Tag Archives: ohio blogging association

Ohio Blogging Cookie Swap: Recap and Recipe

Bit o’ Blogkeeping: You have until 11:59pm on Monday, Dec. 24 to enter my Damn Right I’m From Cleveland giveaway. I’ll announce the winner on Christmas Day!

Cookie Monster Heaven

As I’ve blogged before, my lack of cooking skills is a bit notorious. In fact the last (and only) time I ever baked something was a few years ago.

And even then, I wouldn’t really call it baking. I made cookies from those Pillsbury cookie dough rolls and still managed to burn them to a crisp.

However, last week I donned an apron once again when I got roped into decided to make cookies for the 3rd annual Ohio Blogging Cookie Swap.

I was told baking is more fun in the company of friends so when WhyCLE offered up her kitchen, I figured this was as good a time as any to learn how to actually make cookies from scratch.

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A Downtown Bike Tour with Cleveland Bike Tours and Ohio Blogging

Thanks to this month’s Ohio Blogging Meetup, I got back on a bike for the first time in years and somehow managed to not hurt myself (or others!)

Cliches exist because there’s usually some element of truth to them.  And earlier this week I proved that you never in fact forget how to ride a bicycle when I got back on one after years and years of not biking.

I’m not exaggerating when I say I have almost no balance — check me out in a yoga class if you’re ever curious.  When I was a kid it took me a really long time – and a lot of falls into ditches – to get on a bike. But once I did, I didn’t stop – spending anytime I wasn’t in the water during the summer biking through the neighborhood and along the beach.

But then I stopped. After I moved to Philly, I had a huge fear of biking in the city because I thought my clumsiness combined with cars and crowded streets would likely result in an accident.

The group takes a break from the bike tour to check out Marine Week and get a photo in Public Square (photo courtesy of Ohio Blogging/Poise in Parma)

Flash forward to this week and the Ohio Blogging Association‘s latest blogger meetup.

For this month’s Blogger Night, we met up at the Bike Rack in downtown Cleveland for a bike tour with Cleveland Bike Tours.

Our fearless tour guide – Anne Smith, founder of Cleveland Bike Tours

Cleveland Bike Tours (iBikeCLE on Facebook; formerly called Great Lakes Tour Company) was founded by Anne Smith in 2010. As Northeast Ohio’s premier source for custom bicycle tours, Cleveland Bike Tours brings fitness and adventure together on Cleveland-area bicycle trails while promoting interest in regional tourism and history.

From Cleveland neighborhoods – like downtown, University Circle and Ohio City – to the Bike Aboards in Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Cleveland Bike Tours has designed excursions for riders of all experience levels – even (re-)beginners like me!

I love exploring downtown on foot – and now by bike – because you get the best view of Cleveland’s beautiful buildings

For the Blogger Meetup, we took a tour through downtown Cleveland. We picked up our cruiser bikes and helmets outside of The Bike Rack (Don’t have a bike? For a few dollars more you can rent one from BikeCLE). Then we were off!

We first biked past the Q and Progressive, learning about our sports teams’ histories, and then over to Erie Street Cemetary (my first time there!) to learn about the legend of Joc-O-Sot’s angry ghost and downtown’s other “permanent residents.”

Joc-O-Sot, why would you ever want to break out of your grave and leave the Cleve?

Biking down Euclid and E 9th Street, we stopped at PlayhouseSquare, the Cathedral and the Free Stamp for this fun group shot:

Taking a break from checking into FourSquare (photo courtesy of Ohio Blogging/Poise in Parma)

From there we headed to Public Square for the War Memorial Fountain, Medical Mart, Old Stone Church, the Soldier’s and Sailor’s Monument and Marine Week.

Everytime I see a helicopter in an unusual setting, I have an uncontrollable urge to take a photo and exclaim “Go-go-Gadget-copter!”

Although I work downtown, even I learned a few things about the buildings and monuments I pass by everyday thanks to Anne’s tour.  I also got over my near-paralyzing fear of getting hit by a car.

Anne did an excellent job at guiding us through the streets and sidewalks. I didn’t get hit, hit anything or fall over and embarrass myself (I know – I was shocked too!)

Even though I pass by this statue everyday, it was fun to take a closer look and learn some trivia about it

We finished the tour with a trip down E 4th to end up back at The Bike Rack. Through a partnership with the City of Cleveland and the Downtown Cleveland Alliance, The Bike Rack offers the region’s first full service bicycle parking and commuter center for everyone.

Clevelanders like Julie who own their own bike can take advantage of The Bike Rack’s commuter facilities (Don’t have a bike? They do rentals too!)

