Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Tuesday Music Roundup

For those of you that don’t know, I’m an incredibly big music lover. I do, however, get into the habit of listening to the same bands consistently. Thankfully, free services such as the gracious Pandora and some friends with really great taste introduce me to all kinds of goodness. Many times those songs become background music, or are things I’ve already heard and love. Every once in a while, however, something really jumps out at me. I wished to share with you all. Because I can. I’m not claiming that any of these bands/songs are new or “up and coming.” They are just some of the artists I’m really loving right now:

1. The Dandy Warhols

This was definitely a Pandora find. Much of these guys come up on my station, and I love every bit of it. Their songs are cool and catchy. It’s great work music for sure.

2. I Monster

As hipster-liscious as this video is, I really enjoy the song. It’s a bit different from the other songs I’ve caught of theirs, also on my station. I enjoy the edginess.

3. The Kooks

I don’t know what it is about this guy’s voice, but I really enjoy it. I really enjoy the song “Stormy Weather” as well, but unfortunately they don’t have a vid for that one yet…

4. The Airborne Toxic Event

These guys were a great find. The lead singer’s voice is very similar to that of a close friend, so there was a bit of nostalgia involved. Excellent storytelling, and I had a blast learning how to play the acoustic version.

5. Lady Gaga

Ha! I bet you weren’t expecting that. Unless you know me at all, which in case you should know that I’m all about the “Judas” video right now. I love its playful controversy, the costuming is great, and again I’m a sucker for a music video that tells a story. It’s catchy and I shamelessly watch this one at least once a day.

What are you listening to right now?

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Spots: Ohio High Life in Atwood Lake

When most people hear “luxury,” images of New York City hotels pop into mind... perhaps Aspen lodges next to thundering snowy mountain tops, or expansive vineyards in Napa Valley. While all of these glorious locations sound like a fantastic time, they’re a bit beyond my means as a student and freelance writer. Luxury, however, is far from lost on me. I’m a girl that loves the greater things in life, and thankfully I’ve encountered at least one way of experiencing that sort of sophistication nearly in my own back yard.

Dellroy, Ohio.

I know. I hadn’t heard of it either. As the Living Social Escape email sprung open from my Inbox, my initial reaction was: “Where?” But upon investigating, I discovered it was a whopping one hour drive from my native Akron and a total steal. Needless to say, I jumped on the opportunity to visit Whispering Pines Bed and Breakfast on Atwood Lake in the not so well known Dellroy, Ohio.

I ceremoniously booked my stay for the week of my birthday (which happens to be this week… the big day tomorrow). I could think of no better way of ringing in my “quarter of a century” status than a couple of days of relaxation, reading, drinking wine, and eating a whole lot of delicious food. I’m happy to say that I was not let down. While the Cleveland and Akron areas got hit with severe storms, Atwood Lake remained peaceful despite similar weather predictions. All of my plans for nature and luxury were satisfied.

[there was a nature center at the park... with turtles!]

For those that are not so much the “outdoorsy” type, Atwood Lake may not be a prime location. Truth be told, a huge selling factor of the area is the abundance of Marinas and kayak (as well as boat) rentals. A couple hours out on the lake put a little soreness in the arms, and quite a sting on the skin—but felt amazing. Entirely worth the sunburn that ensued. There is horseback riding in the area as well, and a whole slew of hiking trails… which included one with a Jurassic-Park style observation tower for viewing the expanse of the lake. Breathtaking. Stopping by the local ice cream parlor after a few hours in the sun, too, was absolutely perfect.

[the view from the observation tower]

[have I mentioned my love for chocolate ice cream with peanut butter??]

Beyond the bugs and sweat, however, Atwood Lake really is a little gem in terms of luxury. Whispering Pines Bed and Breakfast was absolutely gorgeous. The owners were nothing but accommodating and friendly. The Jasmine Room was absolutely gorgeous—cozy, but elegant. The d├ęcor had a rustic charm, but certainly felt more “luxury” than grandma’s house… though the assortment of board games in the sitting room was a fantastic resource during our stay. And the food… well, let’s just say that ricotta pancakes will now be making their way into my usual morning fare. Reading at sunset on a private balcony has become my new favorite pastime, as well as leisurely enjoying a glass of wine in the hot tub.

[and the owners landscape the entire things themselves... brilliant!]

[the gorgeous sun room where we enjoyed our breakfast]

Two other spots in the area certainly worth mentioning are the Lighthouse Bistro and Al-Bi Winery. The Lighthouse Bistro is positioned not far from Atwood Lake Park, and serves up the meanest steak I’ve had in ages. We’re talking smothered in carmelized onions and a blue cheese glaze… it was pure heaven. But I’m ahead of myself—we got the steak the second time we went there. The first round of Ahi Tuna, crab cake, and delicious fried pickles was enough to send us there again—and sample the lobster rolls as well. Topped off with a delicious Sam Adams Oktoberfest, it was just what the doctor ordered.

