Category Archives: OH Blogging Association

Clue Into Being Active in CLE

HermesCleveland.com offers way to get active in Cleveland

By no stretch of the imagination am I an athlete. If you’ve been following this blog even for a short while, you’ll know my huge loves are food and the arts. And although I enjoy watching sports, I don’t often participate in them.

A huge reason for this is that I’m just not that good at it.  Combined with the fact that I can be overly competitive, I tend to beat myself up when I don’t do well and end up not having a good time.

Despite this, though, I’ve recently started pushing myself to be more active. It started by joining Hungry in CLE‘s kickball team For Whom the Ball Rolls.  Part of the Hermes Sports and Social league, we meet every Tuesday at Tremont’s Clark Field to play kickball.  And it’s a lot of fun (even if I am too hard on myself)!

I haven’t played kickball since grade school and have quickly realized how little I remember of the game.  But I’m learning, and even if I still can’t figure out how to kick the ball so that it’s not a pop-up out, I’ll get there eventually.  In addition to Hungry in CLE, fellow bloggers @MildlyRelevant and Why CLE? are on the team.

Thanks to OH Blogging Association, I'm running my first 5K on July 9th

I can also thank blogging for introducing me to the other sports activity I’m undertaking this summer.

When Poise in Parma announced that July 9th’s Ohio Blogging Meet up would be The Run for the Pierogies, I initially planned on cheering everyone on and meeting up for brunch after the race. The last time I participated in any sort of running (and I use the term loosely) was over ten years ago.  And even then, I grudgingly walked it as part of the mandatory fitness tests in high school.

However, another one of the great things about the Ohio Blogging Association is being able to learn from other bloggers’ stories and take motivation from what has motivated them.

After these bloggers – Poise in Parma, Healthy Heddleston, WhyCLE, HungryinCLE, Finishing Firsts, A Slice of Kiwi, Mojamala2 – shared their experiences about running or getting fit (whether it was ten years or just a few months ago), I realized I could stop joking about my lack of athleticism and lace up my sneakers at the Run for the Pierogies.

And if nothing else, there is the promise of pierogies at the end of it.

Pierogies!

For once, though, I’m not setting a lofty goal.  I want to have fun while doing this and figure if I push myself too hard, I’m going to discourage myself from doing it at all.  So after clocking myself walking a 5K at a little over 50 minutes, I’m hoping to end up somewhere between 45 and 50 minutes.

Between getting winded quickly, the shin splints and hamstring strain, I’m taking it slow and confess it’ll be more of a “Speed Walk for the Pierogies” than anything else.  But it’s ok. I’m having fun and looking ahead to future 5Ks.

If you’re likewise trying to find small ways you can get more active in Cleveland, check out Hermes’ Cleveland Sports and Social activities. They offer leagues throughout the year, including volleyball, bowling, softball and skeeball.

You can also join me at the Run for the Pierogies in Parma on July 9th (a Hermes Road Racing event). There is a 1 mile and a 5k option.  Registration is $20 each and benefits the American Cancer Society Parma Area Relay for Life. The American Cancer Society is an organization that’s personally close to my heart, so I’m glad my first 5K is going to support it.

Since I’ve needed to kick myself into gear, I’ve found that Active.com and Cool Running’s Couch to 5K program are excellent resources for training.  Although I’ve had to modify some of Couch to 5K’s tips because I’m ridiculously out of shape and have a shorter time frame for my training, I’m planning to continue working on this after the 5K is over.

Have your own suggestions for how to get more active in Cleveland, including any 5Ks after July 9th you’d like to recommend?

Share them in the comments section below!

(Images from HermesCleveland.com, OHBlogging.com and Facebook.com/OHBlogging, respectively)

WhyCLE Challenge Wrap-Up

WhyCLE Reason #29: The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo! To celebrate the new elephants exhibit, a duck tape elephant sculpture welcomes guests at the entrance.

At the beginning of May, I set off on CLEGal’s WhyCLE? Challenge to identify one positive thing I love about Cleveland every day.

Everyone who participated could share their reasons any way they wanted so I decided to tweet my daily reason and then write a recap each week on Clue Into CLE.

How did the WhyCLE Challenge go for me? Well, you can read the recaps of reasons 1-20 here:

And here are reasons 21-31 of why I love Cleveland taken from the last week’s Twitter stream:

#WhyCLE Reason 21: @NUFarmersMarket! Loved stopping by Shaker Square yesterday – the Judy’s Oasis hoomus I picked up was delicious.

#WhyCLE Reason 22: Enjoying @e4thst on a sunny day. Heading over to @thegreenhouse for their Rooftop Patio Party. http://ow.ly/57t3T

#WhyCLE Reason 23: Celebrating my 5 yr anniversary at @PRNewswire. Thankful everyday this led to me moving here and being #happyinCLE!

#WhyCLE Reason 24: Getting outdoors and playing kickball tonight w/ @HungryInCLE @MildlyRelevant & @ScottHicken!

