Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Listening Now: Flo Rida + Sia

So, I was supposed to this on Tuesday, but I spent the evening coloring my hair (its v. dark with a hint of red) and painting my nails (pink with LOTS of glitter) instead. It happens. But I listened to this song again at the gym today, and I LURVE IT SO MUCH that I just have to share it with you. Its Flo Rida's new song featuring Sia- Wild Ones.

I'm SUPER excited because my MOST FAVORITE psycle instructor Jenn is playing this song in her class tomorrow. Incidentally, if you're thinking new workout programs for 2012, you should give psycle a try. There's a bunch of CLE tweeple that attend a variety of classes, and frequently we'll coordinate to meet up and workout together! Sometimes it happens at 5:45 am on Tuesday, which may be a little early for some of you, but there's a number of other classes. Its a fun time to hang out, listen to some great music, burn 600-800 calories per session, and clear your mind. And really, who doesn't need that?? So, if you're up for a challenge and some fun, sign up! Maybe I'll see you there!!!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Tis the Season.... for weddings

Hello all!! Hope you had a very Merry Christmas- I certainly did!! I had to go silent for a couple of weeks there because I was so panicked I was going to accidentally reveal the presents I was giving people!! I'm not the best at keeping secrets, and given the secret engagements and babies (not mine) that I had been keeping, my "secret" quota was full up!

While its been the Holiday season here, its actually wedding season in Mumbai. If you've ever been to, or seen an Indian wedding, then you know that the outfits are extremely ornate, and can get quite warm and heavy. And so, for the very practical reason of comfort, December = peak wedding season.

Ritu Kumar and Ritu Beri's bridal collections

Indian weddings can also go on for days...  The average is probably 2-3 days, but I've known of a whole week worth of wedding events. Of course, with a different outfit for each event, this can add up to a closet-full of outfits with limited wear!! This is where Didi's Wardrobe comes in... founded by my friend Dina, Didi's Wardrobe provides a forum for people to buy and sell gently used South Asian clothing.

Now, you may be wondering, what this has to do with me and this blog... for one, starting in the new year, I will be doing a post a week on Didi's Wardrobe's blog, so if you feel so inclined, check out those posts too.  Now for where you come in... if you're attending an Indian wedding in 2012, you should check out the site for some inexpensive but unique outfits. You should also check out the site if you like dramatic jewelry-- you can find some really amazing pieces for some incredible prices!!!

In honor of the Holiday Season and the New Year, Dina has very graciously offered to sponsor a little giveaway on the blog. The giveaway is for this set of 4 pretty, silver bangle bracelets.

To enter the contest, you must be a resident of the U.S.

1. "Like" Didi's Wardrobe on Facebook for one entry (leave me a comment letting me know you did), and/or
2.  Follow Didi's Wardrobe on Twitter  for one entry (leave me a comment letting me know you did), and/or
3. Tweet the following: "I want to win @cleshopaholic's jewelry giveaway from @didiswardrobe" and link back to this post for yet another entry. You can tweet twice a day. 

The deadline for entry is 5:00 pm on December 31st, and I will announce a winner on New Year's Day!! Good luck!! I hope you win something shiny to bring in your new year!!!

Sunday, December 11, 2011


Super busy with work and travel over the next week so I won't be blogging for a little bit. Follow me on twitter @cleahopaholic and on facebook to see what I'm luurving while on hiatus!!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Beauty Junkie Heaven: Birchbox

So last month, sorta on a whim, I signed up for something called Birchbox. Essentially, you pay $10 per month and receive 4-5 customized samples of high-end beauty products. The thought being you have the opportunity to try something new that you may not normally buy, and then you receive rewards points if you decide to purchase a full-size of something via birchbox. The brands include stuff like Smashbox, Stila, Kiehl's, and NARS, and at $10 and no long-term commitment, I figured it might be fun!!

