Our morning at Play grounds

Hello & happy Friday! Hope everyone has some incredible weekend plans…always so many fun happenings going on around town. This weekend I have to focus and get serious about packing for our India adventure…we leave next week! I am apologizing ahead of time because I know I am going to be posting a lot on Instagram, to stay connected with my family…I welcome you to follow along on our trip too!

Everyone keeps asking what I am packing and my answer is “what am I NOT packing?” We are headed abroad for a wedding and this entails three days of various events and celebrations all with many wardrobe changes. The colors, the jewelry, the shoes…let’s just say I have plenty of patterns for everyone.

One of the questions I’ve been getting about our trip is “What about your little “ninja” …is he coming with you?” The answer is a firm “no.” My parents have so graciously agreed to come to Cleveland for the time we are out of town and stay with their grandson. We have a handful of fun things planned for them to check out around town including a morning visit to the new Play Grounds Cafe in Lakewood…have you been?

Founded by husband and wife duo Heather and David Mariano, Play Grounds is the most magical space for both children and parents alike. Nestled on Madison Ave (near where Hilliard intersects) this family-focused coffee shop destination has incredible coffee drinks and healthy bakery options at their coffee bar. My little guy and I stopped by the other morning before work/childcare to check it out, grab a latte and do a bit of playing. The back of the coffee shop is entirely devoted to the importance of little people play and named “the Fort;” because who doesn’t love a good fort? We stayed for just shy of an hour and we both had a blast. I was able to flip through a book uninterrupted (HUGE win!) while he explored all of their cool, different toys. It is truly amazing watching him learn to play on his own and with other kids…it brings me such joy to see him growing into his own social being. Play Grounds has designed a space that is great for parents to socialize while their kids are close, but with a little bit of freedom to grow and play.

Thank you to Heather for inviting us to come by and explore the new space. Congrats to you and your family for following your entrepreneurship dreams and making this vision of coffee and kids come together…parents of Northeast Ohio thank you too!

To stay up on “reading time” and special events, follow Heather and the Play Grounds crew here on Instagram.

(Photography by Heather and Suzanna West Photography)

  family-fajita night out at Abuelo’s

Typically you won’t find me ordering a strawberry margarita on a Tuesday night, I’m typically more of a wine drinker..but this dinner out was extra sweet and special. You see, a few weeks ago Abuelo’s reached out to invite me and my family to stop in and try their “Fajitas for Two” Valentine’s Day special, that also included margaritas and dessert. We try to eat at home during the week but it was funny, I was literally just daydreaming about Mexican food when the email came through and I took it as a sign that we had to say “yes!

Our experience at this Warrensville Heights restaurant (near Eaton Corp)  for sure did not disappoint. From the moment we walked in we felt super welcomed by the hostess who greeted us. Once seated we had an incredible server who explained the menu and the cocktails in detail.

We started our meal with strawberry margaritas, chips, salsas, and QUESO; so good! Then our server brought out their “Firecracker Shrimp” which had the perfect amount of spice for all of us. Next up was the sizzling platter of chicken, steak, and shrimp fajitas with grilled veggies. Our little guy was in awe of how the plate was sizzling and crackling when it arrived but then how quickly we were making and eating our own tacos. Honestly, we didn’t make that much of a dent in the portion (chips do that to me every time!) but not to worry, our rockstar server packed it up for us to-go…including our dessert..to enjoy another time at home.

Thank you to Abuelo’s for connecting and inviting us to dinner. It was super fun to have a night off cooking at home PLUS your food, drink (s – I had 2!) and staff were really impressive. Mr C. was also pleasantly surprised that he found you them on “Door Dash” and is now schemeing to have the queso delivered late night!

If you are looking for a fun place to bring your sweetie on Valentine’s Day or anytime for that matter, visit Abuelo’s. One thing that our son thought was really cool was the sky-like ceiling in their dining room…I think he was fascinated that it looked like we were outside but nice and warm inside; super fun!

SPONSORED POST : Thank you to Abuelo’s for inviting me to explore their restaurant with my family and share my experience as part of their social outreach. Thanks for supporting this business, while allowing me to create special content like this for iheartcleveland!

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  Exploring Thriftique


Hey friends. Hope you are having a great winter week. As we are already into our second week in February I was doing some reflecting and realized I had a pretty full January. It was filled with lots of goal setting and creative-retreat type of events; so all good. Going into this new month I want to set aside more time to sit down, connect with you and do more writing. I truly am a geek when it comes to setting goals and creating strategies to see the goals to fruition. Go 2018!

With that said, it is time to come back to blogging and fill you in on a few fun things I have been up to lately. I’ve been doing my best to take in all of the Oscar-nominated films so when it comes time for the Academy’s I will be in-the-know. So far I gotta say “I Tanya” is right up there as one of my favorites. Don’t dismiss this vintage-inspired skater’s story mixed with some funny story-telling humor…it’s totally worth the see.

We have been doing some serious travel prep for our upcoming visit to India. Thanks to our friends Nick and Shibani for hosting us the other evening for an Indian food feast followed by fashion tips & trying on Shihbani’s sarees. I am so much better informed now and am ready to get my travel packing on this weekend!