#WhyCLE Reason 25: Opportunities to get more involved w/ #clefood scene. Looking forward to mtg w/rest of @NEOFoodTours team later. http://ow.ly/57t7j

#WhyCLE Reason 26: Being able to learn about a city in unique ways such as @engagecsu’s Cleveland Historical 2.0 app http://ow.ly/53VGU

#WhyCLE Reason 27: Daytrips to #CLE’s outer suburbs like Chagrin Falls. Enjoyed seeing the falls w/Scott and his dad. http://t.co/5wIqtpZ

#WhyCLE reason 28: @HappyDogCLE on a Sunday afternoon … or any day of the week! http://ow.ly/57uGN

#WhyCLE Reason 29: Spending day at @clemetzoo – yesterday’s highlights: lemurs, wallabies & of course the elephants! http://ow.ly/i/cg4n

#WhyCLE Reason 30: @Ingenuityfest bridging #CLE’s science & art communities w/events like Temple of Tesla http://ow.ly/56pmO

#WhyCLE Reason 31: Close proximity to Lake Erie’s shores and islands. Kelleys Island was so much fun today! http://ow.ly/56tzv

So now that it’s June 1st, what did I learn from CLEGal’s May challenge? I think it helped me realize that even on a rainy, gloomy day (and there were plenty of those in May if my basement was any indication!), there’s always something to love about Cleveland. Whether it’s a variety of places and events to enjoy or the chance to get involved in the community, boredom is never a problem and it’s easy to find fun or help out.

Although the WhyCLE? Challenge has come to an end, you can discover more reasons to clue into Cleveland on my blog, as well as on WhyCLE and many of the other blogs in the Ohio Blogging Association.

And after reading my reasons for why I love Cleveland, feel free to share your own in the comments section below!

WhyCLE Challenge: Reasons 14 – 20 to Love Cleveland

Events at PlayhouseSquare like the Mini Golf Par-Tee - Reason #15 why I love Cleveland.

Only two days left to enter my giveaway for a Coventry Village-inspired change purse. You have until May 23rd at 11:59 pm.

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Time for the 3rd part of May’s WhyCLE Challenge where I’ll be tweeting a daily reason why I love this city.  You can follow those reasons and my other tweets @ADHicken.  I’ll also be recapping these reasons on my blog each weekend.

Reasons 14-20 to love Cleveland taken from this week’s Twitter stream:

#WhyCLE Reason 14: #CLEFit events like #CLEMarathon. Good luck & congrats to the runners today including kids & teachers from @WeRunThisCity

#WhyCLE Reason 15: @playhousesquare’s Mini Golf Par-Tee is Tues! How you can get tix to putt in the Palace: http://ow.ly/4VcfK

#WhyCLE Reason 16: @emergingchefs’ Mardi Gras en Mai menu (http://ow.ly/4Vcnf). Check it out, then buy tix here: http://ow.ly/4VcnH

#WhyCLE Reason 17: @cedarpoint is open for the season! #HappyinCLE to be able to visit thru Oct. http://ow.ly/4Vc3e

#WhyCLE Reason 18: C-Town Chow Down this Sunday in @TremontWest’s Lincoln Park. Foodtrucks make me #happyinCLE! http://ow.ly/4XduH

#WhyCLE Reason 19: @CleWorldAffairs’ Global #CLE Launch & Summit next wk. Help build a more global city: http://ow.ly/4YtyT

#WhyCLE Reason 20: @ClevelandMag’s @SilverSpoonCLE awards on 5/26. An excellent benefit for the Arthritis Foundation: http://ow.ly/4ZkxV

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Want to catch up on previous reasons why I love Cleveland?

WhyCLE Reasons 1-6

WhyCLE Reason 7-13

WhyCLE Challenge: Reasons 7 – 13 to Love Cleveland

One of this week's reasons why I love Cleveland: going to an Indians game. Although the Indians didn't win on Wednesday, getting my picture with "Slider" (well, Slider's statue) and hanging out in Progressive made up for it.

As I posted last week, I’m taking the WhyCLE Challenge in May where I’ll be tweeting a daily reason why I love this city.  You can follow those reasons and my other tweets @ADHicken.  I’ll also be recapping these reasons on my blog each weekend.

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Reasons 7-13 to love Cleveland taken straight from this week’s Twitter stream:

#WhyCLE Reason 7:  Cleveland’s comic book history & celebrating @FreeComicBook Day @WestlakePorter http://ow.ly/4O5Kg #FCBD

#WhyCLE Reason 8: More natl coverage for #CLE! @playhousesquare’s work w/@cleveplayhouse @wviz = economic success in arts http://ow.ly/4PHeY

#WhyCLE Reason 9: Events like Chef Jam, where food meets rock at @rock_hall. http://wp.me/pPIgG-Aj #HappyinCLE #clefood

#WhyCLE Reason 10: Tues. in @TremontWest. Tonight eat @ Civilization, Ty Fun & Tremont Scoops &10% benefits Arts in Aug. http://ow.ly/4R21x

#WhyCLE Reason 11: The #Indians! There’s nothing like catching a game after work to make the day that much better. #GoTribe! [Another picture from Wednesday’s game: http://tumblr.com/xu12hda3ec]

#WhyCLE Reason 12: Bowling at Mahall’s in #Lakewood where I can score games by hand. Love this place! http://ow.ly/4SU5k #happyinCLE

#WhyCLE Reason 13: Another excellent exhibit to check out at #CLE’s @rock_hall. Women Who Rock opens today: http://ow.ly/4TLnk

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Want to catch up on previous reasons why I love Cleveland?

