best kind of christmas party with a side of the browns

Another weekend down, another 30th birthday party attended and the close to Browns home games!

This year is literally the year of the big 3-0 and we all love a birthday celebration, don't we??? With mine one month away from today, the festivities are in the process of being planned, ideas pinned and the invite list has been sent out. Now, let's hope there's just not a blizzard to stop the dance party!

Friday night we controlled the music with the handy app of "MyTouchTunes" at the Firehouse Grille and Pub way east near Willoughby Hills. If you don't have this app, you MUST download it now because there is nothing better than booting songs out of the que so you can play Michael Bolton or Justin Beiber.

Katie on her 30th - a skull cake fit for her!

the best of Katie's past - glamour shot included!

four amigas established in 2001 at Kent State

After putting off most of my Christmas shopping, I made an extra large green smoothie to fuel a shopping excursion at the outlets (and get through all the crazy shoppers) to make it only a little late to one of the best un-xmas parties of the year.

Now, this isn't just any un-xmas party hosted by my friend Michelle - it's a party made up with people who somehow have equally sick senses of humor. The kinds of friends with whom you make up a game with a red solo cups called "fisting" but where it's actually more like "blading" because that's the shape of your hands as you toss the cups to each other. Then you break into songs where you replace key lyrics with "blades or blading" and you blame it all on the pudding shots and sparkling tequila shots.....

Alexa rocking the best new party game to hit Cleveland - blading

fun with signs (and yes we aren't 15)
After having two late nights in a row, I really (swear I did) had high hopes of staying in for the afternoon, watching the game with my brother at his friend's house and maybe even wrapping some Christmas presents. Well, that's before Tabitha and I decided it was a great idea to "tailgate" from the Barley House with friends and before we thought fireball shots were a great idea and even before Christmas ale was magically delivered to our table....

extra points if you can spot the natty light!

somewhere in the first quarter....

Sometimes you need to say "peace out responsibilities and to-do lists" and spend time with your brother, his and your friends and have an impromptu dance party in Dive Bar, wearing only slightly more clothes in December than you did for opening day in early September because it was a record high of 57 and sunny all day.

And with that, the home Browns games are finished so we can go back to regularly scheduled Sunday brunches and Christmas is only ONE WEEK away.

2012 you were undeniably amazing but where the hell did all the time go?

Gifting the ladies in your lives

Considering we are only two weeks (I seriously can't believe it) away from Christmas, it's about time we all started our shopping if we haven't already!

If you are like me, you only have two gifts sitting on your floor but at least my list is complete - I just need to get to the stores and then poorly wrap all the gifts because my wrapping is a sight to see...... Let me tell you! I have so many friends who wrap these beautiful gifts with perfectly taped sides and add bows like Martha Stewart made them herself! My presents look like I had my friend's kids help me cut the paper and even tape the corners.....

For the mother, sister, girlfriend, cousin or BFF in your life, here are a few gift options for you to consider this year for that incredibly-hard-to-buy-for female in your life if you are struggling for ideas.

Want gift yourself or someone with something they will continue to buy? Let me introduce you to the only body lotion you will want to buy once you use this for a few weeks. Classy Chaos introduced me to it over a year ago and it is literally life changing during the winter.

Just the best body creme a girl will ever want - Kiehl's Creme de Corps for $30

Last year for a friend's , I gave her a few pairs of my absolute favorite underwear from Victoria's Secret - the Lacie Thong. While you may be thinking, "You bought your friend underwear?" Why, yes I did because these are one size fits all and when does that ever happen?? They come in a wide variety of colors (even ones with sparkles on them) and I truly believe they are for all body types.

The Lacie also comes in a hip hugger - 3 for $33.

Everyone could always use some protection for their electronic devices and there are so many stylish and creative options out there now. Kate Spade makes some of the cutest and fun iPhone and iPad cases for the professional girl that are totally work and play appropriate.

Keeps your iPad safe at all times - Kate Spade at Nordstrom for $85

Ladies - we can never have TOO many iphone cases - Kate Spade at Nordstrom $26 on sale

For the beauty product obsessed, she will love to try as many beauty products as she can at once and Birchbox is a fabulous idea. A year subscription will run cost $120 for 4-6 sample size products each month. Sometimes the boxes are themed like the Goop one I received where I absolutely loved each product and some are more seasonal - I can't wait to get my December shipment to see what I have!

Love checking my mailbox for this each month!

