Category Archives: #HappyInCLE

Clue into clePOP (aka We’re moving!)

clePOP

Occasionally, whether we recognize it or not, it’s time to take a sabbatical.

A few months ago, I got an offer to move into PR Newswire’s marketing department to manage the company’s blog Beyond PR.

While I hadn’t been looking to start a new job at the time, I’m glad it came along. Getting to write, design, edit, organize our editorial calendar, recruit contributors and develop strategy every day has been a blast. A hectic blast, but a blast. I’ve also had the opportunity to talk to and learn from other bloggers about blogging.

Meanwhile, though, it’s been three months since I published a blog post here.

At first, it was because I didn’t have time. After running a company blog Monday-Friday, the idea of more blogging was not how I wanted to spend my limited down time.

However, after a few weeks, I realized that there was something more to this break.

While moderating a webinar on blogger burnout, I realized I was suffering from it.

After five years, I wasn’t enjoying my blog as much as I used to. I liked everything about blogging, but I was struggling with what I was blogging about.

When I started Clue Into Cleveland, I was interested in writing about the events and places I love in the city. And although I’m still interested in those things, there are other stories I want to tell beyond Northeast Ohio.

At the same time, Scott was beginning to do more publishing with his webcomics and together we began digging further into our shared interests of comics, pop art, gaming, science fiction and ‘nerd culture’ (for lack of a better word).

We started talking about launching a blog together. However, my biggest sticking point was that I wanted to also keep blogging about Cleveland.

It took a while, but we finally figured out a solution.

Fittingly, it happened the same way Clue Into Cleveland came about.

Apparently we do our best brainstorming in the car because a little over five years ago, while driving from Philly to Cleveland, we came up with the idea for Clue into Cleveland. And, last month, while on a roadtrip to Virginia, clePOP was born.

What is clePOP?

Well, you’ll be seeing more and more of it in the next week or so. This weekend, Scott and I are going to work on getting the blog’s design figured out and (hopefully) all of Clue Into Cleveland’s archives moved over to the new url www.clePOP.com.

The plan is to blog once or twice a week. And I have good news for all of Scott’s fans (of which I count myself #1), Scott and I will be splitting blogging duties.

That means more haikus and humor, plus more topics like comic books, movies, art, roadtrips, pinball, and — yes — Cleveland.  We’ll probably also be writing more about the other projects we’re working on, be that a comic Scott just published or an interesting article from Beyond PR (like the time that LeBron and Delly inspired a blog post about achieving PR success with less). .

We may kick up some dust during the move to our new home; however, I hope you stick around for the changes!

A Birthday of High Flying, Good Eats & The Great Outdoors

First off, whether it was by Facebook, Twitter, email, text, phone call, or in person — thank you for all of the birthday wishes this weekend.

The festivities started early on Friday night with Date Night at the ZOOvies. This was the second year in a row we celebrated my birthday with an evening of food, beer, and an 80s classic under the stars.

Pre-movie dinner at Date Night at the ZOOvies

Pre-movie dinner at Date Night at the ZOOvies

The Cleveland Zoological Society always does a great job with ZOOvies – especially, the pre-movie food. This year, the eggrolls and BBQ sandwiches were the standouts.

However, it’s the movie snacks that are my favorite part. Besides popcorn, beer, wine, and soda, ZOOvies features a pretzel bar with multiple dips and a candy bar stacked with bowls of sweets from BA Sweeties.

The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo showed The Great Outdoors, which I had never seen before but Scott kept quoting for the last month.  It was good to finally put a film to the quotes — a film that lived up to the high expectations Scott had set for me.

Scott rests his feet after setting up our chairs at Date Night at the ZOOvies

Scott rests his feet after setting up our chairs at Date Night at the ZOOvies

I loved The Great Outdoors for capturing everything I enjoy about 80s flicks — the family-vacation-gone-wrong-but-it-doesn’t-matter-because-they-still-have-fun; the bawdy humor; Dan Akroyd and John Candy playing off of each other; the sub-titled animal scenes.

I also realized how much I missed hearing John Candy’s voice. There was always a wink and warmth to it.

After eating a plate full of sour gummy bears, I rode a sugar high all the way home from the Zoo, arriving just in time to crash face first into bed.

If you want to learn how you can enjoy the really great outdoors with the Zoo, the Zoological Society’s next featured event is a preview of their upcoming wildlife trips and takes place September 23.

