five full days off

Wednesday, June 26, 2013
I am guilty of not using all my vacation days. I know, I know - I need to make sure I use it all! The Europeans are baffled right now if they were to read this and shake their heads at me.

I have the best of intentions of taking a day off and then something comes up with work and I can't step away. Or when my planned vacation can't be moved, something always tends to blow up. Always the case!

Next week, I'm taking a full week off to relax in my own way, which may or may not involved a packed week of activities  that lead through July 4.

I have planned a staycation in the greater Cleveland area if you will.

On my list of places to go and things to do:

  • a day trip to Put-in-Bay with a few girlfriends to lay out, drive around the island on a golf cart, vine a a few videos and have a few day drinks to celebrate life
  • a well overdue pedicure and lunch date with my lovely mother to celebrate her 56th birthday earlier this month
  • checking off visiting the Museum of Contemporary Art and walking through Lake View Cemetery where I got a peek at last summer at during the Feast
  • Hanging with my BFF and her adorable daughter, BKE, for the afternoon
  • Get myself to a yoga and barre classes
  • Beach, beach and more beach to celebrate the 4th of July 
  • Start one of the three books that have been staring me in the face

So very true!

 As I read over the list I listed out, I literally may have planned more than I can actually accomplish  but who doesn't love a challenge, right!?!

Here's to using all of your PTO!

you can find me at the beach

Well, there you have it.

It felt like summer this weekend.


It was the perfect kind of weather I love - ridiculously hot during the day where the only attire that makes sense is a bathing suit and at night, you need light material in sweat proof colors.

I spent a total of 10 hours at the beach this weekend, soaking up all the sun I could through my SPF 30 and beach hat and then toured the art museum and danced with a balloon costume to a few awesome DJs like DJ Rekha and DJ Afrika Bambattaa at the Cleveland Museum of Art's Summer Solstice party.

Kelly, Jess, @cleshopaholic and Christina; Sean breaking it down in sperrys; Lisa and Fishman; party on the stairs

the most amazing movement screens inside; gallery one on display outside; outside stage; @cleshopaholic in white
On Sunday, we relaxed, sunbathed, jet skied out in the lake off of Whiskey Island with Kara, my long lost friend, played a few poor games of cornhole and sweat our body weight out while playing an hour of volleyball in the hottest sand known to man.

Jill, the brave passenger; bro-ing out; cornhole in wind doesn't work; kara and her brothers organizing the jetskiing

Note: Corona may only be more hydrating than water during a 94 degree volleyball game.

summatime tunes

Last year, I created a throwback summer mix to have one long list of songs that remind me of past summers from when I was a pre-teen all the way up into my adulthood. I'm talking about old school Bobby Brown, Backstreet Boys, Kanye, Jay-Z and Beyonce. There are just those songs that will ALWAYS remind you of summer like Big Pimpin, Thong Song, Crazy in Love and I Want it That Way.

And since the weather in Cleveland is finally picking up to summer temperatures this weekend, I figured I'd share a few that will be playing on my iPod for the rest of the summer.

Jessie J - Wild

Girl looks fierce with a shaved head.

Tegan & Sara - Closer

You can't NOT be happy when you listen to this song.

Macklemore - And we Danced

He is wearing a sequined onesie with matching headband. 

 J.Lo - Live it Up

She is anti-aging and looking better than ever since she started dating that younger guy. I want to be her when I grow up.

Daft Punk - Instant Crush

Besides the lead single, this is my favorite single off the new album.

Taylor Swift - We are Never Ever Getting Back Together 

As annoying as this song gets, it reminds me of fun times singing this at the top of my lungs with friends at a bachelorette party and New Years - over and over.

Next I need a beach, a book and my iPod and I'm all set this weekend.

wedding bells

In the summer of 2007, this girl had something like 10 weddings to attend so when you do the math, that's essentially three weddings a weekend (sometimes two in the same one) for the entire summer. That was two years after college and the prime time to get married among my friends at the time. To say I was wedding poor was an understatement!

For this summer, I only had one wedding on my calendar for my pint-sized friend Shawn and her fabulous fiance Greg this past weekend in downtown Cleveland. I met Shawn some eight years ago when she'd visit our mutual friend at college and stay with us. We traveled to Vegas together for a wild weekend, celebrated multiple birthdays together and this girl gives one of the best facials and eye brow waxings I have ever had - she is an artist with those tweezers at Studio MZ.

Shawn and Greg; the bustle that didn't want to be bustled; the married couple

The ceremony and reception was pulled off perfectly from the monogrammed illuminated entrance to the crystal centerpieces to the sequins on the table cloths - the whole room was absolutely stunning and set the perfect stage for the dance party that would take place. The band, Rumpelstiltskin, sang and danced their asses off (I think more than we did) and had one of the best singers ever. Please check out this man's dance moves here and here captured in six seconds of pure awesomeness.