With the goal of making downtown Cleveland a more bike friendly environment, it provides convenient, secure bicycle parking and fulfills everyday commuting needs with individual shower/changing facilities, lockers, bicycle rentals and a full service bicycle repair shop.

Although I didn’t need a shower, it was nice to have a spot to freshen up afterwards and relax. If you have the capability to commute and bike downtown, I would highly recommend taking advantage of their facility.

Cooker Girl’s husband Kevin goofing off — we clearly needed food in our stomachs at this point. Good thing there was food back at The Bike Rack!

While our group of bloggers hung out and caught up with each other, we grabbed a post-tour bite to eat courtesy of Cleveland Bike Tours. Anne even sent us on our way with a treat to enjoy when we got home – a bag of Love Kettle Corn. Cleveland Bike Tours has just started selling these to help raise funds for Blessings in a Backpack.

Because no child should go hungry, each purchase of Love Kettle Corn will provide a child with one meal through the organization.   After tasting devouring the bag I took home, I need to order some more.

So good! And for a good cause! Each purchase of BikeCLE’s Love Kettle Corn will provide a child with one meal through Blessings in a Backpack

It was great getting in a bit of fitness and Cleveland history in one evening – plus the chance to catch up with new and old blogger friends alike:

PlayhouseSquare will host our next Blogger Meetup on 7/11, courtesy of the young professionals group PlayhouseSquare Partners

Thanks again to Cleveland Bike Tours and The Bike Rack for hosting; all of the bloggers who were there that didn’t laugh at me wobbling on my bike; and Alicia (as always!) for organizing this month’s Meetup!

Blog Swap: MissWineOH says, Wines you HAVE to try

Today is the Ohio Blogging Association‘s Cleveland November Blog Swap. As part of it, I’m happy to introduce you to Tammy, Chief Tasting Officer at MissWineOH . On this day, bloggers from around the Northeast Ohio area are guest posting on one another’s blogs as a way to get to know each other in our blogging community. For a full listing of blog swap participants, please visit Poise in Parma today.

I met Amanda at a Wine and Cupcakes event recently, and we have a shared love of the city of Cleveland and its culinary and wine delights. I’m happy to be swapping blogs with her today and sharing some of my favorite wines.

Many of us head out for social gatherings or parties in restaurants during the holiday season. And many of those events are held in our local restaurants, where some of the best chefs in the country make their homes – and their incredible food. Some of Cleveland’s best restaurants also have some pretty intimidating wine lists. When you are blessed with great food, you can also be cursed with the “what do I pick off this wine list?” dilemma.

Your first avenue of information should always be the sommelier if he or she is available – a good sommelier can recommend the perfect wine to compliment your palate, your food and your budget.  Your second avenue, however, can be this list.

As I’m a huge fan of eating in my neighborhood, these picks are from Tremont restaurants, but these wines (or very similar ones) are widely available.

Lolita

Chef Michael Symon’s bistro is reflective of his love of Cleveland. Funky, locally inspired and always changing. One of my favorite things there is the early and late Happy Hour menu. 

Nessa, Albarino, Rias Baixas, Spain, 09 8.50 gl – 34 btl 
This spanish white has abundant peaches and pears and a crisp minerality that will blend seamlessly with the Lolita Happy Hour mussels (only $5!).

Revelry, “The Reveler”, Colombia Valley, 08 (Petite Verdot, Merlot, Cab)
10 gl – 40 btl

Washington State makes some great wines, and I love that this one uses Petite Verdot as the primary grape in the blend. It’s inky in color, and you’ll like the chocolate and coffee flavors on the finish. It’s an INTERESTING wine – in that “wow, pretty cool, I’ll sip and savor this a while” sort of way. And I love putting the Lolita burger with it.

Parallax

While Parallax has a lovely by the glass menu, their strength is in their bottle selections. They specialize in asian fusion and seafood – and they have a sushi menu!

Sauvignon Blanc, St. Supery, Napa Valley 2010 – 40 btl
Grapefruit and lime are the highlights with this wine, but it’s not overly tart like you will find in many New Zealand Sauv Blancs. This one is a perfect complement to the asian fusion and seafood that dominates the menu at Parallax. I love to order this and an assortment of sushi and settle in for a sensory feast.

Pinot Noir, The Four Graces, Willamette Valley, Oregon, 09 – 72 btl
While on the higher end, this pinot noir is one of the best you will find on a restaurant list in Tremont. The subtle fruit and soft tannins on this pinot serve any of the meat dishes well. I particularly love it with the Duck Confit and brussel sprouts.

