{Over a year later} Backyard renovations: An update!

It was almost exactly one year ago to the date when I blogged about the one or two (or 25) hiccups that happened in our backyard as we tried to do one relatively small project. Where does the Internet time go?! Honestly, if you would’ve asked me a year ago, I thought it all would’ve been done by the fall. Haven’t I learned any better by now?

July 22, 2015

July 22, 2015

Last summer threw some outdoor curve balls our way but that didn’t stop me from hosting the beginning of one epic bachelorette party on those pretty new pavers. Who cares if girls had to walk on unset stone and 2x4s in heels to get there?

missys last fling

As fall approached, we finally got our new, improved and upgraded deck. I’ve been obsessed ever since. No one wants to find water almost leaking into their house, ever. But if you (aka dad) do before interior damage is done, you get insurance to pitch in and wind up with a deck nearly 3 times the original size? OK, I can get behind that.

backyard deck project

Since fall, we’ve added some nice touches to the deck. By we, again I mean Dean and my dad. Between the outdoor ‘kitchen’ area complete with a grill and countertops to the built-in bar area alongside our new furniture, I have found Heaven. It’s in our backyard.

bar and new patio furniture


Oh, I got ahead of myself. That was about two weeks ago 🙂

That husband of mine. His creativity, plans and boyish ideas know no bounds! Before summer 2016 rolled around (and we 100% completed the deck area), it was time for Dean’s Big Kahuna: HIS BACKYARD GARAGE (aka barn, man cave, small home).

shed to garage process

While all this work was being done, there was no stopping Dean and I from being the entertainers we are. Our best friends and family have been making memories at our pad, which is what it’s all about anyways, right? 🙂

garage and yard progress

parties on the new deck

I have to give credit when credit is due. Dean was the mastermind behind all of these updates. However, we both had a vision for the table Dean tirelessly built last year. That vision came together earlier this summer at Alissa + Matt’s engagement party:

matt and alissas engagement party


So, the garage (for the most part) is complete. From all these projects, rain and heavy duty machinery, our yard took a major beating. I thought we were almost done. Again, what do I know?

I forgot that we needed to re-grade the entire yard! Get a Bob Cat and take out the 10-foot weeds that have grown next to the new barn! Pour hundreds of yards of dirt! Spread gravel! Buy boulders! Oh my!

dirt in the backyard

Maybe we’ll be done this summer. Maybe we won’t.

Am I going to stress about it? No. I’ll be reading on the deck until those leaves start falling and it’s time to cheer on the Brownies.

And if you need some help in your yard, my husband and dad aren’t for purchase, but we used: Design Surfaces for the outdoor counter tops, Oster Services and Zbin landscaping.

Editor’s note and husband note: Alana’s blogging talent and time have subsided but maybe next edition we will show how great the deck looks today!

RTA launches mobile app {+ a giveaway!}

How amazing is it to be in Cleveland right now? From being World Champs to all the new and exciting development, to the RNC, there is no doubt CLE is on fire. We’re looking so good, I think we may shake that awful moniker that has haunted us all for years.

Summer 2016 on The Cuyahoga

Summer 2016 on The Cuyahoga

Alana and Lori NBA ChampsSpeaking of being NBA Champs, did you take the Rapid or RTA on parade day? My dear friend and I were planning to but ended up snagging a ride downtown and a boat ride (balling!) home. If you’ve been paying attention to the RTA’s marketing efforts recently, you’ve probably heard about the #IGoRTA campaign (I’ve heard radio spots and seen the ad on my Words with Friends app-no shame).

Which brings me to the highlight of this blog post: RTA is launching an app on July 18th that will help RTA riders plan their trips, track riding options and pay for rides right from their mobile device.

You’ll start to hear a lot more about this app during RTA’s Summer Tour: Wade Oval Wednesdays, Edgewater Live (on Thursdays), Eucfest on August 26th, as well as all Friday and Saturday Indians home games through August 20th.

Are you heading to Edgewater Live this Thursday, July 14? Stop by the RTA booth to try their new mobile app first hand!

The RTA wants to know how you go RTA so they have offered up 2 movie passes to Cleveland Cinemas and a $15 Melt gift card to The Dawg’s Dish readers! Enter to win by…

Socially share with the hashtag #IGoRTA and leave a link to your tweet, Facebook status, etc. in the comments section (must comment on this blog post to enter). Example tweets:

  • #IGoRTA to play Pokemon GO!  <– LOL
  • #IgoRTA via the Rapid to Browns games

Have fun with it and let us now how you go!

You can enter as many times as you’d like through Monday, July 18, 2016. Good luck and happy summer!