Some of my favorite airplanes from RC Warbirds Over Port Clinton

Some of my favorite airplanes from RC Warbirds Over Port Clinton

Birthday proper was spent fulfilling a lifelong wish. When I was in middle school, I was obsessed with remote-controlled everything. I played with remote-control cars and boats; however, the one thing I never touched was a remote-control airplane. (Mostly, because I’m 100% sure I would have immediately crashed and broken it.)

And I think that made my obsession with them even stronger.  I remember going to a park with my dad and marveling at the beautiful scaled warbirds doing tricks across the sky. Unfortunately, my local hobby shop didn’t offer a lot of flying classes for kids, so I kept myself content with my RC trucks.

When Scott and I found out the Liberty Aviation Museum was hosting RC Warbirds Over Port Clinton on my birthday, we immediately knew it would be the perfect birthday outing.

Classic biplanes, jets, helicopters, aerobatic – RC Warbirds Over Port Clinton featured all kinds of flying machines this past weekend.  Each beautifully constructed, most of which you wouldn’t have known were a model when looking up at the sky.  Here’s a YouTube video from the event:

Best of all, Warbirds over Port Clinton had local RC shops at the show, selling a HUGE range of planes and equipment, including a starter kit whose price had my name all over it. Now if I crash and burn, I won’t feel so bad. And if I don’t crash and burn? I may have a new hobby to enjoy.

After a short nap (at 32, I can’t rock a full day of excitement anymore without a little sleep), we were off to dinner at Spice in Gordon Square.

Spice Kitchen and Bar's Honey Glazed Sirloin

Spice Kitchen and Bar’s Honey Glazed Sirloin

After this year’s birthday dinner, I can’t say enough nice things about Spice Kitchen and Bar. We’ve always enjoyed the restaurant the few times we visited in the past, but our experience on Saturday night was by far the best.

Due to a last minute change in plans, we found ourselves calling Spice at 7pm Saturday to see if they could fit a group of six for 7:45.

A long shot, for sure, but they were incredibly gracious about it and we even lucked out and got my favorite table in the entire restaurant — a gorgeous long wooden table, decked out with wooden tree trunks.

My Honey Lavender Collins went very well with our table setting at Spice Kitchen and Bar

My Honey Lavender Collins went well with our table

As always, the service and food were fantastic. To start, Scott ordered the dumplings, while I ordered the mushroom beignets. I was talking with a friend on Monday about how we would go to Spice just for those beignets and the honey goat cheese creme fraiche they’re served with. If you kept putting orders of these in front of me, I would just keep eating them:

I could eat five orders of Spice's Mushroom Beignets

Fortunately, I stopped myself and saved room for our entrees. Scott’s sirloin featured a hint of honey glaze, wonderfully balanced by the meat’s peppery kick. I ordered the evening’s special – rabbit pappardelle. The rabbit and noodles were incredibly tender. If they offer you a rabbit special when you go, I highly recommend it.

I topped this magnificent dinner with a Honey Lavender Collins and the fantastic company of Jen, Alicia, their husbands and the Morrises in spirit.

All in all, a lovely way to say hello to 32. I’m looking forward to the year ahead.

Disclosure: I was invited to attend Date Night at the ZOOvies with a guest in exchange for previewing the event. Opinions are 100% my own.

Luau on the Lake Winner + Pig Roast Pictures

luaupostcard14

I love four day weekends but it was rough getting going this morning. Now that I’ve had my coffee, let’s jump right in with the Luau on the Lake giveaway winner!

After removing one duplicate entry and placing the rest in Random.org, congratulations to entry #44, Holly, for winning 2 VIP tickets to Luau on the Lake! Please reply to my email by the end of Tuesday to confirm you can still attend.

Luau winner

If you didn’t win and don’t yet have your tickets for this Saturday’s Luau, what are you waiting for? Today’s the last day to get your tickets at the discounted price of $50 for general admission and $60 for Big Kahuna VIP.  On July 8, general admission goes up to $60 and VIP will no longer be available.

You can get your tickets here.

Scott and I enjoyed our own feast and beach-side adventures this weekend when my sister-in-law Laura and her husband Max flew into town so we could celebrate the Fourth of July and Scott’s grandmother’s 90th birthday.

Now, Max – besides being a great husband to Laura and brother-in-law to Scott and I – is a fantastic cook. And one of his many culinary loves and talents is roasting pigs.

