Why? American Cancer Society ResearcHERS!

This May, the American Cancer Society is harnessing the power of women supporting women for a new fundraising campaign: ResearcHERS.

ResearcHERS directs funds specifically to women doing research that could lead to the next breakthrough in fighting or even curing cancer. Women tend to be underrepresented in research leadership and this program seeks to help level the playing field and support the next generation of female researchers.

ResearcHERS is a nationwide campaign, but the funds raised in Ohio stay in Ohio, at institutions such as the Cleveland Clinic, Case Western Reserve University, and the Ohio State University.

I am honored to be a ResearcHERS ambassador, which means that I, along with a group of other women, am representing the campaign, fundraising, and getting others involved in supporting this very worthwhile cause.

One in three Americans will face a cancer diagnosis in their lifetime. From my grandmother, who died from colon cancer when I was just a baby, to my own recent brush with cancer, the disease has a deep and personal impact on my family. And I know that many of you have similar impacts on your families.

While each ambassador has a personal fundraising goal, all of our efforts are toward supporting the greater campaign in Ohio and fueling the research that will lead to potentially life-saving breakthroughs in fighting cancer. The ultimate goal, of course, is to reduce the impact cancer has on all of us.

How can you support ResearcHERS?

  • You can donate online to the campaign.
  • You can join me at Johnny Mango World Cafe & Bar on Monday, May 20 for a Fundraiser Monday. From 11am-10pm that day, 20% of your food and beverage total will be donated to ResearcHERS. (Click on the Facebook invite and make sure you bring the flyer in the invite)

Together, we can help fund the next generation of breakthrough, female-led research and help combat the impacts of cancer.

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Why? Taste of the Tee!

Last night, Matthew and I attend the Taste of the Tee event to benefit The First Tee of Cleveland.

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While strolling food and wine events are common, this one had two unique aspects that made it stand out: the chefs for the evening and partnership with other non-profits.

First, our chefs for the evening were students in The First Tee of Cleveland’s Fit to a Tee program, which teaches children healthy eating habits, cooking skills, and life skills.

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Obviously, Cleveland’s weather is not conducive to a golf-based program year-round. So, Fit to a Tee allows The First Tee of Cleveland to offer impactful programming, even when it’s too cold to be on the course.

The Fit to a Tee students paired with students from Tri-C’s Culinary Arts – Hospitality Management program to prepare delicious dishes on an event scale.

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We enjoyed avocado fries, grilled shrimp…

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Japanese vegetable pancakes, bison meatballs, veggie skewers, Asian lettuce wraps and two kinds of tacos (mahi mahi and cauliflower and chickpea).

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For dessert, there were banana cupcakes and chocolate avocado mousse, served in a meringue shell (to everyone who didn’t get any, I’m sorry I ate so many of those).

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How often can you go to a strolling food and wine event and actually feel like you made healthy eating choices?! Even Dr. Mark Hyman of the Cleveland Clinic, who specializes in functional medicine, addressed the attendees and praised the healthy cooking skills taught by The First Tee of Cleveland.

The food was expertly paired with wines selected by Edwins Leadership and Restaurant Institute and Brandon Chrostowski.

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There was also a delicious charcuterie and cheese table from Edwins, as well as a raffle for a personal cheese and wine tasting at the restaurant.

The whole evening was set to beautiful music by students from The Music Settlement.

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Taste of the Tee harnessed the power of four non-profits to come together to make an amazing event. But more than that, it illustrated the impact the programs at The First Tee of Cleveland have. Our young chefs not only made delicious, healthy food, but they showed poise and politeness throughout the entire evening.

If The First Tee of Cleveland’s programs and philosophy sound like a great fit for your child, there will be an open house tomorrow, Saturday, April 6 from 10am-12pm at all four of the First Tee of Cleveland locations. You will learn more about the programs, meet staff and coaches, play fun golf games, and enjoy refreshments. Check it out!

***Disclosure: I was asked by The First Tee of Cleveland to help promote their upcoming events. In exchange, I received two complimentary tickets to Taste of the Tee. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Northeast Ohio Big Wish Gala!

Have you ever wanted to help make a child’s wish come true? Then, the Northeast Ohio Big Wish Gala to benefit Make a Wish Ohio/Kentucky/Illinois is the event for you!

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Taking place at the Hilton Cleveland Downtown on Thursday, April 4, the Big Wish Gala features a cocktail hour, delicious sit-down dinner, silent and live auctions with incredible prizes, and even some special surprises.

You’ll have the opportunity to meet and hear from Wish Kids and their families, whose lives have been forever impacted by Make a Wish.

The Big Wish Gala special guest is Vanessa Bayer, Wish Kid, Emmy-nominated actress, and former Saturday Night Live star.

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In 1999, Make a Wish Ohio/Kentucky/Illinois granted Vanessa’s wish to travel to Hawaii with her family.

Tickets are currently on sale online for $400. The Big Wish Gala is a truly inspiring and impactful evening, so consider purchasing tickets today!

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Why? Perfectly Imperfect Produce!

