BLT Avocado Cups of Heaven

As each summer winds down, it’s always all about the tomatoes in our house. Salsa, tomato/basil/mozzy, tomato with zucchini, heirloom bruschetta, the list goes on. Unfortunately, this year we didn’t start our own garden since we ran into a few hiccups in the backyard. Thankfully, we had Door to Door Organics to take care of us!

All summer, I’ve included many varieties of local and fresh tomatoes in my weekly Bitty Mixed Box. And most recently, we’ve been noshing on the cherry tomatoes like they’re candy.

BLT bacon cups in the making

Oh and avocados…avocados all the time. We’ve also fallen in love with the Smoking Goose Applewood Smoked Bacon thanks to DtD Organics. Sundays got a lot better when we discovered this delicious gem…BLTs are a weekend menu regular around here.

BLT bacon cups1

The fresh tomatoes and salty, yet slightly sweet bacon inspired me to whip up some BLT avocado bites of bliss. I was looking for an appetizer that was hearty enough to translate into a meal…if one loves bacon as much as we do.

BLT bacon cups

A chef I am not, however, I know how to mix up some fresh ingredients for a flavorful meal, snack or appetizer. So if you’re looking for a new way to savor the last dog days of summer, I invite you to try this recipe:

BACON BACON BCAON

BLT Avocado Cups of Heaven

Ingredients:

1 Package: Smoking Goose Applewood Smoked Bacon
1/2 Pint: Organic Cherry Tomatoes
1/2: Organic Avocado
4 Leaves: Organic Red Leaf Lettuce (or your favorite type of lettuce)
4-5 Tablespoons: Annie’s Organic Caesar Dressing
1/2 Bunch: Organic Basil
8-12: Homemade or Store Bought Croutons
Salt & Pepper

Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Create cups out of the bacon slices by placing them in muffin tins and bake for 15-20 minutes (or until crispy and easily slides out of the tin). While the bacon is cooking, chop the tomatoes and basil – mix in a small bowl. Dice the avocado and add to the mixture. Sprinkle with salt & pepper (not too much salt since the bacon is full of sodium). Once the bacon cups are ready to slide of the muffin tin, line them up and get your assembly line ready! Add a small piece of lettuce to the cup followed by a spoonful of the tomato mixture. Once the cups are full of the tomato mixture, place one crouton on top of each cup. Drizzle or spoon your desired amount of Caesar dressing on top of the crouton. Enjoy!

Chef’s Cook’s note: Mine didn’t turn out super beautiful but they tasted SUPER DELISH!

BLT Bacon Cup in a cup

Enjoy all the bacon and all the tomatoes summer has left to offer!

Disclosure: I was offered to blog for Door to Door Organics Ohio in exchange for free groceries this summer. All opinions are mine (forever and always).

A whirlwind weekend, I won’t soon forget

This past weekend was one of those weekends that flies by in a flash, but so many forever memories were made. My family is my everything and this weekend was full of my friends that are a large part of my family. The pictures paint a better picture of that sentiment than I can with words.

It all began Thursday night when we attempted to have a low-key girls night in to catch up and prep for Saturday night’s bachelorette party. When Alissa is in town, low-key somehow always flies out the window. We just love seeing her so much everyone gets a little too excited! Lots of wine was consumed (after the beautiful baby left) and hilarious memories were made.

Marge and the girls!

Marge and the girls! And lots of denim.

While I wrapped up some last minute errands Friday, the evening not-so-surprisingly turned into a milder repeat of Thursday night. When my girls are in town, we make the most of it and Ali had just arrived! As assumed, Saturday morning crept up on me and thankfully, I had the house prepped for the party that was about to kick off to celebrate #MissysLastFling before the ring!!!

The calm group

The calm group

After some bachelorette festivities, the gals loosened up a bit and next thing I knew, we we’re busting out the selfie stick. I think the Moscow Mules encouraged us:

missys bach group

Following dinner and drinks on our patio, we piled into a tour bus equipped with a master bedroom, bathroom, shower and stainless steel refrigerator! And by the push of a button, our driver could extend the ‘living room’ area 4 feet on each side as we were parked! We know how to arrive in style.

