An Outsider’s Perspective on The CLE

When Charlene asked me to guest post for her, naturally I was excited at the chance. I have followed her blog for some 3 or 4 years now, so the opportunity to put my somewhat awkward and mostly eccentric fingerprint on it seemed like a pretty cool gig.

And then I asked if she had a topic that she’d like me to write about.

“What about what impresses you about Cle?”

Again, naturally, I jumped at the chance to ask her what in the hell she just texted to me. Our arguments are a strange combination of married couple, long-time friends, and sibling rivalry. I guess that goes back to the first time we met and I wrote “poop” in her notebook that she was trying to keep all nice and neat (keep in mind, it was a college class). But that’s just the kind of interaction I have come to know and appreciate from her.


However, I think I got the gist of the direction she was headed in. So with that, I am going to try to give my outsider’s impression of the things I have come to really like about the city she, and so many of you out there I’m sure, have come to be so proud of.

The first thing that I think really impressed me about Cleveland is the food. I love my food. And thanks to my dearly missed great-grandmother Ruthie, I have inherited a love for cooking for others. Charlene can attest to my cooking game. Yes, I actually call it that. I think that what’s even more impressive than the restaurants (which, I visited Lolita when I was last there and loved it), is the West Side Market and how you can get ANYTHING there. I felt almost obligated to try to come up with the most completely random food item I could think of, just in an attempt to find the one thing that place DIDN’T have. Sure, we have farmers’ markets here in Fort Wayne, but nothing even comes close to what the West Side Market has. Is that a product of being over 100 years old? Maybe, but I doubt it.

"Cooking Game" (everything purchased from WSM)

“Cooking Game” (everything purchased from WSM)

West Side Market

West Side Market

Speaking of things in the city to do and see though, I was and continue to be impressed with the Cleveland Museum of Art. I can’t lie, I think I like going there the most just so I can see Charlene’s face when I try to touch the art. Most of all though, the exhibits are always appealing to an art fan like myself and the updated atrium is absolutely gorgeous. The unfortunate thing is that I wasn’t able to go to the Museum of Contemporary Art, but hey, you can’t win them all I suppose. Aside from that, there’s Playhouse Square, where I have thoroughly enjoyed the Jump Back Ball. It’s such a cool place and the concept of the ball is pretty rad in itself.


I’m a Packer fan. Always have been, always will be. I know that Charlene has tried to convert me and most likely considered removing this section of my post, but I will say that the Cleveland Browns would definitely have a chance at being my second favorite team. If for no other reason than because of the dedication you fans have for your team, there’s a measure of respect that’s due. And who wouldn’t like tailgating with you guys? Oh, and you guys have a guy that dresses up as Macho Man Randy Savage. That in itself adds a ton of cool points to the experience.


The sports teams, delicious food, artistic, and otherwise cool aspects of the city notwithstanding; I think the attitude of Clevelanders is what I find the most intriguing and what draws me to want to come back again and again. It resonates with me deeply, mostly because it seems to me like it’s more of a “take it or leave it” attitude. I dig that, a lot. Being that we are in the Midwest, I think the hardworking attitude is pretty much a cultural universal, however I think that it’s something different in Cleveland.

You guys have a chip on your shoulder. Something to prove. Something to hit people in the face with and then ask them “What you wanna do?” And. I. Dig. That. That’s the kind of attitude that gets things done, not just talked about. I’m a native of Texas, so naturally I have somewhat of a chip on my shoulder as well, but it’s different. It’s more of a cocky, “you can’t out-Texas me” attitude. You Clevelanders are confident, and there is definitely a difference in the two terms. It’s the “Ohio Vs. The World” kind of mindset that I have the most respect for, because then you guys just go out and do it. Sadly, it’s something that I don’t see enough of around these parts, only in small doses. Attitudes, and people like that draw me in. I guess that’s why I always enjoy my time out there among you Clevelanders as much as I do.

Maybe I’ll see you around in the near future? The one thing though that I won’t be looking forward to, is that Lake Erie snow and cold. But hey, I think I can put up with that one thing in exchange for all the other awesome things your city has to offer.

Read more of Chris’ thoughts at his blog, The Pursuit of Somebodyness.

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How I Deal

Let’s say a girl is having an insane couple of weeks – professionally and personally? How do I deal?

1. Coffee. Lots of it.

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2. The Skimm. So I feel like I’m up to speed on current events.

3. Texts from friends. Usually includes Jessica, Monina and Christopher.

4. Some Grey’s Anatomy. Ya know…to cry it out. “She left me you too.” – Just stop.

5. A Dance Party.

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Welcome Fall

So apparently Cleveland weather has decided it’s Fall. Which obviously it is because Browns football is back (but more on that in a minute).