Guest Post on Poise in Parma about PlayhouseSquare's International Children's Festival

In honor of the International Children's Festival's theme, I was happy to share my experience from this weekend on PoiseInParma.com

This past weekend I was really happy to be able to volunteer at the 2nd Annual International Children’s Festival through PlayhouseSquare Partners.

So when blend (blogger friend) Alicia from Poise in Parma asked me to guest blog during her crazy busy May, I knew immediately I wanted to blog about my experience at the Festival and my involvement in Partners.

Read the post here: Guest Post: Clue Into Cleveland on PlayhouseSquare Partners.

One of the reasons Alicia is so busy this month is that as the Director of Special Events for the Northeastern Ohio Chapter of the Arthritis Foundation, she’ll be rocking out the 17th annual Cleveland Magazine Silver Spoon Awards Party, whose proceeds benefit the Arthritis Foundation.

The strolling food and wine tasting event on May 26 at the Cleveland Marriott Downtown will feature thirty of Northeast Ohio’s best restaurants and eight international wineries (check out the full list of participating restaurants).

General admission tickets are $85/VIP tickets are $135 which go to support local programs and services for the nearly one and a half million Northeast Ohioans with doctor-diagnosed arthritis and the critical arthritis research conducted at local institutions in Northeastern Ohio.

You can purchase Silver Spoon tickets here and should follow Alicia on Poise in Parma as she shares her journey to find balance in this crazy town between her family, career, food, fitness and one amazing golden retriever, as well as the discoveries she makes in Believeland along the way.

And, if you haven’t entered my Mini Golf Par-Tee giveaway, you have until 11:59pm on Wednesday.  Twitter users can get an extra entry each day for tweeting  so if you’ve already entered – you have 3 more chances to tweet it today, Tuesday and Wednesday. Good luck!

31 Days, 31 Reasons to Love Cleveland

Want to play mini-golf in the Palace Theatre? Check out my giveaway for PlayhouseSquare Partners’ Mini Golf Par-Tee. You have until Wednesday at 11:59PM to enter!

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Why do you love Cleveland?

I enjoy a good challenge and I love Cleveland, so signing up for fellow blogger CLEGal’s WhyCLE? Challenge was a no brainer!

Inspired by Pretty in Orange’s May challenge to identify one thing that you love about your body every day, CLEGal’s challenge is to identify one positive thing you love about Cleveland every day. They can be big things, small things, personal reasons, or shared reasons.  The idea is to get you thinking about why you’re here and to promote CLE love.

Because I’m all about sharing ways to clue into Cleveland, I’ll be taking part in The WhyCLE? Challenge on Twitter (@ADHicken) as well as on my blog.

Each day I’ll tweet my daily reason to love Cleveland; then at the end of the week, you’ll get a recap on Clue Into Cleveland.

Since I need to catch up on the first 6 days of May, here are 6 reasons I love Cleveland:

1) We’re Believeland Even when we’ve been pushed down (whether it’s a less than ideal sports season, a tough economy or a nasty snow storm), we brush ourselves off, toughen up and look for creative ways to move forward.

2) There’s a lot to do … really: I’m surprised when I hear people say there’s nothing to do in Cleveland. From food to sports to museums and art, I’m never at a loss. I hope by sharing how I’ve clued into Cleveland, others will discover they can do the same.

3) Opportunities to engage: Cleveland’s an active city and there are plenty of ways you can involved. Volunteer at the Cleveland Foodbank or join a group like PlayhouseSquare Partners to open up opportunities not just to contribute to improving Cleveland, but to have fun while doing it.

4) Cost of living: When I first contemplated moving to Cleveland, the cost of living was definitely a factor. We were floored when parking for a night on the town didn’t equal what we spent on dinner. It’s allowed me to live where I want and do things I wouldn’t be able to in other cities.

5) Collaboration not competition: One example of Cleveland building community by collaborating instead of competing can be seen in the local food industry. With groups like Cleveland Independents and events like NEO Food Tours, Emerging Chefs, and C-Town Chow Down, many restaurants in the city have realized that it’s more sustainable to partner and grow together, instead of cutting others out.

6) Ohio’s blogger community:  I constantly find inspiration from the “blends” (blogger-friends) I’ve met in the Ohio Blogging Association. They help me figure out how I can grow as a blogger, and challenges like CLEgal’s provide me with new ways to clue into Cleveland.

I’m looking forward to sharing my daily reasons for why I love Cleveland. Follow me @ADHicken and read my weekly recap on Clue Into Cleveland.

Want to join in the fun? Sign up for CLEGal’s challenge on her blog WhyCLE.