Dante

Dante is a great place to stop in early or late if you find yourself having trouble getting a dinner reservation. They have a lovely bar, 2 pages of wines by the glass and 50 wines under $50 to pair with Chef Dante Bocuzzi’s incredible menu. Their wines reflect the Italian influence of the food.

Vernaccia, Le Rote, San Gimignano, Toscana, 08 8 gl – 32 btl
A Tuscan Vernaccia at this price in a restaurant in Tremont, I’m all over it. Vernaccia is a grape grown and pressed in a particular town in the Tuscan region of Italy (San Gimignano), and this particular wine is medium bodied and just the right balance of acid and fruit. You’ll want to make sure it is well chilled. Pair it with the octopus, or any of the fresh seafood dishes for a little slice of Tuscany in Cleveland.

Barbera d’Alba, Boffa, Buschet, Piemonte 08 11 gl – 44 btl
A quintessential Italian red, the Boffa is a dry selection made from the barbera grape. This wine has some spice on it, but I’d pair it with the venison or polenta, depending on which direction your culinary tastes lead. This wine also works well for the vegetarian dishes on the menu.

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One piece of advice I always give: Ask for a taste if you are unfamiliar with the wine. The worst possible thing they can say is “no” – and I’ve never had a sommelier refuse a taste.

Do you have favorite dishes you don’t know what to drink with? Just ask!

Happy Sipping!

Dinner at Deagan's with Ohio Blogging Association

Danielle, CLEGal and I at the Ohio Blogging Association's dinner at Deagan's

Last month, motivated by Cleveland’s results in the LivingSocial restaurant poll, I came up with my list of 10 restaurants I need to try.

After enjoying Flying Fig a couple weeks ago, I’m happy to say I can now cross a second off my list: Deagan’s in Lakewood.

Deagan’s opened last year and quickly became one of the more heralded restaurants in Cleveland for its laid-back “gastropub” attitude and the creative, well-executed dishes you’d expect from a fine dining establishment. Not surprisingly, this has led to many awards including the Cleveland Magazine’s Best New Restaurant in Cleveland.

Poise in Parma who organized the evening introduces Deagan's Executive Chef Demetrios Atheneos

Although I’ve enjoyed their food at Chef Jam and the Silver Spoon Awards, I hadn’t had a chance to visit Deagan’s until this past Wednesday during the Ohio Blogging Association’s monthly Cleveland Meetup.  

As I walked into the restaurant, the dark wood and brick interior created a warm and welcoming escape from Wednesday night’s cold rain. It immediately struck me as a place you can go to for almost any occassion — happy hour after work with friends, brunch, laid-back lunch during the week or an intimate date night.

After meeting up with my group, I set about the difficult task of what to order.  Wednesdays are Vegetarian/Vegan Nights featuring an additional menu with 4-5 vegetarian and/or vegan specials that are appetizing even to omnivores.

Pumpkin Bisque

I ended up ordering the Southern Tier Pumpkin Bisque from the Vegetarian menu and the Lump Crab Mac and Cheese from their dinner menu.  Before those came out, though, we were surprised by a few delicious charcuterie boards that featured an excellent variety of well-selected meats, cheeses, olives and spreads.

The Pumpkin Bisque sounded so good that a few of us at the table ordered it.  It was sweet and creamy with a very noticeable curry kick  that I haven’t tasted in Pumpkin Bisque before. That surprising heat made it the best pumpkin dish I’ve tasted all Fall.  I’ve been craving salty and sweet combinations lately so I put a little salt on a few bites to see how that would be — craving satisified!

As soon as I saw the Lump Crab Mac and Cheese on the menu, I knew that had to be my main course.  Crab is my favorite shellfish and I miss it not being as readily available in Cleveland as it is in Virginia or the Northeast.  So when I see an appetizing crab dish, I have to order it.  Plus, it was combined with mac and cheese, another hearty dish perfect for a cold night.

Lump Crab and Mac and Cheese

Unfortunately, because I didn’t have too much room left after the rich bisque, I got to try only a few bites of the mac and cheese.  However, I enjoyed the petite salad that accompanied the dish (loved the fresh, thinly sliced radishes!). 

It’s reasons like this why I love to-go containers. I had my mac and cheese for lunch yesterday and got to fully appreciate how good the dish is.  The lump crab meat was full of flavor which complemented the subtle tillamook white cheddar.

I also tried the Pork Belly Brussel Sprouts Danielle ordered. If you’re nervous about trying Brussel Sprouts, this dish is the perfect introduction.  They were very juicy and tender and the chunks of succulent pork belly paired with the care the chef took in preparing these brussel sprouts prevented the dish from having an overwhelming cabbage taste. 