Drink, drank, drunk!

Drink, drank, drunk.

Most of Missy’s bachelorette party pics will never see the light of the Internet, as any good bachelorette party-goers should know. We enjoyed bottle service and Sandstorm at Liquid and eventually made our way over to Shooters. So much hilarity took place, mostly from the people watching we did. But I have to say, The Flats are coming back!

Once Sunday rolled around, one would normally nurse their wounds and eat lots of pizza. That wasn’t in the cards since Alissa and her new man we’re staying with us for another day. Off to the marina it was! We couldn’t let Matt go back to Charleston without experiencing one of Dean, Alissa and I’s favorite Cleveland weekend activities…it would have been quite rude.

sunday funday august

In true marina style, we ran into Lori and Tabs who made Sunday a more fun day. After a few hours at Wagar Beach, the South Carolinian’s went to see her fam, and we went back out for a sunset cruise. What a way to end a fabulously-packed yet wonderful weekend celebrating friends and the bride-to-be!

Lake Erie, I love you!

Lake Erie, I love you!

As much as I HATE to see summer go, I am ready for Browns season, tailgating, Missy & Kalman’s wedding…and maybe, just maybe, some down time.

Thanks to Mike for helping hook us up for #MissysLastFling!

Backyard renovations: An update

As it goes for most homeowners, what was supposed to be a small upgrade has turned into a many mega projects at our new place. Back in May, I blogged about the beginning of our backyard renovations and on May 12th, I would have guessed on July 22, our backyard entertaining space would be upgraded and complete! But guess what? Not even close.

This is what the back of our house looked like in the beginning of June:

backyard before

When our landscaper began the project of installing installing a drain and grating the ‘nook’ above, he noticed some shoddy craftsmanship. Enter my dad, aka, the guy who gets sh!t done.

greg and the deckOur entire deck had to be torn off! Part of the siding had to be removed! Dean and my dad had to remove a crawl space window that was installed BACKWARDS and replace! They also had to repair and waterproof the back of the house because a huge rain storm was heading our way and the next thing to get ruined by the crappy carpentry they discovered? Our beautiful hardwood floors and walls INSIDE the home! Oy vey.

back of house

The back of the house still looks like this; mostly because we involved our insurance company and that’s never a quick, nor fun, experience.

We may not be thrilled at the lack of outdoor space to enjoy during our first summer at the house, however, this was a major blessing in disguise. All the rain that we’ve had this summer had zero to do with this fiasco. Yet, if we let the deck and siding remain as it was, the inside of the house would have eventually been damaged.

The timing of this hiccup was less than stellar. Three days later, Cleveland could have been mistaken for Seattle. After 12+ hours of incessant rain, we noticed two roof leaks and EIGHT inches of water in our crawl space.

bad weekend in the village

Total nightmare. It was one of those weeks that made us wonder if he made a mistake buying this house! We stepped off that slippery and depressing slope and thankfully could laugh through a lot of this. What would I do without my life-saving Dad, husband and ‘godfather’ Jimmy? I joked to a friend that I would call 911. Seriously.

The roof leaks ended up being very small issues and the lake of water under our house was taken care of by the superheroes listed above.

All the bad led to one glorious upgrade: our new outdoor paver living space! When we eventually build a deck and clean up the backyard, this space will be amazing for everyday hanging out and entertaining:

Pavers in backyardIf you need me for the rest of the summer, I’ll be at the marina. :)

 

Win tickets to the Tri-C JazzFest 2015!

It’s almost time for the 36th annual Tri-C JazzFest!
JazzFest2014
The JazzFest comes to Playhouse Square July 9-11, 2015, for one musical weekend of entertainment. The festival features nine ticketed concerts inside the theater district’s historic venues and two days of free outdoor shows on U.S. Bank Plaza!

