budget, and quick which has made the space feel a bit more complete, even though it’s not pink. See my office update, here!

We’ve had six wonderful years at our house, and it’s always so fun to see how far we’ve come and improvements we’ve made along the way. It’s been a staple of fun memories, parties, milestones, late nights and early mornings, it’s been our home sweet home.

Bee’s Champagne Coven Cocktail – Recipe

With Halloween just a few days away, I wanted an easy, delicious and festive halloween cocktail, to sip the night away! And in sticking to my bee routes, I kept it bubble based — and found a recipe that I adapted to give me everything I was looking for, not to mention perfect to serve up to your entire coven.

This creation is essentially a puree for your bubbles, that will add some fun flavors to your cocktail, while giving your bubbles an evil poition-y look! Not to mention it has ginger, fresh lemon and blueberries, so it’s like adding a healthy cleanse to your bubbles, right?

Ingredients:
– 1 Lemon
– 3/4 cup of Blueberries
– 2 TSP of Sugar
– 1 TBS of Ginger (minced)

You’ll also need, a muddler, fine wire strainer and handheld juicer.

Step-by-Step Instructions:
1. In a measuring bowl, add your blueberries, sugar, and freshly squeezed lemon – do this by cutting it in have and juice each half into bowl.
2. Prep your ginger by cutting off the skin so that it’s completely bare — then utilize a garlic mincer to get juice out, finely cut the rest of your ginger – add this to the rest of the ingredients.
3. Once all the ingredients are in your mixing bowl, use a muddler to crush blueberries and mix ingredients together – it will still be a little chunky, but you should have a nice purple color of juice (see middle picture above).
4. This is when you can get your fine mesh strainer, to strain your mixture into a new bowl. I do not have one, so B had the brilliant idea of using the top of a cocktail shaker — this helped strain the puree pretty well!
5. Once it’s all strained, you’re ready to serve! Add a splash of your puree to your champagne flute before adding the bubbles — this helps get a nice mixture. Next, slowly pour your bubbles in, I say slowly because the puree will have a reaction to the bubbles and will overflow. Continue until you’re topped off and then garnish with blueberries to serve!

Cheers witches!






This recipe was inspired by Self Proclaimed Foodie’s Recipe

Latest Obsessions – Old Navy Fall Haul

Earlier in quarantine, I purchased some nicer sweats and athleisure-ware from Old Navy. Now that fall is here, and winter is quickly approaching and WFH-ing and quarantine is still a thing, I figured it was time to stock up on a few additional pieces to get through the winter! So I wanted to share my favorites from my recent Old Navy hauls, and a few pieces I was a little bummed out about. Oh! And I also splurged on a few normal clothes, so I’m sharing those favorites too.

Let’s talk sweatpants. Before quarantine, my sweatpants have consisted of big bulky and very high school sized sweats — ones you don’t go out in public in. I realized that investing in a few nicer pairs, for our evening walks with Moz, target run or doctor’s appointment were needed. For reference, I’m wearing a size Large in the joggers featured, and I’m about 5’6″ and 150lbs.

MUST HAVE – Mid-Rise Breathe On Joggers: These are my absolute favorite! I grabbed these earlier in the year in a rose pink color, and recently snatched up another pair in light grey. They’re silky, have pockets and I like pulling them up around my ankles for a sportier look, plus they’re about belly button height so work well with a comfy crop.

Mid-Rise Sweater Knit Joggers: Compared to the breathe joggers, these are definitely a bit cozier given the sweater knit nature. They are also a bit thinner, but overall the same sort of style and fit as the breathe joggers — and also feature pockets! I have these in the Jet Stream green color, and I love the mix-up as I’m typically a go-to black person when it comes to my athleisure bottoms.

RETURN NOTICE: I loved these MC-Hammer-esq high-waisted elevate powersoft joggers but they just didn’t do it for me once I put them on. I think an XL would’ve given me the look I wanted, but the Large gave me a bit of camel toe, when I pulled it up to where it needed to be — and I just wasn’t feelin’ it.

Now that we have the bottoms figured out, I love a few of Old Navy’s essential and classic tops.

Vintage Crew Neck Sweatshirt: This is also an essential that I love. I am waiting for the ‘More Love’ Heather Gray sweatshirt to arrive, as I plan on returning the Navy Stripe with heart, because I don’t love how it lines up at the bottom. I have a few other colors from earlier this year as well, and I ordere a size small for a more fitted look that can be dressed down or up with a pair of jeans.