So, a few clicks later, I was member, and a couple of weeks ago, I received my very first box

The packaging is so cute and fun- its like receiving a little prettily wrapped up present!!  November's box included:
Sample of Shalimar parfum: not my favorite scent for me- it reminds me of someone much older
Anastasia Lip Gloss: this was pretty good, but a little goopy
Kerastase hair product: I did not like the way this smelled
Two Paperdoll coasters: cute, but obviously not beauty related
Thymes body lotion: I liked this. Smelled very earthy

So overall, this was a 50-50 box. That said, I can't wait for December's box!! Incidentally, if you have a beauty junkie on your Christmas list, you can gift her a 3, 6 or 12 month subscription to Birchbox: a gift any beauty junkie will surely luuuuurvvee!!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Listening Now: Mona

So, I know that the majority of my Tuesday Tunes have been from across the pond, so this week, I've decided to change things up and bring you music from a stateside band. This week's pick is band named MONA. This foursome is from Nashville, although various band members are from Dayton and from various parts of Kentucky. Three of the four members got their start in church groups, although MONA is very far from a gospel band.

Mona's debut album will be released in early January 2012. In the mean time, there is an EP available on iTunes.  Here is one of the songs from their EP which was a Discovery Download on iTunes earlier this year: ENJOY!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Get in the Holiday Spirit (locally): Urban Home and Garden

A couple of weekends ago, I was at Beachwood Place with clefoodgoddess for the Compassion from Fashion Event, when I happened to noticed a wonderfully decorated store that I had never noticed before: Urban Home & Garden. Lucky for me, the wonderful staff were more than happy to let me take pictures! I found out that the store is Cleveland-based, and there are two locations- one at Beachwood Place, and the other at Beachcliff Plaza in Rocky River.

Seriously, this store is really cute, and has some adorable little gift ideas and stocking stuffers. Not only can you enjoy the Christmassy spirit, but you can get some of your shopping done, and support a Cleveland business while you do it!!!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Very Merry CLE Weekend

Hello!! Hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving weekend, and are recovering from all the indulgences this weekend! Of course, I pigged out T-day, but spent a relatively low-key Black Friday. JV and I decided to meet up for lunch- 1 bottle of rose and some gossip later, we were ready to shop. My big Black Friday purchase was a brand-spankin-new MacBook Pro!!! YAY!!! I luuuuuurrvvveee this thing. I'm not quite sure what I'm doing with it yet, but it hardly matters- it seems pretty intuitive so far!

This weekend, I took the opportunity to experience the parts of Cleveland that I had never explored before, starting with Polka Happy Hour at Happy Dog on Friday night. Wow! What a ridiculously fun happy hour- if you haven't been yet, you should definitely check it out!! It was absolutely PACKED, and it was SO fun to see people of old ages (including a well-reprensented 80-something population) dancing and having a great time!

DJ Kishka in action

Saturday, N and I headed downtown for Winterfest, and to witness the tree-lighting ceremony- something I had never done in person before. It was SO AWESOME to see so many people downtown- the atmosphere was incredible- it definitely felt like the holidays!

The Higbees window. Its sorta weird to think there will be a casino there next year! I hope that means more windows like this one!!!

Tower City. I like the fuzziness. 

The tree!!!

A very merry Terminal Tower

After seven years of living in CLE (including two actually living in Tremont), I finally made it to the Christmas Story House! Shame on me, but definitely better late that never. The house was so cute, and although part of the movie was filmed on a sound stage, it was fun to imagine that the whole thing was filmed in this house.  I went with Jess and her sister Nicole, and we would all agree that its SO worth the trip and the $10 admittance fee! 

So there you have it- it was a very merry CLE weekend indeed!!! Just the weekend to get in the holiday spirit!!!!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Tight Fight

As the temps drop, tights become an absolute necessity in every woman's wardrobe. Of course there are endless options to try, and I have tried a wide variety of them. A few weeks ago, I found myself in need of a pair of black tights, and instead of purchasing regular black ones, I decided to go with the SPANX Reversible Tights (black/navy, if you're curious).

And then last weekend, I found SPANX's less-expensive sister Assets (available at Target), who also offers a reversible option. So, in the name of research (and of course, you can't ever have too many tights), I decided to buy a pair of these too (black/grey).