Disclaimer: I was asked to help promote the new RTA mobile app in exchange for Indians tickets and a gift card. As always, opinions are my own.

Pier W’s Copper River Salmon Run {Giveaway}

Don’t call it a comeback, but I may partake in a few fun runs this summer. I am already signed up for Hyland’s annual Hy-5 on May 14 and plan to participate in Pier W’s Copper River Salmon Run annual 5K the following Saturday.

Four years ago (before my wedding madness and before my friend’s and family’s wedding festivities begun), I actually was quite the runner. It’s not that I hung up my running shoes. In fact, as the weather has broke this season, I’ve been pounding the pavement 3-4 times a week. It’s just that I don’t sign up for road races and feel the camaraderie anymore. Perhaps these two runs will reignite my racing mojo!

Cincinnati's Flying Pig 1/2 Marathon in 2011.

Cincinnati’s Flying Pig 1/2 Marathon in 2011.

Are you looking for a race on Cleveland’s west side this May? I invite you to join me at the Copper River Run! It’s no secret I’m one of Pier W biggest fans. So why not run a 5K and get rewarded with Copper River Salmon burgers, vegan black bean burgers, all beef burgers or turkey hot dogs provided by one of my favorite restaurants? Added bonus, all proceeds will benefit Malachi House. Even if you’re not a runner, bring $12 and you can enjoy lunch with some of the best views Cleveland has to offer.

Celebrating back in 2012 at Pier W.

Celebrating back in 2012 at Pier W.

So sign up today or enter to win a free race entry by:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

You can enter through Sunday, May 8 (don’t forget Mother’s Day!). Good luck and I hope to see you on the road soon!

Copper salmon_final

Disclosure: In exchange for hosting this giveaway, I was given a free race admission.

Cleveland Home +Remodeling Expo: Giveaway!

It’s almost time for the third Cleveland Home +Remodeling Expo! I’m especially excited this year because of the show’s venue, The Cleveland Convention Center. Not that I don’t look forward to the epic people watching and affordable parking situation at the IX Center, but I like any excuse that gets me downtown these days. Working and living in the ‘burbs leaves me missing our great city!

I also love any excuse to surround myself with anything HGTV. If Dean’s not home, you can bet I’m catching up on House Hunters, Property Brothers, Fixer Upper or some other addiciting show on my favorite network. So when I found out Drew and Jonathan Scott will be at this year’s event, I called my HGTV-loving mom and we marked our calendars for a Saturday funday on March 19.

drew and jonathon scott

For all of my DIY and home improvement obsessed friends, I have two tickets to give away to the Cleveland Home +Remodeling Expo that runs March 18-20! You can enter by:

1. Post a comment telling me what your favorite HGTV show is.
2. Tweet the following (you can tweet once per day – post a comment letting me know you tweeted): I want to win tickets to the CLE @GreatBigShow from @dawgpndgirl: http://bit.ly/1QDudNc

I will randomly select a winner on Friday, March 11.

You can purchase tickets online and save an extra $1 using code DAWGSDISHHR.

Disclosure: I was provided two complementary tickets in exchange for this blog post.

All About the Bag 2016: recap

Last week, my mom and I headed to the east side (a rarity!) for The Hunger Network’s All About the Bag fashion benefit. I had a great time running into friends old and new, catching up with fellow bloggers and checking out the fashion! It’s safe to say my mom also enjoyed the event…

The photo says it all: Mother loves the Browns. Mother ingrained said love of the Browns into her daughter. Can you tell we’re related?

Joe Thomas is as nice as you’d imagine him to be!

The event was executed very well, in my opinion. There was the perfect amount of time upon arrival for networking, grabbing a bite to eat and having a drink or two all while checking out the items up for raffle. The fashion show itself was probably 30 minutes – not too short, not too long!

Last I was updated, the event raised $90,000! That’s a lot of meals to feed the hungry in Cleveland!

Waiting for the show to begin!

Waiting for the show to begin!

After the fashion wrapped up, attendees and the ‘models’ mingled for about 45 minutes and just like that, it was time to go home! Time flies, as they say. Before we hit the road, I snapped a picture with Tank Carter, caught up with Jenn and Scott (Psycle Stars and models!) and my mom geeked out with Alex Mack (sorry Alyssa! ;))

all about the bag 2016

Looking to donate to this great cause? Check out their next event, Run/Walk for Hunger on May 7th at the Great Lakes Science Center!

Disclosure: I was provided two general admission tickets in exchange for promoting this event. As always, opinions are all mine.