So on Thursday afternoon, we all paid a visit to West Side Market (after a wonderful lunch at Town Hall) to pick up the suckling pig that Max had pre-ordered from Sebastian’s Meats.

Clockwise from left: Scott gets his hands dirty; Benepig Arnold is prepped on the grill; taking precautions so the pig doesn't escape

Clockwise from left: Scott gets his hands dirty; Benepig Arnold is prepped on the grill; taking precautions so the pig doesn’t escape

The hard work that Max, Scott, and Scott’s dad put into prepping and roasting the pig over the next day and a half was worth it.

Left to right: Max with a drawn and quartered Benepig Arnold; Murphy is just waiting for Max to slip up and drop a piece of meat

Left to right: Max with a drawn and quartered Benepig Arnold; Murphy is just waiting for Max to slip up and drop a piece of meat

Every part of that little guy was delicious, but I have to admit – the pig tongue was the tastiest part.

Caprese salad (plated in the shape of a pig), potato salad with pickles, gluten-free cornbread, and Laura’s ice-box cake were a refreshing complement to the pig’s richness.

Caprese Pig

Caprese Pig (Scott’s plating magic)

We followed all of that food up with a long bike ride around Avon Lake and then a trip to the beach for one of the most stunning sunsets I’ve seen on Lake Erie.

Red, white and beautiful - Lake Erie

Red, white and beautiful – Lake Erie

It was such an incredible day that when we were sitting around the firepit later that night, the flames even gave it a thumbs up:

Scott getting a thumbs up from the fire

Scott getting a thumbs up from the fire

Hope you had a wonderful Fourth of July, too!

Disclosure: I was invited to host a giveaway for Luau on the Lake. Opinions are always my own.

Twilight at the Zoo: Why It’s a Cleveland Summer Must-Do

The mayflies have come and gone and the July 4th holiday is here. In the Hicken house, this means it’s time to start making plans for the rest of summer.

I don’t care what else I do between now and September — Twilight at the Zoo is my big must-do for this summer.

TWI_general admission party2

After scheduling conflicts kept us from going in previous years, Scott and I made sure last summer’s Twilight at the Zoo stayed open on our calendar.

And it seemed as if the gods would smile upon us for an evening of outdoor music and summer drinking … until the rains came. And, boy, did they come.

But you know what? Despite getting drenched and only seeing a few of the bands perform, Scott and I had a fantastic time with our friends. Plus we had a reason to buy matching safari hats.

(I tell myself that we needed something to keep the rain out of our eyes, but the real reason is that we love safari hats.)

I also got this awesome photo with WhyCLE’s husband:

Twilight at the Zoo rainstorm

The evening was one of the highlights of last summer, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed for good weather on August 1, the date of this year’s Twilight at the Zoo.

From 7pm til midnight, stages will be staggered through the Zoo, featuring 18 local bands.

There will be something to satisfy every musical taste – funk to folk, rock to reggae. This year’s bands include:

TWI_general admission party

General admission tickets, which cost $80 per person or $700 for a block of 10, also include free Sam Adams beer, Twisted Tea, wine and soda and a selection of small bites to eat.

Upgrade to VIP tickets ($150 per ticket/$1200 for block of 10) and get access to the VIP party from 6-9pm.  VIP partygoers enjoy priority parking and early entry, an open bar, and catering by AMP150, Carrabba’s, Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Mitchell’s Fish Market. 

And don’t drink and drive: Arrange for a designated driver or book one of the Zoo’s hotel/ticket packages with the Cleveland Airport Marriott.

Purchase tickets online or go here for more information.

One other thing … if you’re planning on getting tickets, get them now. This event usually sells out, and if this year’s Date Night at the Zoovies is any indication (sold out yesterday for an August 22 event), Twilight tickets may be gone sooner than later.

Hope to see you there! I’ll be packing safari hat just in case.

Disclosure: I was invited to attend Twilight at the Zoo with a guest, in exchange for promoting the event. Opinions are 100% my own and based on attending last year’s Twilight.

Intoxicating Pairings: Cleveland Beer Events for Those Who Like to Learn, Laugh or Draw

I’ve been on the road the past week, so this bit of blogkeeping is belated. Congratulations to Elizabeth P for winning 2 tickets to the Tri-C JazzFest!

Scott and me celebrating his birthday at a beer and comic books event

One of my favorite beer pairing events was Great Lakes Brewing Company’s comic books and beer night

When I hear the phrase “beer pairings,” my thoughts – as yours probably do – immediately go to beer and food. From cheese and chocolate to bacon, seafood, and sushi.