We have also been enjoying winter-weekends with our little guy. As parents to a 3-yr old, we recognize that we need to plan weekend activities more to keep us all from going stir crazy indoors. Don’t get me wrong, we spend a lot of time in his playroom with blocks, cars, and puzzles…but trips to the Natural History Museum have really made winter fly by. We have also really enjoyed our weekly swim classes through our neighborhood rec center. It’s fun to see progress each week as all of the kids jump in the pool! This weekend we are excited to go see Paw Patrol at Playhouse Square. We have seen it before but we think at his current age (3!) he might really be more aware of the show and its characters. Looking forward to spending family time at the theaters.


This week I had the pleasure of visiting and shopping Thriftique Showroom, one of Northeast Ohio’s largest upscale resale shops run by all volunteers from the NCJW. At this fashion & home decor destination all proceeds from the store support NCJW/Cleveland programs, geared toward improving the lives of women, children, and families in our community.


As a regular thrift and vintage shopper, I was invited to take the #thriftiquechallenge and this store truly exceeded my expectations. When I arrived everyone was so kind and welcoming I immediately felt like I was amongst “my people” aka other thrift shopper enthusiasts. They explained to me that the front of the store; “The Tique” was filed with their higher-end, luxury clothing donations (including names like Prada, Lilly & Kate Spade) while the back of the store was a more traditional thrift store. Thriftique is home to some of the season’s most-coveted and trendy items, without the hefty price tag which is right up my alley as a quantity AND quality type of fashionista.


I got sucked into the shoe section for a good :15 minutes. They had these incredible leopard printed wedges that I would have loved to have but they were slightly too small…someone with a size 7 go snag them! I ended up with a new-ish pair of black patent-leather, mary janes with gold trim on the heel…perfect for spring. I also bought a like-new, men’s pastel plaid button down to throw over white jeans and a bathing suit while on vacation; I can’t wait to share. I really enjoyed all of their furniture and the housewares and wanted to take everything home…but alas I am running out of space at home for furniture so had to leave a few great things behind. Does anyone need/wants a campaign-style dresser and bedside table? Or how about some very 80’s which dining room chairs? Or they also have a few great vintage couches…I mean RUN don’t walk! I bought some retro linen napkins and a big, yellow, mid-century pot. This place is a true destination for incredible thrift pieces, I can’t believe it has taken me so long to learn about it.

The Thriftique Showroom is open on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 10-5pm. Go explore for yourself! To get a sneak peak on what’s at the showroom give them a follow on Facebook or instagram it’s always fun to see behind the scenes.

SPONSORED POST : Thank you to Thiftique for inviting me to explore their store with a gift card shopping spree and share my experience as a guest to their store as part of their social outreach. Thanks for supporting this local non profit, while allowing me to create special content like this for iheartcleveland!

  Our Peek n’ Peak weekend

Hello Cleveland friends. How did you enjoy last week’s tropical heatwave of 30+ degrees? I mean really; last week’s sub-zero temps were kinda out of control. How many layers could I put on and still not get warm? (4…plus mittens & slippers.) I’m glad to see it is warming up a bit…perfect for playing outdoors!

Speaking of playing outdoors; I am still coming down from last weekend’s family trip to Peek n’Peak Resort. If you’ve never visited, the resort was built in 1964 and is located in Clymer, NY…a quick a two hour drive from Cleveland. It has everything from skiing, snow tubing, swimming, “spa-ing” and many options for dining and family fun.

We woke up on Saturday morning and took our time packing up snacks, ski gear and swimsuits. We left Cleveland around noon and arrived to check into the hotel around 2-ish. Our room was ready so were were able to check in early and unload the car. It was literally so cold outdoors so we made the decision that Saturday would be a family fun day spent in the pool, having a nice dinner and in-room movies; who doesn’t love that? Our room was located slope-side which was entertaining in and of itself.  We all enjoyed watching the skiers and snowboarders as they braved the cold to shred and swoosh. Our Ninja Toddler was amazed by the ski lifts as they swooped in and captured snow enthusiasts to ship them to the top of the mountain!

We spent most of the afternoon in their pristine, mid-century pool mecca. The water was warm and between games of “shark” and chase we all had good afternoon swim. As parents, we took turns dipping into the indoor/outdoor hot tub while the other half swam and raced from one side of the pool to the other with the little. After pool time we quickly changed our clothes and enjoyed some time at their indoor playground to further run out any existing energy. The playground was filled with lots of other mini hotel guests just running around and being wild while all us parents just kinda enjoyed catching a bit of chill adult time.

After we played our hearts out we went back to our room, changed our clothes and went to have dinner in the resort restauraunt. The service was amazing and the food was just as good. Post dinner it was time for some family movie time (Lion King!) and then early to bed to prep for our ski day ahead.

