Saturday, December 29, 2012

Restaurant Review: Taco Tonto's

A new fixture in Lakewood that is already receiving some hype is Taco Tonto's.  From what I understand this location, on Madison Ave. is their second location in the area with a location in Kent being their first.  I'd heard a few people talk about this place, so when a friend suggested it for a girl's night out I was excited to try it out.

The atmosphere is reminiscent to me of Melt.  IT's a little dark, and a bit more of a bar setting than typical restaurant which is exactly what I think they are going for.  It's small, probably seating about twenty at tables, and another 10-15 at the bar.

You order your food at the bar and give your name and then they bring it out to you.  The staff was friendly. I was surprised that there was such a line on a Thursday night- though to be fair, it is the week between Christmas and New Years where I feel more people have off or are on vacation home.  They specialize in freshly made Mexican food from scratch so I ordered their vegan guacamole and chips (their regular guacamole has sour cream in it) and two beef tacos without cheese.

My order came out quite quickly- in fact they gave me the guar immediately.  That was the best part of my meal.  I'd definitely order it again- lots of avocado and the right amount of onion and other ingredients.  I also appreciated that there was no price difference between the vegan and regular guacamole as I often see places.  My tacos were individually wrapped in foil and were HUGE.  Seriously, the amount of meat on one taco is what I'd probably put on two or three at home.  There was also plenty of lettuce and tomato.  Here is where my disappointment comes in.  I was shocked by the saltiness of the meat.  I like salt, so if I notice something is salty it is SALTY.  There was also another flavor that I still can't put my finger on that I wasn't super fond of but I'm not sure it was bad- just not my preference.  A few of the girls I was with also said theirs was salty but I know people who have gone other times did not have that issue so I'm still willing to give them another chance.  Their prices are super reasonable for the portion sizes.

Their drink menu is unique as well with creative margaritas such as blackberry or grapefruit, and many other drinks and beers.  I had a headache so I didn't drink, but I will say their fountain Coke was good which is a big deal because at some bars it's really not.

Overall I think Taco Tonto's is worth a stop.  It's a hip cool place to grab a bite and a drink and to hang out with friends.  Let me know- were your tacos salty too?

Taco Tonto's on Urbanspoon

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Happy Hour Happenings: Don's Lighthouse

Don's Lighthouse has been one of those places I've passed by for years but never spent much time in.  However recently I've had the pleasure of attending a few happy hours there and thought I should share my insights.

Their happy hour takes place Monday through Friday in their bar area from 3pm- 6:30pm and features several half price appetizers and special drink prices.  There are $5 Skyy Martinis and $1 off Draft Beer, House Wine, and Well Drinks.

From their appetizer menu my personal favorite is the sliders.  They cook them just right and they include a pickle, cheddar cheese (which I have removed) and fried onion straws.  Super tasty and quite filling.  I believe it comes 4 to a plate.  I also like their PEI Mussels- they are a healthy portion and are only $4.50!

For me I end up spending around $12 for a martini and some appetizers.  They're typically great to share so it's a perfect place for a small group to gather.

I have also gone for their Lobster Tail special on Tuesday's where you get a delicious lobster tail served with mashed potatoes and green beans for $15.  If you go before 6:30 and eat in the lounge you can pair this deal with the above happy hour specials making it a super value!  I can't eat the mashed potatoes due to dairy so I have french fries with mine and their fries were absolutely perfect!

Extra bonus, their bread and butter is amazing.  Soft in the middle with a nice crust on the outside.

Don's Lighthouse on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Sara in Colorado: Day 6

I've been home for almost a week, but there are still a few awesome things from Colorado I want to share with you...

Day 6: The Big Hike

My mom and I both signed up for an 11 mile all day hike to Black Lake.  It was a gorgeous morning and we left promptly at 8am to head into the Rocky Mountain National Park to find our trailhead with the rest of our group and our fearless leader, Amy.

The neat thing about this hike was that as you hiked you came across several natural wonders.  First up was Alberta Falls.

 What a cute mother daughter duo!

Once we were past the falls the real hike began.  And after a couple of miles we came to Mills Lake, which was gorgeous as you can see.

One of the more interesting things about this hike is that in November of 2011 a wind burst had come into the valley and at estimated 80mph winds tore up the landscape.  In the next few pictures you can see how wood split, trees were uprooted, and how many trees had to be cut to clear the trail for hikers.

I forgot to take a picture but a mile or so past Mills Lake we came upon Jewel Lake that really was a jewel tone green and very serene. It was after Jewel Lake that the rain started, and at one point hail.  Well, our hike leader called it something else, but it was icy and it stung the tops of my legs as I hiked.  We were told if there was lightening we would have to turn around due to the risk.  About a mile and a half from our destination a huge crack of lightening lit up the sky followed immediately by a boom of thunder.  We were given the signal and turned around in our tracks and back tracked about half a mile.  We sought cover under some trees once we were lower down and ate our lunches in the rain.  This was my least favorite part of the hike.  Finally the rain let up and some sun peeked through so we continued towards Black Lake.  There, just before reaching the lake we came upon....