However, this post is not about that kind of pairing. (If you’re here looking for that, save the date for Cleveland Beer Week 2014 October 10-18, which promises to be full of great food and beer events.)

Instead, I’m talking today about beer paired with some unexpected activities. From comedy to science to art, here are 3 upcoming events if you’d like to do something different while drinking your favorite pint.

Science After Dark - Home Brew

Did you miss Great Lakes Science Center’s Yuri’s Night? I have good news for you:

This Thursday, June 26, GLSC is continuing their series of 21-and-over ‘Science After Dark’ events with HOME BREW from 6:30-9:30 pm.

  • Do you know what happens to beer when you take away air pressure? Witness it firsthand when the Science Center staff tests it out with different kinds of brews. 
  • Want to learn about home brewing? Meet Paul and Reed from Cleveland Brew Shop at their “Yeast: The Workhorse of Beer” demonstration.
  • Ever wondered, as I have, why your speech sounds funny after you start drinking? Dr. Amee Shah of CSU’s Speech Acoustics & Perception Lab will discuss your brain on booze.

There will also be hands-on activities including LEGO-building and science board and card games created by Cleveland Institute of Art students. Or you can try creating a putt-putt golf hole using everyday materials.

And, of course, beer and coffee samples from Fat Head’s Brewery, Crafted Artisan Meadery, Jackie O’ Brewery, Great Lakes Brewing Company, and Phoenix Coffee will be available.·

Tickets are $18 in advance/$21 at the door (only $12 for members). Buy tickets online here or call 216-621-2400.

CLEVELAND DRINK AND DRAW

Avengers Artists, Assemble!”

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a professional, amateur, or completely-out-of-practice artist like me. Join the Cleveland Drink & Draw Social Club at one of their twice-monthly meetups. They’re at Great Lakes Brewing Company the first Wednesday and Lava Lounge the third Thursday of every month.

That means the next one is July 2nd in GLBC’s Rockefeller Room (7-11pm).

Started in 2012 by the Rust Belt Monster Collective, the Drink & Draw Social Club is “a place to exchange techniques, build contacts, and most importantly; bond over what is far too often a solitary passion.”

All you have to do is bring your art supplies. Every event also includes group “jam pieces” and prizes from long-time supporters Carol And John’s Comic shop. 

brewhahalogo

Not into science or art? Well, everyone likes to laugh.

On July 10, the Greater Cleveland Food Bank’s YP Pantry group will be hosting the inaugural BrewHaha – Lager and Laughs for Hunger Relief.

From 6-9pm at the Food Bank’s distribution center, enjoy the talents of Last Call Cleveland and local comedians Josh Womack, Mary Santora, and Jake Solomon while sampling beer from Chardon BrewWorks, Great Lakes, Market Garden, Willoughby Brewing Company, Platform Beer Company, Deschutes Brewery and others.

The comedy show will be hosted by the always-hilarious Bill Squire, co-host of the Alan Cox Show and live music will be provided by Newshoes.  

Individual tickets are $25, which includes 20 samples of beer in a souvenir beer tasting glass and the evening’s entertainment. Tickets for two are discounted at $45 and designated drivers can enjoy water, non-alcoholic beverages and all of the performances for only $10. Get them here.

All proceeds from the evening go to benefit the Greater Cleveland Food Bank’s mission to provide food to those in need.

***

I hope you check out at least one of, if not all of these events. The Cleveland beer scene is incredible, and it’s exciting to see the city not just embrace it, but do so in such eclectic ways.

Disclosure: I was invited to attend the Great Lakes Science Center’s HOME BREW with a guest. I also used to be on the YP Pantry board. However, I chose to blog about these events independently of those decisions and the opinions are 100% mine.

#DazzleCLE: PlayhouseSquare to Shine Even Brighter

Over the last year, changes have been coming to the outside of PlayhouseSquare. But a few more are yet to come...

Over the last year, changes have been coming to the outside of PlayhouseSquare. But a few are yet to come…

Anyone who has visited one of PlayhouseSquare’s theatres recalls the first time they took in its restored beauty. The old-school glamour of its lobbies and theatres. The State Theatre murals. The Hanna’s ornate ceiling decked in mythological creatures. Those chandeliers.

It’s all the more stunning knowing that at one time these theatres fell into such disrepair that they were going to be torn down.