So how do they stack up?
1. Price: The SPANX tights will run you about $34 vs. $13-15 for the Assets version, a little more than 50% savings.
2. Comfort: They are both really comfortable, but I will say that the SPANX are a little softer around the abdomen and hips, which is key when you're going to be wearing tights all day.
3. Overall look: The SPANX feel a little thicker especially around the abdomen and hips. The Assets version is more panty-hose-like on top than the SPANX, which I thought were like leggings with the all the SPANX sucking-in features we've come to know and love.

WINNER? Definitely SPANX, but if you don't wear tights a lot, the 50% price differential may not be worth it. The Assets brand is definitely a solid second choice!!

What's your favorite brand of tights? Do you have different preferences for "fun" tights vs. basics?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Listening Now: Unabashed Boy Band love

I'm not even ashamed to admit this- I LURVE boy bands. Not all boy bands- please- I have standards; but I was a huge fan of *NSYNC and The Backstreet Boys (but not so much 98 Degrees). I went to the NKOTBSB tour earlier this year, and happily SCREAMED MY HEAD OFF for like 3 hours. Sadly, the boy band phenomenon has met its demise, but its alive and well in England.

And with that, I introduce to you, The Wanted- A British/Irish boy band based in London, England. The sad news is that you can't really buy their entire albums on iTunes (yet), but you CAN buy the full version of their performance at the iTunes Festival in London earlier this year. And so today, for your Tuesday Tunes, I will leave you with not one, but TWO songs:

All Time Low:

Glad You Came:

See, I told you I had varied taste in music!! I hope you enjoy my not-so-secret guilty pleasure!!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Come for the shopping, stay for the eye-candy

Wow, I can't believe Thanksgiving is NEXT WEEK!!! That time of year is creeping up faster than I can handle, and you know what that means- HOLIDAY SHOPPING!!! Last year, I got a really good head start to my shopping with the Compassion from Fashion event at Beachwood Place, and this Saturday, Beachwood will be playing host to this awesome event for the THIRD straight year.

If you haven't been before, here's what you should expect:
$20 (in advance, $25 at the door) gets you a wrist band that entitles you exclusive fashion discounts at a number of Beachwood Place Stores. If you're one of the first 750 to buy your ticket, you will receive a $10 mall gift card AND a $10 dining certificate to McCormick and Schmick's, making your ticket essentially FREE!! 100% of the proceeds go to The Gathering Place which provides invaluable services for those affected by cancer and their loved ones!

Shopping + a GREAT cause?!? How could this get better??? BUT WAIT, IT DOES!!!
Not only do you get to snack on delicious offerings by Maggiano's Little Italy, but at 7pm, Beachwood plays host to a celebrity fashion show, featuring cancer survivors and local celebs including:

Maureen Kyle

Ryan "Mickey" McLean, from Cosmo's Bachelor of the year 2010 and Bachelorette fame

As hot as Mickey is, I am a married woman, so I'm obviously MOST excited about the shopping. Here's the discounts I WILL be taking advantage of:
BRIGADE: 10% off entire store (N is probably getting some of his Christmas presents from here)
AVEDA: spend $50 get $20 personal blends "purefume"- I need some more hair products, and their hand lotion is a lifesaver in this weather!!
MOOCHIE & Co: 20% off regular priced merchandise- I can't leave the pooches out!! They get Christmas presents too!

The full list of discounts is available here. You can purchase your tickets here, and if you buy online and use the discount code "266727", you will receive $5 off your ticket price, making it an even better deal for $15!!

So if you want to avoid the Black Friday crowds and get a head-start to the shopping season, I hope you will consider joining me at Beachwood Place this Saturday. Happy shopping all!!

Full disclosure: I received two tickets to this event in exchange for my support via this here blog. As always, all opinions are 100% my own. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Listening Now- Ben Howard

Hello all,

So its a little late on Tuesday, but I haven't forgotten about my Tuesday Tunes. This week, I bring you Ben Howard, a singer-songwriter from England. I first heard the song "Keep Your Head Up" over the summer, and had been stalking both Amazon and iTunes waiting for the U.S. release of his first album (Every Kingdom) which was finally released on October 3rd. For the past month, I've listened to at least one song from the album, I LUUUUUUURRRVVEEE it so much. So, in honor of Tuesday Tunes, I decided to share the very first song that started my Ben Howard obsession. Enjoy!!