ELK!  There were two females and two babies, who are harder to see in these pictures.  They were just calmly eating.  As you can see the one is tagged.  There is an overpopulation of Elk in the park and they follow some to check birth rates and other information.  

The closer we got to Black Lake the more beautiful the scenery became.  We were in between many mountains and could see water flowing down and patches of snow.  Simply gorgeous.

Finally we had made it to the lake but we didn't stay long.  Because when we turned around we saw more ominous looking clouds and didn't want to risk a storm.

Dark skies in one direction....

perfect weather in the other...

I was very happy to make it to the top! 

As we hiked back down I stopped to take some pictures of the splintered wood.  I loved the color and the textures it created.

At times on the hike we had to walk on beams of wood to avoid messing up the land.  Here I am with some of our group!

Finally back at Mills lake, our hike leader Amy had us all take our shoes and socks off and soothe our feet in the ice cold water.  Very refreshing.  But it started to rain again so we had to go finish the last few miles.

This is where I got cocky.  I felt the "old folk" were moving too slow so I took off, walking fast, and running down the rest of the trail.  Of course I inadvertently took the wrong trail to the parking lot and ended up adding an extra .6 miles to my journey.  Whoops!  My knees and ankles were NOT happy campers the next day.

That night was the first Family Summit Talent Show and it was AMAZING.  We're truly a multi-talented group.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Sara in Colorado: Day 5

July 10th, was the fifth day of my trip and my first difficult hike.  The West Creek Falls hike, while only 4 miles round trip, had an elevation gain of a full 1,300 feet!  I embarked with a group of about 15 a little after 8am and took a van to the trail head.  I travelled with two spanish speaking ladies, and two interpreters Fernando and Tracy.

Immediately upon starting the hike it was clear there were two groups of hikers.  Those of us who were under 50 and those who were over.  Not to be ageist but, I think the steep incline proved to be more difficult than our older crowd had suspected.  I was with the "fast" group, but was decidedly the slowest of them in the uphill portions.  It was a beautifully sunny day and it felt nice to have the warmth of the sun on our backs as we hiked.  I spent a lot of time speaking with Fernando and his wife Tracy.  They were a very interesting and fun couple.

Eventually we came to a stream.  After crossing the stream we noticed there was a partial elk skeleton in a pile on the bank.  It was missing the lower jaw and ribs from what we could tell, and had definitely been there fore awhile.

Finally we reached our destination, the falls.  The view wasn't as spectacular as I had hoped, but it was a peaceful spot where I sat and talked with the "fast" group a bit.  I also shared my elk salami I had purchased the night before!  Tasty! We then headed back down, and our group headed back to have lunch.  Overall a good hike, but more adrenaline than scenic.

Again this hike wiped me out and I spent the rest of the day relaxing back at the YMCA of the Rockies.  

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Sara in Colorado: Day 4

Day 4 (July 9th) was rock climbing day.  For those of you who know me you know I have a relatively intense fear of heights yet every year I challenge myself to confront this fear head on and attempt either rock climbing or a high ropes course or both.  This year my good friend Matt who I've known since approximately 1999 was the rock climbing instructor along with his climbing buddy Nick and was assisted by another long time friend, James.

We were climbing on these beautiful red and orange toned rocks.  The boys had set up our ropes on two opposing walls and it was simply put, gorgeous.  Matt and Nick were great at explaining how to tie our own ropes to our harnesses and teaching us how to belay- that is, how to be the person making sure the climber doesn't fall if they slip while on the rock.

Before I knew it it was my turn.  I had my climbing shoes on, my harness, and my helmet; I was ready to go.  I looked at James, who was belaying me and stated, "on belay?"  He calmly replied, "belay on."  I continued our climbing communication, "climbing?" "Climb on" came the response and I was officially on the rock wall.  The thing about rock climbing is, as a spectator, you see all these cracks and ridges and holds for a climber's hands and feet but when you are right there, face to face with the wall it feels impossible.  But it's not.

I slowly began carefully placing my hands and feet on the wall while continually asking James to keep tension on my rope.  I was soon up a few feet and to my surprise felt extremely comfortable on the wall.  My muscles weren't tight, my hands weren't cramping, and my legs weren't shaking.  I hadn't started freaking out.  I was suddenly hit with this feeling that I really could make it!  I continued up until I hit an area of difficulty.

As I paused to assess my options I heard my friends yelling their encouragement and offering their suggestions.  I hoisted my leg up- using my long legs to their full advantage and surpassed the smooth section of rock before me.  I was within two feet or so of the top of the rope but I had moved several feet off to the side from it.  Not about to stop so close to my goal I edged my way, hugging the rock, to the area directly under the carabiners that were holding my ropes.  Another step or two up and BAM my hand reached up and slapped the carabiners!  I had made it.  Insisting upon proof, I had my friends snap a few pictures of me!  It was amazing, I was so comfortable on the rock that I was able to chill at the top enjoying the view and posing.