But because of Ray Shepardson – without whom, we would have had parking lots on Euclid Avenue – they were saved and a neighborhood in downtown Cleveland restored. In fact, PlayhouseSquare announced last month that they now have more season ticket holders than any city in America.

If you haven’t seen it or are unfamiliar with PlayhouseSquare’s comeback story, check out the Staging Success documentary:

To match the dazzle inside of its theatres, PlayhouseSquare is about to complete a dramatic transformation outside.

Over the last year, we’ve seen the plaza in the PlayhouseSquare district updated with an outdoor music stage, firepit, and dining area. Beautiful archways (my favorite of the exterior additions) now mark the boundaries of the neighborhood. Digital signs provide information and interaction opportunities for visitors. And a retro sign above the buildings at E. 13th St. and Euclid Avenue pays homage to PlayhouseSquare’s 1920s-era beginnings.

PlayhouseSquare 1

New signage can be found everywhere you look around and above you

All of these changes have led to the unveiling of the neighborhood’s centerpiece: The GE Chandelier.

20-feet tall and adorned with 4,200 crystals, it was inspired by the stunning chandeliers inside of the theatre. It will be a permanent fixture, connecting the points of the Euclid Ave. and E 14th Street intersection and serving as a can’t-miss welcome for PlayhouseSquare guests.

The massive chandelier was constructed by Montreal-based company Lumid. In addition to looking good, it’s been designed and tested to withstand the harshest conditions (take that, Cleveland winters!). 

The frame is currently up at PlayhouseSquare; however, you can be the first to see it lit up in all its glittering splendor this coming Friday:

Dazzle-countdown-events-images-general1

On May 2, the lights will be turned on at Dazzle the District. This free community celebration starts at 5pm with Taste of PlayhouseSquare, happy hours and live music on the U.S. Bank Plaza (previously Star Plaza).

At 8:30 pm, Nashville’s Hot Chelle Rae takes The University Hospitals Main Stage for a concert.

It all culminates with the GE Chandelier Lighting Ceremony at 9:30 p.m.

I hope you’ll join me this Friday! Admission to the event and concert is completely free. And stop by the blog after Dazzle the District for photos and a giveaway of PlayhouseSquare Dazzle swag.

The chandelier, even without its lights, is beautiful

Soon, this sight will be even more spectacular

Get all the Dazzle the District details at dazzle.playhousesquare.org and watch these videos to learn more about the GE Chandelier:

Disclosure: I was invited to blog about the event, though I was already planning on it because I love PlayhouseSquare and can’t wait to see the chandelier’s unveiling. Opinions here are 100% my own.

Yuri’s Night Space Party at Great Lakes Science Center: Cleveland’s Part in Worldwide Spaceflight Celebration

Cleveland's Yuri's Night Space Party at the Great Lakes Science Center takes place April 12, 2014

Cleveland’s Yuri’s Night Space Party at the Great Lakes Science Center takes place April 12, 2014

On Sunday, Scott and I excitedly curled up on the couch for the premiere of Cosmos. Scott, a fan of the original with Carl Sagan; I, a fan of host Neil deGrasse Tyson’s StarTalk Radio.

A fantastic storyteller who’s able to make science more accessible and entertaining, Tyson brought us back in time and far into the universe in only the first episode.

Shows like Cosmos and StarTalk may be the closest I get to outer space. However, on April 12, I’ll be joining the world in celebrating the anniversary of the first human to get closer.

The Great Lakes Science Center, home of the NASA Glenn Visitor Center, is the perfect spot for Yuri's Night

The Great Lakes Science Center, home of the NASA Glenn Visitor Center, is the perfect spot for Yuri’s Night

In 1961, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin was launched into outer space for a 108-minute flight orbiting the Earth. For over a decade, cities around the world honor the first human spaceflight, as well as the inaugural launch of NASA’s Space Shuttle on April 12, 1981, with Yuri’s Night.

Since 2001, these Yuri’s Night events combine space-themed partying with education and outreach in honor of humanity’s past, present, and future in space.

So far this year, there are 54 parties in 13 counties, including Cleveland’s Yuri’s Night Space Party at the Great Lakes Science Center on Saturday, April 12.

I attended my first Yuri’s Night party last year, and I can tell you: the Great Lakes Science Center REALLY knows how to party. Anywhere I can do the robot to the Tetris theme song and party with Doctor Who, Star Wars, and Star Trek look-alikes is my kind of event!