Oversized Slub-Knit Weekend Tee: This loose, crop tee is another fave of mine. It’s definitely a little more oversized – so a size small is roomy and has a nice look especially when paired with high-rise workout pants, like these charcoal snake skin prints. I have the mauve over blush color and just ordered the sea haze.

Loose-Fit Short Sleeve Crop Tee: Since I’m completely obsessed with crop tees, I was excited to find these basic ones in addition to the weekend tee above. This tee doesn’t fit quite as loosely (see above) as the weekend tee does — I got a small, but I would’ve ordered a medium, if I would’ve known — as I definitely like a looser crop fit. Still, a classic and comfy tee to add to the rotation of your athleisure.

Ok! Now for a few REAL clothes and fun looks, that I do break out every now and again especially to enjoy the fall weather and feel a little human.

Cozy Leopard Print V-Neck Cardigan: I ordered this in the grey print and a size medium. It’s a little bigger than maybe I would’ve liked if shopping in person, but it’s still super comfy and a relaxed look. This sweater is so soft, and I love the options it allows buttoning up the front or keeping open. This sweater is also offered as a crew-neck sweater if you don’t want the button up.

Black Mid-Rise Raw-Edge Rockstar Ankle Jeans: These have been a summer and fall favorite, especially with the ripped edge and holes throughout — even though B makes fun of me a bit. They just pair so well with everything, and can easily be dressed up or dressed down, especially with the cozy leopard cardigan — I wear a size 10 in these!

Shop my faves: Crewneck Sweatshirt | Knit Joggers | Breathe On Joggers | Oversized Weekend Tee | Black Jeans | Leopard Cardigan

I may stock up on a few more pieces, but I feel a little more ready for the rest of quarantine and the winter season ahead – especially looking a little more put together, while still being comfortable! Have you picked up any Old Navy favorites lately? If so, leave in the comments below!

House Tour – Our Fall Front Porch

I love decorating our front porch for fall — it is so much fun for me, the colors are incredible the shapes are always different, and I always tend to go a little overboard, but still rein myself in. And because of the stunning floral hoop wreath that is adorning our front door, I definitely wanted to give her a supporting cast of more fall favorites.

As much as I love fall, the thing I love most about fall is the small pumpkin patches and farms I grew up going too. So, one thing, that I’m not sure I’ll ever get ok with, living in/near a city is the lack of traditional pumpkin patches and farms that I’ve known living in a rural farm town. Although we visited my parents earlier in the month, we didn’t get to make it to a pumpkin spot — so I headed to my go-to city spot and stocked up on pumpkins, mums and gourds – to avoid crowds or drive a bit farther out of town.

Besides creating a fun statement on our main front porch around our homemade wooden welcome sign — I also stacked up our steps with mums, pumpkins and even more gourds. If our mailbox wasn’t on our front porch, I would’ve considered doing a complete rainfall affect with all the pumpkins and gourds, but we have to be functional over here too!

The mums were a little smaller and not bloomed yet, from what they normally have been in years passed, but I like the mix of purple and yellow that I was able to get and place them in my white planters. And I even went back a second time after getting my main pieces in place for a few more gourds of all sizes to help finish off the look. I was hoping to grab a few more mums, but they were completely out!

I have fun stacking, layering and mixing up different shapes, colors and textures together with the different pumpkins and gourds, on the porch and along the steps. The colors of fall are truly magical, from the trees to the pumpkins — it is truly a beautiful time of the year, the trees around us are really showing off right now and it’s incredible.

Third Wedding Anniversary Etsy Gift Guide

My yearly wedding anniversary Etsy gift guide is here! This year we’re tackling the traditional three year gift of leather! B and I always try to stick to the traditional theme of each wedding anniversary so luckily, finding something custom, unique and special made from leather wasn’t as tough as cotton, which was last year. We always like to make our anniversaries special and B always does an incredible job – last year he was so thoughtful with his cotton gifts, I realized I need to step-up my game. So B, if you have stumbled upon this before our anniversary – stop reading here, spoilers below!

Leather represents shelter and security for the third year, much like what a marriage and the home you build with each other symbolizes.