There’s nothing I love more than when a person not only recognizes a problem, but comes up with an innovative solution. That’s exactly what Ashley Weingart did when she launched Perfectly Imperfect Produce.

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Ashley’s family has been in the produce business for four generations. Ashley saw that the industry had a lot of food waste due to buyers’ shifts in demand or desire for “perfection” in the product.

Perfectly Imperfect Produce rescues produce that would otherwise go to waste, but is perfectly good for consumption. The items are unique in size, shape, or color, as well as those considered surplus crops.

Not only does Perfectly Imperfect Produce help to reduce food waste, they also help improve access to healthy food. For every box purchased, a donation of produce is made to local food pantries through the Hunger Network of Greater Cleveland.

We got to hear about Perfectly Imperfect Produce’s mission, as well as taste some of their delicious produce last night at Prep Kitchen CLE, which is a gorgeous space that is available for rent for meetings, social gatherings, and the like.

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Aubrey of That’s What She Eats, who works with Perfectly Imperfect Produce to create recipes with their produce, created some delicious nibbles: sweet potato slices, roasted cauliflower, curry hummus, and butternut squash mac.

We also got to fill our own box of Perfectly Imperfect Produce, with items like apples, pears, ginger root, squash, and mango.

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You can get in on your own Perfectly Imperfect Produce box with various options, such as organic, all fruit, and all veggie. You can also pick your size and frequency of delivery. Yes, I said delivery. All this great produce is delivered right to your door! Click here to see your options and order.

Perfectly Imperfect Produce is available in Cleveland and Columbus. Rescue some produce and do something good for you, for the food industry, and for those in need!

***Disclosure: I was invited by Perfectly Imperfect Produce to attend a complimentary influencer event. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? HaylieStory in Motion!

Awhile ago, I met up with Haylie from HaylieStory and Zak from Zak Films to film a City Surge video all about Cleveland.

From the West Side Market, to East 4th Street, to Playhouse Square, we checked out some of the best that Cleveland has to offer.

I tried to pick places that really highlighted the culture, food, and people that make Cleveland so awesome!

And now, I’m so excited to share the final product with you.

For more awesome City Surge videos, along with thoughts on travel, life, and fun, follow along with #HaylieStory! Thanks to Haylie and Zak for spending such a fun day with me around Cleveland!

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Why? Yoga Roots Fall Challenge!

Over the last month, I took part in the “Get Rooted” Fall Challenge at Yoga Roots. I always enjoy these challenges as a fun opportunity to take some different classes and win some cool prizes.

For some reason, I went all in on this particular challenge and decided to take 30 straight days of classes. So, here is what I learned from taking 30 yoga classes in 30 days:

1.I feel great! And I felt great throughout the entire challenge. The consistency of the practice really worked for my body. And even the vinyasa classes had enough chance for restorative poses and stretching that I never felt overwhelmed or overly tired.

2. Which leads me to: Consistency is the key in a yoga practice. I’m not saying you have to go every day for 30 days. But yoga is a practice and the more consistent you are, the more you will grow your practice.

3. Yoga is about more than just the poses, it’s about the breath. I found myself coming back to my breath more and more in my daily life because it was so ingrained from practicing so often. It helped me be less stressed and find moments of peace in my day. There were also times when I lost the breath in my everyday life and the only place I could reset and find catharsis was on my mat.

4. Yoga practice is also about community. I made more friends at the studio from seeing each other so regularly and I deepened my connections with the amazing teachers there, too. And since it’s Yoga Roots Teacher Appreciation Week, I’ll just say a big thanks to my teachers in this challenge: Katie, Aimee, Julz, Jennie, Tamsin, Justine, Cat, Heather, and Sharon!

5. I am stronger and more capable than I thought was. And I’m pretty sure I’m stronger and more capable than when I started. I wasn’t sure I could accomplish this challenge and I am so proud that I did.

6. The doing of the thing is the thing. The prizes were great and I will be enjoying my hoodie and water bottle and t-shirt for some time, but the point of the Fall Challenge was to do it, to grow and strengthen both my asana practice and my connection to the Yoga Roots community. That’s the real prize.

Have you ever done any fitness challenges? What did you learn from them?

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Why? It’s Not too Late to Get Heart Healthy!

As I’ve shared before, my family has a history of heart disease. This spring, seven weeks before he passed away, my grandfather suffered a stroke from which he never fully recovered. Having seen firsthand the impact that heart disease and stroke can have, I am even more committed to staying heart healthy and doing what I can to counteract the hand that genetics has dealt me.

But even knowing what I know about my need to be heart healthy, there are days when I feel like I’ve missed the boat or like I’m  not doing enough. Here’s the thing, though: you can start today and start small toward making changes to improve your heart health. Whether it’s improving your eating habits, becoming more physically active, or quitting smoking, it’s not too late for you to make positive changes that will impact your heart health.

Speaking of it not being too late, the Cleveland Heart Walk takes place tomorrow, Saturday, September 22. You can still register to walk and take literal steps toward a healthier future for both yourself and those affected by heart disease and stroke.