Friday, November 4, 2011

3x the LURVE- a little luxury

So my top 3 this week, in descending order were:
1. The Jump Back Ball Kickoff party! I LURVED hanging out with some of the people who will be attending next year's soiree including Jess, Allison, Charity, Christina, and new friend Carli. There were some adorable mini hats on display, and I can't wait to see what people wear to the main event!!

2. This week I had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to fly via private plane. IT.WAS.AWESOME!!!

3. And finally, my most FAVORITE discovery of the week:

There is a scarf named after me (by luxury brand Buelah), and Pippa Middleton is a fan!!! A portion of the profits from the sale of this scarf go to charity!!! Now comes the not so fabulous part- including shipping to the US, this little gem costs almost $150- not quite what I want to spend on a scarf. Ah well, maybe I will just have to let this one go...

Have a wonderful weekend, and see you back next week!!!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Listening Now- Lana del Rey

Late last week, I happened upon on of the most haunting songs I've heard in a long time- The song is called Video Games by Lana del Rey.

I'll be the first to admit I don't know a whole lot about Lana, except that she has an EP available on iTunes which I promptly purchased. She's expected to release her first full length album in 2012, and in the mean time, she's generating A LOT of buzz. She has this 60s bombshell look going that I absolutely adore, and this song is on heavy rotation on my iPod this week!! So take a listen, and let me know what you think!!!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Mad Hat(ter)s all around

Happy Halloween all!! Hope you had a lovely weekend/day trick-or-treating/handing out candy or however you celebrated! N and I handed out 16 lbs of candy, AND we ran out!! Is that normal or does our neighborhood just get more kids?

This week, I'm really looking forward to Thursday night. Why, you ask? Well, its because is the Kickoff Event for one of my most FAVORITE parties in Cleveland, Jump Back Ball!!! If you remember, N and I attended JBB 20 earlier this year and had an ABSOLUTE blast!! This year I'm even more excited because (1) JBB turns 21, and who doesn't love a 21st birthday celebration, and (2) I absolutely LUUUUUURRVVEE this year's theme- Through The Looking Glass!!

Whether your inspiration is the Disney version or the Tim Burton version (LOVE LOVE LOVE), I'm envisioning some exceptional outfits- lots of white, red, suspenders, stripes, blues, headbands, and of course, my FAVORITE- HATS!!! I can't imagine a more perfect opportunity to debut an absolutely stunning headpiece!!!

Although Jump Back Ball 21 doesn't happen until February 25th, 2012, trust me when I say that its NOT TOO EARLY to plan your attendance. There's a limited number of tickets, and they absolutely do sell out (and have done so for the past few years!). So if you would like to attend, here's how you can get your tickets:
1. Starting Friday, November 4th, you may buy them online here . VIP tickets are $200 each, and General Admission Tickets are $150 ($125 for Partners)- Information on the difference between the two categories is available here.
2. And I HIGHLY recommend this- Join me at Market Garden Brewery in Ohio City on Thursday November 3rd from 6-8 pm to buy your tickets in person. General Admission tickets will be $130 (that's a 13% savings) AND no handling fee. The kickoff event will be the ONLY time Playhouse Square will be offering the tickets at this price (there is a two ticket limit per person). And besides, the event will feature complimentary appetizers, drink specials and prizes. What's not to luurve about that?!?

Full disclosure: Playhouse Square has offered me two VIP tickets in exchange for my help promoting the event on my blog. However, you should know that had I not received this offer, I would be at the Kickoff Party bright and early at 6:00 pm to secure my tickets!! I did just that last year, and it was totally worth it. The Kickoff Party was fun, and Jump Back Ball was a RIDICULOUSLY fun evening!!! I hope to see you on Thursday, and then again in February!!!