– The Knot

Leather Monogram Valet Tray. This next gift is from a formally local small business, William and James, (they just relocated to North Carolina) that I was introduced too via the Home for the Holidays pop-up shop! Luckily, they also have an Etsy shop, so ordering was super easy and effortless — plus the owners Billie and Jimmy were super responsive to confirm the customization was correct, which was reassuring as a buyer. I ended up ordering the monogram leather valet tray, which I thought would be nice for B in his dressing room, to hold his ear buds, wallet and other goodies. I was also beyond impressed with the way it arrived, in a beautiful branded box, all wrapped in tissue and just perfect for gifting in! They also have leather coasters, earrings and other fun accessories – I was happy to support a formally local small biz too.

Custom Leather Travel Tags from Etsy. Funny story, we were gifted these as wedding gifts, unfortunately the wrong info was added so we’ve never been able to use! Last Christmas was gifted my mom and dad some tags from Etsy to go with their new luggage, and it was the perfect gift — so I knew just where to go, as I’d already seen the finished product. I ordered from TAleatherworks on Etsy – these are affordable, customizable and arrived quickly! I wish we would’ve had them before our recent trip, but they’ll be fun to have in the future.

Valet Tray by IronandGrainUSA | ToriLoLeather Card | Orange Bridge Supply keychain | ToriLoLeather leather clutch

Don’t worry guys/gals, if you’ve stumbled upon this – I have a few more other honorable mentions I found on Etsy that are a little more well suited for your wifey. This luggage tag from Bramble and Beene, is a bit more anniversary specific and fun. Or this leather valet tray from Iron and Grain USA is also customizable and a bit more 3rd anniversary specific listing off the days, hours and minutes making up 3 years. I love this leather clutch from SanTanLeather – it’s compact and versatile – and offered in a variety of colors.

This leather keychain from Orange Bridge Supply is a cute and customizable option too, I actually gifted this to B for our wedding present with our wedding date and our little saying “Yeah, Me Too” onto it — it has definitely been worn with love these last few years. I also love this leather card and handmade leather purse from ToriLo Leather – she is located in the UK, so I would be careful to make sure you have enough time if you’re ordering internationally!

Not celebrating 3 years? Check out my Two Year Gift Guide and how I celebrated Year One.

Besides leather, the modern gift for three years is crystal or glass, the color is white or jade and the gemstone is pearls! I’ll definitely be making B a homemade card, and find a few more things to help make this anniversary special.

Fitness Friday 10.20

News flash! There are less than 3-months left of 2020. Mostly that is a good thing, because this year has mostly been a disaster — but if you’ve been working towards any goals, it’s go time, to crank that butt in gear to check off every single one of those goals! I just took a peak at my 2020 goals, and per usual, my fitness goals are always a constant roller coaster – and this year hasn’t been any different. But there is one goal, I am bound and determined to check off this year.

The one fitness goal, I’ve been really focused on is getting six races in — which pre-pandemic was going to be a piece of cake, but all of our races have been postponed, rescheduled or turned virtual. So with a few races, JUST NOW turning virtual — our Q4 of running is quickly becoming jammed packed. As of today, two runs have been completed and two runs are queued up. Which means, I need to still sign-up for two more and just plan for virtual. I was really hoping to have a half-marathon included in my six runs, but our 10-miler will just have to do.

This past month I just finished my second race, which happened to also be our first virtual race! Have you run a virtual race yet? There were a lot of things I liked about running a virtual race, like we could plan and run on our schedule – pick your own location/route – we got the race packet and medal at the same time! Not to mention, this race was benefitting a organization that is near and dear to us, so that made it extra special. Some things I missed from a traditional race, was the crowd and team mentality — you sort of get amped up to run a bit faster than you might if it’s just yourself running through the park. We did make sure that we woke up early to run our race, because what would race day be without an early morning wake up call?

As I mentioned and you may see — our virtual run was a quick 5k, which helped raise money to support Friends of City Dogs Cleveland, which provides financial assistance to City Dogs is the adoption division of Cleveland Animal Care and Control which is an open intake facility – meaning they don’t turn dogs away. This nonprofit steps in and provides additional resources to support medical expenses like HW+, torn AC surgery, general enrichment and training. B and I also happen to volunteer for City Dogs and walk dogs – so we love this organization a little extra – but more on that, another day!

So as I work my way towards finishing 6 races, I encourage you to continue to work towards your fitness goal(s) to make a small part of your year a success!