I'm sure you've all heard the saying... "What goes up, must come down."  After I reached the top, posed for my pictures, and enjoyed the view it was time to get back down!  I told James, my belayer, that I was ready and he reminded me to place my feet flat on the rock wall and to sit back.  This was probably the most nerve-wracking, but it was fun too and I was able to back myself all the way down to firm ground.

Phew, I was finally done.  Or so I thought.  The boys had other ideas for me... scary ideas... like walking backwards off of the side of a cliff.  (That is, repelling.)  I tried to avoid it, but feeling a bit enthusiastic after the best climb of my life I agreed to it.  

First, I had to scramble over a bunch of rocks to get to the top.  Then I hooked into a horizontal line as I edged along the cliff to the repelling station.  Lastly, I received my instructions on how to lower myself slowly to the ground.  After getting strapped in Nick told me I could start.  It was such a weird feeling to me to walk backwards towards the edge of this rock wall and start going backwards.  Once I was on the wall it wasn't nearly as scary since it was a lot like coming back down after climbing.  

And with that, my rock climbing experience for this summit was over.  I was so proud of myself for stepping out of my comfort zone and really not freaking out!  There is a first for everything.

But what do you follow rock climbing with?  Other than a quick rest in my hotel room I followed it with.... A SQUARE DANCE!   Every summer we square dance at the Family Nature Summit and it is a great time!  I threw on my "country" outfit and headed out on the dance floor with my friends!

We partnered up and do-si-do'ed, promenaded, and generally had a great time.  It was actually a pretty decent workout as well.  If you ever get the chance, definitely go to a square dance.

As you can see Day 4 of my Colorado adventure was chock full of excitement... but there's so much more to come.  

Monday, July 9, 2012

Sara in Colorado: Day 2-3

Day 2 and we were still in Fort Collins.  We took our time having breakfast, hanging out with my aunt and uncle, and gathering the supplies we were borrowing from them for our week of hiking and other activities up in Estes Park.  Finally we got our stuff together and began the drive up up up several more thousand feet!

I'd forgotten how many twists and turns the road into Estes contained.  Surrounded on either side with walls of rock that shimmered in the sun (I'm thinking from mica) and following a flowing river we continued our journey.  There were several signs that had symbols for mountain goat crossings but no matter how much I looked I couldn't find any.

We arrived at the Y and checked in rather painlessly and I began my favorite part of the Summit, greeting all my friends I hadn't seen in a year!  These people have truly become family to me and it is just as exciting now at 28 as it was at age 12 to see my friends again!  After 17 years I can't imagine not attending one of these events.  

It was chilly and rainy and cloudy up at the Y but I really liked the view.  I don't think this picture truly captures how literally in the clouds we were but it really was beautiful.

Day 3 was the first full day of the Family Nature Summit!  I decided to start my week of easily with a four mile hike to a visitor's center in Rocky Mountain National Park.  We crossed streams, saw wildlife, and beautiful scenery.  It was the perfect hike to start the week with!

There's a deer sitting in there, smack dab in the middle- can you find him?
After my morning hike I was much more exhausted than I'd planned.  I think the altitude had finally caught up with me and I was forced to lay down instead of going to a lecture I had planned on attending.  Upon awaking though I felt much better and was able to spend some quality time with my friends.

Stay tuned for rock climbing, wine tasting, and much much more!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Sara in Colorado: Day 1

I'm on vacation in Colorado.  Sara in Cleveland has become Sara in Colorado for the next 10 days.  My adventure began yesterday morning...

Traveling with my parents can be a true trial of patience, more specifically traveling with my father.  Our family travels, quite a bit.  I travel more than the rest but my parents have certainly flown in recent years.  However to the casual observer no one would have guessed that about my dad.

As we are standing in the slow moving security line my dad starts asking me... Do I have to take my belt off? (yes)  Do I have to empty everything from my pockets? (yes)  What about my phone, my watch, etc etc.  Then several more minutes pass and he suddenly goes, "Do you have to take your liquids out?"  I was so very frustrated explaining that yes you have to take your liquids out, they're supposed to be in one ziplock baggie, and yes eye drops, bug spray, and lotions all count as liquids.  Miraculously we made it through, I didn't have an anxiety attack, and my parents weren't held for questioning.

Originally all assigned seats in different areas of the plane the lady at the desk was able to put my mom and dad together in a row two ahead of me.  Then once on the plane they needed to shuffle people and lucky me- I ended up sitting with my parents.  We all were in the emergency exit row which usually costs extra because there was so much leg room.  (To all my tall friends- it might be worth the extra $20 or however much.)  It was now that Dad struck again.  When the steward came by to ask if in case of emergency we were able to help our fellow passengers Dad responds with "I hope so, guess we'll see" instead of a "yes."  The steward was not amused and told my father he had to read the pamphlet and decide if he actually could or not.