Friday, October 28, 2011

3x the LURVE

So the other little feature I'd like to continue with moving forward is "3x the LURVE"- a weekly post featuring my Top 3 from the preceding 7 days. My plan is to have this be a standing Friday post, so fingers crossed that I'm disciplined enough to stick with it!! Without much further ado, I offer you my first EVER 3x the LURVE:

1. Coming back to a beautiful day in CLE:

I absolutely LURVE fall in CLE!! Maybe its not as pretty as fall in New England, but then again, I don't live in New England, and there's no place like HOME!!!

2. Spending Monday cuddling with these two sweethearts:

They loved spending time with their grandma and grandpa, but they LURVE hanging out on the couch, and I LURVED spending Monday doing just that with them.

3. And last, but certainly not least, I LURVE my shiny new iPhone 4s. Its SO much faster than my old 3GS, and asking Siri to do things for me!! yay!!

So there you have it! What did you LURVE this week??

Thursday, October 27, 2011

A little buzz

One of my favorite things in Costa Rica was the AMAZING coffee we enjoyed several times a day. It probably has something to do with the volcanic soil, but Costa Rican coffee is DELICIOUS!! So delicious in fact, that N and I are having some shipped to us!!  And I'm happy to say that if you'd like to try some, Amazon carries a whole selection of the Cafe Britt coffees.

With the holidays coming up (this year is going by waayyy too fast), I've been thinking about gift ideas. If you have a coffee lover on your holiday list, you could always gift them some Cafe Britt Espresso with a stove-top Espresso maker and/or Espresso cups!

As a coffee lover myself, there is nothing better than a GREAT cup of coffee on a cold winter morning (yes, I said the "W" word. I'm mentally preparing myself for the inevitable). Do you have a favorite coffee? Do tell!!!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Planning Ahead

I know its only the end of October, but turns out my social calendar has now extended out to March 2012. In the coming weeks, I will be telling you more about the things I'm looking forward to in Winter/Early Spring of next year, but in the mean time, I'm trying to figure out the best way to get all this stuff on my schedule. Now I could use the calendar on my shiny, new iPhone 4s (Yes, I LURVE Siri, and no, she will not marry me), but I still enjoy the good old fashioned paper versions. And oh so conveniently, yesterday I received my Kate Spade email featuring this:

Speaking of iPhones and Kate Spade, I picked up a cute iPhone case, but I think I may want this one too...

After all, polka-dots are totally ON TREND for fall, and this is SOOOOOO adorable!!!! BTW, these would make great gifts for the stylish tech-lover and traditionalist alike!! Hmmm, I might just have to add these to my ever-expanding Christmas list..... 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Listening Now- The Joy Formidable

So while I was on hiatus, I started to think about ways to tinker with the blog. One of the ideas is a weekly feature on music that I'm listening to and that I absolutely LUUURRRVVEE. Now, it may not all be new music, but my hope that perhaps I will introduce to some music that you may be unfamiliar with, or remind you of something you haven't listened to recently. I hope that you will share some of your recent favorites with me as well!!

With that, I introduce my first ever Listening Now feature- The Joy Formidable. They're originally from Wales, and opened for The Foo Fighters on a few Foo tour stops this year. They're touring the U.S. in November and December, so if you live in, or are planning to visit these cities, you will have the opportunity to check them out live. I will say that I have NOT seen them live, and I'm more than a little bummed that they will be in Pittsburgh but are skipping over Cleveland. *sadness*

Of course their music is available for download on iTunes, but here is a little peak at one of my FAVORITE songs, Whirring.


I hope you enjoy the song and this new little feature, and I can't wait to hear your recommendations as well!!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Hello again

Hi again!! It's been a while since I last posted anything- blame it on lots of work-related travel and some vacation!! This past week, N and I enjoyed some R&R in Costa Rica!!! We stayed at the Westin, an all-inclusive in the Guanacaste region. The rooms were very nice and comfortable, but I would say that if I had to do it over, I would only go the all-inclusive route for part of the vacation, not the whole 7 days. Costa Rica is known for its eco-tours and adventure offerings, and staying at an all-inclusive for the whole time is just sorta a waste when you end up leaving on tours that last the whole day!

