Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Cleveland Sports

I'm waiting for Joe to post about the Browns game this past Sunday. We were blessed with free tickets from Pastor Joe, and it was Joe's first regular season game and my first game ever! Since I have now seen baseball, basketball, and football live, here's my votes for live/at-home (please note the strategic use of color):

Baseball: Always better live. A snooze on TV unless it's the playoffs/World Series, plus, most people can afford a $7 game so you can draw a big, fun crowd on a sunny day.

Basketball: A draw. Live is always fun and pretty simple to follow, but TV viewing is great because you can get a great crowd to enjoy it together that wouldn't all attend a game otherwise. Plus, the food at the games is way expensive. Not so at the average Cleveland restaurant/bar. :)

Football: Better on TV. The occasional live game is exciting, especially because football games draw such large crowds. It's nice to feel a part of something big. But as far as watching and understanding the game, from tiny scoreboards to incoherent refs to nonexistant replays to opposing fans cheering at the wrong moments, everything is unclear and confusing!

I think I'll ask Joe to vote on this as well. Your thoughts? While I'm at it, I have to repost this awesome link Joyce put on FB: Cleveland Clothing Co.! This guy at the Browns game was wearing a shirt with a picture of Ohio - inside the state, it said "Worst State Ever". Grrrrrrr! He was obviously a Packers fan. And Wisconsin is soooo much better than Ohio.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Niagara Falls!

At least once a year, Joe and I take a trip to Niagara Falls, Canada. It's about a 3 1/2 - 4 hour drive, which is pretty easy for an overnight trip, and we can always find a really affordable place to stay and plenty of fun things to do. We had a great time as usual this Fall Break! Although it's pretty freezing, the Falls and the foliage are gorgeous this time of year. It makes the drive up feel really quick and it sort of takes the bite off of the cold when everything's so pretty. We even saw SNOW on roofs on the way up!

View of the American Falls from the Skywheel

Anyway, we stayed at the Days Inn By the Falls. We usually stay at the Days Inn Near the Falls, but it was recently renovated and the rates went up :( Unfortunately, the room we booked wasn't so great - it was pretty small and the bathroom felt like a closet! (I'm pretty sure it was a closet at some point) But we did get a king-sized bed, a nice view, and a ton of pillows for an amazingly restful night of sleep! If you're planning on going to Niagara, I wouldn't recommend it, even for a cheap price- but if you have some extra cash, rooms at the Days Inn Near the Falls start around $65-70 CAD (less in American dollars) before taxes and fees.

The first night, we went to Wild Wings and tried such fascinating flavors as Maple Honey Mustard and Chocolate Barbeque!! Absolutely delicious, and we had a fridge so we could bring home leftovers :) We got drinks at the Rainforest Cafe, which is always fun, but I was really stunned that the waiters had no idea whether any of the proceeds of this enormous, money-pumping restaurants went to actualy help the rainforest. Apparently they do, but I was likewise stunned that there were no automatic hand dryers...?! At least their tabletops are made from sustainable materials...

Anyway, the next day, Joe put a little sports bet in for fun at the Casino Niagara (where they had those Dyson hand dryers you see on TV that "wipe" your hands dry with air!!). Then we went shopping and I picked up a cute pair of boots, went to Tim Horton's and took a trip on the SkyWheel, visited Stonechurch and Konzelmann wineries, went to the House of Frankenstein, stopped at our fave Chinese restaurant, Lotus Garden (people literally drive across the border for this cheap and delicious place!) and headed home.

At Stonechurch Vineyards

It's always a really busy time, no matter how much we've seen and how many times we've gone - there's just so much to do there! As for the rest of the weekend, we're going to see Young Frankenstein tonight at Playhouse Square and then having a dinner date at Bricco! I am a big Mel Brooks fan, so this was part of my birthday present from Joe. Plus, I had to write about an arts event for my class on Nonprofit Leadership of Arts & Cultural Organizations, and Joe gets discount tickets because CSU has a partnership with Playhouse Square - so it all worked out quite well!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Three Years Ago...

Three years ago tonight, I proposed to the love of my life, Sheila, with the city that we love in the background.

To be honest, I don’t completely remember exactly how I selected what I would do for the proposal. I do know, though, that I gave away a great proposal idea before Sheila and me were even dating! What can I say…I needed something to reel her in! I’ll never forget it—she had asked me to come along to see an improv performance, and I was thrilled because I liked her at the time but I was not sure if she felt the same way. Anyhow, we were eating dinner afterwards at Siam CafĂ© and somehow the topic of proposals came up. I said that I thought a great proposal idea would be to take my girl out in a rowboat on a lake on a nice, moonlit night and slip a bottle containing the engagement ring and a note asking her to marry me into the water while she wasn’t looking and then point it out to her and have her open it. I can just imagine if the bottle wasn’t fully sealed or if there were some waves on the water…

It took me a LONG time to find the ring; I went with at least 4 different people at various points to look at different rings over the span of several months and went to 3 different malls! I almost bought one early on in the search process that completely blew me away, but Mike and the store staff dissuaded me from doing so; good thing, because Sheila hated it when she later saw it! Anyhow, I finally found the right one at a great price at Fred Meyer Jewelers at Beachwood Mall—guys who are about to get engaged, don’t stop reading and run there to buy your girl a ring, because it’s sadly now closed. I had a feeling that she would like the ring, and this was confirmed a day or so before the proposal when I stumbled upon a recent drawing in one of her notebooks that had a sketch of pretty much the exact same ring!