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There are so many parts to the Cleveland Heart Walk, with so many ways to improve your heart health:

7am – Sunrise Yoga from GrooveRyde and Barre from Pure Barre

8am – Healthy for Good Festival

8:45am and 9:30am – Spin Ride by CycleBar

10am – 1 mile and 3 mile walks

My biggest message to you is to start today to improve your heart health. It’s not too late, not only to register for the Cleveland Heart Walk, but also to make positive changes in your life!

***Disclosure: I am a social media ambassador for the Cleveland American Heart Association. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Force of Habit!

One of my favorite things about the yoga community in Cleveland is the multi-talented the teachers who make it up. Tamsin Astor, who teaches at Yoga Roots, holds a PhD in cognitive neuroscience, as well as her RYT500 yoga teacher certification.

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Tamsin just released a book called “Force of Habit: Unleash Your Power by Developing Great Habits.” The book blends Tamsin’s scientific background with yoga, Ayurveda, and meditation principles to help you cultivate habits that serve you.

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The book’s foundation is tools to build good habits – sleeping, eating, exercising, and working on your relationships with yourself and others. From everything to sleep patterns to healthy eating, Tamsin addresses ways that modern life makes us stressed, tired, and unhappy.

But rather than suggesting we flee to a desert island, Tamsin suggests ways to improve our habits within the construct of our modern life. With lots of practical tips on sleep schedules (they’re not just for Jeffrey apparently), meditation, recipes, and even journal pages and prompts, the book is filled with helpful, easy-to-implement takeaways.

The book is also peppered with quotes from philosophers and authors, letting you know that these ideas aren’t really all that new. But Tamsin presents the ideas in her book in a fun, playful, accessible way (much like her yoga classes, by the way.) Her goal is to help you find your overarching “why,” so that you can cultivate habits that support it.

I’m someone who struggles to keep it all balance (we all do, right?) and would love to find ways to reduce my stress and not just by throwing out the baby with the bathwater. “Force of Habit” is a fabulous way to incorporate some of the yoga philosophies beyond the mat and cultivate healthier, less stressful habits.

“Force of Habit” is currently on sale online and Tamsin teaches regularly at Yoga Roots, so check her out both in her book and on the mat!

***Disclosure: I was asked to review Force of Habit and received a complimentary copy of the book. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Bomba the Brave!

I’m on a kick this week with people who use their fame as a springboard for doing something meaningful for the community at large (see here.) Recently, I had the chance to chat with Denise Dufala, a longtime Cleveland reporter and anchor.

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Denise has authored a children’s book called “Bomba the Brave,” which is not only adorable, but also has a great message for children as young as preschool.

When Bomba Zarowski (a Cleveland name if there ever was one and the actual name of Denise’s nephew’s stuffed bunny) goes to school, he discovers he needs glasses and is teased by the other bunnies. But with the help of a kind bunny and Bomba’s own sweet spirit, all the bunnies learn an important lesson about bullying and how to stand up for what’s right.

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Denise told me that the book is inspired by a story that she wrote in first grade, when Mrs. Fish (Matt Fish of Melt’s mom) instructed her students to create their own story. Young Denise wrote a story about a bunny with glasses that evolved into the playful, helpful story book of today. As the daughter of a first grade teacher, I love where her inspiration came from!

Denise said that covering news stories about bullying prompted her to want to make a difference in this area. She wrote “Bomba the Brave” with the help of child psychologists and bullying experts, who made sure that the book’s anti-bullying message was clear and properly directed.

Denise also partnered with Values in Action to make “Bomba the Brave” a reality and spread it’s message of acceptance, friendship, and courage.

As a mom, I worry about Jeffrey facing bullying as he progresses in school and want him to understand both how to respond to bullying and also the impact that being the bully can have on others. “Bomba the Brave” was age-appropriate for Jeffrey and a great way to introduce the concept, while still holding his interest with cute characters and fun songs.

“Bomba the Brave” is currently available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books a Million. This is a great way to teach your kids important lessons about bullying, while also supporting a local notable who is doing her part to better our community.

***Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of “Bomba the Brave.” As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? VNTG Home!

You know I love promoting local businesses, especially those with unique concepts, fabulous products, and female owners. So, I hit the trifecta with VNTG Home!

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Megan Featherston, Founder and CEO of VNTG Home, created VNTG Home with the idea of bringing together people looking to downsize their homes with young buyers looking for fabulous home furnishings on a budget.

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VNTG Home offers everything from packing services to staging homes to consignment to help those looking to liquidate or downsize.

And for the buyers, you can upcycle VNTG Home furniture with a huge selection of fabrics and paints.

VNTG Home is a wonderland of options, from furniture to artwork to dishware and beyond.

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I fell in love with some of the brightly colored chairs and couches! What gorgeous upcycling!

VNTG Home gives new life to furniture and housewares, along with making amazing home décor affordable and accessible. What a great concept and stunning execution!

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You can shop and upcycle right on the VNTG Home website or take a wander around their beautiful showroom! Make your home creative and beautiful with VNTG Home!

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