Here are some pics from vacation. You will notice that it looks very cloudy in the pictures- we knew we were going in the "wet" season, but I was expecting the usual hour or two of rain. However, thanks to a hurricane that ran through Mexico, we had LOTS of rain everyday. From what I hear, a lot like Cleveland last week! However, it was nice and warm, so N and I spent time hanging out in the hot tub and at the swim up bar.

The waves were pretty rough thanks to the hurricane

The resort critters. Both the birds and the little mongoose/raccoon-type animals (Caoti) would come right up to you for food. There was a huge pack of about 20-25 of them around the pool, although only 1-2 of them were social. The little babies were really cute!

Beautiful tropical flowers

N and I took a day-long tour that included the Arenal volcano (you can't go up to the mouth of the crater- poisonous gases etc), a boat ride, a walk through the rainforest, time at the hot springs, and a delicious dinner at a restaurant overlooking the volcano.

 The Rainforest. Honestly, I was more afraid of the rainforest than the zipline tours!! I'm allergic to everything, and I was so nervous that I would get bitten by some crazy tropical insect and swell up!!! It was beautiful though, and I made it out unbitten, which made it even better!!

 N and I also did an ATV tour (I rode my own ATV- yay!!), and a zip line tour which was a MAJOR adrenaline rush!! Essentially, you fly through the rainforest harnessed to cables, and a lot of times you couldn't even see the other end. In case you're wondering, I didn't look down once, but I did keep my eyes open as I was flying across the cables! 

Overall it was a really nice vacation- some touristy stuff, and a LOT of relaxation!!!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Surviving the Seasons: One Coat at a Time (The Essentials)

Wow, September is FLYING by!! I've been on hiatus for the past week, mainly because I've been having too much fun, and then realizing that late nights don't work for me and then promptly falling asleep at 8:00 pm on the couch. Yes, sometimes I'm VERY LAME!!

Anyway, as September ends, we are DEFINITELY into fall, and I thought it might be fun to do a review of what I consider seasonal ESSENTIALS to make it through a year of living in Cleveland (or anyway in the Northern U.S. for that matter).

So here goes:

1. The Trench Coat: It rains in Cleveland. A LOT. Well, not as much as Seattle, say, but its still enough to be inconvenient. And if you work downtown (or any place by the lake), an umbrella is pretty much useless because that wind is just going to whip that umbrella upside down. And so, I consider a trench an absolute necessity. If your trench has hood- BONUS! Now you can go find your trench at pretty much any department store, but I recommend you try Overstock or TJMaxx or Marshalls. As much as I consider the trench a necessity, I firmly believe you should save the big bucks for the REAL winter essentials.

Trench Coat: 

2. The Wool Coat: This is your everyday-everywhere coat for the winter. You can wear it to work, out to a nice dinner, somewhere where you want to have a dressy look and still stay warm. Now, you could go with the traditional black pea coat, but have you tried to find your coat in the middle in winter, in the midst of all the other black pea coats? And so I recommend going for a color. It will brighten your winter day (when the sun disappears for weeks on end), and will make it (and you) easy to spot in a crowd. This is where I really recommend the splurge-- my favorite is the J.Crew double cloth with Thinsulate. It's a little early for all the styles, but if you wait a couple of months, you will see the whole Thinsulate collection. If you have a backup coat from last year and have the patience to wait until February or March, you will get a FANTASTIC deal when these go on sale, but buyer beware- you may not find your size.

Thinsulate Coat: J. Crew

3. The Parka: Done incorrectly, you could end up looking like the Michelin Man. However, there are a few brands like North Face and Michael Kors that have nipped in waists, and while they're still puffy, they do have SOME shape. Now, I fully recognize the parka is not exactly fashion forward, but when its snowed for entire month of February, with 6 blizzards in between, including days of the dreaded wintry mix, you will thank me for this recommendation as you stay warm and dry, even when you're outside. Again, I'm a big fan of color here, and this eggplant is adorable!!

So there you have it-- my Cleveland weather essentials. Later this week, I will bring you the optionals!