Mission unplug, unwind, refresh & recharge

Did you know 40% of Americans don’t use their vacation days (aka PTO=Paid Time Off)? I was aware PTO went to waste in most organizations, but I had no idea the statistic was so staggering until The NOW (News Channel 5) visited my workplace to highlight our sabbatical program. Hyland’s sabbatical program is pretty spectacular: after 8 years, employees are encouraged to take 4 weeks off, paid, with no obligation or expectation to work. Five years for me to go!

I digress. Dean and I have an upcoming 8-day vacation planned to go down to Florida to visit his parents and get some QT in with the beach, ocean and fishing rods. When are we going you ask, internet robbers? I don’t think so! 🙂

Pompano, January 2013

Pompano, January 2013

I am using 7 days of PTO for this trip. Historically, when I take a long weekend or a few days of PTO, I check my work phone multiple times throughout the day. It’s not something that bothers me. Part of my job requires me to always be ‘on’ to a certain degree. I am going to try my best to leave that habit in the 440 for this upcoming trip. I earned that PTO after all, right? Editors note: My honeymoon doesn’t count for this type of behavior. I think I even turned that extra iPhone off.

Younger toes in Pompano, 2009.

Younger toes in Pompano, 2009.

And let’s be honest, I’m not saving lives. Also, my teammates are baller and more than willing to take on extra responsibility…while I drink Corona Lights on the beach with a book in hand…

This is also going to be a test for my personal self. Not checking into work will feel nice for a week, but putting my phone down to enjoy the present may be tough. What’s going on in the Twitterverse? Who just snapchatted me? How many likes did Dean’s Instagram get (serious concerns in our household)?

Enjoying drinks in South Beach in 2010

Enjoying drinks in South Beach in 2010

So, as I prepare to semi-detach (let’s be honest, there will be some personal emailing, instagramming and snapchatting on the trip), I wonder if I’m alone in this addiction to my mobile device and email. When you take time off, do you turn it all off or are you still connected to your responsibilities and devices?

All About the Bag Benefit {+ giveaway!}

Did you know 150,000 Clevelanders live in poverty? That’s a staggering number. As I sit here writing this blog, after eating 3 wholesome meals today (and every day for that matter), looking at my hubby and dog in the comfort of our heated home, it’s a reminder I tend to take these things for granted all too often.

Through my career at Hyland, creator of OnBase, I am continuously encouraged to give back to our local community. I often participate in our programs like Volunteer Time Off, Adopt-A-Family and our annual Summer of Service. However, there is always more we can do.

Enter the All About the Bag fashion event benefiting the Hunger Network of Greater Cleveland.

All About the Bag is a fashionable evening full of ‘fancy frocks, fun and fundraising!’

A collage from a previous All About the Bag. Hi Elcin! Photo courtesy of  The Hunger Network.

A collage from a previous All About the Bang. Hi Elcin! Photo courtesy of The Hunger Network.

The mission of the Hunger Network of Greater Cleveland is to reduce hunger by providing food and linkages to other vital services for hungry people, especially children and families, and by actively participating in a coordinated community response to people in need.

Now that’s an event and a mission I can get behind. And let’s be honest, I love a fun night out.

The details:

WHEN: Thursday, February 25, 2016 from 6-10PM

WHERE: Executive Caterers of Landerhaven

TICKETS: Premier Package: $150.00; General Admission: $75.00. Purchase here. {The event sold out in 2015!}

If you haven’t guessed by now, I have two tickets to giveaway! You can enter two ways:

1. Post a comment on this blog sharing one way you give back to the community. (note: only one comment per person).

2. Tweet the following: I want to win tickets to All About the Bag benefiting the @HungerNetworkGC from @dawgpndgirl: http://wp.me/p1euS9-Do #ThisIsCLE (note: you can tweet once per day but are required to comment on this post after each tweet!)

You can enter now until Friday, January, 22, 2016.

I’m running this giveaway over a month from the event because we are all busy people. My calendar, like yours I’m sure, fills up very quickly.

Good luck and my mom and I hope to see you there!

Alana Edie 2

Disclosure: I am friends with members from the Hunger Network and their event board. I was asked to promote the event in exchange for two tickets to attend the event and two tickets to giveaway to the event. All opinions are mine.

Out with 2015, in with 2016!

Happy 2016! Not surprising, 2015 went out with a crazy amount of get togethers, happy hours, parties, celebrations and overall holiday debauchery. And I wouldn’t have it any other way!

We tried to keep the Christmas gift-giving minimal this year, but Dean always finds a way to spoil me. This year the spoiling included (but was not limited to) 4 bottles of lotion from Victoria’s Secret (who doesn’t need that much lotion!?). Last year, I think I received 6 VS lip glosses (maybe Dean just likes wandering around this particular store).