The flight went smooth and our baggage was ready and waiting for us at baggage claim.  At the Denver airport I was really impressed by the friendly senior citizens in western garb who were there to provide information and directions.  One nice woman directed us towards the right carousel at baggage claim and another man told us about the rental car company and toll roads and gave us directions.  It was just one of those extra perks that made traveling that much more enjoyable.

We rented our car from Enterprise and I don't have much to say about it other than I felt the girl taking care of us, Sara(h), was very efficient and knowledgeable.  She gave advice about which car to take and had us on the road in no time.  We were off to Northern Colorado to see my dad's sister and family in Fort Collins.

It's been years since I've seen my cousin and her husband and children.  We had a lot of fun catching up for a short bit and playing with the dog.  Her daughters have gotten so big and were so social I was impressed.  I'd never met her 2 year old son and he was absolutely a ball of adorable energy that was hilarious to watch.
So adorable, and grown up!

To end our night we headed out to the Charco Broiler which is apparently a well respected restaurant for steak.  We met up with my friend Thomas who I met 9 years ago in Maine and have stayed in contact with over the years.  Dinner was good, my steak was the most oddly shaped piece of meat- picture a 3inx3in cube.  It was tasty and the fries were really good.  I think my dad might have had a bit of altitude sickness though.

After dinner Thomas came back to my aunt's house to see the view and to catch up some more.  I wasn't sure what it'd be like seeing someone in person again after all that time, but it was really fun.  I always enjoy talking as I'm sure most of you know and it seemed he was willing to listen.

My Canoe Guide: Thomas
So far this trip has been great.  I haven't had any altitude sickness yet so I'm trying to remember to hydrate and to get rest.  (The fact that I started writing this at around 7am local time may indicate otherwise.)  

Later today we check into the YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park and the 2012 Family Nature Summit will commence.  I'm so excited to see my old friends, make some new ones, and get some fresh mountain air.  I hope to be blogging regularly throughout the week so check back!

Life Changes

I wrote this post several weeks ago but apparently forgot to post it... so here it is now.

I made a big decision official on Wednesday.  I informed my workplace that the next 17 days are my last, and I will not be returning next school year.  I believe whole heartedly that this is the right decision for me.  However, it was a far from easy decision to make.

I LOVE my coworkers.  I really do.  They are dedicated and intelligent and so good at what they do.  Not just the ones in my classroom, but throughout our entire building.  I have made many friends and have people every day checking in on me to see how I'm doing and asking to help.  I enjoy many many aspects of the job I have, but unfortunately for me, there is no real room for growth for me unless I get a counseling or special education license, and neither makes sense for me currently.

6 weeks from now I will be 50% done with my Masters degree coursework.  By attending John Carroll full time next year I can finish by May.  My schedule will be such that I can substitute teach several days a week and get my face into districts I really want to work in.  Upon graduation I can apply to adjunct at local community colleges as well as continuing to apply for full time High School English jobs.  This is the path I have to take.

The sense of relief I have from making my intentions known is great.  My leaving may open up opportunities for others in my school.  But I am still sad.  And, I can admit, scared.  What if this doesn't work out the way I want.  What if I don't get enough sub jobs and can't find a decent part time job that works with my schedule?  I have to trust my gut and stick with the choice I've made.

To any Phoenix people reading this- I appreciate each and every one of you and will miss you greatly.  Don't be surprised if I come and visit.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

My Summer of Fun 2012

Before I start back up with substitute teaching and going to grad school full time I want to have a SUMMER OF FUN!! The question is, what does it take to achieve this feat? A summer bucket list perhaps?

Sara's Summer Bucket List:

1. Go to Colorado! Planned for early July
2. Attend a Wade Oval Wednesday
3. See Shakespeare in a park
4. Go to the beach
5. Crafting!
6. Girls Nights!
7. Date Nights! (make me an offer!)
8. Bonfires
9. Lay out at a pool
10. Cook out
11. Outdoor runs
12. Read fun books!
13. Go to the Zoo
14. See the summer blockbusters!
15. Day drink!

What else should I do?  Want to do an activity with me- Let me know!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Saving Money

You all know by now I like to save money wherever possible.  One area I've started exploring more is  I've used it a few times, and especially when they're running their promotions it ends up being quite the deal.  Basically, like with other deal sites, you pay significantly less than a gift card is worth.  Often with you can't apply it towards alcohol and have to spend a minimum amount but you still save lots of money or can have a nicer meal for the same price you'd normally be willing to pay.  Here's a link to their current promotion:

And here's a list of some of the restaurants they have gift certificates for that I like here in Cleveland!

Latitude 41N

And these that I haven't been to but would like to try:

The Nauti Mermaid
La Strada

There are numerous other places as well.  Check it out!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Another First/Last Date...

Last night I went on another First/Last Date to Dave and Busters.  We'll call him Mr. Spikey Hair.  I want to preface with this wasn't an awful date.  It just wasn't going to lead to a second date for several reasons.  Single men, consider the following a general guide to first dates/dating in general.