This year’s events builds on the energy created in 2014, when JazzFest shifted to summer after decades as a spring tradition.

Want to win two tickets to the show of your choice? Leave a comment below posting which performance you want to attend:

· Dominick Farinacci Quintet/Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra with Take 6 on Thursday, July 9 at the Connor Palace (7:30pm)

· Walter “Wolfman” Washington on Friday, July 10 at the Ohio Theatre (5:30pm)

· Brian Culbertson and Brian Simpson on Friday, July 10 at the Connor Palace (7:00pm)

· “Creole Joe” with C.J. Chenier, Nick Sample and Ray Parker Jr. on Friday, July 10 at the Ohio Theatre (9:45pm)

· Ernie Krivda and the Fat Tuesday Big Band on Saturday, July 11 at the Ohio Theatre (1:00pm)

· Cyrille Aimee and Wycliffe Gordon on Saturday, July 11 at the Hanna Theatre (2:30pm)

· Warren Wolf Quartet and Benny Green with John Clayton and Jeff Hamilton on Saturday, July 11 at the Ohio Theatre (5:00pm)

· Pete Escovedo with Sheila E and Juan Escovedo on Saturday, July 11 at the Connor Palace (7:30pm)

· Etienne Charles and Joey DeFrancesco on Saturday, July 11 at the Ohio Theatre (9:30pm)

A winner will be randomly selected and picked on Wednesday, July 1, 2015. Good luck!

Not feeling so lucky? Go buy your tickets here!

Disclosure: I was asked to help promote the Tri-C JazzFest in exchange for tickets. All opinions are mine.

Charleston Trip #6

**Don’t forget to enter to win free groceries from Door to Door Organics!**

One of my favorite human beings happens to live in Charleston, South Carolina. She’s been down there for about ten years and I’m pretty sure I have six (maybe more?) trips under my belt to see her smiling face. Last month’s trip makes two in the past 13 months for Deano and I!

Downtown Charleston Walking

Dean and I spent our first afternoon exploring, shopping, eating and drinking our way through Charleston’s historic King Street and surrounding areas. I have always loved the charm of the buildings and slow pace of everything down there. We even got to visit our neighbor’s artwork!

After Alissa got off work, our first night was spent screaming at the TV as we watched the first Cavs loss in the NBA Finals. But we didn’t let that ruin our fun:

All in CLE Cavs Selfie

I look special in this selfie stick. However, I love how we captured all of our CLE swag and Theo Bear!

Our first full day was spent at some of the places I have frequented on almost all of my trips to CHS: Poe’s Tavern and Sullivan’s Island! Alissa spent a handful of years living on Sullivan’s so it gives us that warm and fuzzy nostalgia feeling when we visit :)

Dean and Alana at Poe's

Sullivan's Island Beach Day

Following a few hours on the beach we had a quick, yet necessary, mind eraser and stopped at an amazing antique shop. What else would we do after that except eat steamed blue stone crab at Alissa’s home base? This was a first for Dean and I – Thanks Matt :)

Blue Crab Boil

In the blink of an eye, we woke up on our final day of our trip. We weren’t letting that get us down because we had a day of fun planned: CABANA DAY AT MIXSON! Mixson is a members-only ‘club’ that has a pool, cabanas, bocce, badmitton, fitness classes and of course, food and drink. We need one of these in Cleveland, right?

Mixson Fun 2015

It may have been a quick trip, but we got our Alissa fix in and got to meet that someone special :) :)

Now, I think it’s time for another girls only trip, am I right, ladies?

Introducing Door to Door Organics (and a giveaway!)

Fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs are easily one of my favorite things about summer. I may not be a fancy chef, but I can make a mean meal provided I have fresh produce and protein on hand. That’s why Tuesdays are quickly becoming my favorite day to arrive home from work.

Why? Tuesdays are when my Ohio Door to Door Organics order is delivered to my doorstep! Not only is this convenient and fun, no one likes fighting the after work crowd at the grocery store. Am I right?