Pork Belly Brussel Sprouts

Scott and I have had our share of bad brussel sprouts in the past and I think the next time we go to Deagan’s, I’ll have him order their version so he can get over his dislike of the misunderstood vegetable. When Executive Chef Demetrios Atheneos came to see how everyone was enjoying it, much praise and many thanks erupted from our table.

To complement the food, I had a room full of excellent dining companions.  For the 10th meetup of the Ohio Blogging Association’s Cleveland chapter (can’t believe it’s almost been a year!), we had a great turnout!

Similar to our April meetup at Touch Supper Club, the evening featured a roundtable discussion on blogging.

We started with introductions. As with previous meetups, my favorite part was not just the variety of topics our blogs cover but also how long everyone has been blogging. There was an excellent cross-section — from bloggers who’ve been around a couple months to 5+ years, to those who write about food, yoga, health insurance and parenting.

Bloggers Noshing and Chatting

At my side of the table, Alicia (Poise in Parma), Danielle (Namaste or Should I Go?), CLEGal (WhyCLE?), and Dave (Health Insurance Issues with Dave and Again? Really?)  discussed how to respond to blog comments and the techincal aspects of WordPress vs. Blogger’s spam filters. I had a good laugh when we compared notes on the different Spambot comments we all get.

While it was nice to hear different bloggers’ perspectives on the issues we run into, I moreso enjoyed meeting new faces and catching up with people I had seen online but not in person for awhile — like @SOS_JR who was debuting the coolest social-media-accessory I’ve ever seen:

The award for best tie goes to @sos_jr!

Here’s who was at this month’s Ohio Blogging Meetup.  Check out these great additions to my Google reader and Twitter feed:

Catching up with Alicia

If you blog — or are a fan of blogging — stop by one of Ohio Blogging’s upcoming meetups. For November, we’re planning a blog swap and December will feature the second annual cookie swap. You can keep up to date by liking the Ohio Blogging Assocation on Facebook.

You can also read other bloggers’ experiences of the night over at Poise in Parma and WhyCLE?.

Deagan’s Kitchen and Bar 411:

Thanks to CLEGal for sharing the photos of her, Danielle and me; Alicia with Chef Demetrios; and the blogger table.

Fresh Water Featuring CLE Bloggers

Looking to expand your Cleveland blogger reading list? Check out this week's Fresh Water. (Photo by Bob Perkoski)

After Saturday’s Blogger 5K and Sunday’s Blogger Night at the Orchestra, the past week has been all about discovering and reading new blogs.

The trend continued yesterday when this week’s Fresh Water came out.

Fresh Water is a weekly e-magazine and website that focuses on creative people and organizations who call Cleveland home. Recent articles I’ve enjoyed have included Child’s Play (on Clevelanders who turned childhood hobbies into money), Indie Spirit (on the Cleveland Independents promoting local restaurants) and a spotlight on Paula McLain, the local author who wrote The Paris Wife.

In this week’s Fresh Water, you can check out “They Heart CLE” by Erin O’Brien — featuring a handful of bloggers who are sharing their different perspectives on the city. I’m excited — and a bit flabbergasted — to say Clue Into Cleveland was one of these blogs.

However, this entry is about discovering new bloggers — so enough about me! There were a lot of great blogs featured in the article including:

  • Writes Like She Talks
  • Cleveland SGS
  • Mirandized
  • Cleveland Food and Brews
  • I Rock Cleveland
  • Cleveland Sports Torture
  • Bitter Orange and Brown

Check out the article to learn more about these bloggers and see some excellent photographs from Bob Perkoski.

And while you’re at, visit the Ohio Blogging Association‘s site if you haven’t already. Their directory has over 200 bloggers who write in Ohio — so there’s plenty out there to choose from. And if you don’t know where to start, the Blogger of the Week segment features a different local blogger each week.

While I know this weekend is a crazy one (check out Poise in Parma for an overview of some of the great events going on), find some time soon and discover a new blog!

(Photo source – Fresh Water)

Run for the Pierogies – Blogger Meetup and My First 5K

"Run for the Pierogies Day" at Cuyahoga Community College's Western Campus.

When I woke up on Saturday, it felt like Christmas morning.  However, the excitement and adrenaline weren’t for unwrapping presents under the tree.  It was raceday – my first 5K.

After Alicia at Poise in Parma announced that July 9th’s Ohio Blogging Meetup would be The Run for the Pierogies, it was the motivator I needed to try running for the first time in ten years.  So, for the last couple of months, I’ve been cluing into getting active in Cleveland

I upgraded my crosstrainers to running shoes (they feel so much better!).  I started walking and jogging around the neighborhood and dedicating part of my weekly personal training sessions at CSU to running on the treadmill and the indoor track.