To kick off Fall, I got to spend a weekend with one of my favorite people and got to show off some of my go-to Cleveland locations. After a long couple weeks at work (and timesheets to prove it), Chris and I kicked off the weekend with wine and a fantastic dinner at Lolita. Of course, we had to go to one of my favorite Michael Symon restaurants. To end a great Friday night, we headed to another one of my favorite locations in the city – Velvet Tango Room. VTR is perfect for a special night out, relaxing over amazing drinks or a private party in the back room.

Thanks VTR staff for a great time!

Thanks VTR staff for a great time!

Saturday, we headed to WSM for some more grocery shopping before heading to the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. I don’t spend enough time at CMA and Saturday reminded me of that. I really need to take my laptop there and sit in the amazing atrium when I need to buckle down and get through some work.

Peaceful, right?

Peaceful, right?

And on Sunday it was like heaven when my favorite day of the year returned…Browns home opener! Muni lot was packed, as usual, and only got me more excited for the upcoming season. Let’s be honest – we more or less had that Steelers game in week one. Pretty much the entire second half of the game I had heart palpitations and felt more optimism than I had in years. Sunday’s game pretty much doubled that. Ten years since a home opener win? That just meant that Cleveland was beyond thrilled all day Sunday and heading into Victory Monday.

Early morning and it was way too cold.

Early morning and it was way too cold.

Sixth row seats did not stink.

Sixth row seats did not stink.

Victory Sunday!

Victory Sunday!

Is this a new year for our Brownies?!

How are you bringing Fall in to Cleveland?

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Birchbox Laughs with Mindy Kaling

I’ve been a Birchbox fanatic for a couple years now and get pretty excited every month when that pink box shows up in my mailbox. So when I was selected to be a Birchbox Blogger, my happiness level went through the roof.


As part of being a Birchbox Blogger, I received the Mindy Kaling book, “Is everyone hanging out without me? (And Other Concerns)” and pretty quickly dug into it. A fast and funny read, it only took me two nights to read the book. I sort of loved reading it before bed as it caused me to shut my brain off for a few minutes (which helped my usual bouts of insomnia for at least awhile). Even Minday said it shouldn’t take long to read (because after all – look at the cover).


Not only is Mindy one of the smartest entertainers out there (female comedian, writer, actor) but she also has some great quotes and life advice for women.

“I would rather have someone read my diary than look at my iPod playlists.” (this is my life)

“I didn’t completely forget how to be nice or feminine because I have a career.”

“No one ever wants to hear how stressed out anyone else is, because most of the time everyone is stressed out.”


I pretty much would like to be besties with Mindy – she writes like she’s your friend just chatting over coffee…well, let’s be honest, we’d be chatting over a bottle or two or three of wine. Her stories are easy to relate to, make you literally laugh out loud (very similar to The Mindy Project) and makes you look up to her.

What female entertainer/comedian/actress/writer do you look up to?

Disclaimer: As being part of the Birchbox blogger program, I received the Mindy Kaling book. All opinions are my own. 

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Shake It Off

First things first, a Trentina CLE winner!

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Congrats Kat B! Shoot me an email at lifeinthecle at gmail or DM me for details on how to get your Trentina gift card!


Who doesn’t love this song?

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The Magic of Trentina

I’ve mentioned it before, but we’re so lucky to have the Sawyer’s in Cleveland and their latest restaurant – Trentina. The setting and food are above extraordinary and now Chef Sawyer is asking us to “take back” our lunch hour. What’s that mean exactly?


It means feasting on items such as:

Red Basket Market Salad (parmesan, bagna cauda, wood-fired almonds, and bread crumbs), Oysters on the Half Shell with Prosecco mignonette and apple, Ravioli Charcuterie (a butcher’s grind of wood-fired pork and beef, sage leaf and breadcrumbs), Focaccia Deluxe (soft cheese, charred eggplant, herbs, and spice), Chicken Boudino Bianco (roasted grapes, rice, escarole, and cranberry bean) and Olive oil gelati.

Tell me that doesn’t sound to die for.

Cheers Trentina!

Cheers Trentina!

My coworker Kim and I were able to scoot out on Friday for a longer lunch and take in the atmosphere and sample some of the amazing food that will be offered on the lunch menu. We were both impressed to say the least! I’m already excited to schedule a few client lunches at the location, or to schedule a longer lunch date out with friends on a Friday.