1. Texting your date the day of and saying "I think we should hold of eating there because it is mucho expensive" makes you come across as cheap.  I by no means was expecting an expensive dinner but putting it this way was just awkward.  Try saying, "let's meet for a drink" it's clear and doesn't make you sound like a cheapskate.
2. Super gelled spikey hair screams immature (but this would not be a deal breaker- hair can be fixed.)
3. Three mixed drinks (2 margaritas and 1 mojito) in the first hour, especially on a Tuesday and when your date is obviously only having 1, might be over kill.  Do you need to be buzzing to be with me?

I suppose none of these things were deal breakers for me it was just a lack of chemistry in addition to these misjudgments that have me decided that Mr. Spikey Hair will go into my archives of one date wonders.

I met this guy on but I've had much more success using Chemistry and Match.

On my 14 day free trial I met a guy that I casually dated for a year.  And, on a free communication weekend I met a guy I dated exclusively for a few months.  Sign up for the free trial- then if you like it I believe you should be able to get 3 months for the price of 1 right now!

On my 3 day trial of Match I managed a few dates with one guy.  Not the guy for me, but really nice.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Product Review: Silk Fruit and Protein

Recently my aunt and uncle who are vegetarian bordering on vegan asked if I'd tried Silk's Fruit and Protein drink.  I admitted I'd seen it but had been wary of trying it.  My aunt told me it was really good so the next time I was in the store I went ahead and bought the mixed berry flavor.

I ended up trying it and was pleasantly surprised!  It is very fruity and reminds me of Kefir, a liquid-esque yogurt drink.  There was a creamy quality.  I used it as a based for a mixed berry and orange juice smoothie and it was delicious while giving me an extra burst of protein and calcium. I have also had it plain and it is very drinkable.

So, if you're in the store and looking for something new or an extra dose of protein try it out!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Just a Pic

This week I sucked at going to the gym so I left happy hour early (GASP!) to hit up Zumba tonight.  I felt great afterwards and decided I should be documenting my progress with my body so here's a picture of my right bicep... try to see the little roundness to it... that wasn't there before.  Impressed?

Oh yeah, I'm getting there.

Double plus for me, I didn't buy the hot dog they were selling at work and instead had a big mixed green salad with grilled chicken and lite balsamic vinaigrette dressing!  I give myself a gold star for effort today!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Gym Oddities

There are some really odd people that go to the gym.  Today as I was doing my leg and arm routine with my headphones on, a woman approached me.  I assumed she was going to ask if I was done with some of my equipment or if I could move over but no she actually just wanted to chat.  In the middle of my workout.  She asked some random questions about what I was doing- even after I explained that I don't know what I'm doing and just get workouts from the internet.  She told me about her medical problems and just continuously interrupted me for ten minutes no matter what exercise I was doing.  I felt rude putting my headphones back on and ignoring her for a bit but really headphones on means DON'T TALK TO ME!

There is also a lady at the gym that wears latex gloves.  She may be susceptible to illness so I won't ridicule her too much, but it seems if you have to be that careful about germs you should probably not go to the local YMCA to work out.

The other phenomenon that I can't understand is jeans.  Why are there several men who wear blue jeans to workout in?  It doesn't look comfortable, it's against the rules, and it's just weird.  I've never considered going to the gym in anything but workout clothes.

Also, I love that there's a 75+ year old man who really works it out during Zumba.  He might not go full speed but he keeps to the beat and hits most of the moves.  He must have been quite the dancer during his younger years.  It keeps a smile on my face to watch him in the mirror behind me.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Restaurant Review: Barroco Grill

For the past year or so I have continuously heard my friends, colleagues, and acquaintances talk about this new little restaurant in Lakewood called Barroco Grill.  Located on Madison Ave.  towards the east end of the city this small hole in the wall serves up delicious Columbian fare.  I can't comment on it's authenticity as I have never been to Columbia, have no Columbian friends, and don't believe I have ever eaten Columbian food before.  I can however comment on the taste and atmosphere of the joint.

I ordered the steak arepa.  An arepa is apparently a tortilla that is made from white corn and grilled.  It is then filled with any number of fillings.  Mine had steak, corn, green peppers, and onion.  It was supposed to have mozzarella cheese and mushrooms as well but due to my allergy to dairy and my strong dislike for cooked mushrooms I ordered it without.  Unfortunately when it first came out there was cheese on it, but as soon as I showed the waitress she took it out and in about 5 or so more minutes I had a fresh steaming hot one in front of me.  It came with a healthy serving of seasoned fries and a very tiny yet refreshing fruit cup.  My friends enjoyed their meals too.  One got the Cheesy Corn which is mozzarella, corn, chicken, and bacon all mixed together.  It was a decent portion size and came with Arepa fries which appeared to be more like potato wedges.  She said it was delicious and other friends have told me they're sad for me since I can't try the deliciousness.  It made me question whether an epi pen shot might be worth it.... probably not.  My other friend got a chicken arepa and instead of fries substituted black bean soup.  She ate it all so I have to assume it was tasty as well.