Some of my favorite costumes and science experiments from last year's Yuri's Night Space Party

Some of my favorite costumes and science experiments from last year’s Yuri’s Night Space Party

This year’s Cleveland Yuri’s Night will feature:

  • Live music by Abby Normal, Vibe & Direct, DJ 41SE7EN and OZMTZ and dancing all night long
  • Beer and wine – Sam Adams beer, Angry Orchard cider, Barefoot wines and light hors d’oeuvres included in ticket price while supplies last; cash bar for cocktails and special treats
  • Costume contest – wear your best space-themed attire
  • GLSC’s Big Science Show, cool science demos and their signature midnight balloon drop
  • Special appearances by astronaut Greg Johnson, Cleveland Institute of Art, the Great Lakes Base of the Rebel Legion, Ohio Garrison / 501st Legion and the Mandalorian Mercs
  • New this year: A Black Light Lounge and outdoor deck party experience (weather permitting)

Tickets also include admission to the NASA Glenn Visitor Center, GLSC’s special exhibition Wildlife Rescue, and free parking in their attached garage.

Don’t wait to get your tickets: Early bird pricing of $40 is still available, but only until March 17. Ticket prices will go up to $55 per ticket on March 18. Purchase online or call 216-621-2400.

UPDATE (3/24): Enter to win 2 tickets to Yuri’s Night at Poise in Parma.

Hope to see you partying on the dance floor at this year's Yuri's Night

Hope to see you partying on the dance floor at this year’s Yuri’s Night

Want to learn more about Yuri’s Night?  Check out the Great Lakes Science Center’s Facebook event site here and follow @YurisNight to keep up-to-date on all of the global celebrations.

Disclosure: I will be attending with a guest as media but was going to write about the event regardless. My opinions are 100% my own.

Free Concert: CityMusic Cleveland’s World Premiere Inspired by Cleveland Refugee Community

Blogkeeping: Congrats Jenny S for winning the Cleveland Home and Remodeling Expo giveaway. Please reply to my email by end of today to confirm you can still attend.
CityMusic Cleveland will perform the world premiere of Dan Visconti's Roots to Branches, along with Ung's Khse Buon for cello solo and Beethoven's Symphony No. 3 "Eroica" on March 12-16

CityMusic Cleveland will perform the world premiere of Dan Visconti’s Roots to Branches, along with Ung’s Khse Buon for cello solo and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 “Eroica” on March 12-16

Cleveland has a rich ethnic heritage, dating back far into the city’s history and spanning many cultures. The Cleveland Memory Project, for instance, hosts some fascinating information from The Greater Cleveland Ethnographic Museum’s Immigrant Experience Project, which recorded the stories of approximately ninety immigrants from over thirty cultural backgrounds.

Today, many refugee populations continue to forge a new home in the Cleveland region.

A new musical piece commissioned by CityMusic Cleveland weaves together the stories of these communities, the hardship and oppression they’ve fled, and their long journey to settle in Cleveland.

Dan Visconti’s Roots to Branches will make its world premiere this week during CityMusic’s March concert series.

As with all of their concert series, CityMusic will tour the performance at different locations around Cleveland. And in keeping with CityMusic’s mission to make chamber music more accessible, every concert is free though donations are welcomed.

The concert premieres tomorrow, March 12 at 7:30pm at Fairmount Presbyterian Church in Cleveland Heights. Other performances include:

Visconti worked with CityMusic and Grammy-winning percussionist Shane Shanahan to produce this new work, a concerto for hand percussion with orchestra and narrator. In an email to CityMusic supporters, he shared what inspired the composition:

“The title of the concerto comes from this quote, from an interview with a local Bhutanese refugee:

‘I have lost my roots but gained many branches; my family tree flowers once again with the promise of opportunity, and in my turn my greatest hope is to give back to this great country that has given my family a new chance to blossom.’

In turns hair-raising, offbeat, and joyous, the concerto Roots to Branches features percussion instruments from around the globe, gives expressive voice to these refugees’ experiences, and paints a portrait of a population that is already giving back to the community that offered them the chance of a better life.”

In addition to Roots to Branches, this week’s concert series will include Khse Buon for cello solo by Cambodian-American composer Chinary Ung and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 “Eroica”. An IndieGoGo project is also underway to record Roots to Branches so that the stories of our community’s refugees can be told to others.