And you are in luck…prior to the official opening, Trentina will be hosting a soft opening, this Friday featuring complimentary beverage service, along with Dolce and Grazi courses on the house. Guests interested in enjoying the soft opening lunch can make a reservation on OpenTable or call 216.421.2900.

Plus, the wonderful team at Trentina gifted me with a $25 to giveaway to one lucky blog reader! To enter: 

1. Follow Trentina on Twitter and leave a comment letting me know you did.

2. Like Trentina on Facebook and leave a comment letting me know you did.

3. Tweet: “Cheers @trentinaCLE! I want to take back my lunch hour thanks to @cacoughlin!” (You can tweet once per day for additional entries. Please be sure to leave a comment letting me know you tweeted.)

One winner will be selected on Monday, Sept. 8th at midnight.

Trust me, you want to go ahead and mark your calendars and plan a business lunch, afternoon date or some time with friends at Trentina!



Disclaimer: I was invited by the team at Trentina for a preview lunch last Friday. The team also provided me with the gift card to giveaway. All opinions are my own. 

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A New Place

Not literally a new place but after spending a day so far this weekend purging and cleaning and purchasing new furniture, it sort of feels like I’m in a new place. New friendships…old friendships that I’m looking at in a new light…and just pure happiness.


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This is How We Do

So it’s been awhile. Work has been crazy busy but beyond fun. Like this…

But first, we had to take a team selfie at a work photo shoot:

10436351_616998479320_2270605078356287059_nAnd following that busy day, Jess and I had awesome plans later in the week that included: #friendshiplipcolor, #friendshiphotpinkwigs and #friendshipfakeeyelashes. Cause, when you are going to see Katy Perry in concert and you’ve been insane busy, a girl’s just gotta let loose right?


We stopped at East 4th for pre-concert dinner and cocktails, ran into new friends, made new friends and laughed the night away.

This city. Pure happiness.

This city. Pure happiness.


Oh hey Katy!

Oh hey Katy!

What’s been your favorite summer concert? So far, I think it’s all Katy for me.

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A Night Out with the CLE Chefs

I went back and forth about going to this year’s Chef’s Gala for the Northeast Ohio Autism Foundation. But once I saw the list of chefs, I knew I had to go. Essentially every chef in Cleveland was there, including Chef Anna from Anna in the Raw, Chef Hodge, Chef Fabio, Chef Sawyer and Chef Rocco to name a few. The Cleveland Art Museum was decked out in blue for Autism and the gorgeous atrium was lined with the chefs.

Love this space

Love this space

A few favorites: Chef Anna, Amelia and Chef Sawyer, Stephanie and Chef Hodge

A few favorites: Chef Anna, Amelia and Chef Sawyer, Stephanie and Chef Hodge

The headliners? My favorite, Chef Symon and his co-host from The Chew, Mario Batali! I’ve been planning and hoping to go to NYC again this Fall in order to visit The Chew so this was almost like a mini version of that.



Each chef offered up a small plate, while Symon and Batali created an interactive dinner. Let’s just say this, if I had a couple thousand dollars to drop, I would have paid to be on stage and having the two of them cook for me.

My favorite!

My favorite!

Post-event, the party continued at Trentina with Chef and Amelia Sawyer. Bottles were popping, stories were being told and lots of laughs were happening. Needless to say it was the perfect way to spend a Saturday night. And I know my friends were loving the text messages I was sending their way.

Who’s your favorite Cleveland Chef?

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And He’s Home

No one should be surprised that last Friday I left a little bit early and headed down to Akron. For a couple reasons: 1. to hang out with my friend Cherise 2. to go to Swenson’s for the first time and 3. to welcome LeBron home. Cherise and I had no idea what to expect going into the event. We heard there was going to be a celebration for LeBron’s “kids” that are a part of his foundation, but that’s all we were prepared for.

Akron & Cleveland representing

Akron & Cleveland representing

We managed to get awesome seats and after waiting about an hour, LeBron’s “kids” were finally at sitting down and the actual program began. There were a number of people throughout LeBron’s career and life who were on hand to welcome the King back to Akron/Cleveland, including Coach Dru, Austin Carr and kids from his Boys and Girls Club.

My favorite moment? When Skylar Grey was announced and came on stage to sing her hit song “Coming Home”. It was night at that point, everyone had their cell phones out and sang along. When LeBron and his family came out, you could fill the appreciation of Akron and Cleveland in the air. I literally had chills.

Listening to how excited LeBron was and hear him saying things like “I’m home” and “I’m doing this for my city and state and to make them happy”, I mean, as a Cleveland fan, it was the best moment I’ve had in awhile with one of our athletes.

(LeBron image c/o

(LeBron image c/o

And now, the countdown to the first Cavs game!

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