There were also several house sauces that they provided.  I used the cilantro one and a garlic one and both were great.  I know there was also a spicy peanut sauce and a pineapple sauce among others.  I probably should have been brave and tried them all.

I had purchased a groupon for a $20 gift certificate for $5 the other day so all in total our bill went from $30 to $16 (including tip).  I think it's a great value for your money.  Oh and better yet, you can BYOB so pack up your favorite brew or vino and bring it along- money saving and customized to your taste!

The interior of the restaurant is small and a little kitchy but I liked it.  There is a sense of style there and it has a young hip vibe.  I have another gift certificate so I plan on going back soon.  If you want to check out the menu click here.

Oh and sorry I didn't take pictures!!!  Maybe the next time I go I'll remember.

Barrocco Grill on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

On My Soapbox

I'm not one to get political on my blog.  In general I let people have their opinions and I have mine.  But lately I'm having a hard time keeping my mouth shut.  This mess about birth control coverage, planned parenthood, and the pro-choice/pro-life debate is really getting to me.  To be clear, I am pro-choice, pro-birth control, and pro-planned parenthood.  Let me explain why I'm having a harder time accepting the view points of those who feel differently than me.

Being pro-choice is NOT being pro-abortion.  I would never tell someone they have to get an abortion, it is even unlikely that I would recommend an abortion to someone.  I do not like the idea of people using abortion instead of practicing safe sex.  BUT it is a woman's choice to do what she wants with her body and there are times when abortions are the best option- albeit an uncomfortable choice for many.

I have a problem with people who say that instead of aborting unwanted babies we can just put them in foster care/ up for adoption or the moms can just take care of them.  This is namely because almost none of the people who I have heard said this are planning to adopt (I on the other hand am).  And, my conservative friends, are less likely to want to support public assistance programs to help these mothers take care of their children.  I've also worked first hand with tons of children in the system and it's a horrible place to be that should be avoided by many.

I've heard the argument that if they can't afford the children they shouldn't have them.  So you'd think this means that these pro-lifers would be in support of lowering the number of unwanted pregnancies.  Yet these are the people saying birth control should not be covered by insurance.  Then I hear the argument that if you can't pay for birth control you either should not have any sex life or you should go to Planned Parenthood.  Again, these same people want to cut funding for Planned Parenthood.  And let's not get started on the fact that Viagra, Cealis, and other ED drugs are covered- and are essentially ONLY about sex not other medical conditions.

As we look at lowering the rate of unwanted pregnancies I think we should turn to the schools.  But AGAIN many of these conservatives refuse to let us teach our students about safe sex.  We can't show them how to use a condom, we can't tell them about birth control.  All we can do is tell them that they shouldn't have sex till their married- and let's face it not only is that naive, but teens don't respond well to strict rules that seem to impede on their ability to make choices for themselves.

In my perfect world there would be comprehensive sex education that encourages teens to wait for a long term exclusive relationship but ALSO teaches them how to use condoms, what their birth control options are, and the dangers of STDs.  This program would help future generations avoid unwanted pregnancies. Insurance would cover a portion of birth control making it accessible to all women.  Planned Parenthood will continue to provide important health services to women and will cover the women who aren't insured.  Birth control use will rise and unwanted pregnancies will decrease.  The overall number of abortions will go down and be used primarily for extreme health situations, cases of rape, and in instances of incest.

What do you think?  I appreciate all viewpoints as long as they are not personal attacks.  If you're pro-choice do you have anything to add?  If you're pro-life what do you think we should do about unwanted pregnancies?  Do you plan on adopting the unwanted kids?  Why or Why not?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Lazy Girl: In The Gym

So this lazy girl has been stepping up her game.  On Friday, since I had to be out of my apartment while it was shown by a realtor, I went to the gym for a run on the treadmill and a Zumba class.  I've been building my confidence on the treadmill experimenting with sprints and such for the past two weeks.  I've also been looking at lots of different training plans to increase speed and endurance.  Keeping both of those things in mind I decided to try to run for as long as possible at 6.5 which is a 9:14 pace.  Then after a few minutes at that I kicked it up to around 8.0 which is a 7:30 pace for a full minute and gradually took it back down every 5-10 seconds till I got back to 6.5.  I kept my eye on the clock and I hit the one mile mark after 8 minutes and 54 seconds!  This was by far my personal best.  I haven't been even under 10 minutes ever- at least to my knowledge.  This has given me another boost of confidence and I plan on working on running 2 miles in under 20 minutes as my next goal because I do know I'm a better sprinter than distance runner and I'd like to be decent at both.  I need more goals.  But for now I'm tracking myself on Nike+ and am "running" through New York City.

How do you stay motivated?

