Making Time

I constantly think about this blog. At night when I lay in bed waiting for The Chef to come home from the restaurants I think to myself 'man I should really start writing again.' I muse and ponder about what to write about and when I can't come to a decision the desire to write gets put on the backburner. 

So here I am. Laying in bed, watching Eddie Huang's new show Fresh Off The Boat (the soundtrack is rad) waiting for The Chef to come home. I originally thought I would write about food and getting my kids to eat healthy but then I figured that topic has been exhausted. So I figure I will just write and see how it goes.  

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I have been happily working with The Chef at the restaurants. We opened Trentina in July and by God has it been an adventure. We knew it wasn't going to be easy opening a Northern Italian fine dining restaurant in Cleveland and since the opening we have learned many lessons. The restaurant, just like The Greenhouse Tavern in year 1, is growing and evolving into what it's meant to be. I am so proud of our little gem in University Circle and I really do believe that it is quickly becoming one of the best restaurants in this city. The Chef has been in the kitchen every night and the team he has assembled is turning into something special. Avengers Unite! I am excited to follow along for the ride and for the food! Holy moly the food is divine. And I'm not just saying that. See for yourself. 

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I myself have plunged full force into the marketing and branding of Team Sawyer Restaurant Group. We've had a pretty good game so far but there is always more that could be done. In a few short years our restaurant group has grown exponentially and we are finally finding our rhythm both in team and family. We now have an immense amount of support behind us and the creative forces that drive the Chef and I are front and center. 2015 is going to be a fun and crazy year. Between balancing work and still having a full life with the minis, maybe I'll even have time for this old friend. 

 

A Year in Review

Tonight is the night that the curtain closes on 2014. We will toast our glasses and promise ourselves to do better next year. We will lament on things passed, good or bad and we will wake up in the morning to a new set of days, a better set of days or so we hope. 

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This year was a year of change for us. We changed business partners, we opened a new restaurant, and most important we changed our outlook on our life whether it be our children or our restaurants. We made a choice at the beginning of the year to focus on positivity even in our darker days. This choice has truly changed our lives. We are able to find good in the bad and as we leave 2014 we feel more supported and loved than ever. 

We start 2015 with our eyes and hearts open.  We look to the future and close the door on the past.  

Get Shorty Giveaway!

 

One of my favorite Cleveland events will be here in no time at all!

The 39th Annual Cleveland Film Festival (CIFF) runs March 18 – 29, 2015 and I will be first in line. This 11 day festival is filled with films, Cleveland, and fun! In anticipation of the festival, CIFF is holding "Get Shorty," one of seven events in this year’s Film Feast line-up, which is now in its 12th year.  CIFF Film (and other ARTS) Feasts, sponsored by Hyland, are a way to engage the community, cultivate new film buffs and celebrate the arts, all while promoting the upcoming Festival. Get Shorty is always one of the most popular, and this year the event takes place January 29 at 7p.m. at the beautifully restored Capitol Theatre in the Gordon Square arts district. Before the films, guests will gather next door at the Arcade where they will enjoy an array of food and beverages.

What makes the Get Shorty Film Feast so unique is that the guest, has an interactive role in selecting some of the shorts programming which will be screened at CIFF39. Um, AWESOME. CIFF will show a selection of short films and you cast your vote for each, and the top scorers will be screened at this year’s Festival.  

The CIFF events before the film festival are always so much fun and I am thrilled to be able to giveaway a pair of TWO tickets to Get Shorty! Enter below by January 25th. A winner will be picked by the 25th and you will get to join us at "Get Shorty" for a night a film, food, and fun!

       

David Bowie Is

Last month our family found ourselves in Chicago for the Chicago Gourmet event that the Chef was cooking at. We decided to bring both kids so we could see our Cleveland friends who moved to Chicago last year. We also made it a family trip due to the David Bowie Is exhibit at the Museum of ContemporaryArt Chicago that as huge Bowie fans we knew we couldn't miss.

We bought tickets online (you have to reserve a time slot/day) and headed out. We brought the kids. Both of them are Bowie fans, so much so that they even named an owl that lives at our Natural History Museum, you guessed it, David Bowie. Every time we visit the history museum our first stop has to always be a visit to David Bowie, the barn owl. So we brought the kids. They love Labyrinth and listen to Hunky Dory weekly. How could we not bring them? Welllllllllllll.....Would we bring the kids again? Probably not. But sometimes, as a parent you just gotta go for the culture and hope for the best.

The exhibit is FUCKING AMAZING. Like times a trillion zillion amazing. When you arrive you are given a pair of wireless headphones that tells the listener all about more than 400 objects, David Bowie's archive, costumes, and everything else that is housed at the MCA David Bowie Is. The headphones are magic in themselves because at any time you can move towards one thing and away from another to hear the next found object. The majic headphones also make the exhibit completely silent to the outside world. Guess what's not completely silent to the outside world? You guessed it! Our kids. The Chef and I ended up zooming through the exhibit as about an hour in, the 6 and 9 year old had had enough of The White Duke and ready for some gift shop action. Really though, they were great for such a BIG, CRAZY, exhibit. We danced, we talked makeup and the 60's, and we all collectively agreed upon the fact that David Bowie is a ROCK GOD. 

So if you go and you have kids, leave 'em at home. Lesson learned. If you don't have kids, spend a day there. Or two. There is SO MUCH BOWIE.

The David Bowie Is exhibit is open in Chicago until January 4th, 2015. RUN.


Splash Infuser

Over here at Chef's Widow it's no secret we like to imbibe. With the holidays coming closer we find ourselves dreaming of specialty cocktails. Recently we found out about a Midwestern kickstarter campaign for the Splash Infuser:

The Splash Infuser is a patented healthy beverage device that allows you to rapidly customize the flavor of your water. The Splash has a 2-part design, a bottom infusion container and a top muddler lid. Simply drop your ingredients in, twist the muddler lid to blend and release the flavors, and drop the Splash into your favorite drinking container. The Splash was designed to motivate users to skip out on sugary, high-calorie drinks and start creating their own healthy concoctions using natural ingredients like fruit and herbs. With the Splash Infuser, the possibilities to create healthy, tasty beverages are endless!

The kind folks over at Cardboard Helicopter sent me a splash infuser to try out on my own. 

We used the splash infuser with lemon balm and orange peels for some workout water. Our kids enjoyed the naturally flavored water and loved seeing the infuser work it's magic. Next stop, boozeville. With the holidays just around the corners, this Splash Infuser guide will be a handy tool when coming up with my holiday cocktail list.

Check out their kickstarter, with only a week to go this midwestern product is so close to their end goal! Check them out and donate, these Splash Infusers would make great stocking stuffers and holiday gifts.

Renee Zellweger

Yesterday the internet exploded because Renee Zellweger, a famous actress, went to a party and looked very different. She looked older (because she ages like a human being) and she looked like she had a few cosmetic procedures done, as her trademark cute squinty blue eyes were no longer squinty. She also looked a bit like she just had a facial or gotten waxed as her face resembled the after effects of both. She looked different for sure. 

Twitter exploded.

Facebook melted.

Anger and disdain were splashed on gossip magazine headlines.


3,000 tweets per hour with only 1% being reported. Ummmm thems a lot of tweets. 

Near the end of the day I found myself dealing with some bullshit that I thought was over and when opened Facebook to zone out on mindless pomp & circumstance I lost my shit. "Renee this, Renee that. I don't even know what that face is? Why would someone do that to themselves?" It was like #CLEBOLA all over again only this time an actual human face was the disease.

I spewed:

For me, Renee Zellweger is a perfect example of what a nihilistic fucked view on beauty & aging we have as a society. Renee made they choice to change her face, more specifically the feature of her face that all of us recognize and relate to, but that's her choice to make. You know what else? I am guessing that Renee has probably lived through years and years and years of people telling her that her eyes were to squinty or she looked like she was sleeping.  She probably had casting directors encouraging her to change her look and she most definitely had the entire beauty industry reminding her (like most of us) that we are NOT AS BEAUTIFUL as we should. While those eyes probably got her roles like Bridget Jones, they probably also lost her roles and landed her on the pages of US Weekly and TMZ in a not so flattering light. As a culture we create the doubt that is instilled in all of us about our looks. We support it, we embrace it, and we live by the code that our looks mean more than they really do. So how can be surprised when people drastically change the way they look?

Now I can't speak for RZ, as she is just a face to me like most of you, but I can say that we all could use a reminder every now and then of The Golden Rule. They teach it in first grade to 5 year olds and it seems like the collective internet may have played hooky that day. Let this be a gentle reminder...

Treat others how you would want to be treated.

It's simple for sure, but I have no doubt in my mind that everyone who spewed hatred and judgement towards a woman over her aging face yesterday probably would not wish for that to happen to them.

And if you wanna get botox, get it. If you want to get an eye lift get it. If wearing plaid and stripes makes you happy then by god wear plaid and stripes. Do what makes YOU happy.

Fuck everyone else.

 

Bath Time Bliss: Must Have Bath Products

Now that winter is around the corner, my time spent in the antique claw-footed bathtub increases tenfold. I bathe when it's cold out. I love talking baths. It is my time to wind down. It is my time to think. And most important it is time spent on me which doesn't often happen.

These are some of my must have's for my bath-time fun:

 

  1. Bath Caddy: made from salvaged wood this bath tray is perfect for book and wine. 

  2. Big Blue Bath Bombs: you'd be surprised how turning your bath ocean blue can help you relax. Not to mention all the minerals getting rid of toxins!

  3. Milk Bath Float from The Body Shop: a deep sleep concoction that make the bath feel like silk. 

  4. Ahava Caressing Body Sorbet: A great moisturizer for after bath. Leaves you skin feeling like butter. 

  5. Konjac Sponge: I love this for my face so much that I bought a bigger one for my body. 

What are some of your favorites?

Eggnog

For the holiday season there is no better beverage than eggnog. Here's how you can make your own nog at home:

What You Need:

 

  • 2 dozen Eggs, separated
  • 1 (750-mL) bottle VS cognac or brandy
  • 16 oz rum
  • 2 lb Powdered sugar
  • 3 qt (96 oz) Whole milk
  • 1 qt (32 oz) Heavy cream
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 3/4 tsp Grated nutmeg

How to Make:

  1. In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks until light and lemon-colored.
  2. While continuing to beat, add the brandy, rum, sugar, milk, heavy cream and salt. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites and nutmeg until they form stiff peaks.
  3. Fold the whites into the yolk mixture.
  4. Serve in punch cups with grated nutmeg on top. 

Vino Caldo

While living in Italy during college, I learned two things: Eating pasta for three months straight is not the best weight loss plan and vino caldo is a delicious drink that complements the fall and winter seasons. It's easy to make and it will warm your belly (and other places) quite quickly.

 

What You Need:

  • Bottle Red Wine
  • Orange Slices
  • Red Pepper Flake
  • Cinnamon Sticks
  • Sugar (optional)

How to Make:

  1. Pour red wine in a sauce pan.
  2. Add 3 orange slices and 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flake. 
  3. Simmer on low for 10-20 minutes.
  4. Dampen the rim of a mug and roll in sugar.
  5. Pour vino caldo in a mug and garnish with a cinnamon stick. 
  6. Enjoy!

Samsung "Ditch Day" in Los Angeles

You may not know this but in my spare time (hahahaha spare time, what's that?) I am an avid photographer. About a year ago I was asked to be a Samsung Imagelogger and since then I have been fortunate enough to work with the amazing Samsung NX mirror-less smart cameras. Below is a gallery of photos I took with either the NX Mini, the NX 300, the NX30, or the NX3000:

As you can see, I love the cameras and I take a ridiculous amount of pictures. The photos always end up being super gorgeous and the cameras are all so easy to use. They are also super adaptable with all of my electronics including my Apple iPhone! 

Tomorrow on October 14th, 2014 Samsung is holding "Ditch Day II" at Hollywood & Highland in LA. They are going to be having a DSLR trade-in (which means you bring your old DSLR and they give you a brand NEW Samsung NX camera #AWESOME), and they also try to break the selfie world record with proceeds going to Habitat for Humanity. The event goes from 10am-7pm but show up around 2pm to hang with Nick Cannon and Juliette Hough for the #selfie!

If you are in LA tomorrow I highly suggest you Ditch the DSLR! 

 

by Milo Hess

by Milo Hess

Konjac Face Sponge

I am not a skin care kinda gal. I don't use toners, or expensive lotions, nor do I ever wash my face with soap. I am a simple girl when it comes to my face and for 35 years this simplicity has worked for me. My skin is a perfect balance of normal and I never break out. Like never. I have always believed less is better when it comes to your face and although my regimen consists of water and apricot oil, I have recently added a Konjac facial sponge to the mix.

The Konjac Potato or Konnyaku is a perennial plant native to Asia, and can be found growing wild at very high altitudes. A totally natural food source, Konjac is 97% water, rich in mineral goodness and low in calories. Naturally alkaline, Konjac is pH neutral which leaves skin perfectly balanced.

I like the way the Konjac sponge leaves my skin feeling after. Usually when I rinse my face with water before I apply apricot oil, my skin feels a wee bit dry. When I use the Konjac sponge my skin feels soft and pliable and when I apply the apricot oil my skin absorbs it immediately. I have only been using it a month and I really like it as a new addition to my facial regimen. 

Cleveland Nail Artist: Jessica Dingess

My GHT and Noodlecat nails...

I am a huge fan of nail art. I first became aware of the trend when I met a girl name Mayay Apple on a visit to LA in 2012. Mayay did my nails in my hotel room and hand drew our restaurants logos on my nails to celebrate a special dinner the chef was doing in California that night. Turned out Mayay was not only my nail artist but also nail artist of Miley Cyrus, Rebecca Prince, and Busy Phillips. Can you say 6 degrees?

Adventure Time Nails...

When I came home to Cleveland I searched long and hard for someone as good as Mayay. It took me nearly 2 years but I have finally found someone!  Her name is Jessica and she works at Tease Hair & Body Parlor. She is the best (and ONLY) nail artist in Cleveland. Check out her work on her Instagram and if you are in the mood for some funky or beautiful painted nails be sure to give her a ring. 

Disney Villan Nails 

 

Tease Hair & Body Parlor

15112 Detroit Ave, Lakewood, OH 44107

(216) 228-2440

Noodle Kids Book

One of the more thrilling things to happen in my life is seeing my baby girl on the cover of her Dad's book Noodle Kids. The Chef and I are thrilled to announce his first family book is being released this January! It is available for presale here and I happen to have a 30% off coupon code for all presale orders. Use NOODLE30 at checkout for the discount. Wheeeeeeee!!!

You can also pre order it at:

Barnes & Noble (Yipeee!!!!)

Amazon (Wowza!)

 

Homemade Ketchup

It's tomater/ season over here at Casa Sawyer and I can't can/peel/cook fast enough. After making sauce for days on days on days, the girl and I decided to try our hand at Mark Bittman's homemade ketchup recipe. We followed the recipe however after tasting I would lose the red bell pepper. The pepper overtook the tomato's and both kids rejected it. 

I have since made another batch and added a few more tomato's and nixxed the bell pepper. It's much more ketchupyyyyy the minis seem to be cool with it and there are no additives, high fructose corn syrup, or any other unknown ingredient. Homemade for he win!

Here's the adapted recipe:

In a large pot over medium heat, sauté 1 chopped onion in 2 tablespoons neutral oil until soft, 8 to 10 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon chopped garlic and 1 tablespoon tomato paste, and stir until the paste darkens a bit, 2 or 3 minutes. Add 2 lbs whole tomatoes (roughly chopped and seeded, with their juice), ⅓ cup brown sugar, ¼ cup cider vinegar, ½ teaspoon ground mustard, ⅛ teaspoon each ground allspice, ground cloves, cayenne and cinnamon, a bay leaf, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about an hour. Let cool for a few minutes, then purée in a blender until completely smooth. (For supersmooth ketchup, pass it through a fine-mesh strainer.) Taste, adjust the seasoning and store in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.

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Chefs Widow Part II

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The Chef has been gone since last Thursday and I can truly say I am exhausted. Between the restaurants, school, activities, and the general chaotic ness of a busy family my eyes are slowly closing as I type. 

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This weekend was a doozy. We had swimming lessons, soccer games, PSR, cheerleading, choir, and now I find myself sitting in my car watching the girl climb the monkey bars as the boy practices soccer at the local elementary school. All by myself.

These days, five days alone is an eternity. I remember when I welcomed the Chefs' travel schedule. Being the solitary person that I am, I used to embrace those nights alone. You see I was never one of those types who needed to be around their partner day in and day out. I needed space and the Chef was the same. The traveling worked for us and I think it helped us form a strong marriage early on.

Now that the minis are growing up and involved in so many things, the time I used to spend alone after my kids went to bed is now spent driving them here and there and back and forth. And I hate fucking driving.  

I don't know how to get a handle on it. It's only been 5 days but it seems like a month. I'm at a standstill with myself. I want the Chef to travel and I want to support his career but how can I do this all by myself?  

How I Live Now

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How I Live Now is a stunning film the Chef and I accidentally watched on Netflix last week. The film is based on the book of the same name written by Meg Rosoff. The storyline follows an American girl to England at the beginning of World War III. The cinematography is stunning and the story, albeit scary and too realistic at times is beautiful.  

 

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🍷🍷🍷🍷 

out of 5 wine glasses

 

 

🍷: SKIP IT

🍷🍷: ONLY IF YOU WANNA GO TO SLEEP

🍷🍷🍷: WAIT FOR DVD  

🍷🍷🍷🍷: WORTH A WATCH

🍷🍷🍷🍷🍷: QUIT YOUR JOB & WATCH IMMEDIATLEY! 

8 Things I've Learned in 8 Years of Marriage

Eight years ago the Chef and I said I do...This is what I've learned so far:

 

  1. Marriage, while glamorized by wedding dresses and exorbitant wedding receptions, is not all rainbows and unicorns. To make marriage work you have to work at it. There will be times that make you question it all, there will be times that will be bad. It's during those times that you find out that putting the effort in to marriage is really what makes it work. 
  2. Communicating is key. Talking about daily life, your dreams, your hopes, your needs, and your wants. These are all very important to keep a marriage happy and exciting. Having goals in your marriage is equally important.
  3. Making a concentrated effort to date or spend time together is necessary to a successful relationship. Not making an effort to spend quality alone time together leads to built up resentment about other shit going on in life. 
  4. Getting out of debt made our relationship better. It sounds transparent, but not having to worry about $12,000 of debt looming over our heads dramatically stopped many arguments we once had. Granted it took us almost 8 years to do this but I can tell you this, we will never have that debt looming again. 
  5. Having sex on a regular basis is like wellbutrin for marriage. And when I say regular I mean daily or at least every other day. SEX is IMPORTANT. F
  6. Kissing everyday is important! I'm not talking about kiss on the cheek. I'm talking about a makeout sesh. It's easy to skip this one between the hustle and bustle of daily life, but I am telling it makes a difference. Making out with your husband immediately makes one feel just a little bit sexiert. 
  7.  Saying "I love you" is a simple thing but so huge. It reminds us both that all of the hard work we put into marriage pays off every day.
  8. Smiling and laughing AT and WITH each other is how I fall in love with The Chef a little bit more each day. Be open to happiness!!