Wednesday, August 16, 2017

If I Was Going Back To School...

School in Charleston starts back later this week.  Last week, I went shopping for school supplies for 30+ elementary schoolers.  Each year, my organization puts on an event to help our participants feel confident and ready for the new school year by giving families who need them a backpack filled with new supplies.  I love seeing the looks on the kids' faces when they get their new colorful backpacks, but I also love getting to shop for supplies.  Picking out supplies every August was always my favorite, and honestly, I saw so many things when I was shopping that I wanted for myself!  I still remember (and have) my very-rectangular Lion King backpack from kindergarten.  Plus, my 10-year high school reunion is this weekend, so school is definitely on the brain.  I rounded up some of my favorites, because even adults need something to update our desks every once in a while!

How cute is that cat pencil pouch?  It would be so perfect for makeup brushes or loose change, too.  I just bought one of those portable chargers, and they are AWESOME.  It fits so well in my purse, weighs nothing, and I never think twice about using my phone/worrying that it won't have a charge for later.  Finally, I learned how to do the rubik's cube this summer, so I am all on that bandwagon.

Pin it for later!
If you were going back to school this year, what would be your must-have?

Monday, August 14, 2017

Brunch Weekend

This weekend was two of our closest friends' birthdays.  Last fall and winter, we started hosting brunches on Sundays for our friends.  NFL Redzone + tons of awesome food + warm enough weather to play corn hole and Kan Jam outside made for the perfect day.  We decided to bring the tradition back a little early this year for their special days and had the best Saturday!  Our menu included ham & cheddar quiche, cinnamon rolls, breakfast sushi, sausage gravy, sweet & sour meatballs, pasta salad, and cake with chocolate buttercream.

Before moving to the South, I don't think I ever had sausage gravy.  But one of our friends made it for us when we lived in our apartment, and I immediately fell in love.  Now, it's my go-to weekend breakfast.  Mike has perfected his own recipe, and this spicy version is my absolute favorite.  I've taken photos of him making it a million times but hadn't posted them because, well, it isn't the prettiest dish ever.  But, I promise, what it lacks in bring photogenic, it makes up for in taste!
- 1 lb roll breakfast sausage (we use the "hot" variety)
- 1/4 cup flour
- 3 cups milk
- salt and pepper
- biscuits

1. Cook and crumble sausage on medium heat in a large pan until browned. (Do not drain fat)
2. Sprinkle flour over the cooked sausage and incorporate into meat.  Cook for 30-45 seconds.
3. Whisk in milk and continue to stir constantly, making sure to scrape the bottom to prevent burning.
4. Add a layer of salt and pepper to the gravy (about 1/2 tablespoon of salt and 1 tablespoon of pepper).
5. Continue to whisk on medium for 7-10 minutes until gravy thickens.
6. Serve over biscuits.
(pictured below is a double batch of gravy)
We have made biscuits from scratch before, but, honestly, biscuits made with Bisquik are so easy to make and just as delicious with this dish.
One of these days I will share the deliciousness that is the breakfast sushi above, but that's a post for another day (after I learn all of my friend's secrets - haha).  I hope everyone had a great weekend, too!  Linking up with Biana for Weekending!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Five Weekend Adventures in Cleveland

Last weekend, we flew out to Cleveland for another adventure/ baseball bucket list weekend.  We are seriously loving this Southwest companion pass (every time Mike flies, I fly free), and I'm pumped that we already accumulated enough credit card points to get it for 2018!  If you want more info on the credit card, please leave me a comment and I can send you a referral.  (You get 50k points to start off for signing up with my code, and I get 10k - win win!)

Okay, back to Cleveland. Whenever we told people we were headed there for the weekend, the response was, "uhhh...why?" Well, we had to check it off our MLB bucket list eventually, and as added bonuses the PGA Tour was in Akron AND the Indians were playing the Yankees. Perfect weekend to be there!

We stayed in the Playhouse Square area in downtown Cleveland, in a hotel I found on Rocketmiles (another awesome way to earn SW bonus points).  It's a Wyndham hotel right now, but they're in the process of transitioning to an IHG.  We were really impressed with the upgrades they're making, and we had a great view of Lake Erie.
Playhouse Square was the perfect place to stay.  It was in walking distance to everything, but being 3-4 extra minute walk (a few blocks) away from the city center and arcade gave us a little cheaper price tag - perfect for a weekend away!  I was really impressed with how easy it was to get around the city.  It was a great size to walk, and there were maps on almost every street corner.
We had a great time, and Cleveland really is the perfect city for a weekend.  Here are the top 5 things we enjoyed over our long weekend:
1. Sports: Right in downtown Cleveland are the stadiums for the Indians, Cavs, and Browns.  We watched the Tribe take on the Yankees, and although the Yanks lost, I loved watching this new, young team in action.  We loved Progressive Field!  They had tons of food options, and we even went on $1 hot dog night.
2. Roll & Roll Hall of Fame: Besides the Indians, this was the one thing I knew about Cleveland.  Home to the Hall of Fame!  It's right on Lake Erie, next to the FirstEnergy Stadium (where the Browns play).  We spent at least a half day there (4-5 hours), checking out the new inductees, the 50 years of Rolling Stone exhibit, and learning about rock since it's early years.  I absolutely loved all the costumes!
3. Parks and History: The veranda at the Hall of Fame had the best view down the Bicentennial Park and out onto Lake Erie.  We headed down there after the Hall of Fame, and obviously took a picture with the Cleveland sign.  After that, we toured around the whole city on our own (thanks to the city maps) and checked out a bunch of green spaces.  Willard Park has the world's biggest rubber stamp, and City Hall is just beautiful!
My suggestion, grab a coffee at my new favorite little coffee shop, Pour Cleveland, right outside the arcade, and start walking.  The arcade, East 4th Street, and the Warehouse District are all close by, too. 
4. Ohio City: Just over Hope Memorial Bridge (right outside Progressive Field) is Ohio City.  The West Side Market is the best spot to find local vendors' items and prepared foods.  While there, we also visited two breweries: Great Lakes and Nano.  Great Lakes had great food.  I had the mac and cheese with homemade pasta, and Mike had the pierogies.  We walked down the street to Nano after dinner for a flight.  My favorites were the Black IPA and Lemon Radler.
5. The Zoo: The last day of our trip, we had a few hours before we left, so we drove out to the Metroparks Zoo.  I don't think I've been to a zoo since I was in high school, and it was so fun to just walk around, especially since I don't think I have never seen animals so up close before.  I fed larakeets, played peek-a-boo with a monkey, and saw my favorite, the tiger!  If you're more of a sea animal person, there is also an aquarium right downtown.
That's it!  Another new city in the books.  We had a blast and can't wait for our next adventure.
Linking up for Oh hey, Friday, Five on Friday, High Five for Friday, and two doses of Friday Favorites

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