One of the many products I received and want to give to every girlfriend - Dr. Jart Beauty Balm at Sephora - $34

So what gifts did I miss that should be included? And, more importantly, what are you buying for friends and family this season?

the one where it still doesn't feel like December

Remember when you kicked off your weekends on Thursday night back in college? My friends and I chose to kick off our weekend the same way with dinner and drinks at Bac in Tremont because we were all the mood for Pho. It was a mix of a little pre-holiday gathering and just simply getting together where we were the loudest table in the restaurant. Of course. Always.

sake bombs; dirty girl scout pudding shots at our favorite dive bar

In the winter, there's nothing more than I love than noodles, dim sum or pad thai and I have literally eaten Pho a handful of times the last two weeks because nothing cures a sickness like a good bowl of pho in my book.

This weekend also started my annual holiday baking with my lovely aunts who are masters in the kitchen. Absolute masters when it comes to recreating something one of them saw in Martha Stewart magazine or seeing on TV. Although I have to admit that it was a bit weird to have the door open to let in "cool" air because it wasn't freezing out.

just using a 70s style christmas tree cookie mechanism like a pro!
Can I bake? Of course I can!

Do I always want to? Nope. Only on special occassions where I have some serious help from the experts. Obviously the goal is for people to actually eat the cookies.....

But what I absolutely love about the whole afternoon is that you can clearly tell by how large the cookies come out which ones I made and by the sheer amount of toppings versus how my aunts delicately decorate each one. I just simply throw around the sprinkles on each little tree or scoop a generous teaspoon from the bowl while we chatted and I entertained them with what has been happing in my life for the past few months.

snow balls pre and post baking and my favorite chocolate drop cookies

Later that night, we took our talents to the Q arena where we cheered on the Cavs to what we were hoping was a victory but not this time around. Next time! Somehow it was the first Cavs game of the season for all the girls so I will need to make sure to make it to more this season.

Total vampire eye photo of the group and a big thank you to Matt and Jeff for invite!

On Sunday, my friends and I had high hopes of actually getting up and going to the Browns game but we decided against standing in the rain to watch the game and stayed dry, watching the win from a few blocks away and wrapped up the weekend with burgers and beers at Buckeye Beer Engine.

burgers, onion rings, strongbow, blonde ales - finish out the weekend healthy!

mimosasing around the neighborhood

As we officially entered the month of December a few days ago, one of my favorite other times is upon us that's not Christmas. It's brunch time.

Brunch hosted by I heart Cleveland this past weekend. She can host, cook and entertain!
Now, I'm not one to turn down a brunch any season of the year but there's something about brunch in the winter that makes rolling out of bed, throwing on your Hunter's and winter coats extra special. Maybe because sometimes it literally takes a village to get you to your car, brush it off, then it's a whole other journey to actually get to your brunch spot.

But, in my opinion, there's nothing better than spending a Sunday Funday with your friends holed up in one of your favorite brunch spots to discuss all sorts of hot topics like each person's individual weekend antics or what to drink at the next stop on your Sunday adventure.

A photo from a past brunch sans food

Here a few spots I'll be posted up with friends this winter -

Soho Kitchen & Bar - A few weeks back, my friends and I hung out here for a few hours. My recommendations - the s'uthern benedict and passion fruit mimosa. Be warned - these people know their drinks and they go down quickly!

Market Garden and Brewery - Now that I think about it, I'm not sure that I've ever actually eaten brunch here but rather taken advantage of their bottomless mimosa on Sundays.

Deagan's Kitchen - While I've been here for taco Tuesday plenty of times, I've only eaten here once and was completely satisfied with my poached eggs and mimosas.

Lucky's Cafe - I've celebrated a few birthdays here with a latte and the waffles 'v', but my mom swears by the shipwreck though. Oh, and you must try one order of pecan bacon.

Touch Supper Club - Bloody mary anyone? One of my very first weekends living downtown, I met an NY friend here for brunch and holy amazing. Because there were so many choices, I'm pretty sure I couldn't concoct the same version twice. For food, I'd go with the chicken and waffles or stuffed french toast.

Clearly I have some places I need to add to my brunch eating - what am I missing and what should I be eating and drinking?

running with bells on

As I sit surrounded by endless tea cups of green tea, honey, lemon and a strange concoction of cough syrup and cold and flu pills, I'm pretty sure my immune system let its guard down with all the crazy weather changes we have had this past week in Cleveland.

some combination of this will work

Call me crazy but without fail, I get a massive head cold every time there is a weather change. Seeing that the temperatures have been 35 to 60 degrees over the past seven days, I'm looking at mother nature for this one.....

When I could breathe clearly through my nose over the weekend, I ran with a friend as she crossed her first finish line of her first race in the 13th Annual Reindeer 5K run.

Erin conquering her first 5K

We were NOT prepared with the right amount of flair for the race because there were people in tutus, blinking antlers and Rudolph noses and even someone running in a full-fledged Santa suit. Next year, we will wear more than just the bells on our shoes and maybe even covered in twinkle lights but we'll need someone's help with that get up for sure.