Cleveland AKA Junior League, Burgers and Chocolate

I spent this past weekend in Cleveland, OH for The Association of Junior League International’s Organizational Development Institute Conference. (I know that’s a mouthful right?) Our League only sends 2 members each year to this conference and myself and my good friend, Karen, were chosen to go. There are different tracks (aka focus areas) during the conference. Karen took Community Impact and I took Fund Development.

I can’t tell you how much I learned over the weekend. I have always been interested in Fundraising and have planned special events, so I was thrilled to get deeper into the nitty gritty of the proper way to raise funds. It was also interesting to hear what other leagues are doing and what and what not to do.

It was also a very inspiring weekend. There were many talks about change, our mission and the future of Junior Leagues.

I came home with an overwhelming amount of knowledge and new ideas. I can’t wait to share them with our League!

On the way to Cleveland we had a layover in Charlotte, where we both had our first taste of Pinkberry!

It’s truly as good as everyone says it is. I got the chocolate hazelnut and it tasted like frozen nutella. Crumbled roca, coconut and raspberries mixed in. Yum!

We didn’t get to our hotel until after midnight and promptly passed out. Thank goodness the first session wasn’t until Noon.

The next day when we went down for the opening plenary we were greeted with the AJLI Boutique. Aka lots of JL goodies!

Mini tools in a hat box like purse. Is this not the cutest thing ever??

Mini lip glosses. Also, cutest thing ever.

Lunch during the plenary. Those pickles were so good…sweet with a spicy kick at the end. The conference was at the Renaissance in downtown Cleveland (we also stayed there) and they kept us very well fed!

The Renaissance is a beautiful old building…so vintage looking! It’s also attached to Tower City Center, which has shops, a movie theater and restaurants. Very convenient!

At the end of our first day we bundled up and headed out to find a place for dinner.

After failing to find a pizza place we had looked up we finally came across Brgr 9.

This ended up being a great choice. I got the Tango, which had homemade chimichurri, bacon, manchego cheese, lettuce, onion and a roasted orange mayo on brioche. The combo was awesome and they cooked my burger perfectly medium rare. Bonus: they use grass fed local Ohio beef! The fries were also excellent. Loved the aioli and rosemary ketchup that they serve on the side.

The next day was a full day of sessions and a luncheon. I was impressed with Renaissance’s food…it was really good! Usually luncheons are consisted of dry chicken, over cooked potatoes and icky vegetables. Although our lunch was chicken, potatoes and vegetables, everything was great! And that chocolate fudge cake in the background? Oh ya, that was awesome too.

That night Karen and I were set on going to Chocolate Bar. On our way we came across East 4th Street, which was adorable and had some cute shops and restaurants.

We stopped into Cle Clothing Co., which had awesome and creative shirts, bags, koozies, etc. definitely different from your typical tourist shop!

Chocolate Bar lived up to its expectations. I started with the Peanut Butter Cup martini. It was a litttle to alcoholic tasting for my taste, but still quite delicious.

For dinner I got the mac and cheese and added prosciutto and carmelized onions. I was prepared for a heavy meal, but the mac and cheese was light on the cheese, which was nice so it didn’t compete with the other add-ins.

The Chocolate Bar was attached to a place called The Arcade, which was gorgeous. Love all of the historic looking buildings in Cleveland.

On our last day we were filled up with a full breakfast, had our last session and closed with how we could bring all this information back to our Leagues.

Unfortunately, during a conference, there’s not much time to explore the city you’re in. We pretty much only went out at night for dinner. We really wanted to go to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but there just wasn’t enough time!

The most exciting thing I can tell you about our trip back to FL was that there was a Crumbs in the Newark airport and I promptly freaked out. Crumbs only have locations in the northeast and some on the west coast. (Come to FL please Crumbs!!) They seriously make the BEST cupcakes I have ever tasted.

SO many flavors too, it’s so hard to choose which one! I ended up with a vanilla cupcake with the top decorated like a pumpkin in orange frosting, and a devil’s food cake cupcake. I split the vanilla one with Jon last night…and it was heavenly.

What’s the best cupcake you’ve ever tasted?

Where was the last city you visited?

Baseball, Burgers and Oatmeal

Whew! It sure has been an eventful week so far.

Every year, as a thank you to their employees, the company I work for usually comes up with a fun outing. This year one of the choices was a Rays game, where we’d get to hang out in an executive suite. Yes please!