Sunday we woke up and had a good breakfast buffet followed by a tad more pool-time prior to heading to the slopes. Once we got to the ski school our little guy was whisked away by his instructor Ms Karen to get fitted for his ski & gear rentals. Myself and Mr C. had a free hour to ourselves to take a few runs on the slopes before we had to meet up with our little snow bum. The snow was great, plenty of it. The sun was out so we weren’t complaining and instead spent that hour enjoying being outside with mother nature, being active and knowing all along that our little guy was being well-taken care of. It was a glorious afternoon on the slopes.

After his ski lesson we met up with him and “Ms. Karen” to get the full lesson report including the stories about his “noodle legs.” He had a lot of fun on the magic carpet and even took his first ride on the chair lift; impressive. After lessons it was time to go inside for a warm up and a snack. We took a break in the lodge to enjoy a soft pretzel and a warm cup of cocoa and then it was time to head home.

Our overnight at Peek n’ Peak was everything I imagined and more. It felt like we were gone for way longer than just one night, yet it was nice to go up and back in one weekend with plenty of time to get home and prep for the week ahead. Thank you to the team at the resort for hosting my family for a post-holiday vacation, it truly an amazing escape!

SPONSORED POST : Thank you to Peek n’ Peak for who invited me to share my experience as a guest to their resort as part of their social outreach. Thanks for supporting this snow businesses, while allowing me to create special content like this for iheartcleveland!

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  The New Year is here!

Hello & Happy 2018! I hope you had a wonderful holiday season filled with lots of family and friend time. I hope you stayed up late, slept in later and was able to step away from the daily calendar and to-do lists. I hope you spent an afternoon baking or cooking and maybe even tried a new recipe or two. I hope you gave great gifts and opened a few treats yourself. I hope you played in the snow and snuggled under blankets and drank a cup of cocoa. It was a much needed, wonderful holiday break.

Thank you to all of my friends and those of you who read this blog who sent me and my family kind wishes when we had to say goodbye to our 17 year old pug; Sir Franklin of Marlowe. The holidays were quiet without him, but we know he is in a better place with all of his fellow old dog friends.

While the holidays are packed with excitement and wonder, I also enjoy the opportunities to start the new year off filled with new goals and dreams. I love reflecting on the past year and seeing how some goals I made for myself came (or didn’t) to fruition.

I typically break my goals out into three categories – personal, professional & fun. Last year was a great year; a year for growth and a year filled with fun.

Personally, I wanted to concentrate on wellness, take better care of my skin, and change into my pajamas more often, check check check,

Professionally studio Chartreuse dove into the world of public art, we partnered with the Cleveland Clinic on it’s first Gathering for Good event, we are currently in the midst of designing collateral alongside Playhouse Square for the summer arrival of Hamilton and we partnered with numerous other creatives and entrepreneurs in this region to develop new brands, product packaging and event materials.

Now for the FUN recap…this blog provided me the coolest opportunities to explore new Cleveland hot spots, to travel throughout Northeast Ohio including Wooster, Sandusky, Geneva, Put in Bay and numerous trips to Cedar Point (#ninjamax216 LOVES exploring the park) I am grateful for all the incredible partnerships and friendships this blog continues to make and grow. Thank you so much for the wonderful 2017!

With that said…let’s move from reflection to goal-setting as we enter the new year. I know some think that setting one or two goals is the best way to go…but for me, I love to have a smathering of goals to think about and work towards, it somehow just works and keeps me interested. So here we go…so many fun things to work towards this year, it’s gonna be awesome.

Personally…I am looking forward to finding a better balance between cardio and getting stronger. I’m such a cardio junkie that I often put strength exercise on the back burner.  I’d also love to get more serious about meal planning and Sunday afternoon meal prep. I’m hoping to hang more art in our home, to redo our front landscaping, plant more flowers outside for cutting (any gardeners out there wanna brainstorm?)  and perhaps even give our bathroom a small facelift.

Professionally…we are looking forward to some incredible new partnerships on the horizon. We are excited to be doing more projects out and about in the community with arts organizations and non-profits. We are carving out more space to have more fun with our social friends through creative posts and campaigns on platforms like Instagram and Pinterest (follow us!) Of course we want to celebrate our artist and maker friends with this years 8th annual Art in the Parc event (let us know if you’d like to come and show your work!) Lastly we are also taking on a handful of new projects for 2018; more specifically we are looking for branding and packaging initiatives…we are experts at developing product branding and creating the perfect package to go along with it!

Fun…Planning for overall more FUN in the year ahead. Perhaps re-designing this blog space to allow for larger images and a few more regular feature posts. Making more time for friends to have picnics, pizza parties and sweat dates. I am so looking forward to attending our friends wedding in India in February and making time off to see that part of the world. I also want to take our toddler skiing, sledding and camping this summer. Travel is SO fun!

Overall I am just excited to live a full, creative and colorful life with my better half Mr. C, our little ninja, the talented, creative team I get to collaborate with and all of my friends in Cleveland and elsewhere. It’s gonna be an incredible year ahead. Peace and love to you and your family in 2018!

 

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Thank you to Erie Bone Broth for the recent incredible product samples. I have been enjoying substituting holiday-snacking with a hot mug of your bone broths instead of gingerbread cookies. I am looking forward to using your products in my meal planning efforts of 2018. Thank you!

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