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Grad School

I'm meeting with my advisor for the first time on Tuesday and one of the things I need to discuss with her is whether or not I plan on per suing my degree full time or part time next year.  So in an effort to better organize my thoughts on it I've decided to create pro/con type lists...


Can work full-time while going to school
Less financial burden at any given time
Potentially less stressful if I remain in my current job where I do not have take home work

It will take me over 2 years to complete the degree
I might lose some of my motivation
Could postpone career opportunities


Can focus fully on my classes
Can potentially work a part-time job
Could finish in as little as a year and a half (I think.)

More money up front
Would have to stop working full time
Might burn out on school

All in all my lists seem relatively even.  Perhaps I should just view it as if I get my dream job for next year I will go part-time.  If I get laid off due to staff reductions I will go full-time.  I'm unsure where I stand if I'd just be keeping this same low-paying job.  I like what I do but I'm not sure it's furthering my career in anyway.

Any ideas? Thoughts?  I'd love your opinions!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Product Review: and

Happy Valentine's Day!  In honor of this "day of love" I thought I'd post about dating! Recently a few people have asked me about my experiences with online dating.  So I thought I'd review two of the sites I've used.

First up is Chemistry.  I found a  14 Day Free Trial to online (this link will take you to a free trial as well) and decided to test it out.  I created a profile and started searching.  Chemistry strikes me as a mix between Eharmony and  The program gives you a "type" and then "matches" you to people they feel you could be compatible with.  I'm not sure how accurate their matching is but I met a few people off of the site and two of them led to a little bit more.  One I ended up dating on and off for a year.  I'm not sure either of us was really in a great place for a relationship but we got along great and had a lot of fun together.  The other guy was "the dude" who I've previously mentioned on here and we dated for 2 months and it was great while it was lasted.  Perhaps we didn't have long term potential but I don't blame Chemistry on that.  If you're thinking about trying online dating check this free trial out and it might even be worth your money!  My friend's dad met his new wife on Chemistry! 

 I also did a free trial of and then later paid for the service.  I  had several dates from though none of them went past a second date.  I'm not sure what to attribute this to.  There were A LOT of people to choose from on Match but I had less responses from my matches on there.  So maybe it was just me or how I had my profile filled out.  On Match you put in all the things you want in a partner and sort the sea of people that way.  It gives you more control, though your own thoughts about what you must have or can't have might keep you from seeing some keepers.  Here is a link to 15% off of your fees.  It is probably worth a look!

What services have you tried?  Is online dating the only way to meet people these days?  Thoughts on Match or Chemistry?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Pinterest Crafts! Circle Painting #1

I saw a pin from Two Girls Being Crafty where they made a piece of art very simply and I thought, "I can do that too!" So I did.

The first step in their post has you spray paint the canvas but I skipped that step, I didn't mind a pure white background.  They used a brown paint pen for the stems but I cheaped out and mixed my own brown paint and used a thin brush to paint the lines.  they aren't as perfect and some are thicker than I'd like but it was overall pretty simple to do.  Here is a picture of that step:

Then I started making the circles.  I used red, orange, blue, teal, and a little black.  I mixed colors together to make additional shades.  It was pretty time consuming because I had to clean the sponges in between colors to vary sizes and colors at the same time.  But it was easy.  Here are some pictures of the final product:

What do you think Oh and this all cost me less than $10 and I still have paint left over and the brushes/sponges are reusable!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Love Hate Relationship: The Gym Edition

I am developing a Love/Hate relationship with the gym.  I have been really good about getting myself there at least 3 times a week- typically Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday.  I feel really good about the fact that I'm going.  BUT, I'm frustrated that I don't really have a focus.  I need some sort of measurable goal since I'm not trying to lose weight.  Maybe I should take measurements, or do some sort of preliminary fitness test or take "before" pictures.  I'm not sure.  Any suggestions?

In other gym news, yesterday, after doing a 50 minute Zumba class my gym buddy Katie and I did a bunch of dumb bell exercises to work out our biceps, triceps, and shoulders.  Then we did some ab work as well.  I AM SORE.  I hope the meds I took will kick in cause it hurts to move.  Ideally I'll have a rock hard beach bod by this summer- even though I'll be vacationing in the mountains. What are your favorite exercises?

Now I just need to get my eating in check.  I struggle to hit my appropriate calorie intake so I end up justifying eating fast food.  NOT GOOD.  I have high cholesterol so I suppose I need to stop ignoring that fact.  I'm looking for some good healthy food that isn't too "diety" since I'm not on a diet and definitely need to hit my calories on days I exercise.  I can't afford to buy new pants if I drop any weight!  I know, I know, #skinnygirlproblems.

Also, I'm on Fitocracy and Sparkpeople--- can't decide what I like better.  Hit me up if you want to follow.  Oh, and I realized I owe a ton on my taxes, so help a girl out and check out one of the ads on my site!