[ahi tuna]

[crab cake and fried pickles... Mmm]

Al-Bi Winery is an a-dor-a-ble little place that is family owned and 100% dangerous. By dangerous, I mean their wine is like the tastiest juice you’ve ever had in your life… but quite alcoholic. For the seasoned wine-o that enjoys dry cabs and the crispest Pinot Gregio, I wouldn’t recommend it. But if you enjoy a glass of something fruity and refreshing on a summer day, this is the place to be. They have a number of blends, dandelion wine, and pretty much the most delicious peach wine I’ve ever had. You really can’t go wrong with a place that names one of their bottles “Foreplay.”

[mixing the peach and raspberry wines together... delish!]

Alright, alright—enough with the gloating, I know. The moral of this story is that you don’t have to travel far to experience luxury and relaxation. Ohio may not be known for its sophistication, but there is certainly a quaint elegance hidden in Dellroy if you venture to look…

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Why a Cycle Makes all the Difference

The weather broke a couple days this week and I had the chance to get out on my new piece of machinery and check out the local parks in the Lakewood area. There is really nothing quite like the feeling of the wind blowing through your hair with a pair of aviators to shield the slowly setting spring sun. I’ve found, however, that being on bicycle as opposed to riding in a car has a further appeal than the simple pleasure of raw motion. I’ve been able to witness the little nuances of my neighborhood, and some of the wonderful advantages of living in an area that has quite a bit of walkability to it.

There are, of course, those little things you never notice when you’re in an automobile—the wearing of the paint on passing buildings, the gorgeous flowers growing in your neighbor’s front yard. More importantly, however, the other four senses are vastly underutilized. You may hear the wind whipping into your car as you drive, but you don’t hear the sounds of conversation taking place on front porches, or the smell of a backyard barbeque. You don’t get as many opportunities to get out and get your digits wet (though on second thought the conditions of the rivers in Cleveland should discourage me from putting said feet in water in the future).

I’ve been frustrated at the changing of the times over the last couple of years. Why aren’t kids acting like kids anymore? Though many I’m sure were hiding away in their bedrooms listening to iPods and playing the newest videogame, I saw so many out today—with their parents at the park, throwing flat stones into the water. Some in the midst of play (yes, real life play), spilling imagination onto the sidewalks in groups. No antisocial tendencies… just kids being precisely that, saying hello as I whiz by.

I stopped to take photos of a gorgeous display of flowers and two young girls asked me if I was a “photo-grapher.” Laughing, I responded that I was trying—so happy that they were curious enough to even ask. While climbing around on large rocks and slabs of concrete on the lake’s edge I overheard a little girl comment to her mother that I as allowed because “I was an adult and knew what I was doing.” I immediately responded that she gave me way too much credit, but it made me smile. As adults, we rarely have these little interactions with strangers—instead opting to jump in our vehicles, drive exactly where we need to go, and try our best to avoid eye contact in the process.

I’m fortunate to see a lot of people out and about on bicycles here in Lakewood. I’m even more fortunate that the city is practically a grid, so there is no serious danger of me losing my way throughout its streets (as anyone will tell you I have the absolute worst sense of direction). By far the most fortunate I’ve found myself is in moving to a place that fosters community right at the street level. Whether the church a few blocks down is putting on a carnival for the kids, more work is being done at the community garden just a few streets down from my place, or the shouts and cheers from a little league game is trailing through the air as I ride by.

I know, this all sounds so very melodramatic—but it’s what really gets my gears turning (there’s a little bicycle pun for ya). Just take it as a little prod to get out and enjoy the nice weather… when we have it. The world is a beautiful, amazing place if we take the time to smell the roses, have an impromptu conversation with a new friend, or just stop to listen to the trains go by.


Saturday, May 21, 2011

Adorable Adaptive Reuse: Sundress

Hello friends! I wanted to share with you the excitement of a recent project I finished. I mentioned it in a previous post about eco-friendly fashion decisions, but at that point the dress was not quite finished yet. The shirt had been properly adjusted, but the pieces had not yet been put together. Because I've been hard at work behind my sewing machine this weekend attempting to make my own shower curtain-- and the rain has actually broken, allowing for a little sunshine-- I figured it was the perfect opportunity to finish it up and make it wearable! I'm quite happy with the end result :)

Top: An old shirt I never much wore because the sleeves were kind of different. The fabric is super stretchy and comfortable, however. Cost: Free.

Skirt: A Goodwill find. I think I paid about $3 for it.

Belt: Also from Goodwill. It ran me a whopping $0.99.

Total Cost: $4.00. Not bad!