Clue Into Cleveland Bloggers – OBASH Meetup at Touch Supper Club

The back room in Touch Supper Club was the perfect setting for this month's Ohio Bloggers' Cleveland roundtable.

This week was the April Cleveland meetup for the Ohio Bloggers Association. I’ve written before that one of my favorite aspects of blogging has been meeting and sharing experiences with other bloggers, so I really do treasure these meetups each month.

Our April meetup took place in the back room of Ohio City’s Touch Supper Club. Lined with bookshelves, a handful of antiques and a fireplace, it’s got a cozy vibe perfect for candid conversation.

Inspired by her recent experience at TEDxCLE, Alicia from Poise in Parma started us off with the question “what are you passionate about and how does that influence your blogging?”

For me, this was an excellent way to further clue into Cleveland’s community of bloggers. The Ohio Blogging Association is a diverse group inspired by different interests and it was wonderful to listen to each person’s story and why they choose to write, tweet, or vlog the things they do.

While the Ohio Blogging Association’s site has a comprehensive blogger directory, below you can check out the list of Cleveland bloggers who were at this month’s meetup.  Since sharing what I’ve “clued into” is my passion, I’ve pulled a few snippets of info from their sites to give you an idea of the variety of Cleveland bloggers that are out there.

Clue into these great local bloggers who were at this month's OBASH Cleveland meetup!

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Alicia from Poise in Parma:  “This blog is about finding balance in my life in this crazy town …my non-stop life of family, career, food, fitness and one amazing golden retriever …how I’ve lost over 100 pounds in under eight years – and have managed / struggled / survived to keep it off …but most importantly, the discoveries I make in Believeland along the way.”

Bud from Circular Absurdity“Born in very rural Oregon, moved to Cleveland in 2000. Still puzzled by the world around him…” He shares posts on media, culture, history and personal insights.

Byron from byronfernandez“In addition to a passion for inbound marketing and PR, writing, social media, single malt scotch and all things fine arts, Byron is an avid explorer of a wide range of cultural topics.” As someone who’s also in the PR field, it was interesting to hear his perspective on the SEO/content marketing side of things.

CLEgal from WhyCLE“I’m a CLEgal, born and raised.  And I’ve lived other places, but I always come back home – by choice, not by chance … This blog will attempt to answer two questions – ‘Why Cleveland?’ and ‘Why Cleveland?’ …  The first question is the good stuff …  The second question looks at what could be better – the stuff that makes us shake our heads at the fact that our town can sometimes be its own worst enemy.”

Jeff from My Future Past: “Welcome to My Future Past, my personal blog. I’m Jeff Hershberger, a scientist working in Cleveland, Ohio. I blog for fun; I make no attempt at search engine optimization or monetization. This is just my creative outlet.” Jeff also shared at the meetup that there is another group of local bloggers I’m excited to check out: Lake Erie Moose Society.

Joe from Healthy Day Fitness: “I’m a 24 year old personal trainer certified by the National Academy of Sports Medicine Personal Trainer … It was my observation that the average client isn’t looking to become a professional athlete, but simply live a healthy lifestyle. We want every day to be a healthy day.”  (Plus he’s running in the Rite-Aid 10K with this year’s Twestival Cleveland charity We Run This City.)

Kali from Finishing Firsts: “A 20-something marathoner and soon-to-be personal trainer … Everyone looks forward to those important firsts in their lives: first kiss, first relationship, first car, first time away from home, first job, first apartment, first child, etc. But what about those firsts that only a small percentage of the population actually gets to experience? That’s the concept that I’ve built this blog around.”

Katie from Healthy Heddleston: “I’m Katie … aka Healthy Heddleston and I’m here to take you on a journey full of recipes, exercise and fun!” Her Twitter profile describes her as  “Registered Dietitian, Blogger, Foodie, Nanny, Freelance Writer, Gluten-Free Half Marathoner” and I fully encourage you to read her inspiring journey of healthy living here.

Lyn from Life Lyn Style: “This blog talks about my food, workouts, recipes, favorite eats, eating locally and other interests.  Hopefully, I will be more accountable by sharing.  If I can help a few people out along the way, that would be great too.” Lyn, who’s recently jumped into blogging, reminded me of how excited I was when I started blogging and helped rekindle that passion for writing.

Maria from Delish Adventures: “’Foodies are amateurs who simply love food for consumption, study, preparation, and news’ (Wikipedia 2009). This definition pretty much sums up my obsession with anything food best. Come with me on culinary adventures to my kitchen and around town.”

Maria from Downward Daily Dog: “The Daily Downward Dog is dedicated to sharing my journal of cool yoga experiences as I journey through the amazing spiritual worlds of yoga and meditation, along with this thing called life thrown in.” I found Maria’s personal story of leaving the corporate world to pursue a healthier – and ultimately more fulfilling – life very empowering.

Robert  from Great Lakes Green Pages: “Greening America one blog post at a time,” the Great Lakes Design Collaborative blog posts about green news in the region as well as unique events like Pecha Kucha Cleveland and his work with Cleveland International Film Festival.