I knew going into it I wouldn’t wake up one day and suddenly be able to run. When  I started training, I clocked in at 50 minutes and could hardly jog for more than 30 seconds. Although I didn’t want to set a difficult goal for myself, all I knew was that I wanted to at least beat that.

Pierogies - the perfect motivator

Over July 4th weekend, I got my time down to 44 :55 (a personal best). But then two days before – due to a combination of stress and a shoe mishap – I had a horrible run, coming in at 48:30. 

I was discouraged and went into my default mode for dealing with things like this — I started worrying. After some helpful advice and motivation from Alicia, my trainer Sean and Kali at Finishing Firsts, my anxiety faded a bit.  Regardless, though, when I woke up on Saturday, I could feel the nerves. And on the drive out to Cuyahoga Community College’s Western Campus in Parma, they intensified. 

Once Scott and I got out of the car, I realized it was a lot hotter and more humid than I had expected. The sun was beating down and I started reliving Thursday’s horrible performance in my head. 

Then I saw Alicia, HungryinCLE and WhyCLE’s friendly faces and reminded myself I had come out to Parma to have a good time and hang out/meet some local bloggers.

Hans, Poise in Parma, WhyCLE and me at the start line.

 In addition to Poise in Parma, Hungry in Cleveland and WhyCLE, here’s a rundown of who was there:

Get ready .... get set .... go!

After meeting everyone, we took our places for the race.  Whether it was the distraction of meeting new people or the adrenaline I had been told so much about, my nervousness turned to excitement as we lined up at the starting line. 

When they told us to go, the crowd lurched forward all at once.  I usually start my practice runs with a 5-minute warmup walk, but this was raceday and nothing could stop me from keeping pace.  Well, nothing could stop me for 2 minutes.  Usually I fizzle out after 1 and a half minutes of running but thanks to the adrenaline I pushed myself to 2 minutes straight. 

As I knew I would going into this, I soon fell behind the other bloggers. The heat and the sun were zapping my energy quick. However, I was surprised when I looked at my phone to check my status and realized after a mile I had shaved 4 minutes off of my normal time. Now I just had two more miles to go.

My personal paparazzi (Scott) stalked me down.

The track was a double loop through part of the Tri-C campus and as I was heading back for the second half of the run, the actual runners were starting to arrive at the finish line. Not letting that discourage me, I focused and kept moving, alternating every couple of minutes between walking and jogging.  

I saw a couple of bloggers who had already finished  or were nearing the end and got a boost of motivation from being cheered on.  And when I felt my worst around the 2 mile mark, there was Scott all of a sudden. 

Perfect timing! Scott had apparently camped out near the 2 mile marker for a couple minutes waiting for me to run by.  Seeing him for just a moment was all that I needed for the last stretch. I could finally see the finish line and despite how much my legs were screaming at me and my chest was heaving, I knew I was going to run it in.

As I crossed the line, I looked up at the clock and was floored. 42 minutes and 28 seconds.  A personal best for this non-runner on her first 5K!  

After cooling down, I grabbed a banana and my pierogies. “To the victor belong the spoils” and all that.  The pierogies were cooked up fresh by the Little Polish Diner and Krakow Foods. And if you’re going to run for something, I can’t think of anything better than delicious pierogies!

The finish line! Time to get those pierogies.

I know that if it weren’t for the help and motivation I got from friends and my fellow bloggers, I wouldn’t have been able to do the 5K. The emails, tweets and cheers along the way from everyone listed above and others like @MildlyRelevant and @TheHeldawg  were the best motivation. And Sean Grasso who has been an excellent trainer for the last couple of years helped me re-learn how to actually run and pace myself.

Most importantly, though, thanks to Scott — who put up with my training and cheered me on — especially when he popped up during the race. As usual, that guy has impeccable timing.

Even though I didn’t expect it when I first signed up, this month’s Ohio Blogger Meetup has been my favorite yet. I learned I actually enjoy running. While I know I’m not going to win medals anytime soon, preparing for the race and competing against myself was a lot of fun and I’m looking forward to my next 5k on August 6 — the Independence 5K Run/Walk to A Healthier You.

If you’d like to read other bloggers’ recaps of the race and how they did, check out posts from Mollyberries’ Hodge Podge (she placed 2nd out of women — congrats!), Finishing FirstsMojomala2, Poise in Parma, and WhyCLE.

And if you blog — or are thinking about blogging — join us at our next meetup on August 11 when we take in a Cleveland Indians game.

The best cheerleader anyone could ask for.

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)

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.

***

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:

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.