My most recent delivery with local and organic produce and protein - including BACON!

My most recent delivery with local and organic produce and protein – including BACON!

This is the first time I’ve had a food delivery service so I have nothing to judge Door to Door against, but I was thoroughly impressed that all the meat I have ordered has arrived completely frozen in a foam cooler with ice packs and dry ice. Additionally, the fruits and vegetables have been fresh, crisp and cool when I’ve opened the boxes.

Fresh produce and a surprise gift from Phoenix Coffee!

Fresh produce and a surprise gift from Phoenix Coffee!

If you want to bypass the grocery store and try out this new concept to the area, I am giving away THREE $50 gift certificates! You can enter by doing one or all of the following:

1. Tweet: ‘I want to win Ohio @dtdorganics from @dawgpndgirl: http://bit.ly/1dL6tK7 #joydelivered #doortodoororganics’
2. Check out the Door to Door Organics Shop and leave a comment telling me what you want to order.
3. Like Door to Door Organics Ohio on Facebook and leave a comment letting me you did so.
4. Follow @dtdorganics and me on Twitter. Leave a comment letting me know you did so.

I will select three winners at random from the comments section so be sure to leave a comment for each entry. You can tweet once per day. You can enter until Friday, June 26, 2015 at 11:59pm. Winners will be picked and notified the following day and need to reply within 24 hours. Each one of the three winners will receive one $50 gift certificate.

Good luck!

Grilled veggies are one of my favorite summer meals.

Grilled veggies are one of my favorite summer meals.

Disclosure: I was asked to help promote Door to Door Organics in exchange for an account credit as well as 3 $50 gift cards to give away. Opinions are 100% mine, as always.

Pier W’s patio is open for business!

It’s no secret my family and I have a love affair with Pier W, so when I was invited to check out their patio last week, I knew who would be the perfect plus one: my mom!

Alana Edie Pier W

We joined a handful of fun Cleveland bloggers for an evening of celebrating Pier W’s 50th anniversary and the opening of their patio with bubbles, an oyster bar and one stunning sunset.

Since Pier W is sometimes saved for special occasions, the patio lends itself for more casual meals and happy hours. And what’s better than sitting on the patio after a long day at work (or anytime) with happy hour friends, drink specials and finger foods? Sign me up because our window of patio season in Cleveland is limited!

Oyster Bar at Pier W

As the celebratory oysters were shucked, our table decided to order one or two of everything on the patio menu – we were doing our part to make sure everything was up to Pier W standards for you! How very selfless of us. A table favorite? The pork wings. I am all about meat on a stick and these were fall-off-the-bone-finger-lickin’-good. Don’t worry, there were plenty of seafood options including a scallop ceviche my mom loved.

We rounded out the night chatting with Pier W’s General Manager, Mark Kawada – what an awesome guy. He has always taken care of us when we wine and dine at the W.

And before we left, some of us goofballs had a little photo shoot:

Piew W Sunset Fun

Next time you’re planning an alfresco dining adventure, head to Pier W, order a bevvie and snap a selfie in front of the best city around!

Disclosure: I was asked to attend the patio preview in exchange for promoting Pier W. Regardless, I’ll be back soon. All opinions are mine.

Content Marketing World: I’m an Official Blogger!

Guys. I am so excited to share the news that I am one of four official bloggers for THE best content marketing conference that exits (ahem, in the world): Content Marketing World! It’s insane and awesome that this event has come so far in five short years.

Joe PulizziBack in my cleveland.com days, I remember an energetic Twitter friend reaching out to see if The Plain Dealer could cover an event he was planning. Joe Pulizzi doesn’t need to ask for media coverage these days. With celebrities like Kevin Spacey closing out last year’s conference, the media can’t stay away.

Last year over 2,600 marketers from 50 countries descended on Cleveland to hear from marketing, content and social media rock stars. For 2015, to speak at CMW, you need to be beyond rock star status or need to have rocked out a previous #CMWorld event (only speakers with a 4 or 5 rating, out of 5, can return).