Stephanie from Hungry in Cleveland: “Lover of all things Cleveland, especially food. Join me as I blog about my culinary adventures through the CLE!” After discussing our shared love for ABC’s Castle at the last meetup, I’ve gotten recruited to join her and CLEgal for Tuesday kickball in Tremont. Definitely looking forward to that next week!

Stuart from Web SIG Cleveland and @SOS_JR: Stuart micro-blogs on Twitter about “Web Development SIG, Website Design, Cleveland Web & Tech Events, Technology, Backpacking, Cleveland Cultural Events, Art, Theatre, Healthy Living.” It was great meeting face to face one of the first Cleveland tweeters I ever followed and chatting about the technical side of blogging and local theatre.

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Talking about blogging makes me hungry but Touch Supper Club's overstuffed Deviled Eggs took care of that.

While we shared our passions and chatted about such topics as the best domain hosting services to use and how to handle reader feedback, we dined from Touch’s tasty menu.  I’ve been there for brunch before (and recommend the Eggs Norwegian if you love lox) but had not tried their dinner menu.

Wanting to sample a few things, I ordered their deviled egg appetizer plate and kobacha squash ravioli. The oversized deviled eggs were succulent paired with pickled red onions and spanish cured chorizo. And I was very pleased with the sweetness of the Japanese squash complemented by the saltiness of the huge chunks of slab bacon.

I had a hard time initially choosing which ravioli or gnocchi dish I wanted to order (because I love ravioli and they offer so many kinds) but I was very happy with what I got. Lucky for indecisive me, I won one of the two Touch Supper Club gift cards raffled off that night so needless to say I will be back soon!

Want to join us next month? RSVP for the OH Blogging May Meet Up: our Cleveland Marathon Pot Luck Pasta Dinner! Visit the Facebook event page for more information!

Ohio Blogging Association 411:

Guest Post: iNeedaPlaydate's Spring Break Trip to the Great Lakes Science Center

To say Cleveland is a diverse community would be an understatement. Because of the city’s different interests and strengths, blogging about an assortment of topics is something I strive for.

I’m the first to admit I could do a better job at this. Subsequently, when my coworker and fellow Ohio Blogger Mary Johnson tweeted me about reviewing her trip to Downtown Cleveland’s Great Lakes Science Center, I was overjoyed. 

Mary is an amazing mother of two (follow her journey at iNeedaPlaydate) and I’m happy she chose to spotlight such a family-friendly venue on Clue Into Cleveland.  Even though Scott and I don’t have kids (yet), Mary’s review of the Science Center has us planning a visit there very soon!

– Amanda

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Nothing says spring break like an Educational Field Trip!  At least, not in my house growing up … Spring break meant lazy days at the Grandparents or – if my parents were feeling adventurous – maybe opening up the camper early. But taking us to museums much less ones about science … not so much. 

Of course, it never even occurred to me as a mom, now, that these would be fun places to go until talking with another mom who is a *gasp* Great Lakes Science Center member?!? 

Really…?  A science museum…?  And, you say Cleveland has a great one no less?  I had to check this out!  But… my son, who is in kindergarten and I refer to as the Kindergartner on my blog, has a favorite go-to place for fun and convincing him that we were going to a science museum was not going to be an easy sell. 

The Children's Museum (pictured) was the Kindergartner and his little sister's favorite place until they visited the Great Lakes Science Center. Now we have a second favorite.

You see, his favorite place is the Children’s Museum, which is an amazing, fun place to explore.  They have a rotating exhibit on the main floor, which right now is the Egyptian Sands exhibit (there till May) and then, in the basement, is the main attraction.  At least for the Kindergartner, it is the main attraction – they have an exhibit called Bridges to Our Community

In this exhibit, besides a house, a doctor’s office, a bus, a grocery store, a bank and a few other “places” they can play in, there is the Kindergartner’s “most favorite thing in the whole world” – a working stoplight.  Yes, friends, my son is obsessed with stoplights.  If there was a stronger word for obsession, I would use it. The Children’s Museum has one and he gets to play with it!  Do you see why this whole science thing will be a hard sell?

When I told him of the plans I was surprised at how easy it was to convince him to go. Well, after I explained to him where it was located and that it was the place with the giant windmill … he was intrigued.  It also helped that second only to his obsession to stoplights (oh and train crossing signs, it’s a tie) is his love of anything in downtown Cleveland, which happens to have a lot of stoplights.

The very first thing he wanted to do when we arrived at the Great Lakes Science Center was to check out the wind turbine that actually produces, with the help of the 300 feet of solar canopy, 6% of the power used at the science center.  He was absolutely amazed by that and by the immense size of the wind turbine (150 feet tall).  It was hard to convince him to go into the actual science center but pointing out the huge solar panels we had to walk under and the magical revolving doors that sense when we wanted to go in was a big draw to get him in the building.

Once inside, I was stunned by the size.  It did not look that big from the outside.  The stats from their website are really impressive. I was also impressed and I admit, grateful, that the ticket prices were reasonable and after spending the entire day there – so worth every penny.  And… baby was free! 