Partners in crime; couple's first dance; erin and brian sampling appetizers; reception entrance

end of the night snacks; cake cutting; action shot; crystal centerpieces

Can't take these people anywhere

To celebrate my wonderful father, my family gathered at my parents' house upon my dad's request with a seafood cookout and a few presents to help my dad continue to be his stylish self with lots of awkward conversations. Specifically about who my brother and I are or aren't dating, which I tend to always try to deflect to my brother to take the heat because it's so easy with him. After a few minutes of checking out what this said new girl looks like via Instagram, my mom, being my mother in only a way she can do, asked a few interesting questions with a convo going something like this -

Mom: Well, she is pretty. What nationality is she?
Me: I chuckle to myself, sipping my water, wondering what that has to do with anything and how my brother is going to answer a question, know full well that he will have NO idea.
My brother: Laughs out loud for a few seconds, "Ummmm, I don't know. Hot?!?"

my dad over the years; a growler of a special brew for Father's Day

And, that my reader friends, is how how my weekend went.....

back to the summer basics

Try as I might, I somehow have ended up with my weekends already planned for half of the summer. I'm looking at my calendar now and noticing that every remaining weekend in June is booked (and some of July) with weddings and local events. Granted, I can't wait to attend everything I have scheduled but sometimes I feel accidentally over planed each weekend.

I find myself saying no to invites from friends on Sundays more often now because it's a day to get back to the basics. And for me, back to the basics was saying an excited "yes!" to joining a summer volleyball league on the fabulous team properly named "No Sets in the Sand-pagne Room" and my weekly beach visits. I want my Sundays to be wide open with the exception of my volleyball games.

I haven't played on a summer volleyball in years.

Like 6 years at least.

And it was my favorite thing to do through high school and even at college at Kent. How the hell have I missed out for so long?

the view of the courts at Whiskey Island

view from Whiskey Island

It's about getting back to the basics this summer and the volleyball team was the first step. Lazy afternoons at the beach, maybe staying in my bathing suit all day until volleyball, spraying endless amounts of 30 SPF and NOT missing any spots on my back, staying after my team wins and enjoying the beautiful sunsets that I have missed during the cold winter months.

What does you back-to-basic summer routine look like?

boybands are always in fashion

This 30 year old woman has seen New Kids on the Block three times in the past five years. Unfortunately I never saw them as a kid but I doubt I would've had as much fun as I've had with friends over the past five years attending the concerts.

In 2008, my friends and I rushed to get tickets for our friend's birthday because when-the-hell-would-they-ever-come-back-on-tour kind of conversations happened over and over.

Well.. they did come back on tour with the Backstreet Boys in 2011 and again we pulled our friends together and sang our hearts out from our seats.

What happened earlier this year? A text conversation with Cleshopaholic and I quickly found myself (again) going to that concert that-may-never-happen-again-so-I-better-just-tickets. I was with Boyz II Men AND 98 degrees for crying out loud! I sure as hell couldn't miss this!

Let's be real here - I'm going to every concert these grown ass men release dates for because it's the best kind of party celebrating 90s music that exists out there. But mostly for NKOTB, unless of course 'Nsync reunites because I will be there. Front effing row!

You sing your heart out to your favorite songs and dance like all white girls do.

You look around as grown women flash (yes they do) their chests at Donnie.

Oh, and you may even be feet away from a major fight when Donnie threw his black tank into the crowd and when he made out with a girl, which likely made her entire year. Hell, her whole freaking life and a story she will be telling her grandchildren one day.

no caption necessary

And, if you are lucky enough, your friend scores floor seats so one of the boy banders, Donnie to be exact, brushes past you and stands a mere feet away on a box in the crowd singing "Tonight."

Donnie just a few feet away; yes he has a killer body and my favorite - Jordan - but Donnie is creeping up there to the #1 spot

Next up - you can find me on the yearly cruise.

(Ladies, I'm only half kidding. Who is in?!)

coloring makes everyone happy

Am I right? It's like glitter - you can't be mad with glitter or coloring in my book.

Nothing like an early morning 5k to get you in bed early Friday night and up ready to run like the Color Run. Now I've been up early for races but me as part of team Color Me CLE was super excited as hell to participate and run through color stations where I would get blasted with colors.
Why not, right?!

Color Me CLE with @alllacqueredup and @cleshopaholic; Carly Rae Jespen is everywhere; starting line; orange powder station

Color Me CLE officially a rainbow
When did we cross the finish line? I have absolutely no clue. But I do know that it was important we wore sunglasses and kept our mouths shut as we ran through the color gauntlets. If you don't, expect to have quite the coughing spell post color gauntlet for at least the next few minutes.

June 8 continued to be a big day where my dad, brother and I met on East 4th to celebrate my mom's 56th day of birth at Lola. For any holiday, our family tries to celebrate at different restaurants around Cleveland and Lola has been on the top of her list and unfortunately isn't open on Sundays, when most of our dinner outings have happened in past years.

But never fear, we finally made it at the ripe hour of 5:30 p.m. for dinner where we dined on oysters, pork belly, scallops, halibut, pork shank and not one but four desserts (especially if you count the mini cupcake below).

Celebrating the big 56 even though up until today she thought she was 57....

My mom and dad side by side - Jules winning, my dad paying

My family (sans my brother) ended up at the Horseshoe Casino where my mom managed to win $46 on the penny slots and cashed out her wins after a quick half hour of the glittery gambling machines. There is nothing quite like watching your parents in action and laughing at them - these people crack me up from their weirdism sayings to following my mom around looking for the "Wizard of Oz" slots like a kid in the candy store. It's funny how the roles reverse because I'm p-r-e-t-t-y sure it wasn't that long ago when she was following me on shopping trips through Abercrombie & Fitch but now things have slightly changed from clothing stores to casinos... Interesting..... Only my mother, I swear.

I hope you had a wonderful night celebrating your birthday, mom!