Roots to Branches' composer Dan Visconti

Composer Dan Visconti

This will be only my second CityMusic Cleveland concert. When I attended their Viennese Waltz Kings concert in December, I fell in love with CityMusic’s mission of calling attention to social concerns while making chamber music more accessible to the Cleveland community. It also helped that the performance was incredible and the group’s welcoming spirit was so contagious.

It’s no surprise that as they celebrate their 10th anniversary, CityMusic Cleveland is reaching nearly 20,000 people per season.

In conjunction with the concerto’s world premiere, CityMusic will be at the Children’s Museum of Cleveland on Sunday, March 16. Join them and special guests from Cleveland’s refugee community to learn kids’ songs from all over the globe. The interactive presentation will take place at 10:30am, 11:30am, and 12:30pm.

They’ll also be presenting a program with Global Cleveland at the City Club of Cleveland on March 21. At noon, global human rights activist Kerry Kennedy will speak about the plight of modern-day refugees, highlighting the stories of hidden communities of refugees settling in the US, including those from Bhutan/Nepal, Myanmar, Iraq, and Somalia. Call 216-621-0082 to make reservations.

Disclosure: I was asked to share this event on my blog; however, I would have anyway because I support CityMusic’s mission and was already planning on attending one of the free concerts. Opinions here are 100% my own.

Five Years and a Whole Lot of Love

Five years ago: Wedding ceremony, part 1 (CL, 2/21/09) and part 2 (Key West, 3/21/09)

Five years ago: Wedding ceremony, part 1 (CL, 2/21/09) and part 2 (Key West, 3/21/09)

Five years ago today, I piled into a car with my dad, mom, and sister, dressed in a white gown and black snow boots. We were headed to St. Ann’s in Coventry. It was snowing and I was stressing out – no surprises there.

Was I nervous that I was about to get married to Scott? Not at all. Out of all the things in my life, he is the one thing I have always been sure of.

I was just running late, and I hate running late. I was also anxious about slipping on ice or falling on my way down the aisle.

However, the moment I saw Scott patiently waiting for me at the front of the church, I was calm. Whether it’s our wedding day or a random Tuesday, Scott has the ability to calm my nerves with just a funny face:

scott face

Not sure if this particular Scott face is funny or scary

With Valentine’s Day and our anniversary so close to each other, love’s been on my mind lately. However, not just love for Scott, but for the friends, family, and city that have made up so much of our marriage and supported us through this past year of ups and downs.

Family

I count myself very lucky that my mom, dad, and sister are in good health and I get to see them fairly regularly considering they live in Virginia. The good health hasn’t always been the case, and I also know it won’t always be the case. But at this moment, everyone’s happy and healthy and I’m grateful for that. I’m going to enjoy it as much as I can for as long as that lasts.

They keep me honest – about myself, my feelings, and how things are going.

I’m also grateful to finally have Scott’s parents and grandmom in Cleveland. I forgot what it was like to have family right around the corner. I didn’t even realize it, but I missed Sunday dinners. I want to spend as much time as possible with this lady:

Grandmom made a tomato heart in honor of Valentine's Day

Grandmom made a tomato heart in honor of Valentine’s Day

It also means we’ll get to see more of Scott’s sister and our brand new brother-in-law! Happy one-month anniversary, Laura and Max.

Friends

I know that Scott and I have the habit of retreating into our own little insulated world — one constructed of comic books, LEGOs, and two crazy cats. However, it’s good to escape and enjoy some time with the girls. After the stress of the last few weeks, not one, but two girls nights were needed.

Nothing can quell my anxiety quite like Ty Fun’s Gang Gari curry, chocolate, bubbly, sorbet, and an evening with Alicia, Jen, and Kimberly. I have a tendency to go down the rabbit hole of panic and negativity. And although they let me ramble on about whatever’s bothering me (or the 500 things that are bothering me), they also force me to talk about what’s good. That, more than anything, helps stave off my crazy.

As if that wasn’t enough, I celebrated my first Galentine’s Day on Sunday with some friends from work. What is Galentine’s Day, you say? Oh, it’s only the best day of the year! (Non-Parks and Rec fans can check out the link.)

We channeled our inner Leslie Knope and enjoyed a delicious (and slightly rowdy) brunch at Le Petit Triangle. The smoked salmon crepes were magnificent; however, I don’t think you could go wrong with anything on that menu. And although no one got a needlepoint pillow with their face on it, I think we would have made Leslie proud with our various gifts:

Will you be my Galentine?

Will you be my Galentine?