The Kindergartner measures up against the Great Lakes Science Center's wind turbine.

Before I go further I am also going to mention that the Kindergartner made a friend and this friend and his family were going to see Tornado Ally at the OMNIMAX® Theater.  It was not my intention to spend more money than I had to especially if he was not going to want to see it … but he has a friend and they were going … so I got in line to buy tickets. 

Now, by this point, we had already been here some time and my original receipt was locked away in one of the lockers the Science Center has for rent so I was expecting to pay full price for two tickets to see this movie.  But… I did not!  They gave me the pick of two price difference!  WooHoo!  Score!  I did not have to pay full price!

The movie, by the way, was very cool.  The baby was even mesmerized for most of the movie and it was the first time I got to see a whole movie, sitting, in a long time.  I cannot wait to see Born to Be Wild (yes, we are returning), which is about orphaned animals in Africa living with humans. 

The OMNIMAX® Theater is something that just has to be experienced.  It is a smaller theater than a traditional one and you get the feeling of being immersed into the movie.  It felt like we were in the storm but it was also a little deceptive because it did not really discuss the human impact of the storm until the end.  With only watching the tornado chasers searching for the next storm, the Kindergartner wanted to visit Tornado Ally for vacation.  It was not til the end when you can see the destruction and it feels like you are in the middle of it that he decided against going there for a vacation.

Keep in mind that the movie was just 45 minutes out of our entire day there (an hour if you count the 15-minute wait to get into the theater).  I would say that the majority of our time was spent between the Science Phenomena Floor and the Polymer Funhouse

We also checked out the NASA Glenn Visitor Center and very briefly the Biomedical Technology Gallery.  For those of us who grew up in Cleveland and took field trips to NASA you will recognize the NASA Glenn Visitor Center as just that – the lobby from NASA transported to the science center.  They closed the lobby and brought it to the science center.  When I heard about it on the news, I was a little sad but after walking through it and then being able to go off and see other things, I realized the wisdom of their decision. 

Both the Kindergartner and his baby sister enjoyed playing in the Science Center's Polymer Funhouse.

I knew from the website that Polymer Funhouse was going to be popular so I was prepared to spend a lot of our time playing in the ball pit but I was not prepared for how neat it would actually be to play with in person.  Granted, I was not actually allowed in the pit because it is meant for the seven and under bunch but it was a joy to watch the Kindergartner learn about cause and effect and even teamwork as he worked with the other kids to fill the overhead bin with balls using a pulley system, a ball canon and their own ingenuity and then stand under the contraption while another kid pulled the release to let down a flood of balls.  Of course, the Kindergartner was in the middle of it all. 

There was a quieter end of the ball pit that the baby could play in without being trampled on and there was even a… thing (for lack of a better word) that is constantly blowing air so you can balance the balls in the of stream air and watch them float. The baby also enjoyed an exhibit that was created with PCP pipes and you drop balls into one of three locations and watch them roll down the pipes.  She would sit in the middle of it and hand the balls to the kids who walk by and each and every one of them would oblige her and drop the balls so she could watch them roll down, again and again and again. 

Those are just two of the many different things you get to touch and explore in the funhouse.  It is a socks-only area of fun and in the summer they expand it to some water fun on the deck that overlooks the North Coast Harbor. 

The Great Lakes Science Center even had a stoplight exhibit - definitely a winner for our family!

I wish I had a better vocabulary to describe all the cool things they have there but alas… I don’t and I have failed to mention that except for the funhouse – all exhibits are open to all ages!  I would also say that 100% of the exhibits are interactive in some sort of way. 

There is literally something for everyone whether you are interested in music, weather, bubbles, anatomy, space… 

Remember when I told you about the Kindergartner’s obsession with stoplights?  Guess what they have there?  If you said, “an entire exhibit dedicated to stoplights and how they work” you would be absolutely right.  See, something for everyone.

So dear readers of Clue into Cleveland… don’t walk but run to the Great Lakes Science Center.  It is worth every penny of the membership.

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About the Guest Author: Mary Johnson

Mary Johnson is the wife & mom behind iNeedaPlaydate.blogspot.com where she blogs between working full time and attempting (albeit half heartedly) to do the laundry.  Her topics range from random thoughts, stories from her life and the world around her, and the occasional product review thrown in for good measure. Follow her on Twitter @marirene74.

Social Media Doing Social Good in Cleveland

The community's overwhelming response to Twestival was just one example from last week of the positive impact social media can have in Cleveland.

When I use social media outside of work, it’s always for my own enjoyment – often for sharing things from my blog or learning about what’s going on around Cleveland. However, the last week showed me how social media can also bring about social good through both the recent Ohio Bloggers Meetup and Twestival Cleveland.

Wednesday night was the monthly meetup for Cleveland bloggers in the Ohio Blogging Association.  Past meetups have been social gatherings at Whole Foods and AMP 150.  This month’s was a volunteer night at the Cleveland Foodbank.