Now to get the full effect, the before and after:

I also took the time today to repaint the toes and fingers, just to add a little oomph! Now all I need is a nice glass of lemonade... and to finish that shower curtain!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Curry and Microbrews

So I’ve been in my new place here in Lakewood for roughly two weeks now—and realized that I have not updated once. The busy nature of finals, unpacking, and getting adjusted to a full-time work schedule have more or less gotten in the way of getting out during the day, exploring, and reporting back. Thankfully, however, my desire to have a little fun in my new neighborhood has won out over sleep… so I’ve managed to find a few great places not too far away and I’m making the time right now to spread the love! Anyone that knows me knows that I have a rather incredible love affair with food. And beer. Moving to another area opens up a whole world of possibility and exploration. I still have a long way to go, but here are some of my preliminary observations:

Mullens on Madison

This has become my usual go-to bar. I know. Who has a “go-to bar” after two weeks? I make myself sound like a raging alcoholic… sigh… But in all honesty, the rationale behind this statement all comes down to one tiny but incredible fact: $2 microbrews. As an obnoxious beer snob that scoffs at even the idea of drinking a beer with a “light” plastered on the bottle, this is a rather exciting prospect—because, you know, I really can’t afford to drink expensive beer at the bar. Hence, Mullens will provide less suffering for my wallet. But really, it has the best happy hour I’ve ever seen. And by happy hour I mean anytime after 7:00 on Wednesdays, and by best I mean everything is $2. Anything in the bar you see. It is rather obvious where I will be spending my Wednesday nights…

Thai Kitchen

Did I mention I painted my bathroom? It looks fabulous, and the best part is that one of my very best friends made the journey north to help me do so. Prior to the painting escapades, however, we decided to take a short walk (roughly one block) to Thai Kitchen—a very small, hole-in-the-wall establishment. Let me preface this by saying that I pretty much live and breathe for Thai food. There’s something about coconut milk that makes it less like nourishment and more like crack. I will say that Thai Kitchen is certainly not the best Thai I’ve ever had. I wouldn’t even put it in the top five. That being said, I’ve had a whooole lot of Thai. I would repeat my visit multiple times to this quaint little place regardless. The only downside: they only take cash. In most cases that will warrant me making a trip to the ATM prior to leaving (which kind of negates the convenience of it being so very close), but perhaps that will reign in the number of trips I make there…

[the "after" shot of the bathroom. we are two hardcore painters.]

India Garden

Looking for an Indian restaurant in the area was a must, but I was a bit unsure of the quality of India Garden at first. Granted, determining how nice a place is via website is never accurate, but the decision was made to go for it nonetheless. I’m really happy that decision was made. We ultimately ended up getting food to go, but the restaurant looks incredibly cute… and the food was great! Excellent curries, naan… and huge portions! I’ll be eating leftovers for a few days for sure. Though not on my end of Lakewood, I’ll certainly be making multiple trips back. I don’t know what it is about Thai and Indian food that just makes it the best comfort food… so good!

I’ve visited other restaurants in the area as well. There is a Winking Lizard very close to me, which is fantastic for both beer and wings. I was relieved to see an Aladdin’s in the neighborhood—as thus far I’ve never lived without one. They have locations in Akron, Pittsburgh, and apparently the Cleveland area. Delicious Lebanese food at a great price. Thankfully, I have not busted my budget any further at area restaurants—instead opting to cook at home the majority of nights. I am happy that both of my preferred grocery stores are also in the area (Aldi and Marc’s are both a must).

Thus we have determined that the Lakewood food situation is pretty bangin’.


Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Apartment Therapy

So I got the keys to my place and I move my things in tomorrow. That's right. Tomorrow. It's still quite surreal to me, even now. Most of my things are packed. Unfortunately not all of my things are packed quite yet. I also have a final due today at 2pm. And an article to write. Why am I blogging, you ask? I'm not really sure. Procrastination is a killer.

Regardless, I wanted to share some photos of the space! I will be chronicling the revamping of my apartment on Buildipedia, and I hope that you come along for the ride!

I named this post "Apartment Therapy" because that's really what this space is going to be about. As mentioned previously on this blog, I have a lot of changes happening, and I'm in a place where I need to focus on me. This apartment is going to be 100% catered to my psychological well-being. I'm changing the verbiage. Bathroom? Not so-- "Bubble Bath Sanctuary." Bedroom? Not at all-- "Dressing Room." Kitchen will now be known as "Center of Creativity," and the living room will be the "Relaxation Nook." You may call me crazy (and probably be right), but these are the little things that will transform my space into exactly what it needs to be. And transformation is necessary.

I really love my apartment already, but in a "I can't wait to change you" kind of way. Whereas I cannot in any way change the people in my life, my space is entirely manipulable. It will be a love/hate dynamic at times, and it will not be easy. But it's the kind of relationship I need to be in. I'm also incredibly psyched to paint, sew, and create. It's gonna be a bumpy ride, but I'm ready. Bring it.

[Chairs that my landlord apparently is giving to me inside the relaxation nook. Yay for extra seating (that will be hidden in a closet until needed).]

[Shot of the Bubble Bath Sanctuary. I'm enjoying the cute pedestal sink.]

[Where said bubble baths will be taking place.]

[This is a shot of the hallway, between the "Center of Creativity" and the "Bubble Bath Sanctuary." I'm likely going to be putting up a curtain and making it storage.]

[Where delicious dinners will be made.]

Stay tuned for updates and postings! Thanks for stopping by!