3 of 6 parties!

3 of 6 parties!

xmas 2015 cabela

One particular gift stole the show this holiday season among the Coticchias. Dean’s creativity and love for garage projects led to brainstorming gifts for our niece Grace and the chalkboard was born!

chalkboard xms

This magnetic chalkboard only took Dean about 2 weeks to create. Sometimes I think he needs to open an esty shop. After hanging the masterpiece, we all enjoyed some classic doodling. I have to admit, the chalkboard is an amazing addition to the new playroom!

grace chalkboard

That may or may not be an ‘elephant’ I attempted to draw. Clearly, I’m not an artist and the wine hurt, not helped my cause.

Following Christmas week, I was a little over all the hectic partying which led to a lower key New Year’s Week. Netflix was reactivated and Making a Murderer was watched in about two and a half days! So. Many. Questions.

My brother's snap creation

My brother’s snap creation

You can sleep better tonight know that Cabela’s little scar, which we have absolutely no idea how she got, is finally beginning to heal. Her modeling career is sadly over though.

Cheers to a 2016 ful of love and laughter, friends!

PS: Look for a fun giveaway on the blog in the next week or two!

Happy Thanksgiving week!

Happy Thanksgiving week, friends! This is one of my most beloved weeks of the year and I’m looking forward to spending it with Dean, our family (we’ll miss his parents who are luckily in Florida!) and friends. Hopefully we can sneak in a few glasses of wine with Dave and Julie, too 😉

2013 Thanksgiving at The Lincolnshire Estates

2013 Thanksgiving at The Lincolnshire Estates

Thanksgiving 2014 at our new pad!

2014 Thanksgiving at our new pad

Dean and I are off the hook this year for Turkey Day as my ‘rents are going to host our small Munro party 🙂

My little bro’s birthday is also this Friday and we’ve decided to torture ourselves celebrate at the Ravens/Browns Monday Night Football game (at least we have club seats and won’t be listening to ESPN tear the Browns apart – I am thankful for that!).



My life has been incredibly busy these past few months between weddings, birthday parties, engagement parties, work travel (Vegas and Europe!), clam bakes and football parties. I’m not complaining!

My lifeline!

My lifeline!

Happy First Birthday Marge! You are so loved by all your aunties!

A photo posted by Alana Coticchia (@dawgpndgirl) on



Social media party.

Social media party.

Paris with Christie and her awesome photog hubby :)

Paris with Christie and her awesome photog hubby 🙂 #PrayForParis.

So much excitement that I’m absolutely grateful for. I hope to slightly disconnect (ha) over the next 6 days and I hope you can, too! Yes, I have a 6-day weekend.


PS: I haven’t been around the blog a ton lately, but I have been active on Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat so add dawgpndgirl if you want to follow along with my adventures!

I'm in #Paris!! #ParisThirdWheel

A photo posted by Alana Coticchia (@dawgpndgirl) on

UnCommonGoods: Unique gifts and fun shopping

Everyone has that person in their life that is impossible to shop for, right? Whether they are nit-picky or simply don’t need anything, each holiday or special occasion can bring extra stress trying to buy for that buddy or family member. Enter: UnCommonGoods.com.

Founded in 1999 and headquartered in Brooklyn, New York, UncommonGoods is a privately-owned retailer that endeavors to feature unique designs and crafted gifts created in harmony with the environment and without harm to animals or people.

About six months ago, Dean and I found an awesome terrarium-like bowl on a popular home store’s website. We ordered the piece and we’re disappointed it was back-ordered over 6 months. We canceled our purchase and scoured the internet for something similar. We landed on the UnCommonGoods website and debated purchasing the ‘molten sculptural bowl.’

molten bowl

Since Dean really wanted to put a ‘fighter fish’ in the bowl, we weren’t sure if this was big enough. So, when UnCommonGoods recently reached out to me to help promote their website, I decided we needed to have the molten sculptural bowl!

molten bowl 1

We’re figuring out if Dean’s going to get a new pet for the bowl or I’ll create a little indoor succulent terrarium (after all, I have a couple from my friend Missy’s wedding!). Either way, I love our one-of-a-kind bowl that will surely be a conversation piece in our new home.

molten bowl 2

So, are you looking for the perfect gift for your wife, girlfriend, mom or other special person in your life? Take a look at UnCommonGoods this holiday season! I know I will be.

Disclosure: I was gifted the molten sculptural bowl in exchange for this blog post. As always, all opinions are mine!