The Cleveland Foodbank supplies a majority of the food used in local hot meal sites, shelters, and food pantries. In addition, they provide vital food to child care centers, group homes, and programs for the elderly. They accomplish this by working closely to organize programs with other Northeast Ohio hunger relief organizations and hunger centers like the Hunger Network of Greater Cleveland, the Catholic Hunger and Shelter Network, and the Salvation Army.

The Cleveland Foodbank at 15500 South Waterloo Road houses and supplies a majority of the food used in local hot meal sites, shelters, and food pantries. The facility also is the first LEED accredited commercial building in NEO.

After being given some background on the Foodbank and a tour of the facility, Hungry in Cleveland, Why CLE, Healthy Heddleston, Finishing Firsts, Cooker Girl, Green Dog Wine, Cuyahoga County Planning Commission Weblog and I got to work.

Our job for the evening was to sort and pack donated oranges that would then be given out to those in need. Each bag had to be around 6 pounds – which is a lot more difficult to measure by hand than I thought. Fortunately, there was a scale there, since I only hit 6 lbs on my first try once the entire night. However, despite my lack of measuring skills, that evening’s group of volunteers was able to sort through a number of large crates of oranges.

Afterwards, a few of us grabbed a delicious dinner at nearby Grovewood Tavern where I enjoyed savory Zinfandel Short Ribs, conversations about Cleveland, and discussing my mutual love of the tv show Castle with HungryinCLE.

The only time all night I measured 6 lbs of oranges on the first try. Winning.

Wednesday night was my first time volunteering at the Food Bank and it was great to be introduced to the friendly and hardworking staff there through the Ohio Blogging Association.

If you’d like to help the Food Bank, they’re currently in the middle of their Harvest for Hunger CampaignHarvest for Hunger is one of the largest annual, community-wide food and funds drives in the nation, providing critical resources to local hunger relief organizations in twenty-one counties in Northeast and North Central Ohio.

Last year’s campaign raised the dollars and food needed to provide over 10 million meals to individuals and families who were struggling to make ends meet. There are a number of ways to support the 2011 campaign including:

  1. Visit the FoodBank’s site and make a donation. I really like the website because it shows you how much your donation will help. For instance, a donation as little as $10 provides 40 meals, while a $500 donation can provide 2,000 meals.
  2. Donate $1, $5, or $10 in the check-out aisle at a participating retailer from March 13 through April 23. Local stores include Acme Fresh Market, Buehler’s Fresh Foods, Dave’s Markets, Fishers Foods, Giant Eagle, Inc., and Heinen’s Fine Foods. Dollars donated in your community stay in your community.
  3. And as I learned at lunch yesterday with Healthy Heddleston, Cooker Girl, Poise in Parma, and Project Mommy, you can contribute through the Chevy Girls Do Good Fan Pledge by liking Gotta Love Chevy NEO on Facebook. With this program, the Chevy Network Dealers will be making a contribution of $6,000 to the Harvest for Hunger campaign.

The day after the Foodbank Volunteer Night, I headed over to Twestival Cleveland. As I mentioned in earlier posts, Twestival Cleveland is an annual Twitter Festival to raise money for local charities around the world. Cleveland’s charity was We Run This City, a youth marathon program that helps students in the Cleveland School District run the Rite Aid Marathon and learn important goal-making skills.

With the support of the WRTC volunteers and the Cleveland social media community, we had over 100 attendees and raised over $2000 for the organization. As WRTC Program Director Tara Taylor explained, the money from Twestival came at an excellent time with the proceeds going to the race fees and t-shirts for the 871 students participating in the race.

Thanks to the support of many social-media savvy Cleveland businesses, Twestival Cleveland was able to put together a number of auction baskets which contributed to the $2000+ proceeds for We Run This City.

After only a few weeks of planning, the large turnout of people eager to support Twestival made me very happy. In particular, one of the most rewarding aspects of the planning process was the response we got from local bloggers and tweeters as well as social media-savvy businesses.

When I was at Twestival, I had a guest at the Marriott come up to the registration table and ask me what was going on. When I mentioned Twestival was a Twitter Festival, she launched into how she thought social media was a waste of time used only for oversharing information.

While you can’t win everyone over to the benefits of Twitter, this past week’s two events brought home the fact that these tools have significantly positive offline implications. Social media for social good for sure.

Ohio Blogging Association at AMP 150

This month's monthly OH Blogging meetup for Cleveland took place at AMP 150. (photo from AMP 150)

Last night was the February Meetup for the Ohio Blogging Association‘s Cleveland chapter.  Alicia of Poise in Parma did an excellent job in selecting this month’s location — AMP 150, a restaurant that quickly gained recognition both in Cleveland and on the national stage since its opening a little over a year ago.

Located at the Cleveland Airport Marriott, A(merica’s) M(odern) P(alette) 150 has a frequently changing menu that uses fresh, seasonal and unique ingredients from the on-property garden to local markets and farms. Chef Ellis and his team are also conscious of cost. In addition to their larger entrees, AMP 150 offers very reasonably priced small plates so that you can experiment without too much financial risk. 