Eventually, I decided to make a fairy tale storybook detailing our relationship—we called each other Prince and Princess from pretty early on in the relationship, and we still do—with the ending leading into my marriage proposal. Throwing all caution to the wind, I decided to make the book on my own by hand. I have no idea what I was thinking, given that I am not very artistic at all and had no idea or sample to use as a guide! I decided to give her the storybook at Voinovich Park in downtown Cleveland, where we had gone on a Friday night when we first started dating and wound up staying until 3:30 A.M. or so, talking and getting to know each other better while admiring the skyline and marveling in everything that had happened between us. I also decided to take her to dinner at Pier W beforehand.

On the day of the proposal itself, I awoke to a steady pouring rain. Needless to say, this was pretty disconcerting, and when I went to purchase all of the supplies needed for the proposal and encountered snow, I felt awful. However, God answered my and many other people’s prayers and cleared up the weather by the evening! There wasn't a drop of rain in the sky and although it was windy, it wouldn't have been a fall evening on the shores of Lake Erie without some wind! Laura and Ken set up a picnic with the storybook, chocolates, champagne, flowers, and a stereo playing “All I Ask of You” from The Phantom of the Opera for us at Voinovich Park while we were dining. Both of us were pretty surprised when we finally got to Voinovich Park and I told Sheila to go and look to see what was on a blanket on the grass—Sheila was surprised at what I had planned, and I was surprised that everything had gone off so perfectly without any complications! Anyhow, Sheila read through the fairy tale storybook and then I stumbled through a proposal speech. Much to my joy, Sheila jumped up in the air and screamed “Yes!” several times! We then enjoyed champagne and basked in the happiness of the moment before returning to Bellfield to celebrate with our friends. God was indeed good to us that night, and still continues to be good to us many years later!


Saturday, October 10, 2009

Introducing Mr. Fraynaaaa...

You may have seen him in such classics as "Rock Band", but here he is, with a real drum set! Well, electric drum set. Anyway, he's awesome :)

Thursday, October 8, 2009


I’m so proud of my mom for going to Congress to ask her representatives to support H.R. 2408, the Scleroderma Research and Awareness Act! As some of you know, my mom was diagnosed with Scleroderma several years ago. Although she has suffered a lot over the years, she was blessed to be healthy enough to walk all around Congress to support this bill!

If you're the political type, here are some advocacy suggestions! I'm trying to see what I can do to help, but I was just informed that Sen. Sherrod Brown is a big supporter. :)


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

More Culinary Adventures

Best (Real) Recipes of the Week:

One of Bobby Flay's Throwdown Pizzas, complete with Red Pepper Sauce and Goat Cheese
(found here)

Followed by Ms. Deen's Bananas Foster... (Burst of Flames Attempted)

Savory Pumpkin Potato Pie

And last but not least, a side-by-side comparison of Rachael Ray's and my Pumpkin-Caramel Pie! She grated chocolate over the top. I massacred my Easter Bunny's ears with a cheese grater. Close enough.

Now back to studying :-(

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Just a couple shots from Olivia & Thomas' Wedding...

My personal favorite. They look beautiful.

Dancing at the Reception

The Gents

(courtesy of © 2009 Kenneth Clunk)

Culinary Adventures with Joe

For some reason, I felt rather culinary on Friday. I decided that I would give into this urge by trying to spice up some boxed macaroni and cheese for Sheila to eat while she was doing her Business Associations midterm. I planned on throwing in some extra cheese in order to make it more flavorful. When I cook (which doesn’t happen often) and when I grill (which doesn’t happen enough), I like to do stuff ahead as much as possible so that I don’t rush around and make mistakes when things need to be done. Accordingly, I tore open the cheese powder packet so that I could just dump it right in. The entire process was going well and I was excited about making something good for my sweetheart! Unfortunately, I forgot that I had opened the packet…and when it was time to put it into the pot, I shook the packet and sent cheese powder all over the kitchen. Needless to say, I was bummed…fortunately, the final product turned out to be a killer base for fried macaroni and cheese, which will hopefully be consumed tonight during the Steelers\Chargers game!

The evening went much, much better! A few weeks back, Sheila and I were watching Paula Deen on Food Network. Paula made bananas foster, which is quite good; the reason that this particular episode sticks out in my memory is because Paula had a very reverent, solemn, and bliss-filled expression on her face when she bit into her bananas foster once it was done. I felt as if I was peeking in on a very intimate moment…the entire set was dead silent for at least 10 seconds. Anyhow, after we enjoyed a fabulous roasted red pepper and goat cheese pizza that Sheila made and washed it down with some wine that we bought from a local winery last weekend, I suggested that we make bananas foster. We followed Paula’s recipe and it turned out very, very well in my opinion. Best of all, we even have some leftovers. We even set it on fire, using a long candlestick candle…watching the fire shoot up from the pan was great!


Friday, October 2, 2009

Welcome, October!

Ah, the "weekend". I've been hacking away at my Business Associations midterm all day long while Joe hacks away at a practice bar exam for class. I can't wait until we are no longer students, but Joe feels otherwise. Perhaps I'll ask him again after he's done with his practice exam ;-)

Anyway, we're working hard to get this all done so that we can enjoy a Haunted House this weekend! Who doesn't love the joys of the fall? I've got most of my decorations up, we're looking forward to attending an Oktoberfest, and we're thinking about dressing up as the Gosselins. :-p Who'd like to see me in a reverse mullet?! Or worse, who'd like to see Joe in an Ed Hardy shirt? Blech.

Anyway, this link on has a great list of haunted houses, hay rides, and pumpkin patches in the area! However, nothing beats this hilarious haunted house website - The Haunted School House and the Haunted Laboratory! Apparently it's the oldest haunted house in the country! Let's hope it doesn't rain tomorrow.

If we can't go, we will likely comfort ourselves with a horror movie and I'll make this double-decker pumpkin-caramel pie. Wow. Mine won't look as good as Rachael Ray's.