So why am I telling you all this now when the event is 4 months away? Well, if you plan on attending, I’d recommend doing so before May 31, 2015 because…

Using the code CMWSOCIAL, you’ll save $100 more off of the early bird prices!

If you register by May 31, you have a chance at a free 3-night hotel stay!

If you’re travelling in from out of town, now is the time to get killer deals and options on hotels! If you register now, immediately head over to the hotel portal to book your room in the CMWorld room block.

Oh and three more minor details…

John Cleese will be headlining  Content Marketing World!

John Cleese will be headlining Content Marketing World!

Washington Post senior correspondent and associate editor, Rajiv Chandrasekaran will be a keynote!

Washington Post senior correspondent and associate editor, Rajiv Chandrasekaran will be a keynote!


 

 

Barenaked Ladies will perform at Content Marketing World in Cleveland Music Hall, part of the Public Auditorium.

Barenaked Ladies will perform at Content Marketing World in Cleveland Music Hall, part of the Public Auditorium.

So, what are you waiting for? Join me at #CMWorld! Register now. And if you need some help convincing your boss to buy your ticket, leave me a comment and I’ll send you some ammo.

Disclosure: I was asked to be an official Content Marketing World blogger in exchange for one free ticket to the conference. As always, opinions are all mine.

Backyard renovations: Part 1

Spring has finally arrived in Cleveland! Normally, that would mean some gardening and planting of flowers and vegetables for us. That way the remainder of our spring and summer could be dedicated to other important things (boating). However, this year we have some major plans for our new backyard! This past week we made some progress:

Alana on a Tractor

OK, I’ll admit, there were no keys in this toy Dean wanted to keep. And I didn’t really help with any of the progress we made (minus planting a few flowers and taking care of Lulu). Here is what our yard looked like before the heavy machinery took over:

backyard before 1

This is a creek that runs through our back yard. Dean removed a portion of the fence so the backhoe could do it’s thing. RIP bridge. Cabela loved you!

backyard before 2

Our friend Christian who owns Zbin Landscaping out of Rocky River provided the tractor and backhoe and came over with a few of his crew to start the project. After they dug all the massively overgrown crap out of the yard, they put in a culvert pipe in so we could widen the bridge and open up the yard.

Backyard Zbin working

backyard  walking bridge

This will eventually be filled in more, decorated with some rocks and hopefully have grass!

We plan to spend a lot time this summer making the outside an oasis area. Stay tuned over the next few months for updates and ENJOY THIS WEATHER! :)

Meet Lulu, our new Lemon tree!

After our trip to Casa Verde, Dean and I kept talking about the beautiful lemon trees we saw at Petitti’s growing center. So when we woke up on a sunny Saturday morning, we knew a lemon tree was on our to-do list. After chatting with a few helpful Petitti’s employees, we found the citrus trees in the indoor tropical section.

I also had a beautiful planter pot on my wish list. Petitti’s may not have the cheapest accessories but they do have the most unique and gorgeous planters I’ve seen in one location! When we were heading towards the checkout, we ran into the Lemon Tree whisperer, aka Colleen. Colleen (at Avon Petitti’s) was a wealth of lemon tree knowledge and if our little Lulu ever looks sick, I know where to take her!

Lulu the Lemon Tree

She’s a beaut, but so is her pot, right?!

Everyone has been asking me: Can a lemon tree live through the winter in CLE?! They sure can. Now let’s just see if we can follow Colleen’s instructions! The tree must be transitioned indoors during the cold months, but it’s not as easy as just bringing her inside.

We love you, Lulu Lemon! Dean came up with that awesome name...

Lulu the Lemon Tree. 1jpg

PS: Congrats to Lori C. for winning the Petitti’s gift card! Love you, cuz! No, this was not rigged…

Disclosure: I was asked to partner with Petitti’s. In exchange I was gifted a $100 gift card. As always, opinion are mine.