My friend and neighbor, Ashley, and her boyfriend all work together (Ashley is in my same department!) so we carpooled.

Great view!

We were greeted with some yummy food. I had a mini pulled pork slider, which was awesome, and split a hot dog with Ashley. I eventually went back for more pork, it was so good!

There were a lot of people there and we got to meet some employees we had never even met before. That’s the best thing about company gatherings isn’t it? We were so busy chatting with everyone we barely watched the game. But it also wasn’t the best Rays game…we lost 😦

Due to a late night I fully ignored by 6 a.m. alarm, which was set so I could get my run in before work. So after work, it was straight to the treadmill, then after cleaning up, straight to dinner with Lora.

We had a Junior League meeting last night and there’s yummy burger place, the Avenue, just down the street from where it was so it was the perfect excuse to meet for dinner. Lora had the Mac and Cheesy with a vegan burger, which looked good. I got the Rasta Monsta, which had bacon, mango pineapple chutney, pepperjack cheese and a spicy sweet jerk sauce. I’m drooling just thinking about it again!

We also had another Junior Leaguer join us and she ordered the fried pickles, which were also really good. I haven’t had too many fried pickles in my day, but I’d have to say these were the best I’ve tried so far.

Luckily the meeting was short and sweet so I got to have a decent amount of downtime at home. Jon and I watched some Louis CK standup.

He’s one of the very few comedians that we like. It takes a lot to make me laugh and Louis CK does it for me!

Tuesday night I decided to give overnight oats in a jar another go and whipped up a batch for the next morning.

The first time I tried OOIAJ I wasn’t too impressed. I’m still not completely sold, but this batch was better than the first I made.

1/2 cup rolled oats

1/2 cup plain greek yogurt

1/2 cup skim milk

Few dashes of cinnamon

A little vanilla

A couple handfuls of blueberries

And of course the yummy peanut butter at the bottom and around the edges…that is the best part!

Later that day I got another fabulous haircut at Number 9. I’ve been seeing Morgan the last few times and she rocks. Afterwards my mom and I had a nice dinner at Tijuana Flats and drinks at Starbucks. I’m not a coffee fan, but a chai tea latte always hits the spot 🙂

Tonight I’m looking forward to my only non-eventful night this week. Then tomorrow is a girls night with dinner and Brave! Also on the agenda is going to see Cabaret at freeFall and a Yelp Elite event. Going to be a fun weekend!

 

Pride

Howdy folks! Hope everyone’s week is going well so far.

Tuesday night Jon “fixed” my veggie burgers by adding an egg (it was a vegan recipe) and processing them more until they were able to be made into patties that wouldn’t crumble apart.

 

Plus he whipped up a yummy tzatziki sauce to top it along with roasted veggies. Boy am I glad I have him around 😉

After dinner we caught up on the latest episode of Mad Men. I really, really love that show. Glad they brought Betty back…was starting to wonder what she was up to! I read a great article/interview on Jessica Pare (Don’s wife) the other day and she sounds just like her character…sweet and nice and not afraid to be bold and silly.

Yesterday Jon and I went on a walk. There’s a park about a mile away from where we live and it’s actually quite nice. It could use a little TLC, but it’s full of trees and looks over the water.

You can see our alma mater, Eckerd College, in the background 🙂

After a quick dinner I headed downtown to a Junior League meeting. This is our most important meeting of the year. It’s when we have our last meeting of the year and our first meeting of the new year. This is usually the most emotional meeting as it’s when our president of the year gives her goodbye speech and hands over the gavel to the new president. I loved our president this past year. She was a great leader and her speech last night was so inspiring. I’m also excited about our new president as she’s super sweet and seems to be very driven. During last nights meeting I had an overwhelming sense of pride come over me. Pride for being a member and for being amongst so many amazing women. It’s really no secret that the league has somewhat of a hoity-toity reputation. But the league is much different these days than how it is portrayed in The Help. The league isn’t about how much money you have or where you live or what you do. It’s about how much you care about your community and giving back. I originally joined the league because I wanted to make new friends and I loved to volunteer. Little did I know how much the league would teach me. It’s taught me how to network, to plan efficiently and to be a leader. It’s made me realize how much I really want to be involved with the community and was what catapulted me into all of the other volunteer opportunities I’m involved in. I am so thankful to the league for giving me these skills and for empowering me to be a strong woman. It has truly been a great experience so far and I can’t wait to see what this year will bring.

Are you in the Junior League in your area? Are you involved with any volunteer organizations?