This creates an environment that is welcoming of all diners who want to branch out and eat well-prepared and sometimes adventurous food. Most recently, AMP 150 and Chef Ellis Cooley were recognized for these accomplishments on yesterday’s ”Marriott on the Move,” the blog of Marriott International’s CEO, Bill Marriott.

I was not just looking forward to visiting AMP 150 because of the accolades, but also because AMP 150’s catering of the Jump Back Ball pre-party is the primary reason why I sprung for the VIP ticket.  I was very excited to get a preview of the quality of talent from Chef Ellis and his team that I can expect at tomorrow’s event.

Chef Ellis Cooley spoke to the bloggers at the event about AMP 150's culinary mission and the supportive community of Cleveland restaurants.

The blogger meetup was a laidback affair where we enjoyed a nice happy hour from 5:30 to 7:30.  Once everyone settled in, Alicia introduced Chef Ellis who spoke about the mission behind AMP 150 and how it can be seen in the items currently on their menu. Personable and excited to talk food, he was the perfect host. He started out by sharing the realization he made after moving to Cleveland about building relationships with the city’s unique and vocal blogger community.

He also spoke about how happy he is that the restaurant community is just that – a community. This can not just be seen in the collective spirit of how Chef Ellis runs his restaurant – allowing staff members to work together and develop ideas into new plates, but also within the larger community of the city’s restaurants. A community of chefs who work with one another, creating joint events, bouncing ideas off one another, and welcoming new chefs into the pack. As a restaurant-goer, this is something I’ve observed but it was nice getting confirmation from an active member of the community that Cleveland has such a thriving  network of restaurants unlike what I’ve witnessed in other cities.

Chef Ellis even came back out towards the end of the evening to sit down and talk with a few of us before heading off to another event downtown.  I enjoyed the insight he provided into his process – from sharing stories about the search for the key ingredient in the Hunters Sausage Risotto (blood, by the way) to the challenges present in and creativity needed to continually reshape a menu around what ingredients are available (or not available, as happens frequently in the middle of an icy winter). 

 

The first half of the spread that Chef Ellis and his team brought out to sample, including different flat breads, wings, and their housemade chips.

This conversation really helped complement the food that Chef Ellis, our server Scott and the other members of the AMP 150 team brought out to the table.  This included a couple different flat breads, wings, their housemade chips, and duck confit. My two favorite dishes were the mushroom flat bread and the cauliflower plate.

The flat bread featured killbuck valley oyster mushrooms, goat cheese, and celery leaves. And the cauliflower (or white broccoli as our server Scott joked) featured goat cheese, pine nuts and a beet vinaigerette. As a cheese lover, Chef Ellis’ usage of goat cheese on dishes was amazing.  And although I’m a fan of meat, these non-meat dishes were so complex and delicious that I contemplated how realistic it was to go vegetarian. Then I tried the Duck Confit plate I ordered to go and quickly returned to the dark side.

AMP 150’s cocktail list was extremely tempting; however, I ended up sticking with beer. I enjoyed trying the Thirsty Dog’s Rasberry Ale, as I’ve loved their Blueberry Ale before. I now prefer the Rasberry Ale because it wasn’t as sweet as the Blueberry. Next time I go back, I look forward to trying their blood orange or grapefruit cocktails.

One of my favorite dishes last night was the mushroom flatbread (on the right). It even had me momentarily contemplating giving up meat for good. Then, I tried the Duck Confit.

In addition to sampling AMP 150’s fare, I also had the chance to finally meet a lot of the other Cleveland bloggers face to face.  A few of the now familiar faces included:

After a round of introductions, @KaseyCrabtree had a chance to say a few words about a project we’re working on — TwestivalCLE.  I’ll be shortly posting more specific details about this Cleveland Twitter Festival coming up on March 24th.  100% of the proceeds from the event will go to benefit a local Cleveland charity.

The deadline for Twestival charity nominations is today (Friday) at 5pm — so tweet @TwestivalCLE or email twestivalcle@gmail.com if you have a local nonprofit in mind.  You can keep track of all of TwestivalCLE’s announcements on Twitter and at http://cleveland.twestival.com.

We also heard about upcoming projects from Poise in Parma and Home in CLE, as well as a few post-happy hour events that HungryinCLE and CLEFoodandBrews invited bloggers to support such as Ladies Bite Out. While I wanted to go out afterwards, I also wanted to get home before the bad weather hit.

Learn about the Ohio Blogging Association at ohblogging.com and @OHBlogging on Twitter.

If you’re a blogger in the Ohio area, I highly recommend the Ohio Blogging Association. Having only joined a little under a month ago, I’ve already met a lot of area bloggers who are great resources to share ideas and interests with. Both Cleveland and Columbus sponsor in-person meetups to socialize face-to-face, and if you can’t make it in person, the Tweetchats are a great way to virtually mingle. 

The next Tweetchat is Monday night (Feb. 28).  Follow #OBASH hashtag on Twitter and @OHBlogging for more info.  And Cleveland’s next in-person meetup is a Blogger Volunteer Night at the Cleveland Foodbank.  Hope to meet more bloggers at these events!

AMP 150 411:

Ohio Blogging Association 411: