If a story is in you, it has got to come out.

I haven't truly thought about writing until recently.

It wasn't until I stepped out of my comfort zone that I realized how much I missed writing. I stopped writing because the Chef and I were going through a pretty horrific legal/business/shady/greedy battle with his brother and I just couldn't bring myself to write anything good. Plus his brother, who was actively trying to fire the Chef and steal his restaurant, threatened me with legal action if I blogged, which he eventually did, soooooooo.....the chef's brother, totally not evil. Ha. 

The battle lasted for almost 5 years. Yes 5 YEARS.  It was hard and it was hell, we lost friends, we lost family, we made bad choices and we made good choices but eventually we won. We walked away with the restaurants and the ability to sleep at night peacefully. Not sure if I can say the same about the other side...

So that yearning to write came back recently. It started when I was perusing Facebook late at night and saw a call for Idea Pitches through the Cleveland Leadership Center. I have always had this idea in the back of my head and maybe because I was two martinis in I decided to fill out the application. Low and behold, a few months later, an email arrived that said my idea was chosen as one of the top five ideas for their Accelerate for Change event. I would present in the community change category, in front of judges and they would give me feedback. There was a cash prize that I briefly skimmed over and then had a prompt freak out. What I hadn't realized when filling out the application was that there was public speaking involved. I DESPISE public speaking. Shocking I know. In person I am pretty comfortable with just about anyone. I can talk to the best of 'em. But getting up in front of a crowd? Ummm, not so much.

But the idea that I pitched was an idea that I am passionate about. So I grabbed my laptop and started to type my presentation.

Here it is:

My name is Amelia and I am here to talk to you about a Sanctuary for Addicts and Animals. 
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This is my brother Andy. Andy is a heroin addict. 
In 2006 on Thanksgiving Day my family’s life changed forever. My brother, a handsome, athletic, intelligent college student, came to my dad’s house and announced he was flying to Florida because “he need a break.” He looked skinny, sickly, and grey. Our family was confused and angry, why would he be so brash to leave on a holiday about being grateful for your family? We would later find out her name was was heroin.
After a soccer injury, my brother was prescribed Oxycontin for pain associated with a broken collar bone. We've all heard this story before. Within months, the oxycontin addiction he developed became too expensive, heroin was cheaper, and he quickly became a full blown heroin addict. The past 10 years watching my brother suffer with the disease of addiction has forever changed my family. Addiction is the most devastating disease I have ever witnessed. Watching someone you love lose their self to addiction is harder than watching someone you love die of cancer. 
My brother has seen bright days and he has seen many bad days. In 10 years I have learned so much about heroin addiction. I have learned how far family will go for someone they love. I have learned that heroin steals the person you once knew and replaces them with a complete stranger. I have learned that addiction is actually a disease and should be treated as one. I have learned to value the time my brother is sober but keep my distance enough to know that at any moment the call of the needle could entice him back. I have learned that heroin not only steals someones soul, but it also steals their self worth. This is where the Sanctuary comes in. 
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This is Ladybug. Ladybug is an abused pig who was found in a home that had 49 other animals all living in unsanitary conditions while being neglected. Ladybug was rescued by Happy Trails Animal Sanctuary and is the first smiling pig face you will see when you walk through the doors. 
What does my brother and Ladybug have to do with each other? Last summer my family and I visited the Happy Trails Animal Sanctuary. We were appalled by the abuse stories of the animals but at peace seeing them thrive at the sanctuary. Over the past 10 years I have watched my brother’s addiction consume his life wishing, praying, and hoping I could stop it. He has spent time clean and sober but has always gone back to the needle. Why is this? I believe that his purpose is lost on him. Heroin stole his self worth the first time he put a needle in his arm. Even when he finds sobriety his purpose in this life is still lost. He cannot find a job. Most of his friends, if not all, have moved on. His guilt over his addiction is all consuming and his confidence in himself is virtually non existent. The disease takes everything. But what if something could give him his life back? What if Ladybug could give him a purpose?
 
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My pitch for Citizens make Community Change is a Sanctuary for animals and addicts. The sanctuary would be a non profit recovery farm for both addicts and animals located in Northeast Ohio. Like a traditional animal sanctuary, abused animals would find a new home. Unlike the traditional animal sanctuary, the recovering addict would find themselves the caretaker of these abused and neglected animals. They would find a purpose in themselves by working on the farm, growing their own food, and taking care of the abused animals while simultaneously working on their own recovery. The results of their hard work would be seen in the rehabilitated animals which in turn would give back their sense of self that heroin stole from them. 
In between the time an addict gets out rehab, detox, or even prison, the addict often goes to a sober house. A sober is house is usually just a landlord who is supposed to make sure that the people who rent rooms are sober. The problem is this rarely happens. The houses are usually in underprivileged areas where drugs can easily be found and are often filled entirely of addicts. If one person in the house falls, they all fall. My brother has lived and relapsed in many sober houses over the past 10 years. Recently my brother found sobriety for the longest he has ever been sober. For 12 months he was clean. We had him back in our lives. My kids played with him, I laughed with him, and our family shared joy with him. And then he was gone again. Heroin found him through his roommate at the sober house where he lived. No more job, no more house, no more laughter. 
Sanctuary would replace the Sober House and could not only help my brother but all people suffering from the terrible disease of heroin addiction. Sanctuary would give addicts a place to live, an inspiring fulfilling job, and the opportunity to work on their own recovery alongside some of nature’s most damaged creatures.  They could find their own value  again through saving the lives of animals. Living at Sanctuary an addict will learn skills and tools in both the veterinary field and agriculture field. Sanctuary will help the addict find responsibility and value in themselves. Sanctuary is a place that an addict and an abused animal can find their purpose in life again. I believe that a heroin wildfire is spreading through our country and no one knows what to do about it. I believe that Sanctuary could play an active role in an addict’s journey to recovery both in Northeast Ohio and nationally and is part of answer to this epidemic that is very much needed.
Thank you for listening. 

The day of the pitch I was ready...or so I thought. I had it memorized, I was ready for questions. My squad was attending the event. I had my favorite black boots on. I was good to go. And then it was my turn. And then there were 40 people in front of me and I was about to talk about my brother's heroin addiction. I barely made it through. When I opened my mouth to speak, a flashback of everything our family has been through for the past 10 years hit me and my emotions and fear took over. What felt like 40 minutes was actually 9 and before I knew it my kids were giving me hugs and kisses and telling me how great I did. I didn't win 1st place (a judge did tell me I was the runner-up tho) but I did win something else. I won back the confidence in myself to write again and to share my ideas. That's always been my passion and unfortunately for me I let an unhappy sad man temporarily take it away from me. Not anymore. 

Silenced no longer, I feelzzzzz good.

 

 

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

Date Night

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Went on a date with a handsome boy on Saturday to Trentina for one of the soft openings. He dressed up in his new suit from Nordstrom and his new grey velour wingtips. First we headed to MOCA  to check out the Hans Op De Beeck Staging Silence exhibit. It was visually stunning. We talked about art and held hands as we watched how each tiny scene was made. 

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Our walk over to Trentina hand in hand reminded me of days not long ago when the Chef and I used to walk up Park Avenure for a date. We were the first to arrive at Trentina and were promptly seated. The boy perused the menu and our first course come our moments after our drinks arrived.

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Our rule for the evening as with every meal we have, is try everything once. If you don't like it you don't have to eat, but you gotta try. I am proud to say that the boy put every single course in his mouth. He even tried the oyster! He was a perfect gentleman and somehow managed to sit for almost two hours (a very big feat if you know our very active boy)! 

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About 10 courses in, the boy, sleepily expressed his desire to go home. Never thought he would make it course 5, let alone 10, I agreed. We ate our desert quickly and headed home to rent a movie. 

We put on our pj's and snuggled up deciding on Return to OZ. Qucikly freaked out by those insane Wheelers we snuggled up and dozed off our bellies and hearts full. 

 

Cleveland Kids Casting Call

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The Chef and I have had the pleasure of getting to know actor Michael Pitt over the past few weeks as he is in CLE filming. This weekend his band is shooting a music video and they are looking for kiddos. Here's the call:

The actor Michael Pitt & his band Pagoda are filming a music video in Cleveland this Sunday June 22, 2014. We are seeking artsy kids 7-10 yrs. old to be featured in a few scenes. We are reviewing headshots now!! We want some really interesting types of kids (artsy, blue collarish, grungy, kind of different). This video is for Pagoda's new single "Time Has Come". Looking for kids 7yrs. old to 10 yrs. old who are 3'8" to 4'4" who can act like they are playing instruments. WE WANT ALL ETHNICITIES AND RACES! THEY DONT HAVE TO BE ACTORS--just cool kids. Parents please submit your name and phone number, with your child's picture, name and age to:timehascomevideo@gmail.com

Transportation will be provided if needed.

Bicycle Race

You guys,

I rode my bike to work yesterday!  

Gettin' My Bike On

I have been on the soapbox for awhile now about cyclists in Cleveland. I guess ever since my husband got hit by an RTA bus (who has graciously refused to pay his medical bills) I have been a little vocal. So, I decided to put my money where my mouth was. I ride my bike around our neighborhood with kids for leisure, and every Sunday we ride the Towpath, but I have yet to embrace city riding. I have always left that up to the Chef cause I'm kind of a baby.

Not anymore bitches.  

The Chef and I hit the road and I immediately noticed the drivers. Now before I tell you about that let me tell one thing. I am an EXTREME RULE FOLLOWER. I was wickedly wild up until I had kids and my early twenties may have put the kibosh on my desire to go up against the lawman. Before I decided to ride my bike the six miles downtown, I researched bicycling in Ohio. I read Ohio's bike laws. I learned my hand signals and right of way. I shined my helmet, put my headphones away and prepared to ride my bike safely downtown.

I'm a nerd. A safe nerd. But a nerd, nonetheless.  

We got on Euclid Ave., the only semi bike friendly street (which also happens to be where the Chef was hit by a busand I immediately secured myself in the bike lane while the Chef rode a few car lengths ahead. Within moments I was shocked and surprised by a car slowing down next to me, screaming and shouting while raising his fists at me.

"You stupid bitch, get off the road!" 

I was floored. The Chef was aways up and I knew if he heard what the man was screaming at me nothing good would come. I slowed my bike down as he sped on. It was awful and I was totally shaken up. I kept going trying to reach the Chef and found myself being pushed even closer to the curb by another car who was not happy about me riding in the bike lane. Again, I slowed my roll. The Chef realized that I was way behind and waited up. I would like to say the rest of our ride in was good, but it wasn't. Drivers in Cleveland are mean and fucking hate bikers. I mean if they had a shotgun they would probably shoot. We got screamed at a couple more times, horns blasting, red faces glaring.

The ride made me hate Cleveland.  

And I don't hate Cleveland. I love this city and I think I might also love biking. The fact is, riding a bike on the streets of Ohio is completely legal. I repeat, RIDING A BIKE ON THE STREETS OF OHIO IS COMPLETELY LEGAL. I think, for some reason, driver's don't understand this. I think they think the right of the road is all theirs.

I just don't understand the hate you drivers have. I am not hurting you, nor am I in your way or making you late. I am not weaving in and out of traffic and I am following all of the laws. I am not endangering your life at all. You are endangering mine. You are threatening my life when you scream at me, distracting me from the rode. Your are endangering my safety when you swerve to give me a 'little scare.' I am not the danger on the road, dear driver, you are. 

I know not all drivers are complete motherfuckers. 

I drive everyday and when I see a cyclists on the road I use caution. I don't scream or yell, nor do I throw a hissy fight about the right of the way. I respect the idea of a bike city and I hope that my city will continue embracing cyclists. I would love to see our city mimic Chicago's bike infrastructure.

Green Lanes RULE you guys

Green lanes and divvy bicycle rentals on major streets should be implemented here. Green lanes make SUCH A DIFFERENCE. I rode on one last week in CHI and I felt so much safer than I ever have in Cleveland riding my bike. Encouraging people to bike to and from work encourages the health of it's citizens, not to mention the massive environmental benefits. 

For the City of Cleveland to continue embracing the revitalization of our fair city, I firmly believe that forward thinking when it comes to a cycling city is massively needed.  If you're hiring CLE, I'm totally up for the job:)

What are your thoughts on bicycling in a city? Love it? Hate it?  

Share your biking experiences in the comments.  

 

One last thing...in the words of the late, great Freddie Mercury...

 

West Side Market Vendor's Relief Fund

Last week a terrible fire broke out inside Cleveland's beloved West Side Market. Long time market lovers as well as vendors (we have a Noodlecat stand) in the market, the chef and I were devastated to hear the news. Last year the Chef alongside his good buddy Mike Symon, were honored to be chairs of the 100th Anniversary Gala that was celebrated in November. They brought some amazing chefs to our fair city to raise money for something the people hold so dear, The West Side Market.

Chef Sawyer & Chef Symon #wsm100

After last week's fire we were all wondering how we could help the market we hold so near and dear. We knew the money raised at the Centennial Gala was going towards a huge rejuvenation/rehabilitation of the market that had barely even had a chance to begin and we knew that vendors were quickly losing their income each day the market remained closed. 

Being the die hard Cleveland lover that he is, Mike Symon started a vendor relief fund. Businesses and civilians alike can pitch in to make sure these vendors don't lose their livelihood as well as their financial security. The West Side Market is loved by all in our fair city and the majority of people I know are proud to shop in this country's oldest standing public market. Let's make sure it stays that way. 

To donate to the West Side Market Vendors Relief Fund please click here.

Chef's Widow loves the West Side Market 100 Year Gala #wsm100

The family and I are long time fans of the West Side Market. For those of you reading who aren't from the 216 area code, the market is this country's longest standing public market. The market is made up of food vendors, produce and protein, fish and cheese mongers, and a few great restaurants. The Chef and I are lucky enough to have found our own piece of West Side Market heaven, as last spring we opened a Noodlecat stand. This fall the Chef finds himself headlining the 100 year anniversary gala alongside my other favorite, Chef Michael Symon. The two of them have worked extra had at bringing in some of our nation's best chefs for what's sure to be a blowout bash. You need to buy tickets to this. If there is one event in CLE that you go to, it should be this. Cause it's gonna be freakin' rad. How could it not be? Look at all the heavy hitters coming to our rustbelt home:

April Bloomfield, New York City Andrew Carmellini, New York City Britt-Marie Culey, Cleveland Karen DeMasco, New York City Chris Hodgson, Cleveland Paul Kahan, Chicago Jeff Michaud, Philadelphia Jonathon Sawyer, Cleveland Michael Symon, Cleveland Marc Vetri, Philadelphia Eric Williams, Cleveland Paul Minnillo, Cleveland Rocco Whalen, Cleveland Andrew Zimmern, New York

Buy your tickets today!!

 

#wsm100

Chef's Widow loves Sawyer's Street Frites

Today is the opening day for Sawyer's Street Frites in the club level of Cleveland Browns Stadium. Sawyer's Street Frites will debut two stands in the club level and will feature a menu of frites, sammies, donuts, peanuts, craft beer, and keg wine!! The mini's and I got a sneak peek yesterday and found ourselves roaming around an empty Browns Stadium:

Sawyer's Street Frites is something we are so PROUD of. I know the Chef was really hesitant at first but after working with the amazing people at CBHospitality we really felt like it was a great fit. Changing stadium food for the better can hardly be a bad thing, dontchya think?

Tonight we open with the Kenny Chesney show and will be open for all of the shows and games following. Get your football on this year & check out the best stadium food you have ever had!!

xx,

Noodlekids Family Fun Festival

The Chef and I definitely don't hide from the fact that we have kids. Some chefs we know distance themselves from their families and personal lives while at their restaurant. This is something we are just not able to do. We are never gonna own a restaurant that doesn't allow or support kids. Our lives are better because of our children and integrating them into our restaurant life is just as important as our family life.

When we first moved back to Cleveland, the Chef did a kids cooking class at Bar Cento called Cook Chefin'. The Chef would teach a bunch of wee ones how to make pizza and then they would get to make their own pizza for themselves. We loved it so much and it was a great way for us to meet other families in the city we had just moved back too. Since those days we have been dying to do something along the same lines and Noodlecat is the perfect place to start!

On June 24th, 2012 Noodlecat will be hosting it's first every Noodlekids Family Fun Festival!

The festivities will include games, cotton candy, face paint and fun from 1-3 pm! We're even raffling off a Noodlecat gift card and a $200 gift card for a family portrait session with Sarah, just bring a canned good to be entered to win. All collections will be donated to the Cleveland Food Bank. A special Noodlekids menu will also be available for purchase as well as our regular Noodlecat menu. Best known for her work photographing children, Sarah Sloboda documents life in a style that mixes romance and rock-n-roll. Her awards, publications, and clients include Prix de la Photographie Paris, The New York Times, The Knot, Wondertime, Urban Baby, and Sephora, to name a few. Most recently, her signature 3D viewers were written up in Daily Candy.

Now that my kids are a little older I think it's time to get back into the kid game. The Chef and I both love to celebrate food and teach kids about food. It's time those two mixed once again. To get free tickets to the Noodlekids Family Fun Festival click here.

Noodlecat is also looking for some noodlekids to star in their new production. If you've got a kid and they like to slurp then please watch this, then drive to Noodlecat. There's a free choco bun involved.

See y'all cats on the 24th.

Meow. 

Cleveland Rocks

[gallery link="file" orderby="post_date"] Rock Hall Induction Week 2012

What a week we had during the rock hall induction. We hung out with William Shatner  talking food, muses, and kindred spirits. We laughed at Aziz then had dinner with him. We rocked out to the Red Hot Chili Peppers and rode scooters behind the restaurant with our kids. We taught kids and families that eating healthy is not only good for you but something you can do with the entire family as we did, making  homemade goldfish for Healthy Kids Day at the Q. We hung out on rooftops as we danced with our kids, once again falling in love with our little city.

Life is good.

Life is crazy.

Happy in Cleveland are we. 

Cleveland: Playhouse Sqaure

Not enough people give Cleveland credit for being an actual city. We get picked on and teased and usually the only shining glory nationally is our food scene. Well friends, I'm gonna let you in on a little secret. Cleveland is more than food. It's more than a river caught fire. And it's definitely more than shitty sports teams that have no money in the land of buying championships.

Kids first big kid play, Memphis

Cleveland is cool to me for multiple reasons. I love our museums, the passion of our people, my crazy low house payment (compared to NYC), and the city itself. One of my absolute favorite things in Cleveland is Playhouse Square. I grew up going to shows at Playhouse Square with my grandma and on school trips, and now I find myself enjoying it with my own children. To me, Playhouse is like my own personal Broadway. It's intimacy is unheard of in Manhattan, and the affordability of the shows and the series is a gift to our city. This winter alone we have see Hair The Musical, The Addams Family, Alison Kraus, and Memphis. My kids have seen even more because they are Children Series ticket holders.