Cleveland

A post about the last five years would not be complete without a mention of Cleveland. Exploring the city and its surrounding areas is how we spend most of our time as a couple, finding new things to love from the region’s great food, attractions, and nonprofits.

One event recently combined all of those things – the Cleveland Zoological Society’s Animal Attractions:

Food from some of the area’s best restaurants. Favorite dishes came from Rosander Event Kitchen, Whole Foods, and AMP150. I’ve learned to expect that I’ll always love AMP150’s soup; however, Animal Attractions’ roasted red pepper soup impressed even me. In many red pepper soups you may get a little heat and acidity; however, you could fully taste the fresh red pepper in AMP150’s.

Year-round Fun at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. It may have been cold the night of Animal Attractions, but it was hot inside the Zoo’s Rainforest. I enjoyed being surrounded by all of the tropical flora while saying hello to my favorite Rainforest residents: the porcupine, the chameleon, and the orangutans. We also got to hold a bear’s baculum during the pun-filled Bear Foot and Pregnant presentation!

The Zoo's Curator of Animals Travis Vineyard had a surprise co-presenter during Bear Foot and Pregnant

The Zoo’s Curator of Animals Travis Vineyard had a surprise co-presenter during Bear Foot and Pregnant

Supporting the Cleveland Zoological Society. Scott and I are glad to be members of the Cleveland Zoological Society and love that such a good night goes to raise money for the Zoo’s programs. Summer will be here soon enough with more Zoological Society events like ZippityZooDoo (6/6), Twilight at the Zoo (8/1), and Date Night at the ZOOvies (8/22). We hope to see you out at them.

Scott

Which brings me back to Scott. Every year of marriage has its ups and downs; however, this past one brought more challenges than the previous.

We both had changes occur in our jobs, which although good, were still an adjustment. We also struggled with some personal news.

After unsuccessfully trying to get pregnant for 3 years, we decided to get tested last Spring for fertility issues. Considering it took both sets of parents ten years to get pregnant. I always knew it could take awhile. However, they also started much younger than us so we wanted to find out sooner than later if there were any issues.

We learned this past year that, in fact, it would be very difficult to get pregnant.

This was not the news Scott and I had hoped for, at first. However, it opened the door to another possibility. One, that after a lot of reflection and conversations, we’re even happier with.

We’re going to adopt.

This isn’t news if you and I are friends on Facebook; however, it is the first time I’ve shared it here in a more public forum.

Why share it now? As I think about the last five years of marriage with Scott, supported by family and friends and surrounded by this fantastic city, I’m also looking ahead to the next five.

Here's to the next five years and beyond

Here’s to the next five years and beyond

Realistically, I know the adoption process is not going to be easy or quick. Because of this, we’re forcing ourselves to take our time. We know we want to move forward with a domestic infant adoption, and our goal for 2014 is to just pick an agency we’re happy with and prepare ourselves by attending more workshops at Adoption Network Cleveland.

In the meantime, though, Scott and I will continue living, loving, and most of all laughing. And we’re happy you’ll be here with us.

One of the rare times I've told a funny joke

One of the rare times I’ve told a funny joke

Happy anniversary, Scott!

Disclosure: I was invited to attend Animal Attractions in exchange for previewing the event on my blog. Opinions about the event are my own.

Q&A: The Intergalactic Nemesis’ Jason Neulander

Update: Congrats, entry 9 – Michelle @tinktastic for winning The Intergalactic Nemesis giveaway.

When it comes to the loves of my life, it goes

  1. Scott
  2. family and close friends
  3. Cleveland
  4. comic books 
Scott and me celebrating his birthday at a beer and comic books event

Scott and me celebrating his birthday at a beer and comic books event

While that may be a slight exaggeration, my love for comic books and graphic novels goes beyond the act of enjoying the latest issue of Fables. I think about how I used to draw comics as a kid and jump at the chance to visit the local baseball card store to read up on the X-Men.

I think about how Scott re-introduced me to comics when we started dating. It’s the first activity we shared as a couple, and every time I can help Scott with his own webcomic writing, it brings us even closer in our marriage.

I also think about all of the people I’ve met who share this love – both in the Cleveland community and at conventions from Minnesota to Maryland.

All of this is why I was thrilled to learn The Intergalactic Nemesis Live-Action Graphic Novel is coming to PlayhouseSquare. I saw another live-action graphic novel last year – Kill Shakespeare at C2E2 in Chicago.  It’s an incredibly immersive and entertaining experience.

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