Monday, January 30, 2012

A Lazy Girl Gets Active

Saturday I went to the local YMCA and filled out almost all of my paperwork to enroll (I finished the rest tonight!).  My friend Katie and I went and did a quick cardio workout.  I did 15 minutes on the elliptical which equalled approximately 1.17 miles.  I took a very easy pace because we were headed to Zumba immediately afterwards!  We then did a 50 minute Zumba class that was packed and SUPER hot.  I was impressed with how I was able to do both the elliptical and the Zumba without dying.  

As I continue my quest for being a healthier person I am looking for ways to keep it fun and to challenge myself.  I'd like to find a race to run in the spring.  But until then, I'm tracking the miles that I do on ellipticals, treadmills, bikes etc and am mapping my progress starting on the east coast and heading towards California.  We'll see how far I can get in a year!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Checking In

So January is coming to a close and I think it's time to check in.  A couple of weeks ago I posted some goals for the new year and I thought I'd remind myself of what they are and see how I've been doing on them.  To refresh your memory here is the list:

Build stronger relationships- as a family member, friend, and romantic interest
Kick butt in my grad school classes
Expand my book blog to include other bloggers and buy my own domain
Read for pleasure as much as possible
Explore Cleveland
Exercise and be healthy
Focus on the positive
Complain less
Be open to change

I feel like I have definitely strengthened some friendships.  I've spent some quality time with my quality peeps and I am happy about that.  My family and I have also been spending time together and getting along which is great.  I can't comment too much on grad school yet- but I did complete my first week of reading and took notes so I think so far so good.  My professor seems great and while it's going to be a lot of work I think it's going to be really fulfilling as well.  

I have sucked at doing stuff with my book review blog, but I will remedy that soon.  Yet, I have been reading for pleasure a LOT, so far it's been one book each week of 2012, which keeps me on track for finally reaching 50 books in one year!

My friend Katie and I went to Zumba once and I filled out the paperwork to get a scholarship to the Y.  So this week I plan on finalizing my membership so I can be healthier.  I've also realized I haven't been eating enough- nor healthily enough so I'm trying to eat 2-3 meals a day and am including a lot more fruit and veggies.  

Focusing on the positive has been really tough for me.  I was in an extremely negative move last week especially in regards to my job.  I decided to try to perk up this year and am trying to focus on school and what my future might bring to keep me positive.  I have also sucked at complaining less.  I've complained a lot.  I'll keep working on that!  Being open to change.  Hmm, I think I am being open to change.  I think my life is in a state of change right now and I'm embracing it.  Let's see what it brings.

How is 2012 turning out for you?

Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy Hour Happenings: Hyde Park Prime Steakhouse

Tonight my parents and I hit up the Hyde Park Prime Steakhouse for Happy Hour at Crocker Park in Westlake.  From 4:30 to 6:30 they offer great Happy Hour specials.  There was a list of $4 martinis and $6 martinis as well as $5 small plates.  My mom ordered a "white frost" martini that had a ginger liquer, white cranberry and some other stuff in it.  It was ok, too sweet for her taste, and too alcohol-y for mine.  I ordered a "blood orange" martini and it was AMAZING, sweet like juice and therefore potentially dangerous because it was very easy to drink.  My dad went with a straight vodka martini which he seemed to enjoy.

Since we were in the mood for seafood primarily we decided to split several of the seafood small plates that were available.  We ordered the fried calamari that was in a spicy Thai chili sauce and was delicious.  It was a great size for sharing and was more than enough for the three of us.  We also ordered the jump shrimp cocktail which, perfectly, came with three jumbo shrimp.  They were really large and tasty.  Our final seafood option was the blackened scallops that were served with a vinaigrette, blue cheese, and walnuts.  Do to my dairy and nut allergy we had the cheese and nuts on the side.  I was not really a fan of the scallop.  There were only 2 of them, they were not large, and the flavors were off.  My parents seemed to like them though.  I knew I'd still be hungry so I ordered the sliders minus the cheddar that is supposed to come on them.  The two sliders were juicy and flavorful and came with fries and really gave me just the right amount of food.

I'd definitely recommend the Hyde Park happy hour to anybody.  For just around $40 we had a great meal and great drinks for 3!  Can't get too much better than that!

Hyde Park Prime Steakhouse on Urbanspoon

Sunday, January 1, 2012

2012 in Cleveland

I've been thinking about this post for a few days now.  Resolutions seem like they are meant to be broken and I don't want to become another statistic.  So, dear readers, I'm going to tell you what I want out of 2012.  I want to be happier in, more content with, prouder of, and thankful for the life that I'm living.

I can see that this is a rather broad statement so what does it all mean?

In 2012 I want to do as many of the following things as possible:

Build stronger relationships- as a family member, friend, and romantic interest
Kick butt in my grad school classes
Expand my book blog to include other bloggers and buy my own domain
Read for pleasure as much as possible
Explore Cleveland
Exercise and be healthy
Focus on the positive
Complain less
Be open to change

I'm going into 2012 feeling good about where my life is headed.  What about you, are you optimistic for what the future holds?