Every year I buy the theatre series as gifts for family members. This year we bought the children's series from my MIL's birthday. Once a month on Saturday afternoon she has a date at the theatre with one of the mini's. Coming back for it's third year is the International Children's Festival. We  have gone every year and it just keeps getting better. The performance are perfect for kids and adults alike! If you are a parent in Cleveland you NEED to take your kids to this spectacular event.

Catcher's First Time Backstage

Playhouse Square is just as important to our city as are sports games, Disney on Ice shows at the Q, and the independent restaurants. The shows, actors, and performers that come into our city are nurturing the culture of our children and ourselves. Support the theatre in this city and I guarantee the rebuilding that everyone's heart desires will happen sooner than later. The Arts make a city great.

Playhouse Square is rocking for the next couple months. Check out what's coming:

International Children's Festival

Pink Martini

Kristen Chenoweth 

Disney's Beauty & the Beast

Jim Gaffigan

In honor of the KeyBank Broadway Series show, Come Fly Away, KeyBank wants to send you to Chicago, Sinatra style. 

In the theme of  Mr. Sinatra's hit "Chicago", “you’ll lose your blues” by winning the grand prize, which includes:

  • Two (2) Round Trip airfare to Chicago (United Airlines) June 22 – 24, 2012
  • Two (2) Night Hotel Stay in Downtown Chicago
  • $150 Gift Card to Maggiano’s Little Italy Grand in Downtown Chicago
  • Two (2) VIP tickets to the 8pm performance of Million Dollar Quartet on Saturday, June 23 at the Apollo Theatre and a Meet & Greet with the Cast
  • $250 Key Possibilities Mastercard Gift Card for spending

And there’s even a runner-up prize!

One (1) runner up will win:

  • Six (6) Loge tickets to the 1:30pm performance of Come Fly Away at PlayhouseSquare on Saturday, May 19, 2012 with parking
  • Followed by Dinner for six (6) at Maggiano’s Little Italy in Beachwood on Saturday, May 19, 2012

Enter here to win this amazing getaway!!

Cleveland International Film Festival 2012

  THE film festival in Cleveland is one of my all time favorite events of the year. Back in high school, my friends and I would cut school to sneak into Tower City Cinemas during the festival and watch movies till the theatres closed. These days, I'm not as brazen, and opening night has now turned into a good 'ol fashioned law abiding date for the Chef & I.

 

me & v-mayen of project r fame & fortune 

 

FOLLOWING the opening night film, Nesting, we headed to the gala and hung out with famous Clevelanders' like Valerie and Will. We took silly photobooth pictures as I drank white wine spritzers. At 9:30 we walked outside for some fresh CLE air only to discover that the temperature was still was a balmy 79º so we decided to head back to the tavern and drink white wine spritzers rooftop style. A perfect end to a very fun and very law abiding night.

AS always the film festival brings life and culture into our dear rust belt home. A favorite event of mine and so many others whom I share the city with.

 

photobooth sillies, the chef & i

ONE of my favorite features of the festival is the Family Shorts program. Last year I took the mini's and they instantly fell in love with the festival. So much so, that my son Catcher demanded to be taken to a big kid film this year (we are seeing Brooklyn Castle).

 

BECAUSE I heart the festival and can't stop shouting my love from rooftops, the kind people who run it offered me some tickets to giveaway on this old bloggity blog. Starting right now, I am giving away a family 4 pack of tickets to Family Shorts #2** . Family Shorts #2 is collection of 7 short films for families and kids ages 10 & up. To win this 4 pack of tickets all you have to do is check out the film festival website and tell me what film you want to see this week & why. If you have already seen a film this week at the festival tell me about that too. Just show some film festival love in the comments and I will pick a random winner this Friday at 10 am. Happy Film Festival Cleveland!!!

Oh yeah, if you don't want to wait to win BUY your tickets here. Only a few more days till the festival is gone. don't miss out on the awesomeness that is showing on the screens downtown.

 

**please remember this contest if for families and kids ages 10 & up. the festival will not allow children under 10 to this showing of the family shorts.